Almost everyone checks out reviews on social media before buying anything today. Brand messages combined with those from influencers can do wonders for businesses. They have been known to increase purchase intent 5.2X. No wonder why influencer marketing is said to be one of the most effective methods of customer acquisition.

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However, you need thorough planning to get outstanding results from your influencer marketing campaigns. Here are a few strategies to help you get phenomenal results

Discount Codes

Discounts have always been effective in boosting sales and conversions. If you combine this strategy with influencer marketing, it can be even more effective. All you need to do is share a unique discount code with each of your influencers and ask them to share it with their followers.

This can drive more conversions and also help influencers woo their audiences more easily. For example, watchmaker Daniel Wellington provides unique discount codes to their influencers and asks them to share them in their sponsored posts. This strategy helps them get greater brand awareness and also increase their revenue.

Brand Mentions

When an influencer mentions your brand in their content, you get to grab more eyeballs and be seen by a relevant audience. This can help you build trust, generate greater brand awareness, and can make their followers buy from you as well.

Giveaways

Giveaways can help to increase your engagement drastically. After all, who doesn’t like free goodies? You can partner with influencers to host giveaways in which you give away some of your products as a reward. This can help you build brand awareness and encourage people to buy.

Takeovers

57% of marketers believe that influencer-generated content is more effective for marketing than the content they create. So, seasoned marketers often allow influencers to take over the brand’s social media accounts and post content on their behalf for a limited period of time.

Influencers promote such takeovers on their own accounts which can help brands gain more followers and engagement.

Long-Term Collaborations

In a long-term collaboration, an influencer becomes the face of a brand. They both have a vested interest in the partnership and work together for the growth of the company. This way, the brand as well as the influencers can gain more followers and get more visibility.

An influencer can help you enhance your brand’s personality and get you quality traffic. Long-term partnerships with influencers can help to enhance brand advocacy and awareness too.

Freebies

An influencer creates quality content and spends their valuable time engaging with their followers to drive traffic to your website. One way of collaborating with them is to offer free products or services in exchange for their hard work.

You can also offer such freebies in addition to their monetary compensation to thank them for their efforts. Such gestures go a long way to improve your relationships with influencers.

Influencer Challenges

When you challenge your influencers, they get motivated to put in their best work. You can arrange a little contest during which the influencer who can get you the maximum number of likes, comments, or shares, wins a prize.

Challenging influencers is a great strategy when you want to launch a new product. It can also help to boost brand awareness and drive more traffic.

These are just a few strategies that can help you run profitable influencer marketing campaigns. For some more ideas, check out the following gifographic

The ROI of Influencer Marketing Infographic

About the Author

Brandon Brown is the CEO of Grin, an influencer marketing software solution for brands. Grin’s software helps customers identify, recruit & activate the world’s most engaging influencers. Prior to Grin, he led marketing for the #1 energy drink market in the world, Los Angeles & Orange County, at Red Bull North America. You can know more about Brandon Brown here.

Trust may be one of the most valuable commodities in your business. A team that trusts each other and their boss is a team that will work harder and happier to achieve great things. Cut corners where you will, but when it comes to people you need to invest. Not just money, but time and care. A whopping 93% of employees believe that trusting their leaders is essential to work satisfaction. And a satisfied team makes your business more money. So how to go about developing that trust?

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Trust works both ways

Trust is most effective when it’s mutual. When you show trust in your employees, they will feel that you’ve taken their feelings and identities into consideration. To work together requires a sense of collaboration. When you just pass tasks along with little consideration, you risk alienating your crew.

To build trust, try to be as open as possible with your team about every aspect of your business. Involve them in decisions, and show them how you work and why you do things the way you do. This has the important advantage that it removes uncertainty from your employees’ daily tasks.

[U]ncertainty about the company’s direction leads to chronic stress, writes Paul J. Zak, founding director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies, “which inhibits the release of oxytocin and undermines teamwork“.

“Openness is the antidote”.

Listen carefully

Part of showing your trust is to listen carefully. And again, your team will learn to trust and respect you if they know you have their interests at heart. Asking open-ended questions can begin an open and creative dialogue.

