Posted on November 13, 2019 by Casey Houser
Whether you plan to telecommute during the holidays or your full-time job is remote, setting up a home office for remote work can be a challenging endeavor.
Which computer do you use? Do you need a smartphone for daily tasks? Is your setup portable for work from home and the coffee shop?
VirtualPBX COO Lon Baker has refined his workstation to keep him productive at home and on the go, both inside the VirtualPBX Phone System and outside to other digital mainstays like Slack and Google Docs. Today’s blog highlights his personal work setup so you can make your own office equally as fitting.
List of Devices
Here’s a brief list Lon’s workplace devices and some descriptions of their uses:
- Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max for remote work
- Google Pixel 3a for backup and development
- 12.9″ iPad Pro with LTE for most work
- 15″ MacBook Pro for macOS and Windows Product Development
- Apple Magic Mouse
- Apple AirPods and Ear Buds
- Anker Dual USB-C Charger
- Joby GripTight Pro TelePod Tripod
- Roost Laptop Stand
An Interview With the COO
Lon answered a few questions about his chosen devices and his daily work routines. When setting up a home office for remote work with your own company, his considerations could be useful for your own situation.
What is the primary reason you use this combination of digital devices?
“I want an office setup that gets me through the entire workday. It also needs to be portable so I can take it anywhere.
“I work from home most days. But I also travel frequently and work from my car, the airport, coffee shops… Each of those locations have different demands.
“My tablet, computer, and smartphone all have data connections so I don’t have to worry about finding Wi-Fi. And their battery life is great. I can work all day without a problem.”
How does this setup differ from your setup five years ago?
“The biggest change is that I don’t have to carry a typical computer. I have the MacBook, but I use my iPad and iPhone for most work.
“I can throw them into my backpack at a moment’s notice while remaining accessible to the VirtualPBX team.
“The tablet is great for holding presentations in meetings. I can use it to take notes quickly with its pencil, and I can easily work on documentation, answer emails, and complete product development.”
How do you make use of the tripod?
“This was one of the biggest challenges in setting up my home office for remote work. I was frustrated with the quality and orientation of video that was coming out of my laptop, and I wanted something better.
“The quality of smartphone cameras are excellent and often better than what you find in a laptop webcam. I can use my phone in the tripod to show my face clearly and get the video quality I want.
“It’s a benefit for me and my team. I have meetings every morning, so my team can see me, and I can sit tall and see my own orientation in the phone’s screen.
“This also works well for video conferences with anyone outside the company. I just clip my phone into the tripod.”
What’s the biggest intangible benefit to your remote work setup?
“There is a freedom that I didn’t have before. I don’t feel trapped at home because I wouldn’t be able to find Wi-Fi or because my battery wouldn’t last.
“I can be connected all the time. I always have my phone with me, and my other devices easily fit into the same bag as my cycling gear.
“My big outdoor activity is endurance cycling. My phone is there if I need it in the middle of a bike ride. Then when I return, everything else is accessible for short updates or longer meetings.”
What do you want for the future of your remote work?
“With the exception of the tripod, my current setup is about two years old. It’s great.
“The only elements that hold me back are in software. Some development work can be difficult on a tablet, for example, because the software doesn’t work well on the hardware.
“I expect to see advances to that in the years to come. I also think battery life will continue to get better as software becomes more efficient.”
Setting Up a Home Office for Remote Work
Lon’s setup is unique to his own situation. The use of a tablet and smartphone work well for his active lifestyle and need to reach VirtualPBX at all hours of the day.
Your own situation in setting up a home office for remote work will be different. However, you may find similarities in your location (always on the go) or your hardware freedoms (primary use of cloud-based apps).
VirtualPBX allows its entire workforce to operate remotely because of its reliance on cloud-based software and through the features of its own phone system, which offer every employee a centralized way to remain connected in meetings and through text and shared documents. Lon’s hardware takes advantage of that freedom.
We hope that you can gain some remote work setup ideas from this look into our COO’s collection of gadgets. It took him years of iteration to get to this point. We’d like you to be able to start immediately.
Posted on November 12, 2019 by Casey Houser
When it comes to the holiday season of Thanksgiving and Christmas, many businesses ratchet their marketing campaigns to reach eager buyers of goods and services. You might be one of them. But are you sure which holiday marketing KPIs to focus on to gauge your success?
The truth is that key performance indicators (KPIs) for the holidays aren’t any different from indicators for your success during the rest of the year. What is different, however, is the content of your campaigns and the reasons you might run a new style of advertisement.
