5 Reasons WHY CRM Investments Fail In E-Commerce Industry

In 10 years of GetFriday’s existence, we have handled a lot of CRMs! Our insights for this blog are derived from this experience.
Our clients have been at times, early adopters of these tools. We also happen to have a huge client base of entrepreneurs and small businesses. This has enabled us to have a 360 degree view of CRM usage or its lack of usage.

Without doubt CRMS are useful tools for e-commerce

It is true that CRM software can help e-commerce businesses provide excellent customer support by managing and storing all data related to customers and transactions. Though all this can be achieved through other online tools, the beauty of buying CRM software is to be able to utilize it in such a manner that it can take care of your business needs automatically while allowing you to focus on improving your sales conversion rates considerably.

Nevertheless, majority of companies fail to benefit from CRMs and end up losing huge amounts of money. We have identified 5 reasons for the failure of CRMs in the e-commerce industry through our longstanding experience of serving e-commerce clients.

CRM Investments Fail

5 Reasons for CRM Investments Failure

1. Not utilizing full capacity of CRMs

Imagine you hired an employee for your small e-commerce business, and are unable to use 40 % of this person’s skill. A smart business owner should ideally be worried. But somehow, business professionals do not worry about the unused capacities of assets. Our internal data shows many entrepreneurs do not utilize as much as 40 % of CRMs capability.

This is not because there is a problem with the CRM software, but because e-commerce businesses often miss out on critically analyzing the requirements of the CRM within the business at the outset. These CRMs generally have limited or no use in the business and are dead resources. This renders the CRM a misfit within the e-commerce business if not employed correctly.

2. Buying a CRM too early

Define the CRM requirements first before jumping into which CRM to buy. If you are just starting out as an e-commerce company, your focus ideally be targeted towards expanding your client base, attracting as many customers as possible and achieving breakeven sales with your products online. Managing customer relations and records in an organized database is also, extremely important. But Google drives and other free tools do an equally good job.

Therefore, if you are starting out, it would be wise to analyze if using a CRM at this stage can prove to be fruitful. We suggest you to start lean.

3. Not setting objectives, goals and targets for CRM

One way to derive maximum from your CRM is to set a clear objective, goal and target. Treat your CRM as an asset that needs to justify its costs.
With CRMs being implemented in businesses across industries in today’s world, SMEs and upcoming e-commerce companies may find it necessary to implement CRMs in their own businesses, without understanding how the features can be fully utilized to boost business efficiency.

The requirement for a CRM is the result of much deliberation over difficult business truths such as dwindling sales, strained customer relations, service woes or escalating marketing issues. The mistake takes place with the first step when businesses implement CRMs without understanding its features, the metrics it has to offer and how in turn a CRM can help your e-commerce business grow.

4. Owning a CRM only as a social norm

Over these years, we have seen entrepreneurs rushing to buy a CRM as a part of their initial start up infrastructure. They utilize it to supplement their daily meetings with prospects and networks and end up buying CRMs only because others in the industry have implemented them and because they assume it is necessary.

Though the assumption may not be entirely wrong, we strongly suggest you ask yourself these 4 simple questions before you buy a CRM –

  • Can it solve the problems in my business?
  • Does it suit by budget?
  • Can it integrate seamlessly with my existing software and systems?
  • Is it necessary at this point of my company’s operations?
  • CRMs should not be implemented just for the heck of it and just because every other company in the block is using a Salesforce or a Zoho. It should only be employed if an e-commerce business has the resources for it, has the ability to answer these questions and be able to present solutions for it.

    5. Inefficiency in uploading the data in CRM

    The data you capture from your customers need to be updated in a timely manner into your CRMs. This requires your time and devotion. Typically our study shows, that the lack of time to enter data into CRMs remains the single most problem for entrepreneurs and e-commerce store owners alike. We suggest you hire a virtual assistant to handle this work seamlessly.

    If you want to avoid the possibility of failures, your first step should be to take care of these 5 reasons. Since investing in a CRM is a big deal, make sure you have your goals defined and its needs/requirements for the business sorted before you take the plunge. After all, CRMs are assets and like any other asset, need to be justified for its costs and employed properly for maximum benefits.

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    GetFriday Newsletter – E-Commerce Insights

    Industry News: E-Commerce Insights

    GetFriday has begun its monthly endeavors of providing you with information that could be of use to you. We aim to impart important insights to our clients to help them promote and help e-commerce stores grow. At GetFriday, we have had diverse experiences with our clients, most of them largely E-Commerce clients.

    The year 2015 is packed with a number of changes and prevalent trends in the E-commerce industry. Industry players need to now understand and adopt these changes in order to be able procure revenue and attract traffic. Some of the top trends for the E-Commerce industry for this year are highlighted below and are as follows:-

  • Sales are now being effectively carried out over mobile phones. A recent survey shows that mobile now “account for 50.3% of all E-Commerce Traffic”. Also, the new Google algorithm change that requires websites to be mobile-friendly should be well in place for E-commerce websites by now in order for a better ranking on search engine sites in order to attract traffic.

