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Nicole Sult of Lippert Components: In 2 Years CRM Helped Us Double Efficiency, Grow 60 Percent Year Over Year

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Nicole Sult of Salesforce Growth Trailblazer Winner Lippert Components: In 2 Years CRM Helped Us Double Efficiency, Grow 60 Percent Year Over Year

For the first time ever, Salesforce honored five customers with Customer Trailblazer Awards during this year’s Dreamforce event. Winners were selected based on their corporate vision, collaborative capabilities, transformational efforts and ability to continually learn and adapt to changing business conditions. The awards were given in five different categories, including Growth, Innovation, Equality, Inspiration and Trust.

The winners of the inaugural Salesforce Customer Trailblazer Awards are:

Growth TrailblazerLippert Components
Innovation TrailblazerEurostar
Trust TrailblazerConceiveAbilities
Equality TrailblazerMetro College Success Program
Inspiration TrailblazerInterlochen School of the Arts

Nicole Sult, Director of Customer Service for growth award winner Lippert Components, shared with me the role CRM, in particular Salesforce, played in the explosive growth the company has enjoyed over the past two years. Below is an edited transcript of our conversation. To hear the full interview see the video and the embedded SoundCloud player below.

* * * * *

Nicole Sult of Salesforce Growth Trailblazer Winner Lippert Components: In 2 Years CRM Helped Us Double Efficiency, Grow 60 Percent Year Over YearSmall Business Trends: Why don’t we go ahead and tell us a little bit about Lippert.

Nicole Sult: Lippert Components is an RV component manufacturer. We sell our components to organizations who build the RVs, and then they sell those RVs to dealers and then onto retail customers. And we get the opportunity to serve all of those different channels. We have a variety of different customers, and they want to be served in a variety of different ways. We have a great ability to reach a lot of people in the recreation industry.

Small Business Trends: You are the growth winner. Talk a little bit about how Salesforce may have helped propel that growth.

Nicole Sult: Part of our business model is that our growth happens through acquisition as well as organic growth. And what we found is that as we acquire new companies, and we brought them into the fold of Lippert Components, our overhead was going at the same rate of growth, and obviously that’s not the way that most companies want to run. And when we launched Salesforce, what we had the opportunity to do was to start to see how much efficiency we were losing, and then where we were gaining it. And so as we went on our journey with Salesforce, what we found, it was in a matter of two years, we doubled our efficiency.

We had an agent in 2014 who could only handle 6000 contacts a year. That is not very much. Today we’re handling over 14,000. And as we begin to add new channels, like chat and live messaging into it, we’re able to just continue to increase that number. So that’s really helped with the growth. It’s really supported our margin as we’ve continued to grow, which is about 60%, year over year.

Crazy numbers to be talking about and an awesome opportunity to really participate with a lot of different people.

Small Business Trends: It’s not just the growth in terms of numbers but it’s the interaction opportunities and the quality of interactions.

Nicole Sult: Absolutely.

Small Business Trends: How has Salesforce helped with that?

Nicole Sult: That is honestly at the root and the core of everything we’ve been able to do with Salesforce. So if I would roll back five years, I was a customer of Lippert Components and it was not a situation where they were somebody that you wanted to call. You called them out of necessity. So that was really the beginning of our journey, was to say, “That’s not the position that we want to be in.” So once we were able to launch Salesforce, we were able to really come out of this data-driven, interview interrogation process, and to really focus on the customer experience.

It’s true, it’s what people want. And Salesforce allowed us to stop thinking about what button do I click here, where do I type, you know what … Just all of those little data entry points, into just having a conversation with a customer while collecting information, while feeding me with information about that customer. So that has been very exciting and fun, where we get to really work on the things that we want to versus the things that we have to.

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Small Business Trends: So you had a really great two years so far.

Nicole Sult: Yes.

Small Business Trends: What’s going to happen over the next two years? What’s the focus and how may Salesforce and CRM help with that?

Nicole Sult: We’re branching out into other industries, and we made a service acquisition where it’s a company that services RVs, so that retail, that end user. It’s that person that’s out in the field who is camping with their family, and they have an issue or concern, or they need an upgrade. That is really where we’re going next, as far as using field service to deliver really intelligent service to those individuals as well as being able to build our own apps that power that. Matching with marketing, it is so exciting. IoT, we’re in all of it, so it’s really fun that we get to bring it all together and it all lands in customer service. We get the benefit of all the different things across the company that they’re using and exploring.