This listening occurs in daily interactions, but it also refers to how you treat your colleagues in the bigger picture. For example, letting them know that you’ve noticed when they’ve done something particularly smart or effective.

And listen not just to what they say and do, but what they feel. If you see somebody is raring to have a bit more responsibility, and you know they’re capable, reach out to them and delegate some of your own important tasks. Or hold regular sessions to observe and redistribute the workload. Discuss or use feedback forms to give folk a chance to express what work they believe they’re good at, and what they would like to do.

Behave honestly

It may sound obvious, but one of the simplest ways to build trust is by being honest. That starts with being open about your business practices as discussed above. But it should refer through to all areas of your workplace.

Being honest isn’t always easy, and it isn’t always pleasant. But a healthy and considerate conflict is more productive than simmering resentment and distrust.

To be a trustworthy boss doesn’t require you to be a tyrant. However, bottling things up or sweeping them under the carpet will damage your relationships and your business. Equally, make promises you can’t keep will lose you trust.

A boss “whose behavior can be reliably predicted will be seen as more trustworthy,” says Robert F. Hurley, professor of management at Fordham University in New York.  “One whose behavior is erratic will be met with suspicion“.

Here the issue of integrity comes into play – that is, doing what you say you will do. Trustees who say one thing but do another lack integrity.”

To begin building that trust, take a long hard look at this infographic from The Business Backer

An efficient and effective hiring process is one of the main pillars of a successful company. The recruitment team has a difficult job on their hands as they’re responsible for sourcing the future employees of a company. If this process is flawed and they take too much time to find the right candidates, it can incur a substantial cost to the company. You might also lose out on good candidates while your competitors might end up hiring them.

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Qualified candidates are always in demand and research has found that they’re usually available for 10 days only. So, your hiring process needs to be quick and effective.

Here are some awesome strategies that will help you speed up your time-to-hire in the best possible ways.

Create a Structured Hiring Process

Not having a structured hiring process can lead to mismanagement and confusion. Candidates won’t get to know what the next step in the hiring process is. This will result in a poor candidate experience which can drive away many qualified candidates.

A documented and streamlined hiring process will help you minimize your time-to-hire as you will know what to do next. Your hiring team needs to be knowledgeable and experienced enough to set up an efficient recruiting process.

Build a Strong Employer Brand

Passive candidates are those who aren’t actively searching for other opportunities but wouldn’t mind considering suitable opportunities if they come up.

Building a strong employer brand can help you attract these passive candidates who constitute 85% of the workforce. This can help you tap into a wider pool of experienced and knowledgeable candidates.

Candidates are likely to be impressed and apply for positions at your company when you have a strong employer brand. You can build a strong employer brand by regularly responding to your online reviews and sharing updates about your work environment and culture.

When you build a strong employer brand, you might become an employer of choice for many applicants. This is likely to bring a steady source of quality candidates to your job openings.

Building consistent and loyal employee is also a great way to attract new talent which enhances the sound work culture in the organization. Time to hire will speed up automatically and you will get what you want for work.

Audit Existing Talent

You need to keep yourself updated about the status of existing candidates in your recruitment database. Internal auditing will save you time and can help you keep better track of candidates who might be looking for jobs. You can even fill out some of your vacant job positions by carefully auditing this talent pool.

If you want to learn more about how can you reduce your time-to-hire, check out the infographic given below

Infographic Source

About the Author

Ray O’Donnell is the Founder & CEO of TotalRewards Software, Inc. and Candidate Rewards. He has been helping companies to find, retain, and engage top talent by bridging the gap between the two. TotalRewards Software, Inc. is available on on LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.

We all know that website load times must be as fast as possible, but everyone has a second or two to spare, right? Online, a second or two might as well be a year. Web surfers don’t have the patience to give you those couple of extra seconds that it takes your site to load.

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How Long is Too Long?

That depends on the person checking out your site. That said, page loading time had better be five seconds or less. If it takes more than that, you’ve lost 74% of your visitors already. The stats are sobering – just a single second delay in load time means you’ve lost about 11% of your views.

It all gives new meaning to the phrase, “Make every second count.” You can learn more about how exactly a slow low time impacts your web traffic in the infographic from Hosting Tribunal below.

