Marketing Tips for a Successful Holiday Season

In most industries, the holiday season is the most profitable time of the year. Businesses work all year to have a holiday marketing strategy in place by November. Holiday marketing has changed quite a bit over the years and many businesses are still trying to use outdated tactics. If your business is part of an industry that depends on the holiday season for success, then the following tips can help you prepare your marketing strategy for the holidays.

Start now

The holiday shopping season has typically begun the day after Thanksgiving but in recent years many stores are opening their doors on the evening of Thanksgiving Day. It’s not uncommon to see businesses setting up their Christmas displays on the first of November immediately after Halloween has passed. By late summer early fall you should already be thinking ahead towards the holiday season. Make sure you’re stocking up on merchandise that’s sure to be a big seller and hire seasonal help if needed.

Target separate events

Don’t make the mistake of lumping all of the holidays into one. Christmas and New Years are the two big ones but Kwanzaa and Hanukkah might be big in your area as well depending on demographics. Don’t forget to take into account days that might be significant just locally like the last day of the semester for school kids. Each of these are separate days that can be used for special sales or events to get more foot traffic and boost sales. In addition to holding separate sales, approach each of them differently since they apply to different demographics with different interests.

Use mobile marketing

Mobile marketing is one of the most effective channels you have to reach customers during the holidays and throughout the year. If you don’t already have an SMS campaign, start one. It’s a great way to build a loyal customer base and reward them for being your customers. SMS is also ideal for time sensitive communications like flash sales or new stock of a popular item that has sold out during a big sale since 90% of text messages are opened and read within three minutes of being received. You can take advantage of geolocation technology built into every phone by sending push notifications to customers who get within a certain distance of your business.

Carry over into January

Sales don’t have to drop off completely after New Year’s day. If you have leftover stock from your holiday sales, you can use January as a month to sell of that extra stock at a steep discount. January is a time for New Year’s resolutions and back to school as well so think about how you can use these to your advantage to stay profitable even after the holiday season is officially over.

Mobile Technology News brought to you by biztexter.com

Source: huffingtonpost.com/entry/4-small-business-marketing-tips-for-a-successful-2017_us_59a6b3d9e4b05fa16286be78

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The Many Ways a Chatbot Could be Helping Your Small Business

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Chatbots have come a long way in the short time they’ve been around thanks to advances in machine learning, natural language processing, and other branches of artificial intelligence that go into creating these incredible programs. Though they may not have initially lived up to the hype, chatbots have shown that they have real implications in the world of business. If you haven’t already looked into developing a chatbot for your small business, consider the following reasons that you may want to.

A more personalized marketing approach

Imagine having an employee that can remember every single shopper’s personal preferences and was prepared to offer personalized suggestions to every single individual that walked through the door. Chatbots can do this. Unlike humans who have very limited storage in their brain for minute details, chatbots can remember every interaction they have with every single customer and can draw from that knowledge with each successive encounter with those same customers.

Proactive customer support

Customer support is by its very nature, reactive. Your customer service team can’t reach out to customers before they have a problem, they have to wait until called upon. Chatbots, however, can be proactive. You’ve probably already experienced this when you go to a website to find an answer to a question. Maybe you’re trying to see how many payments you have left on your phone or you’re wondering when you’re due for an upgrade. Perhaps you’re trying to set up automatic payments for a loan you just took out. When you get to the website and can’t find what you’re looking for, a chatbot can recognize you’re stuck based on how long you remain on a page (a long time on a single page or a very short time on several pages in quick succession) and initiate a conversation to get you the help you need.

24/7 service

The average small business doesn’t have the resources to pay a customer support team to be available around the clock. But a chatbot can work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and can assist an unlimited number of people simultaneously. Customers will no longer have to wait until the next business day to get some form of assistance, even if it’s just an acknowledgement of the problem and a scheduled call back by a live person at a given time.

Gather and analyze customer info

As already mentioned, chatbots aren’t limited in the amount of memory they can store. This makes chatbots ideal for gathering and analyzing large amounts of data to obtain valuable information. Chatbots can be “fed” hundreds or even thousands of transcripts of actual customer service interactions and find patterns whether it’s common mistakes being made which, if avoided, cut reduce the average time for each interaction. They can also use this ability to become more efficient themselves.

Make customer service interactions fun

Chatbots are new enough that they are still a novelty for many consumers. In other words, people still get a kick out of talking to a computer program once they realize that’s what’s happening. Programming your bot with a little wit or some other personality trait adds a level of realism that customers will really appreciate.

Mobile Technology News brought to you by biztexter.com

Source: entrepreneur.com/article/299611#

 

How to Salvage a Failing Marketing Strategy

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When a marketing strategy isn’t giving you the results you want, you may be tempted to just scrap it and start over. While that may often be the best course of action, many failed marketing campaigns can be saved if you’re willing to go back to the drawing board and try some new things. Here are a few tips for salvaging a marketing strategy that has so far been failing you.

Be patient

Depending on the strategy (some should produce near-immediate results while strategies that involve content marketing can take much longer) you may just need to be patient. If you only just rolled out your new content marketing schedule and you aren’t seeing improved numbers, it may just need a few more weeks or even months to start producing the results you want.

