Three Simple Steps to Defining Your Target Audience

Knowing and understanding your target audience is arguably the most important factor in internet marketing. Not only will this allow you to produce great work that draws attention and makes money, it will also ensure that your business is making the right choices to achieve economic security, sustainable growth, as well as establishing itself as an industry leader.

1. Who is your business?

The first step in this process is to figure out who your business is. Yes, who. Chances are you know what your business sells, where it sells what it sells, and how you go about selling. But ‘who’ is the heart of the matter here—who is your business?

If you’re actually a little stuck for an answer, think back to the planning or brainstorming phase. That was when you and your team members were narrowing down the business’s focus and considering whom the product or service would attract. Reconsider your business’s mission statement or the central purpose of your product or service.

Knowing who your competitors are can help you position your business within the market, too, so consider the top five. You can run a quick Google, Facebook, or Twitter search using some keywords related to your field of business. You may even dig a little deeper by reading into their mission statement or scanning the About section. By the end of this process, you should know the purpose of your business and its products, who is looking for and purchasing your content, and how you can do it better than your competitors.

2. Who is your Customer?

Next, delve down deeper into who you are selling to. Of course, it is wise to distinguish your customer bases, but aim high for this one and imagine your top customer base, the most specific, most profitable, but also the customer bases you’re planning to connect with in the future. Having high hopes for your business and the audience you market to only further supports business growth in the long run.

For this step, it’s necessary to tap into your analytics. You can find the relevant data on your primary website, via your previous advertising campaigns, on social media pages, and particularly your business’s purchase history. Google Analytics is also a great tool for viewing data on your audience, and Facebook Insights can show you how you’re doing on social media. Does the data show you’re connecting with those you’d like to target? Or does it show another customer base you did not intend marketing to? Can you align the two?

If you are having trouble locating or producing reliable data on your audience or your business has no previous customer base to work with, you can always work from assumptions. However, be wary of making your audience feel dumb. Your users may not necessarily understand your industry terms or they may not have had previous experience dealing with a brand like yours. Be conscientious and when in doubt, be broad and extremely detailed.

Revisit your analytics regularly using the tools above. You can also try sending out automatic emails to your audience asking for their feedback or conducting a semi-annual or annual user survey. This will give you more specific, individualized responses from your audience,  but this approach is generally more time intensive and produces fewer results than Google Analytics.

3. Learn and Change

In the third and final step, take the information gathered and apply what you already know. Maybe you are concerned your business has strayed too far from your initial target audience, that your product has turned out to be more appropriate for a different crowd. If this concerns you, work towards realignment—in other words, make sure you are making the right material for the right people.

Or, perhaps you are willing to accept the new audience your product appears to be servicing and changing your target audience altogether. In this case, you may consider customizing your user experience to accommodate the new target audience. If you have reached this point in understanding your audience, get back to basics. Rinse and repeat steps one through three – now with this new audience in mind.

By following the steps outlined above, you are ready to know and grow your business. So go for it – your market is waiting!

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Online Advertising Platforms: Where to Start

Brilliant ideas. Solid strategies. Gumption. There are dozens of different factors that go into creating a successful business, but in an increasingly connected world, every consumer has more options by the minute, and if you want them to find your services, you’ll need to spend every cent of your larger-than-ever advertising budget wisely. This isn’t easy; after all, you have plenty of options, too. How do you make the right choice and get the most hits for your money?

Know Your Clients’ Interests

Since the beginning of business itself, entrepreneurs have had to answer the all-important question of just who will be most likely to buy their products. In the age of the Internet, you have a huge swath of the world population at your fingertips: an estimated 3.5 billion people now have a convenient connection to the web.

Of course, narrowing down billions of people to find the ones who will want your product is no easy task, which is why the biggest online advertising platforms can do some targeting on your behalf. Facebook, with nearly 2 billion users, is perhaps the most effective widespread advertising platform for this reason, allowing you to target users by location, interests, and devices used, in addition to some demographic details. While this sometimes lands Facebook in controversial waters, there’s no denying how effective Facebook ads can be, and how many they reach for a relatively low price.

Twitter’s options for advertising have been growing exponentially as of late, and they, too, have a vast array of data points at hand to use for targeting – even letting you specifically reach out to users who use certain emoji.

