How to Reach Customers Now During the COVID-19 Crisis

How to Reach Out to Customers in the COVID-19 Crisis

With shut downs, shipping delays, and customers sitting at home, there’s never been a better time to keep you name in front of anxious buyers using an e-newsletter.

The COVID-19 epidemic is of unprecedented proportion. Many people have never experienced a work stoppage or for that matter a quarantine. While customers wait for orders that may be delayed due to shipping issues or supply chain problems, email is the best way to soothe worries and keep customers loyal to your business.

Here are some tips to take to heart with how to communicate with customers during these unusual times.

1. Be honest of what is going on with your business. If there are delays due to supply chain issues – share the challenges in a positive manner.

2. Accept and acknowledge the uncertainty of the situation. Be real, people truly want to connect with you during this crisis.

3. Express gratitude and appreciation for orders and for those that will wait to receive their goods due to unforeseen delays.

4. Keep a regular connection with your client-base. Specifically, contact during this uncertain period should be several times a week or once or twice a month.

If you need help setting up an e-newsletter we have expert providers that are ready to set up an account at iContact for you, load your list, and even customize our own mobile-friendly reusable HTML e-newsletter template. Just let us know and we will put you in contact with one of our experts or get you started fast.

For Medallion Fulfillment & Logistics clients, our provider has created a special mobile-friendly template for newsletters that can be updated with your logo and content. Ask us for more information about this concierge-level e-newsletter program including setup, implementation, content creation, and scheduling. Pricing is customized based on your need.

http://medallionenterprises.com/newsletters/medallion-sample-template.html

For do-it-yourselfers, an iContact account provides access to easy to use templates. You can enter in your own e-newsletter information and set up your own e-newsletter issues to send on your own schedule.

Our team or our experts can work with you directly to assist with your needs. Just give us a call and let us know that you would like to reach out to your clients by email – fast!

UPS Coronavirus Service information

COVID-19 and UPS Services

We have paraphrased and condensed the most recent communique we have received on UPS service during the coronavirus pandemic.

Customers are asking us a few key questions

• Can I count on UPS to deliver safely?

• How can UPS help my business?

• Is UPS supporting healthcare and pandemic response?

• Count on UPS to Keep Delivering – Get More Info Online.

UPS is Open for Business

UPS operations and The UPS Store® locations have been designated by the Governor’s offices in all 50 states as critical infrastructure, and we continue to pick up and deliver, even in restricted areas.

• No-touch No-sign Delivery: We’ve heard your concerns and changed how customers sign for packages to minimize contact.

• Delivering Safely

• UPS is taking measures to protect employees from exposure to coronavirus including enhanced cleaning and following WHO and CDC guidelines.

UPS is Ready to Help Your Business

• Talk to Us: Schedule a free 15-minute virtual consultation with our UPS small business team. Sign up for free on the UPS website.

• Take Control: View incoming and outgoing shipments at a glance, with UPS My Choice® for business.

• Stay Local: Pickup and drop off locations, including The UPS Store®, are still operating. The UPS Global Locator is being updated in real-time to reflect the nearest available active locations.

UPS is Helping the Healthcare Industry to Fight Coronavirus

• Drive-through Testing

• UPS is aiding the US government and healthcare customers in the battle against coronavirus. We’re mobilizing our air and ground networks to help.

• Humanitarian Relief

• We’ve provided $6 million in transportation, consulting, and cash to support coronavirus efforts.

Healthcare Customers

UPS provides extensive support to healthcare companies.

• Commercial labs

• Drive-through testing sites

• Pharmaceutical manufacturing & distribution

• Medical supply manufacturing & distribution

In Closing

From all of us at Medallion Fulfillment & Logistics and Sprocket Express, we say stay safe and know we are working hard to keep your business moving.

Google’s Going Local, Why Google Places Pages Are Now More Important than Ever for Organic Placement

Have you noticed the change in Google.com results? Have you seen all the red icons in front of listings whenever you do a Google search that contains a city location in the query? Are you noticing that your website’s organic (unpaid placement) seems to be pushed down below a myriad of local results? Welcome to the new world of Google’s localized results!

With Google pushing location specific listings pulled from their Google Places index, it’s getting harder for prospects to find your “real” website. Localization is the rage with search engines right now; even Bing and Yahoo have gotten into the act too. It is now more important than ever to use your local Places page as a doorway to bring visitors into your website. As Google is the big player in the world of search, we’ll focus on discussing Google Places accounts in this article, but be aware that Bing and Yahoo both have similar services.

If you have a business, you most likely already have a Google Places page even if you never created one. Google has planned ahead for you, and has created a page just for you, based on the information that it has found on the Web about your business. It’s your job to claim it, and then work the page over so it can be a selling tool to funnel customers and prospects into your “real” website.

