Take Advantage of this Free Vonage Business Phone Feature – Today!
The June 1 start of Hurricane Season may get more attention among business owners on the coast than those in the Midwest. But any business that has experienced extended downtime and lost productivity due to an emergency appreciates the need to be prepared.
If your company has the Vonage business phone system, we recommend using this date as a reminder to configure your free Call Continuity feature to reroute calls in the event of a power outage or loss of Internet.
During such an emergency, our patent-pending Call Continuity service can be invaluable for maintaining connection with your customers, suppliers and employees. Once configured, the service automatically detects a loss of phone connectivity – and immediately reroutes calls to a pre-specified cell phone or other backup number. And once your Internet and/or power is restored, routing through your normal extension is automatically reinstated.
IMPORTANT: While Call Continuity can be vital in the event of an emergency, it must be configured in advance to take effect. Therefore, we strongly recommend customers take the easy steps to configure and activate the service immediately.
3 Easy Steps to Configure Call Continuity
To configure Call Continuity settings, the company’s Account Adminstrator can log into your Admin Portal and follow these basic steps:
- STEP 1: Click “Phone System“ icon atop the page, then “Phone Numbers” in the left-hand navigation bar. (Select numbers you’d like to update.)
- STEP 2: From the “Select Action” drop-down list, select “Update Call Continuity Service.”
- STEP 3: Enter your preferred 10-digit backup phone number, and click “Update.” (This number will then appear on the “Phone Numbers” page.)
Complete instructions for configuring the service can be found on our Support Website, where customers may also access a short how-to video and Call Continuity Service Guide. Vonage recommends backing up the company’s main number and any published numbers, and customers may choose to designate backup numbers for every extension on the account.
End users may also configure Call Continuity settings by logging into the End User Portal and clicking on the “Settings” icon. Then, under the “Extension Settings” tab, enter your backup number in the space labeled “Call Continuity Service”and click “Save” at the bottom.
The fact is that power outages do happen from time to time, and your Internet can go down due to an Internet service provider issue. Call Continuity is designed to keep your business up and running no matter what obstacles come your way. But it must be configured in advance to benefit your business. Why not do it today?
To learn how this service can benefit your business, call 877-862-2562.
About Amy Tankersley
As Product Manager at Vonage Business Solutions, Amy is always looking for ways to make our customers more productive. Her specialty is focusing on mobility solutions. When she isn’t building products, Amy is a dance teacher in Atlanta.
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Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL) was passed in December 2010, and will go into force on July 1, 2014. CASL will require businesses to obtain either express (opt-in) or implied consent to send any electronic messages (i.e. emails or texts) that are sent in connection with a “commercial activity.” This includes electronic marketing communications like advertisements, event invitations, and new product/service announcements.
How can ClickDimensions help with CASL compliance?
ClickDimensions’ email marketing and marketing automation tools can help you with each of the three primary requirements of CASL:
Use ClickDimensions forms to collect consent when a recipient joins your mailing list or requests your emails. Our form builder contains a variety of different form fields, so you could include a checkbox, radio button or text field to capture the recipient’s information and their express consent. The date and time the recipient gives consent is captured with the posted form, helping to prove compliance if needed.
Using the ClickDimensions drag and drop editor, easily create email templates that include your contact information in the header or footer. Dynamic content can automatically add the sender’s contact information into the message.
ClickDimensions subscription management tools allow recipients to choose which emails they would like to receive from you by letting them opt in or out of your lists. The subscription management page will show the recipient their current email preferences and allow them to change them, including unsubscribing to all emails. Links to the subscription management page can be included in your email templates.
If you are a current ClickDimensions customer and have questions about how to implement these services, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like more information about adding ClickDimensions’ marketing automation tools to your Microsoft Dynamics CRM platform, contact us at http://www.clickdimensions.com/contact/.
For more information about the CASL, visit the Government of Canada’s website at http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/030.nsf/eng/h_00230.html.
Information provided above should not be considered legal advice; it is for informational purposes only. Consult your compliance department or legal counsel for specific guidance on CASL.
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There may be occasions when you want to send an email to a group of prospective customers, but you have their data stored in an Excel file and not in CRM. ClickDimensions emails can only be sent to recipients stored within your CRM, so you will have to import this data as leads (or contacts) then track down the records created and create a marketing list. How exactly is this done, though?
