Outdoor Business Network Adds New Supplier

We here at OBN are proud to welcome our newest supplier to our system.  We have completed the integration with their ERP and warehouse management system, so retailers using our eCommerce platform now have the ability to get updated product information, inventory status, order status, as well as utilize our One-Click-to-Ship feature.

moteng

 

Moteng is familiar with online fulfillment and drop shipping.  They even have a program dedicated to it.  If you are a current Moteng customer, or an outdoor retailer looking to expand its offerings, it is worth a look.   Moteng’s product section includes knives & tools, public safety equipment, lights, apparel, outdoor equipment, kitchen cutlery, and more.  To find out more about our new integration, give us a call at 1-800-699-0820 ext. 1, one of our team members would be glad to answer your questions.

More about Moteng:

Moteng was founded in 1980 in Los Angeles as a supplier of knives and imported African artifacts. Fine wall hangings hand woven by the Moteng Mountain tribesman in the Kingdom of Lesotho gave the company its name.

Moteng has continually enhanced both its products and services. Our website has been rated as having the most information and easiest to use by our customers.

In 1987 the company relocated to San Diego, California. In 2011 the company moved it’s warehouse into it’s present location in Phoenix, Arizona. In 2011, Black Orchid Equity, LLC, a private equity firm, purchased Moteng NA, LLC and gave the company capital to operate and grow in the space for another 30 years.

Thanks to the incredible support of our very loyal customers and vendors, Moteng has grown to become one of the leading wholesale distributors and drop-shippers in our industry. Moteng now offers over 100,000 items from over 250 best selling brands.
Look through our product range or contact us for a catalog. We look forward to doing business with you soon

Keeping Your Inbox Tidy

Email can be a great business tool but it can also be a real headache sometimes. Staying on top of email is definitely high on the e-commerce housekeeping list, but it is not without its fair share frustration.  Not only is it tough to keep organized, but also keeping out the junk or “spam” can be maddening. Here are some tips to keep your mailbox organized, keep spam to a minimum, and manage storage space.

Spam:

Just to be clear, spam is any kind of email that you don’t want and did not sign up to receive. Most spam is harmless but sometimes it can be part of an identity theft scam or other types of fraud. Although spam is most commonly found in email, it can also come to text messages and even on social networking sites.

You can receive hundreds of spam messages for every legitimate message that arrives. With tools like box trapper as well as email filtering you can help reduce the amounts of spam in your inbox.  Even with good filters, some of the spam makes it through. Also filters can sometimes hide messages that you really do want to receive, so watch out and be mindful when you are creating your rules. We offer a tool called “Spam Assassin” that we can setup for retailers with high spam, just give us a call and ask for it.

To set up filters, log in to your email account from the front end of your website. Here is a tutorial on how to login and set rules in your email:

1.Type your domain name into your URL (ex. “www.yourdomain.com”)

2.Add “/webmail” or “:2096″ and hit “enter” on your keyboard (ex.”www.yourdomain.com/webmail”)

3.You may see a yellow warning screen, just choose the “Proceed Anyway” button

4.Type in your complete email address and correct password (case sensitive) and choose the orange “log in” button.

5. You will see the three different free viewing programs: Horde, Roundcube, and Squirrel-Mail.

6.Under the email server icons, go to “Email Filtering” in the bottom right corner.

7.Under “Create Filter” click the button “Create a New Filter”.

8.Set your rules by creating a unique name for this set of rules, then set the rules using the drop down menus, selecting types of messages you do not want to receive. You can add as many as you like using the “+”

NOTE: Use specific email addresses, keywords, and phrases that are specific to the spam you have been receiving.

9. Once you have made your selections, set your action for your rule with the drop down menu

10. Hit the “create” button to save your rule.

11. You can go back any time to edit your rules or set new ones.

Storage:

Make sure you either save or delete old emails. Many people are email hoarders and keep old emails so long that eventually they use up their storage space and are unable to send or receive mail. Staying within your quota is a lot easier said than done, but here are some pointers.

