Email Marketing and Customer Contact Lists

The Email inbox is a direct link to some of your biggest fans
– Using this line of communication can give you a marketing advantage

Effective email communication and marketing can be a complicated web to weave. As citizens of a consumer-based economy, we are all bombarded with marketing messages every day – and can frequently be annoyed by them.

Think of your own experience. We’ve all been in the situation where we give out our email address to get membership access, or a give-away, or additional information, which we need at the time – we just didn’t realize that also means we will be getting a weekly newsletter about auto parts 4 times a month.

Despite the risk factors, as a marketing agency Ajar still encourages clients to maintain an accurate and robust email list. In fact, we help design certain marketing strategies to collect emails by offering swag and/or proprietary items and information.

Our philosophy is that an email marketing list is something that should be ever growing. We do this because with the right marketing message and content frequency, email marketing can be a powerful tool.

But just as Spiderman had to learn, with great power comes great responsibility.

When someone gives their email there’s a sense of trust that it won’t be abused by the marketer. Over use of an email account can be intrusive. Instead, we treat it as a permission given by the email recipient, and we take it very seriously. Why?

Because this represents a direct link to an actual customer. While about 70% of adults report having used the internet for Google searches and online shopping, 90% report having email accounts, which they are in the habit of using regularly.

Compared to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram – Email is still a legitimate way to connect with customers and prospects.

Now, the question becomes, what will you communicate?

This can also be a delicate web to weave. Frequency of emails usually depends on your business, the message you are trying to send, and the relevance and timely manner of the information to your intended audience. There’s a lot to consider.

The risk is that the wrong information, or marketing “overkill” can annoy people and drive them to “unsubscribe” from your email list. Then you’ve lost the trust. And you should honor their wishes by
removing them from your list – Meaning you will have to regain their trust if possible to reconnect with them in the future.

And yes, it can be done. With the right communication strategy, anything is possible.

Here’s a more concrete example: Imagine the marketer is a local grocer or neighborhood pharmacy. It could be argued that they have weekly, and even twice weekly, specials and offers on items that their frequent shoppers typically buy. Therefore, a frequent email marketing flyer with store coupons may be appreciated by regular customers.

On the other hand, car dealerships and auto insurance agents are selling more specific, bigger ticket items. People do not need weekly reminders. Face it, unless we’re Elon Musk, then we’re not constantly looking for cars to shoot off into space. Likewise, we are quickly going to unsubscribe when we start hearing about auto insurance sales and offers twice a week.

Now, if the insurance agency were to email other relevant or useful tips and information on a topic that interests us, we might stay on the email list and accept frequent emails from the sender. There are creative ways to stay front of mind without resorting to annoying advertisements.

As you can see, there are an endless array of reasons to communicate with a target audience. The more you dig into the specific messages you are sending to recipients the more you will want to think about who is receiving the information and why they should care. That is how you should go about crafting an email marketing campaign.

In reality, we often coach clients on how to maintain several email lists, or categories, to help better cater individual email messages. We think about demographics and whether recipients are past customers or new prospects.

As an added bonus, we also help clients repurpose email marketing to increase the company website content and help with SEO traffic. And we often find ways to reuse past marketing material in a new formula for email marketing success.

Constant communication is an ongoing challenge. Remember, Ajar is always standing by ready to assist with an email marketing campaign or online publication.

Improve ROI by Hiring a Video Production Company

Viewers will notice a difference with professional cameras, lenses, lighting, and audio – And will be more likely to actually watch your business videos.

Many of the projects we produce as marketers are designed to make a good first impression, or reinforce the value promised by a brand. It’s a pretty basic concept, but sometimes easier said than done. After all, what appeals to some people does not attract others.

Believe it or not, creating a compelling, concise message and transferring that valuable information to a specific target audience is not an easy task.

Taking into consideration quality, time, and budget while keeping in step with brand consistency and company image further adds to the level of difficulty.

Think for a moment about your own YouTube internet viewing habits.

Today’s online world is in the palms of our hands. Through our phones, laptops, etc. we are bombarded by information, offers, and advertisements. There are tons of marketing messages competing for our attention. Infomercials and how-to advice abound on the internet.

We have all experienced this scenario – Looking for information on a topic, we find a video that looks like it has the right information. We click on it, but as we begin to watch, the camera work is shaky; the audio is hard to hear; the on-camera talent fails to get to the point – for any number of reasons we click to the next video.

There’s always another option. Think about your own YouTube experience. There are so many choices nowadays that we have no trouble switching “the channel”. Videos must literally “convince” viewers to watch – and that is more often achieved with high quality professional video productions.

