Tag: competition

Improve your Call Center Performance (and Sales!) with These 3 Ideas

By Sue Brady

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou manage your marketing budget well to drive as many calls as you can to your call centers. You rely on your centers to answer those calls and close the sales. If you manage an inbound call center, you know about the inherent challenges. It’s not easy work, but there are some things you can do to make your call centers more productive: Training, call routing and competition will help you achieve sustained improvement to your call center performance.

1. Training.
You probably trained all of your call center agents when your latest program started up. But when is the last time you re-trained them? Call center attrition is high in most call centers, and while it’s likely you have trained the trainers, it’s important for you, as ‘the client,’ to get in there and retrain from time to time. Don’t rely on the call center to do it all for you. New agents on your program will benefit from your first-hand knowledge. And existing agents will also benefit. I’ve yet to see an example of a client physically re-training agents that didn’t result in a bump in performance. It’s motivational to have you there, but it also ensures the training is still relevant and that you are aware of new questions that agents might be asking. The longer a program runs in a center, the more information you learn from them to help you improve.

2. Call Routing.
There are a number of technologies that provide intelligent call routing, and a number of ways you can set it up. One way is to rate your agents based on your key performance indicators and route calls to those agents whenever possible. Some companies monitor this daily, and when they see an agent is having a particularly good day, that agent will receive more calls. Another way to route calls is to identify your better performing area codes or zip codes and when those calls come in, make sure they are answered first (and preferably by your best agents). Or, you can identify your better performing media and give those calls preference.

3. Competition.Runner
Competition is healthy and keeps the players focused to do their best. Competition between agents is important, but so is competition between centers. For agents, having a ‘leader board’ is motivational as is the old-fashioned bell ringing when someone makes a sale. Awards, monetary bonuses and public recognition can all motivate your agents.

If you have the volume to support it, there are multiple benefits to having more than one center answering your calls. First of all, if there is an issue at one call center, such as weather, God forbid a bomb scare, or even a technology failure, you have another center to allow at least some of your calls to be handled. Secondly, there is great and healthy competition created when you run call centers against each other. Each call center has to be able to see performance numbers for the others, and without a doubt, call center A will want to outperform call center B and visa versa.

What are some of your ideas?


You are Losing Sales if You Don’t Buy Your Own Branded Search Terms

By Sue Brady

Clicks Based on Search Position
Consumer Clicks Based on Search Position

“But why should I spend money on my own branded terms? If someone is searching for my brand, they already are interested in my company.”

Two reasons: Competition and consumer behavior.

Competition: Anyone can buy your branded terms. It’s not uncommon for competitors to buy each other’s terms in fact so that they are showing up alongside whoever the user searched for. And, if you aren’t buying your own branded terms, chances are your competition knows that and may be seizing the opportunity to show up in a search for your brand. Why risk having a prospect click on the competition? As the graph above shows, the higher you appear on the search page, the more clicks you’ll get.

The example below shows results of a search for Ethan Allen sofas. Walter E. Smithe bought the branded term, while Ethan Allen was content to display only in the organic results.

Ethan Allen Search Yields Competitive Result
Ethan Allen Search Yields Competitive Result

Consumer behavior: According to research by Resolution Media and Kenshoo, even if you are in the top position in the organic search results, the paid ads still get over 60% of the user clicks. So you want to appear in a top spot, and you want others selling on your behalf to be visible as well.

Who Gets Position 1 in Paid Branded Search?

The obvious answer is, whoever bids the highest. But that’s not entirely accurate. One thing is for sure: you are the brand, so you want to be in first place. And if you use affiliates (aka resellers), they shouldn’t be bidding for placement above yours in branded search.  You might be surprised to learn that as the brand, you pay less than anyone else does to be in the top position because your quality score for your branded terms will be highest. This is a significant cost difference, say $.40 per click if you’re the brand, to $4 per click if you’re not. A study done by Engine Ready  shows that consumers are 3x more likely to click-thru on an ad that is in position 1 vs either positions 2 or 3 (n=192 million impressions). And position 1 garners 59% of the clicks, compared to position 2 at 15% (source: Compete.com).

Who Gets Positions 2 and 3?

