Boost your holiday sales with these 5 email marketing tips

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For many businesses, the holiday shopping period is critical for generating revenue and garnering brand awareness. With the annual sales spike quickly approaching, businesses are planning new promotions and targeting their marketing efforts on customer appreciation. But even if your business does not directly profit from the holidays, you can still lean on the ubiquitous hype of the season to get creative with your email campaigns.

If you’re vying for a piece of the sales pie this season, you have to compete with the 55% of brands using email as a top communication channel for promotions and lead nurturing. Make sure your content stands out by using these gifts from us - more timely tips to help jump-start your email campaigns:1
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Tricks & Treats: 5 ways to sweeten your email marketing

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While Halloween is by tradition the scariest day on the calendar, it’s also the official transition into the holiday season. For many businesses, keeping in close touch with customers and leads during the holidays is crucial, and sending frequent email campaigns is often the best way to communicate.

Prepare yourself for a great holiday season by pulling off these 5 tricks for a seamless email marketing campaign. Because even on a day like this, planning your campaign strategy doesn’t have to be scary!sarah_halloweentips

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Join us next week in Florida!

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Hello, Florida!

The Zoho Team has been traversing the country on our first tour of Meet Ups, and we’re finally making our way to the Sunshine State. We had a great time in Boston, MA earlier this month – connecting with customers and welcoming aboard a few new users – and we’re excited to keep the momentum going with not one but two events next week in Florida.

We’re pairing up with our Zoho Alliance Partner, Cloud Mobile Forms, to bring you two special networking events (breakfast is on us!) in Miami on Nov. 5 and Fort Lauderdale on Nov. 6.floridaemail

You’ll get the chance to meet and network with fellow Zoho users, hear about up-and-coming Zoho news and tips and tricks of the trade. We’ll have one of our customers

presenting how they best use our CRM and a demo station set up to answer all of your technical questions. There is no fee to attend, and you may even walk away with a special raffle prize!

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Join us tomorrow for the Zoho Houston Meet Up

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Hello again, Texas!

The Zoho Team is coming to Houston tomorrow, October 3rd, for our next Meet Up. Our first event in Austin last month was a great way for us to meet local users and welcome newcomers to our suite of apps. So we’re joining forces with Cornerstone Solutions, a Zoho Alliance Partner, to host a special breakfast event at the Norris Conference Center, CityCentre.HoustonEmailHead

There is still time to register, but space is limited so please RSVP here:

https://zohohoustonmeetup.eventbrite.com/

We’ll present a few up-and-coming products, as well as some tips and tricks of the trade with 40 CRM Tips in 40 Minutes. Our team of experts will be on hand to help answer any of your technical questions.

There will be something in store for everyone. So feel free to bring along a friend, coworker or guest who may not already use our products and we can introduce them.

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A Zoho Meet Up is Coming to a City Near You!

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The Zoho Team is thrilled to continue our tour of Meet Ups around the country. After meeting inspiring small business owners last month in Austin, TX, we’re pairing up with several of our Zoho Alliance Partners to host a special event near you.Blog_Meetup

We’ll continue our mission of taking our work “offline” and on the road, by traveling to various cities to meet and greet our loyal users. We want to ensure that you are benefitting from our suite of apps and fulfilling your business potential. With that in mind, we’re bringing along our team of experts and our very own Solution Station to answer all of your technical questions.

And of course, we want to hear from you! By getting the chance to speak with you, we can learn your business story and find out what your needs are. We’ll also get the chance to present some exciting news about Zoho, as well as a few tips and tricks of the trade.

Our next Zoho Meet Up will be in Houston, TX on October 3 at the Norris Conference Center, hosted by our Zoho Alliance Partners, Cornerstone Solutions. We’d love to see you there. To learn more about the event and RSVP, please visit:

https://zohohoustonmeetup.eventbrite.com/

Each of our Meet Ups will have something for everyone: both current users and those new to our products. So if you have a guest, friend or coworker who wants to hear more about Zoho, bring them along!

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Spending Too Much Time Waiting for Payments?

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This is a guest post by Craig Keolanui of SmBizWinningTips.

According to a recent survey, over 50% of small businesses find collecting payments and late-paying customers to be the most challenging aspects of managing their cash flow and payment activities. And particularly for businesses running on low margins, late payments can be a huge setback.iStock_000019620208XSmall

Late payments can cripple a small business with cash flow problems!

