Let Customers Give You Feedback

click2leavefeedbackCustomer satisfaction is a factor that can make or break a business. Satisfied customers can potentially recommend products and services to others and become repeat customers. On the other hand, dissatisfied customers may never or rarely provide repeat business, and might even tell others about their dissatisfaction. This is why to alleviate things that irritate your customer, one should solicit product feedback.

The need to identify the areas customers may be having a less than satisfying experience is very important. How satisfied customers are with a particular physical characteristics such as functionality, prims, script load, and aesthetics of the product that they purchased? Identify the functionality that the product provides and have customers rate each aspect of its functionality separately on an even-numbered scale so that there is no neutral option available. Some businesses will create a notecard with a series of check-off boxes in it for this purpose, others might use an in-world survey kiosk or a web site.

Soliciting product feedback when the product you require feedback on is not really a physical product, but instead customer service and support offerings, is not quite as straightforward. One must examine sales and service to identify areas where customers may be experiencing a degree of dissatisfaction. It is difficult to ask open ended questions to identify these areas from customers, since most customers will not take the time to answer open ended questions, even though this type of information is the most useful form of feedback for a business.

Business Advantages to Holiday Planning

holidaydecorIntegration of the various holidays that occur throughout the year can benefit a business in many ways. Recognizing that many customers are looking for specific holiday themed merchandise can draw prospects toward your products and once they are in the door or visiting your web site additional interactions either directly or indirectly (such as through social media) will commence. Bundling related products together and offering seasonally-colored merchandise makes it easy to target holiday shoppers who are ready to purchase such items at an impulse.

Planning for an upcoming holiday should start a few months in advance so that appropriate merchandise can be created, decorations can chosen, and prospective customers know that you are recognizing their interests. The specific holidays that you participate in will depend on the demographics that you are trying to appease. Some holidays are specific to religion (i.e. Christmas) while others are regional specific (i.e. Fourth of July in the United States). There are even specific shopping events surrounding some holidays (i.e. “Black Friday” for in-person store visits and “Cyber Monday” for online purchases). However, be aware that advertising too far in advance of a holiday can be a turn-off for some customers.

Finally, when it comes to decorations for a holiday one will want to keep it new and fresh rather than rezzing out the same old decorations year after year (some of which might be utilizing inefficient scripts that does not take advantage of the new mono LSL scripting).  Also be sure to establish a budget and stick to it when shopping for new festive decorations to ensure the business maintains a profit that still covers tier and marketing otherwise any additional sales as a result of the holiday will become a burden rather than a benefit.

There’s more to customer loyalty than just repeat sales

teleportOne of the best ways to increase sales is to sell to your existing customer base and in order to accomplish that customer loyalty needs to be established. It is especially difficult in the virtual world to retain customer loyalty due to the fact that all transactions occur via the internet, therefore unlike in the physical world businesses no longer have a local economy advantage of being close to where the customers live. Prospects can simply teleport away to another location without giving it a second thought, therefore first impressions and post-sale follow up service is a must.

The same ease that allows potential customers to consider the competition can also be used to your advantage to check out the competition yourself. One must know as much as possible about their own customers as they do about the offerings of competitors to determine whether the products offered aligns with customer needs. This may require surveying visitors and/or asking follow-up questions after the sale to determine why the customer purchased your product over someone else’s. Once this information is obtained targeted marketing (in contrast to mass marketing) is used to both attract the right type of new customer and to encourage the existing customer base to come back and purchase more.

While direct one-to-one instant messaging with customers is effective, a strong social media presence is also a must. Face-to-face interactions are less likely in a virtual world, however when a purchased product is meant for public view then teleporting to the customer’s location can be beneficial. Not only does this show the customer that one cares about follow-up service it also allows the creator to see how their item fits into different environments which can lead to specialized features in future versions. Other forms of effective social media includes maintaining a blog demonstrating your expertise in an industry as well as replying to comments posted by others in forums.

Finally, the sales process itself needs to occur smoothly in order for that customer to return and purchase more. The store environment should be lag free utilizing low-impact scripts and a minimum amount of high resolution textures. In-world vendors should be online 24/7 and alternate methods of purchase available such as via web-based stores hosted by the virtual world provider. Product delivery should be timely once the in-world currency is transferred from the customer to the creator and all store policies needs to be made available both before and after the sale. In summary, if the sales process itself is not a positive experience for the customer then regardless of how high quality and useful their new purchase is they likely will not return to make additional purchases.

Taking a closer look at Business Strategy and Competitors

forumsWriting a business strategy and marketing plan is not required in order to start a new business, however it will challenge you to answer important questions regarding every aspect of your business. The business strategy should provide, at minimum, both short-term and long term goals and can be used as a blueprint when making decision during the course of business. One of the most challenging, yet very important, areas of the plan to investigate is potential competition. Such investigations of competitors may include lessons learned from failed competitors from the past, current competition, as well potential competition in the future should a non-competitor decide to expand their business into your market.