Is it okay to let resellers bid on your branded terms for positions 2 and 3? It is okay, and you should allow it. Why? One primary reason is it can help you manage your competitors by keeping them out of those spots. Many companies utilize a network of affiliates and/or resellers to help them generate more customers by buying into those spots. These resellers are usually paid a bounty on an agreed upon action (sale, install, appointment). The key here is to know who is selling, how they are doing it, and to be able to manage it as best you can. If you are the brand, you get to set the rules. If others want to sell your wares, they need to play by those rules, or lose the privilege.

You probably don’t need to allow more than two resellers to bid on your brand, since there are only three paid positions in total, and you are already taking one. And your top two resellers will be more loyal if it’s easier for them to buy your branded terms over the other players.  And if they are spending more, your competition may decide not to bid for those branded terms.

How do you Enforce it?

First of all, enforcement is key or no one will follow the rules. If someone violates, you need to call them out and tell them to stop. There are a number of alarm products that can help you monitor search activity on your branded terms. Some examples are Search Monitor and  Marin Software.

What About Mobile?

The same principals apply to mobile. The big difference is that mobile only has 2 paid positions available. You still want the top position while one of your resellers can bid for position 2. With the Google Enhanced Campaigns that launched earlier this year, you can no longer create a mobile only campaign. You’ll need to manage your mobile bids as a part of your overall campaign. You can read more about that here.

This shouldn’t be minimized. You do need to be in mobile. Half (and growing) of all searches are conducted using a mobile device (source: Microsoft), and 90% of those searches lead to action, with 50% of those leading to a purchase (source: SearchEnglineLand). You can’t afford NOT to be there.

To recap, why do I need to bid on Branded Terms?

Here’s why, even if you are already number one in organic:

  1. You will pick up more clicks if you are in position one in paid and position one in organic. It’s a fact that has been proven over and over again. If you are unsure, try testing it. If your clicks (and conversions) don’t improve, then stop the campaign.
  2. Branded terms are really inexpensive when you’re the brand because your quality score on branded terms will be higher than anyone else’s. That means that you’ll pay far less per click then the next guy pays for your branded terms.
  3. You’ll be able to manage your competition better. If you aren’t bidding on your branded terms, there’s nothing to stop the competition from doing so.

How ‘Breaking Bad’ can Help You be a Better Marketer – Special Post (CAUTION: SPOILERS!!)

By Sue Brady

What a great series Breaking Bad was. Vince Gilligan is genius. Basking in the after-glow of such a great season finale made me consider the marketing lessons that could be learned from Vince, Walt and the gang.

And so I bring you my 10 top Breaking Bad Marketing Lessons:

  1. Know your customer and give them what they want. Vince Gilligan’s customers were his viewing audience, and he couldn’t have delivered a better product. Lydia’s customers wanted purity and when she could deliver, they would pay top dollar.
  2. Understand your competition, and make sure your product is better. This will create demand for your product. Deliver quality, always. If your product slips, your buyers will not be happy. Gus sized up the competition and exploited the Mexican Cartel’s weaknesses for his own gain.
  3. Make sure your product has a unique selling proposition to drive its success. Walt’s was product purity. What’s yours?
  4. Don’t let emotion drive your strategy. Todd let emotion drive his desire to continue doing business with Lydia, and in the end that was his downfall.  Clearly Walt’s ego was his downfall, right down to his final realization that he was doing ‘all this’ for himself, not his family.
  5. Take pride in and promote your brand with consistency. Have an A-1 Day!
  6. Learn from your mistakes. Walt and Jesse first tried to enter the drug trade using three of Jesse’s non-professional pals. Quickly they realized that their operation could be more sophisticated and profitable, so they moved onto bigger game.
  7. Always have a plan and be prepared to adjust. Gus and Walt always had plans, and anticipated what might happen. They also had contingency plans that they were not afraid to execute. Some plans can be implemented flawlessly, but most require adjustments along the way.
  8. Know what’s important and focus your energy there.  Walt focused on two things: Purity of the cook and the payoff. He could control the purity so that became routine for him. And his battle to control his payoff became the crux of almost every action he took.
  9. Try new things (test, test, test), but make sure you control your environment. Environmental control was key in Walt’s lab (remember the fly episode), just as controlling outside factors is key in any marketing test.
  10. Love your job. “I liked it. I was good at it. And I was really—I was alive.” Walter White

“Buy the RV. We start tomorrow.”