Recession Makes The Heart Grow Stronger

February 9, 2009

 

money-heart

A recent poll conducted by Zoomerang for AreYouRomantic.com, a romance website sponsored by Caesars Pocono Resorts, revealed that despite economic concerns romance has remained strong or even increased over the last year.

 

More than two-thirds of the people polled report their romance has been humming right along over the last year despite economic concerns, while one in three people actually credit the recession with improving their romance

 

Additional findings reveal that over half of all couples are spending more quality time together due to financial constraints and one out of three people feel that financial constraints have brought them and their partner closer together.

 

The study had good news for the retail industry as well: 58% plan to spend the same amount or more on Valentine’s Day gifts this year; 77% feel that when it comes to gifts, the thought behind it is more important than the price tag; and 80% agree that an expensive gift cannot make up for a problem or big fight.

 

In an effort to help couples ride out the highs and lows of the changing market, the romance experts there have put together a list of ten simple finance-friendly ways to stay rich in romance.


Online Retailers Updating Websites To Drive More Traffic And Sales

January 26, 2009

online-retailers

 According to Internet Retailer’s latest monthly survey, online merchants are making site optimization a top priority. The study revealed that 49.9% of merchants have rolled out a new site design in the past year, including 26.6% in the last six months and 13.3% within 90 days.

 

The retailers are also focused on redesigning their web sites to achieve speedier navigation and faster performance as well as creating interactive page treatments and adding video, customer reviews and other advanced features. Improved site optimization is the top priority for 72.9% of merchants, followed by clearly organized home, category and product pages at 62.4%, better navigation at 49.4%, improved site search at 47.1% and faster checkout at 40%.

 

The Internet Retailer survey also finds that 43.3% of merchants will update their e-commerce sites with video this year, followed by 40% with personalized product recommendations, 36.7% with customer reviews and ratings, and 35% with product configuration tools.

 

By taking a more business-oriented approach to web site design, 81.7% of merchants also expect their latest redesign to attract a higher number of visitors and shoppers, compared with 76.7% that anticipate higher sales, 66.7% a higher sales conversion, 50% improved customer service and 48.3% better multi-channel sales.

 

One feature I always like to see on any e-commerce sites is customer reviews and ratings so I am glad to see more online retailers will be including and expanding those. I am always interested in hearing feedback on products and services from those with experience to help me make a better informed decision.


Building A Feedback Loop Into The Tactical Business Plan

January 23, 2009

feedback-loop

Savvy business people are finding that the way to be nimble in the marketplace is to build a continuous feedback loop into several places within the tactical business plan.

 

Zoomerang offers some of the ways that surveys can improve the efficiency, effectiveness and profitability of your business. To make it easier we’ve developed templates on each of the survey types below, using proven market research techniques. These templates will give you an edge, and the right data, as you look for feedback on new ideas for your business.

 

Get Customer Feedback

 

One of the most popular uses of surveys is as a yardstick for customer satisfaction. Annual, semiannual or quarterly surveys serve as a barometer of your business’ health and allow you to monitor your performance over time. In addition, many businesses send out satisfaction surveys after each customer transaction, using the survey as a way to judge the effectiveness of individual employees and the product itself.

 

Test the Concept

 

Expanding your audience to include prospects allows you to check the receptivity of the market to a product enhancement or a new offering. Sending a survey to two segments – a portion of your customers and a portion of your prospects – provides visibility into whether prospects require different messaging or education than was required to win your current set of customers.

 

Check Your Vendors

 

Surveys can help evaluate which vendors are best equipped to deliver the raw materials required to fulfill your product plan. You can send out a survey asking about their shortest lead-time, their standard shipping terms, etc. By downloading their answers into a spreadsheet, you can sort your vendors by those most capable of meeting your new requirements for faster shipping or expanded capacity.

 

Plan and Evaluate Your Event

 

A survey is an easy way to collect multiple data points from a large group of people. Zoomerang users in the marketing and event planning departments have deployed surveys to ask representatives about their arrival times to a trade show, their requested shifts, etc. and have used that information to plan their event. Afterward, they deployed a separate survey to ask the representatives for their opinion on the value of the tradeshow, the number of sales attributed to it, and whether they plan to attend next year.