Google’s AdWords service is another way to narrow your audience and stay within your budget, only charging you when people click your ads and only showing your ads when someone searches for phrases you decide are relevant. When you’ve reached the budget you set, the ads simply stop appearing until you’re ready to pony up.

What’s New

In an upcoming podcast we will be discussing advertising platforms further with a focus on the new advertising monster on its way to the top: Instagram. It sounds bizarre as an advertising platform and it is exclusive, but it has all of the right keys to be very effective for the right products. Keep an eye out for the podcast soon.

Get Personal

If you already have a database of users, one of the easiest ways to make sure they don’t forget about you is an old classic: email. Monthly services like Constant Contact and MailChimp have been around for decades, evolving to incorporate more social media-centric aspects into their software, but always staying focused on the proactive marketing inherent in email campaigns. Some CRM databases build their own email marketing tools, like iContact for Salesforce, which can go through your contacts for the information it needs to build an effective campaign. Newer service Mailify costs a little more than the older services, but takes a smart and fresh approach to its interface and thinks more about your campaign on mobile devices, all of which are crucial in the modern age.

Many a service makes promises to keep your business from getting lost in the shuffle, and choosing between them is a difficult task. Luckily, the world is smaller than ever, and your clients are right on the other side of your computer. And don’t be afraid to try out multiple services, and choose what works best for you. By really digesting your user base, potential scope, and your reach, you’ll find the right service for your business.

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How to Make New Customers Your Forever Customers

This article is about heartfelt engagement with customers. It’s about what makes them feel good, why loyal consumers matter, and how you can gain a faithful following for your website or business.

People like to be checked in on. They want you to ask them about their experience with your website, product, or service because it gives them the opportunity to talk about it! Customers enjoy hearing and seeing their names, and they especially love being remembered. No really: one in four customers gets upset when a business does not identify them as a past patron.

It’s not awkward either to request more information (like names and preferences) when 67% of American consumers would willingly provide companies with personal information in exchange for better products and higher levels of customer service. Persuade your customers, offering them the ability to track orders and receive special offers, to register and you can gain access to their buying history and preferences, show them personalized love, and ultimately make repeat purchasing faster and easier.

Now, let’s talk loyalty—programs. We probably all have a dusty coffee shop punch card tucked somewhere in our wallets! While that’s become a thing of the past, the future of loyalty programs is here, and it’s expanding. As of 2015, there were about 3.3 billion customer loyalty program memberships in the United States, and that number increased 26% from 2013. So they’re out there, and people still want them. In fact, some American consumers, roughly 34%, are loyal to a specific brand simply because of the loyalty program, and 76% of them believe their loyalty program, or that dusty punch card, is an integral part of the relationship they share with the brand.

People like prizes and perks, but what’s in it for your business? Lots. Loyalty programs increase revenue, order values, net promoter scores, and repeat purchase rates. They also activate customer engagement and interaction and help build a brand that customers perceive as concerned and likable. It does take creativity, commitment, and money to start and follow through on these programs, however, and a failure to keep it interesting, current, and active could negatively impact your brand or business. The good news is that every three out of four companies with a loyalty program generate a return on investment, increasing customer retention by 5% and profits by up to 95%.

It is 6-7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep a current one, according to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs. This is largely because current customers spend more than new customers. Take the ones you’ve got, learn their names, take down their information, send them considerate emails thanking them for their business, get your creative team brainstorming a new loyalty program, and let the customers do the rest.

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Elegance and Functionality: UX Principles for 2017

In recent years, web-based sales have grown exponentially, specifically through mobile devices such as smartphones. Digital portions of sales rose 23.7% in 2016, accounting for 8.7% of total retail spending worldwide (which will increase to 14% by 2020). Given the increasing importance of an online business presence, a contemporary, user-friendly website is key for large and small businesses alike. While keeping up with current UX trends can be challenging, some knowledge of UX styles helps to keep a business modern while offering a satisfying online retail experience.