(The following steps describe using native Dynamics CRM functionality to turn an Excel list into a CRM marketing list. For more from Microsoft about importing data and working with marketing lists in Dynamics CRM see here and here.)
Creating a Marketing List from An Excel file:
First, you will need to properly format your Excel file. To do this, include a header row at the top of the Excel sheet with column labels for all of the data you have in the file, such as first name, last name, and email address, then place the data for each person in their own row so that their data matches up with the labels in the header row. Once the Excel sheet is good to go, save it as a .csv file.
In your CRM environment, navigate to Settings > Data Management > Imports,
then click Import Data.
This will open a file select window where you will select your .csv file,
which will open an Import Wizard that will guide you through the process of successfully importing your data as leads.
Once your new records have been created in CRM, navigate back to Settings > Data Management > Imports. This will bring up a list of all of your record import jobs.
Open the one with the same name as your .csv file, then click Leads Fully Imported.
This will show you a list of all of the leads created from your .csv file. Select all of the records, then click the Add to Marketing List button and choose the marketing list to which you want to add the records.
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Complete Innovations (CI) is a leading global provider of mission critical fleet, assets, and mobile workforce management solutions to more than 6,000 customers worldwide. CI’s flagship product, Fleet Complete,® is a comprehensive and scalable hosted GPS tracking and dispatching solution.
Since its inception in 2000, Complete Innovations has enjoyed consistent year-over-year growth, and while this success was welcomed, it also created operational inefficiencies that needed to be addressed if the company’s rapid growth was to be sustained. In order to accommodate the increased volume, each department had either purchased or created their own software applications, which worked well in isolation, but were not communicating with each other. This included sales and marketing departments that were not integrated with each other, creating functional redundancies and inaccurate reporting.
The company needed to implement an organization-wide enterprise resource planning (ERP) system that included integrated sales and marketing tools. “We needed a system that was not only scalable and customizable, but also process-oriented and manageable, allowing the functionality for data mining as well as comprehensive reporting,” said Dror Cir, Complete Innovations’ chief operating officer.
Complete Innovations chose Microsoft Dynamics CRM for customer relationship management and ClickDimensions as their email marketing and marketing automation solution. Early adoption was critical to CI, and to ensure high user participation, it was important that marketing automation was immediately available to employees as they began to learn and use CRM. Since ClickDimensions is embedded inside CRM, it provides CI with a seamless user experience.
“With the integration of ClickDimensions [with our CRM deployment], marketing now has the ability to deploy email campaigns, e-newsletters and surveys all from a single platform,” says Ilse Passet of CI’s marketing team.
Read the full case study to learn more about why Complete Innovations decided to integrate ClickDimensions with their initial Microsoft CRM deployment and how the implementation of CRM and ClickDimensions has resulted in a 200% increase in overall operational efficiency.
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Q&A: a Perspective from a Blood Donor and Vonage Employee.
Senior Accountant Laurie Simpson participates in a “double red cell donation” at the recent Red Cross blood drive at Vonage Business Solutions.
Last week’s Red Cross Blood drive at Vonage Business Solutions headquarters on Peachtree Street resulted in strong attendance and donation levels that exceeded the target goal. Vonage proudly supports the American Red Cross as a charitable partner, and participation in events such as blood drives or emergency preparedness training are additional ways the company lends support.
Watching the stream of Vonage employees filing in to donate blood, and overhearing some of the conversations, there was an obvious sense of duty among the donors. It also appeared to be a very personal experience for employees – an important, optional company event they would not miss.
We asked one of the donors, Laurie Simpson, if we could interview her to better understand why she chose to volunteer as a blood donor. Laurie is a senior accountant here at Vonage Business Solutions, and she spoke with us during the donation process. We thought her personal insights were worth sharing:
Question: Why did you decide to sign up for the blood drive today?
Laurie Simpson: I’ve given blood a number of times since I was in high school, and I try to make it something I do regularly. A couple years ago, my sister had to have four blood transfusions due to a low red blood cell count. And it reminded me how important it is for someone to take the time and donate to help someone else.