Our blog today will talk about reach and engagement through impressions and clicks. We’ll show how the broad topic of our Business Phone Plans can be the focus of different campaign styles and how you can use the impressions and clicks KPIs to step up your holiday marketing strategies this year.
Jump to any subsection:
Reaching Customers Through Impressions
One of the most important marketing KPIs is the impression. An impression is when your campaign’s advertisement is placed in front of a user.
An individual completing a Google search might see an ad that looks something like the VirtualPBX one shown here. In this case, they might have searched for the term “VoIP for small business” in order for Google to create the impression.
The impression is the best metric you have to see how many people are viewing (but not necessarily clicking) your ads. It’s a great starting place to see if you’re reaching too few or too many people. And using inventive holiday marketing ideas to customize your ads for the season can result in a number of impressions that works well for your particular goals.
Impressions in the Holidays
The ad shown here is not themed for the holidays. It’s also likely that many of your ads are not themed for the holidays either.
What can you do to gingerbread-spice your ad and turn an ordinary marketing strategy into a holiday marketing strategy? We’ll take the lead here and transform our own ad for an example.
- Headline: VoIP for Small Businesses | Business Phone and Internet | VoIP Plans for Small Businesses
- Description: Keep your small business connected with VirtualPBX customizable VoIP phone service. A phone plan that has exactly what your small business needs with VirtualPBX Dash plans.
Our holiday marketing strategy here could be to reach entrepreneurs as they’re thinking about starting a business in the new year. Considering that many people create New Year’s resolutions, we could address that idea in our ad.
- Headline: VoIP foFinding Engagement Through Clicksr Entrepreneurs | Business Phone and Internet | Get Your Business Started!
- Description: This is your year! Keep your New Year’s Resolution going with a new Business Phone System from VirtualPBX. We have VoIP for entrepreneurs starting at only $17.99 per month and no contracts. Get started today.
Our transition to the seasonal theme of the New Year’s resolutions is highlighted in the excitement generated in the second ad. We’ve used a few exclamation points and made the language more personal. Focusing on a “new year’s resolution” or “VoIP for entrepreneurs” keyword here could also narrow down the impression we create. Furthermore, linking to our Phone Plan Features would work here because we know the exact type of person who would search for this type of material.
You can do the same by picking a theme that’s relevant to the season. You might have a particular type of shopper in mind; or maybe you’re having a holiday sale. Then you just need to pick a relevant keyword and specific link (like an individual product page or sale’s announcement landing page) to get your updated ad in front of the right shoppers.
Finding Engagement Through Clicks
Impressions show their true influence when paired with the click KPI. A click is when someone engages with your advertisement and clicks on one of its links.
Clicks can occur in a variety of locations in an advertisement. What you see here is a Facebook ad that lets viewers engage with its image (which is clickable) and its “See More” text expansion link. Users can also click on the VirtualPBX brand name at the top of the ad.
In this case, you can also see that the ad was shown to 128 people and that it gained 5 engagements. Post engagement here may include multiple clicks on one or more of the available links.
Social media KPIs are not dissimilar to the Google campaign shown above. They both reach relevant viewers through impressions and realize engagement through clicks.
Your Social Media Focus
One way you can differentiate your social media campaign in a place like Facebook is to use a relevant image.
It’s clear that this VirtualPBX ad is themed for the holidays. With only a glimpse, you can recognize the image of Santa Claus, the candy canes and snowflakes, and the large greeting (“Happy Holidays”).
We focused on the Christmas holiday here because the time was right for all those elements. And since we’re just saying “Hello!” it was appropriate to link the ad to a broad section of our website like the Phone Plans page.
Similarly, if you’re looking to generate more clicks as a trackable social media KPI, images are a great way to draw in the viewer. Then don’t be afraid to keep your hyperlink broad because of the nature of your audience.
Drive Calls to Your Company
When used in conjunction with a phone system, seasonal marketing can help drive calls to your business.
Campaigns on PPC and social media platforms can include multiple phone numbers that lead directly to your business. The use of Direct Inward Dialing (DID) numbers, which are direct lines to an individual, group, or voicemail box, can reveal important statistics like call volume as they relate to a particular ad group.
For example, you can see the impressions and clicks that a single ad receives, and separately, you can tally the calls received from that same ad when it uses a unique phone number. From there, you can compare the impressions with number of people who visited your site or called your office, which will reveal a detailed picture of how your ads are moving people to your business.
Simplify Your Holiday Marketing Ideas
You don’t need a shopping bag full of complicated KPIs to shine during the holidays.
