7 Nifty Tips for the Efficient Marketer

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​The alarm shrills, the tap burps, coffee steaming, quick bites, rush hours, jammed elevators, card swipes, inbox full. With a long day ahead, Julia gets plagued with the question, ”Why am I in marketing?” Definitely not to send files back and forth for review or dabble between multiple folders to search for a file.

Fresh into the world of marketing, Julia is very enthusiastic about giving it her creative best. But some hiccups on the way has her worried, which she wishes can be handled better to make her work faster. So, let’s take a sneak peek at one of her typical days at office, and check what she does and wishes for.

Julia Online!

As usual, she takes her daily dose of caffeine and settles down to start the day. She starts scanning her emails, checks for updates on various pending assignments and has many emails that require her immediate attention. But one thing that is really tiring for her is downloading all the attachments she has gotten over the weekend, and collating it in the respective folders.

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Customer Spotlight: When Landing the Right CRM Can Take You to the Next Level…and Beyond

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“We had been through the ringer!”

Those were the words that Secita Solutions founder Mike Moore used when describing his search for an adequate CRM to use.

“I tried ACT, Sugar, Maximizer, and Vtiger and was tired of looking for CRMs…until I found Zoho.  As soon as I did, I started planning big things down the road for Secita because I immediately knew Zoho was going to take us to the next level…and beyond!”

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Customer Spotlight: Start-up Goes Mobile With Z-CRM

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“We have to get organized!”

Less than a year after starting his own digital marketing and lead generation consultancy, president and founder of Lucid Digital, Mark Gadala- Maria, realized there was a major deficiency.  At this point in time, it hadn’t yet become a major hurdle, however Gadala-Maria knew that if business continued to grow at the rate it had in just a few months since the company’s inception, it would soon be a problem.

“One of our specialties is lead generation for both ourselves and our clients, and at the rate we were acquiring leads, I knew I had to get organized FAST otherwise I would have a disaster on my hands.”

So Gadala-Maria did what any savvy business owner would do – he asked Google for the answer…

The Business

Lucid Digital is a web development, digital marketing and lead generation consultancy based in Miami, Florida.  The company was founded in 2011 by Mark Gadala-Maria who, only one year after completing his undergraduate degree at Florida International University, decided to venture out on his own.

Lucid Digital focuses on creating an online digital presence for any business.

As Gadala-Maria puts it, “Since this company’s inception I have been obsessed with web development and internet marketing of all forms.  While many would say my specialty lies more with Search Engine Marketing because of the years I spent working for one of the biggest SEO companies on the planet, in reality my skill set and underlying focus has been on all forms of Digital Marketing & Application Development, web and otherwise.”

The Challenge: Managing a rapid inflow of leads via mobile 

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As with any new company, the inflow of business and leads was modest soon after Lucid Digital went live.  When the company was receiving just a handful of new leads per day, using email and spreadsheets was a serviceable way to manage these.

However, just a couple of months into business, the volume of leads rapidly increased and Gadala-Maria needed an easy way to organize these leads and make sure they were being accurately tracked.  Additionally, several of Gadala-Maria’s new clients needed the ability to manage leads on-the-go which was virtually impossible without a native mobile application.

Selection Criteria

Mobile Optimized – “Having a mobile app and being mobile optimized was huge for us and probably the biggest consideration.  We have employees in the field that need quick and easy access to CRM on-the-go without having to log on to a computer.  Additionally, we have several clients that we send leads to while they’re in the field so this offers major value to our clients as well.”

Cost – “We were a new company with not a lot of money so cost was a major consideration for us.”

Invoicing Integration – “I was really looking to integrate invoicing into my CRM solution so I was looking for something that was capable of integrating invoicing and accounting.“

Competitive Analysis of CRM Solutions

Prior to starting Lucid Digital, Gadala-Maria had used Infusionsoft CRM at his previous company.  Despite his familiarity with Infusionsoft, Gadal-Maria thought it best to go in another direction.

“Although there were a lot of things I liked about Infusionsoft, there were also a lot of things I didn’t, and when it came time for me to pick a CRM, I realized it was too expensive and lacked the capabilities especially those involving mobile that I needed.  Additionally, I wasn’t a big fan of Infusionsoft’s user interface.”

Discovering and Implementing Zoho CRM

“We actually found Zoho CRM with a simple Google search for CRM software!”

Once Gadala-Maria settled on Zoho, he was pleasantly surprised with the ease of implementation into Lucid Digital.

