Carrollton Dermatology Associates
Dr. Thomas H. Lamb, MD.
Brighter Image, Inc.
RA-Lin and Associates
North Georgia Turf, Inc.
When it comes to marketing and PR, many companies have taken their campaigns online. These can vary from something as simple as a Google AdWords campaign promoting a product to a presence on social media services. There is one form of digital marketing that stands above the others - email marketing. When this is done right, it is a powerful marketing vehicle, yet many companies struggle to make it successful.
If you have been struggling with your email marketing campaigns, here are five helpful tips.
1. Sort out your contact database If you have had an email newsletter or marketing campaign for more than a couple of years you likely have a large or fair-sized contact database. A problem many businesses run into is that their contact databases are simply out of date. Emails are being sent to accounts that have been closed, or to recipients who have moved jobs. An out-of-date database can really hurt the effectiveness of email marketing.
It would therefore be a good idea to conduct a periodical audit of your database. Take the time to update information like names, positions, email addresses, etc. You should also look at how your database is organized.
Because of the varying nature of many email campaigns, it is highly likely that you will eventually develop email campaigns that target specific emails. If your database isn't segmented, it could be a nightmare to create effective campaigns. At the very least you should include information like the contact's:
There are a number of ways you can get people to opt-in including:
When developing a campaign take time to define the purpose, what do you want the recipient to do. From there, develop the content and layout around that purpose. Be sure to also define the type of people you want the email to reach because this will make it easier to define a recipient list from your database.
4. KISS Many email marketing initiatives fail because the company tries to include too much information or has an overly complex layout and sign up procedure. Try writing content that gets to the point and tells what the audience needs to know in a clear, concise and correct manner.
When developing the layout, aim for something that looks clean with ample white space and only essential information. Careful use of images and design should also drive attention to the most important content.
Beyond that, content should also be optimized for mobile devices. Because many recipients will deem your email marketing as non-essential, they may not look at it while at work. This means that they will likely look at it on their mobile device. If your content doesn't scale to fit smaller screens, this could lead to the reader simply deleting the email.
5. Don't be afraid to get some help Email marketing can get overly complex so, why not get some help? Try working with different email marketing providers to see what works for you, your content and what provides the best results.
By working with an email service like MailChimp or Constant Contact, you could drastically improve the effectiveness of your campaigns.
If you are looking for an email marketing solution contact us to see how we can help.
The information your company produces, stores and analyzes is usually classified. It would certainly not be in your best interest if it was leaked to competitors. The problem is, so many companies have vague views of who owns what, especially when it comes to resources created by employees. It is therefore a good idea to protect your intellectual property.
Here are four tips on how to keep your resources related to intellectual property (IP) secure.
1. Map it Before you can actually take steps to protect your data and property you need to actually know what information and files you have on your folder, along with how important they are. The best way to go about this is to have your managers or team leaders identify the type of information they use and store, along with its value and the risk you could face if it is lost or stolen.
Try to get them to ask questions like:
3. Enforce the policy If you are going to through the effort of producing a policy, you should follow through and enforce it. Once again, this information is often incredibly important to your company and if it goes missing this could prove disastrous. Policy monitoring and enforcement is essential, and should usually be done by the HR department, or the owner/manager of the company whose name has been applied to patents or other IP.
4. Test your policy All good plans need to be tested from time-to-time. IP policies are no exception, and should be tested at least once a year. The best way to test this type of policy is to actually try and steal it. Now, since you know about the company and the way data is stored, you are not the best person to try and steal your own data. This is where hiring an external firm or working with a managed service provider helps. They will often have ways to test your systems and can provide you with tips on where to make improvements and how.
If you are looking to take steps to protect your valuable IP and data, please contact us today to see how we can help.
For many companies customer service is an integral component of success. If you and your employees offer poor customer service, the chances of your business surviving are nil, especially if you run a small business. With the majority of customer services going online, there are some things you need to be doing to ensure you offer the best service possible when online.
Here are four ways to ensure that your company offers the best customer service - on and offline.
1. Ask questions It can be easy to discount customers as not knowing what they want or being overly demanding, but in reality, they are the ones supporting your business. Without your customers, you won't survive. One of the best things you can do to keep your customers is to get them on your side and invested in your company.