Small Business Trends: Where can people learn more about what Lippert is doing?

Nicole Sult: Sure, so Lippert Components has a website – LCI1.com.

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This article, “Nicole Sult of Lippert Components: In 2 Years CRM Helped Us Double Efficiency, Grow 60 Percent Year Over Year” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Can You Patent or Trademark Your Original Recipes?

Stealing recipes is a time-honored tradition for home cooks and professionals alike. One need only peruse the world of food bloggers for five minutes to discover just how many people have an “original” recipe for chocolate chip cookies that varies by about 4 teaspoons of sugar or two minutes of cooking time. With so many people out there ready and willing to take credit for other chefs’ work, many restaurateurs and food industry pros are naturally curious about what they can do to protect their original creations.

Here’s the thing: It is possible to patent food products and to trademark food names, but the constraints are very narrow and don’t apply to the types of foods sold in most independent restaurants.

How to patent a recipe

A recipe may be successfully patented if it meets several criteria. First, the recipe in question must be novel. That means it cannot be a food item previously familiar to the public or an obvious combination of pre-existing food items. For example, if you decide to take brownies and chocolate chip cookies, and mix them with coffee ice cream for a flavor called Coffee Brownie Chip, you’ll have a tough time getting that patented. The reason is that, even if no one else has sold that exact combination before, the notion of combining candy and cookies into ice cream is well-trodden territory, and therefore it’s not a novel product. If it’s possible for a fellow chef to taste your recipe and discern what’s in it and how it was made, that’s a surefire sign your recipe isn’t novel enough for a patent.

Now, if you found a way to make Coffee Brownie Chip ice cream with a totally unique food formulation or process, like by using spinach instead of milk and cream, or by freezing it in a way that’s never been done before (if you invented the freezing process used, for example), you have a better shot at getting a patent. Remember, a patent is for the protection of an original invention, so your recipe can’t just be the best barbecue sauce ever – it must be something that breaks the mold in terms of formulation or process, or both.

These guidelines make it difficult, bordering on impossible, to protect recipes under patent law unless you are part of a food science lab, backed by a large food corporation, or part of a powerful chain or franchise. For most independent food retailers, restaurants, cafes, bakeries and boutique food companies, there’s no point in even trying to get a patent.

Trademarking a recipe

While patenting a recipe is extremely difficult, it is possible to trademark a recipe or food item for branding purposes. Trademarking the name of a food item won’t prevent someone from stealing, recreating or selling your recipe, but it will prevent the competition from advertising it by the same name. This is evident in the proliferation of “dupe” recipes online. It’s not illegal for a chef to figure out how a popular soda is made and then publish the recipe, or even make it herself and sell it in her restaurant. However, she cannot call the soda by the name it goes by on the grocery store shelves, because that name is trademarked.

Fast food and chain restaurants are great at the trademarking approach, but it can work for smaller businesses as well. In many cases of trademarked foods, the trademarked name eventually becomes more powerful than the food item itself. Anyone can cook a processed frozen burger, slap on some dehydrated onions and sell it, but only one restaurant in the world can legally serve a Big Mac.  

What to do if you can’t patent or trademark

You’ve probably heard the term “trade secret” before, and it’s probably the oldest and most effective way of protecting original recipes, but it isn’t legally binding. A trade secret essentially means that you have developed an internal system for maintaining secrecy, without legal recourse if things go wrong. The key to maintaining a trade secret is having a trustworthy staff and staying tight-lipped about the secret ingredients and cooking processes for your best sellers.

 

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Intuit, Shopify Unveil New Features and Innovations

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The tools and services you use to run your small business can make a huge impact. Intuit and Shopify are both popular service providers for small businesses. And this week, both announced new features and innovations that could make some small business operations easier. You can read about those updates and more below in this week’s Small Business Trends news and information roundup.

Small Business Operations

Intuit Introduces Innovations at QuickBooks Connect

I just returned from the fourth annual QuickBooks Connect (QB Connect), an annual conference hosted by Intuit’s QuickBooks in California’s Silicon Valley. The event was the perfect combination of information and inspiration for small business owners and the accountants who help them.

Shopify Integrates UPS Services into Its Ecommerce Platform

Shopify (NYSE:SHOP) has partnered with UPS (NYSE:UPS) to offer fast and affordable shipping for merchants. With UPS and Shopify Shipping, merchants that use Shopify can take advantage of guaranteed delivery dates. Businesses can also enjoy competitive rates of up to 52 percent off list rates.

