May 19

How to Break Through Competition in the Business of Online Gifting

You’re reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

Online gifting market in India is growing at an unprecedented rate, driven by various factors such as increasing internet penetration and rising income levels of the millennials. The sheer convenience of ordering gifts for loved ones from an online platform, getting it easily customized, and then delivered within a particular time-frame, is the major incentive behind the success of online gifting sector.

While the digital world has lessened the gap between the customer and company significantly, it has also opened the door for a huge amount of competition to settle into the online gifting market. The customer might be spoilt for choice but it has been observed that netizens tend to stick to only a few options when considering which platform to use. These platforms are the ones that have built a name and reputation for themselves over a period of time and hence stand apart from the crowd. Consistency in providing excellent service also helps in creating a stellar repute.

Traditional marketing methods break down when one starts competing in the online space. The rules of the game are different because the virtual world is more fast-paced and offers instant gratification to the consumer. At the same time, the competitors are more because establishing an online business is relatively easier to manage than a traditional shop. To break through the cloud of competition, one needs to be adept in handling online marketing tools.

Here are the five things which can help you beat the virtual noise and become a leader in the business of online gifting:

SEO or Search Engine Optimization – This is a major tool that has the potential to make or break a website. It is the key for online success because if one has not optimized their website to rank on the popular search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing then no matter how brilliant the platform and impeccable the service, it will be lost in the millions of searches. The search bots will index the website according to how original its content is and how much it complements the search keywords which netizens use.

Mastering the SEM – Search Engine Marketing offers a method to the madness when it comes to gear the website to rank on the search engine. For this, after SEO, one should have a brilliant grasp on the utilization of Google Adwords.

At the same time, one’s website should have its social media arms ready with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram’s promotional content matching the platform’s personality.

Up to date technology – Evolution of technology is truly fast-paced online. One doesn’t have the luxury to be stagnant. It’s essential to adapt to the changes, seemingly on an instant basis. For example, today most online e-commerce websites are App-driven. Even navigating the website is a surreal experience with responsive keystrokes and chat-bots providing a layer of personalization.

Product presentation differentiation- Catalogue of an online gifting website is a critical factor in defining its success. How the products are combined, presented and differentiated makes a huge difference. Average Indian consumer will compare one product on two to three websites before making a selection. Hence, know your top competitors and keep on sweetening the deals for your consumers.

Strong Social Media identity – It is essential to keep one’s potential customers engaged with regular posts and creative content on various social media platforms. Social media campaigning has proven highly successful in engaging with consumers by having a deeper understanding of what drives an average consumer’s buying decisions. 

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May 18

8 Tips to Get Your Business Going, Even if You Don’t Know Where to Start

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If you want to start a business but don’t know where to start, don’t worry — you’re not alone. In fact, given the new economic reality of our time, more people than ever have found the “job” they thought was waiting for them doesn’t exist. Others have come to the conclusion that they would rather create work they love, constructed to fit with their own life goals. No matter what the motivation is to be your own boss, you can start today.

Here are eight tips to get you started:

1. Take a stand for yourself.

If you are dissatisfied with your current circumstances, admit that no one can fix them except for you. It doesn’t do any good to blame the economy, your boss, your spouse or your family. Change can only occur when you make a conscious decision to make it happen.

2. Identify the right business for you.

Give yourself permission to explore. Be willing to look at different facets of yourself (your personality, social styles, age) and listen to your intuition. We tend to ignore intuition even though deep down we often know the truth. Ask yourself “What gives me energy even when I’m tired?”

How do you know what business is “right” for you? There are three common approaches to entrepreneurship:

Do what you know: Have you been laid off or want a change? Look at work you have done for others in the past and think about how you could package those skills and offer them as your own services or products.

Do what others do: Learn about other businesses that interest you. Once you have identified a business you like, emulate it.

Solve a common problem: Is there a gap in the market? Is there a service or product you would like to bring to market? (Note: This is the highest-risk of the three approaches.) If you choose to do this, make sure that you become a student and gain knowledge first before you spend any money.

3. Business planning improves your chances for success.

Most people don’t plan, but it will help you get to market faster. A business plan will help you gain clarity, focus and confidence. A plan does not need to be more than one page. As you write down your goals, strategies and action steps, your business becomes real.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What am I building?
  • Who will I serve?
  • What is the promise I am making to my customers/clients and to myself?
  • What are my objectives, strategies and action plans (steps) to achieve my goals?