How do you do this? Ask them what they want and deliver on it. You should take steps to contact your customers - new and return - what they would like to see from you. If you run a small, local garden store and make an effort to reach out to your customers asking them what plants and material they would like to see you carry. Then, when you get your answers, try your best to meet the requests and communicate with your customers letting them know of the new products or changes.
Customers will see that you are listening to them and be generally more willing to return, often noting the great customer service. One of the best places to ask questions these days is on the platforms where your customers spend most of their time - most likely social media. Who knows, the proper question could net you next years big sale or product line!
2. Talk about both good and bad This tip is specifically aimed at your social media presence. It is now normal for customers to take to the networks to voice their complaints or unhappiness. If you ignore these complaints or sweep them under the rug, your brand and sales might take an unfortunate dive.
When you see complaints online, it would be a good idea to address these. Many experts agree that being candid and open while replying in a professional manner could go a long way in showcasing your customer service. If you can, try to engage them in a more personal manner like over the phone. If customers see that you are not only listening to their grievances but also doing something about them, you will most likely see an increase in loyalty.
3. Act Taking action is important for excellent customer service. If your agents or employees ask questions and are willing to deal with both the good and bad criticism, they should also be willing and free enough to act.
If you think about it, almost every company with excellent customer service has employees who take action to fix something when they see a problem. They don't have to go to their boss for approval, they just do. The key here is they need to communicate both with their teammates and the customers on what they are doing or will do in the near future.
Beyond that, utilizing social media and other online channels to monitor conversations is important. If you come across a complaint or request, following up and keeping the conversation going is great customer service. By communicating, acting and following through either online or offline, your company will show that you take customer service seriously.
4. Be approachable Think about the last time you were in a store and the staff were sitting around chatting. Did you feel bad about going up to one of them and asking a question? Nine times out of ten, unapproachable staff will cause lost sales. The same goes for your online presence.
If you have a website that is hard to navigate or customers have to go through hoops to find contact information, they will more than likely not even bother to contact you. This means you will lose the sale before you even know about it.
This also extends to your social networks. Because so many people use this medium to connect, it's important to be approachable here as well. If don't allow customers to comment on your Facebook Page or add suggestions on Google+ due to fear of spam or too many negative comments, then you could be turning customers away. Sure, there will be criticism online, some of it quite harsh but this could be a good thing especially if all interaction on social media is criticism. This shows that your customer service or product isn't working and is providing you with a way to identify what needs to be changed.
In general, don't delete negative comments as long as they are fair and try your best to respond to requests. This will indicate to customers that you care and can help convince them to do business with you.
If your company is looking for a better support system for customer service or ways to improve the connection with customers, contact us today to see how we can help.
With the rise of social media, and sites like YouTube, we have seen a remarkable rise in the sharing of content. One of the most commonly heard terms in relation to Internet content is 'viral'. This is when a piece of content - usually a video, article or marketing campaign - gets a large amount of shares and views in a relatively short amount of time. Because viral content can bring a huge amount of exposure to the creator, many companies try to make their content go viral but many fail.
If you are looking to create content that has a higher chance of going viral, there are a number of key things you should be aware of.
Why content goes viral Before creating content that will hopefully go viral, you need to be aware of how and why content goes viral in the first place. At first glance, it would appear that this is determined simply on luck alone. In truth, however, although luck can be a factor this is only part of the reason. Content goes viral because it's shareable. Think of the last time you were told about a viral video or ad. Chances are, you heard about it on social media, and if you didn't the person who told you likely heard about it from there.
So, in order to go viral, content needs to be shareable, but not all content is share worthy. The question is, how do you create content that people will want to share? There are four factors you need to incorporate:
1. Content needs to be seen to be unique The vast majority of viral content is unique, as it often offers something new. If viewers of your content get the feeling that what they are reading is something different, they will be, a) more willing to consume it, and b) more apt to share it, if they like it. An important reality to realize is that most content on the Internet is not wildly original - someone has done something like it before. Therefore, if you read an article or see a video that interests you, maybe try thinking how you can improve on this and make it more interesting, relevant and practical for your audience. The content likely won't go viral world-wide, but it could go viral amongst your viewership, which is what's important, as this consists of your customers and potential customers.
2. People share what makes them look/feel smart There is a term associated with social media - social currency - that defines how a piece of content will make the sharer look. For the most part, content that makes the sharer look better, smarter and like they have something to contribute will be shared at a higher rate.