  • Social media sites are now turning into lucrative platforms for driving sales to e-commerce websites. A lot of consumers are now turning to Pinterest, Polyvore, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to ‘discover’ new, prevalent e-commerce products and to Twitter for specialty/niche industries. Setting up Facebook stores are also becoming a popular trend, helping E-commerce websites directly on the platform through a trusted and secure payment gateway.

  • Social commerce has been viewed as one of the most important e-commerce trends for the year and funnels a large part of website viewership and traffic. But if generating traffic was not enough, Facebook tops the list as the social media site that brings in the highest conversion rate for e-commerce traffic at 1.85%.

  • People shop whenever it is convenient for them during the day or night and don’t necessarily use the desktop or the laptop to surf e-commerce websites. People shop or go through e-commerce websites on the move, during the day, before they go to bed at night and even between the periods 12-2PM at the work place and on Sunday Evenings. This is a proven statistic. E-commerce websites should take a note of this and if you are PPC advertiser, this could work as a model for you to be able to place your ad campaigns effectively.
  • These have been some of the top trends for 2015. There will be more updates and more newsletters on what’s fresh and what’s doing the rounds in the e-commerce industry.

    Stay tuned for the latest postings, tips, offerings and blogs specific to the e-commerce industry in the next issue and follows us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn as well.

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    GetFriday Newsletter – Get Friday and Social Media

    With GetFriday stepping into its 10th year of operations, we would like to take the opportunity to firstly, offer our sincerest thanks and gratitude to every client who has supported us in our endeavors along the way. Without your conviction and belief, it would have been impossible for GetFriday to achieve the kind of success it has.

    We have spread our wings through social media marketing and have built our presence on a number of popular social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+. Through this, we aim to help clients discover our latest postings whilst also providing exciting opportunities to avail the best of GetFriday’s virtual assistance services. A series of social media campaigns will be launched on a monthly basis for this special year and clients, both old and new, will be chosen as the recipients of tremendous benefits.

    A recent ‘Friendship Day’ campaign was launched on the official GetFriday social media pages on July 27th, 2015. The campaign was primarily targeted at clients who had availed GetFriday’s services and to help clients’ friends avail the same, by gifting them GetFriday hours, along with submitting a special tweet, a shout-out or a personalized message for Friendship Day. The result of the campaign was nothing short of a grand success, with the existing clients also receiving exciting, referral benefits.

    Similarly, GetFriday ran an exciting “World Entrepreneurs Day” campaign from the 17th-21st August. The prime motive behind launching such an exclusive campaign was to celebrate entrepreneurs and their contributions around the world. As many of our clients are businesspersons themselves, we offered them $25 as cash prizes and also a complementary offer wherein the clients referrals earned 25% off on the first month’s bill if they signed up during the offer period. The campaign proved to be fruitful and gave the golden opportunity to clients to earn exciting prizes and benefits and also gave GetFriday a chance to welcome new clients into the GetFriday family.

    More such campaigns will be launched across GetFriday’s official pages. Stay tuned and follow us on our social media sites for latest offerings, blogs and news. Not only will you be able to view the latest internal news, but you will also be able to benefit from the fresh, quality content posted for professionals and entrepreneurs across various domains and industries on a weekly basis.

    We love to hear from you and we bet you would love to hear from us too! Let’s stay connected.

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    GetFriday Newsletter – GetFriday Turns 10!

    GetFriday completed it 10 years of existence in the Virtual Assistance Industry in August 2015. This is a huge milestone to achieve for us and on this joyful occasion of turning 10; Team Get Friday would like to thank you all. You are the clients believing in our abilities and supporting us for very long time; we owe it all to our clients and the strong bonds we have fostered through time. Through the course of these 10 years, GetFriday has seen its share of ups and downs, but thankfully, we have had more ups than downs.

    For 10 years, GetFriday has helped offload tasks for more than 13,000 clients around 60 countries with its personal virtual assistance services. A lot has changed and we are now slowly evolving to be a business support service from virtual assistance support. The competition has been tough. Many of our competitors have disappeared and others are stuck in middle age blues. Our steadfast focus on learning from our customers has enabled us to survive and flourish for a decade now.

    We believe, GetFriday has gone on to bring about a positive change in the lives of all its clients, no matter how small or big the task outsourced. During a time when personal virtual assistance services were literally unheard of, GetFriday sprang up in 2005 as the sister concern of YMII (Your Man In India) and began offering personal, administrative, secretarial and specialized services to clients, virtually.

    The success of our venture, which began way back in 2005, was featured and documented in the best-selling book, “4 Hour Work Week” authored by Tim Ferris, in 2007. Within just a span of 2 years, GetFriday achieved so success and acclaim and carved its place as an indomitable player in the market of virtual assistance services.

