MARKETING 101 – FOR SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS.

Effective marketing is a key driver of growth for your small business. Good brands online build wealth and equity. Each time you market you are increasing the value of your small business and going digital is one of the best ways to achieve this. It goes without saying that the success of your small business relies on a strong brand and  online presence. But if you do not have a background in marketing, where do you start?

We have provided some “small business marketing 101’s” which may help and motivate you to get the ball rolling:

1-GAIN KNOWLEDGE THROUGH RESEARCH

Prior to developing your marketing strategy, the first preliminary step is to conduct market research. It’s important to gain as much information and insight as possible into your customers’ buying patterns as well as their drivers. Market research is also the best way to monitor market trends and be one step ahead of your competitors by ensuring you are observing their activities and learning from their mistakes.

2-DEFINE YOUR MARKET

Once you have conducted your research make sure you have a solid understanding of the demographic and psychographic profile of your target market actually and an understanding of their needs, behaviours, drivers and blockers. This can be achieved through online analytics, surveys, social media patterns and of course, by asking them.

3-DETERMINE WHAT MAKES YOUR BUSINESS UNIQUE

The key to effective sales and marketing is to define and promote your USPs – “Unique Selling Points”.

Unless you can clarify and articulate what makes your business unique amongst your competitors, it’s hard to stand out as the preferred option and to reel in your audience successfully.

USPs may require fresh ideas and thinking outside the box – it isn’t always as simple as unquantified metrics such as ‘better customer service’ or ‘better product’. The trick to choosing USPs that will clearly differentiate your offering is to ensure they are relevant, desirable and genuinely meet the needs of your target market.

Once your USPs are established, find a clear and simple way to communicate them to your prospects. Consistency is key – ensure your core USPs are splashed all over your marketing, as a creed to live by.

With repetition comes memorability and as a result, your target audience will always associate you with the promises you are making. The most important aspect of developing your USPs is to ensure they are deliverable. Trust is everything in small business.

4-UNDERSTAND DIGITAL MARKETING OR HIRE A PROFESSIONAL TO NAIL IT FOR YOU!

You won’t regret it! Digital marketing is now the most popular and successful way small businesses can promote their products or services. It is highly measurable, enabling you to track your ROI and brand awareness as well as delivering higher conversion rates than via many other media.

Many small business owners and business managers perceive digital marketing as too complicated and time consuming. However, there are many courses that can assist you by providing the kick start you may require to set up a professional presence on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. If you need assistance in optimising your results, professionals in the digital marketing space can help you reach a wider audience of qualified prospects through pixel campaigns, remarketing and retargeting as well as creating engaging and relevant content.

Before you jump into content creation however, you should develop an effective digital marketing strategy that will lay the foundations for your targeting, messaging, scheduling and creative execution to enable you to benefit from the power of social media networking platforms to support and grow your business.

5-GET REPEAT BUSINESS THROUGH NURTURING TACTICS.

Keeping your current clientele happy and onboard is key to building “word or mouth” leads and repeat business. This requires nurturing and relationship building as opposed to overt sales tactics.

Don’t focus all your communications with a client on promoting your products or services. Share relevant and valuable information with them without asking for anything in return. Request their feedback and input on decisions you are making. Consider keeping information about birthdays and other occasions in order to surprise them by sending e-cards and vouchers.

Keeping in touch with your customers through social media, blogs, newsletters, email and SMS will show you are active, listening and willing to reach out regularly.

Most importantly, always listen to your customers’ needs and expectations and never fail to deliver on your promises. If you unwittingly do drop the ball, be honest and fix the issue immediately, transparently and empathetically. The way you address failings can turn a disengaged client into one who will be loyal for the long term.

6-CONTINUOUSLY MONITOR YOUR STRATEGY AND REVIEW RESULTS

In order to determine what is and isn’t working, regular monitoring of your marketing activities is required. Have your objectives been met? Are your activities supporting your marketing strategy? Is your messaging on track?

