Archive for November 27, 2013

Celebrate 2013 Black Friday with iTeleCenter

Shopping is at the top of many Americans’ priority lists now. With the Black Friday rush intensifying every year, the bargain-minded American barely has time to digest the turkey and cranberries before heading to the stores. Over time, there’s been a change in the mode of shopping as well. You really do not have to rush to a store to buy a product now. You can do it online. But there’s been no change in the Black Friday shopping spree. It still continues to mark the beginning of the Christmas shopping season.

Special offer for customers

This year iTeleCenter intends to make this Black Friday shopping event even more special for new customers. iTeleCenter offers 50% off on first month’s service fee for those new customers who sign up for an account on this Black Friday. To take advantage of this offer, new customers must first sign up for a new account on November 29, 2013 and then send an email to CustomerCare@COANetwork.com the same day. The email must be sent from the email address used in the signup form.

The subject line of the email should be ‘BLACKFRIDAY2013’ and the message must include first and last name, phone number and new iTeleCenter number. The information provided in the body of the email must match the information entered during the sign up process. After the receipt of this email, the account will be credited for 1/2 of the monthly service fee that would be incurred following the free trial period.

Isn’t this wonderful news for all those entrepreneurs and business owners who are looking for a toll free number to strengthen their business communication and double their sales? This Black Friday make a conscious buying decision, sign up for a new iTeleCenter number and change the way your business has been operating – at half of the cost for the first month.

Share your shopping experience with us on Facebook and @Twitter.

3 Tips for Small Businesses to Increase their Credibility Using their Websites

Content marketing is the most popular and effective way to reach out to your customers. Industry experts predict 2014 to be the year of content marketing. Almost 60% of companies have already adopted some form of content marketing strategy and 2014 is expected to see a rise in this. Content marketing is expected to drive every marketing initiative in the near future. So it’s time for you and for every business to gear up, take a look at their content marketing strategy and start using it to promote their business.

Your website holds the most important position in your content marketing strategy. In fact, your content marketing efforts should begin with your website. Your website is your business identity. People might not know you, but they know your products/services and your website. Hence it is important to update your website and make it compatible with the latest standards of content marketing.  This will increase your business credibility, will attract more customers and will help you in getting better conversions.

How will you increase the credibility of your business?

Provide genuine information

Gone are the days of “salesy” strategies that helped you to get more sign ups just a few years ago. Customers now are looking for businesses that they can trust. They are looking for information on your website. So instead of making big claims and using flowery rhetoric on your website, make it more informative. Try to provide your customers genuine information.

Show who you are

You may feel shy but you should have your photo in the “About” section of the website.  Putting faces with names help in increasing your credibility. Not only yours – there should be photographs of every important person related to your business on your website. It is best to provide a brief description (including contact information) of each person whose photo you put on your website. This will help visitors to know who they will approach to for their need. You can also show photos of your office location. Most importantly, display all your contact information prominently on the website.

Show others like you

No one can escape the influence of social media. Every business must have its own Facebook page and Twitter account to reach out to its customers. Do not feel shy to show the number of “likes” your Facebook business page has on your website. This in a way also provides testimony to your credibility and reliability. It shows how many people are satisfied with your product/service and invites the visitor to be the next one.

 

What other changes to your website will make it more informative? Tell us at Facebook or @Twitter.

Celebrating National Entrepreneur’s Day!

President Obama acclaimed small business owners as “the backbone of the nation’s economy” in his Proclamation of the week May 15-21 as National Small Business Week. In support of this statement, many cited studies from the U.S. Small Business Administration show small businesses have been creating nearly two-third of the nation’s net new jobs during the last decade. (SBA defines companies with less than 500 employees as a small business.)

In his Proclamation this year, President Barack Obama summoned the nation to celebrate “inventions that changed American Life and start-ups that lifted our economy as they grew…”In this proclamation he defined entrepreneurs as those who “…helped make our country what it is today.”  Entrepreneurs are considered the centrepiece of the American dream – to become “a country that empowers the inventor and the innovator.”

One of the main reasons why many American cities were able to take the massive blow of the recession is due to the presence of small businesses and entrepreneurs. Hence it makes sense to dedicate a day solely to them and celebrate their “hard work, ingenuity and courage.” (President’s Proclamation 2012)

iTeleCenter takes pride in mobilizing this dynamic workforce of America – the American entrepreneurs. The iTeleCenter’s virtual phone system and toll free numbers have been helping small business owners and entrepreneurs for the last two decades. Additionally, iTeleCenter provides vanity numbers and 800 numbers to help entrepreneurs flourish.

