Archive for the 'General Interest' Category

Why SMS Should Be Part Of Your Marketing Strategy

Did you know that 19.4 million Australian’s have a mobile phone?

That’s a staggering number and we are fast-approaching New Zealand’s 100% mobile phone penetration rate (yes, there are more mobile phones in New Zealand than kiwis).

With almost every Australian owning a mobile device this flings the doors wide open on a marketing channel that is too great to ignore: SMS marketing.

Even though SMS is nearly 30 years old it is one of the most effective sales and lead generation tools available to businesses here in Australia.

So…what makes SMS marketing different?

  1. 1.     High open and response rates

SMS messages receive between 82% – 97% open rates, compare that to email (which is a commonly used marketing channel in business) receiving 20% – 40% open rates.

  1. 2.     Direct access to customers

Unlike a lot of current marketing methods there are no ad blockers or email spam filters to worry about, an SMS goes straight through to your customer’s phone unimpeded.

According to Smart Insights:

  • Over 97% of text messages are read within the first four minutes
  • 19% of people will click a link in a SMS campaign rather than just 4.2% for emails
  • 30% of SMS campaigns receive average response rates of 30%, compared to 4% for emails

Mobile Marketing Watch states that 75% of millennials prefer that you text message them for promotions and surveys.

  1. 3.     Permission based

Just like email people need to opt-in to receive your SMS messages which increases the quality of subscribers and further increases open and response rates for your campaigns.

  1. 4.     Be where your competition isn’t

Chances are you competition isn’t inside your prospective customer’s phone which gives you a powerful channel to:

  1. Strengthen your position inside the customer’s mind
  2. Pre-empt competitive initiatives by making offers before your competitors.
  3. Make it harder for your competition to see your marketing efforts. The SMS channel is a little harder to copy since it’s inside your customer’s phone and not publicly available.

SMS marketing services are typically cloud-based allowing users to send text messages from any device that has an internet connection and can even be sent from your email platform.

How to SMS marketing works in 3.5 steps

Text messaging doesn’t work if you have no one to send a message to so the first part of the equation is to build a list of customers or qualified leads.

Just like email, the money is in the list.

Step 1: Keyword and short code

Keyword: this is a short phrase that a prospect replies back with [e.g. 49dollar]

Short code: this is a short code that people text back to [9999]

Step 2: Irresistible offer

Pay only $49 per year for our SEO software (usually $197 per year) and save $1480.

This is how the text message would look:

Text 49dollars to 9999 and use our SEO software for only $49 per year
saving $1480 offer ends 48 hours

Step 3: Promote

For SMS to be successful you need to generate a list of qualified people which means you need eyeballs on your offer.

Simply integrate and promote this offer throughout relevant marketing channels like your website, social media, emails, POS etc.

Once people respond they are automatically added to a contact group inside your SMS dashboard and now you have a responsive list that you can effectively reach out to whenever you want to drive sales or build awareness around a new product range.

Step 3.5: Confirmation

This is a friendly confirmation SMS that is sent post opt-in.

The job of this SMS is to confirm to the subscriber what they have signed up for and to set a clear context for the relationship i.e. what they can expect from you.

Keep in mind that there are SPAM laws in place for text message advertising so buying mobile lists is a definite no go strategy – the highest quality lists are grown organically like in the example given above.

SMS Marketing Tips

Once you’ve built your list you can send targeted SMS messages (through segmented lists) to:

  • Generate foot traffic for your bricks and mortar store.
  • Recover abandoned carts for your eCommerce store.
  • Pre-sell products and services.
  • Improve the performance of other channels (send a reminder to webinar attendees to reduce no shows).
  • Promote other businesses and improve business relationships.
  • Drive bookings on demand for slow nights for restaurants and bars.
  • Keep customers updated on big news and events.

Every industry uses SMS in a different way.

Text message marketing can be used in many ways to grow your business, for more tips, here’s a great guide on how to use SMS effectively.

Who can benefit from SMS?

If your customers own a mobile phone then you have an opportunity to widen your sales and marketing funnel and reach them where there is a lot less competition.

According to Deloitte 88% of Australians have smartphones, also, 19.4 million Australians own either a smart phone or standard mobile phone which is getting close to 100% penetration opening up a new channel for any B2B, B2C or charity organisation to leverage.

Bohemian Guitars

For example, online retailer Bohemian Guitars managed to grow their sales by 98% by integrating SMS into their website sales process.

Ford Motor Company

Ford motor company increased their conversion rate by 15.4%) Health clinics are using SMS to reduce no-shows and keep patients updated.

Dunkin’ Donuts

Dunkin’ Donuts implemented an SMS promotion that increased their store traffic by 21%. Interestingly they found that 17% forwarded the offer to their friends and 35% of the subscribers also bought a latte and coffee.

Lifestyle Fitness

Lifestyle Fitness generated $41,400 in membership renewals with only a $200 spend.

Health clinics are using SMS to reduce no-shows and schools are using it to keep parents updated on sickness, closures, school outings etc.

If you’re in a practice or organisation where it’s essential that patients or clients read your messages or if you’re in a business that relies on lead generation and driving repeat business then SMS marketing should be considered as part of that mix.

 

 

 

Is Texting Professional?

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Texting is commonplace in our societies these days, and we use it more than any other form of communication because it is fast and convenient for us to use. You may have heard of businesses using text for their audience, and you may have wondered whether you can do the same thing yourself. The main question we ask ourselves is whether or not it is professional to text our customers.

Who are you texting?

Texting within your business or outside it will be acceptable depending on the recipient of the text. For example, a texting service such as http://www.plivo.com/sms-api/ can be brilliant for sending out information and offers to your customers, and this is completely professional for you to do. However, if you want to text your superior in the workplace, this is not professional at all. It is a case of deciding who your recipient is and playing it safe.

What time is it?

It is incredibly important that you take care of the time that you send a text to your coworkers or colleagues. If you send out a text which is to do with business after working hours, this will not be well received by your colleague and is not an appropriate thing to do. If you want to send a message for someone to see the next time they are at work, send an email to their work address. When it comes to customers, you are free to send your texts at any time, however early evening is likely the best time.
Is it urgent?

The general rule of thumb within the workplace is that you should always use an e-mail to communicate between yourselves because this allows all interactions to be kept and recorded for later use. Texting should only really be used if you are out of the office and need to send a quick update, or if the matter is too urgent to write an email. People are more likely to read a text so texting is better in an urgent situation.

Is your competition doing it?

One of the things you may not have already thought about is whether or not your competitors are using text messages to communicate with their customers. If you find out that they are doing this, you may want to invest in a service yourself. There are many different ways you can use texting for business, and here are some of the things you can send: https://www.textmagic.com/blog/text-message-templates-for-businesses/. Texting your audience is a great way to stay in touch and make sure that you stay on their mind throughout the year. Take the time to come up with exclusive offers and messages to send and you will likely get a great response from it.

