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Having fun, writing about the stuff I like

How to Increase Sales

Oscar Foulkes August 12, 2010 My Little Black Book, Web Tools No comments

Sales and marketing – or S&M for short – are often lumped together as one function. While they are related, and both necessary to the success of an enterprise, they comprise different stages of the product eventually reaching the customer. For me, marketing prepares the environment for sales; the textbook example of Kottler’s demand expansion. Sales is the process whereby one converts prospects into customers.

Whichever textbook one studies, though, the customers one already has are easier to sell to than the new ones one hasn’t yet acquired. With this in mind, it amazes me how few enterprises (they could be charities, too) maintain a customer database. And use it.

If you’ve been sitting on the sidelines, perhaps one of these inexpensive online solutions could tempt you into the game. Both iContact and Constant Contact offer the following services:

  • maintain mailing lists online
  • hundreds of newsletter templates
  • develop your own newsletter from scratch
  • do customer surveys
  • manage invitees and attendees for events

And, they both have sign-up forms that are easily incorporated into websites. Billing is monthly, and is generally under $10 if you have fewer than 500 contacts in your database.

Last week I played around with the survey functions, which I’ve never used before, and was amazed at how easy it was to construct a survey that could track seriously valuable customer preferences.

I also came across Omnistar, a highly sophisticated piece of software that one pays for once and which sits on your own server. If you’re a larger-scale company, the $287 is probably a better deal than a continuing monthly expense. It also offers campaign management, a very necessary feature that generally isn’t built into CRM (customer relationship management) packages. For people wanting to offer this as a service, Omnistar also have multi-user versions that can be white-labelled.

Doing it this way means you’re using your own internet service provider (ISP) for sending the mails (services like iContact send the mails via their own servers). Bear in mind that most ISPs have a daily/hourly limit on the number of emails you can send. If you’re getting limited by your ISP you could switch to SMTP2go. They offer corporate accounts that allow you to send up to 100 000 emails per month, not to mention my favourite feature, which is the ability to send emails from any location.

Someone who has given you permission to email them has given you privileged access to a precious place – their Inbox. I’d offer these as pointers:

  • don’t abuse the privilege, by over-mailing or sending waste-of-time content
  • as you’re writing the content, have a clear idea of what you want the message to achieve, or the action you want the recipients to take
  • keep it short and simple

If you feel you’re in need of extra guidance, Email Marketing Demon and Responsive Email Marketing both offer a series of instructional videos.

I’ve been writing and distributing emails for more than ten years. It’s something I enjoy doing, and which – thankfully – seems to get reasonable results (click here to read about one of the best ever). The resources listed above are useful if you’re planning to do it yourself. If not, drop me a line, and I’d be happy to see how I can of assistance.

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