    As a celebration of our successful 10-year run and for having been associated with us during our incredible journey, we are going to run a year-long campaign with oodles of benefits and exciting offers for our wide client-base.

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    GetFriday Newsletter – GetFriday’s Independence Day Celebrations!

    August 15th, 2015 marked the beginning of the 69th year of India as an independent nation and the employees at GetFriday welcomed this momentous occasion with pomp and style. Each year, the Independence Day celebrations at GetFriday evoke the feelings of pride and love and people, no matter caste, creed, or religion, are awash with patriotism in in their hearts. This year too, was no exception.

    Right from the start of the day, all the way till midnight, each employee contributed to the celebrations in their own way and brought out the best of their cultures to the workplace. The office was decorated with balloons, flags and confetti and people walked in wearing the tricolors of the Indian flag on their clothes with pride and were seen flashing Indian wrist-bands, Indian flag badges and even painted the Indian flag as tattoos on their faces! Such was the air of nationalism at the cheerful GetFriday office during the Independence Day celebrations. Colorful saris, stately attires and unique jewelry were adorned for this occasion and each employee looked their Indian-best!

    GetFriday employees have been working round the clock and through the year tirelessly. Events such as these at the work place gives employees a chance to let their hair down, have some fun and bond with each other. In honor of this momentous occasion, two separate cultural events took place for the employees working in the day shift and the night shift. Revelry prevailed and every employee put their heart and soul into make the cultural events a grand success.

    The action-packed event began with fun games and an invocatory song and dance. This was followed by teams putting their sweat and blood into the collage-making activity, socially-driven street plays and a grand fashion show competition that displayed the rich culture and heritage of the different states of India.

    The celebrations at the GetFriday office in Bangalore lasted through the night and will go down as one of the most memorable events for the year 2015. Independence Day celebrations will remain etched in the hearts and minds of employees for years to come and promises to be bigger and better the next year!

    Here’s to our incredible India and here’s to more such wonderful occasions!

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    Simple Guide To E-Commerce Product Taxonomy

    What is taxonomy?

    When you think of ‘Taxonomy’, you immediately associate the term with the classification of organisms into hierarchical groups as per what you studied in your biology class. Quite right, except that in this case, the word is used to describe not the classifications of organisms, but the classification and organization of ‘unstructured information’ on e-commerce websites for the benefit of users and the business.

    Why taxonomy?

    Taxonomy is an extremely crucial component because it helps users navigate through e-commerce websites in a more user-friendly manner, enhances their search experience and thus increases the prospects of a higher ROI for the business. Instead of sifting through the haystack in the wild web, the application of taxonomy helps with search navigation and leads to a more manageable experience – one that is less time-consuming, organized and leads to the ‘right’.

    Here we provide you a guide to understand ‘e-commerce taxonomy’ better, its benefits and how a business can implement it effectively.

    Content Strategies & Taxonomy

    There’s a lot more to taxonomy than just mere categorizing. Just as librarians would sift and arrange books according to title, labels, author and call numbers, this would also apply to e-commerce websites, except that the content can be subdivided, using ‘taxonomy structure’. Taxonomy categorizes unorganized information while the metadata describes the category. Metadata will help with better categorization and more recognizable content from the e-commerce website design perspective.

    Website Design & Taxonomy

    A website with unstructured content could lead to difficulties when it comes to navigation and searches. Taxonomy directly corresponds with website design in the form of ‘taxonomy view’ and helps create a positive user-navigation experience, with the neatly arranged categories.

    Here is a screenshot of an Australian e-commerce website and their distinct categories of footwear, clothing, bags and accessories etc., making navigation through the page an easy, comprehensible one.

    The highlighted boxes in red in above image shows the categorization of the different footwear for women on this website for easy user navigation and quick searches.

    What Are The Common Problems Of E-Commerce Sites With No Taxonomy?

    Let us take the simple example of a taxonomy tree and see what problems could arise from not planning out e-commerce websites taxonomy efficiently:-







    The next category after men and women is kids. Now under kids, you can either have the combination of:-
    Kids -Baby-Boys-Girls

    If you go back to the original taxonomy tree, you will notice that babywear, boys and girls are already listed out under men and women separately. So, by creating another sub-category for ‘kids’, there is an ‘overlap’ or a ‘duplication’ of categories.
    At this stage, as an e-commerce website, you could either continue to work with the same structure or go back and start and remove the category of ‘kids’ from the parent category. By doing so, you will need to rebuild another taxonomy design from scratch. That leads us to the next part of understanding how to go about building an effective taxonomy.

    How Do You Build An Effective Taxonomy?

    Now that you know and understand that taxonomy is crucial for an e-commerce website, you need to build one. With the right direction and information, you can go on to build an effective taxonomy for your e-commerce site. Here’s how you can do it:-

    1. Detailed Planning With A Team

    Taxonomy creation cannot be handled by one member at the work place. A special, multidisciplinary team working across a wide-range of domains is required. The team should have in-depth knowledge in the field of taxonomy, content creation/management, website design and development and SEO in order to do full justice to technical, managerial and business angles.