Texting is professional as long as you use it for the right thing, at the right time and to the right person. Texting is a part of modern life, and because of this we should embrace it and use it to out advantage, both personally and for business.

Offline Marketing vs. Online Marketing: The Pros and Cons To Consider

With a growing number of ways to market your business, there seems to be a bit of a debate over using traditional marketing for your business (offline marketing) or going down the online route as you could capture a new audience. So to know which may be better for your business, it is a good idea to have a greater understanding of each of them. So this article is aiming to give you a clearer understanding of each type of marketing, and the pros and cons. Then you can weigh up what will work better for you and your business.

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Offline Marketing

Marketing your business offline is a way to market your business and attract new customers using only methods like radio, print, magazines, television, and posters. If you have been in business for a while, or are only used to offline marketing, then it can be easy to see the positives of it.

Take print advertising, for example. This is one of the most traditional forms of advertising and marketing your business and getting new customers. You can use your budget to target newspapers and magazines on a national scale if needed, as well as sticking to things like posters and flyers if your business is one that is more aimed at people locally. It can be expensive to advertise in print, and you can’t be too specific with who will read your ad, but with the right publications, it can be a way to see a return on your investment.

As a result of getting a few customers, you can then target them through direct mail if you have their information. This allows you to send out something specific to them, such as a birthday discount or the latest offers on the products similar to what they have already bought. While this can be a good thing and uptake is often high, it can be seen as a little bit spammy, and it won’t work for all business types.

Traditional networking is something that you can’t go too far wrong with, and it is another form of offline marketing. Talking to people, those in the industry at trade show exhibits or to potential customers on the streets, can be a good way for people to see the face behind the brand and learn more about what you offer. You can make yourself memorable in the right way, and then it could lead to other opportunities and collaborations. Having business cards to give away is a great idea too. Things that will get your name out there is key.

So as you can see, there are good things about all of these. You just need to see how effective it could be for the type of business that you have and what you need to do to see your business grow.

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Online Marketing

Because of the way that the world has shifted online, it is only natural that the way we do business and market our business has shifted as well. But what specifically is online marketing?

It can be anything from simply having a website, to blogging and working with bloggers, to using paid search engine ads, as well as looking to build your SEO and using social media. So to start with, getting yourself a website is a good way to go, along with some social media channels. If they are used regularly, then it can be a good way to market and grow your business, as you could be reaching a whole new group of people.

One of the benefits of online marketing is the specificity of the people that you will be marketing to. With a newspaper or magazine ad, you can have a rough idea about who the ad will go to. Certain demographics will read certain things; but you can’t be sure. The thing is, when you work with bloggers on campaigns, they can let you know the specifics of who reads their articles as they will have the data from their web host or Google Analytics.

Likewise, if you want to use social media for advertising, then you can also be pretty specific about who your ads get targeted to. If your business is related to weddings, you can aim your ads at engaged females, that are aged between 25 and 45 and who live in a certain state; it can be that specific! So if you want to know what you’re getting more bang for your buck, then that could be a good way for you to go.

Though it can take some legwork, in many ways, you can do your online marketing yourself. You log into your social media accounts and create the ads, or you write a blog as part of your website, making sure to link back to previous posts. So if you’re on a tight budget or a pretty small startup, then online is a way to get marketing your business cheaply, at least at first. If you’re stuck for time, though, then it can be easier to pass it over to a marketing agency to run it for you, or to use offline methods. But again, this isn’t going to be great if you’re on a budget.

While offline marketing allows you to target nationwide, it doesn’t really allow for a global reach. However, with online marketing, you can quite easily reach a global audience through the blog articles that you post or the social media accounts that you have. So have a think about what you want to do with your business and go from there. For many businesses, a bit of both is what is going to work well for you. Because although getting new customers is great, you will also want to keep old customers or get more local ones. Some businesses can thrive doing just one form of marketing. So decide on your aims and then allow your marketing to do its thing.

Good luck as you decide what direction your marketing journey will take you.

3 Ways The Internet Can Help Grow Your Business

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You can use the internet to help grow your business. This is true whether you are a physical company that has zero online presence right now or if you are a company that already deals in a digital space. With that in mind, here are three ways that the internet can help to grow your business.

Website

If you don’t already have a website, then the first thing that you are going to want to do is create one. You can hire a professional to create a bespoke website that is perfect for your company. Your website is the first place that most people will look when they search for your company. This means that it needs to give a good impression of your company and easily show people what your company is about. It needs to be easy to navigate without a lot of animations and graphics – simple is best. You will want your website to show people the best way to become a customer, buy things from you or access your services. This might be via phone call, email or through your online store. If you are selling things through your website, then you can contact places like Onestop Ecommerce Solutions for help making your online store a success.

Social Media

Social media is another area of the internet that your business should take advantage of. Most social media is free as well. This makes it an excellent piece of free advertising and promotion for your company. You should be able to grow an online presence and brand through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Both of these are great for communicating and engaging with your customers and potential customers. You can have a blog on your website that provides useful and interesting content to its readers. This can then be posted on your social media for people to look at. Every click that goes towards your website is another person who might go from potential customer to customer. You should make the most of social media.

Diversification

The internet can open new paths and doorways that were never possible to your business before. Through this, you might be able to diversify your business and allow it to grow. You might find that with the internet, you can now post out items rather than just selling them from your physical store. You might find that you now have access to a whole new group of people that you didn’t before. You might find that you have a whole new business idea that requires the internet in order for it be a success. When it comes to diversifying, you want to make sure that you understand the market you are entering. This means researching and preparing in advance. You can make use of analytics to understand your customers, and potential customers like never before. However, you need to understand them and take the time to act on the advice that they are giving. The internet can help you to diversify.

eCommerce And Social Media Infographic

Seth Godin, a former dot com business executive and an author, said that these days we are able to turn strangers into friends, then those friends into customers, and those customers into salespeople.

And he’s right! It’s easy to turn strangers into your own friends. And if you promote your website on social media, you’re able to turn friends into paying customers. Furthermore, it’s also easy to turn customers into salespeople: just put a discount code in front of them and tell them it works only if it gathers a certain number of likes.

Over the last decade, there have been numerous social media platforms that have basically taken over the world and our lives. These social networks have reached an astounding audience, like no other form of communication before. And this is the reason why it’s important to the industry of eCommerce to collaborate with the social media platforms.

Thanks to the introduction of social commerce, your friends can become your customers on pretty much any social media platform, without having to visit your website. And that’s what makes social media so valuable to eCommerce.

The ability to purchase any product from a third-party company within the social media experience is what we define as social commerce nowadays.

Thanks to the ever-evolving strides of technology and our increased use of both smartphones and social networks, the wide world of online shopping has been changing and turning a lot more social.

According to a recent survey, approximately three out of four shoppers have been relying on social media to guide their purchasing decision. As a result, it’s quite clear that sellers need to go with whatever platform their customers are using, instead of trying to get them to leave the platform and visit a website.