4. Know your target audience before you spend a penny.

Before you spend money, find out if people will actually buy your products or services. This may be the most important thing you do. You can do this by validating your market. In other words, who, exactly, will buy your products or services other than your family or friends? (And don’t say. “Everyone in America will want my product.” Trust me — they won’t.) What is the size of your target market? Who are your customers? Is your product or service relevant to their everyday life? Why do they need it?

There is industry research available that you can uncover for free. Read industry articles with data (Google the relevant industry associations) and read Census data to learn more. However, the most important way to get this information is to ask your target market/customers directly and then listen.

5. Understand your personal finances and choose the right kind of money you need for your business.

As an entrepreneur, your personal life and business life are interconnected. You are likely to be your first — and possibly only — investor. Therefore, having a detailed understanding of your personal finances, and the ability to track them, is an essential first step before seeking outside funding for your business. This is why I recommend setting up your personal accounts in a money management system such as to simplify this process.

As you are creating your business plan, you will need to consider what type of business you are building — a lifestyle business (smaller amount of startup funds), a franchise (moderate investment depending on the franchise) or a high-tech business (will require significant capital investment). Depending on where you fall on the continuum, you will need a different amount of money to launch and grow your business, and it does matter what kind of money you accept.

6. Build a support network.

You’ve made the internal commitment to your business. Now you need to cultivate a network of supporters, advisors, partners, allies and vendors. If you believe in your business, others will too.

Network locally, nationally and via social networks. Join networks such as your local chamber of commerce or other relevant business groups. Here are some networking basics:

  • When attending networking events, ask others what they do and think about how you can help them. The key is to listen more than tout yourself.
  • No matter what group you join, be generous, help others and make introductions without charging them.
  • By becoming a generous leader, you will be the first person that comes to mind when someone you’ve helped needs your service or hears of someone else who needs your service.

7. Sell by creating value.

Even though we purchase products and services every day, people don’t want to be “sold.” Focus on serving others. The more people you serve, the more money you will make. When considering your customers or clients, ask yourself:

  • What can I give them?
  • How can I make them successful in their own pursuits?

This approach can help lead you to new ways to hone your product or service and deliver more value, which your customers will appreciate.

8. Get the word out.

Be willing to say who you are and what you do with conviction and without apology. Embrace and use the most effective online tools (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn) available to broadcast your news. Use social networks as “pointer” sites; i.e., to point to anything you think will be of interest to your fans and followers.

Even though social networks are essential today (you must use them!), don’t underestimate the power of other methods to get the word out: word-of-mouth marketing, website and internet marketing tools, public relations, blog posts, columns and articles, speeches, email, newsletters and the old-fashioned but still essential telephone.

If you take these steps, you’ll be well on your way to becoming your own boss. It’s important to remember that you are not alone. If you want to “be your own boss” but still feel stuck, reach out and connect with other entrepreneurs in a variety of ways. You may be surprised by the invaluable contacts that are right at your fingertips.

3 Hints for Launching a More Successful Startup
How Frost Popsicles Has Gone From Startup To Successful Retail Brand
Understanding Entrepreneurial Burnout (And How To Deal With It)

Copyright 2019 Inc., All rights reserved

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May 17

50+ Digital Marketing Statistics for 2019

In a world where new businesses are popping up every day, brand visibility is everything.

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May 16

Google, Amazon move in on the other’s turf

For years, Google and Amazon stuck to their strengths. Google’s search monopoly and universe of online services seemed to present little overlap with Amazon’s web commerce empire.

But as the ambitions of each have expanded, it is becoming unavoidably, inescapably, clear that the technology giants are heading for a collision.

This week, at its annual Google Marketing Live conference, Google unveiled a list of new offerings designed to help it become a destination for shoppers and for marketers hoping to reach consumers considering spending decisions.

Google’s latest move into Amazon’s core business is playing out as the retail giant makes gains in what has traditionally been the search company’s home turf: digital advertising.

As online commerce has become synonymous with Amazon, shoppers are starting more of their product searches at the company’s website instead of Google’s — the traditional on-ramp to all things internet — and marketers are spending advertising money there.