One thing you may not know is that it may not be the number of emails in your inbox but what is actually in your emails. Emails with big documents, pictures, and other data monsters will take up space in your email. We suggest that you either archive old emails or save pictures and documents onto your computer or even something like Dropbox instead of letting them sit in your email inbox.

Organizing your Inbox:

Some people like to create folders to keep their inbox organized, and you can find many ways on how to do it. We suggest finding categories that make sense for you and sticking to it.

Your Password:

As we have said before, having a strong and secure password is also essential to keep your inbox safe and secure. Keep hackers from getting into your account by making sure your password is “bulletproof”. Here are some suggestions that will help you create a strong password from microsoft.com.

If you have trouble remembering your passwords, you can use a secure password keeper like passpack.com.

Get Personal and Standout: Tell Your E-Commerce Story

With so much emphasis on the internet today we often lose that personal touch of “small business”. More and more people are looking to online stores to get what they need and many retailers don’t think about ways that they can give their customers a personal touch to set them apart from the billions of other retailers out there. Here are a few ideas that bring back that special something that people seem to be missing from brick and mortar stores.

 

1. Tell Your Business Story

Consumers want to know who they are buying from so why not share your unique business story? Let people know who you are and what you stand for so they can see that your business is actually real people doing real work. Make sure your information pages have an “About Us” that is well written and includes pictures so people can connect with your store on a personal level, something they can’t get from a big box store.

Learn how here:

2. Send a Personal Thank You

This is a little extra effort that goes a long way. Sending a short and simple “thank you” to customers after an order will not only make them feel important but it will reinforce the idea that they are buying their product from real people dedicated to their business. If you are sending an item from your store you can drop a thank you letter in the box before you ship, or if you are drop shipping you can send a digital thank you with your order confirmation using the comments box on your order page.

Learn how here:

3. Reach Out to Your Customers

Much like you would greet your customer walking into your store, you can use newsletters and special coupon codes to reach out and say hello to your best customers. Keeping your store fresh in your customers minds will keep them coming back for business and maybe even get you referrals. Use tools like Who’s OnlineCustomersCoupons, and Newsletter to reach out to your existing customers.

Learn how here:

Who’s Online

Customers

Coupons

Newsletter

Email Marketing Part 3: Analytic’s & Overview

Welcome back to final part of this Email Marketing topic where we will be going over what do look for after you’ve already sent out your customized newsletter.  Going over and looking to see your email lists reaction is crucial to consistently improving and having a successful newsletter.

First thing we are going to look at is your unique opens, these are the amount of opens your newsletter received. The reason this is important to look at is for future topics and seeing what exactly your list basis prefers to look at. At the beginning, don’t be afraid to try new topics, content, links, see what works best for you.

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The second item we are going to look at is the “clicked” rate, this is the amount of times your list interacts with that newsletter. Looking at this can help you see what layout works best, where to put that picture, where to put that text, or where to incorporate that link.

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The third thing we want to look at is our bounced rate. Unfortunately it will happen, but there is a difference between a hard and soft bounce. A hard bounce is a bounce that indicates a permanent reason an email cannot be delivered, either the mail doesn’t exist, or the email server blocked the email. A soft bounce however is an indication of a temporary delivery issue to an address, these emails will be attempted to be sent out 2-3 times over 90 days before getting put into the hard bounce category.

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The fourth thing we want to look at is our 24 hour performance. Pay close attention to this, figuring out and comparing results to previous newsletters will help your company narrow down the time that is most efficient for your company.

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Lastly, we look at the top links clicked section, this section is an indication of what your subscribers have clicked on the most. Paying attention to this will help you find what material your audience prefers to see and read about.

Email Marketing Part 2: Design & Content

Hey guys/gals welcome back to part 2 of the email marketing segment. So we have already built up our audience and created a few catchy themes to keep subscribers interested in your newsletter. Now it’s time to design and create a quality newsletter to send out to your customer base.

