Are You Sticking to Your New Year's Resolutions?

Joggers on treadmills at a gym
More than a month has passed since 2017 began, and we're guessing the crowds at your gym have started to thin out. These days you can probably spend more time on the treadmill than you spent waiting to use one in January.

A new year is a great opportunity to start over and make improvements, and New Year's resolutions can help you take the first step. However, sticking with those resolutions — especially if you aim to lose weight — can get more difficult with every passing week. Committing to big changes to your company's marketing and customer service can feel much the same way.

The good news is it's never too late to recommit to resolutions for your business, or even start new ones. Here are some resolutions you can still pursue or continue to improve on in 2017.

Be More Social

In 2016, everybody and their dog had social media. (We're serious about the dogs.) The percentage of Americans on social media has grown every year since the beginning, reaching 78 percent last year. Social media adoption among small- and medium-sized businesses has been just as rapid, but many still struggle with how best to use their accounts.

The important thing to know about a business social media page is it's not about leads. Social media is widely regarded as a poor source for leads, meaning you should focus on fostering brand loyalty and building a community of enthusiastic followers. Just be sure you know the do's and don'ts of social media, or a silly post with good intentions could turn into an image disaster.

Answer Every Call

While social media accounts alone aren't great lead sources, social media advertising has played a role in the booming amount of phone calls to businesses being placed from smartphones. No matter what marketing approach you take in 2017, you need to be prepared for even more phone calls than in years past. Mass smartphone adoption has made it easy for customers to place calls on the fly.

When your competitor is a few finger taps away, it's more important than ever to make sure calls from your customers — whether they're sales opportunities or customer service issues — are answered and getting to the right people in your business. Fewer and fewer people are leaving voicemails, meaning it's critical for you to either answer every call or to at least capture incoming call information so somebody can follow up with a missed call promptly.

Cut the Excess

Losing weight is one of the top New Year's resolutions every year, which is why your gym was so crowded in January. Just as cutting excess weight can make you healthier, trimming marketing campaigns that aren't generating a healthy return on investment (ROI) can make your marketing investments more efficient.

But while we can just step on a scale to see if we're making progress with weight loss, measuring marketing ROI can be more challenging. Consider using a service that can link everything from phone calls and website clicks back to specific marketing campaigns or search terms. Knowing your lead sources will help you find campaigns that need to meet the same end as those extra holiday pounds.

You should always be seeking to improve your company, but the New Year is a good time to take a renewed focus. What are some resolutions you targeted for your company's marketing in 2017? Have you stuck with them so far? Let us know in the comments.

Bringing Balance to Your Marketing: Loyalty vs. Acquisition

Scale with money
In the Star Wars prequel trilogy, it was believed that Anakin Skywalker was the Chosen One destined to bring balance to the two sides of the Force. When it comes to your marketing, are you balancing your existing customers with your quest for new customers?

More than 10 years after the Star Wars prequel trilogy concluded with (spoiler alert!) Anakin becoming Darth Vader, people still debate about what "bring balance to the Force" actually means and whether Anakin/Vader fulfilled the prophecy or not. The debate over whether customer loyalty or customer acquisition is more important has been just as cloudy, leaving business owners wondering how to balance the two — or if they should be balanced at all.

Let's take a look at the pros and cons of each side of this marketing debate and how we can bring balance to the brand.

Customer Loyalty

Pro: The 80/20 rule has been around for more than 100 years and has been used to claim that 80 percent of a company's sales come from 20 percent of its customers. The rule is the cornerstone for many customer loyalty programs that are designed to make sure the customers who purchase the most continue doing so. If your most loyal customers are a crucial part of your revenue stream, why wouldn't you offer them incentives and make them feel valued?

Con: When you're planning on launching a loyalty program, be sure you know the associated costs and if the potential revenue is worth the investment. Does an expensive app that occasionally gives away a free product, prize or discount lead to more revenue? Depending on your industry, loyalty might not mean what you think it does.

Byron Sharp's book "How Brands Grow" was released in 2005 and used data to dispel some of the notions businesses have long had about customer loyalty. More recently he said, "We are loyal switchers. We don't feel disloyal to Kellogg's if we buy another cereal." Basically, don't put all of your cereal in one bowl when it comes to who you're targeting — because they won't always purchase from you.

Customer Acquisition

Pro: While loyal customers might be the cornerstone of your business, you can't make your building bigger without adding more bricks. New customers are still a critical revenue stream whether they end up being hyper-loyal or not. You didn't get that loyal 20 percent without acquiring new customers to begin with. Plus, new customers are needed to sustain growth.