Many consumers will compare competitive products on price alone, therefore your marketing strategy should also determine it’s pricing position. The three common pricing methods are undercutting, matching, and premium. Undercutting the competition by pricing your products at a lower price has the potential of increasing market share, but could also suggest to potential customers that your products are cheap and low quality. Matching prices set by the competition requires including a similar feature set as other’s products, however it can be very difficult to stand out and gain market share if you are both selling the same similarly-priced quality items. Premium pricing allows you to stand out from the competition by highlighting exclusive features and an impression of high quality, however due to the higher price the competition might gain a higher market share in the short term.

Every business is unique in how they include social marketing in their long term e-business strategy, however the general goal is to increase interactions with both customers and prospects. Potential prospects will want to submit inquiries about available products including how they compare to the competition. Existing customers will have support inquiries on how to best utilize their recent purchase to benefit them and/or will request new features to be added based on advertisements received from your competition. It is important to reply to these inquiries and monitor review boards and discussion forums for communications between customers and prospects. Fortunately, many product review places allow a follow-up reply to be posted for all to see as a demonstration that the business owner cares about their customers.

The Many Advantages of Billboard Advertising

billboardexampleAdvertising strategies utilize many different marketing methods aimed at engaging new clients. Marketing your business or solutions via billboards is an excellent opportunity. When you use billboard marketing make certain you keep in mind that less is more.

Outside display advertising has long been a common and efficient way to present your products or services to your local community. Billboard marketing and advertising is amongst the most inexpensive alternatives of promotion and it also certainly has credible advantages. It is often a part of a company’s overall marketing strategy, utilizing larger-than-life signs to distribute your message about products and solutions, services, or special occasions. Outside advertising and marketing is usually a type of selling channel which involves putting up announcements and promotional products outdoors where people are able to see them. Advertisements are generally found in high traffic, line-of-sight destinations for example entryways, clubs and walkways.

This is a very efficient way of getting a sales message to the area. Marketing and advertising outside suggests ads are often available the best viewing fulfillment on the prospects therefore getting some sort of recurring advertising. Individuals visit the same landmark weekly, sometime on a daily basis. Billboard advertising is most effective when you need to get to everybody in a particular geographical location and has become the most popular form of outside advertising and marketing.

You can actually Increase Income by offering Freebies

freeitemsPromotional free items such as demo versions, samples, or novelty items offered to visitors are utilized by many businesses to attract new customers. Another common reason for such freebies is to generate interest, and therefore demand, for an upcoming product release. Improving the relationship with faithful customers and establishing trust are critical both for repeat business business, but also to generate free exposure for the business via word-of-mouth advertising.

While some businesses are willing to give away their freebies for nothing in return, the smart ones will request prospects for contact information (such as name and email address if it is a web site), alternatively requesting permission to subscribe the avatar to an in-world mailing list or add them to a group for the purpose of receiving future promotional material. In some cases the so-called freebies are not available unless the avatar pays a nominal fee in exchange which entitles them to receiving items sent to the avatar on a regular basis. In these cases while the items received are not truly free the avatar ends up paying less overall in comparison to purchasing those items individually.

Avatars are encouraged to “shop around” when freebies are made available as some dishonest businesses will simply find a copyable and transferable free object in a hangout area then turn around and promote it to their own customers. Fortunately, with a quick search of the internet and reviews on forums these types of businesses are discovered very quickly and their customer base will quickly distrust them.

Some businesses will place restrictions on the freebies they distribute either through technical means (such as configuring the object to be no-modify or non-transferable) or by including a TOS (Terms of Service) notecard with the free item. However, this is a balancing act because if similar businesses are offering their freebies on more flexible terms those that are restrictive may loose market share. Another consideration is some avatars are simply out to collect every freebie they can find even if they never use it. They may never intend on reading the TOS nor visit the landmark included with the freebie, but for some businesses that is acceptable because if even a small portion of the freebie collectors later do decide to revisit the business to purchase something then it will have paid off in the long run.

 

There’s more to Product Descriptions than just the Features

Before making a purchase many customers, with the exception of some impulse shoppers, will seek out as much product information as they can in advance. The product description should list the primary features in the product, but also outline specific benefits to prospects and how the product or service can result in becoming the solution to actual issues the customer is or will be encountering in the near future. One method of providing this is to include testimonials from past customers and/or encouraging existing users to submit a product review to a third party that is accessible to the public.

Pictures and videos of the item in use are important inclusions when describing a product. Multiple angles should be included under different lighting conditions and of high enough quality to show details, but also compressed to a reasonable size so that the image is visible to the customer sooner rather than later. If the size of the images are large, but the computer and internet connection attempting to display them are at minimum specifications the client might choose to not wait and therefore a potential sale will likely be lost.

In addition, information about the product should mention the specific attributes that makes it stand out against competitive products. Determining this is as simple as reviewing the product descriptions of similar products from other vendors and noting what details they are and aren’t including. Including information where others do not can lead to a competitive advantage. The creator should always make themselves available to answer questions from the potential customer. Be sure to include relevant contact information in the profile and indicate how the creator or support representatives may be contact both when they are online and when they are offline.