We’re all seeing that social commerce is a market that has been on the rise and encompasses plenty of options. Shoppers can make group purchases, they can do this via mobile apps, there’s the option of social shopping and shopping that is integrated into social media platforms. Even retailers can add their own social features.

So it’s extremely important for sellers to be active on the big social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter. And it’s also important for the existing eCommerce giants like eBay and Amazon to collaborate with the said platforms in order to improve the entire shopping experience.

eCommerce Social Media - Infographic

Getting to Grips with SEO

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The internet is one of the most powerful business tools out there. This is made evident in the astounding success of numerous online businesses. However, in order to gain the most from the web, you need to know how to work it to your business’ advantage. So, let’s start with SEO. In short, SEO stands for search engine optimisation. It’s a business practice of getting as much traffic to your webpage by getting links to your site as high in search engine results as possible. This makes practical sense. When consumers want a certain item or are trying to find your brand, they make use of search engines and generally limit their search to results that appear on the first page. Here’s how to ensure that you use SEO as effectively as possible.

Know Your Search Engine

There are various search engines out there, but when it comes to SEO, Google SEO tends to be the most effective and the option that will bring you the best results. Why? Because Google is the most commonly used search engine around the world. Its market dominance is profound. Think about it. When someone asks a question to something nobody around them knows the answer to, what do they do? They “google it”!

Google is so popular that the name has become a noun! Not only this, but 1.7 billion people make use of it, so you want to appear as high in the Google search results as possible in order to get the greatest exposure, make the most sales and generate the most profit. However, if you prefer other search engines such as Bing or Yahoo, don’t worry, you can focus on them too. Once you’ve settled on a given search engine, you can start to look into their practice and protocol. This will give you a more in-depth understanding of how they work, allowing you to optimise your web page to their requirements more easily.

 

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Use Keywords

SEO keywords are the words in your content that allow people to search you, your products, and your services most effectively. So make sure to include the most popular search terms relating to what you have to offer in various places about your site. They could be in product descriptions, blog posts, or secondary pages on your website. Consider including brand names, product colours, sizes, and materials. Do your research. See what the most searched terms are regularly. Many people make the mistake of only creating a keyword list once. You need to keep updated to keep with the times and remain relevant!

Outsource

If you are having difficulty getting to grips with SEO yourself or don’t really have the time on your hands to personally carry it out, remember that you can always outsource this aspect of your business practice. Professionals who are extremely familiar with the process will be able to take the pressure off your shoulders and undertake the optimisation on your behalf.

SEO can seem pretty daunting, but in reality, if you have the time on your hands or the means to outsource, you’ll be absolutely fine!

Boosting Your Business Social Media: How To Do It

I think it has become extremely clear that now a business really needs to be ever present on social media, especially from an advertising perspective. Of course, it isn’t an essential aspect of your day to day business, but it can certainly help the business grow, digitally and on a face to face aspect. However, if social media or even internet promotion and content is not your strong point how do you deliver engaging content that will work for your business? There are some fail-safe ways you can do this and I wanted to share with you what some of them are.

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Consider the content you create

Social media is all about the content you create and how consistent you are in creating it. So it is very important to consider the type of content you want to be posting online. Do you want to share information and tips as well as promote your business? Do you want to give an insight into what your business is doing day to day? For example, this might mean sharing the progress of jobs you are working on, things you are installing, or latest promotions on products you have available. The type of content doesn’t all necessarily need to be typed words. You could share images, you could share video, the options are endless. So it is definitely worth looking at what you are comfortable with sharing and then remaining consistent with it.

Gain interest by inventive methods of content

You may want to think about some of the ways you can grow your audience, so you could try some inventive methods in doing that. For example, you could choose to share content that has a call to action. Where you are wanting people to respond to a question you have asked, share a status you have uploaded or simply like your content. This helps your business be seen on other people’s feeds. Another option could be to run a giveaway, but there are certain terms you need to abide by, so that might be worth a little research. But this could encourage people to like your business and share your posts.

Get the help of the experts to give your strategy a boost

Not all of us are internet savvy, and social media can feel a little confusing at times, especially when it comes to the right times to post to different platforms. So it might be worth enlisting the help of digital marketing services who know this area inside out. They can devise a strategy, help with content creation, and even enable you to grow your audiences on your social media platforms.

Don’t try to do too much too soon

Finally, there are so many options of social media and promotion out there that it can be far too tempting to be ever present on all of them. But this can become a job in itself, so instead focus on different areas like one platform at a time, or use scheduling tools to help you share content across different platforms.

I hope that this helps you to boost your business social media presence.

Achieving Complete SEO Ownership

When small business owners think about SEO, most will be faced with fear and apprehension at the work they have before them. From the confusing details you have to fill in, to the difficulties found in measuring your results, most people will struggle to get their site into Google’s good books. Of course, though, you’re never alone in a job like this. Instead, you just need to find the right tools to help you. So, to provide you with this, this post will be exploring some of the options you have out there.

  • Google Search Console: To begin, as an essential part of any website owner’s SEO toolbox, Google offers a very useful set of tools called Search Console. When you first get started, you will have to index your site, providing the service with all of your information. From there, you can start to track your monthly hits and visits, along with the keywords which were most successful. This can give you an incredible insight into the effectiveness of the SEO on your website.
  •  Plugins For Your Site: A lot of the time, you will struggle to get your website into a position where Google can even find it, let alone being able to place it highly in searches. To help with this, there are plugins for pretty much all of the common website platforms out there. WordPress, for example, has options like Yoast which are standalone, along with dozens of others which come with other applications. Along with this, you should also be able to find something which will work for your site, even if you’re using a weird platform.
  •  Keyword Research: One of the largest parts of SEO is the keyword research you do to make sure you’re keeping up with trends. There are loads of tools out there to help you with this. The best will take the content you already have, giving you the best words to use, along with the places you need to put them. This sort of service may cost a little bit of money. But, for the best results, sometimes you have to make an investment.
  •  The Right Company: Realistically, the most you’re willing to invest into your SEO, the better it is likely to be. Using a professional company to handle this part of your website will have a huge impact on the quality of your search results. It’s worth using resources like King Kong Digital Agency reviews, as this will give you some insight into the success they’ve had in the past. Along with this, it’s also worth making sure the company you choose is good with working with your business type. SEO can be very different as you start moving into new fields.

Hopefully, this post will inspire you to start working harder on the part of your site which enables customers to find it. Not a lot of business owners consider their site’s SEO when they’re getting it built. But, if you want to have the best results, you have to make sure you’re doing the right work to make it happen.

Desire Complete IT Solutions? Use These 3 App Suites

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Developing the best business effectiveness usually means finding the best equipment to fulfill your daily tasks with. After all, rising to relevance in your industry is not a singular achievement, it is something which must be developed day by day and maintained, using the best possible methods for doing so.

 

So, find the best possible methods! If we were to ask you what equipment is used the most to gain a business advantage from day to day, which would you suggest is the most important? It wouldn’t be going too far to assume you’d consider your IT solutions as this most important tool. Your employees will only ever be as good as the tools they employ, so taking the time to sit down and truly assess how your IT framework can yield great results.