In 2015, about 54% of product searches started on Google, and 46% started on Amazon. By 2018, the numbers had flipped, according to the marketing analytics firm Jumpstart.

Google may be synonymous with many things — search, ads, email, even artificial intelligence — but online shopping is not one of them. That is not to say the company does not try.

The company’s shopping site, Google Express, looks similar to Amazon’s familiar online marketplace. Whether someone buys an item from, say, 99 Ranch Market or 1-800-Flowers, products are displayed in the same way and the payments are handled through Google Pay, the company’s digital payment system. Customers must meet certain spending minimums to get free delivery, which is limited to the United States.

Google’s financial reports do not break out how much the company makes on e-commerce, nor will the company say how many people use Google Express, but analysts assume it is a sliver of Google’s $116 billion in annual ad sales.

Amazon, on the other hand, sold $277 billion in goods online last year, which analysts estimate is between a third and a half of all e-commerce sales. Amazon’s “other” business segment, which it says is primarily ads, brought in $10.8 billion in the past 12 months, a tiny sum compared with the ad businesses of Google and Facebook, but growing.

“Both of these companies are arriving at the same conclusion from different points,” said Juozas Kaziukenas, founder of Marketplace Pulse, a research company. “For Amazon, it makes sense because why wouldn’t they? They have all this traffic, and all this interest from brands.”

Amazon did not respond to a request for comment on Google’s new shopping plans.

The two companies, which competed only on the fringes of their businesses for years, now have a range of overlapping interests.

Google Cloud is challenging Amazon Web Services in cloud computing. Amazon’s Twitch is becoming a popular alternative to Google’s YouTube for online video content. The Google Home and Amazon Echo are smart speaker vessels for competing intelligent assistants from the companies.

Google said Tuesday that it planned to beef up its e-commerce with a shopping feature that would allow people to make purchases directly from searches, images and YouTube videos. By clicking ads in those settings, a shopper would buy products through Google.

For users whose credit card and shipping information is stored with Google, which declined to say how many that is, the company would fill out that information to speed up checking out. Google said it wants to make shoppers more comfortable buying from retailers that they may not be familiar with by serving as a middleman that guarantees a consistent return policy and customer service.

Google also said it plans to introduce Discovery ads in YouTube, its Discover news feed, which appears beneath the search field in the Google app and mobile website, and Gmail later this year. The goal is to target audiences across different Google properties using what Google knows about users based on their online searches, the videos they watch on YouTube, the websites they browse and the apps they download.

“We’re making more of Google shoppable,” said Brad Bender, vice president of product management for the company’s ads division.

Google has made other efforts to slow Amazon in e-commerce, with little success. It started a shopping service in 2013, initially offering free same-day delivery before scrapping it. It also tried grocery delivery but gave up on that, too.

More recently, Google spent several years building its Google Express, featuring more than 1,000 retailers, including Best Buy, Costco and Target. As part of its new shopping push, Google said it will create a shopping home page that is personalized for users.

Google is adding new advertising and shopping services as it tries to quell concerns that its revenue growth has started to slow.

Last month, Google’s parent company, Alphabet, announced quarterly results that fell short of Wall Street expectations, dragging down its share price. One concern raised by analysts was that ads on sites like Google and YouTube had grown 39%, below the increases of 50% to 60% in recent quarters.

Even as Amazon has become a giant in online sales, only recently has it had an advertising awakening. Many analysts see advertising as a rising third pillar of the business, along with the company’s retail sales and cloud computing services. In an analysis released Tuesday, Morgan Stanley estimated that Amazon’s ad business would be valued at $85 billion on Wall Street.

The company has been building more tools for brands to place ads on and off its website, and it has added more space for ads when people search for products.

People may turn to Google to research their interests, but “Amazon is about buying actual goods,” said Brian Wieser, who analyzes media for GroupM, which directs more than $48 billion in ads each year on behalf of clients. “You are actually doing, not just intending to do, which is why it’s viewed as being so much more useful.”

The core of Amazon’s ad offerings are “sponsored product” listings, which direct shoppers to specific items based on their searches. The top of most search pages also now have a rectangular banner ad that points shoppers to a company’s page or to particular items.

Google’s latest move lets the company sell ads and services that are more closely tied to actual transactions, which they can charge more for.