 

Gauge Employee Satisfaction

 

Online surveys are an ideal mechanism for soliciting employee feedback, since they provide the anonymity that is essential to candid feedback. Many companies use surveys to conduct management evaluations and to ensure privacy Zoomerang can even deploy the survey for you.

 

Share Best Practices

 

Guidance is golden and Zoomerang users within associations or even loose groups of vendors are finding surveys an effective way to gather wisdom that they can’t find elsewhere. A quick survey on a how to handle a difficult business question generates responses that can be directly put into practice.

 

Get It On Your Calendar

 

Give yourself enough lead time to really learn what the survey reveals: too frequently surveys are done at the last minute, which makes it impossible to act on the insight. In addition to a quarterly customer satisfaction survey, consider sending surveys using this rotation:

 

Operational surveys after each transaction

Prior to regularly scheduled tradeshows and events

Marketing concept tests as product development dictates

Quarterly employee reviews

Quarterly vendor surveys

Semi-annual product releases

Annual employee satisfaction surveys

Benefit queries before changes in annual plans

 

Survey Deployment

 

There are several ways to deploy your surveys and each method has its own advantages. A one-time email broadcast to your entire customer or prospect base is a thorough way to communicate. If you host your survey on your Website, you send a signal to prospects, customers and vendors that you are constantly listening to them and receptive to feedback.

 

Building a real-time feedback loop into a number of sections of your annual business plan can provide you with a way to be nimble – and knowledgeable – in your operations. Examine your calendar and your plan and ask yourself: would it help to test this concept or gather more information? If so, visit the Zoomerang website to assist you in gathering your needed insights.

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Microsoft adCenter Study Reveals Small Businesses Build Online Presence, But Fail To Invest In Search Marketing

January 12, 2009

search-marketing2

Microsoft adCenter released the results of an online survey examining the search marketing behaviors of 400 small-business owners in the United States. The findings indicate that a majority of the small businesses surveyed invest in developing Web sites, but fail to take even the simplest steps to enhance their online business presence. The study revealed that 59% of small businesses with Web sites don’t currently use paid search marketing, and of those, 90% have never even attempted it.

 

Surprisingly, seven in 10 small-business owners who participated revealed that they would rather try to do their own taxes than start a paid search marketing campaign

 

Among the participants’ chief concerns, most cited the common misconceptions of cost, time and complexity as major hurdles to conducting search marketing campaigns for their businesses. Other key insights included the following:

 

Nearly nine in 10 (89%) feared keywords may become too expensive

 

81% questioned if paid search marketing is the best use of their marketing budgets

 

25% of respondents believe paid search marketing is too complex

 

21% thought it would be too time-consuming

 

35% felt they would need an agency to help set up search marketing campaign

 

Despite the lack of investment in paid search marketing the weakening economy and increased competition, nearly nine in 10 (86%) small-business owners surveyed felt that they could be missing opportunities to grow their business, while three in four believed prospective customers could be searching online for the type of service their business offers. Although most do not embrace the practice, the small-business owners who use paid search marketing are very satisfied, as 72% reported an increase in sales inquiries and 68% consider their paid search marketing efforts successful.


Marketing Budgets to Increase in 2009 on Programs That Yield High Levels of Return

January 7, 2009

Despite economic concerns, businesses will continue to invest in key marketing programs in the coming year, according to the 2009 Marketing Outlook survey conducted by Zoomerang and released by StrongMail Systems, Inc. the leading provider of commercial-grade solutions for marketing and transactional email.

strongmail_2009_survey_-_chart_1

Results from the Zoomerang survey show that more than half (51%) of the nearly 1,000 global business leader participants plan to increase their marketing budgets in 2009 to focus on programs that yield a higher return on investment (ROI), such as email marketing and search, while many will decrease spending on costly, less targeted programs like advertising and trade shows.

 

StrongMail’s 2009 Marketing Outlook study found that only 37% expect to see a decrease in sales in 2009 due to current economic conditions; 22% believe their customers will spend about the same in 2009 as in 2008; and 19% think their customers will spend more next year.