Only  4% of U.S. Small Businesses Are Exporting, Missing Out on a $424 Billion Opportunity

Foreign markets such as China and Malaysia hold immense potential for small businesses in the U.S. Yet only a small percentage of businesses are exploring this opportunity. According to data compiled by London-based financial services company WorldFirst, the total value of worldwide B2C cross-border ecommerce is expected to reach $424 billion by 2021.

12 Examples of Invoicing Mistakes – and How Cloud Services Help Avoid Them (INFOGRAPHIC)

You send an invoice to a good customer and it has taken longer than usual to get paid. You go back to review the invoice and you realize you have made a couple of mistakes. Being able to catch these mistakes while you are in the process of filling out the invoice can save you a lot of headaches.

Last Minute Business Flights Could Cost You on Average 44% More

Travel is usually more hectic as you approach Christmas. According to a report by Concur Technologies (Nasdaq: CNQR), a SaaS company providing travel and expense management services to businesses, waiting until the last-minute to book your business flight could be a very costly move.

Economy

Confidence in the Local Economy Fuels Small Business Optimism, Survey Reports

For the second consecutive quarter, the MetLife (NYSE:MET) and Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index revealed an increase in optimism among entrepreneurs. The second and third quarter of 2017 showed the index at 60.6 and 62.3 respectively, with the fourth quarter coming in at 63.2. MetLife and U.S.

 

Retailers Continue to See Slow Growth in October

The holiday shopping season couldn’t come soon enough for brick-and-mortar retailers in the US. There may be an economic upturn coming, but small retail businesses in the U.S. have yet to sit. According to the October RetailNext Retail Performance Pulse, sales at these retailers were down once again by 10.9 percent.

Franchise

Wendy’s and Other Top Brands on Fast Food Survey Offer Franchise Opportunities

Americans have ranked the country’s favorite fast food restaurants, and Wendy’s restaurant takes the top spot. The burger joint just recently began offering franchise opportunities to investors as it looked to expand. And it wasn’t the only franchise restaurant that topped the chart.

Management

Brother Business Survey Highlights Challenges of Small Business Management

When starting your small business, you hoped you’d be able to create a new culture leaving behind some of the problems of the big corporate world. Well, the results (PDF) of the 2017 Brother (TYO:6448) Business Survey show that small business and big business alike share some of the same problems just on a different scale.

Small Biz Spotlight

Spotlight: Circle of One Marketing Focuses on Events

Events can be a great way to market a business. But it takes a special type of entrepreneur to really make the most of event marketing. Suzan McDowell discovered her love of marketing and event planning by accident while working for a radio station. Read about her journey and how it led to her company, Circle of One Marketing, in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.

Small Business Loans

39% of Small Businesses Have Never Heard of Alternative Financing (INFOGRAPHIC)

One of the biggest obstacles to growth for small businesses is access to capital. But with so many options, more than two thirds or 39 percent of small businesses have never heard of alternative financing. This is according to the November 2017 Reliant Funding Small Business Report and infographic.

Small Business Loan Approvals Hit Another Post-Recession High, Biz2Credit Says

Small business loan approvals at big banks improved again last month to reach another post-recession high. According to the Biz2Credit Small Business Lending Index, big banks approved 25 percent of small business loan applications in October 2017, up two-tenths of a percent from the previous month’s high.

Technology Trends

PayPal  and Synchrony Financial Offer More Small Business Options with Expanded Partnership

When it comes to growing your small business, getting the right credit offering can make all the difference. PayPal (NASDAQ: PYPL) and small business online lending company Synchrony Financial (NYSE: SYF) have announced they are expanding their partnership to offer you just that — more options to get credit.

$10M Worth of Apps: Zoho Creator’s #GivingTuesday Gift to Non-profits

Be it a calamity that catches the world unawares, or a chronic issue that’s been going on for decades, there’s no dearth in the help pouring in from all quarters. #GivingTuesday celebrates this philanthropic spirit by inviting individuals and organizations to take part in the joy of giving.

65% of Your Customers Expect More Automation in Businesses of the Future

The latest Pew Research Center survey revealed 52 percent of Americans believe stores will probably be fully automated in the next 20 years. But 13 percent said it will definitely happen, bringing the total number who see automation having an impact in the segment to almost two-thirds or 65 percent.