Q: What’s the name of the donation procedure you’re involved with now? It looks different.
A: I’m doing the Double Red Cell Donation, which basically allows you to donate double the amount of blood. A special machine separates and collects two units and then safely returns the remaining blood components – platelets and plasma – with saline back into your arm. It takes a little longer, but you are able to give twice as much blood without feeling dehydrated.
Q: Why do you think Vonage Business Solutions participates in volunteer events like this?
A: Allowing employees to donate blood is a prime example of how our company supports our community in a positive way. We’re encouraged to participate in our volunteer events. And for me, as an employee, it’s something I can personally do to help in the community where I work.
Q: Why are there so many employees here today?
A: Like me, I believe my coworkers really enjoy being able to give back. It is a wonderful feeling knowing that because of our 30 minutes of donating blood, someone else’s life may be saved.
Q: What would you say to people who have reservations or may be scared of giving blood?
A: Some people are just apprehensive, or they focus on the remote chance that they might feel dehydrated afterward, or pass out. But, if they take the time to research and follow some easy steps, giving blood is actually easy. The Red Cross always provides a very professional team that makes the experience pleasant. It’s good to drink plenty of fluids and have something healthy to eat afterward, which the Red Cross has provided here today. I think it’s worth it to try to overcome your fears about giving blood – and believe that your donation might actually save someone’s life. It’s something you can do to make a difference.
Blood Drives Matter: How to Get Involved
Laurie Simpson is right: According to the Red Cross, every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood, and more than 41,000 blood donations are needed every day. Facts like these serve as a reminder that there’s no such thing as just another corporate blood drive. Every pint counts and every donor is valued.
Interested in getting your organization involved in a Red Cross Blood Drive? Check out the www.RedCrossBlood.org website to learn about hosting a blood drive, to locate a blood drive or to volunteer. And if you’ve never given blood, you’ll find great information about the blood donation process and what to expect.
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One of the ways that we keep in touch with our prospects is through our ClickDimensions nurture programs. The nurtures allow us to slowly drip emails to prospects inviting them to download our premium content, attend a webinar or request a demo of our solution.
A popular nurture program used by our Partner Account Managers (PAMs) is a three-week nurture that sends one email per week. It’s a simple program that sends out an email, and, if there’s no response, sends another. However, if the recipient clicks on a link in the email, we alert the owner of the record and stop the nurture (the recipient gets no other emails through the nurture).
This was all well and good, but eventually the PAMs decided that they would rather have the recipient receive all of the emails regardless of whether they clicked a link. Based on the nurture structure discussed in this blog post, we could automate emails with this nurture program regardless of the interactions by the customers. Without having to create an entirely new nurture program, we were able to re-structure our existing nurture to be a little bit more streamlined and to meet our new requirements.
To accomplish this task, I first moved each Send Email step to the top level of the nurture (out of any encompassing conditional statements), so that all the emails go out regardless of whether the lead or contact clicked on the email. I did this by dragging and dropping the steps out of the “No” scenario of the “Has prospect clicked link?” and outside any other conditional statements. In this case, they were nested below the other Send Email and click steps. I repeated this step until all Send Email nodes were lined up on the main branch.
Since it would be valuable for our PAMs to know when a lead or contact interacts with our emails, we can still check for clicks and notify the owner when the recipient clicks a link. However, the click will not end the nurture; it will just notify the record owner and the nurture will continue running.
We then moved a few of the steps to the very end of the nurture so that they will run at the end of the program for everyone. Referenced in the article linked above, the “End Branch” step just ends that set of instructions; the nurture will move out to the next branch and continue on until the final “End.” Therefore, everyone who goes through the nurture will eventually hit these last steps right before the program ends. In this case, we’ve decided to remove each person who finishes the nurture from the marketing list that runs the nurture, so they don’t get re-added to another nurture. This keeps us from duplicating steps.
Our new program has less steps, is a little shorter, and is much clearer. Most importantly, it gives us the behavior we were looking for.
Below is a close-up of our finished program.
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You’ve probably heard of split (A/B) testing, but have you ever tried it? Split testing allows you to test two versions (an “A” and a “B”) of your email with your mailing list. The recipients’ interaction with the email (either opening the email or clicking a link in the email – your choice) decide the “winning” version. By trying different email content, senders or subject lines, split testing is a quick and easy way to get valuable feedback that can be used to improve your marketing message.
