What your email marketing messages should have before you hit ‘send’

October 18th, 2011

First, your subject copy should accurately describe the content. An inaccurate description such as ‘survey’ or a blank subject line will earn your email a delete action or a permanent spot in the spam folder. Furthermore, words like ‘win,’ and ‘free’ are now instant magnets for filters, so avoid including them in your subject lines. Ensure you start with the appropriate salutation such as ‘Dear Ms,’ use standard grammar and exclamation marks unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Second, stick to your core message. Your email is competing with other distractions particularly social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. If your email is about ‘how to eat healthy despite the falling shilling,’ don’t digress to the topic of today’s start of KCSE examinations.

Third, paste the most important part of your email on the body instead of forcing your readers to download the file and open it on another window or software. You can then list the rest of the files as attachments.

Fourth, allow your readers options such as opting out of receiving further emails, forwarding it to friends and replying. This gesture will prove that you are ‘democratic’.

Fifth, proofread your emails before hitting the ‘send’ button. Ideally, you should let someone else edit the content if you write it. Often, our eyes can’t spot our own mistakes.

Finally, track the results of your emails for metrics such as open rate, database growth, number of emails forwarded and delivery and bounce rates, Facebook shares and Twitter links and tweets/retweets.

Email marketing is hard enough without adding the uncertainty of not knowing whether or not you are meeting your objectives.

Please call our sales team on +254732353355 or visit http://pamojamedia.com/services/ for an obligation free quote on our emarketing services.

You have one new message

October 17th, 2011

image courtesy Google

In the current Internet marketing climate, email marketing isn’t getting heavy rotation as SEO, paid search and social media marketing.

Two reasons could be the cause: due to the spamming menace as you need permission from your potential customer before you deliver your email into his inbox otherwise your email marketing message will land in the spam folder. Secondly, email requires much writing and rewriting and editing before getting it right and in these days of pressure to meet and exceed profit targets, most Internet marketers lose appetite to include it in their Internet marketing menu.

However, with the right strategy and tools, email marketing is not only cheap to implement, but it can pay handsomely on return on investment to SMEs’ Internet marketing efforts.

First, you need to build a database. You can do this by putting a sign-up form prominently on every page of your website and posting the links on your social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. To assure your recipients that you are not a spammer, you should declare on your sign up section that you won’t share their email messages with third parties. Add an incentive such as a discount or a gift to persuade people to sign up. Your database contacts should contain information such as name, title and company.

Second, you need to identify the objective of your email marketing campaign. Do you need your recipients to download research, make a purchase or subscribe to your company’s newsletter? Make ite clear in your call to action.

Third, depending on the quantity and duration of the emails you plan to send out, you will have to either write and send them yourself, or outsource distribution to email providers such as www.mailchimp.com.

Tomorrow’s post will examine the ingredients you need to add to your email marketing campaign to increase its chances of succeeding.

Will Kenyan brands utilise these statistics?

October 14th, 2011

Kenyan brand marketers, especially in the FMCG arena, have resorted to various tactics to retain and hopefully grow their current customer base which has slashed their spending because of the weak shilling.

Road shows, raffles, discounts and associations with issues such as personal hygiene are some of the tools brands are utilising to maintain space in consumers’ memories and wallets.

A sector that has witnessed an increase in numbers is Internet subscriptions. According to the latest quarterly sector statistics report released by the Communications Commission of Kenya, there were 12.5 million Internet users by June 2011, compared to 11 million in March 2011. In December 2010, they were 8.6 million.

What do these numbers mean to marketers and businesses?

These numbers should spur brand marketers to conceptualise Internet marketing ideas for long-term brand health. As more and more people are spending their time online, traditional advertising models should be married to Internet marketing strategies to increase a brand’s reach.

Instead of paying high advertising rates to run campaigns on traditional advertising to do a promotion, for example, they can direct people to their websites or social media network pages where customers can learn, register or participate in the promotion. Not only will brands reduce their campaign costs, they will also stand a good chance of their promotions going viral if they excite customers’ attention. It’s much easier for online communities to share online communications than say, ‘Have you seen the ABC contest billboard on Mombasa Road?’