There are various analytics tools available such as Hootsuite, Google Analytics, Kissmetrics, SproutSocial, BuzzSumo and Hotjar that can help you to analyse the results of your social media activities, digital marketing and website campaigns to determine what is working, what can be improved and which avenue is more effective.

All in all, the success of a small business depends on the business owner’s willingness and ability to market their products and services effectively. Any successful entrepreneur will tell you, good marketing leads to sales which is essential for your business to thrive.

Is Instagram a valuable tool for your business?

For those of you who are considering (or already using) Instagram to grow your brand, we know some handy tips that can help you get noticed.

Social media platforms are constantly evolving and shifting their algorithms. It’s hard to keep up with the new trends and features added to these particular platforms each year. It can be frustrating for marketing professionals who are constantly required to shift their strategies and rethink their methods.  We have decided to put together a few handy tips which will hopefully help you stand out above your competitors and grow your audience:

  1. Video is king. Videos always get noticed and they are a great way to get your message across. If you wanted to use videos that go over the 30 second limit, then IGTV is a wonderful new tool that enables you to upload lengthy videos that can be uploaded on your desktop as well as your smartphone!
  2. Visual appeal. Instagram is an extremely visual tool that can really help to strengthen your brand. It’s advisable to create a distinctive look, utilise your colour scheme where possible and consider the entire look of your tiles, not just focus on one image at a time. Remember your Instagram look and feel publicly reflects your business.
  3. Interact with your audience 10-15 mins after you post! Instagram’s algorithm picks up on engagement within the first half an hour of publishing your post. If it recognises activity, it sees your recent post as something worth pushing up the feed which will help you to get more attention. You can do this by selecting a relevant hashtag and liking a few posts within this hashtag – this will enable you to get attention from the recipients who will be intrigued by your like, look you up and return the favour.
  4. Stories get noticed! Due to the constant changing of algorithm in Instagram, it’s hard to predict if your post will actually generate engagement. The best way to stay at the top of the page and in front of your followers is by posting stories regularly. One thing you can do is to add your most recent posts to your stories as well – you can simply add text: “check out our new post” or something more quirky to get attention. If you have more than 10,000 followers, you are also able to add links to your stories which is really handy when selling products.
  5. Strategise your hashtags # Hashtags are the best way to grow your audience and increase your reach organically. If you are using the wrong hashtags, you are getting the wrong followers and the wrong attention. Hashtags are like SEO – you need the strategise which keywords or phrases will lead the audience to your page.
  6. Look at your competitors It’s always a good idea in marketing to look at your direct competitors, not to copy their style, but to investigate their hashtags. You can see what works for them and what doesn’t and apply this knowledge to your own methods.
  7. Key words in your bio:Ensure your Instagram bio has targeted keywords strategically placed in or under your name. Like SEO for your website, your target audience can find you more easily through an Instagram search if you have relevant keywords in your bio.

Marketers all over the world are convinced that Instagram is a power marketing tool for business. The below are the most recent stats on Instagram usage for 2020 for those who are trying to build a business brand:

  • 1 billion people use Instagram every month
  • 500 million people use Instagram Stories
  • 63% of Instagram users log in at least once per day
  • Instagram users will spend an average of 28 minutes per day on the platform in 2020
  • 200 million Instagram users visit at least one business profile daily
  • Instagram’s potential advertising reach is 849.3 million users
  • One-third of the most viewed stories are from businesses
  • Brands post an average of 2.5 stories per week
  • 75.3% of U.S. businesses will use Instagram in 2020.

If you are looking to expand your presence and enhance the visibility of your products or services, then Instagram is a highly recommended platform. If you have not jumped on the Instagram bandwagon yet, you may be doing your business a great disservice. Contact the team at Milestone-Belanova for further tips or advice in regards to your Social Media strategy.

When you go quiet, so will your business…

powerful and creative EDMs

Which is why many reputable companies use EDMs to stay remembered and keep in constant contact with their database.