    2. What Is The Scope?

    Once the team has been formed, find out what the scope is for the project and ask/answer these questions jointly as a team. Is it a small one or a large-scale project? What is the purpose of creating the taxonomy? What is the context in which it will be used? What is the ultimate goal we are trying to achieve? What will the design of the e-commerce website look like? What is the content scope? And who is ultimately the end user?

    3. Check Inventory, Make A Draft

    To start with, begin by jotting down the inventory. Build a taxonomy based on only what you can sell. Once you have done that, make a draft of the taxonomy. Have your hierarchies and categories clearly listed out and divided based on utility, price, size, type, color and make etc. and make sure that the content created adheres to and falls within the functions of each category.

    4. Implement & Test It

    Now is the stage for the implementation of the taxonomy that can be achieved through website design. This will initially take the form of skeleton wire-frames, navigation maps and interface. The second step would be to ‘populate’ the taxonomy with content and integrate it with the existing content management process. The final step and the most crucial step to the implementation process is to check if the taxonomy is corresponding with the onsite search results.

    Once the implementation stage is complete, it would be wise to test it thoroughly to identify any loopholes and flaws in the design. Check for ambiguity of categories, navigation and whether it takes more than ’3-clicks’ for customers to find what they are looking for.

    5. Maintenance

    The final and the most crucial step is to maintain the taxonomy structure. As the organization grows and the requirements change, the basic taxonomy model can be modified or amended, adding newer concepts, information, context, content and vocabulary. This will not only ensure that the e-commerce website is consistent in its performance but will also draw in more returns for the company.

    Benefits of E-commerce taxonomy:

    -Better e-commerce website navigation and design
    -Effective retrieval of information
    -Less time wasted in searches
    -Improves brand image and the reputation of the company
    -Chances of making higher returns on investment

    If done well and done right, the taxonomy framework will eventually lead to enhanced searches and quicker information access on your e-commerce page, with higher chances of ROI for the future.

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    A Study of the Online Shoe Retailer Industry – Australia

    Since 2005, GetFriday has been assisting many online footwear stores from Australia to manage their businesses. This got us curious about the state of affairs in the online shoes industry in Australia.

    We conducted primary research with some 50 online footwear stores from the Australian region to assess the competitive landscape and analyze the industry in general. The results of this survey could be of interest to shoe e-tailers and online retailers, in general.

    The Online Footwear Industry in Australia


    With revenue generation worth $416 million and an annual growth of 14%, the industry remains fragmented with players with low levels of market share according to a June 2015 market research report. The struggle for market share is reflected in discount wars to garner customers. Our primary research data shows that 73% of online shoe retailers offer discounts on products.

    Why the online shoe industry is tough:

    The online shoes industry is a tough environment to survive in. The entry barriers to set up an online shoe store are low and the numbers of online shoe stores are increasing. This affects the revenues of these stores, making them weak players in a large industry. Some market research data indicates, no single player holds more than 5% of the market share. For smaller online retailers, this could mean that more efforts need to be put into their marketing processes.

    6 Tactics to Standout in the Online Shoes Industry:

    1) Recognize What to Sell:

    About 30% of the stores sell only women’s shoes. On an average, these stores have collections of 300 products for customers to choose from. The stores selling both men and women’s shoes have an average collection of 550 products.

    Ankle boots, long boots, heels, flats, wedges, sandals, sneakers, pumps, peep toes, casuals are widely available and are the commonly listed products across online shoe stores for women.
    The men’s collection seems to be limited to athletic shoes, boots and work shoes – these being the most commonly available products.

    Add value to design, material, branding, customer service and relations to differentiate your product offerings and increase your sales.

    2) Push inefficiencies out of the sales and admin:

    Our study shows that E-commerce stores generating 10 to 15 orders per day reach a threshold point that requires rethinking the sales and admin design of the store. The focus must shift towards increasing the efficiency of sales and admin, from a “manageable” state of mind. A good CRM and project management tool could help with the collection and generation of data and could also help manage your projects with clarity. One among the best practices is to outsource activities that could be done remotely. This allows you to focus on data and customer relations. Hiring a good Virtual Assistance company for these back-end admin tasks could be the best way to improve efficiency.

    3) Leverage through Cross-Selling:

    Most retailers assume that customers know their needs and wait for the purchase decisions to stem from this knowledge. A McKinsey report “Rediscovering the art of selling” in 2010 showed, 40% of customers are open to persuasion when they walk into a brick and mortar store. E-commerce is driven by choices and the discretion it allows to its customers. One can safely assume that E-commerce customers are willing to be persuaded even more with the right offerings at the right time.

    Strategize about the products you wish to cross-sell and their placement on the website. A good starting point could be to analyze the sales data to understand the patterns. This will help you identify attitudinal preferences of customers.

