What is a CRM system?

By | CRM/Email Marketing | No Comments

CRM is short for Customer Relationship Management, an expression used to define how a business would approach the relationship between itself and its customers.  These days, CRM is better known as the term used to describe software or IT systems that help you do just that.

CRM System

Customer Database

A CRM system, at its most basic level, is a database; a digital filing system that helps you to store details of all your customers, business associates, and suppliers in one place.  You can usually keep separate entries for businesses and individuals, but with a link so that you can easily see who works for which company.

Each individual file can hold information such as name and address, job title, telephone numbers, email address, website details and communication options to name just a few and, once created, each digital file can be used much like a folder in a filing cabinet.  You can keep a record of your interactions with that person or business such as meetings, conversations, telephone calls or requests, all of which can then guide you when making decisions regarding marketing, communications etc.

But not just a database……

Once your contacts are uploaded, there are many ways in which you can utilise the CRM system to help you with marketing and communications.  The various systems available will offer slightly different options, but generally, you can expect to…..

  • be able to send out emails and sometimes even text messages, to keep the lines of communication alive. You can group contacts together so that these are just sent to certain sections of your database and often they can be scheduled to be sent out at the optimum time and date.
  • have a digital calendar which can be used to schedule meetings and send invites/reminders to relevant participants.
  • be able to store digital copies of documents against individual contacts, either to store them all in one place or so that you can attach them to an email.

Many users report that one of the best plus points of sending emails via a CRM system is the report that is generated afterwards.  These reports can tell you exactly who has opened the email and, if you have included a link through to a website, it can even show who then went on to click on the link, ideal for targeting follow-up emails to say those who have yet to follow the link.

A CRM system is the perfect way for you to store details of interactions with anyone that your business deals with on a professional basis.  Just think, no more checking when the last contact was made before calling someone or, worse still, making the call and being told that one of your colleagues had contacted them the date before!

If you’re considering using a CRM system, need help deciding which one is right for you or have made the leap and need help getting it off the ground, give My Admin Support a call to find out how we can help.

What can a Virtual Assistant do for you?

By | Virtual Assistant | No Comments

If you’re feeling like there simply aren’t enough hours in the day or that admin jobs or paperwork is getting in the way of you doing your job, you need to seriously consider the benefits of hiring a Virtual Assistant.

Picture it…… You’ve followed your dream and now work for yourself doing what you love.  It feels great, but the more business you pull in, the more admin it creates.  Eventually, you find that instead of doing the job you enjoy, you are constantly playing catch up with emails and paperwork, you could even be at the point where you know you don’t have the time to take on new clients.

Sound familiar?

It’s at this point that you should consider using the services of a VA.  Not only can they free up your valuable time, leaving you to get on the job in hand, but they can also add ‘size’ to a small business; just image how impressed your clients could be if you said that your PA or Accounts Dept will be in contact, instead of always dealing with just yourself.

Small businesses and sole traders frequently find that they need a little extra support, but when it’s only required on an ad-hoc basis, many do not feel inclined to take the plunge and hire an admin person, even on a part-time basis.  A VA is a perfect solution to this problem as they will simply carry out the tasks required and invoice you for the time it took to complete them.

A Virtual Assistant will work from their own office or home, so there’s no office computer or equipment to buy; there’s no training required or employment contract and no sick pay or other benefits to worry about.  You are simply invoiced for the time taken to complete the work you pass over.

Back office duties are often the biggest drain on your time and resources but this is an area where a VA can make a huge difference to you and your business.  A VA can cover areas such as:

  • Monitor and reply to emails
  • Build/maintain client database or CRM system
  • Diary Management
  • Arrange travel and accommodation
  • Create invoices and perform simple bookkeeping duties
  • Event management
  • Social Media (Facebook, Twitter etc)

These are just a few of the things that you could delegate to a VA however, a good VA can pretty much run your back office for you, acting as your PA and carrying out all of the usual office support services.

Wondering about the cost?

Every hour that you spend on admin is an hour that you could have been out making money for your business.  Whilst using a VA does cost you money (usually an hourly rate), think of it as investing in your company.  The work they are doing is adding value to your business by keeping things up-to-date and, whilst they deal with the backroom stuff, you can also be out working, doing the job you love and making even bigger and better profits.