Fortunately, current UI and UX tendencies are focused on combining functionality, style, and commercial viability, so I can stay on trend stylistically while keeping my e-commerce site user-friendly. The goal is to marry form and function. For example, while the carousel design looks very up-to-date, it is slow and can cause problems for SEO. Instead of hip design elements that don’t work well, designers are attempting to emphasize clean designs while boosting functionality across devices. Here are some more specific recent styles that allow designers to create a rich user experience with a contemporary, elegant appearance.
Semi-flat designs: Flat designs have been very popular over the past few years, in part because they look clean and clearly emphasize products. However, while the flat design is certainly timeless, it is becoming too omnipresent, giving it a cookie-cutter look. Semi-flat designs create dynamism while keeping the elegance and simplicity of flat designs. By adding small amounts of shading or depth cues, a site can stay current without losing readability.

Original images: Similarly, stock photos have been overused tremendously over the past few years. They are easy to obtain, but if I run a reverse image search online, I can easily see exactly how many other e-commerce websites are using the same image. Luckily, most phones today are built with a camera that can take professional-looking pictures for an e-commerce website. This small but original touch allows an e-commerce site to stand out as unique and detail-oriented with very little extra effort.

Creative Typefaces: This is the year to start looking for bolder, more creative fonts. While Google Fonts is fantastic, and new fonts frequently get added, their most popular ones are oversaturated in the e-commerce world—especially traditional sans serif fonts. Instead, we’re looking at big, beautiful fonts that become the statement piece of the website.

Dynamic Colors: More dynamic colors are getting deployed very judiciously in combination with copious amounts of whitespace. For example, designers are choosing a highly contrasting color palette (grays and reds, for instance), but only minimally, so that color can highlight the dominant whitespace. Or, alternatively, designers are using subtle color shadows in muted hues (shades of blue), which work well with a semi-flat design style. Both of these trends add dimensionality through thoughtful use of color.

Interfaces for unique users: Many new users are both older (65+) or younger (less than 10). As such, many designers are working with designs that can be tailored to age groups. For example, larger fonts are good with older users, while brighter, more vivid colors work well for younger users. As the ubiquity of metadata increases, so will the ability to have targeted web interfaces geared toward specific users.

Very simply, I see 2017 as the year of mobile interfaces, user and vendor functionality, and small, individual touches that make websites unique. Many of these styles are already popular, but given the emphasis on functionality and simplicity, they will continue through 2017 — and probably well beyond.

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Mobilegeddon: The Future of Mobile Marketing

The Jetsons, a show that left generations of children in awe of what the future might hold, provided a mere glimpse of what we’ve come to know. Half a century after the show’s debut, technology has eclipsed just about everything George and Judy ever had at their disposal.

Since smartphones emerged, the transition to a mobile-friendly environment is an important one for any marketer to consider. Put another way: if you intend operating a successful eCommerce website, or any website for that matter, you must cater to the mobile consumer. Not doing so is to ignore a substantial portion of your market. With 68 percent of companies integrating mobile marketing into their business, it seems downright archaic not to follow suit.

Not only are a significant number of people accessing the Internet from their smartphone or tablet, but they are also doing so with the intent of making purchases. On Black Friday — for the first time ever — mobile sales exceeded the billion dollar mark, with $1.2 billion coming from phones and tablets. That’s a 33 percent year over year growth when compared to the year before.

Knowing this, it’s your responsibility to create a shopping experience that will appeal to your mobile customers. 40 percent of users resort to a competitor’s website after an unfavorable mobile experience. Even those shoppers who go into a brick and mortar store often turn to their mobile device when making purchasing decisions. In 2015, 80 percent of customers used a mobile device inside a physical store. While the reasons varied, many people wound up making price comparisons, reading shopper reviews, and looking for different store locations.

So where to from here? Were we to bring the Jetsons up to speed, what technology would we imagine for them now? Here are some predictions.


Personalization will become even more important.

While appealing to the mobile customer may create the illusion of an impersonal approach to doing business, the exact opposite is needed. Knowing that competition is plentiful, consumers demand more bells and whistles for their money. This means you’d best use analytics, segmentation, and targeting tools to understand your customer base. It’s important to give consumers what they want by way of being there when they need you. Your availability to answer questions immediately, and having answers available online that are easily searchable is crucial these days.


Proximity marketing will be key.

Location-based marketing is an important form of personalization. It allows you to target advertising toward the people in your immediate proximity, thereby increasing the likelihood of a conversion from a passerby to a customer. While there are several ways of doing this, the most popular is through the use of beacons.