EDMs are all about communicating with your audience as you would if you could meet them in person. It’s a way to be heard, recognised and to build trust. Distributing regular EDMs to your audience enables you to provide a gentle reminder about your services.

EDMs in the marketing world have been classed as incredibly valuable, on the same scale as Social Media. It’s important to continuously capture your audience and stay at the forefront of their minds.

But how do you ensure your email campaigns not only stand out above the masses but get the results you are anticipating?

Here are some tips:

  1. Be consistent with your scheduling: If your audience is used to receiving an update from your company at a particular time and day of the week, schedule this accordingly. It’s important to remain predictable and consistent. This is a wonderful way to maintain trust, however ensure your content is strong to keep them on their toes. If you are successful, they may even get into the routine of specifically checking for your EDM at the same time each week.
  2. Timing is everything: Ensure your email campaigns are sent at the right time! Explore your market, know their activities and predict the most effective time to be noticed. Friday afternoons are always a bad idea as people tend to take annual leave on a Friday and are less likely to be in a work mindset. Monday morning inboxes are always a little too busy, they are flooded with higher priority emails, so yours may get lost or pushed aside.
  3. Create eye opening (email opening) subject lines: The first hurdle you face when sending an EDM is to ensure they get opened. For this reason, crafting a powerful subject line is everything!! In order to stand out  in a cluttered inbox you need a subject line which ignites curiosity and provides a potential solution to a problem or a need. Being direct is key, keep it short and sweet and keep it relevant.
  4. Avoid becoming a junk mail victim: In order to dodge the spam filter you need to avoid salesy words like “free”, “competition” ,“discount” and “win” in your subject line. Ensure there is copy in the actual email not just in image form, this certainly helps when it comes to bypassing most filters.
  5. Reveal the face behind your business: People connect with the personality behind the business, it gives them a sense of trust and intrigue. Consider including a video in your EDM to better express your message. There’s nothing more powerful than the voice of experience. Try an introduction video so your audience can get to know your entire team and showcase what they bring to the table.
  6. Keep it simple: Good simple copy is key, ensure it short, sweet, fluff free, nicely worded and real. It needs to be helpful, something they can take away with them. Draw your message to a simplistic call to action button and watch them flock to your website.

At Milestone-Belanova we create powerful and creative EDMs that get through the barriers and gets results. This is through well designed, punchy copywriting and segmented data management.

We have an in-house team with the right experience and capabilities to plan, design, develop, analyse and optimise targeted email campaigns. We can make your business look great through tailored creative messaging and professional designs, which will be executed through tried and tested platforms such as Infusionsoft and Mailchimp.

Don’t remain silent – wake up your business through regular digital marketing campaigns, what have you go to lose.

Is your business eligible for the $3000 Grant?

Did you know businesses severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic are eligible for a $3000 recovery grant to get their livelihood back on track?

According to the Service NSW Government Website ‘Marketing and Advertising’ has been listed as one of the recommended uses for the grant.

Whether it’s a marketing strategy you require to kick start the new financial year, a brand refresh, website overhaul, digital marketing campaign or gaining leads through engaging content creation, investing in a marketing professional will help your business to make a swift recovery.

Contact us for a free consultation. With over 20+ years’ experience in the fields of Marketing, Design and Website Development, the team at Milestone-Belanova will ensure your investment gets results. Together we can help to get your business back on track and performing better than ever.

Is your business eligible for the $3000 Grant?

