Month: April 2018

letters

How to Connect with Customers through Personalized Emails

Using modern marketing channels to reach out to customers is a good practice for any business in retail, particularly furniture sales. In addition to costing much less than many traditional marketing strategies, digital approaches such as SMS messaging and email campaigns are very effective. In fact, email is still one of the most effective marketing tools any business can use to reach customers across all demographics, including the sometimes-persnickety millennials.

Although using email communication is an affordable and effective strategy, business owners and marketers must find a way to stand out among the dozens of daily emails their customers often receive. This is where personalization comes in. Personalization is very important to today’s consumers, who have come to expect businesses to cater to their individual interests, needs, and wants.

e-mail

Despite the fact that most consumers are expecting a personalized experience, research shows that upwards of 70 percent of businesses owners are still failing to personalize their customer emails. Fortunately, delivering personalized email communications does not have to be complicated. Read on for an overview of effective personalization tactics that can increase email open rates and get more customers to shop in your store.

 

Start by Getting to Know the Customer

It is very difficult to personalize any marketing strategy without the right customer information. One way to learn more about those on an email subscriber list is through sign-up forms that ask for basic personal details as well as information about customers’ occupations, interests, and shopping habits.

Business owners can also learn more about their customers by following their online behavior. The email links they click on and the offers they sign up for can provide insight into their preferences. All of this information can then be used to segment an email list to send more personalized and targeted communications in the future.

When collecting data and personal details from customers, it is important to let them know that the information will be used to provide relevant offers and a more personalized experience. As concerns over data sharing continue to grow, more people are becoming cautious about signing up for offers that require certain information. Business owners who practice transparency build trust with customers and will have a better chance of collecting the info they need to operate a successful personalized campaign.

 

Address Recipients by Their Name

Every email sent to a customer should begin with a greeting that uses his or her first name. Thanks to email subscription forms, a customer’s first name is one of the easiest bits of information to gather. Also, most email services enable users to customize messages with a recipient’s name, so there is no reason not to use it. Starting a message with “Dear friend,” “Hello customer,” or another generic greeting will not encourage many people to read anything beyond the opening line.

 

Add Personalization to Subject Lines

Along with using first names in every email greeting, adding a name and other personalized info to the subject line is a surefire way to get more customers to open and read an email. In fact, recent studies have shown that a personalized subject line can increase email open rates by over 40 percent. More people reading an email means more people shopping for products and signing up for offers, which is the goal of any marketing campaign.

e-mail

Send Messages at the Right Time

Instead of sending out an email to an entire subscriber list at the same time, it is more effective to deliver messages when each recipient is most likely to read them. In many cases, there will be time zones to consider, along with other factors, that will help determine what time is best for customers. A/B testing and email marketing platforms can offer the data and other tools that business owners can use to customize delivery times for each person on their email list.

In addition to considering time zones and consumer habits, business owners should focus on sending timely messages that advertise current sales. Also, sending out emails about a seasonal or limited-time offer creates a sense of urgency, making recipients feel the need to act quickly to avoid missing out. Special personalized offers sent on customers’ birthdays are also very effective.

 

Don’t Forget to be Human

Email personalization works best when it is apparent that there is an actual human behind the message. Some of the easiest ways to do this include using a conversational tone and first-person pronouns throughout the email. Depending on the nature of one’s business, it might also be a good idea to send emails that include emojis to help a message seem more friendly and informal.

In addition, ending each message with the name and perhaps a photo of an actual person shows the reader that someone took the time to reach out to them personally. All messages should also include a reply-to email address so that customers can easily reach the company without having to search online for contact info.

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employee engagement

Practical Advice on How to Improve Employee Engagement

Maintaining a positive, productive, and profitable workplace requires employees who are engaged in their job and committed to giving their best every day. Engaged employees work harder and are willing to go the extra mile because they feel connected to their company. In a retail environment, such as furniture sales, employees who are committed and dedicated to their work help to increase sales and annual revenues while promoting customer loyalty and satisfaction. Satisfied employees are also much less likely to leave their jobs. Reduced employee turnover means that furniture retailers can save on the significant costs associated with hiring and training new workers.