Con: Acquiring new customers is expensive compared to retaining existing customers. Because you've already earned their trust, existing customers are much more likely to buy from you, reducing marketing expenses in the process. According to the book "Marketing Metrics," the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70 percent. The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20 percent. That means you'll probably see less return on your marketing campaigns targeted at new customers.

Finding Balance

Maintaining loyal customers is important, but as you can see, balancing who you target can be a critical part of growing your business. While conventional thinking and research indicates that there's more revenue to be gained from loyal customers, you simply can't ignore future revenue streams, and loyalty programs can be expensive. Loyalty can also be fickle even with incentives.

To find the balance that works for your marketing, be sure you know where your revenue is coming from. Track incoming calls and web traffic from your various campaigns and sort them based on whether you were targeting existing or new customers. Once you know the value of each and every conversion, you can better balance your efforts.

Have you brought balance to your marketing? Have you lost loyal customers at the expense of discounts and deals offered to new customers? Let us know in the comments.

[INFOGRAPHIC] A Journey Through the World of Visual Content

Have you ventured into the visual marketing world? If not, check out this infographic from Marketo to see what type of visual content would be best for your marketing.

Journey Through the World of Visual Content [Infographic]

What Does Your Favorite Vacation Say About Your Marketing Style?

As the summer heat intensifies, so do our vacation fantasies. However, it seems the “perfect vacation” varies from person to person;  some people love the beach, while others prefer a hike in the mountains. 

Crystal blue seaThis got us thinking about how some vacation choices actually resemble some common marketing strategies. What does your perfect vacation say about your marketing strategy? 

An Adventure on a Budget

If you love an affordable, adrenaline-filled vacation like visiting Teton Range in Wyoming or the Sierra Nevada in California, you’re an adaptable risk taker. You use your vacation as an opportunity to seek beautiful views, chase an adrenaline rush or find a waterfall at the end of a tough climb. Every decision on your trip is focused on accomplishing something unforgettable.

These tendencies match what is used in the marketing strategy known as growth hacking. Growth hacking requires making informed but risky decisions based on marketing research. Like choosing to enjoy a hiking trail rather than spend a big chunk of change at a resort, growth hacking uses low-cost alternatives to traditional media to achieve growth. Its creative affordability makes it a popular method among startups with tight marketing budgets.

Traditional With a Personal Touch 

If a mountain trek doesn’t pique (or shall we say "peak"?) your interest, perhaps you’re among the many loyal fans of Disney World Resort. Despite being a common (and insanely crowded) choice, Disney World makes you feel like you’re personally cared for by offering exceptional service, personalized name badges and trip suggestions based on your family’s preferences. The relationship Disney World builds with its customers is a lead reason for the 70 percent return rate of first-time Disney visitors.

Similar to the personal touches Disney World presents, networking events give your business the opportunity to form lasting relationships with customers. Industry trade shows attract your target market and allow your business to meet with potential customers face to face. These events are an opportunity to identify market trends and gain knowledge of competitors in the market.

A Little Bit of Everything

For the family who needs a versatile vacation that can satisfy the adventure seekers as well as those desiring personalized treatment, a cruise is the usual choice. Cruises have the ability to adapt to the needs of the guests by offering various excursions that appeal to different tastes, like shopping in a local village or rappelling into a cave. The integrated benefits of a cruise make it the perfect vacation for a family that wants it all.

If you appreciate the adaptability of a cruise, you may prefer an integrated marketing strategy as well. You can integrate several techniques such as growth hacking, networking events and search engine optimization so your company will appeal to its target market in a variety of ways. Leveraging the advantages of various marketing strategies also enhances your inbound marketing, attracting customers with meaningful website content and personal relationships. 

Whether or not a cruise suits your fancy, an integrated marketing strategy that uses several strong methods to deliver a well-rounded marketing approach can generate qualified leads and strengthen customer relationships.

Which vacation style matches your marketing approach? Let us know by commenting below!

Shark Week: Chomp Down on These Marketing Tips!

What was that? You think there’s a more action-packed, informative and wildly fascinating week of nonstop entertainment on TV? Bull Shark! Just as sharks are the apex predators of the ocean, Shark Week is the apex Primetime event of the year.

Great White sharkThis is the one week out of the year when every ordinary couch dweller can be a marine biologist; it’s the week that even the most ocean-fearing viewers can turn into total shark fin-atics.