Kaziukenas said that for now, Google’s plans are “not a risk at all” for Amazon. The reason, he said, is that Amazon has a large advantage over other retailers after more than a decade of building the infrastructure to ship items quickly and reliably, while Google is depending on merchants to fulfill orders on their own.

“Google historically has tried to not do things in the physical world,” Kaziukenas said. “Obviously for them that has been very profitable.”

Daisuke Wakabayashi and Karen Weise are New York Times writers.

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May 15

5 Reasons Why You Need Video in Your Marketing Strategy (With the Stats to Prove It)

Marketers are increasingly using videos in a variety of ways to promote products and services. They use videos for Youtube, landing pages, recorded webinars, emails and more. Videos also help introduce brands to potential customers and build lasting relationships with existing customers.

Related: 4 Ways to Get Over Your Fear of Video Marketing

On average, businesses publish 18 videos each month, according to research by HubSpot. That one data point underscores the ever-increasing demand for video and its great value to marketing. So, what to make of this? The obvious conclusion is that the  time is now to include video in your own digital marketing strategy. Or else, you could risk getting left behind by your competition.

Below are five ways video marketing can grow your business and boost sales and conversions.

1. Video can improve SEO.

HubSpot’s research showed that 65 percent of business executives polled said they visit a marketer’s website after viewing a branded video. This shows that high-quality video content that boosts viewer engagement and piques consumer interest can drive traffic to your website. This is crucial because traffic and click-through rates are major Google ranking factors. Therefore, the more traffic and clicks your site’s videos get, the higher your site will rank in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

With Google getting better and better at machine learning, the search engine can now recognize thousands of image elements within a video. Google’s Video Intelligence API can catalog relevant keywords within a video, which could give you a huge SEO advantage.

Video also helps SEO because it is responsive across multiple devices. As various video platforms like Youtube and Vimeo adjust to multiple screen sizes and are optimized for mobile devices, you can reach a wider audience.

With Google’s algorithms increasingly prioritizing pages with video content in search results, it’s especially important that businesses adopt videos as part of their digital marketing strategy.

For your own video SEO efforts, be sure to:

  • Keep videos short. Videos under two minutes long get the most engagement. So it’s important to get your point across in the shortest amount of time. A four-minute video can still work well. But anything longer could lose you significant viewership.

  • Transcribe your video script. When you transcribe text from sound in your video, Google bots can crawl your content with more accuracy. This makes it more likely your site will be featured in a wide variety of internet searches.

  • Optimize videos. Adding relevant titles, subtext, descriptions and meta tags can also help search engine bots crawl your video efficiently.

  • Create high-quality thumbnails. Creating eye-catching thumbnails can grab the attention of searchers, and thus increase your click-through rates.

Related: 7 Secrets for a Successful Video Marketing Strategy

2. Video keeps users on pages longer.

The average user spends 88 percent more time on a website with video than they do with any other type of content, according to data published in a Forbes article by TJ McCue. If correct, this means that by adding videos to your website’s pages, you can increase the amount of time visitors spend on your site.

One reason may be that most people find watching videos more entertaining than reading text. Another reason might be that people tend to retain information better when it’s explained in a video. Creating product videos, how-tos, and demos can not only increase your chances of reaching your target audience, but also provides value and higher retention rates to your potential customers.

3. Video is captivating.

Video keeps viewers’ attention more than text. Why? Because video combines auditory and visual sense. In other words, video brings together two things that catch our attention: noise and movement.

Humans are highly visual creatures. In fact, people process visuals 60,000 times faster than they process text, according to a Management Information Systems Research Center study at the University of Minnesota.. Also, most of the information that comes from the brain is visual, meaning that viewers will better retain a message through video than they will through text. And because of this, the average viewer remembers 95 percent of a message when it is watched, compared to only 10 of content that was read.

4. Video leads to more conversions.

Adding video on a landing page can increase conversions by 80 percent or more, according to the Top 16 Video Marketing Statistics for 2016 report. Replacing an image with a video on a landing page will likely increase conversions. Why? Videos offer a more detailed description of your product or service. As viewers become more engaged, they’re more likely to retain the message. They also tend to trust brands more after watching a video. And trust can eventually lead to conversions.