Right  Networks Has 3 New Cloud Solutions for Small Businesses and Their Accountants

Right Networks has introduced three new cloud solutions for small businesses and their accountants. The Right Networks Cloud is designed to streamline business operations and accounting by making it easier to use third party web applications in the cloud. Here’s why that matters to small businesses.

OnePlus 5T May Offer Small Businesses High End Phone at Budget Price

The OnePlus 5T has been released just five months after the OnePlus 5. In that short time, the company has made some improvements to put the 5T on par with other high-end phones. And all this is delivered for a list price between $499 and $549, depending on specs.

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This article, “Intuit, Shopify Unveil New Features and Innovations” was first published on Small Business Trends

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9 AI Applications That Will Streamline Your Business

One of the promises of artificial intelligence is the ability to sort through data faster to automate decisions that do not require deep creativity. Programs can sort through information, filtering it for insights that organizations need to make daily decisions. How well is your marketing message working? Who’s available at what times for a meeting next Tuesday? How can you best autofill forms and data fields to save hours of effort, as well as reduce human transcription errors?

The nine applications below, shared by members of YEC (Young Entrepreneur Council), represent areas where AI can help your organization streamline business operations, freeing up time so your skilled staff can focus on more crucial tasks. Here’s what these entrepreneurs are excited about.

1. Chatbots

“Chatbots will start to play a huge role in your business development strategy. Adding a chatbot to your landing page will create an automated process that identifies customer needs, as well as gathers all the information you need to hone your follow-up approach. Knowing exactly what the customer is looking for will allow you to streamline your client acquisition process.” – Duran Inci, Optimum7

2. Content creation software

“My agency creates tens of thousands of pieces of marketing content a month. We’ve just started using AI software to help us create content, and that has already drastically improved our quality of life and the impact our content has on our clients. I’m excited by where this type of software can take us, as I expect more data-driven decisions in a workflow that’s more fun for the team.” – Brennan White, Cortex

3. Customized content

“AI and machine learning offer an incredible opportunity to identify, promote and present the right pieces of content to buyers, customize content for the audience, and deliver a highly personalized one-to-one marketing experience. With brands producing more content, customization will be key to breaking through the clutter. AI holds the key to scaling content aligned to each buyer segment.” – Dan Golden, BFO (Be Found Online)

4. Form-filling bots

“I am most looking forward to form-filling bots. There is so much filing as part of the patent process, and it would be a huge help to patent agencies, startups and academics alike for it to be taken care of as quickly as possible. This would keep the process piece to a minimum so everyone involved could focus on their work.” – Dan Hussain, American Patent Agency PC

5. Information filtering

“How do you know what you need to know? Entrepreneurs and business owners need to know a lot: what the competition is doing, legal issues, technical issues, business performance, news and much more. Today, I look at a ton of information I don’t need to know to find the useful kernels. I’m hopeful machine learning can filter the superfluous material, presenting what I need to know and nothing more.” – Justin Blanchard, ServerMania Inc.

6. Legal documents

“As CEO of a legal technology company, I would have to say that I am most excited about the applications of AI and machine learning in the legal space. Not only will it improve consistency and reduce errors, but it will save lawyers a lot of time, which will make the legal industry more accessible to people who need legal help.” – Tucker Cottingham, Mystacks Inc.

7. Meeting scheduling

“Scheduling emails are laborious and a thing of the past. Technology like what x.ai is offering is the future. No more back-and-forth and no more missed meetings. Artificial intelligence is going to make running a business much easier, and I’m anxious to see where else it can take us.” – Corey Eulas, Factorial Digital

8. OpenAI

“I’m most excited about Elon Musk, Peter Thiel and Y Combinator’s new nonprofit, OpenAI. They are working on technology that will help us with our daily chores. We spend so many hours of our lives doing chores, so this timesaver will allow us to spend more time on doing the things we love.” – Jared Atchison, WPForms

9. Post Intelligence

“To get better engaged with our social media followers and understand their trends, I have become a fan of Post Intelligence. It’s great for improving our social media strategies and brand awareness. It allows me to know exactly what my users want to see and engage with.” – Stanley Meytin, True Film Production

 

The Top Customer Engagement Strategies That Generate Sky High Revenue

In order to run a successful business, you’ll need to do more than just acquire customers. You’ll need to retain them.

One of the best ways to have a successful customer retention strategy is by creating customer engagement.