President Obama proclaimed, “November 2013 as National Entrepreneurship Month. I call upon all Americans to commemorate this month with appropriate programs and activities, and to celebrate November 22, 2013, as National Entrepreneurs’ Day.”

Celebrate this Entrepreneur’s Day with iTeleCenter.

Enjoy Entrepreneurship! Keep innovating! Happy Entrepreneur’s Day!

 

Join us on Facebook and @Twitter to celebrate Entrepreneur’s Day.

Feature Thursday: How to Set Up a PBX Extension

iTeleCenter customers can create as many as 9,999* programmable extensions to make their business look big and make their business operations smoother and more effective. In one of my older posts (you can read it here, in case you have missed it) I explained how easily you can add an extension to your iTeleCenter number.

There are different types of extensions. You can create as many as 6 different types of extension on your iTeleCenter number depending on your needs.

Today’s post will guide you through setting up a PBX (or Virtual Private Branch Exchange) extension.

Assign one of these extensions to each employee or department. Each PBX extension has its own login, voice mailbox, notification settings and call forwarding numbers.

*The number of available extensions varies by package.

Learn how to create and manage a PBX extension:

Step 1

Select Extensions

Step 2

Click Add New Extensions to add a new PBX extension

Step 3

Enter the number you want to assign to that extension in the box next to Extension Number. Also select PBX from Extension Type.

Step 4

As soon as you select PBX in Extension Type, you will be asked to provide your First Name, Last Name and a Passcode.

Step 5

Click Save and your new PBX extension is created.

Step 6

Once an extension is created, it will be displayed along with its Number, Type and Description. It will also give you options to manage your extension. You can Configure, Access or Delete a PBX extension. Click Configure to set up your newly created PBX extension

Step 7

You can Change the Passcode, Update Time Zone or Edit Display Name. You can also set permissions to Enable or Disable Call Forwarding, Outbound Calls and Outbound Faxing for this extension. Once you are done with setting the new extension, click Save to store all changes.

Step 8

Select Access to log into the PBX extension’s back office. This is what the extension user would see if they logged in to their PBX extension. It is where call forwarding and notifications can be set, as well as access to calls, voicemails and faxes received on this extension. Typically, this extension would belong to a team or individual employee who would log in directly to their extension.

Step 9

You can click Delete to delete a PBX extension.

 

Setting up a PBX extension on your iTeleCenter number is really easy. What do you think is the best way to use a PBX extension for your business? Let us know at Facebook and @Twitter.

Keep following us every Thursday to learn about more interesting iTeleCenter features.

For Better Business- Engage your Customers

A big business may have a large customer base and so it is often a challenge for them to maintain personal relationships with each of their customers.  But for a small business, customers are its lifeline. Neglecting them can prove to be fatal for its business. There are business owners who feel branding and advertising are important for better sales. This is quite true, but the easiest way of building your brand is through your customer satisfaction and recommendations.  If you are a small business owner and are planning to beef up your branding and advertising efforts, do not neglect your customers. They not only give you your annual revenue but also play a significant role in your advertising and branding efforts.

Below are a few luring strategies to woo customers and ensure that they stay with you for a longer time:

Provide customers with valuable information

Offer interesting and useful information to your customers. Provide them with information that is related to them and is aimed to provide them a better user experience.  Update them regularly about your new business offers and plans. Try to become a valuable source of information for them. In other words, you should work like a trusted business partner to your customers providing them with valuable information from time to time and helping them with your products /service to progress in their business.  This helps in building trust and trusted customers are loyal customers who can go a long way with you.

Your customers can do the best branding

Big businesses have big budgets that they spend on advertising for building their brand. What about small businesses? They do not have such big budgets. The easiest way and perhaps the strongest way a small business can build a brand is through customer recommendation. Remember, personal endorsement or word-of-mouth promotion is the best recommendation.

A business should try to provide high quality products/services. This is the easiest way of getting customer satisfaction and hence their recommendation. Try to create a difference in your brand so that it becomes easily recognizable. For example, if you are a staffing company, try to showcase your specialty, like technology staffing or best staffing for technical professionals.