Our favorite week is back on Discovery Channel — this time earlier than ever — and we couldn’t be more excited.

Needless to say, this week’s frenzy of shark facts got us thinking about a few tips that will launch your marketing out of the water.

Streamline Your Approach

Sharks are, without a doubt, the most superior predator of the sea (ask any of the seals on Seal Island. RIP). They have the ability to propel their massive, two-ton bodies upwards of 30 mph through the water, making them near-perfect hunting specimens. How do they generate such impressive feats of speed and raw power? Their streamlined bodies help them glide through the water with minimal resistance, allowing them to torpedo towards their prey.

Likewise, streamlining your marketing activities is essential to improving your ROI. In doing so, it’s important to gauge the success of each of your marketing campaigns so you can limit the ones that prevent you from reaching your marketing objectives. Tracking customer response rates is an effective way to monitor which campaigns are producing the best results and which are just taking a bite out of your budget.

Adapt for Success

To increase their success rate when hunting their favorite prey, Great Whites have adapted their tactics significantly. Since seals can change directions in the water faster than sharks can, the sharks learned to use their strengths (straight-line speed and power) to surprise the seals from below. To fin-ish off the incredible display, the sharks launch their entire bodies out of the water to stun both their prey and every Discovery Channel viewer.

Similar to how quickly seals change directions in the water, markets and industries are ever changing. As a marketer, your target audience may stay the same over time, but using the same approach won’t always remain effective. Specifically, in today’s digitally driven world, social media and digital advertising have replaced the likes of newspapers and print media as the most popular forms of advertising. With 2.55 billion social media users projected in 2017, your company should adapt to the changes to increase its success.

Use All Your Resources

To add to the seemingly endless array of striking shark facts, sharks have not five (like humans)… not six… but seven senses. We don’t know how M. Night Shyamalan — writer and director of “The Sixth Sense” — didn’t see the potential for an epic sequel featuring sharks. We digress.

Sharks use each of their seven senses when hunting prey. With the ability to sense electrical pulses and both vibrations and changes in underwater pressure (in addition to our five human senses), sharks are some of the most resourceful predators in the ocean. No wonder they're at the top of the food chain!

Just as sharks use all their senses when hunting, we encourage you to use as many resources as possible to adapt your marketing strategy and give your company a competitive advantage. From online-to-offline analytics to trackable phone numbers to mobile marketing solutions, the list of marketing tools available to you is limitless. By maximizing these resources, you can ensure that your business stays on top of the corporate food chain.

Do you have any more jawsome marketing tips? We want to hear! Tweet your responses to @whoscalling and don’t forget to mention @Discovery and #SharkWeek!

What 'Finding Dory' Can Teach Us About Improving Sales and Marketing

Dory speaks to an octopus
Image courtesy Pixar
Grab some tissues and get ready to experience a whirlpool of emotions when you see "Finding Dory" (don't worry, this post is spoiler free).

Whether you're a 10-year-old kid or an experienced marketing manager, we hope you're as excited as we are to watch Dory's unforgettable journey — that she'll probably forget.

Not only does "Finding Dory" promise to be as epic as "Finding Nemo," it also seems to contain a few pearls of sales and marketing wisdom. Pay attention (and maybe take notes), because we don't want you to forget these helpful tips.

Look For the Ones You Lose

"Finding Dory" follows Dory's journey to find her family, but with her poor memory, it seems as impossible a task as searching for customers who get lost in the blur of busy phone lines. Dory might be pretty helpless without her memory, but finding a customer who hung up due to a busy line is even harder (you can't have memories of someone you haven't talked to).

Since 72 percent of first-time callers who hang up won't call you back, it's important for your sales team to be able to call them back as soon as possible. Call tracking software should be able to notify you of missed calls so you can keep those potential leads from getting swept away in the current. A missed call notification system should capture a caller's information — whether the call goes unanswered, receives a busy signal, or occurs after hours — and alert your sales reps that they need to follow up with the caller.

Remember That Your Memory Isn't Perfect

Dory's memory is laughable until you forget something important from a sales call at work and you totally relate to her pain. No matter how great of a memory you have, the workday is full of conversations and distractions. Relying on your memory for critical sales calls is a risky move. A program that records calls would help you with those "Dory moments" when you can't remember the details of a call.

Recording incoming and outgoing calls improves employee productivity and accountability. Information gained from reviewing calls can also be used to find lost sales opportunities or to personalize training for individual employees. Targeted training will help your employees more effectively communicate with customers over the phone and improve customer satisfaction.

