Jola Cloud Solutions' Blog

The best time to send an e-mail

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 15-Jul-2021 10:10:49

When do most people check their e-mail? First thing after meetings and before they finish for the day. In my experience, e-mails sent around 11:00 a.m. midweek have the best open rates, as my target audience has cleared their spam, started their day and is ready to consider something new.

Promotional e-mails sent at lunchtime can work well, as people may take the time to complete a short survey whilst eating their lunch if the incentive is strong enough and the questions few and easy to answer.

Looking at unsubscribe rates, if you get your audience and your messaging right, this rate should be low and is typically lower still at the start of the week. At the end of the week, with people fighting e-mails to get done for the day, you might find an increase in unsubscribe rates, especially if you have misjudged your frequency of e-mails, audience and content.

Hints and tips

Personalised e-mails tend to have higher engagement rates if you get the right content to the right person at the right time. Not just ‘Dear [name]’ but really personalised content by job title, industry or key challenge.

Measurements

Key measures for success in e-mail marketing are delivery rates, open rates, clickthrough rates and responses. Typically 98% delivery rates and 20%–50% open rates are considered good, and clickthrough rates and responses can vary dramatically in the holiday months.

Social media

Messages sent via platforms such as LinkedIn have their own rules and best practices. Much of our target audience check LinkedIn during their free time, so sending messages between 7:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. has worked well for us. Be mindful of the time and day of the week, as you may be happy working Sunday afternoons but your target audience may not be.

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Topics: marketing

Getting your go-to-market strategy right

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 07-Jul-2021 14:14:40

In a crowded marketplace, building a great product is not enough to guarantee growth; you also need to invest in an effective go-to-market strategy.

Marketing is a diverse function composed of different processes and skillsets. Many marketing teams manage strategy, positioning, messaging, branding, advertising, online and social presence, as well as demand and lead generation. An effective go-to-market strategy takes advantage of all in-house skills and complements the skills of the sales team.

When launching a new product, you need to get yourself in front of your buyers and be disruptive. How can you find more buyers than your competition faster than they can, and how can you convert them more effectively?

1 – Know your market

What does your target customer look like in terms of turnover, description and product set? How many target prospects are out there? Who is also targeting this audience? What are the common challenges that your solution uniquely resolves? How have you disrupted this market?

2 – Create compelling content

What would make your prospects engage with your content? How can you influence your decision-makers? How do you get to understand the challenges faced by your prospects and their buying process? 

3 – Hot-button entry points

In what scenario would your prospect need a supplier like you? What process would they undergo to find you? How can you ensure you are part of this process? The more you can understand the buying habits of your prospects, the influencers and blockers within the account, the more successful you will be at identifying hot-button entry points.

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Topics: marketing

What are the top three challenges facing marketing teams?

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 07-Jul-2021 13:58:45

Generating high-quality leads in great volume

Business owners and sales managers in the channel tell me that their biggest challenge right now is generating new business. To do this effectively, they need a constant flow of high-quality leads they can convert. In-house marketing teams have found lead generation tough during the pandemic, as so much has changed. As some markets have closed down completely, new opportunities have opened up elsewhere. Similarly, some traditional lead generation channels were cancelled and postponed, and new ways of engaging prospects emerged.

Successful lead generation comes from effective strategies, which are consistently delivered, measured and improved. Marketing is not something you can dip in and out of or continually change to deliver the next new idea. Rather, it is a constant flow of the right messaging to the right people at the right time, with a strong call to action that is swiftly followed up.

Delivering effective account-based marketing

Account-based marketing (ABM) is about sales and marketing collaborating to identify and convert key prospects into key accounts. A lot is being written about the subject, but in practice, much of what is being delivered is trial and error. One of the key challenges is activity. It takes a long time to cultivate online relationships, with a lot of engaging material and conversations at multiple layers of an organisation; it also needs a catalyst, an immediate need, which only you can deliver to tip the scales in your favour.

ABM lead generation comes from an effective multilayered strategy, engaging content and influencing the right people in their time of need. It needs to come from a desire to really understand a prospect from every department’s perspective, obtaining a deep understanding of how they operate, how they buy, their key challenges and who you would need to influence to become part of their new supplier onboarding process. It takes time and a lot of effort to get to know the right people and processes. There is not a lot of software available to help you manage and monitor this, making the job extremely manual and in some cases very disjointed.

