small business marketing ideas

Questions a Prospective Client Should Be Prepared to Answer


When I am talking to a prospective client regarding their online marketing strategy, the interview process is as important to me as it is to them.


While I can give them an overview of online marketing tactics, it takes a deeper understanding of their business, resources, and goals before we can mutually determine if working together would be a good fit and how we would approach their strategy.

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The Importance of Post Purchase Emails

You’ve finally gotten your prospect to take the plunge.

They may have completed a purchase on your ecommerce site, or signed up as a customer for your service. You might be thinking your work is done.

While you may have achieved your initial conversion goal, some of your most important work is yet to come. And it all starts with your purchase confirmation email and the post purchase emails to follow.

Transactional emails such as order confirmations typically have the highest open rates of any commercial email, with rates often above 50% compared to closer to 20% for typical email campaigns.

It’s critical not to let this opportunity to present messaging to highly engaged customers go to waste. Then, continue to cultivate the customer relationship through the various email workflows that you can create.

Avoid Buyers Remorse

You were successful in convincing your customer to purchase, but that doesn’t mean he or she isn’t having second thoughts. You want your customer to feel like they just made the best decision in the world.

Use your order confirmation email to reinforce what made them purchase in the first place; get them even more excited to be a customer and start using your product. Especially if a customer has to wait to receive or start using your product due to manufacturing or shipping times, you don’t want the lack of instant gratification to cause the initial excitement to wane.

Bonus Tip – Get Referrals

Leverage this post-purchase excitement to generate word-of-mouth. Offer a reward such as a discount, gift card, or even commissions to a customer in exchange for referring your company to their friends and family. Software tools such as OSI Affiliate Software can assist with this.

Onboarding to Avoid Churn

Especially when it comes to SAAS (software as a service) products, the next steps after a client signs, especially for an introductory trial period, are critical.

The onboarding stage influences whether they become a long-term customer or someone likely to quickly cancel after failing to recognize the value of their ongoing investment. Aside from providing general direction for getting started and links to self-service resources, understanding what specific user-activity differentiates those customers that have gone on to become power users from those that lack engagement is crucial.

For a project management software, maybe it’s creating a first project or inviting a certain number of other users to your project. Tailoring a series of post purchase emails that help guide users to take specific actions that contribute to their engagement and ultimate success with your product can help drastically reduce abandonment and churn.

Even with physical products, producing a more active user could mean the difference between someone tossing your product in a closet after a few tries or becoming a product evangelist that helps spread the word.

Upsell / Cross Sell

If you’re offering a product or a service, you likely have complimentary products or services that would be of interest/value a customer.

The cost of marketing to an existing customer is drastically lower than acquiring a new customer. Improving the lifetime value of a customer increases overall profitability and can open up new customer acquisition opportunities that were previously cost prohibitive.

Use purchase history data to determine what other related items or services you have to offer, then create a (dynamic) email that helps the user understand how they may experience increased incremental value from your additional offerings. A new digital camera may benefit from a carrying case or zoom lens; a customer service SAAS product may benefit from integrating a live chat module. Furthermore, customers may appreciate being presented with suggestions that truly benefit them.


Customer support SAAS product Groove uses their initial onboarding email to glean important information about what made the user sign up in the first place.

They can then use key insight to tweak everything from their website copy to the product itself to further accelerate their sales. Furthermore, offer users the opportunity to choose what types of emails they receive.

They could opt-in to receive emails on specific product lines or topics that are of interest to them, only receive promotions, or you can dynamically determine which content they engage with in order to create an updated profile. Use that information to curate future follow-up emails that are more uniquely relevant to the recipient and watch your open rates and brand engagement soar.


Congratulations on closing a sale. Now be sure to strengthen that relationship by utilizing the aforementioned tactics and you’ll surely build your business and help maximize the value from each and every new customer.

What is Inbound Marketing?

Do you love getting interrupted? Cold-calls, unsolicited emails, and advertisements, all trying desperately to get your attention while you’re in the middle of something else that you actually care about.  I didn’t think so. If you’re using these as your primary marketing tactics, how do you think that makes your target customers feel? As anyone who has spent much time cold calling knows, less than thrilled.

How much better are your conversion rates when a visitor found you through a specific organic search or when a lead calls you as a result of a referral?

While there is a time and place for this kind of traditional (outbound) marketing where companies focus on finding customers, inbound marketing is focused on getting found by customers, especially in a manner that is timely and contextually relevant.

Instead of interrupting people with ads, inbound marketers might create videos or infographics that potential customers want to see.  They create their own business blog that people subscribe to and look forward to reading, create whitepapers that establish authority and help capture leads, and guest blog on other relevant sites to generate increased awareness. Instead of cold calling, they create and distribute useful content and tools to engage prospects who ultimately reach out to them for more information.

Instead of pushing a message out in hopes of convincing the audience to become interested, inbound marketing is intended to naturally attract highly qualified customers to the business.

Successful Inbound Marketing campaigns generally incorporate three key components:

  1. Content – Content creation is at the core of inbound marketing. It is the information or tool that attracts potential customers to your site or your business and feeds your overall marketing strategy.
  2. Search Engine Optimization – Search engine optimization makes it easier for potential customers to find your content. It is the practice of building and improving your site and earning inbound links to your site to increase your ranking in search engines, where many of your customers begin their buying process.
  3. Social Media – Social media is a great distribution channel and helps amplify your content. It helps reach people outside of your actual website in places where they may already be, and as your content spreads across social media channels, it inherits greater authenticity.

In the long run, these inbound tactics can be more cost effective than paying for traditional advertising and offer a longer lifespan. With paid advertising an d outbound marketing, when you stop paying for the ads and making calls, the leads stop coming in. When you invest in content, it lives on the internet indefinitely and can continue to get found and produce results long after it’s initially introduced. You’re also reaching people who are more targeted and receptive to your offer, because they would have likely found you as a result of searching for something relevant to your business or have demonstrated interest in your content. Compelling, thought-leadership content also helps pre-qualify the lead before you make contact by establishing trust and authority.

It’s important to note, generating results through inbound marketing is far from quick and easy. If you need immediate traffic or leads, outbound tactics like pay per click can be effective. However, inbound marketing should be an crucial part of your long-term marketing strategy and ultimately can be a very compelling, cost-effective way to grow your business.


Small Business Marketing Ideas from Self Empolyed King

19 Creative Small Business Marketing Ideas

Fellow entrepreneur, Inc. 5000 honoree and proponent of small business marketing ideas, Mike “Self Employed King” Kawula, posted a list of 19 Creative Marketing Ideas to Grow Your Business. I was happy to be asked to contribute some thoughts on PR to the list and enjoyed reading other small business marketing ideas on networking, web marketing, leveraging customer loyalty and other practical ideas for small business owners. I use many of these small business marketing ideas myself and many can be done without a huge commitment of time resources.