Now think of the last video you found useful.

Hopefully you watched the entire video (maybe more than once). What was it that captured your attention? Did it provide accurate information presented in a logical format? Were the visual aids helpful? Quality camera work? Great acting?

Whatever it was, they got you to watch to the end.

This is the experience you want to give viewers of your business video. If done right, they will reach the call to action. They will get the message. They will visit the website. They buy into the offer.

This is why you need a pro.

A quality video production company is going to achieve better results by following a project schedule. For example, at Ajar we go through a proven 5 step process to achieve video project success:

1. Consider target audience – At the outset we discuss who will be watching the video. Who is it intended for? Are they existing customers, or brand-new folks learning about a business for the first time? We want to consider their age, their interests, and their habits to make a video production that appeals to their sensibilities. This could be serious, comic, or anywhere in between.

2. Write the Script – This is the blueprint for the project. It should spell out everything that will be said on camera as well as narrated. It should also outline what will be filmed, locations, and any remaining production details. It provides guidance to the editing team during post production work as well.

3. Professional cameras, lenses, and equipment – Quality, technology, and experience make all the difference when capturing high definition imagery. We capture the imagination and present your brand in an accurate and appropriate way.

4. Editing and sound – Post production is where much of the magic and story telling take place. A professional production company will take into account music, mood, pacing, and audience to engage viewers and hold their attention. The editing details can make a BIG difference at the viewer’s subconscious level. Our editors can make cell phone cameras and amateur footage look cooler.

5. Distribution plan – Last but not least, the ultimate success of any internet marketing video is a plan for getting eyes on it. Without viewers, what is the point of going through the whole ordeal of filming a video on the first place? We’ve learned that even a GREAT video without a strategy for delivering gives very little return on investment (ROI). While a video with a distribution strategy has a much higher ROI potential.

Sure. But are good business videos really affordable?

The truth is, we don’t know. It depends. But here’s how we do the math. (To tell the truth, this is how we do the math for any internet marketing service we offer): What is the lifetime value of one new customer?

It’s an easy question that means different things to different businesses. An appliance company may have a customer just one time. Or once ever 6 years.

A hair stylist may have a new customer who comes in every 3 weeks.

How long does a business / customer relationship last? Is it monthly? Several years? That would be the lifetime value of a new customer. So how many new customers does a video have to attract before it breaks even? Before it becomes profitable?

For big ticket items, that’s not a lot. It could be one new car sold at an auto dealership. On the other hand, that could be a lot of haircuts. So, it all depends, but it is quite possible to determine if a creative marketing video is the right investment.
Do the math. If it adds up, give Ajar a call.

Otherwise (all joking aside), we highly recommend consulting a professional production agency to evaluate potential project cost and requirements for any public facing video project that will represent your company brand on the web.

What does internet marketing mean for today’s companies?

Developing an effective marketing strategy can involve blending several online business activities into one cohesive communications plan.

With so many catch phrases, focus points, and advice blogs surrounding the topic of internet marketing, it is very easy to get confused on how to develop a formula for getting a business noticed on the web. Collectively, any techniques that promote a brand and drive customer awareness are considered marketing activities.

What about social media like Facebook and Instagram? Yes. Many of the tasks associated with updating profiles and creating posts are part of online marketing.

What about Google pay-per-click ads? Yes. Also a part of the online marketing strategy.

What about email newsletters? Yes.

Company videos? Yes.

Search Engine Optimization? Yes.

The point is, most of the services Ajar Communications offers contribute to internet marketing in some way or another. The secret for any business is to find the right combination of marketing tasks to deliver the best results. This is why marketing a business is challenging. The “successful formula” can be different from industry to industry – And even from business to business within the same industry.

The Marketing Sales Funnel

Our internet marketing philosophy is that each company should discover its own unique method of connecting with its customer base as well as attracting new prospects to take a look at the goods and services being offered.

There is no “one size fits all” marketing plan, however, the goals of the strategy can be considered from a universal perspective, which is to say online marketing should lead potential customers on a logical path to learn more about the company and be invited to conduct business. 

If this is a little wide-reaching as an explanation, here’s a practical example to show how the pieces can fit together. Let’s consider a financial services agency. And let’s agree that “XYZ Financial Planning, LLC” has 2 main marketing goals: First, to maintain a strong relationship with existing clients whose family finances are already under management; and second, to attract potential new customers in their community by advertising their quality financial services.

Some of the marketing activities will have a crossover effect of resonating with both audiences. A well-crafted website and regular email newsletter will help existing customers stay informed. These marketing tools can be thought of as “resources” that make it easy and convenient for people to be reminded of XYZ Financials’ services – and give more ideas on how to leverage that relationship to grow their wealth now and in the future.