As we wind down the year, brand marketers can use this numbers to seek more monies for their marketing activities in the coming year as they will be able to persuade accountants to budget for Internet marketing. Previously, the stock answer from the latter was, ‘Show me numbers?’

Additionally, Internet marketing efforts are measurable, thanks to tools such as Google Analytics.

Yes, Kenyan brand marketers should view the 12.5 million Internet users as a minefield for their products, but it doesn’t mean that basic tenets such as excellent customer service and privacy with customers’ data should be ignored. Otherwise, you might have 12.5 million problems on your hands.

Kenya’s depreciating currency and its gigabyte effects on Internet marketing

October 13th, 2011

image courtesy:www.africaknows.com

The effects of the continuing depreciation of the Kenya shilling have been felt by the entire economy. Oil importers, manufacturers and consumers are paying more because imported components and finished products and services have become expensive. On the other hand, exporters of horticultural produce and the tourism sector are benefitting because our produce and destinations have become more affordable.

Internet marketing will undoubtedly experience stiffer challenges because of the depreciating shilling. It’s unlikely that ISPs will reduce bandwidth prices further, for their claim will almost be that they purchase wholesale bandwidth prices in US$ which has strengthened against the Kenya shilling.

So, what are the likely scenarios of the weakening shilling on Internet marketing?

  • If Kenya can’t grow the current 4.7 million Internet subscriptions because of high prices, then Internet marketing is in trouble.
  • If prices of computers and mobile phones and accessories rise, then Internet marketing is in trouble.
  • If mobile phone service providers increase their Internet access prices like Safaricom recently did, then Internet marketing in Kenya is in trouble.
  • If brands can’t market their services online through platforms like paid search because they can’t forecast what they will pay tomorrow, then Internet marketing in trouble.
  • If Kenya can’t attract seminars and other events that are about the Internet, or if only a few people can afford to pay to attend, then Internet marketing is in trouble.
  • If multinational marketing services companies set up Internet marketing subsidiaries in Kenya because it’s cheaper for them, but they pursue alien marketing tactics because they don’t see the need to understand the market, then Internet marketing is in trouble.

Kenya won’t realise the much hyped vision 2030 if a basic requirement like Internet access is still a luxury to most Kenyans.

Kenya’s Internet marketing future bright, thanks to students

October 12th, 2011

Image courtesy:www.africaknows.com

If you are a Kenyan parent or teacher, you will be horrified at the statistics quoted in a Daily Nation October 10, 2011 article: ‘Internet zombies in class;’ presented by Lenana School students at the National Research Club Of Kenya competition held on September 16 in Nairobi. Among the highlights, many students in high schools and colleges spend up to six hours daily on social networks “… chatting, blogging, updating status, sharing jokes, tweeting, and spreading news, rumours and gossip on Internet and social media…” 87% of them use social networking as their main communication platform and 66% of them being active Facebook users. Furthermore, 74% of them were ‘hooked’ to Facebook and 81% of high school students’ use their mobile phones to access social networks.

But if you are an Internet/social media marketer/SME in Kenya, these statistics are gold dust. Why?

First, they prove that you are spoilt for choice on how to promote your brand using social media, especially if high school and college youth are your primary target audience. Will you take advantage of the ‘spreading news, rumours and gossip’ aspect to start a viral campaign? Will you target influential bloggers to endorse your brand? Will Twitter work better? All of the above?

Second, these students will be tomorrow’s adult ‘unga earning’ consumers who will rely primarily on their peers for information regarding brands and less on advertising. Does your brand have an online reputation management /web PR strategy?

Third, Facebook will still be THE pre-eminent social networking site in the near future, so your brand will need a separate Facebook strategy and tactics.

Fourth, you will have to include mobile marketing in your Internet marketing mix.

Fifth, these statistics, when combined with the latest Communications Commission of Kenya numbers, show that the future of Internet marketing in Kenya is bright.

