Case Study: SMS Gateway Nurtures Sales

So you don’t think your online sign up process needs SMS gateway support?

Take the case of one our clients in the energy comparison business, who has given us permission to use their experience with our SMS gateway as a case study. For this article we will refer to them as ‘Energy-Comparator X.’

An involved online sign-up process needed some SMS problem solving.

The gas and electricity comparison market is a high volume, low margin game. Timely acquisition is key to yielding big returns; and a high cancelation and drop-offs can be extremely costly on profits.

Here’s a quick overview of the process involved to switch a customer from one energy retailer to another:

  1. Customer enters address details into comparator site.
  2. Comparison engine provides product offers in area.
  3. Customer chooses product offer and accepts terms and conditions.
  4. Customer service agent rings to verify the customer’s authority to ‘switch’ account.
  5. Comparator sends customer data to new energy provider.
  6. Customer is officially ‘switched’, and comparator gets paid for the sale.

Energy-Comparator X had a problem. Cancelation and customer drop off was eating into profit.

Switching an energy customer requires coordination of marketing, onsite sales messaging, customer service and old fashioned data entry. This process had 6 major links in the chain to sign up, and one major failing point.

One core part of the sign up process is to verify the customer’s identity in order to switch the household’s electricity account. A customer service agent would have to ring the customer to authenticate they are not being fraudulent. This was all well and good for online sales made 9 to 6pm, but a decent majority of sales were still left waiting in the air un-finalised out of business hours. This was identified as a major failing point in the process, and a major contributor to cancelations and drop offs.

A humble SMS gateway solution

Enter an SMS gateway into the mix. A few simple lines of code integrating the CRM and sms gateway, and now a customer signing up out of hours receives an instant SMS, with a reference number and code. Entering that code would then authenticate the sale immediately, and send the sale data to new energy provider instantly.

This simple solution had 2 major positive effects.

  1. It reduced cancelation and drop offs, by speeding up the processing time of the sale, and keeping customers informed of the status of their order.
  2. Reduce customer service agent time on phones, chasing customers to verify sales, ultimately this saved hundreds of man hours.

So what was the outcome?

SMS Gateway Table

The SMS gateway solution was implemented in early July 2012. Over a 6 month period, cancelation rate was reduced by 5%, which increased sales revenue significantly. The increased sales revenue combined with the customer service labour hours saved, amounted to approximately an extra $65,000 of profit for a 6 month period. For a business of less than 20 Employees, that was a significant sum of money, for what as a relatively simple function to implement.

In closing

We may be biased, but there is probably a creative and useful way an SMS gateway can improve your customer sign-up or purchases processes, no matter what industry you are in. The numbers in the case of Energy Comparator X speak for themselves, an SMS to keep customers informed and engaged in the process, kept them in the loop and therefore less likely to cancel. Setting up the automation for this service took no more than a few man hours, and amounted to a significant profit increase.

Thanks to Agus for sharing this interesting case study on using an SMS gateway.

 

 

A Brave New World – Social Customer Relationship Management

We are currently witnessing societal and business change not seen since the industrial revolution. The combination of mobile phones, the internet and social channels are revolutionizing every aspect of our lives.

Within this brave new world where the customer is ‘front and centre and totally in control’ in terms of what and how they want to be engaged, we need to re-evaluate the traditional means of communication with current and potential customers when it comes to the online environment.

Social Customer Relationship Management (SCRM) businesses have the ability to combine social media engagement with customer relationship management. For savvy businesses looking to capitalise on the next stage in the social/ technology revolution, SCRM is the next frontier. (more…)

Measuring The ROI Of Your SEO Campaign

Hi everyone, my name is Mike van der Heijden and I work as a Senior Business Analyst at SEO Works, an Australian based SEO services provider with offices throughout Australia.

I have been invited to be a regular contributor to Marketing.com.au on everything and anything in the wonderful world of online marketing.

Today’s article discusses the various reports/information you should be requesting from your SEO professional or potential SEO company to ensure that you’re making the right investment with the right company. As I like to say, search engine optimisation professionals shouldn’t work for you, they should work with you.