5. Video is more shareable.

Social video gets 1200 percent more shares than text and image content combined, according to Wordstream data. On platforms like LinkedIn, video is shared 20 times more often than other types of content formats in the LinkedIn feed, according to Sales and Marketing Solutions. What makes videos so shareable? Because they’re not only entertaining, but also bring practical value by providing tips, tricks and hacks.

Related: 5 Video Marketing Trends You Should Follow in 2019

When deciding to add video to your marketing strategy, be sure to sit down with your marketing team to discuss your budget and desired ROI. And be sure to consider what types of videos will work for your brand to maximize your marketing budget.

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May 14

Mailchimp expands from email to full marketing platform, says it will make $700M in 2019

Mailchimp, a bootstrapped startup out of Atlanta, Ga., is known best as a popular tool for organizations to manage their customer-facing email activities — a profitable business that its CEO told TechCrunch has now grown to around 11 million active customers with a total audience of 4 billion (yes, 4 billion), and is on track for $700 million in revenue in 2019. (Note: Slack’s previous quarter was around $133 million, and it’s operating at a loss.)

To help hit that number, Mailchimp is taking the wraps off a significant update aimed at catapulting it into the next level of business services. Starting today, Mailchimp will start to offer a full marketing platform aimed at smaller organizations.

Going beyond the email services that it has been offering for 20 years — which alone has led to multiple acquisition offers (all rebuffed) as its valuation has crept up reportedly into the billions (depending on which multiple you use) — the new platform will feature a number of new products within it.

They include technology to record and track customer leads; the ability to purchase domains and build sites; ad retargeting on Facebook and Instagram; social media management. It will also offer business intelligence that leverages a new move into the artificial intelligence to provide recommendations to users on how and when to market to whom.

The latter of these will be particularly interesting considering the data that it has collected and will collect on 4 billion individuals and their responses to emails and other services that Mailchimp now offers.

As of Wednesday of this week, Mailchimp also plans a pretty significant shift of its pricing into four tiers of free, $9.99/month, $14.99/month or $299/month (up from the current pricing of free, $10/month, $199/month) — with those fees scaling depending on usage and features.

(Existing paid customers maintain current pricing structure and features for the time being and can move to the new packages at any time, the company said. New customers will sign up to the new pricing starting May 15.)

The expansion is part of a longer-term strategic play to widen Mailchimp’s scope by building more services for the typically underserved but collectively large small-business segment.

Even as multinationals like Amazon and other large companies continue to feel like they are eating up the mom-and-pop independent business model, SMBs continue to make up 48% of the GDP in the U.S.

And within the SMB sector, the opportunity has totally changed with the rise of the internet.

“What’s really key is the role digital apps, digital publishing and social media have played,” said Ben Chestnut, Mailchimp’s co-founder and CEO. “We can have a 10-employee company with a customer base bigger than 1 million. That’s a combination you couldn’t achieve before the growth of online.”

And within that, marketing is one of those areas that small businesses might not have invested in much traditionally but are increasingly turning to as so much transactional activity has moved to digital platforms — be it smartphones, computers, or just the tech that powers the TV you watch or music you listen to.

In March, we reported that Mailchimp quietly acquired a small Shopify competitor called LemonStand to start to build more e-commerce tools for its users. And the new marketing platform is the next step in that strategy.

“We still see a big need for small businesses to have something like this,” Chestnut said in an interview. Enterprises have a range of options when it comes to marketing tools, he added, “but small businesses don’t.” The mantra for many building tech for the SMB sector has traditionally been “dumbed down and cheap,” in his words. “We agreed that cheap was good, but not dumbed down. We want to empower them.”

The new services launch also comes at a time when an increasing number of companies are closing in on the small business opportunity, with e-commerce companies like Square, Shopify and PayPal also widening their portfolio of products. (These days, Square is a Mailchimp partner, Shopify is not.)

Marketing is something that Mailchimp had already been dabbling with over the last two years — indeed, customer-facing email services is essentially a form of marketing, too. Other launches have included a Postcards service, offering companies very simple landing pages online (about 10% of Mailchimp’s customers do not have their own web sites, Chestnut said), and a tool for companies to create Google, Facebook and Instagram ads.