 

Respondents across industries, with strong representation in retail, financial services, technology, and media and entertainment sectors, indicate that they plan to direct marketing budgets towards more personalized programs that will enable them to compete more effectively for customer dollars. As such, nearly three-quarters (73%) of companies that plan to increase marketing budgets in 2009 will bolster email marketing programs, while 44% will add dollars to their search marketing campaigns. Those professionals decreasing budgets in 2009 will cut spend on marketing programs that don’t typically generate as lucrative a return, such as advertising (29%) and trade shows (19 %), whereas only 4% of the companies surveyed plan to cut their email marketing budgets.

 

Nearly all businesses (81%) will either use the information available to them via customer databases, analytics tools or other resources to send more relevant emails to customers and prospects in 2009, or are currently considering tools to help them do so. Additionally, a significant number of organizations plan to experiment with new programs in 2009 to raise visibility and increase sales, like offering free-trials, promoting product giveaways and integrating social media strategies.

 

One great analytics tool you can use in your customer outreach program is online surveys. Whether you are already using online surveys or are just now considering them be sure to visit the Zoomerang Customer Satisfaction Survey Center. The Center is designed to help you get the most out of your online survey experience with the many survey templates available that you can easily customize, as well as the proven tips and suggestions offered  regarding both survey creation and deployment. Zoomerang wants you to have the most successful survey campaign you can in order to give you the insight you need on exactly what your customers are thinking.


Technology And The Internet In The Workplace

December 4, 2008

tree-at-work

 

Mitel, a Canadian-based communications solutions provider, recently released the results of a Zoomerang survey entitled “Unified Communications Trends”. The survey was conducted so that the company could gain a better understanding of where business and employee awareness levels currently lie with unified communications.

 

According to the survey, more and more Canadian workplaces are using technology and the Internet to conduct everyday business tasks. One not so surprising result was that Generation X and Y-ers are the most comfortable using the Internet and UC-type technologies.

 

Of the respondents, 40% said their employer offers them the option of working from another location other than their office. Of those, 36% take advantage of it between 0-4 days per month, and 22% do so at least 16 times a month. That option alone offers companies an often overlooked benefit: a reduction in the company’s real estate costs. Remote workers minimize the overall space needed since they are working offsite at client sites or at home, thereby reducing the company’s needed workspace.

 

In addition, the survey results clearly show how technology is also a major player in helping us “green” the workplace. While it doesn’t sound like much per employee, 42% of respondents claim while not going to the office they have an estimated fuel savings of less than $25 a month. When added together, the overall monetary fuel savings as well as the reduced environmental impact and carbon footprint from commuting employees is substantial. How do you like that, two “green” savings wrapped into one!

 

I find it encouraging that more and more companies are becoming increasingly responsive in using current technology as well as innovative in developing new technology products. These are far-reaching steps that benefit a company’s bottom line, their employees, and most importantly the world we all live in.   

            Check out the results of the Zoomerang survey


Monitoring Your “Brand”

November 21, 2008

flag1Recent results from the Country Brand Index survey have the U.S. ranked at No. 3 out of 10 countries with the best overall brand reputations, a spot lower than last year and now ranked behind both Australia (No. 1) and Canada (No. 2). The report attributes the decline to anti-U.S. sentiment, such as growing dislike of the Bush administration’s foreign policy. The U.S. did rank No.1 for both best country brand ideal for business and best country brand for shopping.
Despite the overall ranking slip, the U.S. still has the highest percentage (40%) of travelers who’d consider visiting here and the highest percentage (53%) that ultimately did come, the survey said. The survey identified China, the United Arab Emirates and Croatia as the top three nations likely to become major tourist destinations by 2013.
Survey results like the above show how you can be given an accurate idea of how your overall brand is being perceived by potential customers as well as what areas are in need for improvement. Surveys provide insight into your customer’s perception of your brand and surveys are the best way to find out what is really on your customer’s minds in order for you to market your brand as effectively as you can.
As for me, I am interested to see how the new Obama administration as well as the American citizens themselves can all work together in the coming years towards the same goals and hopefully in the process improving the U.S. brand ranking. In the mean time I will be researching more about Beijing, Abu Dhabi, and Zagreb for my future travels!