Securing enough budget

Without a dedicated department head fighting for budget annually with a strong plan, KPIs and ROI predictions, securing a marketing budget can be difficult. Many companies have no dedicated marketing budget, and as opportunities for marketing come up, they are considered on merit. It is challenging to plan a strategy for a constant flow of high-quality leads without a plan and associated budget.

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Topics: marketing

Using webinars as part of your lead generation strategy

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 30-Jun-2021 14:17:40

Webinars are a great way to deliver key messages to a large group of prospects in one meeting. In the current climate, webinars are popular, as many of us are still working from home. Done well, webinars can help you generate leads, but how do you ensure success?

Plan engaging content

Sales pitches and product demonstrations appeal to a much smaller audience than you might think. To appeal to a wider target audience, you need to plan engaging content. What keeps your prospects up at night? What would they give up an hour of their working day to learn? Information that is expensive to buy or gather by oneself may be of interest to business owners looking for information to back up potential growth strategies. Listening to the personal testimonies of those who have already gone down this road, made the mistakes and come out the other side, may also be of interest.

Target your audience

To get the right people to attend your webinar, you need to think about how you are going to invite them. Planning a month in advance is advisable. Weekly e-mails, social posts, adverts, videos, and PR can all help promote your event and keep track of who has and has not yet registered. If there are key people you want to attend, it may also be worth giving them a call to see if they have seen the e-mail, especially if they already have a relationship with you and will take your call!

Use the right software

It probably goes without saying that you need a good Internet connection and quiet conditions for a webinar, so it may be worth running the webinar from a meeting room in the office, especially if you choose to switch on your video. Using the right software is key. There are plenty of options available to suit most budgets. I would go for one with the ability to see audience engagement, run poll questions and record and post to social sites for additional reach.

Follow up

After a successful webinar, it is important to follow up. Start with those who have asked questions, ensuring they were satisfied with the answers given, and don’t be afraid to ask for feedback. After Jola webinars, we send a survey to every delegate so they can rate our performance and suggest improvements for the next one. Check out the delegates who have registered and couldn’t attend. It may be worth sending them the recording and following up to see if they have any additional questions. Measuring the quality of the software, quality of the content, satisfaction of the delegates as well as their engagement gives you a good idea of how you have done. Tracking delegates followed up into the sales pipeline will tell you how successful the webinar was in terms of lead generation, and running a return on investment (RoI) calculation will let you know if it was money and time well spent.

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Topics: marketing

Social selling versus social marketing

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 16-Jun-2021 13:04:28

What are the main differences between social selling and social marketing? What strategies can we adopt to win more business?

Social marketing

There are various definitions, but in my mind, social marketing is part of the marketing strategy. Its purpose is to help us, as a company, build up brand awareness online and to let our partners and prospects know who we are and what problems we can uniquely solve. The objective of social marketing is to build up connections with prospects and educate them, so when they have a need, they know who to come to for a solution. It is about building up trust and putting out regular and accurate content that your partners and prospects value. It goes hand in hand with PR, helping you to drip-feed information to build your company’s reputation as a thought leader and a ‘go-to’ company for specific expertise.

The problem that most marketers have with social marketing is that it is difficult to measure success as the endgame is not direct leads and orders but a well-known and trusted brand name. This also takes years to build and can be destroyed in seconds online.

Social selling

Social selling focusses on prospecting online. You need to maintain visibility of your brand, but the endgame is leads and orders. The challenge that most people have with this is that it is a slow game that takes months of identifying the next ideal prospect, researching the company and all major contacts, connecting with them, and sending them relevant and useful information that will result in a successful sale.

It is not advisable to go straight in with who you work for and what you are selling. You need to think about what you can send them that will make them think of you as an expert in your field and someone they can go to with a problem that you can uniquely solve.

It takes lots of activity and time, which most salespeople do not have when there are much more direct routes to hitting their targets. Many people invest in software to help shortcut the process and identify key posts to comment on or like and set up alerts to respond to; others are fed by their marketing departments.

Each approach needs to be targeted; for example, when you are trying to sell something to me, you need to understand what my challenges may be right now. To do this, you may start with our website, blogs, and social posts and then look at what my colleagues and peers are posting and sharing. You need to put yourself in my position and send me something that I would find interesting and relevant, which may provoke a question, leading to a conversation, a demo, and maybe even a sale. You also need to time your approach right.

The endgame is always to get the right messaging to the right person at the right time.

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Topics: marketing

How to put together a great webinar

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 27-Jan-2021 11:53:12

The pandemic has changed the way we work and helped us to focus on the best way to interact with our audiences. In the past we favoured face-to-face meetings and have been forced to move to a virtual environment.

