Stop monkeying around

Do you communicate with your customers on a regular basis? Do you use MailChimp? If not, why not?

Small or medium businesses, understandably, don’t usually have dedicated technology teams to track communications and drill down into the detail of the data.

Sound familiar? If so, it’s not a problem because mass email platforms like MailChimp claim to be able to perform this tracking for you.

More than a billion emails are sent using MailChimp every day, including back-in-stock messages, newsletters and other email campaigns.

Here at Immediate Network, we use MailChimp on a number of our client communications projects, and are well versed in all the features and functions it has to offer.

Using MailChimp is generally pretty straightforward for most business requirements. Should you need it, however, there is comprehensive support documentation available.

MailChimp blog cartoon

One of MailChimp’s greatest strengths lies in its analytics. You can monitor your audience’s web activity – and purchases – to produce revenue reports and help you tailor your online campaigns.

The logistics of a small business can make data hard to wrangle, and MailChimp knows this. Ben Chestnut, the company’s co-founder and CEO, has this to say about data: “We’re watching it, collecting it, and making sure it’s paying off.”

Many of MailChimp’s services are free. If you have a database with 2,000 or fewer names on it, you can send up to 12,000 emails per month at no charge. If you have more than 2,000 recipients, the costs increase as your mailing list grows.

MailChimp provides a number of other useful features. The abandoned cart tool reminds shoppers of forgotten purchases when they reach checkout. MailChimp says that this boosts profits by an average of $610 a month, whilst the product-recommendation feature purportedly increases revenues by an average of 31%.

For 2017, MailChimp is looking at how data science might be used to improve other methods of communication such as social media and snail mail.

Good business practice, like sustainable growth, relies on good quality content. It also relies on reliable distribution of that content. If you have yet to try out MailChimp, what have you got to lose?

Read this to debunk some outsource myths

Need quality content for your newsletters, websites and other communications? You have two options: create it in-house or commission a specialist agency.

The answer to this, and many other business questions, can sometimes be found in ancient Greek mythology. For proof, just consider the Iliad, Homer’s epic poem about the Trojan war, featuring Ajax, Achilles and other great warriors.

So who are the real heroes? Not the warriors but the deities, also known as outsource agencies.

Cartoon illustrating outsource content from the godsFor example Chryses, a Trojan priest, called upon Apollo for help to rescue his daughter from the Greeks. Apollo, the agency chosen to perform the task, did so with complete success. Job done and for a reasonable retainer: ongoing piety.

If you assume that outsourced content creation is expensive, you are almost certainly mistaken. In-house content creation always costs more because you need staff whom you have to train, feed and water – plus you have to pay tax to keep them on the payroll.

Agencies are a more efficient way to use resources. You can switch them on, or off, at will. They provide what you need, when you need it.

Or how about Perseus, another example? His team task was to kill Medusa, the snake-haired Gorgon with a petrifying gaze. He needed professional outside help which arrived from the experts on Mount Olympus. A mirrored bronze shield from wise Athena, winged sandals from Hermes the messenger and a helmet of invisibility from Hades, ruler of the Underworld landed by his side. Next thing he knew, the project was complete.

There are those who fear that no content agency can ever have the deep and detailed knowledge required to craft quality work. In fact it is far better that an agency approaches your project with an open mind and then extracts the required information from your staff. That’s the secret of good content: impartial journalistic skills.

A reputable outsource agency communicates with you to understand what you expect from it. Although it might not be expert in your field, it is in its specialist subjects: research, collation, writing and editing to best effect.

Impartiality, distance and perspective are the benefits which outsourcing brings to your content. A good agency cuts through jargon, says what you want to say clearly and in a manner that your customers, prospects and staff will understand.

Don’t die in the communications battle: outsource the creation of your quality content to protect your Achilles heel.

Five steps to clarity

Are you looking to create a high standard of communication? Follow these five steps:

  1. Identify your audience. Are they internal or external? This will inform step 2.
  1. Cater your communication to your audience. When communicating internally it’s safe to assume that technical terms or acronyms will be understood. An external audience on the other hand is looking for jargon-free language.
  1. Think about how your audience will see your communication. Short paragraphs allow an online reader to scan quickly. An email might be read on a phone, in which case too much text will be overwhelming.
  1. Short words and phrases convey information clearly and concisely.
  1. Grammar and spelling matter. Check everything (‘not’ and ‘now’ will always pass the spell check and can render very different meanings). Verify dates. Spell names correctly.

For more advice, get in touch.

Cartoon illustrating no. 5 of our five steps for good communication - spelling matters

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