Six Ways to Boost Sales Right Now

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Want to be a hero at the office? There's no better way than by helping generate sales. Here are six ways to help ramp up sales:


Go where people are looking for you: search engines. Odds are that people are looking for your product or service online. More than likely they're doing this via a search engine. If you haven't taken the time, or have been too confused by how to optimize your "organic" search engine ranking, then sponsored keywords (paid listings) may be for you.


Why has this been one of the hottest online marketing trends in the past six months? For one, it's fast. You can be live in minutes. Second, there's a program for any budget given your ability to cap daily spending. Third, you pay only when someone reads your listing and clicks on it.


Google and Overture - which feed search engines such as Yahoo, MSN and Lycos - are the two main sources for this type of marketing. With a little education and diligent monitoring of program performance, qualified leads can head your way quickly.


Leverage other companies' brands. A huge challenge many companies face is that their brand isn't immediately recognizable to their target audience. Piggybacking on a formidable brand is a great way to overcome this and get invited places you might not normally, such as prospects' inboxes.


Newsletter sponsorships are one way to do this. Evaluate what your customers read daily and weekly and see whether you can sponsor those messages. Prices and availability vary widely based on the publication. Don't be afraid to negotiate; sometimes it's surprising what you get just by asking.


A second method to leverage a known brand is through co-registration. This lets a registrant opt in for information from your company when registering for the main company. By paying only for those who say "yes" and receiving a rich data set for each, your prospect database can grow substantially in a short time for a reasonable cost.


Use routine e-mail communications to build brand. If you're struggling with brand recognition, maximize every chance to showcase your brand and what your firm is about. One of the best and easiest places to do this is in your person-to-person outbound e-mail messages.


Imagine that everyone in your company sends 20 outbound messages a day to customers, prospects and partners. That's 5,000 messages per employee over a year. That's valuable real estate. Drop in your logo, tagline and even add an enticing link or two. Offer to solve a problem: "See how we help drive qualified leads" or "Learn how we help generate more revenue."


Use sequential messaging. People buy once they are educated and comfortable that your product/solution is right for them. It can take five or more contacts to turn a shopper into a buyer. If you've been able to gather a prospect's e-mail address, drop them into a sequential messaging system.


A sequential messaging system sends a series of e-mails on a predefined schedule. Messages are sent based upon the database "join date." On a daily basis, some people will get the "welcome message" while others get sequential message No. 4, for example. These automated efforts reinforce value over weeks. Yes, some people will drop out and unsubscribe. That's a good thing. Your product isn't right for everyone, and prospects will drop out of the sales cycle anyway.


Find a good system and begin testing your messaging and frequency. Put a call to action in every message. This is one of the cheapest methods for continually converting prospects to buyers.


Position yourself as an expert. Everyone needs expertise. Is there information about your industry that you wish you had but can't find? Undoubtedly others are thinking the same thing. So, find it and publish it.


Other opportunities to establish expertise include participating in professional online discussion groups. A single posting each month gets your name and company out there as an expert. Similarly, consider creating a professional business blog. Short for Web log, the blog has migrated from mainstream into the business world, letting professionals comment and report online about industry developments, product announcements and other relevant happenings.


Ensure your message gets through. Latest estimates by Assurance Systems (a company-generated industry metric) indicate that up to 17 percent of permission-based e-mail messages are inadvertently blocked by spam filters of the top 12 Internet service providers.


Don't think that's a big deal? If you have a list of 5,000 prospects, that's 850 people who aren't aware you're trying to reach them. If you were expecting to close sales in 0.5 percent, that's four sales you're losing.


After working so hard to get prospects' e-mail addresses, now you have to worry whether messages get through. How not to worry? Check whether the distribution system you use has a message-scan feature to warn you, before pushing the send button, that filters will flag your e-mail as spam. Second, check whether your system has its servers "white listed" with major ISPs. This helps ensure deliverability. Third, test on your own, putting in seed names that include domains your prospects might use.


That completes the six quick wins. Steal these ideas before anyone else, and you're on your way to hero status.


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