That goes for all companies across every industry.

Whether you have a brick and mortar location in a small town or have a global ecommerce distribution network, the customer is the lifeline of your business.

While it may not seem like an issue or concern right now, failing to keep your customers engaged could be detrimental to your business.

Fortunately, it appears as though you’ve recognized the importance of customer engagement and that’s what brought you here.

You’ve come to the right place.

I’ll show you my proven strategies to help you improve your customer engagement.

Following these techniques will show the customer how much you care about them.

image6 3

When customers don’t think you care, they’ll stop using your services and find another company to treat them better.

Part of successful engagement and retention involves going above and beyond the basics to connect with your customers.

Big retail companies are even spending upward of $1 million on artificial intelligence technology to improve their customer engagement strategies.

image2 3

It’s the top expected benefit from such a big investment.

I’m not expecting you to do this, but I wanted to show you how much emphasis big brands are putting on improving their companies.

My strategies are much more cost efficient and will yield a high return on your investment.

They don’t require too much time or effort either.

You can implement these tactics right away.

Here’s what you can do to get started.

Create interactive emails

How much time have you spent in the last few months making sure your email marketing strategy is performing at a high level?

I see this mistake far too often when I’m consulting various businesses.

They send the same boring weekly newsletters and promotions.

While your customers definitely want to hear from you, sameness won’t keep them engaged.

That’s a problem.

You can spice up your email campaigns by incorporating interactive emails into your messages.

image7 3

One way you can accomplish this is by getting your email to mimic the look and design of your website.

Include different menus, giving the subscriber a reason to click on something to find out more.

Accordion menus work well too.

It allows you to pack more information into a small space.

When a customer sees something they like, they can click to expand the accordion.

This also improves the chances that your subscribers will see more of your content because it eliminates the need for scrolling.

Adding GIFs and videos to your messages can help increase engagement as well.

It’s much more exciting than just reading a plain email.

If you have a retail or ecommerce business, you should include live shopping carts in your messages too.

This is a great strategy to improve your shopping cart abandonment rates.

When a customer doesn’t finish the checkout process, send a follow-up email with the shopping cart embedded in the message.

That way the consumer can complete the transaction without having to go back to your website.

It’s quick and efficient for everyone, which will help generate more revenue for your company.

Use Facebook Live on a regular basis

Facebook Live is one of my favorite trends of the year.

It’s the perfect resource for businesses to engage with their customers.

More than half of marketing experts agree that video content yields the highest return on investment.

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Why?

First of all, it’s easy.

Second, if you’re using Facebook Live to promote video content, it won’t cost you anything except for your time.

Treat your live stream as if it were a television show.

Don’t just come on randomly whenever you feel like it.

Set a scheduled time once or twice a week to go live.

This will help you build a loyal audience, which will impact your conversions and revenue.

One of the best parts of going live on Facebook is the ability to interact with the viewers in real time.

As you broadcast, users have the option to comment on your stream.

These comments could be directed towards you or other people watching the stream.

Make sure you respond to those comments.

Acknowledge those users.

“That’s a good point, John Smith. I’ll keep that in mind.”

It’s simple.

That recognition will help make the viewers feel special.

It encourages them to keep watching each week, and it inspires others to comment as well, knowing they could also get mentioned.

Facebook live videos are native, which means they are embedded on a page or feed as opposed to an external link.

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Native formats increase the share rate of your content compared to other channels.

Don’t do a quick stream.

Longer live videos increase your chances of getting a larger audience.

Facebook allows you to go live for up to four consecutive hours.

You don’t have to stream for the full four hours, but I’d recommend doing at least two or three hours.

Not sure what to talk about during this time?

Don’t worry about it.

Just be yourself.

Obviously, you want to keep things professional, but this stream will give your customers a chance to see the human side of you.

Recognizing there’s a real person behind the brand name will help them establish a closer connection with you.

This can ultimately increase customer loyalty.

Here’s something else you’ll want to keep in mind: 85% of videos on Facebook get viewed with the sound turned off.

Use lots of visuals in your stream.

You can also add captions to your video so the viewers can read what you’re saying.

Take a look at some of the top Facebook video statistics from 2016.

image10 2

All these numbers support my point.

Add this strategy to your marketing campaign to improve the relationship between you and your customers.

Run a contest or sweepstakes

Promotions are a great way to get the attention of your customer base.

Everyone wants something free, so give the people what they want.