Find ways to differentiate it

Depending on your company’s niche, you may be trying to market in an overly crowded marketplace. It could be that your message is too similar to other brands’. It may take a lot of thinking, but you can eventually come up with a brand message that’s different enough from everyone else’s to really stand out.

Sweeten the deal

If your marketing strategy entails some kind of special offer, it may be that the special offer isn’t special enough. This is a fine line of course because too good a deal can bankrupt you or lead to so much interest you can’t meet demand and upset your customers. Carefully consider if you can afford to make your deal better.

Narrow in on a more specific audience

A common marketing mistake is trying to target too wide an audience. It may seem counter-intuitive but you actually want to target a smaller audience with more relevant advertising than a wider audience with less relevant advertising. Everything from the channels you’re using to the tone you’re adopting can be adjusted to better fit your target audience.

Segment and test your strategy

It may be that just one aspect of your marketing strategy isn’t working. To find the source of your problems you’ll have to segment and AB test. You can stop all efforts on one social media platforms to see how the other stands up on it’s own. You can test one version of a landing page against another version.

Unify your efforts

Regardless of how many channels you’re using, you need certain uniform elements to tie them together. If all of the smaller parts aren’t contributing to a greater whole, you need to revisit those parts individually to see how you can get them to work better together. A foolproof way to do this is to make sure you’re integrating various channels. Your text messages should link recipients to your mobile site and your social media pages, your mobile site should direct people to your social media profiles and tell visitors how to sign up to receive text messages and your social media pages should encourage people to opt-in to your SMS loyalty program and to visit your mobile site.

Last resort

A new strategy is always an option you can go to as a last resort. If you’ve given it time and tried the other tips mentioned above, it may be time to find a new angle, a new channel, or an entirely new brand message.

Mobile Technology News brought to you by biztexter.com

Source: entrepreneur.com/article/298641

 

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Three Things You Need to Know Before Deploying Your First Chatbot

Chatbots are the big trend in customer service today and many experts predict that they’ll completely alter the way that people and brands interact going forward. Chatbots can not only ease the burden on customer service agents but they can in eliminate the need for costly mobile apps that many smaller businesses can’t afford. But before you invest time and money in developing and deploying a chatbot for your small business, here are three things you need to know first.

Who is your audience?

Your chatbot can’t interact effectively with your customer base if it doesn’t understand who they are and what makes them tick. And the only way your chatbot can be programmed to know your audience is if you already know them and make the effort to program your bot with that same knowledge. Some obvious places to start is with obvious demographics. Are they primarily male or female or an even mix? Are they younger or older or does their age vary widely? Do they come from wealthier or poorer backgrounds? Do they lean conservative or liberal? Chances are your customers will usually divide along these lines. Another thing to consider about your customer base is where they usually turn for customer service help. To they go to your website, call a customer service line or do they turn to social media for help?

What is your goal and how can you achieve it?

You need to have well-defined goals for your chatbot or it will be a complete failure. A surprising number of companies are just programming chatbots just to do it because everyone else is. To improve the customer service experience is a given but how specifically do you want to improve it? Are you trying to reduce wait times? If so, how can your chatbot help you accomplish that? Also recognize that your chatbot won’t be an overnight success. Chatbots learn by making mistakes. You will almost certainly need to go in and make adjustments to make it more effective and achieving the goals you’ve set for your bot.

How will you get customers to use it?

No matter how much time and effort you put into creating a useful chatbot, it will all be a waste if your customers don’t know about it or don’t wish to use it. Revisit the question of audience and where they turn to for customer assistance. If you have a customer service line they usually call, maybe you can provide instructions for reaching out to your chatbot in the automated phone answering system you use so customers waiting for a live agent might hang up and go to your chatbot. If they go to your website, you might have your chatbot initiate a conversation when it seems your customers are stuck on a webpage. You can use existing marketing channels whether that’s email, SMS, or something else to tell your frequent customers about your newest customer service agent. Give it a catchy name that people will remember and be excited about.

Mobile Technology News brought to you by biztexter.com

Source: smallbiztrends.com/2017/08/chatbots-for-customer-service.html

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How to Use SMS and Email Marketing Strategies in Tandem

When email first came on the scene, it was the hottest thing in marketing since the television. But the numbers for email marketing don’t look as good as they used to. Now it’s overdone and 80% of all emails sent are never even opened, let alone read. Email providers started automatically filtering out spam mail and the effectiveness of email marketing took a hit. More recently, SMS, or text messaging, has become the new email. The open rates for text messages is even higher (98%) than email’s open rates were at the very beginning and it’s the preferred method of communication for the majority of people, especially younger people.

If SMS is so great, you may be wondering why email marketing should even be invested in at all. There are actually several reasons to continue with email marketing and the effectiveness of both email and SMS marketing can be improved when they’re used in connection with each other.

Different strengths and weaknesses

The SMS protocol limits the length of text messages to 160 characters. While your actual message can be longer than this, the cell phone provider will break this message into smaller messages of 153 characters with no regard to the break in sentences. Texts messages may be incoherent if they break off mid-word. The 160 character limit is perfect for mobile offers, order statuses, and quick announcements but it won’t work for all messages.