“To be honest, Z-CRM was perfectly easy for me to integrate within the company.  It fit right in and was exactly what we needed.  It was pretty much ‘plug-and-play’ for us.”

Now having used Z-CRM for several months, Gadala-Maria has even more enthusiasm for the software.

“Zoho CRM was not only the most affordable but by far the most efficient for what we do at Lucid Digital.  In fact, I’d go as far as to say that I don’t think there’s any other software out there that can do what you’re doing for us, and certainly not at the same price.”

“I also recently signed up for Zoho Invoice to integrate with CRM and take care of all of our accounting.  We have been using Quickbooks however it’s not the best and the fact that we can integrate the leads directly with the invoices is perfect.  I’m also thinking about adding Zoho Projects and Zoho Campaigns just because it will be so nice to have everything managed in one place.”

Life After Implementation

“For us Zoho CRM has been amazing!  I use it not only for my customers but for my business as well.  In addition to satisfying all of my ‘must-have’ criteria, Z-CRM’s user interface is great.  Very simple and easy to navigate which makes it a pleasure to use on a day-to-day basis.

When asked about his favorite Z-CRM features, Gadal-Maria did hesitate:

“The mobile app is a monster favorite of mine!  I also love the notes options for leads, and  the customizability of the interface.”

What Would You Like to Say to Other Customers about CRM Solutions?

“Right off the bat I would tell anyone looking for a CRM that it has to be Zoho.  The reason I’m such a big fan is because I really haven’t seen anything that is THIS good and businesses need EXACTLY what Zoho offers.  I’m still in the process of integrating other Zoho tools and I’m excited about doing it because I can see how much my business will benefit.

I’m a big tech guy and I’m really into the technical industry, and in my book, Zoho is doing everything right.  I haven’t seen anyone else doing things the way Zoho is doing it and I can’t wait to integrate more Zoho tools.”

To learn more about Lucid Digital, CLICK HERE

Small Business Stories You Might Have Missed

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iStock_000019991402XSmallIt’s time for another installment in our ongoing series, “Small Business Stories You Might Have Missed.” At Zoho, we hope this series is helping you stay in touch with small business news and also giving you helpful tips to improve the state of your own business.

This week, we will be looking at everything from how good writing can improve your business’ online presence to the importance of embracing new technology.

Want to learn more about how you can better reach your audience in 2013 and the future? We have an article for that too.

So grab your laptop or tablet and a cup of coffee, and enjoy!

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You’re Never Too Big to Hit the Road

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Zoho Group pic rsMost of us have attended a few expos, trade shows, or conventions in our life. I’ve certainly been to my fair share. Usually, these types of events showcase fledgling companies who are really just trying to build awareness and let people know that they exist.

Up until a few months ago, I had always thought the idea of “hitting the road” and setting up booths at conventions and expos was the type of bootstrapping that was only practical for small “mom and pops” or other up-and-coming businesses. Afterall, what tangible value could a large company like Google, Apple, Facebook, or (dare I say) Zoho possibly be able to extract?

On a good day, you might interact with a hundred people. But, if a company were to instead direct the money spent at an expo towards something like online advertising, they could reach thousands of people. Seems pretty simple, right? Why connect with a hundred when you can connect with THOUSANDS?

Well the key word here is “connect.” While mass marketing certainly has its place when it comes to building large scale awareness, it severely lacks in building strong connections.

On a day-to-day basis, how many internet advertisements, radio pieces, or television commercials do you actually connect with? How many do you interact with?

I can’t remember any of the commercials I saw yesterday, but I can remember the extra friendly barista at Starbucks the other day. We connected.

That’s not to say that there is no place for mass advertising, because obviously shouting the company message from the rooftops can lead to booming business and high growth potential. However, connections are the way to build deep rooted customer loyalty.

If we think about it geometrically, mass advertising is the way we build area, but “hitting the road” and connecting with customers is how we create depth and plant roots.

I first noticed the effect of “hitting the road” when I was in college. I worked at a place called Tennis Warehouse that was/is the largest online distributor of tennis equipment in the world. Yet, every year they would spend tens of thousands of dollars to set up a massive tent at a tennis tournament in Palm Springs, California to sell merchandise. Additionally, they would send nearly half the staff along to run the operation.

Obviously, this was a major cost.

Although they made a lot of sales, the real added value was the enthusiasm people felt when they saw a familiar brand and the customer connection that inevitably resulted in brand loyalty.