It was a great opportunity to consider our content and how it gets delivered. What makes a great webinar and how do you put one together?


Audience

The first thing to consider is your audience. What are their requirements? What would make them give up an hour of their time and spend it on a webinar with you? Once you have worked out your agenda, drafted the content and arranged your speaker, you can start to think about your software.

To get high engagement and great feedback from participants, you need a piece of software that allows interaction. Chat boxes and poll questions are good interactive features.

With the software installed, you can start to plan your invitations. Catch attention, draw the audience in and have a strong call to action to ensure a good response rate. Using your sales team to invite key prospects and promote webinars is useful to get the audience you require.

Create engaging content

Think through your content and make sure it matches your advertised agenda. Use graphics, where possible, and avoid overloading your slides with text and reading from them. Use case studies your audience can relate to and address real problems. Keep your content concise and relevant. Then practice, practice… practice! Make sure your speaker is comfortable with the content and if required has additional resource on hand to answer detailed questions live.

It is worth researching your participants before each webinar and asking a few qualifying poll questions before you start. This way you can make sure your content is relevant. Set up early to test the sound, chat boxes and poll questions. Test your software demonstrations and make sure you have your passwords handy. Switch off phones, notifications and encourage feedback after every webinar. This way you can improve materials for the next one.

Measure your success

How many participants do you want on each webinar? Set this as a target and measure attendees against it. Set targets for engagement and make sure you follow up every question and request for further information. Give out your contact details and encourage participants to invite colleagues to join you for the next session. Don’t be too keen to email out recordings. If you can view a video, do you really need to attend a live event?

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Topics: marketing

Physical versus Virtual Events

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 04-Nov-2020 13:57:24

As a channel, many of us are missing the personal contact we are used to with colleagues, suppliers and customers. Some of us are really missing our exhibitions and awards evenings, as they are a chance to network and celebrate together.

The reality is that due to current local restrictions, many of our events are now virtual.  

From a marketing prospective there are pros and cons of both virtual and physical events for organisers, sponsors and attendees.

Physical Events

Attendees commit their time and expenses to attend. They have a reason to attend, something to research, people to meet and plan their time accordingly. Exhibitors know this and make themselves as visible as possible to meet as many prospects as they can, to recruit new partners and win new business. Organisers put the work in to bring this all together, providing educational seminars and sponsorships to deliver on requirements for both parties.

The great advantage of physical events is the face-to-face time spent with new resellers. Resellers can provide a quick overview about their requirements, get a feel for products and pricing and even see a quick demo of a portal. Suppliers can quickly establish needs and the size of the opportunity and decisions to proceed or dis-engage are made there and then. These face-to-face meetings can also happen over coffee, lunch or even in the bar, where direct questions are posed and answered, saving time on both sides.

The exhibition environment provides resellers with an education on current opportunities and the ability to compare potential suppliers in one afternoon in quick succession. Exhibitors get a chance to showcase their USPs and to talk more around the current opportunities and successful use cases they have been involved with.

Virtual Events

These events require less commitment and can easily be missed if something else comes up, especially if they know recordings may be available post-event. As attendees have not travelled and left the office for a day, they can easily get distracted with other business.

That said, virtual events are a great way of learning about market opportunities and comparing suppliers without leaving your laptop. You don’t need to worry about travel time or lunches, you are able to arrange quick meetings virtually, without leaving space in-between to find your next meeting.

For suppliers, the obvious difference with a digital event is costs. Physical events tend to cost more, but don't underestimate the cost of hosting a digital event.

You can speak to your audience without leaving home and don’t require an exhibition stand or merchandise. You also have the opportunity to gather further information from your attendees, such as engagement and can track poll question results and questions posed.

From my prospective, both types of events have their place but there is no comparison to being in a room full of your industry peers. The relationship building you can do face-to-face is valuable and much more difficult to achieve in the same timescales virtually. I look forward to getting back to live events but in the meanwhile am grateful for the opportunities to speak and meet with resellers virtually.

With any event, the more you put in, the more you get out.

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Topics: marketing

LinkedIn a blessing or a curse?

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 30-Sep-2020 13:13:36

LinkedIn was designed to help us manage our professional identities online.  It allows us to build and engage our professional network. With over 675 million members, LinkedIn was designed to help us access knowledge, insights and opportunities.

My experience with LinkedIn both professionally and personally has been positive. A quick scroll through the news feed keeps me up to date with events taking place, awards being won, new products being launched, and new business closed. I also get insights from the comms channel, marketing community and entrepreneurs working in technology across the globe.