 

Of course, IT solutions are only the canvas of setting up your enterprise. The meat of your operation comes from the apps and programs you use. These are the true tools your employees will use every day in the fight to please shareholders and become a more profitable, ethical, and worthwhile firm.

 

Here are some you should install and purchase licenses for:

 

Adobe Creative Suite

 

If you’re interested in content creation of any level, it’s likely you can benefit from the Adobe creative suite. There are multiple different programs in this suite, and you can purchase licenses for solely the ones you want. Photoshop, After Effects and InDesign, are the most popular and famous programs. They consider and help you edit images, motion graphics and publishing spreads respectively. There are multiple more programs to help you for any small consideration or professional endeavor you have or would like to try. What’s more is that Adobe has recently listened to complaints from personal hobbyists and businesses about the cost of purchasing licenses for these programs. Taking this on board, Adobe now offers variant subscription models which can benefit you and your business, regarding keeping your business online or opening a publishing house from modest financial means.

 

Office 365

 

Office 365 is the complete Microsoft Office suite, and it’s certainly popular for a reason. Not only have Microsoft optimized and made the platform more effective over the years, but compatibility with cloud storage and inter-commentary shared user potential allows for some wonderful collaboration between employees and departments. The Office package includes Word, Excel, Powerpoint and OneNote, all tools which are now considered industry standard. If you are using the Windows 10 platform (advisable) as your business-wide operating system, the compatibility and constant stream of security updates makes Office 365 much more preferential than the Google Suite platform, despite the latter being free. For the best insight check out Better Online to see how you could install the package today.

 

VPN Service Of Your Choice

 

While VPN services are a must-have in today’s online corporate climate, there are many worthwhile choices to make your decision a little more difficult to make. The most famous and celebrated VPN’s as of the time of this writing (Fall 2017,) are TunnelBear, Windscribe, and Speedify. These are speedy and reliable services that help encrypt your web traffic.

 

Never be afraid to secure yourself online through these parameters, especially if you are interested in preventing a malicious hacking attempt to steal your vital information. Employees working from home or in a cafe may also be working from an unreliable or unsecured connection, so it’s important to give them a platform to securely conduct their work, and not have to worry about the variable connection they might be executing their tasks from.

 

With these software services, you can be sure that your IT functionality is firing on all cylinders from the early days.

 

 

 

 

The Importance Of Modern Website Features For Small Business

Small businesses are living in a world of rapid competition. Now more than ever humanity from all ends of the earth is connected. You can communicate and do business with people from all walks of life and locations, purely at the click of a mouse. The pressure for small businesses is essentially to have a website that is on par with their larger contemporaries. There’s nothing as sad as a small business that wants to lift off from the ground and become successful but the website is so tacky and boring, that traffic rarely converts to purchases. It’s not as complicated as you might initially believe because the features of modern business websites are in fact all geared toward the consumer experience. Rather than complex coding and truly personalized lines, what must be on your small business website are effective marketing techniques that focus on converting casual shoppers who are just browsing, into buyers.

Before you set up start blogging

Every single modern business website should have a page for the blog posts. Unlike a personal diary, this page should be where all kinds of updates are laid out in full detail. On top of this, it should also be a haven where your ideas and future plans are allowed to flourish. For a small business, it’s wise to this yourself and not hire a ghostwriter if you can help it. Larger businesses often have brand managers that will assist the marketing department when it comes to blog writing about the company. However, you have the joy of creating the image entirely from scratch and on your own. You have to think carefully about the image and language you wish to convey to the customers. Consider a more casual tone and informal approach for the blog pieces. Consumers want to feel a human connection with the products and services they spend their hard earned money on. It’s therefore vital to building an authentic relationship that filters out on the page of your website. Be mindful to remember that a blog page is just as important as the checkout process page.

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Best place to exist

It might not strike you at first, but setting up a website, maintaining and updating it is a huge task and one that will require constant upkeep. Additionally, it will also be somewhat costly if you go about it in an uninformed manner. WordPress and Wix are both web hosting companies that offer websites that are designed more for personal blogging and small businesses. However, Wix is slightly more complicated, whereas the best WordPress hosts are quite easy to follow and navigate. It’s best to read through the tests and reviews before you make your choice as different hosts will have various kinds of packages. You might find that one kind of host has less bandwidth than you need but has other features like disk space and domain names that fit your business better. If you are in this predicament, make a list of the most important things to you regarding the business and the lesser things that can be worked out later down the line. Pick the best web host that can satisfy your most urgent operational requirements.

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The essence of uniqueness

There are now millions of websites and all the times there new ones being made. To set your business apart, every part of your website needs to evoke the brand. Starting firstly, with your font, it should be entirely unique. You can make your own font, and after refining it and making sure, it doesn’t too closely resemble another and begin to use it for your website. Be careful to implement a unique color scheme and background. Do not be generic and try to mix and match templates and default options, as you want your website to be an online store that is one of a kind. The pictures of your products and services that you upload, should all be professionally shot and not ripped from the internet. This does mean you will have to book a professional session with an experienced photographer, but authenticity will go a long way. The more you’re less like other businesses, the more likely you are to be recognized by consumers. The aim is, to be pure and stand out from the crowd.

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Hire a designer

Rather than going it alone and taking a lot longer to finish the website, a small business would prosper from hiring a web designer. By sitting down with the designer, you can go step by step planning each part of the website. From the button shapes and sizes to animations that make the website functions smoothly yet keep the customer engaged. Feel free to go through page numbers, category and sub-category levels, incorporate a search bar and a catalog, as well as small details like linking your social media with the website. One of the most important features is the checkout page. When customers click to buy items, they should all seamlessly travel to one page where the compile ready to be transferred to the payment and packaging stages. Comment sections are truly a great innovation because not only do they create a community vibe by allowing individuals who interact with your website to speak to other like-minded people, but it’s also free feedback. However, before that can happen, a website designer can create a user registration page and system. Users can, therefore, have their own profiles and personally be connect with your website. The more interaction this causes, the deeper the psychological connection to your brand.

Modern websites for small businesses should focus on being unique. Above all else, the website should be a vehicle that drives curiosity to your products and services, then converts that interest into loyalty. By having a blog that is informal, customers can see your human side, and keep themselves up to date with what’s new in your business. Finding the best web host for your business is just as important as the top priorities that you need. Hiring a web designer to create a user registration feature is incredibly crucial for fostering loyalty and allowing consumers to personalize their connection.

Simple Strategies To Boost Your Business’s Online Sales

A red-faced, angry boss, is a fate worse than death, and something you can face if your business’s online sales figures have recently plummeted. Not something that is very good for your stress levels, or an experience you want to be confronted with at your next sales meeting, I’m sure. So, why not get the jump on this and use the simple strategies below to boost sales, and save you from a such a foul fate.