How do you claim your listing?
First, visit this page: http://www.google.com/places/.  On the right you will see a section for business owners. Your listing is free, but you will need to set up or tie an existing Google account login to your new Google Places account. One word to the wise, if you are paying a third party to do set up for you, make sure that they tie the Google Places account to you and not to themselves. You want to retain ownership of your Google Places page as long as you have your business.

The sign up and set up interface is easy to use. You will enter in your physical address (no P.O. Boxes allowed), your phone number, email address, website URL, business description, and then select service or product categories. Don’t be afraid to choose custom categories that are short keywords of the services or products you provide. You can only set up a maximum of five categories.

Your Places page is not complete until you enter details about your business such as: operating hours, types of payment accepted, photos, YouTube.com videos, and finally the important “additional details”. Take time to add “additional details” that make sense. We recommend using keyword phrases for these “additional details”.  Keep in mind that what you enter here should be considered like a bulleted list, with a one to three word clarification in the second field to the right of the entered keyword. Focus on keywords that are indicative of what you sell and in a very short concise format.

Although you are done, your Places page will not go live until Google has verified that you are really located at the address your have listed in your Google Places account. Plan on two weeks for a postcard or plain envelop to come to you via regular mail at the listed location. This correspondence will contain a PIN. You must enter this PIN number in your Google Places account for your Places page to be put in the indexing queue. It may then take another one to four weeks for your listing to actually become live. Unfortunately setting up and verifying a Google Places page is not quick process but make sure to follow the instructions carefully. If someone has already claimed your physical location you will not be able to claim it as well. This is an important note to remember for office buildings and even businesses sharing physical spaces with the same street address. The location will be tied to a single Google Places account on a first come basis.

How to maintain top position with your Google Places listing?
As Google Places pages are so important now in the organic results, how can you improve placement and then retain it once you win it. We recommend that you do monthly updates of your photos and videos on your Google Places page. If you don’t have videos, now’s the time to start getting creative and make several short videos using your digital camera. Just load your video files to YouTube.com (tied to the same Google account that you used for your Google Places page). Insert the YouTube.com link to the video into your Google Places account in the video section. You can show up to five videos at a time. As for pictures we recommend sizing 20 or so into a square shape and then rotating ten different ones each month. Google seems to like and reward Places pages with better placement that are actively managed on a regular basis.

Google also seems to reward Google Places pages with better placement when the business offer coupons and has more review than their competitors. Not all markets seem to have a clear cut path to top placement, but we do know from research that in major markets reviews and coupons are just one of the keys for top placement of a Google Places page. Your geographic proximity to the person who has searched is still the top determining factor in which businesses are shown and then coupons and reviews will additionally rank the returned business listings.

Where do the reviews come from that appear on my Google Places page?
Google scans the Web and pulls reviews from all over and embeds them on your Google Places page. Users can also leave reviews directly by visiting your Places page if they are logged into their own Google account. Additionally, with the creation of Google Hotpot, a social business review tool, Google is actively seeking for others to rate your business with their own application.

Unfortunately, you have no control of the reviews that appear on your Places page. However, as the Places owner, if a poor review is posted, you can respond to the review, but there is no “remove this review” button. You can however flag the review for Google as inappropriate, but Google may leave the review at their option. If the review is pulled in from a site that is not a Google property, even if you flag it as inappropriate Google has stated that they will not block it from showing on your Places page.

Be careful if you are using a third party set up service that the creation of fictitious reviews is not part of your package. Your Places page could be dropped from the index through a violation of Google’s terms of service.

In conclusion, with the advent of search engine localization, claiming your Google Places page is a very important aspect of managing your online presence. With Google Places pages being ranked higher than websites for search queries that contain a location, you really must use this new tool to your advantage to funnel clients and prospects into your website.

USPS Continuity of Operations Update

USPS Announces Delays

The Postal Service has developed localized continuity of operations plans that are employed in the case of emergencies to help ensure that the nation’s postal system continues to function for the American people.

With a longstanding history of quickly adapting its operational plans to changing conditions, the Postal Service maintains steady communications with mailers during natural disasters or other events that require emergency responses and advises residential customers, business mailers, and international mailers with regard to postal facility disruptions that may impact delivery in an affected area via its USPS Service Alerts webpage at: https://about.usps.com/newsroom/service-alerts/.

In the event they are required, the activation of localized continuity of operations plans depends on the specific effects of an emergency in an impacted area. Due to the variance in possibilities and factors, it would be impossible to predict what the effect of such emergencies would be on a specific customers’ mailing prior to the event, but the planning enables us to continue or quickly reestablish mail operations in regions facing the impact of strong hurricanes, flooding, wildfires, etc., and they have been prepared to respond to pandemic-related circumstances as well.