Keep your focus on impressions and clicks (and on phone calls if you’re daring), and make sure your advertisements work well with the season. This advice, however generalized it may seem, is our best holiday marketing tip to give.
You want to reach your audience. But you don’t want to lose yourself trying to make sense of too many performance indicators. Keep things simple so you can offer relevant, useful advertisements to potential customers while keeping your busy holiday season intact.
Posted on November 7, 2019 by Casey Houser
Today’s guest post was provided by TelephoneVox – a company that specializes in the production of professional audio for telephone switchboards.
Today, the brand is considered a fundamental element for the company, a pillar on which most of the business performance is based, even more than the product itself. Building a positive brand reputation, therefore, is of the highest importance.
A telephone switchboard, also referred to as an Automated Attendant or interactive voice response (IVR) system, can help build that reputation by assisting customers in a friendly and efficient manner. The benefit of using an automated call processing service can be found in both hardware switchboards and through hosted phone services like those offered by VirtualPBX.
Why is the Brand so Important?
Several prominent marketing experts have spoken publicly about the role that brand reputation plays with respect to consumer loyalty and integrity.
Bruce McColl, head of marketing at Mars, has noted the limits of the brand-consumer relationship. He remarked in an interview with The Drum that expecting consumers to love a brand is “one step too far.” He said the challenge is to resonate with consumers on a personal level while keeping in mind that “nobody wakes up and thinks ‘what does Snickers have to say today?’”
Likewise, Byron Sharp, a marketing expert at the University of South Australia, has stated that, if the product is readily available and if the experience offered by that brand is top-quality, it will be easier for the consumer to become fond of the brand and remain loyal in the future. “Familiarity breeds contentment,” he said in a post on his personal blog.
Product purchase is affected by many new offers that come up daily, so brand recognition becomes more important as a differentiating factor that lies beyond what individuals might outwardly consider (like price or availability).
Building Positive Brand Reputation Through the Telephone Switchboard
It is essential for brands to maintain and build reputation, and the audio messages played by their telephone switchboards can be one of the best methods to use. A switchboard, automated attendant, or IVR is typically simple to configure and is consistent in its contact with inbound callers.
Why is a good audio message the key to a brand reputation?
An individual’s call frequency to any company often depends on the amount of information or support they require. When they’re in need, they will reach out. Otherwise, they’re probably happy with their service and will keep to themselves.
Although the latter situation is generally positive, it doesn’t afford your company many opportunities to build your brand reputation with the customer.
With those limited contacts, however, come powerful opportunities to root the concept of a brand by taking advantage of a genuine voice recording. An person’s voice can show the customer that, despite the limited information in a switchboard greeting — an initial greeting and a layout of touch-tone options — the brand wants to make a personal connection with the caller.
In direct contast, many companies use social networks, chatbots, and instant messaging to build their brand image. They rely on text-driven messages that, although convenient, may lack the personal touch that an audio-based message can convey.
What Is Your Best Brand Experience?
Think about the best experience you had with a brand’s automated attendant.
You were probably greeted by a clear, professional voice that guided you through the company directory. If there was a wait, it was likely enlivened by music that made the wait for a live employee less taxing.
This type of experience can turn into a positive memory which, ultimately, helps gain trust in the brand. Your follow-up interaction with the company from your ‘best brand experience’ likely also moved more smoothly. It would have taken you less time to process the transaction since you didn’t have to consider the trustworthiness or good/bad feelings about a brand in addition to product price and availability.
The positive brand reputation had already been created, and it carried into the future transaction.
Customers are the lifeblood of every company. Managing your brand through a switchboard can offer rewards that other forms of brand-customer interaction cannot replicate. The way you invest in your own automated attendant will determine the improvement of your own brand reputation.
Posted on November 5, 2019 by Casey Houser
The changing of leaves has signaled the countdown to Small Business Saturday 2019 for many local retailers. The Nov. 30 demarcation of the holiday shopping season this year may be hectic, but it doesn’t have to be unmanageable.
A Small Business Saturday marketing effort is within your grasp to create. And your customers will be pleased that you handled their concerns well despite this being the busiest retail time of year.
This short blog will show how VirtualPBX Phone Plan can help establish your holiday marketing efforts and compliment a Small Business Saturday event kit meant to impress shoppers at your doorstep.
Small Business Saturday Marketing Campaign
Whether your marketing efforts in the final months of 2019 are print or digital, you need a robust phone system to handle excess inbound calls. Here are a couple ways the VirtualPBX Business Phone System makes a great companion to your campaigns.
