What impression does your business make on potential clients? Does your brand suit your target market? While you don’t need to spend thousands on branding your business in the early stages, you can still use these tools to give your company a professional image.
- Low cost professional image
As a start-up you want clients to believe that you are a trustworthy, legitimate business to work with. It is possible to use a professional design service without incurring major expenses. UnderR300 offers various services for (as the name suggests) under R300, including logos, letterheads, email signatures, domain registration, hosting services, WordPress setup, websites, website copy, setting up social media accounts, flyers, brochures, packaging and more.
Get it from: UnderR300 (www.underr300.biz)
Cost: Less than R300
- DIY logo design
Fancy yourself as a bit of designer? Well even if you answered ‘no’ Logomaker makes it so simple for you to design your own logo, and to do so for free, that you might just want to try your hand at it. There are more than 10 000 different icons to choose from, and once you have done so you can use the design tool to change the size, colours and font. When you are happy with the design you will be provided with an HTML code to paste into your website for free. If you want to use your logo for non-web applications you can purchase the high resolution file for $49.
Get it from: www.logomaker.com
- Free logo and stationery design
You can save a lot of money by designing your own logo for free, as well as matching business cards, envelopes and flyers. LogoSnap gives you the tools to create your own unique logo in a matter of minutes in three easy steps, with the option to create matching stationery. There are thousands of logo symbols and dozens of fonts to choose from.
Get it from: www.logosnap.com
- Business icon
Did you know that the icon you see in your links list and next to the address bar on many sites is called a favicon (short for favourites icon) — a small icon file which you can customise. It’s a great marketing tool to help your customers visually distinguish your website in their ‘favourites’ list and adds a professional touch. You can create one yourself with favicon. The site allows you to choose colours, click on squares to create your logo or image, and download the favicon when you are finished. You can then put the favicon.icon file into your webserver directory. And best of all? It’s free.
Get it from: www.favicon.cc
Your business’s survival will come down to sales. Before you even launch the business you need to plan how you will market your business to drive sales. Here are some low or no cost tools to help you.
- You’ve got mail
Got a message you want to get out there to potential clients? You can print thousands of pamphlets to distribute or you can use email and SMS marketing. GraphicMail lets you send out up to 5 000 email newsletters per month for free, but if you want more it costs only R69,95. You can design the newsletter yourself or use one of the 300 templates offered.
Get it from: www.graphicmail.co.za
- Easy email
MailChimp let’s you send 12 000 emails per month to a list of up to 2 000 subscribers for free, forever! The site lets you design the email newsletters, share them on social networks and track your results. But, unless you upgrade to a paid account, the MailChimp badge will appear on the footer of your newsletters.
Get it from: www.mailchimp.com
- Know your customers
Customer research is an important step in starting a business, as you need to determine your target market and its response to your product or service. PollDaddy lets you create customised surveys and view responses to them. The basic, free features include 200 survey responses per month, 10 questions per survey and basic reports for polls, surveys and quizzes. The surveys contain Polldaddy links.
Get it from: www.polldaddy.com
- Quiz your market
As your business grows, you need to make sure you are constantly listening to customer feedbank to make sure your product is always in line with their needs and preferences. You can conduct regular surveys for free through SurveyMonkey’s Basic package. It gives you 10 questions per survey, 100 responses per survey and real-time results. You will have access to 24/7 email customer support and can collect data via a weblink, email, Facebook or embed the survey on your site or blog.
Get it from: www.surveymonkey.com
- ‘Hear’ your customers
It’s important to know what your customers are thinking and saying about your product or service. With all the online tools at their disposal like email, Facebook, Twitter and more it can be a challenge to keep up with their feedback. Assistly is a service that collects all your customer service conversations into one place. Assistly helps you monitor what customers are saying on social networks and also helps you build a customer help centre for your site. While some of the features are only available with the higher packages, one person at your organisation will be able to use the service for free.
Get it from: www.assistly.com
- Make a plan
As it does with business plans, Palo Alto Software offers a site packed with marketing-plan advice, tools, and of course a collection of free sample marketing plans.
Get it from: www.mplans.com
- Spread the news
The Press Office
Getting media coverage for your new company can give the business a big boost, if it’s positive. Public relations is often overlooked in the early stages of a business, but it can be beneficial. You don’t need to hire a PR practitioner or appoint a professional agency. The Press Office offers a range of services to write and distribute press releases on your behalf. The most basic package is free and comprises a 350 word release which is distributed to its subscribers, but the higher packages are priced at R150, R450 and R600 and include longer releases and other features like images, statistics and SEO keywords.
Get it from: www.pressoffice.co.za
Cost: Free – R600
Useful Marketing Tactics For Growing Businesses
Customer acquisition, customer experience and content marketing can be identified as the three most important marketing strategy areas to focus on.
Digital marketing offers the business world so many advantages, including the ability to communicate with their target markets quickly and easily. Unfortunately, digital marketing has also opened doors for companies to flood mail boxes, news feeds and ad spaces with junk mail and spam resulting in customers tuning out to anything irrelevant and suspicious.