Several people would come into the tent solely to meet the staff and some of our online personalities. At the time, I was too preoccupied with enjoying my status as a q-list celebrity to realize the “connection effect” that our presence was having on our customers.

To this day, if any customer ever posts a complaint about the company on their online forums, hoards of Tennis Warehouse “fans” step in to the companies’ defense before a Tennis Warehouse admin can even address the complaint.

Now THAT is customer loyalty.

Apple and Microsoft too have become a much more local presence. I have no idea how profitable their retail stores are, but I would imagine a major reason for opening was to develop a deeper connection with customers and potential customers. I know I have personally walked into the Apple store several times just to play with the technology, and I’m more apt to buy their products knowing that I can personally connect with an Apple employee if I have any questions.

With Zoho, I’ve been fortunate to see this kind of connection in action at the annual Zoholics event as well as at a recent business expo I attended. Zoho users would see our booth and absolutely illuminate with delight.

As much as I wish their enthusiastic approach was because of my handsome face, it was more likely because of the colorful Zoho logo on my shirt.

But the connections grow beyond just the presence of Zoho.zoho interview

For example, one of my jobs is to interview enthusiastic customers we meet at such events. Not only does that help us create interesting media, but the customer now feels like a brand ambassador of the company. In psychology, they refer to this behavior as “commitment and consistency” – once someone identifies themselves as a Zoho fan, they will strive to behave consistent with that belief. Essentially, these customers become walking, talking billboards for Zoho.

And then there’s the company giveaways.

Most companies at expos go with the old standard candy bowl to lure in traffic. To their credit, anyone who has a Twix candy bar for the taking has a 100% chance of me stopping by to chat. But candy bar satisfaction to an attendee is fleeting, and the company is quickly forgotten.

At the Zoho booth however, we had something special. Ultra small flash drives that were Zoho branded. Customers were dumbfounded at the small size of the flash drive combined with its 4GB capacity and were eager to put them on their key chain. Now, for the foreseeable future, they will see the Zoho logo EVERY TIME they use the flash drive.

Subliminal marketing.

Zthumb DriveAs you can see, the flash drive is small and pretty cool (maybe I have a future career in “hand-modeling?”).

Let’s try another analogy, shall we?

Think of an expo as a crowded bar on a Saturday night and I, the attendee as an attractive single woman (this may be a stretch, I know).

The booths are like the single guys trying to lure me in with a free drink (or Twix bar). I may stop by to say hello and enjoy my free treat, but after five minutes of fluff talk, I’m finished with my drink and ready to move on to the next guy.

Then I spot Zoho with it’s colorful logo and well-dressed yet magically charming team. I stop by and chat, and they give me the coolest flash drive I’ve ever seen. Instead of walking away with an empty glass, I’m walking away with an engagement ring hooked to my key-chain that will remind me of Zoho every time I use it.

I think you get the picture (however feel free to erase the mental image of me as a woman).

The bottom line is, you’re never too big to hit the road. Sure, let’s share our brand with as many people as we can so they know we exist and offer something valuable, but the depth of customer connection is magnitudes greater when you take the time to give them a face and personality as well.

They will become connected and “engaged” to you, and THESE customers are the roots that make sure you never fall on the way to the top.

Laptops, and Tablets, and Phones! Oh My!

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Businessman at his desk using a digital tabletAs necessary as it is to daily life and my job, part of me is annoyed with our culture’s dependency on technology. Annoyed with sitting in public — restaurant, gym, bar, supermarket, you-name-it-kind-of-store — and seeing the majority of people with their heads buried in a smart phone.

Annoyed that face-to-face conversations are a dead art. Annoyed that a couple on a date can’t make it through dinner without one of them reaching for their phone as the other gets up to use the restroom.

Annoyed that I just described myself.

Yes, whether I like it or not, I’m fully immersed in this lifestyle. Here I sit with not one, not two, but three screens in front of me. I have a laptop, an external monitor, and of course, an iPhone all on my desk. My co-worker is holding an iPad, and if I had the chance, I’d have one too.

And while we all may feel a little like Fred Armisen in this Portlandia sketch from time to time, this is the modern workplace. Multiple devices, multiple screens; each used to complete every task necessary for running your business. But just how many devices does the average worker use, or need?

Whether you realize it or not, we are all using multiple devices on a daily basis. Sitting at home watching a movie or television show on your laptop while texting a friend or checking your email. It’s second nature.