3. Content needs to be a trigger In general, humans rely on triggers for action. These triggers are stimuli, like sight and sound that evoke memory and association with products. A good example of this in action happened during the 2013 Super Bowl, where the stadium lights went out for the better part of half an hour. Because it was dark, people didn't know what to do. Oreo tweeted a picture that said, "You can still dunk in the dark." This tweet was retweeted over 10,000 times in less than an hour - going instantly viral. This was a clear message that it is highly likely that the next time this happens at a sporting event, people will remember Oreo. What Oreo managed to do was capitalize on a trigger - it's dark, reach for an Oreo.
In other words, if you can create content that capitalizes on common triggers, there is a higher chance that your content will go viral.
4. Content needs to be consistent It is important to realize however, that not all content will go viral; there is still some aspect of luck involved. To further improve the chances of your content going viral, you should strive to be consistent. What this means is posting on a regular basis and ensuring that whatever you post is consistent quality wise. If you do this, your content will come to be seen as valuable over time, and more likely to be shared.
If you take small steps to make your content generally more shareable, you will see the number of shares increase, bringing about more business, or at the very least cementing your brand image and reputation.
Looking for more ways to get your business name out there? Contact us today and we'll share our ideas with you.
When it comes to running a business, you know that managing the online reputation of your business is important. Many managers and business owners pay adequate attention to this and really manage their corporate online presence effectively. However, they sometimes pay little attention to themselves. If you are the face of your business, ensuring that your personal reputation is also managed is a good idea.
Here are five tips that can help you manage your personal online reputation.
1. Be a little vain Growing up you were probably told that showing a high opinion of oneself isn't a positive. However, when it comes to your online reputation, being a little vain and promoting your good points, especially in relation to your business, could help define how others perceive you. It is a good idea to visit the major search engines and search for your name - full name, nickname and any aliases and see what comes up.
Be sure to also look at the different categories of search. For example, look at Images, News, Blogs, etc., on Google. You can also set up a Google Alert which will notify you whenever new content mentioning your name is posted. You can do this by visiting Google's Alerts site, entering your name in the Search Query box, setting how often you want the alerts, (we recommend once a week), and pressing Create Alert.
2. Secure your own little slice of the Internet It is a good idea to try and buy your own domain name, e.g., www.yourname.com. You can use this to create a website all about you, where you place a personal blog, pictures, etc. If you maintain the site, you can also link it to your social media profiles. If you keep this updated and keep up momentum then you may see a boost in followers. The best part is that this can be fairly inexpensive. Even if you don't launch a website straightaway, securing a web domain that is your own gives you options in the future, which you might want to use to promote aspects of your business, as well as yourself.
3. One platform to rule them all There are a wide variety of websites dedicated to content. Sites like WordPress, Tumblr, Blogger, etc., are all versatile and allow you to post nearly any type of content, or even create your own website. These sites usually allow you to link your personal domain name to them, so when someone enters this name they are taken directly to your content.
4. Get social Social media is a powerful reputation tool, and having a personal profile in the same place as your business profile can be beneficial. Be sure to fully fill out your profile information and be as active as possible, sharing content you produce, find, or generally enjoy. If you want to really interact that it is worthwhile to be on the major social media platforms - Twitter, Google+, Facebook and Pinterest.
5. Follow one of the golden rules of the Internet There are many rules when it comes to being on the Internet. One of the most important is: Watch what you put online. There are many stories of people sending an email, or posting a public Facebook post with content that is harmful to their reputation, when they intended this to be private.
In general, it's worth remembering that with anything that appears on the Internet, even if it's private, there is always a chance it will at some point become public. Therefore, you should think twice before posting anything that you definitely always want to keep private, or that could harm your reputation.
If you would like to learn more about managing your reputation, or that of your business, please contact us today to see how we can help.
With the rise of the Internet and social media, it's now expected that many more companies have an Internet identity. Be it a website or social media, you can guarantee that your customers are looking for you online. While having an online presence is positive, it can also open you up to negative feedback, which can ruin, or at least damage, your company's reputation and brand. Therefore, it is important that you practice some form of reputation management.
Here are five reputation management practices you can employ to better manage your online brand.