First, you have to understand the difference between a contest and a sweepstakes.

A contest means the customers need to put in some sort of effort to win.

There’s a judgment involved in selecting the winner based on skill.

A sweepstakes means the winner is chosen at random.

I recommend running a contest as opposed to a sweepstakes because it gets the customer more involved and genuinely interested in your brand.

If they enter a sweepstakes, all they do is enter and forget about it.

I would recommend running your contest through social media platforms.

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When analyzing the top benefits of social media marketing, we can see the list applies directly to our discussion about customer engagement.

Developing loyal fans will help increase your revenue.

Running your contests on social media will also increase exposure for your brand.

One suggestion could be a photo contest on Instagram.

I like this technique because it’s easy.

Plus, it encourages user-generated content.

Tell your customers to post a photo that relates to your business.

The user who has the most likes on their picture will win the contest.

Now your brand is all over social media exposed to people who may not have known you before.

In addition to improving engagement with your existing customers, you have the opportunity to acquire new customers at no cost.

Here’s an example of a contest Infiniti ran on social media:

image9 2

Using a hashtag to enter the contest can also help increase the chances of your promotion going viral.

Contestants know their photo will be compared to those of other customers, so they’ll check out all other entries as well.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when you’re running a contest:

  • make sure the rules are clearly posted
  • set a deadline
  • the prize needs to be relevant to your brand
  • allow mobile users to participate
  • your hashtag should be creative and unique
  • make sure the contest is shareable on social platforms
  • announce when you’ve selected a winner

Since contests are so easy and inexpensive to run, I recommend doing this frequently.

Just because the contest is over doesn’t mean you can’t start another one right away.

In fact, running these promotions often will give your customers a reason to keep entering, and they will continue to be engaged with your brand.

Post on your Instagram story

Take advantage of everything Instagram has to offer.

Don’t just post to your profile.

Add photos and videos to your story as well.

Similar to Snapchat, anything on your Instagram story lasts for 24 hours.

So be active, and add to it every day.

These are my top suggestions for what you should put on your story:

  • promotional information and discounts
  • social proof
  • content from your website
  • behind the scenes clips of your company workspace
  • new product launches
  • introductions of your staff

These posts will keep your followers engaged with your profile.

If you want to run an enhanced version of Instagram story, you can go live on this platform as well.

I already discussed the importance of this strategy when I talked about Facebook Live.

I recommend using Instagram live story for something different than your Facebook strategy.

With Facebook, you should host a weekly stream.

But with Instagram, you should go live when you’re at an event or doing something cool.

image8 3

This will create an authentic interaction with your viewers.

As a result, they will stay engaged with your profile and brand.

Write a double opt-in landing page

Here’s a strategy often overlooked.

To increase customer engagement, you need to acquire customers who want to be engaged in the first place.

Here’s what I mean.

If your customers can create a profile or join your subscription list with just one click, you may get some people who aren’t genuinely interested.

Making customers take an extra step to join a list will increase engagement.

The best way to do this is with a double opt-in landing page.

When a customer subscribes to your email list from your website, make them confirm their subscription with a welcome email.

It will help you filter out people who don’t want to be engaged.

Double opt-in emails will also improve your open rates.

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While you may end up with fewer subscribers, you’ll get more active subscribers.

This will make it much easier for you to apply the other engagement tactics we discussed.

Conclusion

Improving your customer engagement strategy will positively impact your revenue.

Not sure where to start?

Follow the tips I outlined in this post.

Start by developing interactive emails.

It’s easy. Just continue to email your current subscriber list but include videos, GIFs, live shopping carts, and menus to increase engagement with each campaign.

Schedule a time each week to go live on Facebook.

Interact with the viewers who comment on the stream. This is a perfect opportunity for you to connect with your customers in real time.

Run a contest or sweepstakes that encourages UGC.

Contests will give the customers a reason to interact and engage with your brand.

Take advantage of the Instagram story feature as well.

Another way to make it easier to engage with your customers is by filtering the most viable candidates to your subscription list.

Create a double opt-in landing page to ensure your customers are interested and actually want you to keep engaging with them.

What type of content will you include on your Instagram story to increase engagement with your current customer base?

Intuit, Shopify Unveil New Features and Innovations


The tools and services you use to run your small business can make a huge impact. Intuit and Shopify are both popular service providers for small businesses. And this week, both announced new features and innovations that could make some small business operations easier. You can read about those updates and more below in this week’s Small Business Trends news and information roundup.

