When the doors to the office are locked for the evening, that never means you have to stop receiving phone calls, generating website traffic, receiving emails, or educating your customers. There are many ways that your direct response advertising campaign can continue to sell after hours. Advertising is an investment and, like your money, it should always be working for you.
Let us pretend your company sells mattresses. You have three showrooms within 200 miles of each other and they are open 9am – 6pm seven days per week. Your website shows your full product catalog along with information about your company and how to contact any store. You are currently running a radio ad campaign and 20% of your commercials are running from 8pm – 12 midnight. (Don’t worry. You got these for free as a result of our negotiating.) You also have a television campaign running from 4pm – 12 midnight, a YouTube channel, Facebook Page, Twitter feed, Google AdWords, and a long-term SEO strategy.
How do you continue to sell after 6pm?
Your radio and television ads include a phone number. But after 6pm, you don’t have a live body in the office to answer it. That is no reason to stop your customer from calling after hours. There are many call center services with locations around the world (remember the time difference) that can provide professional operators to take calls for your business after hours. They speak proficient, sometimes fluent or native, English, and can be trained to follow your company protocol for greeting and working with after hours calls. This can include instruction on what to do with urgent calls and whom to reach. Messages can be taken and delivered via fax or email for convenience.
They can also direct customers to your website and/or social media networks, which we will cover in the next sections. Always remember that your staff and marketing media should be a resource to the customer.
Your direct response advertising should include a reference to your website. And your website has a live chat operator, right? If your answer was “no”, we hope there is a great reason because a live chat operator can help you move more mattresses when your brick and mortar is closed. According to a 2010 Forrester Research study on live chat, “44% of online consumers say that having questions answered by a live person while in the middle of an online purchase is one of the most important features a Web site can offer.”
In addition to answering questions just before or even during someone’s purchasing process on your site, live chat also offers specific after hours benefits. If most or all of your competitors are lacking a website live chat feature, you are in a unique position to help your customers AND sell to them while your competition waits for 8am the next morning.
Live chat is also a great means of reducing cost-per-sale.
Customers hate waiting. By allowing your employees to multitask, you can substantially reduce the backlog on your phone system during the day (not to mention reduce call volume dramatically) and increase the overall number of customers who received support.
Finally – use it in your advertising! Promote your competitive advantage of having help available 24 hours a day, especially if that is when your advertising is running.
It isn’t wasted time or space to include social media in your direct response advertising if you can help questions and sell mattresses via social media. In much the same way live chat can help you sell after hours, so can social media, but with more opportunities. Live chat requires initiation by the user on some level to begin the relationship. All of the social media sites give your business the opportunity to start a relationship, answer questions, promote a new mattress line, or offer advice.
A recent study showed that Google prioritizes social media factors in its calculations for search rankings. Seven of the top 10 factors involve social media. If for no other reason, make sure your company is using social media to enhance its own rankings in search. Never make it a challenge for customers to find you, especially after hours when customers have plenty of time to search and choose between you and your competitors.
Content is also critical for SEO and customer engagement. No one wants to see a Facebook Page or Twitter feed filled with self-promotion. Talk about events in your community, share interesting and RELEVANT photos and videos, and create contests to prompt customer engagement. These are a few of the things you can do that will earn a customer’s attention while they try to learn more about you and your mattresses in the wee hours of the night.
Ensure that your staff or an outside vendor are monitoring your social media networks after hours. They should have the ability to respond to messages, reTweet, share information, and assist customers with making purchases on your website. The goal is to be far more than an answering service taking messages for someone to handle in the morning.
Your social media team should be thoroughly familiar with your website. This is vital so they can direct customers to the right page at the right time. For example, a customer wants to know how many years a mattress will last. Your social media team should send that person to a Testimonials page about the mattress line, not a description of the features. (Of course, if your product page has testimonials on it, that is okay.)
There is no reason you need to wait for your doors to open to sell. Utilize your after hours direct response advertising to direct your potential customers to the places they can find answers. With these three techniques, you can successfully and cost-efficiently sell your product or services after hours.
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