Sounds good, but not sure what to test? Below are 25 ideas to get you started…
- Use dynamic content to include a personalized greeting. Include the recipient’s first name in the header or the body of your email.
- Test bulleted lists vs. paragraphs.
- Use questions to engage the reader. “Have you read the latest bestseller?” vs. “New bestseller from John Doe available today.”
- In a newsletter, rearrange the stories on the page or test two different “headline” stories against each other.
- Add a personal touch to your content – perhaps include a customer testimonial or a quote from an online review.
- Include a seasonal or holiday message. See the results of our holiday test…
- Try a different tone. Test a fun or goofy message vs. a serious or straightforward version.
- Change the colors, fonts or sizes of your images. Red vs. blue, or serif vs. sans-serif. Sometimes subtle differences can make a big difference.
- If you use stock images, test illustrations vs. photographs.
- Try using photos of “real” products or people (i.e. employees, customers) vs. stock photos.
- Compare a graphical version of the email to a version that is text-only (one that appears to be personally written by the sender).
- Use the same content, but create two versions of your email with different layouts. The drag-and-drop editor makes this easy.
- Try different subject lengths. “ClickDimensions newsletter” vs. “ClickDimensions Email Marketing and Marketing Automation Newsletter.”
- Personalize a subject line using dynamic content. Include the recipient’s name or their company name.
- Integrate a call to action into your subject line. “Sign up for our weekly webinar” or “Save 20% on your next visit with this coupon.”
- Compare a generic email address (email@example.com) vs. a personal address (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Maybe even sending from the same email address, change the sender name from a person (John Doe) to your company name (ABC Computers).
- Try sending a version of the email from a recognizable person in your company (perhaps the CEO?). Follow this tip to prevent the sender from getting a slew of out-of-office responses.
Call to action
- Try different phrases to see which call to action converts more readers. “Buy now” vs. “Add to cart,” or “Download the whitepaper” vs. “Read more here.”
- Change the color, size or placement of the call to action.
- Test different sales propositions. “10% off your order” vs. “Get the first month free.”
- Compare buttons vs. hyperlinked text.
- Include a sense of urgency in your call to action. “Sale ends Friday” vs. “All products on sale.”
- Compare one strong call to action vs. giving the reader multiple options.
- Change the size and/or placement of your social sharing icons.
Ready to give it a try? Click here for more information about creating your split test and analyzing the results. Happy marketing!
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SMBs Continue Rapid Movement to Cloud-Hosted Business VoIP
If you’ve had a chance to review Microsoft’s Hosting and Cloud Study 2014, you’ll find a most-obvious takeaway in the report’s subtitle: Hosting and Cloud Go Mainstream. The revealing 75-page report reflects the continued rapid adoption of cloud-based solutions and outlines the IT resources that decision-makers are looking to implement in the near term. Combing through the results, we see a distinct parallel with the active movement of small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs) to cloud-hosted business VoIP phone solutions. Below, we’ll highlight a few points of the research and further explore why more SMBs are adopting cloud-hosted business VoIP.
Cloud Maturity, Accessibility Stand Out in Research
The study points to an increase in spending on hosted infrastructure services and a decrease in on-premise infrastructure spending. In fact, hosted cloud environments – such as the Vonage solutions’ cloud-hosted model – are expected to experience significant growth among off-premise infrastructure.
“It’s clear that we have reached a tipping point where most companies have moved beyond the discovery phase and are now moving forward with cloud deployments to deliver improved business results and capabilities,” said Microsoft VP Marco Limena, referring to the report.
Looking ahead to the next two years, SMBs within the study acknowledge several key challenges, including: “increasing customer base/market share” and “decreasing costs/issue with rising costs/cost control.” Such priorities would appear well served by increased adoption of hosted cloud services. Several points in the study also reflect the maturity of, and confidence in, cloud solutions. For example, those stating that they would recommend cloud computing to a peer most often cited “good experience/better service/it works” and “improves costs/cost effective/cheaper.” Check out the full report.