So, if you think that you don’t need a Virtual Assistant, think again.  Given the chance, a good VA could help you make money, not waste it!

Facebook – Have you verified your business for maximum effect?

By | Facebook | No Comments

Do you know that you have a local business page on Facebook, you can apply for their officer ‘stamp of authenticity’?

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What does that tick mean??

You may have noticed that some business Facebook pages display a small grey ‘tick’ in a circle at the end of the company name.  This seemingly harmless little mark actually packs quite a punch.  It confirms to anyone viewing the page, that Facebook has checked out the business and verified the company details that you see.

Whilst verification is optional, this badge of authenticity is a valuable tool when marketing your business.  It’s inevitable that duplicate/multiple entries for the same business may occur but, with this one little mark, you can let your customers know that they are definitely looking at the right page for your business.

Applying for Verification

To request verification via your Facebook page you will need ‘Admin’ status.  Applying is easy… you just need to follow the steps below:

  1. Click Settings
  2. Choose General and click on Page Verification
  3. Click Verify this Page and then Get Started
  4. Enter your listed business telephone number, your country, and language
  5. Click Call Me Know
  6. Enter the 4-digit verification code Facebook will call to give you, and click Continue

You can also verify your Page with a business document.  After you have followed steps 1 and 2 as above, click on Verify this Page with Documents instead, which will show at the bottom left the screen.  You are then able to upload an image of an official document bearing your company name and address.

Once Facebook as received your request (via either method), they will check the details you have supplied against public records and, once confirmed, they will either send you’re an email or automatic notification regarding your verification status.

So, it couldn’t be easier but could do an awful lot for your business.

My Admin Support says don’t panic over recently announced changes on Instagram!

By | Instagram | No Comments

Have you found yourself caught up in the furore over planned changes the order in which posts are shown on Instagram?  Perhaps it’s passed you by, or maybe you simply don’t care!

In case you don’t know what it is we’re talking about, social media went into complete meltdown recently when Instagram announced changes to how posts would appear to followers, seemingly brought about by Facebook’s acquisition of the company 2012.  Posts currently pop up in chronological order but, so we’re told, new algorithms will soon be put in place which will categorise posts according to the user’s interests, relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post (therefore mimicking the way Facebook works)

When does this come into effect and what does it all mean?

The social media meltdown was due, in part, to the fact that many people mistakenly believed that the changes would take effect from 28th March.2016.  Enraged users were quick to post messages imploring their followers to turn on post notifications not only in an effort to keep audience numbers high, but to ensure that their posts did not get drowned out by an overload of Kim Kardashian style selfies.

Although many devoted followers will probably have done just in order to ensure they don’t miss out on anything, many users have been posting ‘anti-notification’ messages using the hashtag #RIPInstagram, explaining that they will not be turning on notifications as they do not wish to be bombarded by the type of messages they already receive from Facebook, Twitter, etc. regarding what the world and his wife is up to!

Whether you feel these changes are a good thing or not, it’s worth noting that we are now in mid-April and nothing has changed yet.  In fact, Instagram put out their own message on 28th March 2016 saying:

Instragram New Logo

We’re listening and we assure you nothing is changing with your feed right now. We promise to let you know when changes roll out broadly.

Instagram do not appear to be backing away from these modifications but it does seem that they are only in the planning stages at present and, as they say, they have promised to let everyone know when any changes are to be rolled out.

So, there’s definitely nothing to worry about just yet.  We will, of course, keep you updated on this situation and let you know when anything changes.

Facebook’s New Call-to-Action Button

By | Facebook | No Comments

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Facebook is currently in the process of rolling out a direct ‘call-to-action’ button which can be added to your page and will appear next to the ‘like’ button. Admins will be able to choose from a range of different call-to-action button including:

 

 

  • Watch Video
  • Contact Us
  • Sign Up
  • Shop Now
  • Book Now
  • Play Game
  • Use App

Admins will then be able to link through directly to the relevant URL and direct traffic exactly where they want it! There are already claims that this feature can significantly increase conversion rates compared to what was seen before the implementation of this feature. This means will traffic to be diverted to a page of the admin’s choice in order to try and maximise on a feature that either wasn’t as visible before or as a means to try something new. This is currently being rolled out in the US and will be going worldwide during 2015.