Phone Number Prepend
A prepend on a phone number is an addition to that value. For instance, prepending the phrase “PrintFlyer” to the phone number “1-888-555-1234” would leave you with “PrintFlyer 1-888-555-1234”.
How is this helpful? VirtualPBX Phone Plans let you log a prepended phrase to any number on your plan. Therefore, when you use several phone numbers for different marketing campaigns, you can attach the phrase “Print Flyer” to one and “Online Ad” to another.
The more specific your prepends are, the easier it is to differentiate between multiple campaigns. Overall, proper use of prepends can help you gauge the effectiveness of one Small Business Saturday campaign over another – giving you momentum through this holiday season and through future years.
Check out our blog post about prepends for more detail about this powerful feature.
Local and Remote Work Capability
While a desk phone might best support your brick-and-mortar store, remote employees (perhaps hired just for the holiday rush) can easily take calls from the Web Phone on their computers or smartphones.
You get to decide how calls are routed, such as through our Ring Groups feature. Inbound callers will realize the efficiency of your operation as you take their calls in an orderly manner.
Small Business Saturday Event Kit
Many small businesses are tackling the holiday shopping season with pre-packaged event kits. They’re using banners for show and giveaways for impression.
A phone system should be thought of as a supplement to your Small Business Saturday event kit. It’s less showy than the banner, but it does work behind the scenes that makes everything else functions well.
You might engage in special campaigns or promotions this month. Your phone system can make or break those efforts.
You might hold special hours for an early-morning shopping event. Your phone system gives people a way to contact you for event information.
Don’t let the backbone of your business hinder your expansive plans this year.
Get Started Now
Nov. 30 is less than four weeks away. There’s no time to waste if you want to be ready for Small Business Saturday 2019.
Pick up a Small Business Saturday event kit assistant with a new VirtualPBX phone plan in a 14-day Free Trial. We’re sure you’ll like what we have to offer, and your holiday shoppers will appreciate it too.
Posted on October 31, 2019 by Charlie Galaviz
As brick and mortar retailers close stores throughout the U.S., Spirit Halloween Stores continue onward and upward. Since 1983, Spirit has grown to more than 1,300 stores across the U.S. and Canada.
What’s the key to its staying power throughout the “retail apocalypse” that’s claimed major retailers like Sears and Toys-R-Us? Here are 5 lessons your business can learn from Spirit.
5 Lessons Your Business Can Learn From Spirit
- Lease Agreements
Sign short-term, flexible leases. There’s a sense of pride in having a year-round storefront location, but signing a long-term lease is not ideal for every business. In the case of Spirit, signing a 6-8 week lease is the sweet spot. Your brand can prepare for customer elasticity by carefully negotiating a lease duration that works for both you and the leasing company.
- Pop-Up Shopping
Consider opening a pop-up store to test the viability of a location. For some shops, a bad location may be impossible to rebound from. Moving one block over could be the difference in staying in business. Spirit continually tests new locations and doubles down on homerun locations. Smaller brands that may not be seasonal can ask a larger retailer if they can open a pop-up shop in their department store. It’s a win-win because it allows smaller brands to gain visibility and allows the retailer to earn a pop-up shop fee.
- Operations Scaling
Learn to scale your operations with consumer demand. Spirit has mastered the art of supply and demand economics. It is able to scale operations when the demand for Halloween costumes reaches a peak; then it scales down operations on Nov 1st when the demand decreases. You may want to focus on scaling in other ways like finding suppliers of products and services that allow you to avoid excess supply. In return, you can lower costs and run a more efficient operation.
- Business Challenges
Overcome business challenges by having a plan A, B, and C. Spirit does an incredible job of successfully dealing with roadblocks. When a prime location becomes signed to a permanent tenant, they search for a new location. In the event that they have no location, they create a tent location in an empty lot. Don’t let an obstacle determine your success or failure.
- Customer Experience
Make sure your customer experience is top-notch. Spirit has nailed down customer interaction by giving customers an unforgettable experience at their retail locations. Besides the product and services Spirit offers, they make it fun to enter their stores and interact with their staff. You can follow suit by hosting holiday parties or creating festive greetings for your business phone system.
Halloween and Beyond
Whether you have a national seasonal business like Spirit Stores or run a full-time operation, business never sleeps. A cloud-based phone system is the best way to keep your business flowing like a well-oiled machine and allows your business to scale up or down according to seasonal traffic. Customize your holiday greetings, set advanced call routing schedules, and easily add users as business grows. Best of all, our business phone plans are backed by 24/7 support – even on Halloween night.