Data Disaster: 24% Never Back Up!

Someone arbitrarily decided that June is Backup Awareness month. Let’s celebrate with this pie chart from Backblaze:

Backup Frequency Chart

It’s hard to believe that almost half of computer owners never back up or only back up once a year. These users are headed for a data disaster because storage media always fail. On average, here’s the lifespan of common storage media:

  • 5-10 years: flash drives
  • 3-5 years: hard drives
  • 2-5 years: CDs and DVDs

I’m in the 8% that backup my files daily, and just last year I added secondary remote backups to my routine. I simply can’t afford to lose my clients’ valuable files and data.

As a small business, it’s critical you develop a backup routine. Losing even a month’s worth of files can significantly harm your productivity and success. Consider losing the last month’s billing cycle, the new spreadsheets you spent hours on, the countless emails exchanged and all the minute changes made to your documents.

Backup utilities automate the process of backing up. Once you configure the system, you’ll hardly have to think about it again– until you need the backup!

Keep Mobile in Mind: Small Business Marketing Tip

More than 50% of customers view email marketing communications or social media marketing campaigns on a smartphone. This means every message you share must keep mobile in mind or risk being ignored by half of your customers.

Keep Mobile in Mind

Here are some tips for designing mobile-friendly marketing messages:

  • About 500 pixels wide will display beautifully on smart phones. Minimize the amount of horizontal scrolling required to see the content.
  • Try to keep file sizes as small as possible. Smartphones load content more slowly than desktop computers, and customers are ever more impatient. Also, you need to be mindful of how much data you are asking customers to download.
  • If you have fairly sophisticated abilities, design elements using responsive design that adapts with the customer’s screen size. One good option for email marketing are services like Mail Chimp that have responsive templates.
  • If you have to send your content as an image, use a PNG, GIF or JPG format. Avoid PDFs, as that format usually won’t display automatically like other file formats.

Designing mobile-friendly messages can be more challenging than designing for print or desktops, because screen sizes are different among devices. But if you embrace the challenge, you’ll have the marketing advantage over your competitors who stay stuck in the past.

Web Design: Why Go WordPress?

In the last few years, I’ve chosen WordPress as the web design platform for the vast majority of my clients’ websites. In fact, a colleague told me yesterday that his web team recommended they rebuild their entire site in WordPress, even though he asked for just a couple new features (the site was originally built using a supposedly more versatile platform).  And yet I still occasionally witness web design professionals scoff at WordPress as merely for bloggers, not for businesses.

So let me tell you why WordPress is usually an amazing choice when you’re considering redesigning your website.

  1. It’s free and open-source, with a large, active community constantly improving it.
  2. It’s a Content Management System (CMS), meaning anyone in your company who can use Microsoft Word can update the website.
  3. It’s incredibly versatile, whether you want a sparse, minimalist website or one that has all the bells and whistles.
  4. It’s expandable. Need a new page? No problem. Want to add some new capability? There’s no limit.
  5. It’s easy to make WordPress SEO-friendly.
Check out WordPress’s featured sites to see what the platform is capable of.

Paint-By-Numbers Marketing

Marketing Technology is Not Enough

Advances in marketing technology allow us to learn so much about our customers. With the information customers share with us, it’s never been easier to develop customer relationships and loyalty. But when the technology is used to create paint-by-number experiences, customers will feel a dissonance and know you aren’t actually interacting with them. Customers are very clever and can tell when companies use marketing technology against them instead of for them.

Laura Poland, an Indianapolis wedding photographer and close friend, experienced this technology dissonance first-hand with OvernightPrints.com. She usually orders business cards and brochures using her professional email address. However, one time she placed an order using her personal email address. OvernightPrints.com stored both of these addresses in their marketing database but didn’t record that the addresses belonged to the same person.

OvernightPrints.com’s records showed that Laura was a loyal customer when she used her professional email address. They sent her the following year-end coupon for 25% off any order:

But OvernightPrints.com also had Laura’s personal email address on file. Clearly, the personal email address wasn’t loyal to them. It had only placed one order. In a bid to “activate”  this dormant customer, they sent a sweeter deal to the email address that had only ordered once:

We wanted to give OvernightPrints.com a chance to respond to Laura’s disappointment at finding her loyalty was not rewarded. Here is the email from their customer service department:

Part of our marketing strategy to reactivate “inactive” customers is to send them different offers, which sometimes offer greater discounts.  We also have a Loyalty Program for our top customers, which provide excellent discounts as well. Should your purchases reach the level that qualifies you for the program, we would very much like to invite you to participate.

So it seems that Laura is neither loyal nor disloyal enough. OvernightPrints.com uses their technology to categorize their customers, and it seems some categories are luckier than others.

What lesson should we all learn from this marketing faux pas? (Besides that ordering infrequently from OvernightPrints.com is the best way to score deeper discounts). If a company tries to use technology to “cheat” some customers, the customers will find out. And that will erode their relationship with the company. No one stays loyal to a company (or friend) that doesn’t show loyalty to them. Carefully use your marketing technology to bring you closer to your customers, instead of further away from them.