Analytics

Analytics come in the form of statistical information about who is seeing your site, adverts, and marketing materials. As well as the actions visitors perform in relation to these. That makes them useful in increasing your sales because they show you which elements of your marketing campaign and website are strong and working well, as which are not.

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With analytics, you can see where potential customers are leaving your site (bouncing), or are not engaging sufficiently with the content you have provided. This, in turn, allows you to inform your campaign and altered it, so it is more specialized and effective. Something that can help you increase sales by appealing to the right people in the right way.

Multi-media platforms

Another simple sales boosting strategy is to change the platform that your advertising and marketing is being released on. This is because too many online companies are still focused on the more traditional forms of written content displayed on web pages. While the audience they are trying to reach is busy being permanently attached to their smartphones. Things that are capable of being so much more than just a web browser.

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It’s not that written content is redundant, far from it. It still has a place in helping to boost sales. It’s just that other avenues need to be explored as well, to be as effective as possible. We are talking here about video content, podcasts, webinars, and infographics. All punchy, yet simple ways of engaging your customers and getting the product in front of them in order for them to buy it. So, must target the right platforms, and include multimedia content that users of those platforms expect to stay relevant to boost sales.

SEO

SEO is the all about where your company’s site places in the rank of the search engine used to look for it online. The higher up, the better.  As these are the sites that get more traffic, and so more opportunities to convert visits into actual sales. That means good SEO is vital for good sales, but if you think you have it sorted because you have a few keywords thrown into the body text of your website you are much mistaken.

In fact, SEO is quite a complicated thing, causing many businesses to consult with professionals to maximize their effectiveness in this area. Even if you choose to seek help, you will need to grasp the difference between on-site and off-site SEO, how to get better natural rankings, and how the latest Google updates affect all of this. As these will allow you to continuously alter your site and content to get the best more hits, and more hits help to make more sales.

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Hits to sales

Although, it is worth bearing in mind that site visitors or hits can only help you so much. Especially if your site isn’t optimized to convert those hits into actual leads and sales.

To do this, you will first need a clear, user-friendly site, with pleasing visuals. You will also need to employ strategies like funneling, calls to action, and special offers to get people to make their purchase then and there during their visit.

Funneling is where the site is constructed in such a manner that it leads potential customers to purchase opportunities, or at the very least it allows their details to be captured. So they can then be utilized as warm lead at a later date. As warm leads have a much better chance of being converted into a sale because someone has already shown interest in the product.

Calls to action can help you convert site visits to actual sales if they motivate the customer to complete their purchase. The language used around these is imperative though. As it must convey urgency and positivity to be effective.

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Something else that is useful is the technique of offering limited time discounts. As these make purchasing the product now more appealing, and waiting to buy less so. As the extra products or money off will no longer be available. Something that can help to convince your customers to buy more, and so making it a great method of boosting your online sales.

A Small Business Owner’s Guide to Cyber Security

Being a business owner these days is no easy job. While the market may be challenging and small businesses struggle to make a profit, there are all of the safety issues to consider as well. When you’re the owner of a small business who has an office as well as a few remote workers on your team, there’s suddenly a lot more to think about than the dangers of a burglary.

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Criminals may reach out through your computer, these days, getting ahold of your business details no matter where you are. Here is a neat guide to how you can up your cybersecurity game, and train your employees to stay safe online even when they’re working from home.

Give your team the tools

The problem with cybersecurity is that you, as a business owner, have very little control over their online habits. While your office computers may have all the required safety features, it’s not as easy to tell if your employees treat their personal computers to the same.

It poses a threat to their own online security, of course, but cybercriminals may very well get ahold of your details when they continue their work at home – particularly if they skimp on the antivirus when getting a new computer.

Put cyber safety on the agenda, once and for all, by providing your team with a seminar once or twice a year. The best way to make the information sink in is by hiring an expert to give them the talk, so invest a little now to ensure the safety of your business in the future.

Have a long look at this article, by the way, for a few of the best security solutions for small businesses and present them to your employees when you know what you’re dealing with.

Teach them to spot attempts at phishing

When you want your business to stay safe at all times, you need to address the fact some people have no idea what an attempt at phishing looks like. They may even click that suspicious-looking link in the email without giving it much thought at all; teaching them how to spot it is almost as important as investing in proper commercial security alarm systems these days.

After the first seminar, challenge them with a mock-attempt or two to see if they got anything out of it – and make a note of the people who are falling behind.

It may be that some of your employees are better at this whole Internet-thing than others – especially if you have different generations on your team. Let one or two of your super users guide the rest of them to a better understanding of what phishing looks like, and keep challenging them with a few mock-attempts until everyone is onboard.

Cybersecurity is no joke at all, and the safest way to keep the criminal at bay is to put your employees on the frontline. Give them the tools and knowledge to defend your business, and you’ll be able to feel a lot safer.

Avoid These Digital Promotion Mistakes

New entrepreneurs will often fall into the same bad habits as many of the other professionals who came before them. There are also lots of errors that people make unnecessarily across the board. Considering that, all business owners would benefit from learning about those mistakes ahead of time so they can avoid them at all costs. There are three common digital marketing blunders below that business owners fall for time and time again. So, readers should take the time to educate themselves in the hope of saving a lot of time and hassle.

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Mistake 1: Not paying for SEO services

There is a lot of confusion in the business world when it comes to the best SEO practices. Indeed, the industry evolves every single day, and so it makes sense for entrepreneurs to employ the services of experts. That way, they benefit from the most extensive knowledge, and they get the assistance of specialists with a lot of experience. There are lots of important decisions to make about the most suitable keywords, etc. The professionals will also answer questions like should my homepage contain SEO phrases? Contrary to popular belief, those services are often affordable. So, it’s just a case of shopping around for the best deals. All reputable SEO firms will:

  • Have encouraging website rankings

  • Publish reviews and testimonials from previous clients

Mistake 2: Putting all your eggs in one basket

Many business owners make a mistake by investing too much cash in a single marketing venture. That is never a wise move because even proven strategies can fail sometimes. So, the key to success involves spreading the investment out and using as many different avenues as possible. That way, it doesn’t matter too much if one of the ideas doesn’t perform as expected. At the very least, all entrepreneurs will want to consider:

  • Social media promotion

  • PPC advertising

  • Creative content marketing

  • Real-world promotional materials (flyers, posters, leaflets, etc.)

 

Mistake 3: Not conducting enough market research

It’s almost impossible to reach a target market if the entrepreneur doesn’t perform enough market research during the early stages. That process is easier than ever before since the birth of the internet as all the information anyone might require is freely available online. It’s just a case of working out a plan and doing the groundwork. Ideally, business owners will need to know the following information about the potential customers or clients they wish to target:

  • Average ages

  • Sex

  • Location

  • Interests

  • Recent life events

  • Online browsing habits

After reading this post, company bosses who put those tips into action should see a much healthier return from their marketing endeavors this year. Just be sure not to get stuck in a rut by using the same, less than perfect, techniques all the time. Take the time to bookmark lots of industry-related blogs and read the articles whenever there is some free time. That is the best way to identify the most profitable concepts and ensure the business doesn’t fall behind its competition. New ideas appear every week, so it’s wise for all entrepreneurs to keep their fingers on the pulse.