    Our study shows, on an average stores cross-sell 31 products across multiple categories. For stores selling ladies footwear, the most popular accessory to be cross-sold are handbags (37% of stores sell handbags along with footwear). Other items that are being sold along with footwear are heel stoppers, heel grips, hosiery, compression foot sleeve, gel cushion, feet blister plasters, heel cushions, shoe care cream, shoe care sponge, shoehorn, socks, sunglasses and wallets.

    Cross-selling can be a good revenue stream for e-commerce online shoe stores. You should focus on the products mentioned above to increase your revenues. Again find your own niche and create that differentiator if you plan to stand out from the crowd.

    4) Provide Discounts for higher Revenue:

    A customer’s purchase decision now significantly consists of opportunities to compare prices and reviews. This has dramatically altered the purchase decisions. An ever-growing list of online retailers have added to the competition and fragmented the market. In this scenario, it can be a difficult proposition to sell footwear, which must compete for space using design and appeal as the main differentiator.

    Our study indicates online footwear retailers in Australia provide discounts through all seasons to attract customers. Our survey conducted in July 2015 shows, 73% stores discounted their select footwear products. 6% of stores have discounts on their available footwear collection. It is clear that discounts are being used as a tool to generate sales. It could also be used as a tool to clear stocks on a continuous basis before the next season’s products arrive.

    5) Create space for niche products:

    Our survey shows less than 2% of stores sell niche products such as orthotic shoes and wedding shoes among many others. We recommend you to make space for these kinds of niche complementary products for higher ROI and differentiation as a part of your red ocean strategy.

    6) Do not forget Social Media:

    Almost every store we surveyed has a social media presence. Social media marketing is cost- effective and is therefore attractive to online retailers. The online shoe industry is no exception.

    We conducted a survey to assess the activities of online shoe stores on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and various blogs. We found that 17% of stores have presence on all these social media forums. This means, online shoe stores look to engage customers’ across multiple platforms and forums.

    72% have presence on Twitter, 54% have presence on Pinterest, 44% have presence on Facebook, 33% have presence on Google+ and 33% have actively maintained a blog section. The store owners clearly see their presence on social media as vital to sales success. Smaller stores also face the risk of being unable to effectively utilize any single forum due to the lack of resources. In that case, you can outsource your social media activities to a VA firm and focus more on growth and business development.

    Follow these 6 steps to make your online shoe business stand out in an already crowded e-commerce industry. Apart from the ideas mentioned above, hiring a Virtual Assistant firm for cost-efficiency and higher productivity, can work out to your competitive advantage.

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    A Guide To Maximize Output With Your Virtual Assistant

    Once you have decided to work with a virtual assistant, the next step is to talk to the virtual assistant or the organization that they work for, in order to find out what they have in store. With GetFriday’s decade long experience in virtual assistance services, we wish to deconstruct for you the successful formula behind hiring a fantastic and effective virtual assistant.

    A 2001 HBR study conducted with 70 virtual teams found that 82% fell short of their goals and 33% rated themselves as largely unsuccessful. And a 2005 Deloitte study of projects outsourced to virtual work groups found that 66% failed to satisfy clients’ requirements. This data goes to show that hiring virtual assistants is a serious business. It combines two complex functions of management – team work and communication.

    3 Desirable Qualities Of A Virtual Assistant

    We decided to identify the most desirable qualities in a virtual assistant. Analysis of the data available with us shows communication, attention to details and ability to work independently top the list when it comes to outsourcing work to virtual assistants. Our view is that the key to a happy ‘outsourcing’ experience is to understand how to get the best out of your virtual assistant.

    3 Expectations From Virtual Assistant That Need To Be Managed-

    1. Virtual assistants must have great Communication skills

    The most mentioned and sought-after attribute while hiring a virtual assistant is communication. Virtual communication is often devoid of face to face interaction which provides information on emotional states or non-verbal cues. This, combined with lack of frequent communication, can risk your entire outsourcing success. The only way to avoid any pitfalls is to be extremely clear and disciplined about how you and your assistant will communicate.

    Establish standard norms for communication, modes of communication, frequency of communication etc. The details could include situations where just a simple email would do, and other circumstances when a phone call would be required. Encourage questions whenever messages are not clear. The performance of a virtual assistant / team can be expected to increase substantially whenever communication is clear.

    2. Virtual assistants must pay careful attention to detail

    The second attribute that is considered desirable, is the ability to pay attention to detail. Most small business are concerned about the work that is being outsourced and are keen on preserving and building a reputation that hinges on providing great services / products. We have all heard of Apple products and the amount of detail that goes beyond its physical product. Small businesses want to emulate the same. And rightly so, they seek attention to detail from virtual assistants as a standard criterion.

    Establishing clear processes for work outsourced could resolve the problem of attention to detail. Clear processes bring clarity and logic to work, therefore ensure attention to detail is incorporated in the process rather than being dependent on human memory and skill.