Have a look and see exactly how much impact those extra few seconds have. For now, though, let’s look at ways that you can improve your website’s load time.

Improving Your Website’s Load Time

A website is essentially little more than a digital file. The more information contained in the file, the bigger the file is and the longer it will take to load. Photos, videos, and animations are the ‘gas guzzlers’ of the digital world.

A high-resolution photo or video that has not been web-optimized significantly impacts the size of your ‘file’. It’s a bit of a catch-22 situation. We know that visual media are better for capturing the attention of web surfers, but there is a danger that they could bloat our websites. How do we overcome this issue?

Start with the photos that you want to post. Make copies of all of the photos, and work with the copies. That way, if something goes wrong during the editing process, the originals will still be fine. Using a program like Photoshop, resize them so that they have smaller dimensions. Try cutting the size by at least half. This won’t impact the photo quality, and they will still display fine, but they will require less bandwidth to be displayed on the end user’s screen.

While you’re at it, check the quality of the image. Now, for many years all the advice out there has been to use high-quality images. Do we throw this advice out of the window? Not really, we just amend our idea of what is meant by a high-quality image.

If you save a photo at a medium quality level rather than a higher setting, it won’t make much difference to the viewer. You will, however, save a lot of megabytes by doing this and reduce the file size significantly. The same applies to the resolution that videos are saved at, but here you’ll need to play around a little to see what looks best. Take a look at all the visual elements of the site and make sure that the file sizes are reduced as much as possible. That will help you speed up a slow load time substantially.

To understand the real impact speed has on online presence, go through this insightful graphic

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Pitney Bowes, a global technology company that provides commerce solutions in the areas of ecommerce, shipping, mailing, and data, published key findings from the 2018 Pitney Bowes Global Ecommerce Study. As online retailers and marketplaces prepare for record volumes of ecommerce orders this holiday season, the study found that 61% of consumers globally felt let down by their online shopping experience during the last holiday season. This figure is up significantly from 47% in 2017, and 41% in 2016.

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Consumers pointed to post-purchase experiences, including items arriving late, expensive shipping, tracking inaccuracies, confusing returns policies, and lost or incorrect items as reasons for their dissatisfaction.

Lila Snyder, President of Commerce Services at Pitney Bowes, said

More and more, consumers are telling us that the post-purchase experience – what happens after the order – is every bit as important, if not more, than the shopping experience that occurs before the order. The silver lining for retailers: consumers are giving you the blueprint for how to get it right, and those who get it right will be rewarded with customer loyalty and revenue growth.

Consumers in India are shopping online more frequently, and they prefer marketplaces. Nearly everyone is shopping online – 94% of consumers globally; unchanged year-over-year. But, the frequency with which consumers shop online is accelerating. Globally, 35% of online shoppers make an online purchase at least weekly. In India, 68% of online shoppers are purchasing from a marketplace, as opposed to a shopping with an online brand.

Lila Snyder, President of Commerce Services at Pitney Bowes, added

The uptick in shopping frequency, while welcome news for retailers, is also contributing to the rise in consumer dissatisfaction. Individual consumers are spending more time shopping online and waiting on products, creating a greater probability for a bad experience. As volumes rise, retailers are struggling to keep up with the demand in terms of physical infrastructure and the technology to manage it effectively.

India prefers fast and free shipping

The study shows that consumers start to make judgements on the post-purchase experience even before placing their orders. At the same time, consumers are becoming more demanding in their expectations for ‘fast and free’. Only 47% consider 2-day free shipping ‘fast’.

Lila Snyder, President of Commerce Services at Pitney Bowes, further added

If there is one finding for retailers to pay attention to, it’s this one: fast and free shipping is a must. Retailers invest millions of dollars in marketing to drive consumers to their ecommerce sites, but all of that expense and effort is for naught if they don’t also invest in attractive fast and free shipping offers that meet consumer expectations.

Consumers still rank ‘free shipping’ as more important than ‘fast shipping’. Globally, 76% of consumers prefer ‘free’ over ‘fast’. In India, 56% of consumers prefer free shipping over faster delivery.