Small Business Operations

Intuit Introduces Innovations at QuickBooks Connect

I just returned from the fourth annual QuickBooks Connect (QB Connect), an annual conference hosted by Intuit’s QuickBooks in California’s Silicon Valley. The event was the perfect combination of information and inspiration for small business owners and the accountants who help them.

Shopify Integrates UPS Services into Its Ecommerce Platform

Shopify (NYSE:SHOP) has partnered with UPS (NYSE:UPS) to offer fast and affordable shipping for merchants. With UPS and Shopify Shipping, merchants that use Shopify can take advantage of guaranteed delivery dates. Businesses can also enjoy competitive rates of up to 52 percent off list rates.

Only  4% of U.S. Small Businesses Are Exporting, Missing Out on a $424 Billion Opportunity

Foreign markets such as China and Malaysia hold immense potential for small businesses in the U.S. Yet only a small percentage of businesses are exploring this opportunity. According to data compiled by London-based financial services company WorldFirst, the total value of worldwide B2C cross-border ecommerce is expected to reach $424 billion by 2021.

12 Examples of Invoicing Mistakes – and How Cloud Services Help Avoid Them (INFOGRAPHIC)

You send an invoice to a good customer and it has taken longer than usual to get paid. You go back to review the invoice and you realize you have made a couple of mistakes. Being able to catch these mistakes while you are in the process of filling out the invoice can save you a lot of headaches.

Last Minute Business Flights Could Cost You on Average 44% More

Travel is usually more hectic as you approach Christmas. According to a report by Concur Technologies (Nasdaq: CNQR), a SaaS company providing travel and expense management services to businesses, waiting until the last-minute to book your business flight could be a very costly move.

Economy

Confidence in the Local Economy Fuels Small Business Optimism, Survey Reports

For the second consecutive quarter, the MetLife (NYSE:MET) and Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index revealed an increase in optimism among entrepreneurs. The second and third quarter of 2017 showed the index at 60.6 and 62.3 respectively, with the fourth quarter coming in at 63.2. MetLife and U.S.

 

Retailers Continue to See Slow Growth in October

The holiday shopping season couldn’t come soon enough for brick-and-mortar retailers in the US. There may be an economic upturn coming, but small retail businesses in the U.S. have yet to sit. According to the October RetailNext Retail Performance Pulse, sales at these retailers were down once again by 10.9 percent.

Franchise

Wendy’s and Other Top Brands on Fast Food Survey Offer Franchise Opportunities

Americans have ranked the country’s favorite fast food restaurants, and Wendy’s restaurant takes the top spot. The burger joint just recently began offering franchise opportunities to investors as it looked to expand. And it wasn’t the only franchise restaurant that topped the chart.

Management

Brother Business Survey Highlights Challenges of Small Business Management

When starting your small business, you hoped you’d be able to create a new culture leaving behind some of the problems of the big corporate world. Well, the results (PDF) of the 2017 Brother (TYO:6448) Business Survey show that small business and big business alike share some of the same problems just on a different scale.

Small Biz Spotlight

Spotlight: Circle of One Marketing Focuses on Events

Events can be a great way to market a business. But it takes a special type of entrepreneur to really make the most of event marketing. Suzan McDowell discovered her love of marketing and event planning by accident while working for a radio station. Read about her journey and how it led to her company, Circle of One Marketing, in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.

Small Business Loans

39% of Small Businesses Have Never Heard of Alternative Financing (INFOGRAPHIC)

One of the biggest obstacles to growth for small businesses is access to capital. But with so many options, more than two thirds or 39 percent of small businesses have never heard of alternative financing. This is according to the November 2017 Reliant Funding Small Business Report and infographic.

Small Business Loan Approvals Hit Another Post-Recession High, Biz2Credit Says

Small business loan approvals at big banks improved again last month to reach another post-recession high. According to the Biz2Credit Small Business Lending Index, big banks approved 25 percent of small business loan applications in October 2017, up two-tenths of a percent from the previous month’s high.

Technology Trends

PayPal  and Synchrony Financial Offer More Small Business Options with Expanded Partnership

When it comes to growing your small business, getting the right credit offering can make all the difference. PayPal (NASDAQ: PYPL) and small business online lending company Synchrony Financial (NYSE: SYF) have announced they are expanding their partnership to offer you just that — more options to get credit.