    Feedback is another important aspect. When you provide precise feedback about your expectations and how their attention to detail will impact your work, either positively or negatively, people tend to take notice and inculcate it into their regimen. Broad based feedback that attention to detail is missing is not going to help your virtual assistant improve. On the contrary, objective feedback and an awareness of the impact of their work definitely brings in good results..

    3. Virtual assistants must have the Ability to work independently

    The third most sought-after attribute is the ability to work independently. We frequently hear small business owners complaining about their virtual assistants and how they do not think for themselves.

    As a first step towards achieving this, shift the responsibility of work from process to person. Standardize what good work must look like, with opportunities to take independent decisions. For a start, specify the elements of process that could be handled by independent thinking and then slowly elaborate to include other parts of the process. However, note that this will be time consuming and requires patience to eventually achieve ‘quality’.

    Also, when you are outsourcing work to your virtual assistant, define the areas where you do not want them to take independent decisions very clearly so that even if a decision happens to be not right, it doesn’t impact your business too badly.

    4 Essentials To Get The Best Experience With Virtual Assistant

    1. Clarify and track commitments

    The problem with working remotely as seen by business owners, is the difficulty to monitor engagement and productivity. The solution could be, to carefully spell the outcome expected from the tasks. Regular meetings with virtual assistants could be held to understand the status of tasks.

    Most virtual assistants are ‘generalists’. By this it means that they have ample knowledge on a wide range of domains and don’t specialize in just one field unless specified. Therefore, when you are offloading work, make sure you have jotted down exactly what you want and how you want it done, by breaking down the task instructions in a step-by-step fashion. Avoid vague instructions at all costs. Don’t expect the virtual assistant to infer what you ‘intended’ to say. Instead, make your work and your virtual assistant’s work easier by clearly specifying all the details down to the ‘T’ and even asking if the instructions are understood.

    If the task is a technical one or the virtual assistant is handling it for the first time, you could even add tutorial videos, sample documents and screenshots of how it can be handled or done. Going all out to explain in detail what you want will only guarantee 100% results.

    2. Positive Teams are more productive

    In most cases it is forgotten that though virtual assistants work remotely for your business, they still require a sense of team spirit. Well defined objectives, deliverables and tracking commitments helps the virtual assistants/teams remain focused.

    The additional element of engagement in your business goals is fostered when a positive environment of shared accountability and responsibility is imbibed. A happy and a comfortable working relationship is definitely going to get to your virtual assistant to take more interest in your work. Understand that this is the person you will have to work with for the next few months or even for the long term and that it is important that both you and your virtual assistant feel positive about working with each other. Explain your business goals, preferences and expectations. This will ensure that you and your virtual assistant would have started off on the right note.

    3. Give Feedback, Take Feedback

    As someone who is investing so much time and money into delegating work to the virtual assistant, you would have certain expectations of how the job should be done. In case it is not done to your satisfaction, give constructive feedback and help him/her learn and grow. On the other hand, if they have done a good job with the work, make sure you laud them for their efforts. This will only motivate them to research better, perform better and deliver better.

    Your virtual assistant may have certain suggestions or feedback related to certain tasks and might have creative ideas or suggestions. Be sure to pay heed to that. Keeping the communication lines open and free between you and your virtual assistant will only prove to be beneficial.

    4. Encourage Creativity

    Encourage your virtual assistant to come up with creative ways to tackle different matters and to come up with solutions. More often than not, virtual assistants come up with some really great solutions and ideas and can help you in ways you wouldn’t have expected. Encouraging creativity on their part is a good practice and will keep them interested in their work and motivated throughout.

    As you begin a new journey with your virtual assistant, make sure you have got all of the above points covered so that you don’t start by getting off on the wrong foot. No matter what task you have for them at hand, it is important to follow these steps to get the best out of your virtual assistant.

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    Step Up Your Vacation Rentals ‘Marketing’ Before It’s Too Late!

    Travel Industry – At The Cusp Of Change

    The $144 billion vacation rental industry with over million listings, has taken the travel industry by storm. According to Vacation Rental Managers Association, 24% of leisure travelers are now choosing vacation rental homes over hotels and resorts. While this affords considerable opportunity to vacation home owners, not everyone is reaping the benefits of this industry.

    Vacation rental owners often grapple with questions related to receiving more customers/ guests. The answer seems to lie with smart marketing practices. We have listed a few basic ideas that vacation rental owners could use.

    Is Your Vacation Rental Lost In The Crowd?

    Getting found in major search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing, is important. Your potential guests are looking for vacation rentals and if your website shows in the top 10 search results, you are bound to have a competitive edge over the others and it will also make it easier for people to find you.

    With your website on top of search results, there are higher chances of increases in bookings and boosts in occupancy.

    Vacation Rental

    Three Reasons To Begin Marketing Your Vacation Rental Now

    1) According to a Google post, it takes a mere 3 to 7 seconds for a shopper to decide on a buying a product/service. Known as the ZMOT, this is the most critical phase in the marketing cycle and is far more critical than the actual advertising itself. As vacation rental owners, you will need to understand how to capitalize on this period known as the ZMOT, correctly.