Customers have become less likely to trust companies and less receptive to messages. The only way for valuable messaging to stand out from the noise is if a business knows how to market itself properly.
Over and above advertising, there are a lot of other aspects that contribute towards an effective marketing strategy, these include research, email, content creation, list curation, social media and even customer service. To be a successful marketer it isn’t necessary to become an expert in every single marketing tactic, but it is important to master the most important areas. Customer acquisition, customer experience and content marketing can be identified as the three most important marketing strategy areas to focus on.
1. Customer acquisition
Of course, not all customers are the same. Some customers are only interested in buying products on sale from a particular brand and then never interact with that brand again. Acquiring, and of course retaining customers with a high lifetime value should be the overall objective for businesses, but this requires more time and money being invested in better, more qualified leads. While the upfront costs might be higher, in the long-term this investment will pay off with continued business from these lifetime customers.
2. Customer experience
Competitive pricing can’t be the only aspect that businesses focus on in order to stand out against competitors. In the current digital era customers expect a good customer experience when they deal with brands so this should be an important focus area for all businesses. Customers expect fast and seamless experiences such as intuitive user interfaces and processes, fast websites and service response times, as well as accurate information about the problems they face.
Customers don’t want to waste their time on websites that require them to jump through hoops, and they definitely don’t want to feel misled by anything a business is communicating. Customers will quickly move on to other sites that offer better experiences as well as other businesses that are more trustworthy. Good customer experiences can go a long way.
Offering more personalised, interactive engagement tactics and improving the customer technology interface should be high priorities for businesses.
3. Content marketing
Marketing is no longer about telling customers that your brand is the best. With the movement towards content marketing, marketing has become about showing customers why you are the best. Content marketing is a legitimate, effective strategy that every business and brand should make use of. While content marketing is a lot more cost effective than outbound marketing, it also generates three times as many leads and offers many other benefits.
Content is a key feature for growing businesses who want to survive in an information rich environment. Customers are looking for brands that provide value beyond their products so creating high-quality content can help you grab your audience’s attention.
Although there are many other factors that are involved in an effective marketing strategy, seeking out customers with a high lifetime value, providing them with a great customer experience while also providing them with valuable content is a recipe for success.
An ‘Outside-the-Box’ Approach to the e-Commerce Unboxing Experience
Get started by keeping three elements in mind – recyclable/re-usable packaging, personalised thank-you notes and free samples.
With a predicted 24,79 million e-commerce users in South Africa by 2021, online shopping is here to stay, making it impossible to escape the predicament of perfecting the art of product packaging. It’s time to think outside the box when it comes to creating a meaningful unboxing experience. Get started by keeping three elements in mind – recyclable/re-usable packaging, personalised thank-you notes and free samples.
Certain types of product packaging are having a tremendous negative impact on our environment, with 5.35 trillion pieces of plastic debris littering the world’s oceans, and with 269,000 tonnes of this amount floating on the surface – and plastic isn’t the only culprit. Did you know that it’s impossible for Styrofoam to ever be broken down completely? And that 1 million single-use coffee cups wind up in landfill every single minute of every day? These statistics make it obvious as to why it’s becoming so important for business owners to be more conscious about the type of packaging that they use.
Many business owners wonder if their customers really care whether their business is doing its part to protect the environment. According to Forbes and a 2017 Cone Communications CSR Study, the answer is a resounding ‘YES, they most certainly do!’.
87% of the consumers surveyed stated that they always have a more positive image of a company that supports social or environmental issues, and 88% claimed that they usually feel more loyal toward a company that they know supports social or environmental issues.
Thoughtful Thank-You Notes
The unboxing experience should be a unique and personal one, and it should be just as memorable as the experience of utilising the product itself! So, make it all the more special and build customer loyalty by including a personalised thank you note. Address the customer by their first name, thank them sincerely for their patronage and end off by giving them some helpful advice regarding the product, or share an interesting benefit of using it. Go the extra, extra mile by hand-writing the letter too.
Everyone loves getting free stuff. Why not bolster the unboxing experience by sending over a little bit more than expected? Not only will a free sample put a big smile on the face of the receiver, if they actually enjoy using it, there’s also a good chance that they’ll be coming back to order more. According to Shopify, free samples have the potential to boost sales by as much as 2,000%.
When it comes to packaging, make the right choice. Sustainable, thoughtful, memorable. Your customers, and the environment, will thank you for it.
The Facebook Ads Strategy That Can’t Lose
It’s a numbers game.
Running a profitable Facebook Ads campaign is simple. Not always easy, but simple.
There is a formula that can guarantee a profitable Facebook Ad campaign. Once you know the formula and the values to plug in, you’ll never sink money into a losing digital ad campaign again. I know it sounds too good to be true, but stick with me…
The Guaranteed Growth Formula
Here’s the entire formula: CPA < AP
Were you expecting coefficients, remainders and dividing by polynomials? Nope, there are only two values that matter when assessing your digital marketing funnel.