$10M Worth of Apps: Zoho Creator’s #GivingTuesday Gift to Non-profits

Be it a calamity that catches the world unawares, or a chronic issue that’s been going on for decades, there’s no dearth in the help pouring in from all quarters. #GivingTuesday celebrates this philanthropic spirit by inviting individuals and organizations to take part in the joy of giving.

65% of Your Customers Expect More Automation in Businesses of the Future

The latest Pew Research Center survey revealed 52 percent of Americans believe stores will probably be fully automated in the next 20 years. But 13 percent said it will definitely happen, bringing the total number who see automation having an impact in the segment to almost two-thirds or 65 percent.

Right  Networks Has 3 New Cloud Solutions for Small Businesses and Their Accountants

Right Networks has introduced three new cloud solutions for small businesses and their accountants. The Right Networks Cloud is designed to streamline business operations and accounting by making it easier to use third party web applications in the cloud. Here’s why that matters to small businesses.

OnePlus 5T May Offer Small Businesses High End Phone at Budget Price

The OnePlus 5T has been released just five months after the OnePlus 5. In that short time, the company has made some improvements to put the 5T on par with other high-end phones. And all this is delivered for a list price between $499 and $549, depending on specs.

Image: Wikipedia

This article, “Intuit, Shopify Unveil New Features and Innovations” was first published on Small Business Trends

Internet Marketing Training: How To Setup Successful Joint Ventures

Internet Marketing Training Additional Notes- https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1OpNaIp4YdGHgDrHMFKTT5VkmCCCipTHx?usp=sharing Masters of Money, LLC., was founded by Michael “MJ The Terrible” Johnson, to create and sell how to information, to people looking for ways …

The post Internet Marketing Training: How To Setup Successful Joint Ventures appeared first on Newline Marketing.

How I Recruited 19 People In 30 Days Into My Business 🔥

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3WbTKBOYto&w=640&h=360]

Holiday Marketing Strategies Every Small Business Can Deploy

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Holiday marketing doesn’t have to mean big-budget TV ads or buying a float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. There are plenty of holiday marketing strategies that businesses of every size and budget can deploy to drive more holiday sales. Here are six easy and budget-friendly marketing tactics to try this season.

1. Holiday product imagery

Between your business’s social posts, email outreach, and holiday landing pages, feature seasonal product shots. Place your products in the snow, surrounded by tinsel or ornaments, or in gift boxes to get your customers thinking about your products as gifts.

2. Sample strategy

Offer sample-size versions of your products and services. Sampling is growing in popularity, especially as gift sets. This not only frames your goods as gifts but can help a potential customer overcome their fear of commitment to a full product or service. Beauty products are seeing especially high demand for sample or gift sets in recent quarters.

3. Gift guides

Just about every product or service can be given as a gift. Create a gift guide complete with photos to make gifting your goods top of mind. Facebook makes it possible to target your gift guides, or other marketing collateral featuring your goods as gifts, to the household of your usual customers. You can also run search ads featuring your gift guides for gifting keywords like “best gift for mom” or “easy Christmas presents.”

Promote your gift guide in places frequented by your target customers’ families, such as quick-serve restaurants for kids or hardware store for husbands.

4. Partner in holiday sales

Partner with another store whose customers complement your own to cross-promote each other’s goods this season. For example, you can promote a local brewery’s special holiday brews with flyers, and the brewery can promote your holiday sales and gift options. Each business will be able to tap into a new, valuable audience.

Two businesses can also partner by throwing a joint holiday event or party. Two combined customer bases mean exposure to new customers for both participants.

5. Holiday fairs

Participating in a hometown holiday fair, market or other festive events not only presents new sales opportunities but will also earn you some hometown goodwill from your customer base. Street fairs or holiday festivals also see high numbers of tourists and locals who live outside of the immediate commercial district.

Street fairs and festivals are especially popular with millennial customers. An Eventbrite study found that 50 percent of millennials said they would purchase products they liked at an event, 60 percent said they would likely buy again after the festival, and 82 percent said they would frequently or always buy something they loved from a local retailer.

6. Holiday cards

Mailing out holiday cards is a long-standing tradition in most of the country. Send your customers or potential customers a card wishing them well this holiday. Include personal touches, such as “from our family to yours.”

Cards can be turned into coupons if brought in. Avoid traditional gimmicks and offer recipients a free cup of hot cocoa if they stop in with a card. This will get customers in the store and within view of your goods and sale promotions.