1. Don't remove negative content If you see a negative comment or post online it may be your first impulse to delete it. This isn't necessarily advisable, as the main rule about the Internet is that nothing ever goes away. If you delete negative comments on a regular basis, customers could notice and this may lead to them losing trust in your company and ultimately, to lost sales.
What you should be doing is replying instead and encouraging any users who complain online or make criticizing posts to contact you directly, or through a more private medium like email. That being said, if you see malicious posts or content that is posted just to incite a negative reaction (trolling), there is nothing wrong in deleting. Just make sure to acknowledge this by posting a warning that states something along the lines of: "Please note, malicious content will be deleted."
2. Address complaints promptly You should have someone monitoring your online platforms for complaints or negative feedback, so that you can respond promptly. This will also show customers that you actually use your platforms and are willing to engage. If you do not take steps to address negative material, you could be sending the message that you don't care enough about customers, which could drive them away.
3. Provide people with a place to complain Being proactive is important when it comes to reputation management. Instead of waiting for complaints to be posted on various review sites, blogs or even social media, which are all out of your control, why not provide a place that you can control, for all types of feedback.
Having an easy to see form, forum or other similar area on your website, where customers can interact with you, could go a long way in helping limit where complaints pop up. If you are in control then you're more likely to see complaints sooner and better able to answer them quickly too.
4. Ensure colleagues and staff are all on the same page Two things that turn almost customers off of a brand are a company that isn't organized and being told different things by different people within the same company. If you have more than one staff member managing your online reputation you need to ensure everyone is on the same page. If a client asks a question they should get one answer and if there is a complaint there should be one response or person handling it.
It is a good idea to establish how to deal with complaints, who will deal with them and when they will be dealt with, and communicate this with all staff, not just those handling your online presence. A unified procedure could go a long way in minimizing the harm negative feedback can cause.
5. Monitor online activity We don't mean monitor the activity of your employees, we mean take a look at the different communication channels used by your customers and the public at large. If your business relies on reviews, simply monitoring your own profiles and website isn't enough. Many customers complain on review sites like Yelp, Ripoff Report, or their own blogs. Taking time to search for, and browse these sites could help you gauge the general perception of your company. If you see an increasing number of negative reviews for example, you know it is time to look at what needs to be improved.
Having a well managed online reputation won't guarantee new customers will come flooding in the door, but it can help decrease customers from going out the door, taking valuable sales with them. If you would like to learn more about reputation management please contact us today.
Corporate Social Responsibility, or CSR for short, is the idea of integrating social and environmental ideas into your company, daily operations and interactions with all stakeholders. One of the more common CSR practices adopted by companies of all sizes is the idea of 'going green', or helping the environment. This is a great idea, not only does it make the Earth a better place, it makes your company look more caring; human even. The thing is, it can be hard to actually go green, but there are some apps that can help.
Here are four great apps that can help you and your employees make your company a little more green.
GoodGuide is an app that can help you find out more about products. Utilizing a barcode scanner, it can provide you with information like where the product comes from, whether it's safe and if it's green.
With over 170,000 ranked products in the app's database, it's a great way to start learning about sustainable and environmentally friendly products. The only downside of this app is that it currently focuses on the US only, and there is no word as to when, or if, service will expand. You can download it to your Apple and Android device for free.
While we are currently living in a digital age, we still get a lot of paper-based junk mail. This is incredibly wasteful, as most people just throw it away. PaperKarma is an app that aims to reduce or eliminate waste paper.
How it works is you take a picture of unwanted mail, the developers will then contact the distributor and ask that they stop sending mail to you. This app could go a long way in helping reduce the amount of paper your office uses, which will mean lower costs for you and less trees felled. It's really a win-win. You can download it to your iPhone or Android device for free.
An important part of any green initiative is recycling. The problem is, it can be hard to find out what, how and where to recycle. iRecycle is an app that aims to set this straight. It provides information on how to recycle almost everything and the nearest recycle points to you.
If your company has a fleet of vehicles, you are probably always on the lookout for ways to make them more efficient. Whether it be switching tires used, driving at slower speeds to conserve gas or carpooling, finding a way to cut costs is important. greenMeter is an app that could help. What it does is use your iPhone's accelerometer and manually entered data to assess your vehicle's power and gas usage.
