Is the customer always right?

The old adage, “the customer is always right” is of course a good business practice. But is it correct?

No, not always.

Sounds revolutionary right?   Not really, hear me out. the-customer-is-always-right

As a web development professional, your duty is to do the right thing by your clients. You should always recommend the best course of action. You should never just rubber-stamp an idea just because it belongs to your client. Now of course, you are in business and you need to please your customers. But don’t be a sycophant. Tell them your opinion as to what they should do. Now of course if they choose to go against you, that is up to them. At that point you need to back off.

Of course you want an example of this correct?

Okay, here’s a case that illustrates what I’m talking about. I had a client who wanted to go with a custom designed, responsive WordPress web site. Now, I love building these websites. We build quite a few of these types of sites, and most of the time I think it’s a fabulous idea. But, in this case, the client was a nonprofit, just starting out with very little funding. I knew that I could save them a lot of money, and build a kick ass website using a premium theme. With several thousand available, that are responsive and very high-quality, this was a better way for them to go. As they were in a rush to get this up and running, the premium theme would be much quicker to market. The design process adds quite a bit of time, and then of course we have to build out the WordPress theme. Now, most companies would love to go with the more expensive solution and would never even suggest a cheaper alternative. But at RooSites, we have built a company based on doing the right thing, even if it costs us money in the short term. Why? Not because we’re such amazing human beings. It is a business strategy, to take a long view and build long-term relationships based on trust.

Bottom line: The adage that the customer is always right is not necessarily true. Do the right thing by them, give your recommendations and let them decide. You and your customers will profit in the long term.


Email Marketing: Use, do not abuse

email-marketing When discussing a client’s marketing mix, sooner or later there is always the discussion of email marketing.  Should we send email blasts?
My answer: Yes and No.  Pretty vague, right?  I know, but I will explain when to say yes, and when you should say no to email marketing.

When to say Yes to email marketing:

Email Marketing is a fabulous way to reach out and communicate with your clients/customers.  If used properly it is a great tool, and a reminder to your clients, hey remember me?  You can talk about latest company news, new products, sales, and anything you feel relevant to your audience.

Email Marketing is especially good for:

eCommerce Websites:  You can talk about new products of course, but talking about sales is great. EVERYONE likes to save money. So when you have a good deal, talk about it.

Coupons: Again, everyone likes to save money so sending a coupon to your list is a no-brainer. And the best part? You know exactly how many people use the coupon, metrics like that, are crucial.

How often should we send?
We live in the age of spam, so this is so important. If you abuse the privilege of sending emails to your list, you will pay the price in the form of unsubscribing and worse, being marked as spam.

So, here is my opinion:
For eCommerce sites I recommend no more than once a week. Personally I think companies that send those daily emails end up deleted without being read quite often. I think once a week is enough, and only if you have something your audience will enjoy and hopefully purchase. Now, if you are an Amazon, the rules are different as they have millions of products so their frequency is different. (But as a consumer I still hate daily emails).

For the rest of us:  If you aren’t selling online, or sending coupons, then the rules change dramatically. I personally think quarterly is enough, but if you feel the need and have a lot to say, monthly is fine.

How do I know if I have sent too often?
Metrics:  What is your open rate? How many people are sharing on social media?  How often are people un-subscribing and worse, marked as spam. I know at RooSites we are on target as we are at nearly 100% for our open rate.

When to say NO to email marketing

Don’t send for the sake of sending. If you don’t have anything interesting, wait until you do.

DON’T SEND CANNED GARBAGE!!! (All caps and bold, you know this is serious)
I have a certain mortgage pro I know that subscribes to a service that sends these weekly emails.  This same email goes out to thousands, and my guess is their unsubscribe link is the most popular in the email. When I asked him about it, he answered he didn’t have time to write the emails and this is better than nothing.  I disagree, sometimes NOT doing something is a better business decision.

Don’t send if you don’t have an email marketing service. Don’t send an email with 200 people in the “To” field. People hate seeing their email address exposed to strangers.  And the giant list in the BCC field?  This is a red flag that you are sending spam, and often never make it to most of your list.

Ok, so which email service should I use? 
There are a lot of players in the email marketing business.  For me it is about simplicity, cost and metrics.  While I have used Constant Contact, and many others, I use MadMimi for myself and most of my clients. It is easy to use, they have good support and you can sign up for free and decide if you like it. They have great metrics and less expensive than some of the larger services that spend oodles on advertising.

Bottom Line:  Email marketing is a great way to communicate with your clients/customers. Tread lightly and don’t spam the people who support you and keep you in business. Be aware of your metrics and adjust your strategy when needed. Lastly, as I advise on social media, only send what you find interesting. If you don’t think your email is interesting, then your audience probably won’t enjoy it either!