Despite the many benefits that come with employee engagement, many business owners are failing or simply not trying to cultivate an engaged workplace. In fact, recent research found that nearly 35 percent of the American retail workforce is disengaged from their jobs. Fortunately, retail business leaders who are interested in boosting engagement among their employees can find success by following a few simple tips.

 

employee

 

Make Communication and Positivity a Priority

Communication is a crucial aspect of business operations for companies of all sizes. Business leaders who communicate their expectations to each employee will have greater success in attaining overall company goals. In addition to providing clear guidance and instruction, prioritizing communication in the workplace also involves embracing transparency and accessibility. Retail employees who view managers and owners as another part of the team that is available to assist them will have a deeper sense of investment in their work and the company.

Focusing on positive communication and taking time out to thank employees for their work are other ways that business leaders can improve workplace morale and engagement. Overly critical work environments are stressful and prevent employees from speaking their minds. Supportive and positive workplaces, on the other hand, foster engagement and motivate employees to perform at their very best.

 

Hire and Provide Support for Strong Managerial Staff

Much of the responsibility for promoting employee engagement lies with managers. The most successful managerial staff members are those who want their people to succeed and will provide the support and guidance they need to do so. Effective managers also understand their employees’ strengths and value their contributions to the company.

When hiring from outside sources or promoting from within, business leaders should focus on finding managers who possess the leadership traits needed to improve engagement among workers. Providing ongoing coaching and holding managers accountable for employee engagement are keys to continued success. Research has shown that companies with supportive managerial staff have employees that are 67 percent more engaged than those at non-supportive organizations.

 

management team

 

Implement Recognition and Reward Programs

It should go without saying that an employee who feels respected and valued for his or her work will be more motivated to continue supporting the company’s goals. Offering a simple verbal “thank you” can go a long way in showing appreciation for outstanding employees, but managers and business owners can take things a step further by providing employee rewards and incentives.

Recognizing employees with a “Wall of Fame” board, an employee of the month party, or shout out on social media can all be part of a rewards program. In the furniture retail industry, employers can motivate associates with leaderboards for top sales or number of hours worked during a busy season. Offering employee discounts for outstanding work is another way that retailers can engage sales associates while making them feel valued.

 

Give Employees Room to Grow

The potential for internal growth plays an important role in driving employee engagement. Regardless of the type of work that one does, it is difficult to remain engaged when daily tasks never change. For this reason, business owners looking to attract and retain top talent should examine the growth opportunities they provide to potential and current employees.

Although managers often correlate growth opportunities with a salary increase or a new job title, many employees can get the same satisfaction from growing within their current position. Providing employees with training and new leadership opportunities can be all that is needed to increase their engagement and break up the monotony of their day-to-day work.

 

employee

 

Do Something outside of Work

Along with allowing a little time for fun in the workplace, business leaders can promote employee engagement by organizing social events. Social activities outside of work give employees the chance to interact and develop personal relationships with one another in a relaxed environment. When teams of workers enjoy each other’s company, they are often more productive professionally.

Employees’ personal schedules can sometimes make it difficult for everyone to attend any one event, so companies should try to organize several throughout the year. Activities can include a company softball tournament or barbecue, weekly happy hour, or an evening at a professional sports venue. Bringing employees and managers together for volunteer projects also provides a way to increase engagement while maintaining a positive presence in the local community.

child

A Focus on the Latest New Style Trends for Kids’ Rooms

When it comes to rooms for kids, creating a fun space that is also functional and stylish is often the goal. A space that can stand up to heavy use but incorporates design elements that promote creativity and imagination provide the perfect spot for the youngest members of the family to play, learn, and rest.