Is your business eligible for the $3000 Grant? .Did you know businesses severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic are eligible for a $3000 recovery grant to get their livelihood back on track?.According to the Service NSW Government Website ‘Marketing and Advertising’ has been listed as one of the recommended uses for the grant. .Whether it’s a marketing strategy you require to kick start the new financial year, a brand refresh, website overhaul, digital marketing campaign or gaining leads through engaging content creation, investing in a marketing professional will help your business to make a swift recovery. .Contact us for a free consultation. With over 20+ years’ experience in the fields of Marketing, Design and Website Development, the team at Milestone-Belanova will ensure your investment gets results. Together we can help to get your business back on track and performing better than ever….#websitedevelopment #webdesign #marketingstrategy #graphicdesign #centralcoastnsw #supportlocalbusiness #covid19 #centralcoastbusiness #helpingbusinessespostcovid19 #sydneybusiness #milestonebelanova #marketing #beautifulwebsites #webdevelopment #designagency #milestonebelanova

Posted by Milestone-Belanova on Wednesday, 1 July 2020

10 Tips for Marketing Your Way Through COVID-19

Think outside the box

1. Reinvent Your Marketing Plan

Now is not the time to simply jump from one tactic to another, hoping something will bring in leads.

Put a plan together that takes advantage of the new opportunities that exist and eliminates those tactics that are no longer available such as face to face events, networking or sales presentations.

Obviously this will involve more digital programs but it could also mean amending your targeting and  your messaging so that you are more relevant to the people who have a current need for your product or service and the ability to purchase now.

If you previously had a marketing plan, review it step by step and remove anything that will no longer either be possible or effective. Rethink what this new world is now offering as it doesn’t have to be doom and gloom for all businesses in these disrupted times.

If you don’t actually have a marketing plan in place, now is the time to develop one! Spend this quieter time getting your marketing plan in order so that you come out at the other end of isolation stronger than ever to dominate your market!

Social media buttons

2. Go Social

The social environment is exploding at the moment as people crave connections with other people online.

It is the perfect time to get your brand noticed with messaging that is relevant to your target audience’s current needs.

Have a plan for your social media content, deliver valuable and relevant information and make sure you have a high level of frequency so that you stand out amongst all the other brands that are bombarding social media platforms at the moment.

If your workload has reduced, now is the perfect time to build connections and content on platforms that you were too busy to use previously.

Write articles for LinkedIn, promote valuable content on Facebook, create videos for Instagram, use display ads and build the story behind your brand.

There are many options available but make sure you have an effective social media strategy and create stand out, valuable and relevant content.

Online business

3. Take Your Business Online

There are many businesses that have to date avoided doing business online, other than via listings on generic website directories. If you take advantage of online marketing during COVID-19, you could position yourself for significant and long term growth once operating restrictions are lifted.

For example, if you previously ran a retail store or were in the hospitality industry, start selling online. Online sales are going through the roof now that shoppers can’t visit their local stores. In fact, the boredom factor of having to stay at home is increasing the desire for shopping overall.

Building a web store is easy and affordable and could potentially provide you with an additional revenue stream for the long term.

If you are in hospitality, you may be in a position to provide home deliveries but don’t just rely on regular customers to phone in their orders. Build an online ordering and payment system that will showcase your menu, collect payments online and protect your drivers with contactless deliveries. You could even set up a Click and Collect service.

If you are in entertainment or training, create an events calendar on your website and deliver your events via live-streaming, webinars or podcasts.

If you are in a service industry, why not sell additional related products online via a cart to supplement your income.

There are many opportunities that exist to build your revenue through digital marketing. If you’re not sure how to make the move online, book a free video or phone consultation to determine the best path forward for you and your business.

Mobile delivery app

4. Remarketing and Retargeting

If you have a good website that attracts a reasonable level of traffic, take advantage of every visitor with remarketing and retargeting programs.

Keep your brand and promotional offers in front of your prospects by delivering social media ads to them on Facebook or Instagram once they’ve left your website.

Send targeted eDMs (email marketing) to website visitors to build your brand awareness and reinforce your offering.

You can tailor the content of your social media ads and eDMs to reflect the pages and products on your website that your prospects have shown an interest in.

It can take several connections with a brand for a prospect to commit to a purchase, or even an enquiry, so getting in front of a prospect multiple times has been shown to dramatically increase conversion rates.

Don’t waste a qualified lead! Optimise your conversions through a highly cost-effective and easy to implement remarketing or retargeting program.