    2) Google is the greatest source of traffic (70%) for websites and there are no two ways about it. Vacation rental owners need to understand how to a) be featured on top sites on Google, b) have all the SEO marketing done and in place in order to be traced by the search engine.

    3) In the US alone, 87% of the population depended on the internet for majority of the travelling that took place through the year 2014. This information alone is vital for vacation rental owners, because in today’s time and age it is important to understand how to scale your online presence and market your services effectively in order to rank on Google or be chosen by customers.

    The 8 Stepping Stones To Vacation Rental Marketing Success

    1. Keywords are Important:

    The most important step in optimising your website is to finalise the keywords you intend to target. You must decide on the keyword for which you want to be found.
    Opting for short tail and long tail keywords needs comprehensive research to filter out the best ones. Long tail keywords will give you an extra edge, making you more visible and will significantly boost your bookings. Gauge your competition thoroughly before you select your keywords because it is one of the most crucial steps.
    Here is an example just for your reference:-

    Short tail Keyword – Vacation Rental

    Short Tail Key Word

    Long tail Keyword: Clearwater beach Vacation Rentals

    Long Tail Keyword

    With the above example you can see the difference in search volume results.
    The advantage of the long tail keyword is that you have lesser search volume and your visibility in getting found for such keywords are high. It is better to be a big fish in a small pond rather being a little fish in a big pond. It is wise to choose the keywords that make you visible to your niche audience with specific needs.

    2. Meta Data:

    Another key factor to build online presence is to optimise your Meta tags with proper keywords. This is important because your audience will identify you by these tags. Give an attractive two-liner to catch the eye of your potential guests and make sure that the keywords are inserted into the descriptions.

    Here is a snippet of what Meta tags will look like on a search engine result:-

    Meta Data

    Capture the attention of viewers with an appealing story that describes the vacation rental aptly within 160 characters (as per Google’s meta data guidelines).

    3. Website Design & Aesthetics

    A websites’ aesthetics also affects the bookings for your vacation. Keep a tab on the website design and both, the quality and quantity of pictures. For example, replacing low quality photographs with quality pictures was the first step towards success for AirBnb. Thus, more quality pictures mean higher the chances of conversions. Keeping a 360 view video of your vacation home also gives prospective clients real-time views of your location. All these factors in combination will definitely add more value to your vacation rental and will attract more customers.

    4. Call to Action:

    Overall, the “call to action” buttons are meant to garner some action on your website. Highlight important buttons/tabs or position it in such a manner on the website that it attracts maximum attention.

    Some of the “call to action” buttons on your vacation rental website can be,
    – Toll free numbers
    – “Book Now” button
    – “Check Calendar” to see the availability of the rentals
    – Chat options
    – Social media links to share/ like/post tweets on your page.

    GetFriday, the virtual assistance company in Bangalore, India, conducted an in-depth analysis on 3000 bookings for vacation rentals. The results revealed that checking “calendars” and dates were of top interest to potential guests.

    You can also see the Slideshare presentation for Vacation Rental Marketing by clicking on the picture given below.

    Step Up Your Vacation Rentals

    Step Up Your Vacation Rentals

    5. Push for an Ad Campaign:

    Google says your potential clients decide in 3-7secs whether they want to buy a product or service. If your ads shoot up in Google, your chances of being chosen are high.

    Go for a display campaign with pictures of your beautiful vacation rental with appropriate “call to action” buttons and other relevant details. Alternatively try out Remarketing campaigns that are even more cost effective, this would remind your visitors about your rentals. By marketing your offers and deals in your ads, you have better chances of increasing ROI.

    6. Rave reviews:

    Customers’ decisions are greatly influenced by reviews. Guests spend at least 30mins to read reviews before making bookings and the better the review; the better the chances are of increased revenue in the long run. Being a good host and attending to guests personally will also ensure positive reviews from the guests’ end. You can even capitalize on your reviews.
    By adding your Google/Facebook reviews to your website’s rich snippet, the ratings for your services will be visible in the search result itself and will immediately give prospective customers an idea of the quality of your services.

    7. Update Social Media:

    Keep your social media channels updated. Invite your clients to post reviews on your social media channels and personalize your requests by either sending them incentives or discount offers for the next time. Make sure your website is integrated to major social networks, so that your prospective customers can take a look at what you have on offer.

    Social media channels also act as channels for branding and maintaining reputation. So, make sure you get those fab reviews from your guests. Don’t chase them for it, but politely convince them to write honest feedback about your services.

    8. Are you mobile-friendly yet?

    As per Google’s new algorithm change, your website needs to be mobile-friendly to boost your rankings on search results. Earlier this year, Google released mobile friendly metrics. So, hurry up and check if your website adheres to these metrics. Mobile usage has grown by leaps and bounds and around 30% of the bookings are made directly from mobile devices. It is wise to redesign your website if it is not mobile friendly yet.

