Odyssey bloghelping you leverage the potential of the internet

What is the Telephone Preference Service?

12. January 2010 19:41

A telephone

In the UK it is unlawful to place a direct marketing call to an individual or organisation who has objected, either directly a company or with the central registration scheme - the TPS or CTPS.

The Telephone Preference Service enables individuals or organisations in the United Kingdom to register their objection to receiving direct marketing calls with a central service.

Telemarketing companies are able to receive a list of numbers that have been registered by subscribing to the TPS and or CTPS.

The regulations require that companies comply with an individual's request for suppression made to the central registration scheme within 28 days.

Who needs to comply with the regulations?

All businesses including charities and voluntary organisations who make direct marketing calls to both 'cold' lists and customer lists should be screened against the TPS data before telephone calls are made to ensure they comply with the regulations.

Does TPS apply to customers of a business?

The regulations cover all telephone calls whether they are customers or non-customers. If a customer has registered with TPS you can only call them if they have indicated that they do not object to you calling them.

What are the consequences of calling a number registered with the TPS/CTPS?

Should a subscriber registered with the TPS make a complaint about unsolicited direct marketing telephone calls from a business or other organisation, the Telephone Preference Service Limited (TPSL) will investigate the circumstances in which the call was made. A record of the complaint will be sent to the Information Commissioner's Office, who are responsible for enforcing the regulations.

A TPS subscriber can also contact the Information Commissioner’s Office directly to complain about an unsolicited direct marketing Telephone call which they have received.

How do I get the TPS/CTPS suppression list?

A number of options are available such as list cleaning services, call barring services along with services aimed at helping small companies comply with the regulations.
Visit the TPS website for further details www.TPSonline.org.uk

Picture used under Creative Commons from macinate

Understanding the Purchasing Cycle

7. January 2010 17:28

The customer buying cycle defines the stages a customer goes through while making a purchasing decision.

The purchasing cycle is important because customers need different information at each stage of the process.

In order to maximise the effectiveness of your website in generating revenue you need to optimise your website to help the customer at each stage.

The Purchasing Cycle

Lets look at each stage of the customer purchasing cycle.

 The purchasing cycle

Recognition of a Need

The customer has identified that they need a certain product or service.

This is where your marketing campaigns can be used to raise awareness of your products and services. Think email newsletters, search marketing campaigns etc…

Research Stage

This is the information gathering stage.  The customer maybe weeks or months away from making a purchase.

The internet is increasingly becoming a tool for product research, so it’s vital that you provide as much information on your website as possible to help potential customers at this stage.

Because a customer maybe months away from making a decision it's a good idea to try and make sure you can proactively contact them to remind them of your company’s products and services.

Try to get them to sign-up to email newsletters, request a call back at a specified time etc.

Analysis Stage

The customer has decided they need your product or service but they have not yet committed to purchasing it from your company.
They are now looking into the features and benefits of your product/service and comparing it to your competition.

You need to provide your customers with your unique selling proposition (USP) - Why should they purchase from you?

Consider the power of testimonials from previous customers to give people confidence in your company and its products and services.

Make it easy for the customer to compare the features of your product/service with your competitors solutions.

Provide detailed and accurate product specifications so the customer can determine whether it meets their needs.

Buying Stage

The customer has decided to purchase and is buying your product.

This is your opportunity to offer them special offers, convince them to purchase a different product or service or additional products.

Post Buying Stage

Product/Service has been purchased.  You will need to follow up the purchase with good customer service keep your customers satisfied.

Remember: Retaining existing customers is important as attracting new customers is much more difficult and costly in comparison.

What is an RSS Feed?

21. November 2009 19:52

You may have noticed lots of blogs and websites using small buttons similar to these.

RSS feed buttons

These services use a technology called XML to allow websites to distribute their content beyond the confines of the pages of the site.  They make it possible for users to subscribe to websites to receive updates either via email or via a news reader.  They also allow the content to be bookmarked, aggregated or packaged into widgets and displayed on other websites.

What is a Podcast?

A podcast is a special type of RSS feed that contains links to audio files.  You subscribe to podcast in much the same way as you subscribe to plain RSS feeds.