Target audience

5. Rethink Your Target Audience

Some businesses are going to do better than others during this COVID-19 period so now is the time to rethink your targeting to take advantage of new opportunities that now exist.

Look at what consumers and businesses are now looking for as we are living in heavily disrupted times.

For example, accountants, HR consultants, solicitors and financial planners will all be in high demand.

So will healthcare professionals and those who focus on providing self-improvement, mental health and professional training services.

Home maintenance products, home gyms and trades will all do well as people are confined to their homes.

Entertainment and escapism will be in demand as boredom sets in.

Food, transport, online shopping, delivery services, natural foods and the basics that we all need on a daily basis – these will all do well too.

And of course, marriage counselling services may inadvertently also do well due to the emotional stresses that come with a lockdown!

If you don’t work in these sectors, look at how you can modify your offering to provide relevant services and products to these businesses that will do well in the current market.

Mobile Devices

6. Use Innovative Technology

Many of our old ways of communicating and managing our business operations are now redundant so we have to look for technologies that can help us through this period and beyond.

Look for apps and tools that will help you to communicate and run your business effectively online.

Zoom has taken off in a big way as businesses replace face to face meetings with video conferences and team meetings. Microsoft Teams and Skype provide similar benefits and functionality.

We use Slack for our team meetings and file sharing. Our twice daily catch ups have been amazing for our team morale and productivity!

Our phone diversions are currently being managed by Spoke which allows calls to be transferred to our team members’ mobile phones without any privacy issues. Telcos such as Central Telecoms offers a wide range of other communication options to keep calls flowing with minimal inconvenience to clients.

Online auction software is changing the real estate industry and live streaming is changing the events industry. These industries will never be the same again.

There are so many apps and tools to manage internal and client communications, productivity, project management, marketing, calendar bookings, payments, training, file management and more.

Do some research and find innovative tools that will get you through coronavirus and hopefully help you to be more efficient in the future.

Branding

7. Build Your Brand

During busy times, businesses can often fall into the habit of focusing mainly on sales and service delivery, neglecting their brands in the process.

They can start to deliver generic messaging that doesn’t take advantage of their strengths and points of difference.

Or they can deliver mixed messages, promoting their brand as innovative and high end for example, while their visual branding and collateral is dated and unappealing to their audience.

Now is the ideal time to revisit your brand, re-evaluate your positioning and your unique selling proposition to refine and refresh your brand story.

Why does your brand exist? What are your brand values and do you have a purpose beyond simply making profit?

Do you have a core essence to your brand that provides the framework for all your communications? Disney is about Magic, AirBNB is about Belonging and BMW is about Performance. What is the DNA of your brand?

Do you have genuine value propositions that resonate with your target audience and are you effectively and persuasively communicating your point of difference through all your marketing communications?

Use this quieter period to review and refine your brand so that you can emerge from isolation with all your marketing collateral effectively communicating your brand story in terms of messaging, visuals, tools and tactics.

Get your website working

8. Get Your Website Working For You

Online competition is only going to grow through the coronavirus period and beyond, so you need your website to be seen and to be relevant to the search criteria of your ideal prospect.

Check that the platform you are using for your website is SEO friendly without code bloat, errors and omissions.

Make sure your website is easy for the user to navigate with a search-focused main navigation and lots of relevant hot buttons that encourage them on their journey through multiple pages of your site.

Get the content and visuals in line with the information your prospect is looking for and remove all the corporate, self-promotional fluff that the user doesn’t want to read.

And importantly, make sure your website is optimised for the most popular search terms and keywords so that you rank higher in the search engines.

Doing this now will not only help you to become more competitive in a quieter market; it will also position you to rebuild and thrive when the market becomes stronger as SEO programs can take several months to deliver optimum results. The time to start is now!

Customers

9. Look After Your Customers

Keep in touch with your existing clients and prospects, even if they have reduced or stopped their spend.

Send them relevant information via EDMs and e-newsletters.