Battle Stations: It’s Time To Go Campaigning

So, you’ve done all the hard work of making a viable business plan which took you many rewrites and drafts to get it right. You’ve made your products and or services, and have a team waiting behind you to get out into the world and show them what you’re made of. Many people think that actually, knowing what you want is the easy part and selling it is where the going gets tough. However, breathe in your second wind and get ready to go, man, your battlestations and go campaigning. Building up your marketing campaign strategy can feel like stabbing in the dark because there are so many different variations to choose from. Not every entrepreneur who starts a small business will have the knowledge needed to travel into the homes of their customers via online marketing and get the boosting response they want. They may be able to find a niche in their product, but how do you get the attention of consumers?

Building up your marketing campaign strategy can feel like stabbing in the dark because there are so many different variations to choose from. Not every entrepreneur who starts a small business will have the knowledge needed to travel into the homes of their customers via online marketing and get the boosting response they want. They may be able to find a niche in their product, but how do you get the attention of consumers?

 

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Bypass the middleman first

It’s very easy to hire a marketing team and take a load off your mind by letting them deal with promoting your business. However, once you’ve established yourself, actually, you have many options at your disposal. The first thing you should be focusing on is connecting with your existing and new customers who have just found out about you.

For your website, you should have a great user interface, whereby anyone is able to sign up, i.e. register for an account. The purpose of allowing customers to make their accounts is so that you’re creating a constant communication line between your business and the customer.

In addition, you’re also fostering a community by essentially, creating an island out of thin air online. For your website you should have a register mechanism, that upon the making of a username and setting a password, an email verification process is employed. With the plethora of emails, your website will have, you can then form newsletter mailing lists, which will allow you to update customers at any time.

In the newsletter, you could advertise discounts, special deals, seasonal greetings and general feedback from your customers about your business. By doing this, you’re establishing a firm line of communication. The most important aspect is that you’re not intrusive and allow customers to find out about the latest news concerning your business in their own time and schedule.

 

Photo by – Sebastiaan ter Burg

 Shouting atop the mountain

Every single business no matter how small or large must have its very own social media accounts. By making an account on the biggest platforms, i.e. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn, you’re virtually able to shout aloud on top of a sea of consumers to be seen and heard. But just how should you behave on social media? Businesses must be fully aware, that what you’re tweet, or write a post; you’re broadcasting to the entire world. Unlike anything humanity has ever seen before, social media is a window into the lives, homes and minds of hundreds of millions of people from all walks of life. You are on display when you respond to customers online.

Businesses must be fully aware, that what you’re tweet, or write a post; you’re broadcasting to the entire world. Unlike anything humanity has ever seen before, social media is a window into the lives, homes and minds of hundreds of millions of people from all walks of life. You are on display when you respond to customers online.

For the two biggest platforms right now, which are Twitter and Facebook, hashtagging is a technique used to trend topics or have your post enter into a gateway and be in a group of other similar tweets. You can link your marketing campaign to a particular hashtag or the best way if to make one up by yourself and continuously, only use this specific hashtag for all your promotional advertising. By getting shares on Facebook and retweets on Twitter, users who may or may not be customers can write about your business, product and or service you’re promoting. Essentially, the open market does the work for you. It’s vital to not fall behind on queries and potentially negative press by a raging customer not getting a reply to their issue. You could have a social media team as part of your staff to monitor your accounts, replies and comments, to maintain the constant need to update your feed with the news.

By getting shares on Facebook and retweets on Twitter, users who may or may not be customers can write about your business, product and or service you’re promoting. Essentially, the open market does the work for you. It’s vital to not fall behind on queries and potentially negative press by a raging customer not getting a reply to their issue. You could have a social media team as part of your staff to monitor your accounts, replies and comments, to maintain the constant need to update your feed with the news.

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Credit – Joe The Goat Farmer

 Reaching out far and wide

Creating an advertisement that can fit in the margins, or in the banners of websites should be your next move. The pay per click marketing route is one of the best ways you can reach out to new customers and browsing shoppers. First off you must choose your account, which means you should select a search engine provider for your online marketing advertisement, such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, FireFox, Opera, etc.

The obviously best choice is Google because it is a colossus compared to any other search engine. However, the best one for you will be subject to your budget. Next, you need to draw up a campaign, which will be chosen for each service or product you want to advertise; each one needs to have its own separate campaign, therefore see them as individual projects.

Next, you will need to choose your ad group, which is consists of the kinds of mechanisms you will be using, such as the keywords inside the text of your advertisement. These words need to be carefully selected because you cannot throw a bunch of words out there, which are all linked to one another. Far from looking like spam, the keywords, inside the text should be an understandable and flowing sentence; this could be a catchphrase or a tagline.

Businesses like https://digitalico.com/ppc can display video advertisements, display ads and social advertisements for you. They can also help you to increase the exposure of your business make your website, one of the first links people see. Pick your negatives, which are words that consumers might be searching for, possibly in some way, linked to your product, but which you don’t want to be associated with. These words could be things like ‘free’ or ‘discount’; so you set yourself away from the herd and not get cluttered with other popular searches in the same kinds of category of your product.

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Photo by – Max Pixel

Get your video trending

It used to be the main objective for businesses to get on the trending page of YouTube. However, that’s no longer necessary because now your video advertisement can be shown on any monetized video. You mainly have two options, due to the structure of YouTube in its current form. There is a skip button on many advertisements, which becomes active after around 5 seconds of the video playing. You can, therefore, make a 30-second advertisement, which goes into great detail about your product and what your business is about. On the other hand, you can make an eye catching 5-second ‘splash’ advertisement, where you’re using rapid visuals to symbolise your business, product or service.

Businesses have found it easier to simply splice the 30-second advertisement in such as way, that it is cut down to 5 seconds, hitting two birds with one stone. For your 30-second promotional video, you could do absolutely anything you wanted. Hence, this is a time-consuming process to come up with an idea, and accumulating the right amount of money to fund it.

Think about hiring actors, location, script, lighting and the misc-en-scene. Hiring a professional cinematography business to come up with an idea and shoot it is by far the best option. It’s vital to form your plan of action and the message you want to put across before contacting any video artist. Together with each department, headed by the marketing team, decide on what makes your business special together with the ethos and doctrine you want to project unto the customer. You can tell a story or make an observational video, but the bottom line is, to make sure your business is relevant to the topic.

Do something in the real world

Times have changed, and the billboard doesn’t hold as much power as the advertisement that is power by complex consumer trends and keyword algorithms, but the face to face approach will not die out. You could hire a car or use any vehicle, and stick your company logo on the side and go out to meet consumers.

By forming a team of survey staff, go out with a carefully thought out list of questions that are somewhat general, but still connected back to trends and the industry you’re in. You may find greater interaction, if you offer a prize to anyone who can get through the entire list of questions, which can be simply a chocolate bar, or a discount code to your product and services list online.