By all means, be alarmed if you are a parent, but if you also double up as an Internet marketer, give your high school/college offspring a bear hug.

How offline actors can contribute to KBO success

October 10th, 2011

Image courtesy of Google.

Now that SMEs no longer have an excuse to miss an online presence thanks to Google’s  www.kbo.co.ke initiative, other offline actors can contribute to the long-term success of this project.

First, Kenya Power has to speed up both the rural electrification programme and the generation of other energy sources such as solar and geothermal power. It’s scandalous for rural SMEs to be left behind just because their owners lack access to electricity. The much hyped mobile Internet phenomenon is not conducive to this project because of a lack of a mobisite option.

Second, ISPs have to design SME-friendly Internet access pricing products. The overused line of ‘Government has to grant us tax breaks first’ won’t wash. Did Safaricom ask for tax breaks before launching M-Pesa?

Third, SME website owners should ensure they keep their content up to date. The world won’t do business with Kenyan SMEs whose websites rival government websites in terms of outdated information.

Fourth, Parliament should enact harsh laws that elevate vandalism of underground cables, manhole covers, transformers, and other Internet marketing support infrastructure to the same level as robbery with violence crimes. This action will stop courts from viewing vandalism as a misdemeanour.

Fifth, government, being the biggest buyer of goods and services, has to consider web presence and activity as an alternative method of verifying SMEs’ existence instead of insisting on a physical location as the standard benchmark in the scorecard before awarding tenders. Alternatively, the presence of a website should result in a discount in the price of physically registering an SME. The inefficiencies and corruption at the AG’s Chambers should not deny web savvy SMEs an opportunity to bid for State business.

SMEs aren’t immune to reputation management

October 7th, 2011

Two recent incidents in Lamu have proven that tourism is similar to politics: perception is everything.
Thanks to the murder of British national David Tebbutt and the abduction of his wife Judith by suspected Al-Shabaab rebels on September 11, and an encore by the same suspects following the kidnapping of French citizen Marie Didieu on October 1, Kenya is now generally regarded as an unsafe tourist destination. This reputation threatens an industry that made Kshs40.5 billion in the first-half of 2011.

SME owners shouldn’t presume that reputation management isn’t part of their Internet marketing strategy. For SMEs it’s even more necessary to be armed with online reputation management tactics on stand-by because it’s more hazardous to their cash flows to engage in long-term damage control than it is for corporates. Another reason is that SME owners can’t afford to be distracted away from building their businesses because most times they play multiple roles, unlike corporations who can afford to hire PR agencies.

The first step to managing your reputation online is to monitor what your customers are saying about your brand, both positive and negative news. While you can easily monitor and respond to sentiment through your customers’ emails, Facebook posts, tweets, etc, it’s also important you check other online sources such as blog posts via a tool such as Google alerts. You don’t want to be dumbfounded when someone asks you a question like, ‘Is it true what I read about your company on this blog…’. Second, always respond to potentially explosive situations before they explode. Even if you don’t have a ready answer, say something like ‘We are aware of the problem and we will get back to you by tomorrow morning’ (and stick to that deadline). Third, don’t exchange words online with customers if the problem escalates. Offer to call them and settle the issue offline instead, particularly if you’re dealing with bloggers. Fourth, if you have built a loyal online fan base due to your excellent customer service, request one or two of your most fervent fans to act as your brand ambassadors by saying that the problem that arose was an exception, not the norm. A community endorsement should convince your people not to defect. Fifth, offer your wronged customer a discount, a freebie, heck, even tickets to a football match like tomorrow’s Harambee Stars vs Uganda Cranes. Anything to make up for the transgression.

So as you endeavour to build your SME, don’t forget to include online reputation management as a top, daily to do priority in your Internet marketing menu.

What SMEs can learn from their deaths

October 6th, 2011

photo courtesy www.greenbeltmovement.org

In a space of just 10 days, two icons who left indelible marks both on their fields and on humanity have died: Wangari Maathai on September 26, 2011 and Steve Jobs on October 5, 2011.

