When I meet small business owners and tell them about my work with social media, a lot of them ask me how they should be using social media to grow their business. Before I answer that question, I usually ask them about what they’re already doing. The responses are often along the lines of:
“We have a Twitter handle and a Facebook page”
“I setup a Google+ page for my business!”
At this point, I have to ask them: But did you start by listening?
Listening is the most basic and the most underrated social media activity for any small business. And it’s important to start listening even before you decide which social networks to focus your business presence on.
Step 1: Know where your audience is.
If you’re ready to build a community online, the first thing you should do is figure out where your audience is.
Spend time listening on a few networks. Listen to discussions around industry trends, look for relevant keywords and conversations around your business and your competitors.
For instance, if I were running a local pizzeria, I’d listen to conversations about good food in and around town. I’d figure out where these conversations happen most often. I’d also check out a few specific foodie networks (such as Epicurious, Foodily or Open Source Food) to see if they are more popular among foodies in my city.
Once I have some idea which networks my business can benefit from, I’d focus my efforts there. Read more
You’ve never heard an HR manager say, “Timesheets don’t need to be approved.”
For those businesses that need to keep track of employees’ work time on jobs, timesheets are the answer. While timesheets alone can keep track of work flow, a manager’s approval adds credibility and certifies that the work is satisfactory.
Zoho People has a number of useful features that make timesheet approvals easier:
1. Multi-level approvals
With Zoho People, even with a large multi-level hierarchy in your organization, you can easily structure the flow of the approval process by role and designation. The visual representation of the approval hierarchy gives you a quick overview.
The internet is overloaded with information. To find anything on the web, we need to streamline information.
Hashtags are a popular way of searching through social conversations. It’s been working well in social networking sites, and its importance extends to businesses as well.
Now in Zoho Connect, we’ve made searching easier. Hashtags organize your news feed and helps you easily find threads and stay updated on the latest.
With hashtagging, you can easily browse through large chunks of archived conversations across your organization. Search and follow tagged conversations. This way, you can look for conversations around a particular topic, and also get email notifications every time someone uses a tag you follow.
Try hashtagging, and stay up to date on all interactions that matter.
In 2009, Walmart made a $1.85 billion mistake due to a bad survey. To compete with Target, Walmart surveyed their customers and asked “Would you like Walmart to be less cluttered?” Consumers agreed that they would enjoy shopping at a more organized store. So, Walmart removed 15% of their inventory, shortened shelves and cleared aisles.
Why did this lead to a steep decrease in sales?
The problem lies with the question “Would you like Walmart to be less cluttered?” Walmart had an idea of how they wanted to compete with Target — providing a neat and organized shopping experience. Instead of designing their survey to understand their customers’ actual behavior, Walmart turned their solution into a biased question. If you think about it, why would anyone say they would want to shop at a cluttered store?
Like most people, I usually decide whether or not to open an email from a company depending on what the subject line says. I’d even go a step further and form an opinion about the company based on how they word their email subject lines and how consistent or unique they are with this as a branding activity.
Lately, I’ve noticed many companies trying to experiment with their subject lines. Here are a few important things I’ve learned from watching these experiments and trying out some of my own:
Short subject lines go a long way
Depending on which email program your recipients use and their personalized display settings, they might not read a long subject. For example, my current display setting on Zoho Mail shows me the first 3-5 words of the subject.
The first few words are very relevant because those are the ones your recipient will almost always see. A recent study by Retention Science found that 6-10 word long subject lines tend to have the highest open rates. Keep your email subject lines short so they don’t get cut off.
Especially at an unintentionally awkward point:
“Summer’s here. Drown yourself in our soothing summer sorbet!”
“Summer’s here. Drown yourself…”
Oops! I’d just go with:
“Our soothing summer sorbet is here!” Read more
It’s been four years since we started offering Mail Merge plug-in for Zoho CRM. Thanks to this tool, printing mailing labels, sending personalized letters, contracts and other form letters to customers is as easy as sending emails.
Take the sales teams for instance. The ABC’s of sales, Always be Closing, is still as valid today as when Alec Baldwin brutally explained to us in the movie, Glengarry Glen Ross (warning: contains profanity). After you close the deal, you still have to personalize and share sales agreements and other forms. Thanks to mail merge, you can now create templates to automate this routine task. So the next time you need an agreement, apply mail merge and the customer details will collate from the CRM so you don’t have to worry about filling out fields manually.