Odyssey bloghelping you leverage the potential of the internet

Email Marketing Campaign Tips

26. September 2009 17:43

Sketch of an inbox overflowing Maintaining a customer database can be very useful to your business, it’s worth remembering that it’s much easier to sell your products and services to existing customers, than find new ones.  Therefore it’s important to maintain a dialogue with people you have previously done business with, as it’s a good way to inform those customers about promotions, new services and new or updated product lines that they may be interested in.

Your website should feature a newsletter sign-up form to encourage visitors to register for your newsletter, but don’t forget your offline marketing and customer contact points.  The more you spread the word about your newsletter and inform customers of the benefits of signing up, the more readers you’ll get.
Try asking for customers email addresses when they purchase a product in your shop, or include an newsletter opt-in when they purchase a product online.  Don’t forget to make sure customers understand why you’re asking for the information, they’ll then be expecting the newsletter.

Maybe you already send out a printed catalogue or special offer leaflet to your customer base, but why not offer special incentives to those customers that sign-up for the email newsletter.  For example: You might want to point out that the best offers get snapped up by email subscribers because they get to see your promotions before the printed catalogue reaches other customers.

Offering special incentives to email subscribers “adds value” to your newsletter and will ensure your email gets subscribers who are more likely to read and value the broadcast.

Make the newsletter useful and don’t abuse your marketing list by sending out newsletters too often.  Ideally you want your newsletters to be targeted to the individual as much as possible as this will ensure the products and services included are relevant to the recipient.  Relevancy will help you maximise the sales achieved via the newsletter, so it’s worth putting in the effort when you’re creating your email campaign.

Remember: It’s very time-consuming to grow a customer database so make sure you don’t abuse your list, as the unsubscribe link is always only a click away!

Sketch used under Creative Commons from 10ch

Competitor Analysis

21. September 2009 20:44

There's a well known quote that rings true in the business world as well as warfare.

"Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer"

Forces soldier looking through binoculars

By keeping a close eye on your competitors (enemies) you will get to know all their products and services, strengths and weaknesses, sales strategy and position within the market etc.

With this valuable information you can determine any weaknesses in your defence and concentrate your efforts in those areas.  You'll also learn to know what prices the market will bare for your products and services and be able to offer more competitive prices to win new customers.  As well as weaknesses in your own product offering you'll discover weaknesses in your competitors which you maybe able to exploit.

What is your USP?

Knowing all your competitors intimately will also help you learn what your unique selling proposition is within your market. 

A (Unique Selling Proposition) USP is the thing that makes your product or service stand out from your competitors. 

Knowing your competitors products and services will help you learn what's unique in your own business offering, it may even lead you to create a product or service which fills a gap in the market that no other company currently sells.

Value perceived by customers is relative to rivals offerings, so making competitor knowledge an important part of your corporate strategy.

Competitor Profiling

Analysing other company's websites, literature, blogs, advertisements and newsletters will allow you to build up a good profile of what types of customers they are trying to attract, who their clients are and what marketing techniques they are using to attract new business.  This is all valuable information that you can put to good use with your own business.

You will discover some competitors are an aspiration of where you want your business to be, some others will be of a similar size and more comparable to your own. So use this exercise to create well defined action points to grow and position your business to where you want it to be.

Go ahead and do some competitor profiling!

Photo used under Creative Commons from petercastleton


Category: Marketing

Virtual Receptionist Services

16. September 2009 13:31

There are a multitude of telephony services you can subscribe to help your small business manage its calls.  They range from virtual receptionists, free phone numbers, memorable numbers and message taking services, the list goes on...

There are even Pay as You Go services that enable you to set-up services with very little outlay and no monthly subscriptions or contracts to sign.  Pay as You Go services like these enable small businesses or even freelancers to enjoy services similar to those of much larger organisations.

Answer.co.uk Message Taking Service

We have been trialling one such Pay as You Go service called Answer.co.uk for a couple of months now which is a no frills message taking service provided by Internet Communications Limited and it has proved to be very professional and cost effective.

Answer.co.uk Benefits

  • No upfront set-up fees or hidden costs
  • Pay as you go (Uses Google Checkout to top up your account)
  • £1 + VAT charge per message taken
  • Calls taken 24/7 365 days a year by UK receptionists
  • Multiple employees can be set up as users
  • Text message alerts when you receive a telephone message
  • Web access to message inbox
  • Customisable greetings
  • 15 minutes to set up

Answer.co.uk Limitations

  • You cannot use the service to patch calls through to your phone
  • Although you are not charged for hoax calls or wrong numbers you will get charged for telesales calls
  • You need to use the service at least once a month
  • Only 0208 numbers are available

If you run a UK based business find out more about the Answer.co.uk message taking service, or watch the video tour.