Let them know how you are changing your business to better suit their current needs.

Offer them valuable information that may help them to get through these challenging times without asking for anything in return.

Keep your brand awareness high so that when they are ready to spend again, they will remember that you were there for them during the tough times.

And of course, stay in touch by phone and video calls – make sure you keep your personal connection with your clients and prospects strong and memorable.

Innovation

10. Be Innovative

Now is the time to think differently about your business.

Can you deliver your products or services in a different way?

Can you market your expertise via videos, blogs, podcasts or LinkedIn articles?

Can you supplement your normal income by creating products that can be sold online?

Can you become a reseller for other products, apps or services relevant to your own product or service range?

Can you repurpose your manufacturing, partner with other companies, create new technologies or service additional sectors to find new opportunities for either the short or the long term?

Now is not the time to just sit and wait. Don’t go into hibernation, waiting for the market to revert to how it was before coronavirus. It may never be the same again.

So be brave, be innovative and make sure that your business is one that takes advantage of the new opportunities that do exist in this strange, new world.

 

Good luck! Please call us if we can help or if you’d just like a no-cost obligation-free chat.

What is a brand?

The definition of a brand has come a long way from the days when cattle ranchers used ‘branding irons’ to identify which cattle belonged to who. A century and a half later, the definition has become significantly more complex and, unfortunately has therefore become a lot harder to understand!

To address some common misconceptions, a brand is not just your ‘brand name’ and it’s not just your ‘logo’, although both of these attributes contribute toward your brand.

Your brand is a perception; it exists inside someone’s mind. It’s how people perceive your company, products, services and experience, in both a rational and an emotive sense. ‘Branding’ is the process of defining, maintaining, strengthening or changing that perception to positively influence their buying decisions.

So why are brands important? Brands differentiate your offering, build loyalty and improve recall and recognition over your competition’s products. You can see this in the baked beans category, for example where Heinz is by far the best selling baked beans product in the UK (where they sell more baked beans than the rest of the world combined – over 1.5 million cans a day!). However, as far as the product is concerned, it has come in just third in taste testing on multiple occasions (see for example https://www.village-bakery.com/best-canned-baked-beans/) demonstrating the power of a brand over the quality of a product.

Furthermore, when people connect meaningfully with a brand, trust, loyalty and emotive engagement will increase which will build protection from negative influences such as competitive activity, pricing disadvantages and poor media exposure. Take the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 recall in 2016, for example. The high profile event wiped out 98% of the profits in the mobile division and dragged company profits down by 30%. However, it did little to damage Samsung’s brand loyalty. A poll later that year found that Samsung’s customers were still fiercely loyal to the brand with 91% of current Samsung users saying they would be likely to purchase another Samsung smartphone, and 92% of current users saying they would probably buy another Samsung product in general. Despite a disastrous product failure, the company was forgiven by its customers, thanks to the value of its brand.

To successfully build a brand, it must be communicated consistently across all touchpoints a company or product has with its customers. If the brand message and experience are not consistent across all touchpoints and interactions, your unique brand advantage will be diminished. Within your marketing collateral, this means consistent messaging, visual styling, tone of voice and brand personality across your proposals, brochures, website, social media, business stationery, office or shop interior, customer service style, staff uniforms, advertising and even non-marketing communications such as invoicing. Every touchpoint should tell the same story.

A well thought-out brand will effectively portray what your business stands for and what makes it unique and appealing to your customers. It expresses the qualities, strengths and personality of your business and if strategised well, it will appeal directly to your target market, drawing them in like a moth to a flame.

What is involved in developing a successful brand?

The process in creating a powerful brand involves thorough market research to profile your customers, understand their motivations, map their buying journey and substantiate why they should be attracted to your business.

A unique brand essence, or company/product DNA, can then be defined which will provide the framework for all brand communications. This is the emotional heart of your brand, combining rationale and emotive reasons to buy with the clarity of a defined and relatable personality and brand archetype. This is the core upon which your brand purpose, positioning, value proposition and other elements of your brand strategy will be built.