The latest style trends in kids’ rooms embrace function and frivolity in a way that is pleasing to both kids and adults. Recent trends also focus on comfort and sustainability while incorporating a design flexibility that makes it easy to adapt to a child’s changing needs and preferences. The following highlights some of the latest trends driving child-friendly furnishings and décor.

 

Neutral Shades and Colorful Accents

Often, few areas in the home are as colorful as a kid’s bedroom or playroom. While vivid colors are still in vogue, neutrals like white, beige, and gray have become very popular in children’s furniture and décor. Brightly colored dressers, tables, and bedding are being replaced by pieces in subtle green, pink, and blue hues.

The muted palette gives parents the opportunity to add striking pops of bright color using accent walls and decorative items. Combining neutrals with sophisticated vivid hues such as golden yellow provide an easy way to create fun-looking spaces that complement other rooms in the home.

 

playroom

 

Metallic Finishes

The use of gold, silver, copper, and other metal colors in interior design is a recent trend that continues to gain traction. Now, metallic design elements on lighting fixtures, walls, and furniture are finding their way into kids’ rooms.

Dressers and tables featuring metal accents are a particularly popular trend for 2018. Parents are also using metal headboards and full-metal beds to act as eye-catching centerpieces in their children’s bedrooms. Although metallic elements can complement all types of décor, the modern look of metal can be particularly helpful in creating a more mature look in rooms for older children and teens.

 

The Natural Beauty of Wood

While metal furniture and metallic finishes are gaining popularity, wood-based furnishings remain the top choice for kids’ rooms. One reason for this is that both solid and manufactured wood pieces are very durable and capable of holding up to bumps, scrapes, and rough handling. When the daily wear and tear begins to take its toll, parents can repair the pieces, often without much effort. Wooden furniture can also be repainted to fit a specific design scheme, making it particularly popular among do-it-yourselfers.

In addition to stained and painted wood pieces, unfinished natural furniture is also trending in kids’ rooms. More parents are starting to appreciate natural wood for its rustic appeal and purported health benefits.

 

child bedroom

 

Reusable Pieces

This year, many parents are passing over age-specific furniture for pieces that can grow with the child or fit into other areas of the home. The trend toward reusable furniture is particularly popular in nurseries. Instead of buying limited-use items such as changing tables, small bookshelves, and baby-themed décor, parents are investing in dressers, full-size furniture pieces, and neutral accessories that won’t be out of place in an older child’s room.

 

Sustainability

The rising popularity of natural and reusable kids’ furniture is part of a larger consumer trend driven by a concern for the environment. Many people today are looking to lessen their environmental impact by purchasing eco-friendly products, including sustainable furniture.

In addition to improving the health of the planet, sustainable furniture typically lacks the chemicals that some studies have linked to health issues in humans. Modern parents’ commitment to the environment and health of their families is also helping create a greater demand for natural textiles such as jute, cotton, and wool.

 

Staying Organized

As families with children already know, kids can be very messy. Finding a place for the various toys, clothes, and books in kids’ rooms is certainly not a new challenge. A recent trend to simplify one’s living space by getting rid of excess stuff is leading many parents to tackle the mess problem before it happens.

Parents are decluttering kids’ rooms so that they only contain essential items along with a few well-loved toys and accessories. Open storage spaces such as wall shelving and baskets are also trending in 2018. These solutions help kids’ rooms stay organized by making it easy for children to clean up.

 

toys

 

Getting Creative

Parents may be downsizing the number of items in their kids’ rooms, but they are not doing it by sacrificing creativity. Incorporating fantasy themes, creative ceiling designs, and playful furniture is all part of a trend to create fun bedrooms that promote imaginative play. Building hideaway spots and permanent forts is also part of the trend. Additionally, many parents are turning their kids’ beds into oversized toys by adding canopies, ladders, poles, and other playful design elements.

phone

8 of the Best Tips for Successful SMS Marketing

Marketing via short message service (SMS) offers furniture retailers and other business owners with the opportunity to send customers permission-based text messages highlighting upcoming sales, product promotions, and in-store events. In addition to providing a cost-effective way to reach customers, SMS marketing can help to generate leads and track consumer preferences.