1. CPA – Cost Per Acquisition
2. AP – Average Profit Per Client
If your Cost Per Acquisition, the amount you pay to generate a paying customer using Facebook Ads, is less than the Average Profit you make from each new customer you’re guaranteed a profitable campaign.
Calculating Average Profit
To get average profit per client, sum your total revenue from new clients and subtract what you spent to serve them. Divide the result by the total new clients. For example, if you made $75,000 from 10 new clients over the past year and it cost you $40,000 to serve them, your average profit is:
($75,000 – $40,000) / 10 = $3500 Average Profit Per Client
If your average acquisition cost for similar future clients is less than $3500, your campaign will technically be profitable.
Of course most businesses won’t want to spend all of their profit on acquisition. An average business can expect to invest at least 7 percent but no more than 15 percent of revenue in sales and marketing. If Cost of Goods accounts for 60 percent or more of total revenue, your low profit margin may make it difficult to afford successful advertising. Decrease operating costs by increasing efficiency or adjust your margin by raising prices.
Don’t make the mistake of calculating Average Profit based on revenue only from the first sale. Use at least six months of revenue or your lifetime client value as the basis for your calculation, or you risk underfunding your marketing and sales budget.
Calculating Cost Per Acquisition
Let’s assume you’ve considered all of your marketing and sales costs and determined you can spend $350 per new client on Facebook Ads. Let’s reverse engineer your ad campaign to see if a $350 cost of acquisition is reasonable.
The simplest Facebook ads funnel includes four metrics that build upon each other to determine your acquisition cost. I’ve included standard benchmarks for use as a starting point, but your results may differ:
1. Click-Through Rate (CTR) – Percentage of people clicking on your ad. Your CTR should be near or above 1 percent.
2. Cost Per Click (CPC) – The cost of one website visit. CPC should generally be below $3.
3. Lead Conversion Rate – The percentage of site traffic that becomes qualified leads. This value should be 20 percent or above.
4. Sales Conversion Rate – The percentage of leads that convert to a sale. Aim for sales conversion at or above 5 percent. (E-commerce companies often skip the Lead Conversion stage and have a Sales Conversion Rate of 1 percent or greater.)
If 10,000 people view your ad at a 1 percent CTR, you’ll get about 100 website visits. At a $3 CPC, you’ve spent $300. Since 20 percent of your traffic will become leads and 5 percent of those leads become closed sales, we can calculate that you’ll generate approximately 60 leads and three new customers.
Your estimated acquisition cost using Facebook Ads is $100 per client, which is well within your budget of $350. This cost may rise as you scale and target less optimal prospects, but as long as your acquisition cost is less than $350 you’ll make an acceptable profit.
Complex funnels can include several ads and conversion points, but the Guaranteed Growth Formula of CPA < AP still applies. There’s no immediate reason for concern if your metrics differ from the benchmarks. You can and should split test ideas for improvement if your numbers are far from what you expect, but don’t mess up a good thing until you’ve got a better one.
Optimising Your Guaranteed Growth Funnel
If unhealthy metrics cause your acquisition to cost more than what you’ve budgeted, start with these adjustments:
Click-Through Rate Too Low or Cost Per Click Too High
If your CTR falls far under 1 percent Facebook may stop showing your ads or show them to second-rate audiences causing your traffic to tank and CPC to increase. To improve your click metrics, adjust your ad copy (headline and body text), ad creative (image or video) and highlight the benefits in your offer.
Refine your audience. Tailor your copy, images and call-to-action to the audience you’ve selected and ensure that your audience has the desire and means to act.
Lead Conversion Too Low
If leads aren’t converting at 20 percent or more, either the promise made by your ad isn’t congruent with your landing page, or the process of moving forward is too difficult. Try using the same image and headline in your ad and reduce the form fields in sign-up forms to the bare minimum. Also try retargeting visitors who don’t sign up with ads stating the benefits of acting now, or with a different offer.
Sales Conversion Too Low
If you’re an Ecommerce brand with sales conversion below 1 percent your shopping cart or sales process may have too much friction. Simplify the sales process to decrease clutter, or increase trust by adding testimonials and trust signals near important calls to action.
Your sales process may need improvement, but that is beyond this article. In the meantime, you can still increase revenue by cross-selling and upselling those who convert. You may also improve client retention with recurring contracts. Yes, that’s why many software companies are switching to cloud-based subscription models.
When used properly, The Guaranteed Growth Formula of CPA < AP makes Facebook Ad marketing an investment, not an expense. Using the formula, the most you should ever risk is a small initial budget to test whether your estimated calculations hold true in practice.
If your net profit is 3X your acquisition cost, your funnel returns $3 for every $1 you invest. Instead of asking “How much should I spend on marketing?” The question becomes, “How much do I want to make?” I’ve built a Facebook Ad Growth Calculator that incorporates the Guaranteed Growth Formula to help execute your growth strategy. Input your revenue goal and it will estimate the Facebook Ad impressions and traffic required to reach it.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
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