A bad post-purchase experience can cost retailers multiple customers

According to the study, 90% of online shoppers in the US will take an action that can hurt a retailer’s brand in response to a bad post-purchase experience. Their reactions range from sharing their frustrations on social media to never purchasing from the offending site again. Among millennials, 30% will go public about their poor experience, complaining in an online review or social media post, potentially affecting the buying decisions of their entire social networks.

The importance of the post-purchase experience voiced loud and clear by consumers was further validated by the results of retailer surveys. Successful high-growth retailers [25% or greater YoY revenue growth] place a greater emphasis on the post-purchase consumer experience than their slower growth competitors. This includes providing services like free returns and day-definite guaranteed delivery. 54% of high-growth retailers offer 2-3 day free shipping, while 60% of low-growth retailers [10% or less YoY revenue growth] offer 4-7 day free shipping. High-growth retailers also tend to meet or exceed consumer demands for accurate, real-time tracking, free and fast shipping, easy returns with pre-printed labels, prompt refunds and even attractive branded packaging.

One trend that may be influencing expectations around quality of packaging is the growth of subscription box services. 27% of online shoppers are subscribed to at least one such service, including 51% of millennials and 47% of households with children.

Lila Snyder, President of Commerce Services at Pitney Bowes, said

Successful high-growth retailers and brands not only exceed their customers’ expectations on the post-purchase experience, but they leverage every consumer touchpoint to build brand awareness, further strengthening customer loyalty.

In the battleground for consumer attention, the study found that marketplaces continue to soak up 60% of online purchases, but it also found opportunity for retailers who invest in their brand and delight consumers throughout the shopping and post-purchase experience. 61% of online shopping occurs when the consumer knows specifically what brand and product they are looking to buy. In these cases, more than half [54%] prefer to buy from a retailer website over an online marketplace. This presents an opportunity for brands and retailers to build customer loyalty and trust by repeatedly delivering exceptional post-purchase experiences.

The same rules apply for cross-border shopping

The cross-border ecommerce market continues to mature. For the first-time, fewer consumers said they were shopping cross-border dropping from 70% in 2017 to 64% in 2018. The US, China and Japan were the only countries where the number of cross-border shippers increased in 2018. Still, the market continues to grow because those who are shopping cross-border are doing so more frequently. This was true in nearly every country we surveyed. Twelve-percent of consumers globally are now shopping cross-border at least weekly, up from 10% in 2017.

Consistent with the results of the study, frustrations with shopping cross-border can be attributed primarily to shipping that is too slow, or too expensive. Other frustrations include the inconvenience of returning unwanted items and poor customer service.

The 2018 Pitney Bowes Global Ecommerce Study is based on surveys of more than 13,000 consumers in 12 markets, combined with surveys of 650 retailers in the US, UK, India, and Australia. The report is intended to help guide retailers and marketplaces in their investment decisions and go-to-market strategies.

For more information on the study including an interactive map and infographic, please visit The 2018 Pitney Bowes Global Ecommerce Study.

It’s always better to retain customers than to attract new ones because the cost involved in getting new customers is much higher. Around 90% of consumers shop from different brands and are not loyal to any one in particular. Therefore, it’s important to focus on developing consistent customer relationships.

Let’s take a look at four of the best ways to do so

1. Get to Know Your Customers

The more you know your customers, the better your retention will be. Do research to understand their needs and desires and what delights them the most. Understand why they make a purchase.

From your previous experience, map your customer journey. Explore the available data and analytics to understand your customers’ behavioral pattern and trends.

2. Standardize the Process

Maintain a standardized process throughout your company for a great customer experience. Create clear guidelines and make sure your employees follow them. Address different situations while preparing guidelines so that your team can be prepared for anything.

Go out of your way to give your customers an amazing experience. Surprise them. Never let the quality of your customer service drop in any circumstances.

3. Train Your Employees Properly

Train your employees, especially your client-facing and client-interacting team members. Hire the best professionals for client handling and then arrange regular workshops to keep them updated. Provide a holistic customer experience on all platforms.

4. Deliver Unified Customer Experiences across channels

To maintain consistency in customer service, it’s important to standardize it across different channels. Customers expect to receive similar experiences on all channels. They don’t like to repeat themselves if they have already told you their issue in some way.

Therefore, it’s important to keep track of every conversation you have with them. Address all of their issues promptly.