Ultimately, your brand strategy will be translated into brand standards including your logo, tone of voice, brand visuals and other tangible brand elements.

An investment for business growth

The typical mindset many people face when starting up a small to medium business may be to save as many pennies as possible until the profits roll in. This unfortunately means some businesses will miss the window in creating the correct foundation required for a successful and sustainable business. It may be hard to appreciate that part of your marketing budget should put aside for brand development and that taking the leap and hiring a professional to build your brand may in fact prove to be one of your most valuable investments for long term business success.

So how much does it cost to build a unique brand strategy for your business? Well, if you are BHP, the answer would be in the $millions! But for an SME, it is really an affordable proposition that should return the investment many times over in the future. If you’d like a firm quotation and proposal for your business, simply give us a call.

SOURCE:

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4548674/Heinz-left-trailing-place-blind-taste-test.html
https://fortune.com/2016/11/21/galaxy-note-7-recall-samsung-brand/
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/samsung-galaxy-note-7-recall-exploding-phones-profits-a7382786.html

Changes to Mailchimp

For many years, we have advocated Mailchimp to our clients as one of the best value options for managing emarketing programs (amongst a few others we also recommend). With the free version offering a competitively high mailing volume of 2,000 subscribers, great analytics and the opportunity to customise eDMs, it has proven to be one of the best free platforms around.

However, earlier this year Mailchimp made some significant changes to its plans which have impacted both pricing and available functionality. If you are currently on a Mailchimp platform, we don’t necessarily suggest changing to an alternative provider but you should be aware of the following:

1. Every contact in your list now counts towards your contact total – this includes unsubscribes, subscribes and non-subscribes. Free accounts still allow up to 2000 contacts but to keep within this total, you should now go into your mailing lists and clean them up regularly, deleting unsubscribes and non-subscribes so they won’t be added to your total.

2. You now only get one audience (list) with the free plan. If you have maintained different lists for customers v prospects v VIPs, for example, you may now want to look at upgrading to the Essentials Plan from $14.64 a month as this level allows for 3 audiences.

3. Importantly, for most clients who have had an eNewsletter or eDM template designed by us, the free version no longer allows new templates to be custom -coded, leaving you with the only option of basic templates. If you want to take advantage of more interactive features and a better user experience, you will now have to subscribe to the Essentials Plan as a minimum.

4. Multi-step automations are no longer available unless you are on the Standard Plan or above which starts at $21.97 per month.

5. Insights and analytics have been limited to the basic level and don’t include A/B or multivariate testing.

On the positive side, Mailchimp has expanded its services recently to now offer retargeting through Google, Facebook and Instagram, enabling you to integrate your marketing campaigns within one platform. If you haven’t explored the power of retargeting, why not ask us to provide a marketing proposal for you. According to Google, combining retargeting with other advertising programs can increase your conversions by as much as 50%!

Improve your business in 2020

As we race towards the finishing line for 2019, it’s bewildering to realise just how fast the year seems to have gone! For some sectors, it was a slow start with various state and federal elections destabilising market confidence but we have been delighted to see that, for many of our clients, business is now on the rise and they are looking forward to a stronger 2020.

Despite the tough year, it has been a time of growth and improvement for many businesses; for others, it’s been a time of change and a chance to get ready to take advantage of better conditions ahead.

If your business is going through the latter, here are some simple tips for achieving growth even in slow times:

1. Look after your existing customers well – they are invaluable in both good and bad times and very costly to replace.

2. Reduce your risk by diversifying your customer base if you are reliant on too few customers.

3. Be proactive in your marketing – while your competitors are quiet, you have a great opportunity to be heard.

4. Take the time to improve your service and operations so that you are well-positioned to cope with the influx of business when the good times return.

5. Use quiet times to train your staff so that your customer service is a key competitive advantage.

6. Keep staff motivation high – show your staff they are valued as it costs a lot to replace well-trained, quality staff.