Getting motivated to market your business is sometimes hit and miss. Of course, you want to reach and get new customers, but the complex nature of online marketing can take you aback. It’s simply not as easy as displaying your business on any given web page. Getting the order of things just right will allow you to have a structured and extremely focused online advertisement campaign.

Social media is incredibly important because you are communicating with your customers with no safety net. Everything you say will be judged, but you can spread your hashtag campaign far and wide simply by users doing the work for you. Emailing newsletters to consumers is a great way to update them, and make them feel ‘part of the club’.

 

Make It Rain: Generating Business Revenue: The Mobile App Edition

While it is likely that as a business person you have examined many ways and means of generating revenue, you may have overlooked the opportunity of using a mobile app because of their relative newness, and their dependence on IT. However, they can make a great addition to the revenue streams you already have going, so to find out how to utilize them read on.

Priced apps

This is the basic format for successfully creating revenue through mobile apps. You design an app that solves a problem that a user has. Such as providing access to music, video, messaging, or organization among other things. Then the people pay for access to this.

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This can be via a one off fee, but to make real money from this you have to have a true mobile hit on your hands like Angry Birds, or Candy Crush. A much more profitable structure is to make the app itself free, but charge a subscription fee for the content like Spotify does. Then you are guaranteed a regular income without having re-sell to new customers each month to meet targets.

 

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However, this model does depend on having content, or a function in the app that people are willing to part with their money for. Good examples of this include games, entertainment, and photos and video apps. Meaning this model won’t necessarily suit all type of business looking to get into the mobile app market.

In app purchases

Another way to monetize mobile apps is to charge in app purchases. These are the things that you are always getting warned to turn off when you buy your kids games on their smartphone.

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Why? Well, it’s usually because they are cleverly conceived to create both a desire and opportunity for the person using the app to invest in some additional content.

In games, this can be coins or bonuses that make progress easier. In other types of apps, it may be a fee for special features, or access to premium areas. This is arguably a better model than the one off priced app above because if the hook is good enough customer will keep coming back. Spending more money to get the stuff they need, thus increasing your revenue stream from mobile app technology.

 

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Advertising

Another way that you can harness the power of mobile app technology to increase revenue is to use your platform as a host for mobile advertising. This can be done simply and easily by using one of the mobile advertising companies that offer the ad space you have, for their clients to fill.

The benefit of this is that you can keep your app free, thus ensuring a positive connection with your users. While also generating a stable revenue stream.

In a way it sort of works like the old idea of web pop-ups and banners, but modernized for 21-century mobile technology. However by using mobile platforms the reach of the adverts is much greater, meaning there will be greater demand for the space that you are selling. Something you can exploit and convert into revenue for your business.

The 6 Analytics Tools Every Business Should Be Using

Whatever the nature of your business, I’m guessing you have a website. Whether you’re using content marketing to define and promote your brand to give your business a unique voice, or whether you’re an online retailer for who lives and dies by their ecommerce. There’s no denying that every business should have a website. It’s an invaluable tool, but as with any tool… It’s only ever as effective as the way you use it.

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If you’re not using analytics to identify who’s visiting your website, what products they’re buying or what pages they’re viewing then you’re letting valuable information slip through your fingers. Analytics are invaluable, especially if combined with an automated marketing platform like Visual Visitor which can identify which companies visitors are coming from, what products they’re interested in and even their contact information making them an invaluable form of lead generation.

Here are some essential analytics tools to help you to measure the effectiveness of your online presence and get the most out of your website:

Social Metrics

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Facebook Insights- It’s free and it’s built in, so you’re off to a great start. You can use it to measure your post reach and see who is responding to your posts with likes and shares. You can also see data on how your page is performing over a given time period and how many visitors are engaging with your links and content. You can use this information to increase your reach and learn more about the people engaging with you.

Twitter Analytics- Again, this is free to use, even if you’re not advertising through Twitter. It enables you to learn more about who your followers are, where they’re from and which topics they are interested in. It also measures engagement in terms of likes and retweets to help you identify which are your most popular tweets, polls and campaigns.

SEO

Moz- Knowing your search engine rankings can be laborious and confusing but Moz provides an easy to use system for tracking and improving your rankings as well as your competitors’. You can track keywords, find out who your competitors are… and they’ll even give you a free listing score.

SEMRush- Another useful tool for knowing your competition and comparing your SEO performance with theirs. Based on your listings and optimization it will provide you with analysis and suggestions for improving your ranking.

User behavior

Crazy egg- This is great if you’re having a UX audit or just want to know more about how users navigate your site. Its comprehensive and accessible visual interface allows you to identify what users are doing on the page, what they are and aren’t clicking and even their mouse movements. It’s a great way of optimizing your site’s layout, design and UX.

Google analytics- It’s the go-to analytics tool for many businesses, and with good reason. It tracks web traffic, keyword data and provides you with regular reports on visitor stats and conversion rates to help you identify where and how you may be losing visitors. And the best part? It’s completely free!

How to Get the Best Out of Your Home Business

Building a business from scratch at home can be an ideal way to make an income while working around the responsibilities of owning a home and having a family. Although it’s hard work, it can also be very rewarding. If you’ve got more time on your hands, perhaps because the kids are now all in full time school, you may be thinking about how you can drive your business forward. Here are some tips for getting the most out of a home business.

Create A Routine

Sometimes, there’s no option but to work late into the early hours of the morning or squeeze work into a two-hour slot while the kids have a nap. However, that isn’t going to do anything for the quality of your work. You need to have a clear start time and a clear end time. It may even benefit you to schedule your break and lunch times too. Running a business from home doesn’t mean you can allow yourself to get sloppy; it means you’re the only one responsible for motivating yourself and staying disciplined.

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 Digital Marketing

The internet is a wonderful tool when it comes to marketing your work. You have the advantage of using social media, websites, blogs and more. You have a real opportunity to connect with your customers and your potential reach is at least ten times more than it would be with traditional marketing. Digital marketing is why it’s possible for many people to work from home and earn a decent income. If you’re unsure of how to use digital marketing to your advantage, you may want to get advice from a professional.

Exercise

You may think that exercise has no link to how well you do in business, but you’d be wrong. A regular exercise routine will keep you fit and healthy so your immune system is ready to fight off any illnesses doing the rounds in your area. Therefore. It’s less likely you’ll have to take days off from work. Running a business from home means you don’t get the luxury of sick pay. Exercise will also keep your brain alert, so you’re ready to tackle problems if they should arise while you’re working. An early morning jog will set you up for a great day of business.

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Avoid Stress

Easier said than done, right? Whether you’re a new business or you’re already established, there will always be times when you feel stressed. The key to avoiding stress is preparation. If you know you have a particularly large job to complete, set enough time aside to make sure you can deliver it on time without having to push yourself to the limit. If you feel like things are getting on top of you, take a break.