Furthermore, a company Facebook page and LinkedIn profile will help create or offer a dialogue between the customers and the company as yet another way to interact, get answers and ideas, and most importantly feel “connected” to your organization.

Meanwhile, a well-structured website and social media presence will also be easy for new connections to navigate and “meet” you. The added challenge with potential new customers is that they don’t know about you yet. Using Google pay per click or Facebook advertising will raise awareness with consumers who have never heard of XYZ Financial but may be looking for advice and guidance with their finances.

Paid internet advertising techniques can focus on certain keywords and phrases that are used in searches for a particular product or service. They can also be targeted at people of certain ages, income levels, or other demographics relevant to your industry. 

The funnel starts with attracting new people and showing them how to get to the website. Once they visit the website, they will learn what to do next. This could encourage them to call or “Live Chat” with a financial representative – or possibly just signup for the company email newsletter, which is an invitation to continue receiving valuable information, tips, and invitations to company sponsored workshops and seminars.

As you can see, how you invite prospects to interact next really depends on the business and the specific sales process that is being utilized. The magic happens in how we shape the message.

Success also relies on some “trial and error”

Patience is a necessary virtue when it comes to internet marketing. We typically advise clients to step cautiously through a new marketing campaign. By making incremental investments and experimenting in the early stages, we can gauge the results as we go and alter the message as needed.

Sometimes what is a very clear message to us does not resonate with the general public. Once you find a successful response rate, you can increase your ad spend or your investment levels. Ultimately, we are looking for the right formula that ends in a clear and concise call to action.

It’s a lot to manage on your own

Like many other articles out there, this attempt to explain online marketing only scratches the surface and gives you some ideas in which direction to go. In all honestly, internet marketing has so many moving parts, that it would be difficult for the average business owner to cover all of this on their own.

You need allies. Trust us, we can relate to the DIY (do-it-yourself) approach to small and mid-size business. We’re a bunch of guys who mow our own lawns, cook family meals, and from time to time even fix a car. 

But, there are other things we don’t do for ourselves, like bookkeeping and accounting. Uncle Sam just doesn’t have a sense of humor about our remedial math skills – no matter how creative we get. 

At Ajar, we have monthly services that create a foundation for many of the needed activities for successfully marking a business online. With marketing programs in place, our customers have the peace of mind that even if their own schedule is out of control, then at least some level of internet marketing will happen each month. 

When they do find extra time on the calendar, they can also jump on Facebook, make a post, highlight an upcoming event, or just stay connected with their target audience. It’s a win-win scenario that doesn’t have to be cost prohibitive.

Contact us to learn more.

A Company Website is the Home Base of Internet Marketing

Google Ads, Facebook, social media, even printed material and brochures should drive potential customers to your online business “hub”

As we approach 2019, it sounds crazy, but we actually still come across a number of small businesses that do not have a website. This would be the equivalent of a business in the 1980’s or 1990’s not being listed in the Yellow Pages.

The internet is the way people search for products and services these days. So, the only reason it would be logical not to have a website is if a company has all the customers they will ever need. In other words, a company that does not need to attract new customers.

A strange phenomenon indeed, but possible.

Another situation we sometimes still see is a business with a very “outdated” website design. As time passes, the internet is forced to keep up with technology, which is constantly evolving. Every few years it’s a good idea to “refresh” a website, to keep pace with design trends and adapt for optimal viewing.

Today’s mobile responsive websites “adjust” their appearance to fit the device they are being viewed on. Users may surf the web on mobile phones, tablets, iPads, and desktop computers – a website should resize automatically depending on the device.

Just having a web presence may not be enough

For those with the mindset that they made a website once and they do not want to ever think about it again may be a little short sited. Are you driving the same car you did in college?

With so many websites competing for attention and consumer business, people shopping and researching online have a lot of options to choose from. They quickly judge a company by the “look” and functionality of a website. They make snap decisions to “buy” or “bounce” from a page depending on whether they can or can’t find what they’re looking for.

Perhaps a goal for online marketers should be to guide a prospective customer through a logical progression of steps, learning about the products or services and getting a solid idea of what the business is all about and making it easy for them to interact or make a purchase.

A website should serve as the central hub of online marketing

We sometimes run into business owners who believe Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and other social media sites are fine for attracting new business. And most of them are free, right?

It is true that these are great places to be found, but we believe these social outlets should be thought of as casting a wider “net” to attract potential customers and bring them into a sales funnel.