One of the main reasons why SMS should be part of any business’ marketing strategy is the fact that so many people use text messaging on a daily basis. Outside of face-to-face conversation, texting is one of the most commonly used forms of communication in the United States.

The preference for communicating via text has led many US consumers to expect messaging from the businesses that they support. Consumers have also shown a willingness to read the messages that businesses send. In fact, the open rate of promotions and offers sent via text is approximately 98 percent. Compare that to the 22 percent of promotional emails that are read, and it’s easy to see why SMS marketing makes sense for retail businesses. Fortunately, launching an effective SMS campaign to boost your business’ success can be relatively simple with a few pieces of practical advice.

 

phone

 

  1. Respect Your Customer

It’s important for business owners to understand that sending business text messages to customers who have not agreed to receive them is not only bad form — it’s also illegal. You should respect potential customers and the law by ensuring that you invite users to opt into an SMS messaging list using an automated agreement form or another method. When someone agrees to receive messages, business owners can add another layer of transparency by sending a confirmation message that provides information detailing when and how often texts will be sent and what kind of content they’ll contain.

 

  1. Provide a Reason to Opt In

Recent surveys have found that approximately 90 percent of today’s consumers would like to use text messaging to communicate with businesses. Just because consumers are willing to use business messaging, however, does not mean that they’re ready to have their phones flooded with useless information. Offering value in the form of exclusive deals, purchase and delivery updates, and relevant news will provide users with motivation to opt in and even look forward to receiving business messages.

 

  1. Make It Easy to Unsubscribe

While this may seem counterintuitive, providing customers with an easy way to opt out of future messages is a good practice for any SMS campaign. Businesses that do their job of offering value-based messages will not likely see a large number of users opting out just because it’s easy to do so. Ensuring that subscribers have the ability to opt out is also required by law.

 

unsubscribe

 

  1. Don’t Waste Characters

Getting to the point quickly is important when you consider that each message must be limited to only 160 characters. Be sure to make every character count by using concise language to provide value and build customer relationships. Use short words whenever possible and ensure that the message leads with a compelling statement. Ultimately, the goal of SMS marketing is to motivate customers to act, so it’s also important to use some of the available characters for a direct call to action.

 

  1. Recognize the Importance of Timing and Frequency

In addition to being annoying, a text message sent in the middle of the night isn’t going to encourage many people to act on an offer. The most effective SMS campaigns use timely messages sent during regular business hours. It’s also important for business owners to manage the frequency of their messages so that users remain engaged, but not overloaded with updates and offers. One text per week is a good idea for most retail businesses.

 

  1. Focus on Personalization

The ability to personalize messages is one of the top benefits of SMS marketing. While texting already feels more personal than other forms of marketing communication, it can seem even more friendly when a person’s name and location are included in the message. Business owners can also use SMS to customize offers based on their customers’ buying habits and specific interests.

 

  1. Create a Sense of Urgency

Regardless of the content, personalization, and value of a message, there is no guarantee that customers will follow through when actually responding to an offer. Business owners can maximize the chances that they will be able to get people to do what they want by creating a sense of urgency within the message. One of the easiest ways to do so is by promoting an exclusive sale with a looming end date that is clearly communicated in the offer. Using links that send customers to a web page with a countdown timer can also create a sense of urgency.

 

hurry

 

  1. Use Messaging to Increase Sales

The purpose of any SMS marketing campaign is to improve brand awareness and, ultimately, increase profits. One effective use of SMS messaging is referred to as an “abandoned cart reminder.” Retailers who conduct business online can send this type of message to customers who added items to their cart but did not follow through in actually buying them. Simply helping customers to complete a purchase via SMS can help business owners to improve their bottom line.