Late payments not only reduce your revenue, but they also have you paying for goods (components of a sale) or services (payroll) while waiting for payments to come in. If your sales are increasing, but late payments are also taking off, you will have a revenue shortfall when you start paying your bills.

If you are not completely on top of your books, this can sneak up on you right when things start getting consistently busy. The joy of increasing sales can quickly be extinguished by the angst of having to call for payments when it comes time to pay for supplies or payroll. You have to do whatever you can to encourage early payments while deterring late payments.

There are several steps to take to encourage early payments. Invoicing in a timely manner goes a long way, but you can also try:

  1. Invoicing twice a month. Some companies cut checks on certain dates and you might receive half of the usual monthly activity a little early. Keep this in mind also for accounts that are getting bigger or keeping more money tied up.
  2. Make sure to establish contact with accounting departments at any of the businesses with delinquent account activity and send them email reminders after mailing each statement.
  3. Encourage paying off invoices as opposed to waiting for monthly statements.
  4. Give a credit on the next statement for any early payment. You can also set up a rewards program or discount for companies that pay before 15 or 20 days.
  5. When setting up accounts, give some kind of one-time credit or discount for any accounts that are set up with purchase cards (credit cards!). Accepting them eats into your margin, but you set a firm hook and make it easier to process orders and get paid in full.

Discouraging late payments can also help speed things up.  Here are some techniques to use:

  1. Charge the dreaded late fee. Make sure you spell things out and if you are just starting to establish late fees, be very specific about “invoice dates” vs. “statement dates”.
  2. Try calling clients who actually place orders to inform them of any issues getting payments out of accounting. Sometimes peer pressure will work better than any call you could make.
  3. Put up a list of delinquent accounts for staff members to act on if those customers place an order.
  4. Set yourself up to process electronic payments.  Many of these customers can be steered that direction and you can start offering it to others.

Increased sales is a good thing, but making sure you get paid for your sales is critical to keeping the cash flowing and avoiding coming up short.

Build Financial Security with a Business Retirement Plan

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This is a guest post by Shabana Shiliwala, who owns The Financial Sort, a financial planning company based in Austin, Texas.

Congratulations! If you’re reading this, it must mean your business is generating enough profit to afford employees, require tax planning and give you the prospect of a healthy financial future. When you have more profit than you need to run your business operations, it’s time to start a business retirement plan.Businessman Investing

Just like parents tend to put their children first and take care of themselves last, business owners have a tendency to place the needs of their businesses before their own needs. Starting a business retirement plan is usually a low priority not only because of the effort and expense involved, but the benefits to the business aren’t obvious. Some business owners think that retirement plans only benefit employees. The reality is that they mainly benefit the business and the business owner. Most employees don’t contribute or contribute very little to retirement plans, whereas business owners who take full advantage attract higher-quality employees looking for comprehensive benefits, get large tax deductions, and build financial security for themselves and their families. The money you deposit in your own business retirement account is deductible, but unlike other business expenses, you’re not actually spending the money. You get to keep it–so not only are you saving on taxes, you’re also building a nest egg.

An accountant and broker/financial advisor can help you determine and set up the right plan for your business:

Self-employed: The SEP (Simplified Employee Pension) IRA allows you to deposit up to 25% of net earnings (net profit minus half of self-employment taxes and your deposit amount). Consult your accountant to help you determine your allowable contribution each year. Expenses are minimal and there are no required contributions, so you can skip contributions in slow years. If you need a higher tax deduction, consider the SIMPLE (see below) or the solo 401k, which has higher expenses but allows an additional contribution of $17,000 in 2012 (or $22,500 if you’re over age 50).

Small businesses with under 100 employees: The SIMPLE (Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees) IRA allows you to contribute up to $11,500 in 2012 (or $14,000 if you’re over age 50) as long as you make an employee contribution as well. You can choose from a matching contribution of 3% where you only have to contribute for employees who contribute themselves or a 2% contribution to all employees regardless of whether they make contributions on their own. Expenses are minimal. If you’re willing to pay higher expenses for a higher tax deduction, see the choices for large businesses below.

Large businesses: A multitude of plans are available including pension, 401k and profit sharing. Expenses are higher but so are the contribution limits and the flexibility to design exactly the type of plan you want.

Now that your business is growing up, it’s time to start taking care of yourself too. A retirement plan can benefit yourself and your business. It’s important to stay on top of your financial game throughout the entire life of your business, so plan smart and plan ahead.