The website is the final stage of the funnel before there is contact, maybe through email, or a phone call or some other means depending on the specific business or industry. Many products and services are simple and can be purchased relatively risk free with the click of the mouse.

More complex purchases may require a conversation or deeper explanations to close the deal.

The point is this, the only two things in the online world that a company can truly control are its website and its email list.

With Facebook and other social media sites, decisions can be made by their corporate structures that will impact how content can be viewed – and by whom. And what is allowed today may not be in the future. If your online marketing depends on a third-party platform, you will be at the mercy of their rules and protocols.

On the other hand, your website can always be under your control. You decide the layout. You decide the content. Your website is all about you. And it can allow you to walk a prospect through a logical sales process with clear communication.

Our philosophy of advertising a business online is to use every means available. Figure out where your customers are spending their time on the web. Use social media, Google Ads, and Facebook Advertising to get their attention – then direct those prospects to your website where you can deliver a clear and concise message of the value you offer.

Reputation Management

Your Online Reputation Adds Vitality to Your Brand

Take steps to build upon the positive while addressing and mitigating the negative

The internet is amazing and scary at the same time. It is a blessing in that it gives everyone a voice. And yet it is a curse in that gives everyone a voice – Even those negative voices that aren’t always worth hearing!

ENTER – the negative online review.

Each time one hits, it’s like a business canker sore that festers for a while before it clears up. It stings every time your business tries to “smile” online.

You want to use the internet to tell the world how awesome it is to experience your product or service –but there’s just one or two “naysayers” posting complaints and pointing out shortcomings.

You, the brave and fearless business owner, must do three things to survive and thrive through times of turbulent reviews:

  1. You must address legitimate complaints or “unmet” expectations. No person, or business is perfect. We all make mistakes. Your audience sometimes needs to see how you respond when something happens. Are you calm and composed? Or are you a hot head that can’t take a little criticism? If you have absolutely no negative reviews, that can appear “fake”. Customers will assume you buried them somehow.
  2. You should control and eliminate fictitious reviews. If someone lodged a complaint, and you cannot find a record of them ever being a customer or client, then they could be an unscrupulous competitor, or someone just intent on spreading lies and defaming companies online. That’s not cool, and those types of comments can be stricken from the record.
  3. You should sign up for a reputation management program. Ajar offers this type of review service, but so do other reputable marketers. This will ensure that reviews are monitored, flagged for response when necessary – and, most importantly, it encourages and rewards a constant stream of new reviews and comments, which further dilutes the negative.

Yes. You heard that correctly, nothing combats negative reviews online like many more positive ones. Statistics show that around 80% of the time consumers are more apt to write good reviews. There are effective ways to encourage and ask customers for their feedback.

A couple of words of advice – reputation management is a BIG and involved topic, this article only scratches the surface. In future articles we will dig deeper.

If you are dealing with any specific scenarios or review trouble, you might want to consult a professional branding advisor. A qualified company can help you remove malicious content from the web.

If you’re going to address a negative review situation on your own, take a deep breath and reference this helpful summary by Amanda Clark: 5 Things to Do When Your Business Gets a Bad Review.

We like this quote by Andy Beal, author of Repped: 30 Days to a Better Online Reputation: “If a customer is happy, they’ll tell five people. If they’re unhappy, they’ll tell 10. If they were unhappy but then you did something amazing to make them happy again, they’ll tell 20.”

Reputation Management II

The Best Strategy is to Increase Online Reviews

When it comes to online customer reviews, it’s a numbers game. Statistically speaking, most comments are positive. So, constantly adding new customer feedback will push the negative comments to the bottom of the list

In our last article, we highlighted effective ways to handle negative reviews. As you learned, it doesn’t help to ignore them and hope they go away.

You must find a way to see them as opportunities to demonstrate your outstanding customer service by addressing them publicly and resolving them in a professional manner.

That being said, a way to dilute the impact of negative comments is to continuously ask for new comments and feedback.

Too often in our world as marketers we see situations where customers are happy to give testimonials and talk about a positive experience with a company or brand, if only they were asked!

This scenario can be avoided by simply putting in place a reputation management system, which automatically solicits feedback from a customer when certain criteria of the sale are met, or at other designated times in your customer relationship process.

Your what?! Yeah, it’s a mouthful. But the truth is, every business has it. Maybe more commonly referred to as “customer satisfaction.”

We’re talking about the sales cycle process – with the major steps being:

  1. The customer identifies a need
  2. They find out that your company offers a way to address the need
  3. They research and decide to contact you
  4. They learn more about your product or service
  5. Money is exchanged for the good or service.