The Benefits of RSS

Enabling feeds allow the readers of your website to be kept up-to-date with your latest web content without remembering to return to your site.  By subscribing to blogs and websites of interest with a news reader such as Google Reader visitors can follow as many blogs as they wish all from one place.

For the website owner it enables visitors to subscribe to your website which should encourage users to return more frequently.  Using a tool such as FeedBurner you can also give your readers the option of subscribing via email and you can begin building a subscriber list.

From the advertiser’s point of view distributing your latest content via RSS bypasses SPAM filters that usually affect email broadcast, it also enables you to display adverts on the actual feeds themselves.

How do I get a Feed for my Website?

If you own a blog already there is a chance that you already have an RSS feed enabled on your website.  Popular blogging platforms such as Typepad, Wordpress or Blogger publish feeds automatically.

There are also tools such as FeedBurner that enable website owners to gain useful information about feed subscribers as well as lots of free ways to advertise and market your feed.

How do I Start Reading Feeds from my Favourite Sites?

There are many ways to subscribe to feeds, sometimes these tools are called news aggregators, some are installed on your computer whereas others are web-based services, and the good news is lots of them are free!

Google Reader user interface

Many news readers use an interface similar to an email inbox with each blog post appearing in a reading pane.  The posts are listed in chronological order and you usually have the option of selecting all the latest content or content only from certain sites you subscribe to.

Click here to find a suitable RSS feed reader.

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Category: Blogs

What is LinkedIn and how does it Work?

19. November 2009 20:17

LinkedIn logo
LinkedIn is a social networking website aimed at business professionals, it allows you to create a personal profile where you can promote your skills, knowledge and experience while allowing you to connect with professionals in your field in order to do business.

As you build your profile you can request and receive recommendations from people who you have done business with in the past (colleagues, business acquaintances, clients etc).  These recommendations add value to your online resume just like letters of recommendation and testimonials and will help build trust in what you have to offer.

Ten Tips for a Strong Profile

  1. Create a Personal Tagline – This is shown under your name, so it needs to summarise at a glance who you are.
  2. Elevator Pitch Introduction – Create an engaging 30-second introduction that succinctly describes who you are and what you do.
  3. Don’t Cut and Paste your CV – Describe your experience and skills as you would to someone you just met and keep it short and punchy.
  4. Use Action Words – Use words that project an image of a results-driven, action-oriented achiever, such as maximised, supervised, optimised, streamlined etc.
  5. Point out your Skills – List your specialities, abilities and interests, be sure to use appropriate industry buzz words where appropriate.
  6. List your Experience – Briefly describe each company, what it does and what you did there. Again use clear succinct phrases.
  7. Distinguish yourself – Add additional information to enhance your profile, join groups of interest and list trade associations or other organisations you belong to.
  8. Build Connections – The connections you make add credibility to your profile.
  9. Get your Profile to Rank in Google – Your public profile is available to view by anyone and will appear in search engines, so think carefully about what you want to share with the world and use it to your advantage.
  10. Answer and ask Questions – Asking and answering questions in your field will help establish your expertise and raise your profile on the network.

Photo used under Creative Commons from NickStarr

Leveraging Social Media for your Business

31. October 2009 14:48

Social sign post

There has been an unprecedented rise in social networking websites over the last couple of years, and even with the success of sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter businesses have been slow to take advantage of the potential benefits they can provide.

The power of social networking is that it allows companies and brands to engage with their customers in a two-way dialogue rather than a traditional marketing broadcast approach.  This allows businesses to manage their customer relations, talk to a customer focus groups, raise awareness of their products through different types of media, while allowing supporters of a brand to endorse your services and keep up-to-date on your latest products.

Creating a Social Media Strategy

Before you start signing up to every social networking site you can find, it’s worth deciding what you are trying to achieve and focusing your time and efforts in those networks where your target customer base congregate.

Define what you are trying to achieve:

  • Increase brand awareness
  • Increase customer retention
  • Provide a feedback mechanism
  • Target new or existing customers
  • Get customers to share their ideas
  • Involve customers in your product development
  • Recruit employees

Then start building your communities on the social networking sites you have chosen, but make sure you follow the social etiquette and don’t fall into the trap that companies like Habitat did recently.  Decide who in your organisation will be responsible for the up-keep of your networks and set processes in place for managing your online reputation.

Photo used under Creative Commons from caseywest