The first thing we want to concentrate on the newsletter is the subject name, in this few word header will be the deciding factor whether or not a subscriber opens the email or just tosses it out. Creating a good header that is not only interesting but intrigues the subscriber enough to want to read the whole newsletter. Doing this will become one of the biggest assets to your company.

The next thing we want to take a look at and make sure is just as important as a subject line is the first fold of the newsletter. This is where the most important content of the newsletter is going to go, having good quality content that displays what you are trying to accomplish with the newsletter. If you are trying to increase web traffic to your store, ensure some links directing them back to where you want them to go. If you want to acquire more sales within a short period of time, maybe offer a sale, or a coupon to the subscribers to encourage them to spend a little more money. Doing small things and concentrating on how well the newsletter is set up will determine the amount of positive feedback you will acquire.

The last thing we want to look at on designing the newsletter is the bottom portion, this is where your information goes that’s just not as important as the first fold but can still intrigue subscribers to read the entire newsletter. This is a good place to include recent news about the shop, or even upcoming events that can get your subscribers wanting to know more. This is also a good place to have interesting articles about related topics to your company. But it’s also a good place to leave your customers happy and have them waiting for that next newsletter.

Be sure to tune in next week for the final part of this Email Marketing Segment!

Call Us Today!

The team at OBN has made a concerted effort to contact each of our clients individually. Much like ourselves, we find our customers are busy running the day to day tasks. The reason for these courtesy calls is just that. Our first goal is to be sure you have all of your questions answered and possible assist you with any tasks that you have been meaning to get to. The second and possibly larger reason for us calling on you all is that we very much want to be sure that you are all aware of our marketing capabilities. From some simple Online Marketing Campaign to full on marketing management, the power of a well structured can drastically change the livelihood of your business.

If you have read any of my past Blogs you will know that OBN believes in the power of marketing. We can custom tailor your marketing solution to meet your budget. The process is really quite painless and the rewards that can be reaped are well worth the effort. While we will continue to reach out to all of you I urge you to get in touch with us too. There is no task to small to help you with and the knowledge that we have to share with you can literally be the difference in making or breaking your business.

As always call us at: 1-800-699-0820 ext 814 for sales/marketing and ext 2 for support.

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Creating An Effective Logo

Every company needs an effective logo to represent their branding and provide consumers an easily recognizable graphic representation of the company and it’s core values. Logo’s can become the public face of a business and in examples of extremely effective logo design, can even replace the brand name as the most ubiquitous aspect of a company (see the Nike “Swoosh” or McDonald’s “Golden Arches”). Creating and implementing an effective logo is an essential step in the evolution of any successful retailer.

What is the purpose of a logo?

Logos are an aspect of a company’s branding, they’re used as the graphical representation of a company’s values and goals. Logos are used to identify a particular entity in a sea of competitors, and help to inspire loyalty, trust and admiration among consumers. An effective logo design will help to convey not only what a company does, but what it stands for. Although logos are not generally created to be a salable commodity, it’s not unheard for a great logo to become just that (again, see the Nike “Swoosh”).

What elements make up a good logo?

Generally it’s accepted that there are 5 basic principles that every logo should encompass:

  1. Simple
  2. Memorable
  3. Timeless
  4. Versatile
  5. Appropriate

Simple: Often logos need to communicate both effectively and quickly. Logos need to be as easily recognized by someone speeding by a billboard at 70mph, as they would be by someone watching a 30 second commercial on tv. The key to speedy recognition is simplicity of design; the fewer elements, the easier it is for the viewer to distinguish what he or she is looking at.

Memorable: Of equal importance to the logo being recognized, is the logo’s ability to leave a lasting impression on the viewer. The goal of an effective logo is to create a relationship between a symbol and what it symbolizes, to accomplish this task it must be easily remembered. An effective logo will be easily remembered so that the consumer can easily recognize the symbol of a company and what that company stands for.