7. Keep a tight grasp on your finances – know how you are progressing, protect your cashflow and maybe pay a few extra visits to your accountant.

8. Think innovatively about the products you sell, the services you deliver and future market needs. A quiet period is a chance to think differently about your business and, as long as you research and test well, it can be time to make beneficial changes for a more sustainable future.

We’re very proud of our clients who have done so well against the odds this year – see our story below on how many of our clients who have won much coveted awards, for example! If you are looking to take advantage of improved market conditions in 2020, come and have a chat with our Director, Barbara Ketley. She has worked on growing hundreds of brands across a diverse range of sectors for over 25 years and would be delighted to help you to jump-start your business growth for the new year!

Complete Your Customer Journey with Infusionsoft

Do you make the most of every touchpoint your prospects or customers have into your organisation? We have recently been working in conjunction with Infusionsoft to build a complete digital customer communications program for one of our clients, mapping their customer journey from start to finish. Infusionsoft is an all-in-one sales and marketing tool which allows businesses to manage everything from a customer enquiry through a business’ website to post-sale customer surveys. It also allows a business to manage marketing, leads, payments and coupons as well as create automated campaigns and provide real-time customer updates for sales, all from the one convenient platform.

Infusionsoft is capable of managing every aspect of the customer journey to ensure that your customers are given the best service possible. Importantly, it allows you to optimise every opportunity to convert, upsell and build relationships with your customers.

You can use Infusionsoft to obtain more information on your customers for segmentation, get more likes on social media, send tailored content and promotions, encourage signups to eNewsletters, cross-sell relevant products and services, provide and follow up quotes, conduct surveys and more.

If you want to know how Infusionsoft can benefit your business, we have a fully trained Infusionsoft expert here at Milestone-Belanova to help you make the most of your customer journey. Contact us today and ask for an appointment with Karl to see how Infusionsoft can help your business!

Introducing the Non-linear Consumer Buying Process of Today

The introduction of the internet has revolutionised how consumers make decisions when purchasing an item. Consumers no longer follow a linear path of seeing an advertisement for a product, contacting the seller, getting a quote and deciding whether they are going to purchase the product or not. Today’s buying process is a lot more complicated and non-linear. It involves consumers sourcing information on the internet from a vast array of locations before making an educated decision as to whether they wish to purchase the product or not. Research has shown that up to 67 percent of consumers are influenced by online reviews, with nearly one third of consumers rating online reviews as very important or higher.

Social media is one of the most dominant sources consumers turn to when researching a product. Studies have shown that as much as 83 percent of consumers discover brands, products and services through the use of social media, and 55 percent of consumers trust reviews they read on social media. Facebook is a key area where reviews can influence whether a consumer will purchase a product or not. Consumers are able to post reviews of a business on the business’ page or ‘Place’, or comment on any post for a product with their review. All of these reviews are easy to locate for anyone wanting to know more about a company or their product.

Video is another avenue consumers are looking towards today to get an informed opinion on a product before deciding whether to purchase it or not. Today, one third of activity on the internet is spent watching videos, and it is predicted that by 2020, 82 percent of all web consumer traffic will be video. Studies have also found that two thirds of consumers looking for online reviews on a product will look at videos, and consumers who do view videos on a product are 1.81 times more likely to purchase the product than consumers who do not view videos on the product.

Of course, you can’t talk about online reviews without mentioning review services such as TripAdvisor, Yelp and Amazon, all of which have dedicated channels for consumers to review products, services and businesses. These three services are just a few of the many services which offer reviews on products, but their impact on consumers should not be understated. Research has shown that 90 percent of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business, and nearly 60 percent of consumers will decide to not buy a product after viewing between one and three negative reviews about the product or service in question.

Regardless of where a consumer sources their information, it is clear that the reputation of the product or service in question is more crucial than ever in order for a consumer to purchase it. The introduction of the internet has meant that consumer opinions are now more highly regarded and easily accessible than ever before.