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#2.09: The “Cheap Software” Issue

1 > Zero-cost virtual workplace
2 > Inexpensive, professional surveys
3 > Get rid of the tech, keep the features
4 > You’ve got to see this: Drive readers to action

1 > Zero-cost virtual workplace

Use a bulletin board as a community builder for your site’s visitors or create a secure communication center between you and your clients, or even enable an inter-office community that encourages the free flow of ideas among your staff. Before investing large sums of cash into hiring a programmer and buying new software, always look for free or shareware programs. A little while back, GasPedal needed an informal way to post real-time updates on clients, so we found a free script called YABB (Yet Another Bulletin Board). Within 30 minutes, we downloaded the program, installed it, customized the settings, and navigated through its intuitive interface. We found YABB so easy to use and unbelievably functional.

The lesson: Always see what’s available for free. Lots of times, you’ll find a feature-comparable product for no cost.

More info:
http://downloads.xnull.com/

2 > Inexpensive, professional surveys

Have you been thinking about surveying your visitors? Sounds like a daunting task, not to mention time-consuming and expensive. It doesn’t have to be. Before you hire a professional research firm for thousands of dollars try one of the low-cost online options. For $20 a month, do it yourselfer SurveyMonkey enables you to create professional online surveys within minutes. You have total control — you design the survey questions, collect the responses, and analyze the results. The company is so confident about its product that they even provide links on their own site to all of the competing products.

The lesson: Low-cost products don’t mean shoddy products. There are a number of specialty vendors out there that give you the right solution for little-to-no-cost.

More info:
http://www.surveymonkey.com

3 > Get rid of the tech, keep the features

Hosted solutions are a great alternative to cutting expenses, increasing efficiency, and lessening frustration. A hosted solution, or ASP, delivers the service through the Web while providing the necessary technology, hardware, and software. This hassle-free option relieves you from performing data back-ups, maintenance, or system upgrades. We’ve been hearing about Salesforce.com, a hosted contact management system for managing sales and customer support operations. For about $65 per month per user, the program runs pre-set and custom reports, collects data for more robust customer relationships, and automates marketing initiatives. The road warrior sales person benefits by having up-to-the-minute data on customers and sales activities via any Web browser. Before you upgrade your sales force management software, something like this is worth a try. If you like it, enterprise editions can be rolled out in a matter of days.

The lesson: Let someone else deal with the technology burden so that it gives you the time to concentrate on bringing in money. Customer contact management is a critical heartbeat in your organization — you can get all the features without a big in-house technology cost.

More info:
http://www.salesforce.com/us/customers/casestudy.jsp

4 > You’ve got to see this: Drive readers to action

A simple improvement in your email marketing campaign can have a tremendous impact on your conversion rates. Future Now, the conversion rate specialist, has put together a presentation describing the 12 most common mistakes of email marketing. This free PowerPoint includes strategic tips on avoiding these pitfalls as well as some can’t-miss ideas from the conversion rate experts on how to create emails that drive action and build relationships. You’ll also find a glossary of industry terms and a series of helpful resources you’ll want behind your email campaign. Don’t miss this.

More info:
http://www.futurenowinc.com/email/fn-12mistakesofemailmarketing.pdf

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