Even as we mourn their passing and celebrate their achievements, there are a few lessons SME owners can learn from these iconoclasts. One, doing the unconventional can produce remarkable results. When Wangari successfully protested against KANU’s bizarre idea of constructing a 60-storey building at Uhuru Park in 1989, she by extension marketed the Green Belt Movement that she had founded in 1977 to the rest of the world without spending money on traditional advertising. When Apple opened the Itunes store in 2003 and priced song downloads at US$ 99cents a piece, that action did not only help American music labels slow down music piracy, it also helped accelerate the uptake of Ipods.

Second, despite their celebrity statuses, Wangari and Steve knew they would one day die, so they surrounded and delegated responsibilities to other people so that they could, pardon the cliché, concentrate on the bigger picture. One result of this succession planning is that the Green Belt Movement and Apple will continue functioning without experiencing the power struggles some companies go through after the demise of their owners. Indian billionaire Dhirubhai Ambani died in 2004 without leaving a will, sparking off an unnecessary feud between his sons Mukesh and Anil Ambani.

photo courtesy www.economist.com

Third, they ensured their companies stood for a specific purpose anyone could understand: Green Belt Movement for a green planet through the preservation of forests, Apple for elegantly designed products.

As an SME owner you should not only learn from them, but do one better.

Forget celebrity endorsements, embrace your customers

October 5th, 2011

Testimonials are a great way of lending ‘street cred’ to brands, and that’s why celebrities get paid big money to endorse every category from cars to fast foods to shoes. That trend has picked up in Kenya of late, with athlete David Rudisha and musician Jua Cali endorsing a shoe polish product and a mobile phone service provider respectively.

As an SME owner you salivate for that kind of mileage for your business, but are discouraged by the exorbitant endorsement fees you would have to pay such celebrities. However, you are overlooking an authentic source of testimonials that could significantly boost your brand and better yet, their services are free: that’s right, your customers. Below are several ways of encouraging your existing customers to act as your unofficial spokespersons.

First, request your customers to fill out a brief customer service satisfaction form on your website. At the end, ask a question like, “Can we please use your name and comments on the website?” Second, ask repeat and satisfied customers if you can use their names and comments. Some may even be willing to do a video or audio recording to sing praises of your SME at their expense that you can upload on your website and social media spaces. Third, when you are prospecting for business instead of saying “I do quality work…”, say “Miss Y was so happy with our service, and here is what she said…” Fourth, if your SME wins an award, ask your customers to comment about it, not forgetting to request them if you can use these comments on both your website and social media spaces.

Never underestimate the power of a satisfied customer to invigorate your Internet marketing efforts.

Mobisites: A formidable arsenal in Internet marketing

October 4th, 2011

Despite the landing of undersea cables in 2009 that were billed as the panacea to slow Internet speeds and expensive access costs, and other incentives such as zero-rating of computers, Internet penetration in Kenya is still shallow. According to a July 2011 Study on ICT Access Gaps in Kenya  undertaken by the Communications Commission of Kenya, there are only 4.7 million Internet subscriptions in Kenya, with broadband connections standing at 84,726. These are disappointing statistics for e-commerce take up and sustainability. However, the same report states there are more than 25 million mobile phone subscribers.

As an SME owner, these statistics underscore the importance of including mobile marketing in your Internet marketing strategy because a significant number of your potential customers access the Internet via their mobile phones.  This means that they are searching for goods and services using their mobile phones. How do you ensure your SME benefits from mobile Internet searches?

One, you will have to build a mobile site, also known as a mobisite. A mobisite is a website specifically designed for mobile phones and its URL is yourSMEname.mobi . Second, your SME’s mobisite layout has to be simple and the navigation easy. Mobile phone consumers lack the patience and time to wander through mobisites looking for information. Third, customise content for different interactions such as sound and text. Avoid adding videos because your most of your consumers will quickly exhaust their airtime watching them. Fourth, use keywords in your content to give your mobisite a high chance of appearing in search results, and measure your mobisite’s performance for insights into what’s working and what isn’t.

A well-designed and functional mobisite is a formidable addition to your Internet marketing arsenal.

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