Timelessness: In order for a logo to remain memorable it also must remain unchanged. Logos need to be created in such away that allows them to remain relevant even with changes in design aesthetics and popular preferences. Updates are appropriate from time to time, but the general feel of a logo should be created in such a way as to allow for changes in taste without compromising the logos integrity.

Versatile: Logos need to be able to function across a variety of different media and applications. For instance an ideal logo would look good on a website header, plastered on a billboard, or stitched into a company t-shirt. An effective logo should look as good in black and white as it does in color. Ideally logos should be created in vector graphics format. Vector graphics scale to any size and can be enlarged or shrunk to fit any application without a loss of quality.

Appropriate: The effective logo needs to take into account the audience it is hoping to capture and be appropriately designed with the intended viewers in mind. This isn’t to say that every logo for a gun store needs to have a firearm in the design, however if you’re intended audience is the recreational hunter you may want to include camouflage or a deer, where as a company going after tactical sales may want to include carbon fiber or soldier silhouette in the design.

What does good logo design cost?

The cost of logo design can vary greatly depending on the needs of client. How many logo concepts need to be presented? How many rounds of revisions are included in the design quote? What type of finished files are required, .pdf, .eps, .png, .jpg? Large companies have spent millions of dollars on logo design and implementation. OBN offers logo design packages starting at $499 that include multiple design concepts, one round of revisions, and final image outputs in several formats including scalable vector graphics.

 

Return on Investment

Investing is one of the most important aspects companies have to deal with on a regular basis. Companies have to figure out when to spend while also looking at what to spend it on that. Now an investment doesn’t necessarily mean money, but can also be the time, or effort put towards a particular thing. However companies are main objective is to make money while turning a consistent profit. But have you ever wonder if the investment your company has made actually turns a profit? There’s a way to do it, it’s called Return on Investment (ROI); which is a performance measure used to evaluate the efficiency of an investment or to compare the efficiency of a number of different investments.

indexIt is crucial for companies to check their Return on Investment wherever they designate any kind of investment. You want to make sure you are turning a profit on your investments ROI can be used to help narrow down where a company is or is not making a return on their investment.

Customer Service

Customer phone calls are important to any e-commerce or brick and mortar business. Want to learn some tips, tricks, and best practices to make your customer phone calls more effective? Let’s take a look at how to handle sales related phone calls in the first part of my two part series on customer service.

Part 1: Handling Sales Related Customer Calls

Seeing an Opportunity
This process is very similar to interacting with a customer in your brick and mortar retail store or even at a gun show. In the e-commerce world helping customers over the phone is not only necessary, but also a great opportunity to help and connect with customers. A person calling your phone line is probably looking to make a purchase, but before we begin, we need to lay down some ground rules for customer call.

Establish a Greeting

First greet each customer in a professional manner. A simple way to do this is to say, “Hello, (your business name), this is (your name), how can I help you?”
This will put the customer at ease, it ensures they have gotten to the right place and are talking with a real person. You now need to let the customer talk and tell you what they are looking for.

Asking the Right Questions

So let’s say for the sake of this post that, you own a gun store and a customer has called you. You greet politely them as usual and the customer then asks you, “What gauge shotgun do your recommend for skeet shooting?” This isn’t a waste of your day, it’s a buying signal.

Once they have said what they are looking for repeat it back to them and ask another probing question. This shows that you are listening and trying to help them. Try to ask questions that will give you insight into the customer’s needs. Avoid questions that make the customer unsure or intimidated. If you ask the right questions you should be able to get a very clear sense of your customer’s wants and needs.

Establishing a Budget

Next, you need a budget. Ask them, “How much are you looking to spend?”
Be prepared for two types of answers. You are either going to hear a number or they are going to ask you to make a recommendation.

• A number is easy. From there you would talk about products that are at or around their target range. Don’t be afraid to recommend something that isn’t exactly at their number. If they don’t need to spend as much or if they may need to spend a little more to accomplish their goal, tell them, and make your honest recommendation. They will be much happier with something costing 10-20% more or less than the number they mentioned if it is the right product for them.