Cloud-hosted Business VoIP “Goes Mainstream”
The Microsoft study aligns naturally with what we’re seeing in the hosted business VoIP space, as SMBs confidently step away from legacy solutions where hosting is maintained on premise. In fact, an Infonetics report last year attributed the huge boost for the VoIP services market primarily to cloud telephony and the hosted infrastructure.
Today, SMBs are moving to cloud-hosted business VoIP for a number of reasons:
SMBs are more cloud-confident. SMBs are increasingly moving all their solutions to the cloud for more streamlined operations and improved efficiency (think Salesforce.com or any other common cloud-based business tool). Confidence in the cloud is clearly on the rise, aided by more familiarity and experience among SMBs. And notable industry developments – such as Google and Microsoft’s public agreement earlier this year that the cloud is safe for businesses – further bolster trust and consideration.
The time has come for cloud-hosted business VoIP. Hosted VoIP is evolving from a once-disruptive solution to one that is mature, defined and confidently used by SMBs as a business advantage. It allows for more business phone features than were ever possible with traditional wire-based service – such as superior teleworking and mobility features, desktop plugins, and training and compliance features. The Vonage business phone system is an extremely reliable example of hosted VoIP. The system has been in place since 2006 and has matured into an industry-leading solution.
Business VoIP levels the playing field for SMBs. Cloud-hosted business VoIP technology empowers SMBs with a more-capable solution, with efficiencies that were once available only to larger enterprises. With hosting services administered within the secure private cloud setting – instead of on premise with equipment and maintenance obligations – hosted cloud solutions are also delivering substantial savings for the SMB. Now, there’s no need for a dedicated IT team, and the old closetful of equipment becomes a remnant of the past.
We find research like the Microsoft study particularly encouraging for small to mid-sized businesses aspiring to streamline and grow their businesses. When businesses have access to, and confidence in, the marketplace’s premier cloud-based tools – anything is possible. And when we witness businesses thriving with our cloud-hosted business VoIP phone system, it’s a particular source of pride.
About Dave Morris
Dave is a content strategist and writer at Vonage Business Solutions, working with teams across the company to build communication programs that enable our customers and assist our prospects. He enjoys living in Atlanta and is an avid gardener, restaurant enthusiast and live music fan.
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Do you send your bulk emails from your CEO? As soon as you send that email does he or she get hundreds of out of office emails? Well, we’ve got something for you!
In our latest release, we added an option in the Advanced Settings area of the Email Send to let you choose a different reply to address. So you can still send the email from your CEO, but any auto responses will go to a different address.
We like to go through those emails quickly and see if any of them say that that person has since left the company. We take those people off of our mailing lists and deactivate that Contact record in CRM. If they tell us we should contact someone else instead, we put that person in CRM, but we do not automatically add them to our marketing lists as they should still opt-in on their own accord. This helps keep our lists clean for future sends.
You can see more about this Reply to field here. In the Email Send, just scroll down to the Advanced Settings area, open that and put in your Reply to email address and save!
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Effective email marketing relies on excellent deliverability – getting your emails to your recipients’ inboxes – and excellent deliverability requires making sure that you establish and maintain an excellent sender reputation.
As your Email Service Provider, ClickDimensions works around the clock to monitor and maintain our email systems’ reputation. We use leading techniques and testing to ensure that our platform provides the best deliverability possible. However, deliverability relies as much on your efforts as on ours. Part of the equation that you control is the quality of your data.
Here are some tips for keeping your data nice and clean:
- Permission, permission, permission. Always use opt-in methods to gain the permission of your prospects and customers to send them email. Never use third-party lists (our terms & conditions forbid it). Build your lists organically through permission – you’ll get better results and you won’t risk being blacklisted for spamming.
- Ask your audience to keep you up-to-date. It’s a good practice to ask your recipients to update you if their information changes. You can use the ClickDimensions’ Profile Management feature for this. Including a link to the profile management form in your monthly newsletter is a great way to let people keep their data clean for you!
- Clean up your lists from time to time. Even when following the best practices for maintaining your data, it can get out-of-date or include typos and other inconsistencies. Here are a few services that you can consider using to clean up your permission-based marketing lists. (We do not have a relationship with any of these providers, so do your homework before using any of them.)
Happy (clean!) marketing!
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