While driving, this app provides real-time feedback on how efficient your driving is and how much gas you are using. This will help you conserve fuel (as you can see when you are burning more than usual) which will reduce operating costs and negative environmental impact. It's available for the iPhone and costs USD$5.99.
These are just four apps that can help your company go green. What other CSR initiatives do you take in your company? Let us know! And if you would like more tips on how technology can help you reduce your environmental impact, let us know, we can help.
Running a business is often a fine balance between profit and expense. Any hidden expenses can see profits evaporate, and may put your business at risk. One potential problem area that could have drastic impact on your bottom line is technology. It’s essential and can be very costly if it breaks down. That’s why it would be a good idea to take measures to control your IT costs.
Here are five ways you can reduce IT spending.
If your business is like most other small to medium companies, the majority of your important files are located on one server or maybe a couple of computers. Technology doesn’t last forever and the machine where you have your data stored on will eventually stop working.
When it does, you will have to replace it, and your files that were on it could be lost. The cost to recover them will be high. To minimize this risk, you should invest in a solid backup platform that runs on a regular basis.
Yes, this will cost money now, but would you rather have a copy of your systems and data from Yesterday which can be easily implemented when you have a problem, or would you like to pay to maybe recover year’s worth of data? Backups will save you costs in the long-run, not to mention the stress they will help you avoid.
Have a strict anti virus policy
The idea that your employees won’t download programs or browser extensions simply because you tell them not to is like telling a child not to eat candy; they are still going to do it. By simply having computers and devices accessing the Internet through your network, you are at risk. If your systems are hacked or infected, you can face lost data, high recovery costs or worse.
How do you minimize the chance of malware infections and the risk of being hacked? Antivirus software and security solutions installed on every computer that can be run from one machine are your answer. This makes it easier for you or your IT partner to ensure all of your systems’ antivirus software is up to date and scanning when it should be. This will minimize the chance of infection and keep costs down.
As your company grows, you will start to use more technology. Over time, it will need to be replaced, and you likely won’t be able to afford replacing all your systems at once. This means that you will have to track down the systems, software, etc. that need to be replaced; which will take time and cost you money.
If you take steps to document all of your systems, computers, software, etc.; where it’s located; when it was implemented; who is in charge of it, etc., you will be able to track things down quickly when needed, thus managing your systems better. This time saving measure will cut your costs.
Look into a CRM/ERP/HRM solution
There are so many software solutions out there that can help you plan and run your operations. If you’ve been tracking employee data or planning using a simple spreadsheet, you could be getting more out of a tailored solution.
Solutions like Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Customer Relationship Management (CRM) or even Human Resources Management (HRM) can help you spot hidden costs or even plan more efficiently, which will reduce costs well into the future.
Look for fixed-price solutions
A major problem with all technology related systems is that predicting costs is nearly impossible. You simply don’t know when/if an important piece of hardware will fail. This becomes even harder if you don’t have expertise in tech.
One of the best ways to save money on IT costs is to outsource. Almost every IT provider offers flat-rate services that cover your systems and can ensure you maximize your IT investment. This makes budgeting for IT easier, as you know what your monthly costs will be. You can then focus on your business, and over time will see a decrease in IT costs.
If you are looking to cut your IT expenses, why not contact us. We have a plan to fit almost every budget.
When it comes to running a small to medium business, you are likely operating on razor-thin margins and are constantly looking for ways to optimize business functions or save money. Many managers and business owners prefer to take on these tasks in-house, as they feel that they are better able to control the outcomes. When it comes to IT though, many business owners lack the time and knowledge needed to focus on tech, making it the perfect candidate for outsourcing.
Outsourcing IT is a bit different than the usual outsourcing you get in factories, or support services. Instead of going overseas, you can partner with a Managed Service Provider (MSP) in your local area. MSPs provide comprehensive IT management services which usually cover everything tech related.
Working with an MSP often has a direct impact on your bottom line, and can help make your company even more successful than it already is, or at least increase profits to get you there. However, there are many more reasons companies outsource. Below are our Top Five:
5 reasons why you should outsource IT
One common business term thrown around with relish is overhead. In business this is usually known as ongoing expenses incurred in operating a business. This operating expense is something all companies have, and in tight economic situations it's often one of the first costs managers try to decrease. One form of overhead not often looked at is printing costs. These can be extraordinarily high, but are also easy to decrease.
Here's six ways to cut printing costs.