    These are the pointers that you should ideally have on “priority” checklist in order to have better ROI and to market your vacation rental more effectively. If necessary, seek the help of SEO professionals to make your website stand out and to guide you with how you can market your vacation rentals more effectively. Ultimately, prospective guests need to buy your service and it is the number of “conversions/booking” that matter after all.

    More conversions= More revenue/growth for Vacation Rental Owners= More happiness.

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    Vacation Rentals – Increasing Occupancy Through Customer Reviews

    Customer reviews influence the purchase decisions of a potential consumer to a very large extent. Validation and confirmation of a decision is a human need, which psychologists describe as social proof. When a customer is at the 3rd level of the purchase decision process i.e. evaluation of alternatives; customer reviews about a company’s offering can sway a consumers’ decision to either side. A “Think with Google” consumer report, analyzing a traveler’s road to decision making, states that 36 % of leisure travelers and 42 % of business travelers are influenced by travel reviews.

    GetFriday’s study was conducted on the basis of over 3000 customer interactions for vacation rentals and has thrown some light on some prevalent and interesting facts. It has been known for a while that positive customer reviews can tilt a potential guests’ decision in your favor. But the extent to which it influences the swing is largely unknown to individual vacation property owners. So here are our insights based on this survey.

    Please click on the below image to see the slideshare presentation as well.

    Vacation Rentals: Increase occupancy through Customer Reviews - GetFriday

    Guests Consciously Seek Out Reviews

    Our study shows that more than 20% of guests consciously cite past customers or their reviews while taking a decision about a property and even during their initial communication with the Rental Owners. The actual numbers of guests getting influenced by reviews and taking a final call on a booking based on that is much higher than we initially thought. We have also observed guests picking on the experiences of previous visitors while they seek confirmation about specific amenities like swimming pools, Wi-Fi, barbeques, shower facilities etc.

    Customer reviews clearly generate interest and engage potential guests. And if certain vacation rentals are more successful and more sought after than the others; customers reviews would definitely be pointed out as one of the major reasons behind it.

    Guests Are Wary About The Authenticity Of The Reviews

    While working with vacation properties around the world virtually, our experiences have taught us that many potential customers are also wary about the authenticity of customer reviews. Hence, it is of prime importance that Vacation Rental Owners display genuine and authentic comments and provide proactive feedback to reviews keeping their target audience in mind. Hence, managing customer reviews has become even more important now, as positive/negative reviews are directly linked to the overall rating of a property. It acts as a prime decisive factor for the customers while deciding to go on a vacation.

    Negative comments are a part of regular reviews from customers and one should not worry about hiding negative reviews. Rental owners generally panic at the sight of negative reviews and instinctively seek methods to either confront the guest on the review forum or sometimes, seek to purge the negative comments. Instead, Rental owners should address these negative reviews as soon as possible and try to resolve the issue at hand. The smart, professional manner in which a negative comment is handled on a public forum, can convert a dissatisfied customer into an advocate for your business. Based on long-standing experiences with Vacation Rental Owners, we would suggest the following approaches to tackle negative reviews:

    Address The Root Cause:

    Most travelers are genuine and do not wish to make unwarranted comments. Address the concerns they might have had during their stay and convince the reviewer that it will not happen again. This will assure prospective guests of your trustworthiness and your willingness to solve problems. Responding to a complaint or negative review in a genuine manner is the first sign of a good business.

    Gather More Positive Reviews:

    If there is Yin, there is Yang as well. There is generally a good balance of positive reviews to offset the negative ones. A “HomeAway.com” survey states, 93% of guest reviews are positive (meaning a rating of 4 stars and above). This should assure you that a one-off negative review will not cause you harm; that is, if it is promptly addressed. Addressing the root cause in the first place and making sure that the same problem does not occur again will ensure that the quality of the service remains on the higher side and will also allow an owner to gather more positive reviews for the vacation rental house on an ongoing basis.

    There Is Always A Bright Side:

    A few negative comments peppered among positive reviews gives a more authentic look and feel to the review page. Though we do not have scientific data to prove this phenomenon, simple social logic seems to confirm it. If you had all but positive reviews, then the data looks suspect for the first time viewer, even if your service were impeccable.

    How Do You Get More Guests To Write Review For Your Property?

    1. E-mail each guest after they leave, thanking them for their stay and inviting them to leave a review.
    2. While refunding the deposit, send your guests a note, asking them for reviews.
    3. Most guests are kind enough to write reviews. If they enjoyed their stay, they most probably will write one anyway. To be on the safer side, just send them gentle reminders, do not hound or spam them.
    4. If possible, be there for a personal good-bye when your guests check out. This adds a more personal touch to the experience and makes it a memorable one for your guest.

    Vacation property owners need to treat customer reviews as another opportunity to market their property. When customer reviews are handled deftly with a clear strategy and objective, they could cause a positive impact on your business and its profits.

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