Tips and Tricks

  1. Be it social media, your blog, or in a newsletter, stay connected with your customers often.
  2. Find out which social media platforms your customers use the most and accordingly create a strong presence there.
  3. Increase customer engagement.
  4. Feedback is a very important part of building a customer relationship. Listen to what your follower have to say about your product and services.
  5. Show them that you are acting according to their feedback.
  6. Always appreciate them if they say good things about you, and try to solve any grievances they have. Keep in mind that you should never take a reactionary approach with customers.
  7. Make them feel special and let them know that their opinions matter.

Leverage Inbound Marketing

Use customer-generated and influencer content to spread the word about your brand. There is nothing more effective than a good customer testimonial.

A happy customer is indeed a part of your salesforce, as they have more credibility than your salespeople have. After all, trust and credibility are the backbones of a long-term customer relationship.

Check out this infographic to discover more about these customer relationship building tactics.

Infographic Source – SalesMate

Author the Author

Samir Motwani is a growth hacker cut from a different cloth than most entrepreneurs. This action oriented technophile may have been trained as a developer, but is a designer at heart. He is currently the CEO of Salesmate, a CRM tool, that is adept at developing low-cost strategies for startups, and defining best practices for budding ventures. You can find more about Samir Motwani here.

Search Engine Optimization is the process by which web developers optimize a website so that a search engine such as Google or Bing can index it. Taking this a step further, SEO also helps a website rank higher in search engine results and thus gain more exposure and custom.

Image Source – SEO

SEO is a complex and ever changing process, so web developers and SEO experts have to continually update their knowledge to keep track of how search engines such as Google are indexing and ranking websites.

The following are several important factors that can contribute to a website’s SEO

Keywords – Search engines look at common words and phrases known as keywords that a user might type in when searching for a particular thing. For example, if a user is searching for hotels in New York, a keyword phrase could be ‘Top quality hotels in New York‘ or ‘quality hotels in Manhattan‘. When considering SEO, you must research popular keywords and incorporate them into your website content.

Content quality and relevance – Content such as blogs, social media posts, and website text should be relevant, informative, and useful. By creating engaging and interesting content, your organic SEO should improve, which is incredibly important if you want to get more traffic. Seotribunal.com even states that 70 to 80 percent of people focus exclusively on organic search results, ignoring the ads altogether.

Page loading speeds – Loading speeds can play a role in SEO. If a website has really slow page loading speeds, this will put customers off and give them a bad experience. Search engines understand this and in their drive for providing quality results, they will give less weight and ranking to such websites.

Backlinks – A backlink is a link to your website from a third-party source. Search engines look at your catalogue of backlinks to help ascertain the quality and popularity of your website. It is important to build up a quality library of backlinks from reputable and relevant sources to help boost your SEO.

These are just a few factors and there are many more to consider. As stated, SEO requirements and techniques are constantly evolving to match search engine updates.

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At what point do you really focus your resources on your customer ? Do you devote countless hours and investments on the point up until they place an order ? Or do you look at the process differently, and think about a customer’s contribution to your order and sold pipeline in a unique way?

Image Source – e-commerce

One of the things you can do to reconsider how your business works and how you optimize your processes is to think about one of the crucial setups of your business as a whole – the order to cash process. Reconsidering that process and figuring out ways to use technology to streamline and maximize it can be a way to really push your business to the next level of success. But in order to get there, you have to make sure you understand what we’re talking about.

Order to cash basically is taking what happens at the moment a customer places an order, and understanding the activity and the data that happens at this point. Of course, there’s a nod to all the work that goes into the process before this order placement even happens – there is sales and marketing, among others. But this order to cash process looks at the point of the sale and then takes it beyond that. As you analyze all the points along the order to cash process, you then are able to really dig deep and figure out if there are things that are ‘sticking’ points along the way, or if there are efficiencies that you aren’t taking advantage of. And one of the key ways to improve all those processes, of course, is by using technology.

The order to cash process can be analyzed in terms of eight key steps, and what happens at those steps. Ready to learn more ? This graphic can help.

Infographic Source – Order to Cash Process

Further details can be found here. Do leave your learnings in the comments section…

Note – Infographic added with the author’s consent