Sunday, November 29, 2015

According to the National Retail Foundation, between 20 and 40 percent of annual sales for small and mid-sized retailers take place within the last two months of the year. The holiday season spending bonanza represents a massive opportunity for generating revenue, but just because there are more shoppers spending more money doesn’t guarantee you a share. 

From now until next year, consumers will be bombarded with irresistible deals.  To entice them, you have to be like the Good Uncle, gift-hunting for nieces and nephews: know what they want, and make sure nobody else can give it to them but you.

Luckily, finding out what people want has never been easier. IVR polls and SMS surveys are both low cost, effective ways of conducting market research. They often throw up unexpected results which can have a dramatic effect on how you go about doing business (one Gallup poll, for instance, indicates that Black Friday is not as big a deal as you might have thought). Before the availability of cloud telephony solutions, market research was an expensive endeavor that frequently produced unreliable results; now, accurate, affordable data can be gathered by small businesses on tight budgets.


Why SMS?

The reach and effectiveness of text message marketing is beyond doubt. Conservative estimates reckon 90% of SMS messages are opened and read within five minutes of delivery. The consensual nature of B2C mobile communications instils a sense of trust sorely lacking in, say, email marketing. Recipients have chosen to be contacted, which is why so few text messages are ignored. As long as you get the message right, offer something of value, and don’t become a nuisance, you’ll foster long-term brand loyalty. 

Once you’ve established a mobile relationship with customers, they’ll be happy to provide feedback - especially if it’s incentivized with a special offer. SMS surveys can be as short as 3-5 questions. Multiply that by the number of contacts on your SMS list and you have a potentially huge data set from which to draw conclusions. 


Why IVR?

IVR allows you to bring a personal touch to B2C communications. The subtleties of a voice broadcast message project a more nuanced brand image than is possible with written communication, and for many people, the interactivity of the IVR experience is preferable to an online or email survey.

Like SMS, it’s also incredibly fast and scalable, capable of reaching thousands of people simultaneously, either with the same message, or bespoke messages for individuals or groups. Hosted IVR eliminates the need for costly external market research companies, and keeps the entire process - from creating a script to analyzing the data - under your control. 

SMS and IVR take the stress out of market research, providing your business with invaluable information on the preferences and proclivities of your target audience. At this time of year, so many SMBs take a see-what-sticks approach to their advertising dollar - and wind up worse off for it. Incorporating these technologies into your marketing strategy limits collateral spending and lets you focus solely on giving real value to real customers.