Jola uses LinkedIn to connect with partners and prospects, keeping our target audience up to date with current opportunities and support available to win them. We identify current problems and propose unique solutions to solve them. Our messaging is unique to us, reflecting our own abilities and strengths. We focus on building up our connections with decision makers within specific targets. As our connections learn more about Jola and the solutions we offer, further influencers connect and engage with us, leading to private messages with individual account managers and entry into our sales process. Reaching the person with the problem with our unique solution is our goal. By carefully researching our audience and crafting messages to attract their attention.

Used correctly LinkedIn is a fantastic database and a great lead generator. The problem comes from users not applying marketing fundamentals to the platform. Are you thinking about who you want to connect with or reactively accepting requests? Are you focussed on getting the content out there but not considering who to? Once you have your connection list streamlined, you can then focus on crafting messages to educate and attract your prospects.

Do you send the same request email to everyone? Your email request is really important. Why should that individual connect with you? How will being connected to you benefit them? This message should be unique and compelling. Do you then have an automated email ready to send to anyone that accepts you? Do you find this approach works? It may be better to send fewer, more bespoke emails. Resist the temptation to assume what people want and go straight to a pitch. Timing is everything. Doing your research and being sure of the problem and the people involved in solving it is always helpful. Having a contact to recommend you and sponsor you in is also incredibly helpful.

In my view LinkedIn is a blessing. When used correctly it can help you build your brand and your pipeline. Like all marketing tools having clear objectives, a well thought-through strategy, a defined target audience, scheduled activity and set targets and measures will result in a better experience and results.

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Topics: marketing

How can marketing help to grow your business?

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 16-Sep-2020 11:01:50

When deciding to grow your business, you may look to recruit a sales team and hope the investment will be rewarded. When the new sales team starts, there are often challenges to overcome.

If the company is not well-known, the sales team may have an uphill struggle generating new leads. Without professional product materials, great pricing and credentials, they may struggle to win opportunities. They may also find themselves being pulled into other areas of the business, resulting in less time to look for and close new business.

How can marketing help?

By working closely with sales teams, marketing can draft a plan outlining the target audience and strategy to attract and close the easiest to win, most profitable prospects. The team can craft a communications strategy to increase brand awareness and to promote unique solutions. By creating a well-optimised website, marketing can generate regular leads and on-line sales. They can connect with key prospects, focusing on unique solutions to current problems.  

Marketing can create and manage events to allow sales to meet with prospects face-to-face or arrange online demonstrations, webinars or video calls. The team can keep an eye on the market and feed actions into the sales team to make contact with key prospects at appropriate times. They can also put together case studies and awards entries to increase credibility and the value of the brand.

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Topics: marketing

Using Marcomms to reduce customer churn

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 29-Jul-2020 12:41:28

If churn is a problem within your organisation, you may want to implement a marketing strategy to address this. Identifying the root cause of churn is the key to understanding how to reduce it.

Surveys

Asking every customer why they are leaving is a good start. You can send quick surveys, three questions maximum or call them to see if they can be saved. Often customers will leave to save money. Can you match their new pricing? If service was the problem, you may need to dig deeper. What has caused the problem, and can it be resolved? If it is a one-off compliant, a simple apology and a goodwill gesture, may retain the customer. If the problem runs deeper, you may need to think about internal training and processes.

Engagement

Customers buying more than one product from you are less likely to churn. The saving may not be attractive enough to overcome the hassle of moving. With this in mind, running regular up-sell / cross-sell campaigns to customers may help.

Loyalty

Give them something they can’t buy from anyone else. This may be exclusive products or loyalty discounts. Why should your customers stay with you? Creating a community of loyal customers involves regular communications, offers and exclusive events. Keeping customers up to date with your news is only the first step. Think about why your customers bought from you? Is it the way you do business? Are your interests aligned? Can you do anything to support your customers locally, that national competitors never could?

Touch points

Like all good marcomms strategies, this will involve multiple touchpoints such as emails, social posts, online content, events and calls. You need to develop a relationship with your customers, understand their changing requirements, and continue to meet them better than the competition.

Feedback

Successful strategies will include a feedback loop, to ensure your messaging and offers are hitting the mark. Give your customers regular opportunities to talk to you and feedback on your products, offers and rewards. By involving them in the process, you ensure your strategy will be more successful.

Reporting

Reporting is essential to understand how successful you are being at reducing churn and how much this is costing you as a business. If you get it right, the ROI will be worth it.

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Topics: marketing

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