Even in this day and age there are still people (and companies) who are unsure about Search Engine Optimisation, and rightly so! SEO companies and professionals have been wrongly educating the general public on how to measure the success of a campaign. For years clients have been told that the success of a search engine optimisation campaign can be measured by traffic and rankings!

Enter The Rankings & Traffic Metrics

If you have ever engaged a Search Engine Optimisation company/professional, you undoubtedly have seen a “ranking report” and a “traffic report”. I won’t go into the details of each as the level of detail of these reports vary from company to company, but generally are an overview of traffic of your website (perhaps broken up by source e.g. PPC, Organic, Direct etc.) and the rankings of a list of keywords.

Let me ask you a question, after your investment in SEO and seeing a ranking report and/or general traffic report have you gotten the feeling that what you (or the SEO Company) were doing was increasing your bottom line? Did those rankings directly relate to your increase in traffic and more importantly, increase in revenue?

Didn’t think so! If you are serious about your business, you need to be serious about the KPIs you set for your SEO firm, you need to know what to look at and in some cases request from your search firm.

Overall Campaign Metrics

I will explain 4 overall metrics to measure your websites performance by. By no means are they simple factors to influence and in some cases SEO companies might not be solely responsible for influencing these factors, however, each of these lends elements to be improved by a solid SEO campaign.

1. Revenue

Are you tracking the amount of revenue that is created by your website? If you’re running an e-commerce website have you set up e-commerce tracking properly? If you’re a service provider are you tracking the amount of people contacting you? And have you attached a value to these conversions?

This is the number one mistake businesses make. If you are not tracking any type of conversion, talk to your SEO Company on getting this set up as soon as possible, because only then can you start measuring the money your website makes you, and in term, your SEO Company delivers you.

Ask your SEO Company what they are doing overall to drive an increase in revenue, this should align properly with your business goals and needs.

2. Conversion Rate

Simply put, your conversion rate is the total number of goal achievements divided by the number of visits to your website.

E.g. if at the end of the month you received 1,000 visits to your website, and 100 conversions/sales were made, that would mean a conversion rate of 10%.

Because a website can have multiple “goal achievements” set up you should be measuring the conversion rates for all your goals.

Ask your SEO Company for monthly updates on your conversion rates and what they are doing to improve the conversion rates on your website.

3. Leads / Sales

As discussed in the Conversion Rate section, you want to have an overall report of total leads/sales/conversions that were made on your website.

Generally these reports will show the overall statistics for conversions on your website, broken down by the source of the visits (be it direct, referral, paid or organic).

4. Cost per Acquisition

Possibly the most important metric, after having figured out all of the above, is the cost per acquisition. How much are you paying in order to attract sales/leads/conversions?

Typically, this should be as easy as taking the amount you are investing in your Search Engine Optimisation campaign and dividing that by the amount of sales/leads/conversions driven through organic search.

When you first start with your SEO Company, this should be set as a benchmark, and the company should strive to improve (read, lower the Cost per Acquisition) over time.

Measuring ROI on Keyword Clusters

Firstly, let me introduce the term “Keyword Clusters”. Keyword Clusters are, in a nutshell, keywords that relate and incorporate a main keyword within.

For example: The keyword “Sydney Hotels” would have a cluster of keywords that contain either the phrase “Sydney Hotels” or contain “Sydney” and “Hotels”.

Sydney Hotels, Sydney Luxury Hotels, Best Sydney Hotels, Hotels in Sydney etc.

The reason for measuring activity on a “cluster” is to take away focus of one particular keyword, because ranking for 1 keyword could mean ranking for endless variations of that keyword.

Clusters aren’t evident in normal keyword ranking reports and therefore you might be missing out on tracking keywords that provide you revenue rather than just search volume.

1. Sales Per Keyword Cluster

Now that we understand the meaning of a keyword cluster, it is important to find out how many sales your website is making from these keyword clusters. It could very well be that a low search volume cluster is producing more sales for you than a high volume keyword cluster (which is often the case).