Last year, Google examined this trend and found that 90 percent of people move between at least two devices in order to complete a task. That’s 9 out of 10 people doing something along the lines of checking an email on their smart phone before moving to a laptop or tablet.

statsIn a similar research report from Forrester, the breakdown of how many devices people are actually using becomes much clearer. After surveying 9,900 employees, the independent market research company found that 74 percent used at least two devices on a daily basis at the workplace. Additionally, 52 percent used three or more devices, 16 percent used four or more and 14 percent used six or more!

With workers using personal devices — smart phones and tablets — along with a desktop or laptop, they are able to complete tasks at a quicker rate virtually anywhere. In fact, many researchers say workers are currently adopting mobile technology in the workplace at a much faster rate than when desktops were first introduced.

Multiple Devices for Marketing

Along with understanding the new trend of multiple devices in the workplace, as a small business owner, you should also understand how multiple devices can impact your marketing strategy.

In the same study from Google, the company found that customers often take a multiple-device path before making a purchase. An estimated 65 percent start on a smart phone with 61 percent then moving to a PC or laptop and only four percent moving to a tablet. Twenty-five percent of customers reportedly start on a laptop while only 11 percent start on a tablet.

This means that a strong web presence across multiple platforms is as important as ever. This also means advertisers and marketers should approach each platform differently in order to appeal to their consumers more effectively. You have to tailor ads or content to best fit the device consumers are using.

“While marketers once generated content to fit manufactured and static advertising placements, consumers now control their own flow of content — from day to night, and from screens large and small,” Natasha Hritzuk, senior global director of Research & Insights at Microsoft Advertising, said. “So it’s even more imperative that marketers understand consumer motivations in order to meet them in their moment.”

The reliance on technology and multiple devices in the workplace and in marketing is only going to intensify in the coming years. By understanding this trend, you can not only use these devices to your benefit by completing tasks, but by also reaching your audience on multiple, dynamic levels, across various platforms.

Why Facebook and Social Media are Valuable for Your Small Business

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So, you’ve finally started using social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter as marketing tools for your business. You’ve started interacting with customers online, are getting Facebook “likes” and are even getting new “Twitter followers” on a daily basis.

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But, are you truly seeing any results from all of your online efforts? Is all of the work really worth it?

According to new research and data from the University of Buffalo, Texas A&M University and Aalto University in Finland, social media can in fact make a difference. The new study, published in the journal Information Systems Research, shows that customers who are also Facebook fans of the business are more valuable than customers without any online interaction with the company.

And this means much more than simply getting customers in the door. These customers that also interact with a business through Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets also improve the company’s sales. In fact, the study’s lead author and assistant professor of marketing at Aalto University said these customers who interact with the business through social media contribute 5.6 percent more revenue than customers not active on social media. Additionally, these social medial-savvy customers visit the business five percent more than their non-social media counterparts.

The numbers don’t stop there. According to the social media marketing firm Syncapse, a Facebook fan is worth $174 to a brand. This amount is 28 percent higher than it was three years ago.

Syncapse reached this number thanks to a survey by research firm Hotspex, who collected data from more than 2,000 U.S. panelists earlier this year. The study compared Facebook fans and non-fans’ brand loyalty, media value, potential to recommend the brand to others and a number of other factors. The results were released earlier this week.

So now that we know social media has some influence as far as attracting customers, improving sales and getting them to return, there are a number of trends small business owners should know about and implement in order to have success with social media.

Be Specific

It seems like a new social network is introduced everyday, but that doesn’t necessarily mean your business needs to be on every single one. A number of small business and social medial experts believe 2013 is the year small businesses focus on one or two social media sources that work best for their specific product or service.

By investing time in the platform you believe is best for your customers — whether it be Facebook, Twitter or Instagram — small businesses can maximize their social media marketing efforts and hopefully have the greatest chances of increasing clientele and profit.

According to Ben Bentzin, an expert in brand development, product marketing and social media at the University of Texas at Austin, business owners have to think about what their customers are using as far as social media.

“If you are selling insurance to senior citizens, social media [like Twitter] may not be that important,” Bentzin said. “But if you are selling to college students, you have to have that social media presence.”

Additional Social Media Strategies

Apart from focusing your social medial efforts toward one or two platforms tailored to your customers, small businesses can also improve their social media campaign by:

  • Encouraging interaction from customers

  • Investing in building online communities over time as opposed to a quick-fix solution

  • Contributing regularly to your chosen social media platforms

  • Keeping customers up-to-date on events or sales

Like any marketing technique, it is important to have a specific strategy and plan from the beginning. Experiment with different social media platforms to learn which is best for your business and start taking advantage of these online communities.