Go a step ahead

People like to feel special. This is why many of the stores have employees just to thank customers for making a purchase. Even when you make an online purchase, the online store sends you an email thanking you for the purchase. Try to use this in favor of your business and build a good customer base. Try to talk to every customer. You can call them directly and talk to them. Engage your customers in a simple conversation and try to learn what they feel about your products/services. Do not make your conversation sound like a marketing questionnaire. This can actually help small businesses to beat their big counterparts.

 

Are your customers happy? What do you do to keep them happy? Share with us at Facebook and @Twitter

5 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Stay Ahead in Business in 2014

2013 is speeding by and 2014 is just about to set in. Many people wait for New Year’s Eve to make their resolutions and bring the long over-due changes into their personal and professional lives. But that isn’t right for anybody and especially for entrepreneurs. Remember, delay is the greatest form of denial. If you think you need to make a change, do it now so that you stay ahead of the race.

Below are a few tips for entrepreneurs that will help them to stay ahead in 2014:

Do Not Wait for New Year’s Eve

This is relevant for everybody. Short term actionable goals help an entrepreneur to move forward. For success, an entrepreneur should have business goals set weekly, monthly or quarterly. It can also be an annual business goal. If you feel you need to change a thing or two to achieve your goal, do it as soon as you realize it. Do not wait for a special day or occasion. Remember, business opportunities do not wait and once you lose an opportunity – it’s lost forever.

Plan Your Year Ahead

One of the many benefits of doing things early is that you get enough time to research your industry, plan your business for 2014 and also decide your approach. Look back on 2013 and see the lessons you have learned that will help you to grow your business in 2014. Do thorough research about your industry and its latest marketing trends. Try to learn about the new additions and changes in your industry and plan how to leverage those for your business.

Look for Partnership Opportunities

One cannot do everything by himself/herself. He/she needs partners. Partnerships are important for business, especially if you want to dominate a market. Finding the right business partner is not easy.  You need to interact with many before you find the right partner for your business.  There are tons of businesses waiting to form partnerships with you because your product/service can add value to their clients. How do you know who is the best match for your business? Do your research now so you are ready to rule the market in 2014.

Contact Your Customers

Contact your customers before the year ends. After all, they are the most important part of your business. Ask for customer feedback to check the satisfaction level of your customers and also remember to thank them for being with you and wish them a wonderful year ahead.

Prepare for a New Year

We are waiting to welcome another new year – 2014. Leave back your doubts, believe in yourself and believe in your business strategies and tactics – you are going to achieve your business goals in 2014 and dominate your market!

 

What other advice would you like to give entrepreneurs for a wonderful 2014? Let us know on Facebook and @Twitter

How Call Capture Helps Stay-at-home Moms in their Business

Operating a business can be a challenge for stay-at-home moms. It is somewhat difficult for her to stay connected to her prospects and customers throughout the day. A virtual phone system is her perfect business companion. Its features help a mompreneur to retain her existing clients, attract new prospects and build an effective system for all her communication and marketing needs.

Collects the Phone Number of the Caller

A virtual phone is ideally designed to meet the needs of small businesses and home based businesses.  The call capture feature of a virtual phone system collects the phone number of all your incoming calls. A prospect might forget to leave his phone number or leaves it in a garbled message. You can still get the phone number of the caller using this feature. This number may be an alternate phone number to what the caller has left in a voicemail message giving you more than one number to call them back on. In addition, call capture even grabs unlisted numbers!

Helps Marketing

Call capture also helps stay-at-home moms in their marketing efforts. She undertakes different marketing campaigns to advertise her phone. People can call her on this number to learn more about her products or services. These calls are her chances to get new customers and expand the business. People who call her are obviously interested in her products or and she should target them. Though she can use a pre-recorded message to prompt the caller to leave their contact details to get more information, often callers by-pass such requests.

In such cases, the call capture feature tells her the phone number of the caller. She can contact the caller to discuss further business. This service works even when you keep your phone in Do Not Disturb mode.

Alternative to Cold Calling

Cold calling is getting difficult everywhere in the US, especially with the Do Not Call law. The Do Not Call law started several years ago and it has completely barred cold calling. Most businesses have eliminated cold calling as a means to build their prospect and customer base. If a business gets penalized under this law, it is required to pay heavy fines. The most viable alternative to this is using call capture. Once a caller initiates a call to your number, you have the right to call them back even if they did not leave a message.