Visuals will drive marketing campaigns.

More people consume media using their mobile devices than they do on televisions, computers, or radio. Using this marketing tool to your advantage will be paramount to success. Video currently appears in 70 percent of the leading 100 search results listings. Additionally, consumers are 64 to 85 percent more likely to make a purchase after watching a product video.

Like it or not, marketing trends are rapidly shifting to the mobile world. As a business owner, it’s critical to keep your finger on the pulse of progress. If you don’t, you may just end up out of business.

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How Important are Customer Reviews?

As a business owner, do customer reviews excite you or do they make you feel like you’ve just suffered through root canal surgery? Is your business  generating a list of “I just have to share this!” customer reviews? And when those reviews come in, how do you manage them?  Let’s take a closer look at how important customer reviews are.


Customer reviews can make or break your business

A BrightLocal study released in a 2013 Local Consumer Survey reveals that over 85% of consumers read reviews before making purchase decisions.


67% of consumers read an average of 6 reviews or less (and this number is up by 52% compared to 2012).

At least 73% of consumers say that positive customer reviews give them “food for trust”, while only 12% of consumers said they take “no notice” of online reviews.  Supporting evidence such as word of mouth, as well as social mentions, etc.,  are, however, taken into consequential consideration before buying.


Customer reviews help influence over 90% of all customers’ buying decisions. They help your rankings in local search engines, and customer reviews also make money. According to Myles Anderson of BrightLocal, online reviews have the same impact as those of personal recommendations. User reviews are the equivalent of a vote of trust; they nudge a prospective buyer into a subconscious state of willingness to purchase. As Graham Charlton of Econsultancy puts it, customer reviews directly push up sales. These reviews provide information that most prospective clients need before making a purchasing decision.

Reevoo stats reveal that an average of 50 or more reviews on a product mean a 4.6% increase in conversion rates, also leading to a whopping 18% increase in sales.

Influencing others is not about luck, and it’s not magic. In fact, it’s pure science.

Social Proof is one of Dr. Robert Cialdini’s 6 Principles of Persuasion, and it just works.

According to Nielsen, 83% of consumers in more than 60 countries trust “word of mouth” or recommendations from someone they “know”. The days of businesses buying their way into customers’ hearts are over.

Customer reviews—in any form or function—are the best thing that happened to social proof for the online-shopping consumer. The “I’ll have what she’s having” phenomenon feeds on itself, as long as businesses make sure that products and services are the best on offer.
Consider restaurants:  Yelp is a trusted resource for consumers looking for the next restaurant to go to. Based on the little information about any random restaurant on Yelp (and also given that consumers have a tendency not to trust what the restaurant owners write), user reviews on Yelp are often taken as gospel. Michael Blanding of Harvard Business Review writes that every review of a restaurant adds to 5% to 9% effect on revenues.


Carving a Path to Authentic Customer Reviews

While customer reviews are critical for businesses, any kind of customer review won’t do. In order to make positive impact, customer reviews have to be authentic. Because Yelp’s success depends on user reviews,  it has features that ensure user reviews are provided by real people and are of a very high standard. Reviewers, for instance, are required to create and maintain public profiles. Some reviewers are awarded an ‘elite status’ when they are shown to be truly accountable.

As far as authenticity goes, the industry is catching on fast. Recently, Amazon clamped down on bogus reviews. These days, paying for reviews, incentivizing users to provide false testimonies, or hiring an army of ghosts across the world to leave fake reviews have seriously fallen out of favor.


An Entire Industry Depends On Authentic Reviews

Customer reviews have become so critical to revenues, sales, and profits that almost every industry is doing what’s possible to draw in that factor of trust.

  • Every Movie on Netflix comes with detailed reviews. This – along with several other things NetFlix did right – has led to a phenomenal 70 Million subscriber base .
  • Both Google Play and Apple App Store depend on user reviews for app downloads.
  • Skytrax has become the Yelp for Airlines and Airports.
  • IMDB – a premier online database of movies and television – has user ratings and reviews for every entry.
  • Every professional is vetted, voted, and endorsed on LinkedIn – the more reviews and endorsements you get, the better your LinkedIn profile is.
  • The rise of AirBnB’s success is largely attributed to the review system. When strangers look for homes to stay in distant lands, the reviews and recommendations are a trusted resource.
  • CouchSurfing–a worldwide community of travelers–depends on the inbuilt rating and review system.