As it stands at the moment, the call-to-action button is only usable on desktop devices although Facebook is working on it being deployed to mobile handsets in the near future. While this hasn’t been implemented yet in the UK, excitement is growing for its roll out as it will be something positive for business users on this social media site.

While many are seeing this as a positive step forward, of course, Facebook has something to gain from it: they will be able to see how their users interact with different businesses as well as gaining more information on how users spend their time, and more importantly for Facebook, how and where they spend their money.

I know we, for one, are looking forward to being able to try the call-to-action button and see if it really is as positive as people are claiming it to be!

What is a VAT MOSS and does it affect you?

By | VAT | No Comments

New EU regulations will be coming into effect from January 1st 2015 which will have major effects on many UK businesses. Medium and small businesses could well be affected a great deal if they trade in Europe but it could see many micro businesses fold. Not only this but it is likely to inhibit innovation and make many rethink whether they want to set up a business or not.

So, having established that this could be a disaster for businesses, what exactly is VAT MOSS? It’s new legislation that will affect all businesses that trade online selling digital products in Europe (anything from a PDF, e-book, app, download, online auction or even anti-virus software). Basically, if a company sells any digital product anywhere in the EU it will have to conform to VAT MOSS which means VAT will have to be added onto the digital items that they sell. Its aim is to try and tackle giant companies, such as Amazon who divert sales through low VAT countries to boost their profits, by changing the rules so that VAT is chargeable in the country of purchase opposed to how it is currently where VAT is charged according to country of supply.

This only applies to customer sales and not sales to other businesses but it does mean that companies will have to collect more data to be able to complete the VAT returns, which will then have to be returned every quarter. Systems will have to record where purchases were made so that the correct VAT can be charged. Not only this, but they will have to separate out the UK sales from the EU sales so that VAT doesn’t get charged on the UK ones too! The easiest way to complete a return is to do so via VAT MOSS which is then filed to the UK government who will then transfer the relevant VAT to the right countries.

This could be devastating for many and is likely to inhibit (or even destroy) innovation across boarders as people who want to start or expand their company may well chose not to because of this new legislation.

Google Penguin 3.0

By | Google Updates | No Comments

Some of you might have realised that Google has launched an update to their latest algorithm, Penguin 3.0. This has been rolled out slowly, giving the impression that Google wasn’t 100% confident in the results that would be achieved so gave themselves some leeway for changes and modifications. But what does this mean for your website?

Well, firstly, if you have seen any changes that we strongly advise that you don’t try to ‘fix’ what you think has changed right away, wait for a few weeks, see what happens and let everything settle down. If you’re monitoring your rankings and notice that they drop, don’t assume that things will stay that way. If your site has been hit with Penguin 3.0 then don’t’ assume that things need changing, your ranking might go back to how they were before the update or they might stay at the new level Google has put it at.

If your site has suffered curtesy of the update then have a look at these suggestions and see if any of them help boost your rakings again.

  1. Increase the quality of your content. This latest update is concentrating on ‘thin’ content and devaluing pages which have a lot of it, ie pages that rely on duplicate or spun content. Also make sure that links to your site are coming from reputable sources as those from sites with poor content will be devalued by Google which will hurt your page rankings. Looking into NoFollow links is also a good idea as they could actually boost your page rather than harm it (which is the initial reaction for many).
  2. Link to may sites, not just two or three! Don’t do so all at once, rather plan your linking schedule so that you accomplish new links over a period of a few months. This will increase your keywords and thus your visibility on Google.
  3. Boost your backlinks – if you have good backlinks then boost them to add value to your site
  4. For every link that you create, you want to be using different anchor texts for each.
  5. Make sure that every month you are looking at your Webmaster Tools etc to look for spam and low quality links accumulated by your site – list them and then remove or disavow them.

If you have mass content, mass links, blogs or duplicate content etc then you are running a great risk of being hit by Penguin 3.0. By looking at your site and fixing weaknesses then you are increasing your chances of minimal effect by Google’s latest algorithm.

 

Review of the Samsung Galaxy Note 4

By | New Technology | No Comments

Samsung’s latest phablet, the Galaxy Note 4, is being released this month so here’s all you need to know about its pros and cons.