Email on the other hand is a great way to send longer form messages such as newsletters or catalogues.

Texting’s lower annoyance threshold

People are generally less annoyed by promotional emails than texts because they’re easier to ignore and you can send hundreds of ignored message to the trash folder with a couple of clicks. And make no mistake, more of your emails will be deleted unread than text messages. But there is a benefit to this as well. With SMS you’re much more limited in how many texts you want to send per month with most recommending so send no more than about 8. Much more than that and you start to get a lot of opt-outs. By using email marketing, you can send more messages and leave only the very most important to SMS.

Divide and conquer

Email can be a great channel for growing your SMS opt-ins and SMS can be a great channel for getting more email opt-ins. By diversifying your channels you increase the audience for both. There will be some who prefer one over the other and there will be some who like to receive both. A good strategy is to include some exclusive offers/content for both so that you can’t get everything by just subscribing to one channel.

Mobile Technology News brought to you by biztexter.com

Source: business2community.com/email-marketing/using-sms-part-email-marketing-strategy-01889822#KWPihXOL2CkRYVLE.97

 

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Four Ways to Use SMS Marketing in the Salon Industry

Summer can be a difficult time in the salon industry since people are too busy taking vacations and having fun to schedule a haircut or get their nails done. If you’ve got a wide open appointment book to fill whether it be for haircuts, massages, or manicures, SMS marketing can help. Here are four ways you can use it to get people through the doors.

Flash deals

Great deals that are too good to pass up and available for a very limited time–think hours not days–are especially effective when sent via text. Because they’re time sensitive messages, SMS is the ideal channel for delivering them. Approximately 95% of recipients will receive and read the text within three minutes of receiving it.

Location based marketing

People are more likely to redeem a mobile coupon or show up for a limited time deal if they’re already in the area when they receive it. SMS campaigns can use smartphones’ built-in GPS to automatically send a special offer when a person gets within a specified distance of the place of business.

Appointment reminders

In addition to getting new appointments, you need to try to limit the number of missed ones since every missed appointment is lost revenue. Print reminders are likely to end up in the trash and emailed reminders may accidentally get filtered into a junk folder. Text reminders are usually received and the recipient has the option to click on the date and time listed in the text to set a reminder or add it to their calendar app.

Invitation for reviews

In addition to retaining existing customers, you want to win over customers who are growing dissatisfied with their regular stylist. When a person is trying to find a new salon, one of the first places they’ll look is on online directories like Google or Yelp to read customer reviews. You can use SMS to send recent customers a link to these direction along with an invitation to leave feedback. Lots of good reviews will help you continue to build your customer base and keep busy, even during the summer months.

Mobile Technology News brought to you by biztexter.com

Source: salontoday.com/article/81556/avoid-the-summertime-salon-slump-with-these-proven-strategies

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When Will Chatbots be Able to Pass the Turing Test?

Alan Turing was a renowned computer scientist and mathematician and a pioneer of artificial intelligence and machine learning research. It was Turing who proposed a test for distinguishing between “true” artificial intelligence and the machines that can kind of replicate it.

The Turing Test

The Turing Test is rather simple: a human converses with a machine (either verbally written) without seeing it. If the human cannot tell whether the machine is human or not, it is said to has passed the Turing Test. Artificial intelligence and machine learning research has come a long way since Alan Turing’s death in 1954 but we still haven’t been able to create a machine capable of tricking a human into thinking it’s human. For a good example of how far we’ve come and how far we have to go, look no further than the growing popularity of chatbots.

What are chatbots

Chatbots are computer programs that can be deployed on SMS or other messaging platforms to communicate textually with humans. They’re a perfect real-world example of the Turing Test in action. The problem is that it doesn’t take humans very long to realize that the entity they’re chatting with online isn’t human.

What chatbots can and can’t do

Most chatbots are designed to do one or two simple tasks that humans ask of them or they might be programmed to select the appropriate response to a predetermined set of frequently asked questions. More advanced programs like Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri have been programmed to respond to a wider number of questions but they still fall short of passing the Turing Test because they aren’t actually able to think as humans do. They have access to vast amounts of information that they can draw from to answer questions or perform certain tasks. What they can’t do is infer meaning from language. They can select an appropriate response to a question when certain keywords are used or when it’s worded in a way they’re programmed to recognize. But they can’t parse language as humans and take into account the context of when it was said and by whom and with what tone to know what the person is meaning.

What are they good for

More intelligent chatbots that can fool humans and pass the infamously difficult Turing Test may yet be developed but in the meantime, the chatbots that are being developed serve a purpose. They automate customer service and free up human resources by fielding the easy questions and handling the more mundane parts of the job that require less critical thinking. And many consumers prefer dealing with chatbots than having to get on the phone and be put on hold.

Mobile Technology News brought to you by biztexter.com

Source: sciencemag.org/news/2017/06/when-will-alexa-google-assistant-and-other-chatbots-finally-talk-us-real-people

#ai-chatbots, #chatbot-ai, #chatbot-customer-service, #chatbots, #mobile-marketing