Good businesses—with products and services that customers love—will find great reviews a natural byproduct of their offering. Success and growth depend on good reviews, but many businesses are still missing out on this. The key is to gain customer engagement. When a customer is made to feel special, great reviews will follow.

Every positive review forges a relationship between a business and its customers that can only expand and improve over time.

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How to Deal with Cart Abandonment

One of the largest challenges facing online retailers is the issue of cart abandonment. A staggering 68% of all customers who begin an online transaction by adding items to their cart don’t complete the transaction. This means that you stand to lose a significant portion of potential revenue through customers abandoning their transaction. Luckily, by understanding why customers abandon their carts you can make small adjustments that can minimise the impact of cart abandonment on your online store.

Customers leave because of the lack of upfront information about additional costs

The primary reason cited by customers abandoning their transaction is the shipping and handling costs involved in the transaction, which often comes as a surprise because of the lack of total order cost upfront. Many online stores only calculate shipping and handling after the checkout process has begun, and once the customer sees the total cost as opposed to what they were expecting to pay they leave and look for a better deal elsewhere.

The simplest solution to this problem is to provide free shipping, which can be used as a major selling point incentivising customers to shop with you rather than go to your competitors. Many eCommerce shop owners are reluctant to offer free shipping due to the expense incurred, but the benefits can be worth the cost. Shopify even offers a free app to check whether free shipping is a worthwhile investment for your store. If unconditional free shipping is not for you, there are some other options, such as offering free shipping during your peak sales times or conditional free shipping on orders above a certain price range

Make sure that if you decide to offer free shipping that it’s clearly indicated on your storefront as well as during the checkout process. If, on the other hand, you decide not to offer free shipping, make sure that shipping and handling costs are clearly indicated throughout the storefront. This allows your customers to make informed decisions about your pricing, making them less likely to abandon the transaction during the checkout process.

Customers leave because of usability issues

Apart from hidden costs, usability issues such as mandatory account creation, excessive security checks, complicated navigation and unstable websites all cause customers to give up on transactions and look for better storefronts.

Many users hate the idea of creating a new account for every website they visit and want to purchase something from. The best solution for this issue is to offer social logins that use a customer’s existing social media account to log into your website. This allows the customers to seamlessly sign in with their essential details already in place, simplifying both the account creation and checkout processes and also enhancing the security of your online storefront.

The checkout process also needs to be as streamlined as possible, with as little user input required as possible. Make sure that your site loads quickly and is responsive. Customers don’t like having to wait, and a slow, buggy checkout experience is likely to turn them off your store completely.

Customers will have their preferred way of paying for online transactions and will most likely abandon their cart if they see that they can’t pay with their preferred method. A recent study showed that offering multiple payment options, such as PayPal, Google Wallet, Stripe and MasterPass in addition to traditional credit card purchases helped increase conversion rates and lower cart abandonment rates.

Having a secure checkout process is essential, both in terms of the reputation of your online store, but also as reassurance for the customer that their data is safe. 17% of customers report that they’ll stop a purchase if they feel the site is insecure. At the very least, your website should have an SSL certificate, lock icon in the browser and a privacy policy. Security badges from accredited vendors can further enhance the trust customers will have in your checkout process and can increase sales by up to 6%.

Sometimes customers simply aren’t ready to buy

Many customers now take the time to research prices and items before committing to a purchase, and it’s in your interest to encourage them to buy from you. Many customers expect their carts to remain intact even if they leave, so ensure that they can easily resume their purchase if they return at a later stage. Also, provide a wishlist system linked to wishlist emails to allow users to mark items they’re interested in and then provide them with information when the item goes on sale.


By understanding what leads customers to abandon their transactions, you can remove these barriers to purchase leading to decreased cart abandonment rates. Providing clear information about shipping and handling costs up front is essential, and free shipping may be an option to explore. An easy to use website and seamless checkout process that is secure ensure that customers complete their transactions quickly, giving them less time to abandon their transactions. Finally, in the event of a cart abandonment, provide customers with options to return to their cart at a later stage to complete their purchase.