The consensus is that this is the best phablet yet from Samsung. They’ve basically concentrated on improving the Note 3 instead of creating a vastly new phone. The screen is the same size as the Note 3, still at 5.7in, the back is still faux leather and it is still such a large phone that it makes one handed use uncomfortable and impractical. While there are features that make this phone easier to hold and make it feel secure in your hand, it is still too large for comfortable one handed use, even when the one handed use setting is switched on. They have made other changes, however, that have increased the quality of the phone (through software and hardware improvements) that have given this phone such good hype.

The first thing that is noticeable when viewing and holding this phone is the quality in how it is built. Although the size is very similar to the Note 3, the quality is vastly better. There is now a metal frame which makes the phone look more sophisticated, especially compared to the plastic which surrounds it’s older counterpart. This leaves the user more confident in the build of the phone as it makes it feel more solid.

The quality of the screen is also highly noticeable. Thanks to the quad-HD screen, the images are crisp and bright and these, combined with wide viewing angles, mean that video and picture viewing, as well as surfing the web are a lot easier to achieve and more gratifying. The software also boasts some interesting new features. The first of which is that you are able to run two apps at a time and have them both showing on the screen! This function isn’t supported by all apps yet, but it is perhaps something that will be built upon in due course. There is also the option to increase the sensitivity on the screen; something that will definitely be useful when the weather necessitates the use of gloves!

For some, the camera is undoubtedly a key feature to any modern phone, and for this there is no exception. Taking a video using the Note 4 has become a lot smoother and the photo experience, while now similar to the S5, has been improved. There is now an option to enable a ‘selfie’ mode when taking photos with the rear camera which will lock onto a face and the phone will vibrate until the photo has been captured. There is also improved performance in low light conditions, made better through the use of image stabilisation which also helps reduce blur caused by handshakes.

There are a couple of other interesting features on this phone such as a fingerprint scanner which can be used to unlock the phone and to log into various websites thus saving you from having to remember logins and passwords. There is also a heart rate sensor built into the back of the phone which can be used in conjunction with the Health app which can help measure your activity.

Overall, this is the best phablet Samsung have made yet and will probably be one of the market leaders. You would expect this phone to be high quality though as it is the most expensive on the market, retailing at £629! The major question is, however, is a phablet right for you?

Technology may soon be helping the police force

By | New Technology | No Comments

We all are aware of how hard it can be for policemen and women to keep us safe on the streets, well, the police force in Dubai are about to get a helping hand.

Dubai has got designs to roll out Google Glass to officers on the streets, and later to detectives. This new eye-ware will be able to run customized software that can recognise faces. Not only this, but the small computer attached to glasses can also provide directions, deliver news and search for information.

This technology isn’t cheap at $1,500 which might explain why it hasn’t taken off as might have been expected. If you already wear glasses then you are able to get prescription ones. There are concerns over this new technology about privacy of those it collects data from, especially as some hospitals have started to adopt Google Glass. For the police officers, however, this new innovation would help them fight crime and gather information about those who wish to break the law.

All about Pinterest

By | Pinterest | No Comments

Is Pinterest right for YOUR business?

You’re probably already on Facebook and Twitter and might be thinking of joining Pinterest, but is it the right thing for your business?

If you have Google Analytics then have a look at where your referrals and traffic is coming from. If it Pinterest is already on there and is fairly high up then it would definitely be worth joining as your customers are already indicating that this is what they want.

Are you a business who can use, or who already does use, visual content? If you already use a lot of photos or videos then you could easily adapt what you already do to Pinterest and create sparks there. If you don’t use much in the way of visual are you able to start doing this? Can you create photos and amend them in a way that would interest your customers and followers, even if you just create a few high quality ones? After all, quality is better than quantity. Pinterest is, in part, about creativity so if this sounds like you or is a direction suitable for your business then it might be worth giving this method of social media a go.

Be wary though, can your business cope with having to create high quality images with great regularity? If it does so already then you’re onto a winner but if you don’t already produce such items then is this something that you can realistically afford to do?

Do you have the passion, the drive, and (probably most importantly) the time and energy which you can dedicate to maintaining your Pinterest page? Going down the Pinterest road may not be the right thing if you haven’t go the passion behind it then it won’t be for you as, even if all of your content is hitting the mark, eventually you lack of passion and motivation will become apparent which would be a shame. So don’t go there. Stop and quit while you’re ahead. If, on the other hand, all you have is passion then give it a go! You’ll be able to figure everything else out as you go along.