Mailchimp itself has a big marketing presence already: it says that daily, more than 1.25 million e-commerce orders are generated through Mailchimp campaigns; over 450 million e-commerce orders were made through Mailchimp campaigns in 2018; and its customers have sold over $250 million in goods through multivariate + A/B campaigns run through Mailchimp.

There are clearly a lot of others vying to be the go-to platform for small businesses to do their business — “Google, Facebook, a lot of the big players see the magic and are moving to the space more and more,” Chestnut said — but Mailchimp’s unique selling point — or so it hopes — is that it’s the platform that has no vested interests in other business areas, and will therefore be as focused as the small businesses themselves are. That includes, for example, no upcharging regardless of the platform where you choose to run a campaign.

“We are Switzerland,” Chestnut said.

Given that Mailchimp took 20 years to grow into marketing from email, it’s not clear what the wait will be for future expansions, and into which areas those might go. Surprisingly, one product that Mailchimp does not want to touch for now is CRM. “No plans for CRM services,” Chestnut said. “We are focused on consumer brands. We think about small organizations, with fewer than 100 employees.”

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May 13

5 Relationship-Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses to Use to Increase ROI

Relationship marketing marks the re-emergence of human friendliness in our sometimes-cold, digital world. As it turns out, robots are not the ones buying products and services from us … it’s still people! 

Related: Connecting With Your Customer Is What Drives Relationship Marketing

So, while technology in the digital marketing space allows for scaling (maybe to unprecedented heights), it also makes us prone to forget that we’re dealing with people instead of just numbers on a screen.

What’s meant by “relationship marketing”? It’s the relatively recent focus on those granular customer interactions which foster long-term engagement, to generate long-term revenue. The digital wild west’s early days, when almost any banner ad resulted in sky-high conversions, were surpassed long ago. Next came the middle days of the digital wild west, when the success of each step in the sales funnel was measured solely by the cost incuurred to move a customer a step down.

That “middle days” phase died too — this time, a deserved death.

What has emerged from the ashes was, and is, relationship marketing, which entails using customer service to express a genuine concern for the customer. The direct effect of this heightened care has been deeper, long-lasting relationships that deliver better ROI.

So, what are some specific marketing straegies to use in relationship marketing? Here are five. 

1. Embrace the haters.

If relationship marketing exists for the purpose of deepening loyalty and interaction, then there needs to be a certain level of authenticity in the campaigns that you launch. While being authentic certainly means being truthful and transparent, authenticity also comes from a place of emotional resonance:

  • Does your campaign make a reader or viewer feel a certain way?
  • Does it strike a deep, deep, chord?
  • Does it make your target audience stand up and say “Yes! This resonates with me!”

If it does these things, which it should, people outside of your target audience may feel alienated or even disagree with your values. A willingness to polarize, such as the Nike campaign with Colin Kaepernick, allows you to gain the benefits that come from standing out from the crowd.

Yes, you will potentially turn away customers who would have bought had you not revealed your values. But, the data shows that polarizing behavior can produce good financial results: Customers surveyed who had an emotional relationship with a brand had a 306 percent higher lifetime value, and recommended the company 71 percent of the time, compared to the 45 percent average, according to Motista research.

Even more amazingly, again according to Motista, customers who say they feel emotionally connected spend an average $699 with a company versus merely satisfied customers, who spend an average $275 a year. So the logical conclusion is that iIf you focus on building emotional connections with your most important target audiences, everything else will fall into place.

2. Allocate marketing dollars according to the “6:3:1 Formula.”

So, you’ve decided that you’re actually going to put effort into relationship marketing, to try to make an emotional impact with your core audience. Great! But, how should you split up your budget? Digital Marketer has been preaching what it calls the 6:3:1 Formula for years, and for good reason.

The 6:3:1 Formula recommends spending 60 percent of your budget on cold traffic (people who are not familiar with your brand). According to the formula, you don’t attempt to convert these people into leads or customers — you simply provide value.

Another 30 percent of your budget is then spent on turning those now familiar with you — warm traffic — into leads or customers. The final 10 percent of your budget is spent attempting to convert buyers into repeat purchasers.

To be clear: The major proportion of your budget should not be spent directly offering your products or services.

Although this ratio might feel counterintuitive, the reality is that the 6:3:1 Formula exists to maximize the amount of money that your brand makes from a given customer. Trying to sell any faster, without building some semblance of a relationship first, risks your forcing potential customers toward competitors who are focused on building those relationships.