It may be impossible to completely get rid of cart abandonment, but it is possible to lessen their impact on your sales.

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Combine your Marketing Strategies for Maximum Effect (Part 2 of 2)

Is Outbound Marketing Truly Dead?

You shouldn’t always trust the Internet—and especially not when it comes to certain ‘obituaries’! Just last week, the Great Barrier Reef was pronounced dead in a somewhat tongue-in-cheek obituary that spread like wildfire on social media sites, much to the horror of scientists. Apparently, 22 percent of the Reef has been wiped out due to a massive bleaching event, but not the whole of it.

So when social media gurus and so-called ‘influencers’ declare outbound marketing dead in the water, it should be taken with a pinch of salt. Just because inbound marketing is gaining consequential steam doesn’t mean outbound should be stuffed six feet under. Both can happily coexist in today’s marketing environment.

Outbound marketing in a nutshell

According to a white paper furnished by Thomson Reuters, outbound marketing is traditionally defined as “pushing messages out to the masses via multiple channels with the idea that a percentage will stick and generate sales.” It’s a marketer-centric approach to advertising. Examples of outbound marketing tactics include cold calling, interruptive ads, and cold emails – now widely considered as spam.

But like everything else on the Internet, outbound marketing has evolved to fit the times and the types of consumer being targeted. The same Reuters paper gives an updated definition of outbound marketing, which is, “reaching out to clients and prospects with relevant messages by sending the right message to the right person at the right time.”

In other words, outbound marketing has been reborn into targeted, data-driven marketing.

Inbound on the rise, outbound on the decline

Based on its woeful numbers, it’s easy to declare outbound marketing dead. According to an article from Artillery Marketing, 86% of the current population skips TV ads. In terms of email, 91% have already unsubscribed from email lists, while 44 % of direct mail marketing were left unopened. As many as 200 million phone numbers have been classified under the Do Not Call list. It also doesn’t help that plenty of consumers are dodging marketing messages through caller IDs, Do Not Mail lists, pop-up ad blockers, and RSS readers.

The exact opposite is happening for inbound marketing. A Google Trends report on inbound marketing showed that interest in this type of marketing has been growing steadily over time, from a measly 5% in January 2004 to a whopping 98% by October 2016.

Furthermore, HubSpot’s State of Inbound Marketing Report reveals that companies that are increasing their budget on inbound marketing are enjoying a lower cost per lead, shortening their sales cycles and increasing their sales close rates. As a result, marketers are moving their budgets from outbound marketing to inbound marketing.

However: Outbound marketing works well with inbound marketing

Despite the opposite trends, it is important to understand that inbound and outbound marketing tactics are not an either-or situation. In fact, many marketers prefer to create an integrated marketing plan to reach a larger audience through multiple points of contact. While inbound marketing gets consumers interested in your product or service, it is outbound marketing that speeds up conversion by driving your customers to your online marketing channels, thereby enhancing and strengthening your inbound efforts.

In fact, outbound marketing is still effective in driving leads and sales. According to a survey by DiscoverOrg among 1,000 top IT executives, 75% said they decided to attend an event or appointment after having received an email or cold call.

The main question is, how can you combine inbound and outbound marketing strategies to effectively sell to your target consumers? Here are three steps to consider:

  1. Attract your target customer. You can use inbound marketing to figure out who your target audience is. The right marketing platform can help you get insights about your audience’s goals, needs, and challenges. This will also help you fine-tune your outbound campaigns to encourage maximum engagement. Some inbound marketing techniques to attract your ideal customer include blogging, SEO optimization, and social media marketing.
  2. Convert interested customers to buyers. Outbound marketing can be alienating and intrusive for people who are not interested in what you’re selling in the first place. But once you have piqued their interest through inbound marketing tactics, you can start employing outbound marketing strategies. Inbound marketing attracts them, but outbound marketing nourishes the relationship you’ve formed with your prospects. Design an outbound marketing campaign of phone calls, site ads, direct mail, and emails to encourage your prospect to take action.
  3. Keep a consistent tone. Whatever marketing tactic you’re using, make sure your brand’s tone and voice continue to support your goals and strategies. This will encourage your customers to keep coming back for more.

