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Great articles roundup: Online and real-time marketing, social customer service and the Gmail Promotions tab

linkBy Hailley Griffis 

We’ve rounded up some of the best posts we came across this week. Today we’re looking at the justification for online marketing and some tips for implementing a real-time marketing strategy. One of our  favourite topics is customer service, and we’ll take a look at four excellent examples of using Twitter for that purpose. Finally, we’re finishing up today by looking at Gmail’s new Promotions tabs and how that affects e-mail marketing. We grabbed this week’s articles from Bdaily, 1to1Media, SocialMediaExaminer and Time Business.

Is online marketing just a waste of time?

There are many things that a business should consider before jumping into online marketing. Vicki Stone outlines some of the questions that should be asked beforehand. The most sound advice requires a business to look at their customers’ current habits to figure out whether or not online marketing raises the right kind of awareness they are seeking. Though most of the time, when it’s done correctly and there are clear goals for your online marketing efforts, it’s absolutely worth the effort.

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House renos and the art of customer service

By Francis Moran

Regular readers of this blog will know that we have something of an obsession with customer service. At first glance, it might not seem obvious why a technology market blog might be so preoccupied with this. Except, as I have written many times, customer service is based on what I have come to call my first law of competitive differentiation, the proposition that, in an age when almost any technological or cost advantage will rapidly and inevitably be eroded, the only sustainable competitive differentiation for most companies is to treat their customers like the centre of the universe, which they are.

Based on recent experience, I have to say there’s nothing quite like doing a major round of house renovations to expose the good, the bad and the carpet layers of customer service.

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Great articles roundup: Accelerators, gunslingers, customer service and startup founders

By Daylin Mantyka

As a regular feature, we provide our readers with a roundup of some of the best articles we have read in the past week. On the podium this week are Techvibes, MarketingProfs, Co.Create and GigaOM.

Which accelerator, if any, should you join?

Ian MacKinnon talks about the pros and cons of joining an accelerator and whether or not it’s right for your company.

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Customer service must be a deliberate strategy

By Francis Moran

I had a conversation the other day with a senior executive at a company for which I occasionally do some consulting. The executive wanted my opinion on how his company handles warranty returns. Under their current practice, they oblige their customers to remove the faulty equipment, which is often tightly embedded in an operational environment, pack it up as best they can with their own resources, and ship it back at the customer’s expense. If the fault is determined to be covered under warranty, they refund the customer’s shipping costs. Meanwhile, the customer may have to do without what is often a mission-critical piece of gear, although most of this company’s customers do stock healthy inventories of spare equipment.

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The price of everything, the value of nothing and customer service

By Leo Valiquette

Customer service, and the lack thereof, is a recurring topic on this blog, and for good reason. As public relations and marketing consultants, we appreciate the profound impact that a poor experience with your brand can have on a customer’s willingness to come again or refer your products and services to others. We may not be customer service experts, but we are active consumers who regularly engage with the front-line staff of numerous brands. And it’s what happens on the front lines that matters most.

Francis said it best in a past post, Kudos for empowered customer service:

“My consistent points are that the cost of acquiring customers is almost always far higher than the cost of keeping them, that effective customer service is the only sustainable competitive differentiator, and that most customer-service operations fail by forcing their agents to be powerless automatons more interested in getting the customer off the line than actually servicing them.”

If your customers do not feel well-served on the front line, your marketing messaging, no matter how well-crafted, will not save you. Your brand reputation is built, not by words, but by the actions of your team at every point of contact, from the reception desk to order fulfilment and after-sales support. The purpose of the words crafted by the marketing team is to evangelize the great service you provide. As marketing consultants we can’t create something from nothing and in the age of social media, what smacks of hypocrisy can come under harsh, and very public, criticism quite fast.

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