Some industries have more pre-sale touch points, others require even less. It usually depends on the size, cost, and complexity of the purchase.

Throughout that process, the business employees build a customer relationship through “touch points”.

Within every process we find opportunities to ask for feedback. Typically, it’s asked for after the sale, but it could be requested at other points in the process.

Here’s the main point

In reality, a majority of shoppers, clients, and customers will not leave reviews. Face it, we’re just too dang busy to leave a comment every time we’re asked. Think about your own habits for a moment – how many times a week do you click “No Thanks” to an online survey request?

But, every so often we do. Or, a company makes it so easy for us to respond, that before we’ve thought about it, we’ve participated and moved on.

Now, there’s two times we are “likely” to leave a review. One if we’re incredibly pleased – something was better or easier than expected. It actually feels good to tell others we got a great deal – or tremendous value!

The other time we’re likely to review – When we’re extremely pissed off!! We want people not to fall for the same trap – we rail against society and the evils of corporate America!!!

In fact, we’re probably more likely to go out of our way to leave a negative review when we feel we’ve been duped!

Taking all of this into consideration, it’s no wonder that sometimes we find businesses online that don’t have a good reputation – and sometimes it may not be their fault.

The few customers who had trouble, wrote about it.

While the vast majority of customers had a wonderful experience but did not go out of their way to write about it – so those voices aren’t being heard.

When you ask for their feedback, remember, some will participate, others won’t, and who cares? Overtime, you will add more positive comments into the mix.

Potential customers reading a wide range of reviews will have more information to consider and it will help them make an educated decision.

Many times, we rush to assume bad reviews will be our downfall. But sometimes, the bad feedback is that someone had an unreasonable expectation that wasn’t met, or they did not read the instructions properly, or they tried to use a product for the wrong purpose, whatever.

The real problem with a few negative reviews is when there are no positive comments to balance them out. It looks like a one-sided argument.

If you want to learn more, call us today.
A solid reputation management strategy by Ajar will help you rise above.

Online Business Listings: Why Are They So Important?!

Because Google searches don’t always lead people to your website first and foremost. Many times, web browsers end up on 3rd party websites and business directories. YELP! Google “My Business” Profiles. Yellow Pages. Trip Advisor – just to name a few.

There are hundreds of search directories that web users stumble upon depending on what words and phrases they used when typing in their search.

Are some third-party sites more relevant than other? Yes.

Reputation plays a big part for every business online. And search engine directory companies are no different. However, it’s in their best interest to give reliable information. After all, their business is to get web users to come to their website. If they give bad info, people won’t trust them anymore. So, they rarely give “misinformation” on purpose. 

But, sometimes they import business listing info from old, outdated sources that they find in public records, online, etc. 

Maybe they just haven’t connected with you in a while… And honestly, who really has time to stay on top of all that web stuff anyway!?

Well, maybe your competitors do. And that puts you at a disadvantage.

Nothing is more annoying to a potential customer than finding a great place through an online search, but then they call and find out the phone number is old, and disconnected…

Or the street address is inaccurate!! That’s where you were as a downtown start up. Now, none of the searches are telling people you’ve moved to an office uptown!

The good news is, this is a relatively easy and cheap fix for your marketing budget. Reputable online marketers should not charge you an arm and a leg for a business directory listings service.

At Ajar Communications we offer a service that will ensure a business appears in all significant search engine directories with proper spelling of name, address, phone, and all other accurate profile information.

For those who want more certainty with directory tracking and updates, as well as added security for an online business brand, Ajar offers a low cost monthly plan. Depending on your type of business and the importance of customer reviews, you might have an interest in our reputation management services, too.

For any business serious about their online “impact”, we offer a free web activity and relevance “checkup”, which includes a detailed report on key performance indicators such as keyword analysis, social media presence, online reach, and more. 

5 Components of a Winning Online Marketing Strategy for 2018

Valuable tips for small and mid-size companies to boost website visits by advertising on the web
Look around, everyone is on the web these days, right? If you want to market to people, you have to get your brand and message where their eyes are “looking”. And everyone is looking at their phone. Put your brand in the palm of their hands.

But, with such a vast “ocean” of information out there, how can you be sure to make a splash and get noticed? This is a complex and difficult task, especially if you are a business owner with serious day-to-day concerns.

Let’s face it, everyone and their brother has a website. That alone is not going to help you stand out in the crowd. Even posting to Facebook might not ensure your content reaches your direct contacts, not without paying to promote your posts.

All Is not lost. The good news is, you don’t have to get your business message in front of everyone to succeed. You just need to reach the people who could potentially be your customers – now and in the future.

Read more