Just like the Great Barrier Reef, a huge portion of outbound marketing is still alive and well. While it can’t be used to attract buyers at the top of the sales funnel, the magic of outbound marketing works for prospects who are ready and willing. Instead of completely shunning it, marketers should use the strengths of outbound marketing to complement their inbound marketing campaign.

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Combine your Marketing Strategies for Maximum Effect (Part 1 of 2)

Inbound strategies have come to dominate the marketing landscape over the last couple of years. With a customer-centric focus, the benefits are as obvious as they are numerous. Inbound marketing can result in savings of 13% per lead and delivers up to 54% more leads than traditional outbound marketing, for example. The current consensus appears to be that inbound marketing is inherently superior to outbound marketing and that the two shouldn’t really be combined. However, while customers are appreciative of the choice and benefits that inbound marketing offers, outbound marketing can still be a very effective tool. In fact, some of the best marketing campaigns use a combination of both strategies.

Combining inbound and outbound marketing effectively

In order to maximise the potential of both inbound and outbound marketing, it’s essential to understand the inherent strengths and the weaknesses. Inbound marketing focuses on getting the customer to come to you and your website when they’re looking for information. This will subsequently convince them to buy what you’re selling. It means that having high-quality content available (whether in the form of white papers, blogs or even social media) is essential in getting the customer interested in your product. Inbound marketing is great at understanding and targeting your ideal customers and communicating and nurturing them. Establishing an inbound marketing campaign, however, can also be extremely time-consuming and resource-intensive, since you’ll need to be constantly churning out quality content. Outbound marketing, on the other hand, excels at converting potential leads into buyers through the use of directed communication (such as newsletters or ads). People get annoyed with outbound marketing when it’s considered inappropriate (i.e. spamming your entire customer list with a specific product) but by the same metric, getting in touch with repeat customers using specifically targeted outbound marketing can help maintain your commercial relationship with them.

Simple ways of combining inbound and outbound marketing include advertising your company’s social media profile at a networking event or offering high-quality content to a specifically-targeted email newsletter list. If you’ve got a return customer who has been with you a long time, even traditional outbound methods such as sending small promotional mailings can be an effective way to keep in touch and ensure your company remains fresh in the customer’s mind. Email is great for both inbound and outbound marketing campaigns because it first gives customers an opportunity to opt-in to the service and then allows you to divide your marketing efforts among various target groups by creating content that is carefully aimed at each group. Consider using inbound marketing as the way to get potential customers interested, and then use targeted outbound marketing to convert leads into customers.

An example of effective combination marketing

HubSpot is a well-known proponent of inbound marketing, but their marketing campaigns use outbound strategies as well. It relies heavily on inbound to generate leads with a very slick website, tons of quality content on their blog and good SEO marketing. Customers are asked to take action by signing up for a free trial. However, if the potential lead doesn’t engage with HubSpot beyond the free trial, a salesperson takes note of the lead and any potential needs. The lead is contacted about the trial experience and further options are suggested.

Overall, trends are showing a serious increase in the effectiveness of inbound marketing while outbound marketing hasn’t been seen to increase in effectiveness. However, the correct use of a combination of both outbound and inbound marketing has proven that it has serious potential to be the best form of a cohesive marketing plan. More on the implications of this and how to implement this effectively can be found in part two next week.

In the final analysis, it’s easy to get hung up on the so-called ‘rules’ of inbound marketing and thus avoid outbound marketing altogether. However, while inbound marketing is good at initiating relationships, outbound marketing converts leads into customers and keeps them coming back for more. By understanding the strengths and the weaknesses of each, you can devise a marketing strategy that will result in maximum impact.


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Magento vs. Shopify: Which Platform is Better for Email Automation and Recommendations?

The world has seen its fair share of epic battles: David versus Goliath, Muhammad Ali versus George Foreman, Microsoft versus Apple. Now, two tech heavyweights duel for domination of the digital retail market. In the red corner, Magento, the world’s most popular e-commerce software, used by more than 200,000 merchants. In the blue corner, Shopify, a platform used by big-name brands like Google and Tesla. While Magento boasts more users and a bigger market share than its opponent, Shopify still packs a punch. But which software should be crowned champion?