As a result, we recommend that customers refer to USPS Service Alerts for service-disruption updates. Another key component of our communications portion of USPS contingency plans remains the Industry Alert.

For those business mailers who utilize the Business Service Network (BSN), we encourage them to continue to maintain the line of communication with their representative on changes to the postal system. If a customer or mailing partner needs to shut down its operations due to the current situation, they should contact their BSN contact, Sales contact, or their local Business Mail Entry contact to discuss their plans. These local contacts will notify the Districts, Area, and Headquarters of any needed assistance or broader impacts.

The Postal Service continues to use its existing processes for many of the more common impacts customers are concerned about. Some questions that have been raised are:

How is USPS handling mail for closed businesses?

Mail on the delivery route is returned to the Delivery unit and will be held for 10 days under current policies. Customers can request a temporary hold for their mail up to 30 days. Caller Box customers should contact their local office to discuss how they will be handling the pickup of this volume. Any high volume customer will be contacted to discuss pickup options as well.

How is USPS delivering mail under shelter in place declarations?

The Postal Service is classified as an essential government service operation, which allows us to continue operations.

How safe is the mail and mail transport equipment?

Current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) guidance continues to indicate there is no evidence the virus is spreading through the mail. According to WHO, the likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low, and the risk of catching the virus from a package that has been moved, traveled, and exposed to different conditions and temperatures is also low. This guidance remains true for mail transport equipment.

Is the USPS experiencing capacity issues due to reduced airline routes?

There are no domestic air capacity issues at this time. The Postal Service continues to work with International air carriers and contract air carriers to keep mail moving.

Industry and commercial customers can email questions or concerns about COVID-19 and the mail to industryfeedback@usps.gov with COVID-19 in the subject line. Mailers can also sign up for Industry Alerts at industryalert@usps.gov.

For more information, see the USPS Coronavirus Statement at about.usps.com/newsroom.

In Closing

From all of us at Medallion Fulfillment & Logistics, we say stay safe and know we are working hard to keep your business moving.

Google Says Going Mobile is Key to Your Business Growth

Mobile trends aren't like other web trends – because while other trends come and go, mobile is apparently here to stay. So if your business has not yet gone mobile, it's almost as if you have no online presence at all. That's because consumers, clients and everyday users are switching from the big personal computer (PC) monitors to the small screens of convenient smartphones and the versatile tablets – and the numbers bear that out. • By the end of 2012, reported Forbes, mobile devices were poised to outsell personal computers by a 2:1 margin • International Data Corp researchers expect the number of consumers accessing the Internet through PCs to drop from 240 million in 2012 to 225 million by 2016. • Even the more portable laptop computer is not immune: tablets will outsell laptop computers by a 6:1 margin by 2017, according to market researcher NPD. • Over the past two years, notes Google, smartphone adoption in the United States grew from 36 percent to 61 percent. Mobile technology is even overtaking radio and television for entertainment. And the reason for this evolution is not hard to determine: smartphones and tablets accommodate today's on-the-go lifestyle. With Wi-Fi connections and data plans fueling usage, it's now possible to access the Internet virtually anywhere. The Mobile Trends Noted by Google Include These Arresting Statistics: • 94 percent of smartphone users search for location information; • 48 percent called a store; and • 85 percent of mobile search-triggered calls to stores happened within 5 hours of the initial search The biggest names in search engines have acknowledged mobile trends. Google and Bing, for example, "will index mobile content in a different manner than regular search," says e2ideas. "Search engines will serve up mobile optimized websites first over non-mobile sites when a mobile user does a search on a smartphone." No Longer a Novelty – Mobile Optimized Websites Are a Necessity This development is especially important when considering usage on Google, the undisputed leader in search engines. Today, websites that lack a mobile responsive design are going to be at a disadvantage in Google search results – and if your site doesn't make the first page of Google search results, it might as well not exist at all. The good news is that mobile searches are still relatively new – so "people who are first to market have a significant advantage," as e2ideas notes. Retailers are using mobile to their advantage – installing QR codes on shelves to encourage device-holders to scan and find information on the product; creating apps that link to special offers or deals accessed by phone or tablet; and creating virtual coupons good for on-the-spot discounts. Making Mobile Work for Your Own Customers The mobile web has altered the way your business gets discovered and accessed. While a robust, client-focused website is still a must-have, the way that site is designed and programmed for mobile use will make all the difference to your customers. The conventional PC optimized website, optimized for up to a 19-inch viewing screen, are too complicated for mobile use. The image- and text-heavy pages of a PC website are often slow to load on a smartphone, and once all the data transfers to a 4-inch screen, objects look cluttered and hard to navigate. Google reports these very interesting comments from a recent survey: • 57 percent of users say they won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site; and • 40 percent have turned to a competitor’s site after a bad mobile experience Catching the Wave with Mobile Trends Creating a mobile presence from your traditional website presents some challenges. You need to take a step back and view your business and its message the way your customers would. What do they want to know most at the moment they pull out their smartphone? Are they just getting acquainted with your business, or are they ready to consider a purchase? Knowing your customers' buying habits are key to designing a mobile presence that they'll enjoy using. When it comes to the nuts and bolts of mobile sites, you typically have several options, but many businesses find the most success with these three choices: • A responsive design website changes the way it looks and navigates depending on the device. For instance, it will hide some content on a tiny smartphone, but show it on a larger tablet. • A native mobile app developed specifically for a device and is downloaded from app stores like iTunes and Google Play. • Using a DudaMobile automatically created mobile website done with the click of a mouse and a fast installation of a small snippet of code. Getting the Word Out Once you have taken your business mobile, let your customers in on the good news. Use your Facebook, Twitter or other social pages to announce the change; send email to your customers and prospects, and reach out to trade organizations and industry publications to get users interested in your site.