Don't Forget to Keep Track of Important Info

Dory needs a ton of help finding her family, and not just because she doesn't know where to go. In one of the trailers (which you can watch here) Dory is seen "sleep-swimming." Marlin and Nemo have to keep track of Dory when she's awake — just in case she forgets where she's going — and when she's asleep, so she doesn't sleep-swim into some trouble.

Keeping track of Dory at all hours is a bit like tracking online-to-offline conversions. With technology these days, it's easy to track online prospects because they practically happen in real time. But what happens when those online visitors call a phone number on your website (as they are likely to do)? Do you attribute the phone lead to your website or does it go much deeper than that?

Pay-per-click (PPC) call tracking makes it possible to track a customer's online and offline activity together, measuring how effectively certain keywords and digital ads generate calls. Tracking your customers' journeys is important for understanding how to best serve them and helps you make decisions about which digital marketing campaigns are successful.

Are you as forgetful as Dory when it comes to lead data? Let us know in the comments how you keep everything in your sales and marketing departments swimming in the right direction!

How to Keep Your Marketing (and Customer Service) Rocking With Call Tracking

Old rockers remembering the glory days
The 1970s and 1980s are known for introducing the world to unforgettable trends like bell bottoms, lava lamps, big hair, cult classic films and an excess of neon. But perhaps the greatest gifts of the ’70s and ’80s are some of the greatest rock songs of all time. 

Reminiscing about the glory days got us thinking about some of the business lessons we can learn from our favorite hits.

If you’re someone who takes a good, hard look at your business and thinks, “Hmm, we could definitely stand to improve our marketing and customer service, but how? Can someone show me the way? Can anyone gimme three steps?” You’re in luck, savvy businessperson. We’ll give you not three, but four steps on how to increase your marketing ROI and keep your customers happy. Pay attention, because you don’t want to miss a thing.

Decide What Is and What Should Never Be

When it comes to marketing, you always want to hit [the target market] with your best shot. Right? Well, there are always campaigns that produce better results than others. The problem is determining which marketing activities are performing the best, and which are just bad medicine. Luckily, there are ways to improve your overall marketing effectiveness.  

Research indicates that about 66 percent of small businesses recognize phone calls as their most beneficial form of incoming lead, so call tracking is a great way to analyze your marketing performance. Applying unique toll-free numbers (TFNs) to individual campaigns and tracking the resulting calls can give you a direct indication of how productive your various marketing campaigns are. This allows you to focus on your best campaigns, and, of course, go separate ways with your underperforming marketing activities. 

Recover Opportunities You Thought Were Already Gone 

Thump. Thump. Thump. Another one bites the dust. Do you ever notice some of your leads disappear? Whether it was just something that happened in the heat of the moment or a recurring issue, your employees are losing leads you can’t afford to lose. Where are they going? If you can’t answer that question, your customers might go crazy on you, and your company will begin free fallin’ fast.

The solution? Use the services of call evaluation professionals to screen your employees’ calls for potential lost opportunities stemming from call handling errors. Any calls deemed mishandled are flagged and reported to supervisors. From there, the supervisor can notify the appropriate employee and attempt to recapture the lost lead.
Wooaaaaah, we’re halfway there. (You knew that was coming.) 

Make Customer Service Your Pride and Joy

As a manager, it’s natural to assume your employees are performing at their best all of the time. Sadly, you know that every rose has its thorns, right? Even if you think your customer service is already stellar, it can always improve. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to improve customer service so that you can have some peace of mind.

If you have a car dealership, a highly interactive training program aimed at improving employees’ telephone skills can really enhance your customer service and even your bottom line. With the help of calls recorded by your call tracking software, professional instructors should be able to provide customized exercises to develop your employees’ selling skills and teach them to build trust with customers.

Chase Down New Leads With the Eye of the Tiger

Beat it. Just beat it — the competition, that is. Whether your business has already established itself as a leader among its competitors or your company is still learning to fly, rival companies will frequently be burnin’ for you and your customers. In order for your business to continue maximizing its success, it’s imperative that you chase down new leads and capitalize on them.

Using a program that automatically scans calls for predetermined keywords can help you determine your top marketing campaigns, pinpoint any mentions of your competition and help you acquire new leads. Taking advantage of these services will allow your company’s ROI to continue to grow.

If only all business activities were as easy as quoting classic rock songs. We can all dream on about that. Comment below to let us know how your company is takin’ care of business!