You can be rest assured about using this feature on your virtual phone. Anyone who is paying for a phone call – no matter if it is a toll free number or a local number – has the right to know who is calling them. One thing that you need to remember is that you should return the call within 90 days of customer’s original contact to the company.

How else do virtual phones help a stay-at-home mom? Let us know at Facebook or @Twitter

Probable Inbound Marketing Trends of 2014

The year 2013 is drawing to an end. 2013 has been a big year for social media, especially for marketing, but what about the next 12 months? Will social media be able to continue its dominance or it will gradually lose its importance? Though it’s difficult to predict, we can always try to explore the trend and quote some of the industry experts. Below are some of the probable marketing trends for 2014:

Rise in Content Marketing

According to 2013 State of Inbound Marketing Report, 60% of companies have adopted some form of content marketing in 2013 and this number is expected to rise in 2014. Content marketing is a huge thing and is not merely restricted to writing website content. 2013 has witnessed different forms of content marketing including blog posting, guest blogging, email campaigns, podcasts, e-books, presentations, live presentations, webinars, automated webinars and social media posts. The year 2014 is expected to be the year of content marketing. Any company that is planning for inbound marketing will need to adopt a content marketing strategy. Companies that are already using content marketing also need to come up with a proper plan and strategy to make their marketing efforts more fruitful.

Need for Mobile Content Marketing      

Content marketing is incomplete without talking about mobile content marketing. The analysts of Morgan Stanley believe that mobile web will be bigger than desktop user by 2015, considering the current rate of change and adoption. Hence it is important for every business to come up with a plan for mobile content marketing. Mobile content marketing is quite different from standard content marketing. The behavior of a customer using a desktop or laptop for viewing content is quite different from a customer using his mobile phone for viewing the same content. Content should be properly drafted and designed to make it mobile friendly. You need to adopt a different strategy for creating winning mobile content.    

2014 is Expected to be the Year of Twitter

With 1.18 billion users, of which 58% are active daily and spend an average of 20 minutes per day on Facebook, Facebook is definitely not going to disappear. But 2014 is expected to be the year of Twitter. Small and mid-sized businesses are increasing using platforms like Twitter and Instagram to spread their message and this is because it is getting more and more difficult to master Facebook and build an active business page and followers without spending substantial time and money.

Google+ will become more important                                                                                 

According to Content Marketing Institute, B2B marketers will more frequently use Google+ for promoting their content. With the Google Author Rank and Authorship programs, Google+ is predicted to become one of the most important tools for the SEO industry in 2014.                      

 

What do you think will be the hottest trends of inbound marketing in 2014? We are waiting to hear back from you @Twitter and Facebook

Auto Attendant Helps Real Estate Professionals in their Business

One of the most popular features of a modern business is the use of an auto attendant. It replaces the need of an operator or receptionist and makes a business look bigger and professional. An auto attendant can also be used for disseminating important information to your customers. These automated attendants not only transfer calls but can also be used as a tool for informing customers and thereby enhancing sales.

Informing Callers about a Property

An auto attendant works 24/7 answering and transferring calls. You can also record information for your customers to listen to. Real estate agents can create separate extensions for each of their properties and record information about each property. Using a virtual phone system, a realtor can create up to 9,999 extensions. When someone calls you, he can simply choose the right option to get more information about a property.

Next time you are busy and cannot answer a call, do not worry about losing customers. Your caller can gather information about a property from the auto attendant. If he wishes to know more, he can simply leave a message in your voicemail box and you can return the call at your convenience.

Messages can also be customized to match season, holiday, or time of the day based on your business hours. When a customer calls your company, he interacts first with the auto attendant. So it is important to make your auto attendant sound smart and professional. This makes you look more professional and more efficient.

Forwarding Calls to Voicemail

The auto attendant plays a very important part in forwarding calls. When someone calls your business number, the automated receptionist answers the call and forwards it to you. Using a virtual phone system, you have the option of screening a call before answering it. You can program your auto attendant in such a way that it will forward a call to more than one phone number. If it does not find you at your business number, for example, it can try your cell phone number or home phone number. If you are not available to take the call it will forward the caller to voicemail.

Your callers can leave a message in your voicemail box. Remember to return every important message that you receive. An auto attendant helps a real estate professional to make his business sound bigger and more professional. It also helps him close more sales by supplying important information to his customers and enticing them.

 

How else you think a real estate professional can enhance his sales? What else would you suggest to increase the closing rate? We would love to know at Facebook and @Twitter.