3. Offer an incredibly long-term and valuable guarantee.

At the point of sale, the customer frequently second guesses himself or herself. Traditionally, simple “low-risk” offers, such as a 30-day money-back guarantee, have been used by companies to provide a greater sense of protection to the customer.

These guarantees are offered with the expectation that increases in your conversion rate will outpace any losses stemming from additional product returns. Relationship marketing goes a step further than this, showcasing the fact that you genuinely want a long-term relationship with your customer.

Related: Why Building Relationships Is the Marketing Secret No One’s Talking About

For example, offering an extended period of time during which your company promises to take care of anything related to your product signals your customer that this purchase is the beginning of a relationship. The actual risk of such an offer is typically much lower than you may perceive it to be; it’s also easy to test.

What if an ecommerce store wanted to offer something like a lifetime warranty, under the hypothesis it would deepen trust and lead to better LTV? Let’s assume the original return rate was 5 percent, and the current guarantee is for 30 days. What would happen if that guarantee shifted to five years?

Let’s assume returns would then double, creating an additional revenue loss of 5 percent. If the conversion rate increased by just 5 percent, the store would break even. If this five-year guarantee was publicized on the product description page and the checkout page, and through email, it wouldn’t be a stretch to predict an increase in conversion of 10 percent, or even 20 percent.

If you’re worried about really putting your brand on the line by offering customers the ability to return products that aren’t serving your customers, then perhaps the “relationship-building” elements of your products themselves need to be examined.

4. Unabashedly collect feedback.

Despite those shiny-looking ideas on this list, the idea of collecting feedback will always carry the largest ROI. Ask customers, even leads, what they think of the interactions they’ve had from your brand. For service businesses, sending out a brief survey request three to four months into your engagement will not only provide free insights into how you can make your clients happier but will also immediately increase happiness!

Asking how you could explicitly serve customers better demonstrates, through your actions, that you care. For more product-based businesses, a net promoter score serves as a wonderful data collection tool as well.

5. Actively shift budget away from lead generation and toward customer nurturing.

Lots of marketing departments go through a hopeless exercise of assuming, “Great, let’s do that.”

Idea: Post to the blog more? Response: “Great, let’s do that.”

Idea: Spend more time learning the latest and greatest digital marketing trends? Response: “Great, let’s do that.”

But, think about it: What if you could deepen the relationship with your existing customers by 5 percent while increasing profits by 25 percent to as much as 95 percent? The best response here would definitely be: “Great, let’s do that.”

In the world of marketing, budget reigns supreme. Therefore, the most effective way to take an idea and implement it is to shift budget there, highlighting its importance as well as creating internal alignment. In fact, on average, 90 percent of customers are likely to purchase more than once, according to HubSpot research). According to Invespcro, the success rate of selling to an existing customer averages 60 percent to70 percent, compared to the 5 percent to 20 percent success rate realized from selling to a new customer.

Smarter companies more in tune with these facts are already building out customer retention teams. These personnel are dedicated to making sure their companies — perhaps your competitors — keep their customers happy through healthy relationship-building. Isn’t it time for you to shift some budget and resources there, too?

The underlying principle of relationship marketing

As these five strategies imply, a direct relationship exists between treating the customer better and increasing revenue. This is a strategy that is good for everyone, but works only if you are genuine in your actions. Consumers, after all, are more sophisticated than ever.

Also consider that 50 percent to 70 percent percent of Gen Z have never known life without the internet. This means they can smell inauthenticity a mile away. How much longer do you think your marketing ploys will work? Instead of putting effort toward outsmarting a customer, why not focus on the opposite?

Related: 4 Tactics To Create Brand Loyalty Through Relationship Marketing

Build something valuable, actually contribute, earn the privilege of your customers’ money, then thank them with a long-lasting, positive relationship. It’s what you want. I’s what they want. So, implement relationship marketing across your organization and reap the benefits today.

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May 12

Oops! Small businesses are vulnerable to marketing mistakes

Jamie Masters shows her beauty products with the new labeling, at right, and old labeling, at left, in her home in Kansas City, Mo. At first, Masters sold her products under the name Trinite Organiques, but people didn’t know how to pronounce it and they didn’t understand the name.

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