Pure Jam Virtual Receptionist Service

If you are looking more for control over how your business calls are handled such as patching calls through to your landline or mobile phone then another service you should consider is Pure Jam.
Like Answer.co.uk this service also doesn't have a set-up fee, but you are charged per minute when calls are patched through to your landline or mobile.  There are a number of monthly tariffs available starting at £25 with no inclusive patched call time, with more expensive tariffs including lower call rates and inclusive patched call minutes.
The receptionist will decide whether to patch a call to you or take a message depending on your current status or schedule.  If you are available and want to take your own messages, then this is free.

You can quickly change your status by text message or using Twitter.  Pure Jam also has a mobile version of the message inbox to allow you to browse your messages while away from the office.


Find out more about Pure Jam Virtual Receptionist service.


Category: Business Services

13 Testimonial Tips

10. September 2009 18:46

Testimonials are a good way of sharing existing customers experiences of your products and services with potential customers, and can be powerful marketing tools for your business.

If customers who have bought your product or used your service are willing to praise your company/product or service then new customers will have more confidence in your company and the service you offer.

Amazon.com is a great example of how product testimonials can work for both the consumer and the retailer.

Effective Testimonials

Not all testimonials are equal!  For testimonials to work they have to look and sound genuine. 
Here are a few tips to help you pick and choose which testimonials to publish on your website or company literature.

13 Tips for client testimonials

  1. Never use fake testimonials.
  2. Only use testimonials where you can publish the first name, surname and company* of your customer.
  3. Don't use vague testimonials, favour personal and detailed testimonials.
  4. Potential customers want to read what other customers who have first hand experience of your product thought.
  5. Include a few testimonials that aren't a 100% positive as these will provide credibility.
  6. Ask for feedback rather than a testimonial as it's less formal and you'll receive a better response.
  7. Use photos of your customers to add credibility to your testimonials.
  8. Don't over edit a testimonial, often informal language is perceived as being more genuine.
  9. Use testimonials that back up your product or service benefits.
  10. Address consumer fears in your testimonials and how your customers overcame them.
  11. Include testimonials that answer popular consumers questions about your product or service.
  12. Use testimonials where the end user describes how your product or service enriched their lives/their company etc.
  13. Experiment with video testimonials.  These can be tricky to get right, but can be very effective.

(* company may or may not be applicable depending on your business, but you may want to add location, age etc instead)


Category: Marketing

What Does Web Accessibility Mean?

9. September 2009 22:26

Everyone has the right to use the internet regardless of whether they have sight problems, colour-blindness or other impairments, which is why the UK Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) also applies to websites.

This law applies to all websites and therefore you have a legal responsibility to ensure your website does not discriminate against disabled visitors to your site by anticipating the requirements of disabled people.

By not complying you open yourself up to criticism, bad publicity or even legal action!

What's involved?

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has a series of guidelines on Web Accessibility which the majority of web developers and designers should be aware of, but it is always worth confirming with your web developer that your site needs to meet at least priority level 1 of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 1.0 before any work is carried out.

Examples of Accessibility Scenarios

  1. Users should be able to resize text on a website to a comfortable level for reading, either through the appropriate web browser menu or using a facility on the website itself.
  2. Visitors with colour blindness should be able to read and understand a website regardless of the colour of the text, and therefore require a good contrast ratio between the text and the background colour.
  3. Blind visitors should be able to use screen readers (software programs that read the contents of the screen aloud to a user) or Braille devices to browse a website and understand its content.
  4. Users with seizure disorders, such as some types of epilepsy should have the ability to turn off any animation or effects that may trigger seizures.
  5. Individuals with memory impairments rely on consistent navigation to browse a website.
  6. People who cannot use a mouse for one reason or another should be able to use alternative methods such as keyboard shortcuts.
  7. Providing deaf visitors with transcripts of video and audio presentations.

8 Benefits of Accessible Websites

  1. Increased reach to disabled web users.
  2. More business from impaired customers or older people.
  3. Greater compatibility with handheld devices used for browsing the web, such as mobile phones.
  4. Faster loading websites and lower bandwidth costs.
  5. Cross-browser compatibility.
  6. Ability to promote your website as being accessible.
  7. Accessible website are generally search engine friendly.
  8. Compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act.