Mobile trends aren’t like other web trends – because while other trends come and go, mobile is apparently here to stay. So if your business has not yet gone mobile, it’s almost as if you have no online presence at all. That’s because consumers, clients and everyday users are switching from the big personal computer (PC) monitors to the small screens of convenient smartphones and the versatile tablets – and the numbers bear that out.

• By the end of 2012, reported Forbes, mobile devices were poised to outsell personal computers by a 2:1 margin

• International Data Corp researchers expect the number of consumers accessing the Internet through PCs to drop from 240 million in 2012 to 225 million by 2016.

• Even the more portable laptop computer is not immune: tablets will outsell laptop computers by a 6:1 margin by 2017, according to market researcher NPD.

• Over the past two years, notes Google, smartphone adoption in the United States grew from 36 percent to 61 percent.

Mobile technology is even overtaking radio and television for entertainment. And the reason for this evolution is not hard to determine: smartphones and tablets accommodate today’s on-the-go lifestyle. With Wi-Fi connections and data plans fueling usage, it’s now possible to access the Internet virtually anywhere.

The Mobile Trends Noted by Google Include These Arresting Statistics:

• 94 percent of smartphone users search for location information;

• 48 percent called a store; and

• 85 percent of mobile search-triggered calls to stores happened within 5 hours of the initial search

The biggest names in search engines have acknowledged mobile trends. Google and Bing, for example, “will index mobile content in a different manner than regular search,” says e2ideas. “Search engines will serve up mobile optimized websites first over non-mobile sites when a mobile user does a search on a smartphone.”

No Longer a Novelty – Mobile Optimized Websites Are a Necessity

This development is especially important when considering usage on Google, the undisputed leader in search engines. Today, websites that lack a mobile responsive design are going to be at a disadvantage in Google search results – and if your site doesn’t make the first page of Google search results, it might as well not exist at all.

The good news is that mobile searches are still relatively new – so “people who are first to market have a significant advantage,” as e2ideas notes.

Retailers are using mobile to their advantage – installing QR codes on shelves to encourage device-holders to scan and find information on the product; creating apps that link to special offers or deals accessed by phone or tablet; and creating virtual coupons good for on-the-spot discounts.

Making Mobile Work for Your Own Customers

The mobile web has altered the way your business gets discovered and accessed. While a robust, client-focused website is still a must-have, the way that site is designed and programmed for mobile use will make all the difference to your customers.

The conventional PC optimized website, optimized for up to a 19-inch viewing screen, are too complicated for mobile use. The image- and text-heavy pages of a PC website are often slow to load on a smartphone, and once all the data transfers to a 4-inch screen, objects look cluttered and hard to navigate.

Google reports these very interesting comments from a recent survey:

• 57 percent of users say they won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site; and

• 40 percent have turned to a competitor’s site after a bad mobile experience

Catching the Wave with Mobile Trends

Creating a mobile presence from your traditional website presents some challenges. You need to take a step back and view your business and its message the way your customers would. What do they want to know most at the moment they pull out their smartphone? Are they just getting acquainted with your business, or are they ready to consider a purchase?

Knowing your customers’ buying habits are key to designing a mobile presence that they’ll enjoy using.

When it comes to the nuts and bolts of mobile sites, you typically have several options, but many businesses find the most success with these three choices:

• A responsive design website changes the way it looks and navigates depending on the device. For instance, it will hide some content on a tiny smartphone, but show it on a larger tablet.

• A native mobile app developed specifically for a device and is downloaded from app stores like iTunes and Google Play.

• Using a DudaMobile automatically created mobile website done with the click of a mouse and a fast installation of a small snippet of code.

Getting the Word Out

Once you have taken your business mobile, let your customers in on the good news. Use your Facebook, Twitter or other social pages to announce the change; send email to your customers and prospects, and reach out to trade organizations and industry publications to get users interested in your site.