Ask your SEO Company for a breakdown of keyword clusters and the amount of sales/leads/conversions generated for that keyword cluster. This will give you a good insight into what keyword clusters you (and your SEO Company) should be focusing on.

2. Conversion Rate Per Keyword Cluster

Naturally, the next step is to work out what your conversion rate is per keyword cluster. It’s one thing to see a low search volume cluster producing more sales/leads, but it is also important to know what ratio of people searching for those clusters are actually converting.

3. Cost Per Acquisition for a Keyword Cluster

Last but not least, figure out what your cost per acquisition is per keyword cluster. It could very well be that the cluster producing the most leads is also the most costly (in terms of SEO investment and time taken to rank particular keywords).

A Few Extra Tips

  1. When engaging/interviewing potential SEO companies, make sure you request them to do an audit of your current state of affairs. Give them (read only) access to your analytics in order for them to do a proper analysis of where your website currently stands.
  2. Whilst interviewing your potential candidates, ask them what they think are reasonable goals and milestones to set for your campaign and how long they will take to achieve those results. If they return with an answer anywhere near “That’s hard to say/SEO is a difficult process/We can’t be sure” I say, run for the hills.
  3. Ask for recent successes/experience with other clients in or similar to your niche, more than likely they will have worked with a client who has been in a similar situation to you.

In closing, Search Engine Optimisation isn’t the black voodoo some companies make it out to be. As long as you’re well aware of the information that is out there and the information that you can request from your SEO Company there is no longer any reason for you to be “wasting” money or getting yourself caught in endless contracts.

 

Mobile Marketing Trends in 2012

The penetration of smartphone ownership in Australia is one of the highest in the developed world and the numbers are continuing to rise. According to Frost and Sullivan, around 41 per cent of Aussies currently own a smartphone and this number is expected to hit 65 per cent in the next five years*.

For most Australians, the mobile phone is rarely out of sight, providing marketers with (more…)

The Real Cost of Marketing

How much marketing costs, or how much to spend on marketing can be a very tricky question for a lot of companies to their collective head around. It’s kind of like the chicken and the egg scenario. You need to undertake marketing to attract clients but unless you have clients (and therefore a bit of cashflow), you can’t afford to undertake marketing. Sound about right? And when it comes to working out a marketing budget, how much to spend can be impossible to work out. How long is a piece of string? While we can’t answer that for you, we can give you some elements to consider when putting together a marketing budget.

First of all, do you know what marketing actually is? What is marketing in a nutshell? In case you aren’t sure here you are: marketing is everything that your company does in order to reach your target audience and convince them to buy your product and service. Don’t forget about the second step in that definition. It is no good to just ‘reach’ your audience. You must motivate them to take action, to buy your product, to log on to your website, to phone your service number. This is the only way you are going to convert your marketing spend into profit. Otherwise, what’s the point of spending the cash at all?

The next thing to remember is that marketing is a process, comprised of many elements, steps and phases. A good marketing campaign is not a two day TV ad placement. It is an integrated program which may include (but in way should be limited to): television, radio, social media, print, PR and mobile marketing elements. As such, you will probably need to purchase a few resources and bring in an expert consultant to help you out with all these elements.

How much you need to spend on these resources and experts is up to you and will differ greatly, depending on the industry you might be in and the scale of the business. There are a few ways that you might like to work out your marketing spend: a percentage of your total revenue; a percentage of profits; or a specific amount each year.

Regardless of how much you actually spend on marketing, the most important thing to keep in mind is return on investment. There is no point in spending big bucks and getting nothing back in return. Marketing should increase revenue and profit. Maybe not immediately, but definitely over time.

Just remember that free marketing does not exist. Unfortunately, to grow your business, you will need to invest in it. You will either have to pay with your time or with cold hard cash for results in the world of marketing. In today’s fast-paced, consumer driven marketplace, there just isn’t any other option.

Marketing.com.au would like to thank Sally for sharing these insights with us.