• Recommending a price range is more difficult, but it’s nothing to be intimidated by. Simply think about it this way; recommend a specific product that you would want to purchase given two conditions:

• You are looking to get a high quality item that will last a long time

• You are looking to invest a decent amount of time and energy using the product you buy. If possible recommend something that you have had some personal experience with.

Benefits are Key to Any Sale

Once you have established a budget and recommended a product you need to start listing benefits and explain why you are making that recommendation. A benefit is the positive effect on your customer of a certain feature. For example a feature of a rifle may be a picatinny rail. The benefit to a picatinny rail is that they can easily attach any accessory that they may want often without using tools, so they won’t need to get a screwdriver out to add a tactical light on to their gun.

Keep talking about benefits and be sure to put the product where the customer can see it. An effective way to do this is to direct the customer to the product on your e-commerce website or to email them a link.

When you have both chosen a product and outlined some benefits it is now time to listen to the customer’s concerns and talk with them about their objections. Be sure to answer all of their questions as professionally as possible and find them the right information if you have to. It is important to re-establish that this is the right product for the customer when dealing with objections. Then keep talking about benefits.

What if The Customer Doesn’t Like What You Recommend?

If the customer doesn’t like what you have picked out for them don’t argue. The response to that is, “Ok, no problem let’s find you something else.”
Then move on. The important part here is to make a sale NOT make your point or try to change the customer’s mentality.

Closing the Sale

Once the customer is seeing the benefits and how they can work for them ask for the sale by inquiring, “Is this something I can ship out to you today?” or in the case of firearms, “what FFL will I be sending this gun to?” If the customer really likes the product it is worth trying an assumptive add-on close. In this case, a good way to do this would be to say, “how about some extra choke tubes to go with your new shotgun?”

Odds are these questions will lead your customer in the right direction without being forceful. Once you do make the sale reinforce that the customer has made a good decision and that they will be happy with their new product.

If you do have to end the call before the sale is made remember to follow up with the customer. Ask for permission to send him some information about the products he is looking for. You can easily email the customer links to products on your site with a personal note recommending certain items.

Want More?

The National Shooting Sports Foundation has created a great video talking about in person customer interactions. A lot of it applies over the phone and it is worth spending time to watch. Taking these steps on the phone and in person will leave your customers happier and put more money in your pocket.

Written By: Kyle Jazwiecki – Account Manager

Email Marketing Part 1: Setting It Up

As a business owner consistently pushing your brand and products in front of your customers is a struggle. Adapting, creating, and promoting new products are imperative, and one simple way to do that is through email newsletters. Some people believe that email marketing is a thing of the past and not an effective way to grab a customer’s attention. I am here to say those are false beliefs and many companies are successfully using email marketing for numerous reasons. Email Marketing increases traffic towards your online store, increases brand awareness while promoting your products consistently.

The first thing a business must do is carefully build up a recipient list and carefully place them into categories so as the business owner can send out direct newsletters to increase the potential for that customer to buy products on your online store. images

After creating a list for the newsletter, the next step is to set up a newsletter. This isn’t the easiest thing to do, one must pay close attention to the design and effort you’ve put into it to achieve maximum results. It must draw the reader’s attention towards certain parts of the newsletter to keep them interested and want to read more. Maybe offer coupon codes or incentives to your audience to drive traffic to your store even if they don’t buy anything. If at all, a newsletter is a way to keep your business fresh inside the minds of your customers, saying “Hey! I’m still here with good deals”.

Now after you’ve built up your audience and took the time to carefully build your newsletter it’s time to send it out. But you may be asking, when is the best time to send this out? Does the time of day really matter? Yes it does! Do some further research to maximize the amount of open rate your newsletter. Try to send out an” A/B” testing email to narrow down times, dates, days, and even comparing different emails. Doing this will increase your chances for a higher return on investment and increase the amount of people looking forward to your next newsletter!

Be sure to tune in next week on part 2 of this marketing feature!

Tip of the Post

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” – Outdoor Business Network