Round 1: Email Automation

Email automation is a powerful weapon for any marketer, providing brands with knockout campaigns that target lucrative prospects. Seventy-nine percent of top-performing companies have used marketing automation for more than two years, while the majority of users think it’s worth the price. 

As a Magento user, you’ve likely seen an abundance of email automation add-ons and extensions — MageMonkey, SMTP Pro Email, Springbot — that capture leads and boost sales through highly targeted email campaigns. Follow Up Email, from Aheadworks, is one of the most widely used, providing a hulking suite of automation tools: shop cart tracking, coupon tracking, email templates, analytics.

Shopify offers a treasure trove of email automation apps, too. While its store is much smaller — Shopify has just over 100 apps, compared to a whopping 5,000 on Magento — you’ll find all the big names, such as perennially-popular MailChimp, possibly the Mike Tyson of email automation, and lesser-known extensions like Klaviyo and iContact. If you’re looking for marketing automation with bite, you can’t go wrong with Email Automation from Beeketing, which does everything it says in its name. Just like Follow Up Email on Magento, you can create powerfulYou can create compelling, personalized campaigns that send sales into the stratosphere, with marketing messages that are less likely to end up in the Trash folder. There

Email Automation from Beeketing, another email automation app, sends an email to your customers 30 minutes after they make their first order. Just like Follow Up Email on Magento, there‘s no coding, the app works on both desktop and mobile, and you get a glut of customization options.

Winner: Shopify

While it It‘s more expensive than its Magento contender — prices start from $19 per month, compared to Follow Up Email’s $149 yearly subscription — Shopify’s Email Automation by Beeketing delivers a sucker punch: but merchants could see a hefty 50 percent email response rate after using this app, and customers are 250 percent more likely to convert. It’s the Mike Tyson of email automation

eCommerce Email Marketing by Soundest displays a customizable pop-up on your web pages so you can collect subscribers. This email automation app turns new visitors into subscribers and takes just a few seconds to set up.

Round 2: Recommendations

Even if you don’t install any extensions, Magento’s native functionality personalizes your online store so consumers see a list of recently viewed and compared products, which usually appear on the right sidebar of a catalog page.

Shopify’s native feature set is just as impressive: merchants can use product tags to recommend related products. However, if you crave more functionality, head to the Shopify App Store, where you’ll find must-have add-ons like LimeSpot Personalizer and Also Bought. Both of these do what Magneto’s native recently-viewed tool can’t: consumers Consumers can see a list of recommended products based on their preferences and interests.

Personalized Recommendations, also developed by Beeketing, takes focuses on upselling and cross-selling to a whole new level. You can promote products that consumers might like based on their purchase history and behavior. Using The app uses super-smart algorithms , the app and suggests relevant products to the right customers: cart recommendations, recently viewed items, your store’s best sellers. Unlike some extensions on Magento’s marketplace — Majik Product Recommendations and Frequently Bought Together, to name just two — Shopify’s Personalized Recommendations comes with no subscription fee. The app costs you nothing if you make no money and analyzes the behavior of customers for more efficient marketing. 

Findify Search & Recommendations is another option. “[We use] data science and our unique machine learning algorithms to automatically generate personalized recommendations, in real time,” they say on their store page.

Product suggestion apps are becoming increasingly popular among marketers. A huge massive 31 percent of e-commerce store revenue is generated from personalized product recommendations, according to a study. Also, conversion rates of consumers who click on product recommendations are more than five times higher than those of customers who don’t click on these suggestions.

Winner: Shopify

Unlike some extensions on Magento’s marketplace — Majik Product Recommendations and Frequently Bought Together, to name just two — Shopify’s Personalized Recommendations comes with no subscription fee. In fact, the app costs you nothing if you make no money. Personalized Recommendations might prove extremely lucrative, too: the app could generate an extra four percent of sales.


Unanimous Decision

If you’re a merchant who is contemplating a move to Shopify, expect the same functionality you’re used to with Magento: stress-free CMS content management and impeccable design, all backed up with a reliable, speedy, MySQL database. You’ll find a bounty of plugins that turbocharge your marketing and sales strategies, too. Email Automation and Personalized Recommendations, both from Beeketing, , so you can optimize your online store so you can and generate a bigger return on your investment. Now, making the switch to Shopify won’t leave you down for the count.

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