If you try and push through when you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s likely you’ll make mistakes and could cause yourself more work. Make sure you put money aside throughout the year, so you’re not worried about taking holidays. You deserve to have time to relax and recharge.

Innovations To Help Your Productivity

Do you ever feel that you never have enough time at work? If you’re constantly attending meetings or writing emails and just doing basic administrative tasks, then you’re not getting to those high-impact tasks that are going to be the ones that will really make a difference to you. That needs to change in your business, or it simply won’t grow as you want it to. These low-impact tasks, such as admin and staying on top of emails and phone calls are important and do need to be done. However, they can waste a lot of time and stop you from doing some of the high-impact tasks that will really help your business to get off the ground.

So if this sounds like you, where you feel constantly busy but rarely feel like you’ve achieved anything, then it is time to make your work more productive and look for ways to help. Here are a few ideas that small business owners need to think about.

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Work in Airplane Mode

One of the biggest distractions we have in a modern world is our tablet or smartphone. If we hear a ping, we almost automatically reach out to check our phone to see what the notification is from. So one of the best ways to avoid this is to not check your phone at all. The best way to avoid temptation is to just switch it off or put in on airplane mode. Then you can dedicate time to getting certain tasks done without any distractions. It will make a big difference to you, especially if you are a serial cell phone checker

Use Existing Software Efficiently

All businesses will be using programs like Word and Excel in the everyday running of their business. However, not too many of us really know how to use the programs efficiently. Most users will use these programs and waste a lot of time doing the repetitive day to day tasks. So if you don’t have someone in the business at the moment that is proficient with this kind of thing, it could be worth looking at new ways to innovate. You could also consider outsourcing the work to someone else as it might work out as a good return on your investment.

Look For Apps To Help

There are many different apps for all sorts of things these days. So why not look to see if there are any that you can use to help yourself in business? If you can find some that will help you to be more innovative and save time, then it is going to help you focus on those high-impact tasks. Take making the staff rota, for example. That can be pretty time-consuming. It does need to be done, so why not look for an app that will allow you to do just that? There can be apps for admin, tax, and accounting, even things for checklists and to-do lists. Hopefully, they will help you to be more focused.

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Make Emailing Easier

If a lot of the time you are going through emails and wasting a lot of time, then you need to think about a new way of doing things. When you need to remember who to follow up with, as well as finding out if your email has ever been opened, it helps to have some help. But there are things like a plugin from Gmail, for example, that will help you to do just that. You can schedule emails, send yourself reminders to follow up with previous emails, and get notified when someone reads your email. So of you’re getting on with the high impact things in the day, you could deal with emails in the evening, but schedule them to be sent out in the morning, so it looks more professional. Such a help.

Change Your Habits

Getting tools and plans in place to help you be more productive is all very well. But if you don’t get in a change of habit, then they aren’t going to help with anything. You need to get in the habit of prioritizing your work and working in set hourly slots to get things done. Set yourself a schedule such as an hour for emails after lunch, rather than first thing in the morning as it can let you get sidetracked. All these tools and tech can help you to be more productive, but only if you let them help you be more productive, and set yourself some priorities first.

Escape The Rat Race: Three Legitimate Ways to Earn Cash From Home

Are you sick of the daily commute, fed up of difficult colleagues and your boss breathing down your neck? Do long hours feel like you’re working yourself to the bone? Why not escape the rat race- more people than ever have found it possible to make the leap from employee to boss, are able to work for themselves and enjoy all of the flexibility that brings. When you search ‘earn money from home’ online all kinds of dodgy looking results, come up, but rest assured it IS possible, and there are a number of legitimate ways to go about it. Here are just a few of them.

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Online Business

You don’t have to be a business tycoon running an enormous company to earn good money from business. It’s perfectly possible to run it right from your own home and still do well. Of course there are limitations, for example, you won’t be able to employ a ton of people or store lots of stock with a home business. So think about an idea that will work. Selling digital items or services work well since you don’t need to worry about storing or shipping physical things. If you’re a designer, you could design and sell logos, blog and website designs, banners, illustration, clip art and much more.

Online marketplaces like Etsy are great for selling these kinds of creations, and as a bonus, you don’t need to pay for, maintain and advertise your own website. Selling services is another idea, so have a think about your skills and experience. You can tutor or teach many things with just a laptop, Hafiz Muhammad Ali was able to set up a digital marketing career with just a $90 loan. You could be an online tutor for children helping them with exam preparation, you could be a life coach or a personal trainer/ nutritionist. Video calling programs like Skype make it easy for you to give people this one on one time without having to physically be there in person.

Blogging

Building up a blog from scratch can take time. You need to build a loyal readership, get your name out there and also build up some domain authority before companies will want to work with you. All of this is time-consuming, and do if you’re a newbie and want to set up a blog that will earn you money, be prepared to be in it for the long haul and don’t expect to start earning anything until you’ve been regularly posting for around a year. However, if you already blog for a hobby and your site is established, chances are all of the foundations are in place.

If you’ve not been contacted for paid work yet, a few simple changes could make all the difference. First, ensure your design and aesthetic is up to scratch. Companies choosing blogs to work with will expect professional looking designs that are nicely laid out and easy to navigate. If you’re not a whizz with these things no need to worry, there are plenty of inexpensive and even free premade layouts that you can install with just a few clicks. You should register a domain name for your blog, dropping the blogspot.com/ wordpress.com at the end of your link. This makes everything look more professional, and some sponsors will only work with bloggers with their own domain.

Ensuring your content is well written, relevant and contains good quality images is also important too. Sites like Pexels and Pixabay have lots of great free stock images to choose from. These things will all make your blog attractive to companies looking for paid links, increasing your chances of making regular money. Affiliate advertising and Google Adsense can also earn you money so look into other ways you can monetize too.

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Freelancing

There are so many freelancing websites you can sign up to these days, offering plenty of regular work. Freelance writing is one way you can earn cash in this way, once you’re signed up to the site (some will require you to do a short test to check your skills are up to scratch) you can ‘bid’ for jobs. The great thing about freelancing is you can control your workflow, while each piece will have a strict deadline you can choose how many projects you want to take on.

This makes freelancing the ideal way to earn extra money if you’re waiting for your blog or business to ‘take off.’ If you’re having a quiet week, go onto the freelancing site and do some work on there. If things are going well, you can do less. There’s no contract or commitment to do a certain number of pieces per week so how much you do is entirely down to you.

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Placing Your Business In The Digital World

For anyone who wants their business to be as successful in the long term as possible, focusing on the digital side of things is always going to be quite important. No matter what it is that you want your business to achieve, you will find that knowing how to place it in the digital world is going to make a huge difference. As it happens, there are a number of things that you can and should do in order to place your business online in the best way possible. Following the following tips, you will be able to ensure that your branding, marketing and placement is as ideal as possible.

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Social Media

These days, it is unlikely that you will be able to achieve much for your business without a strong focus on social media. This is no longer something that businesses can probably benefit from. If you are serious, then you should now consider social media to be absolutely essential in your business’ rise to further and further success. You can think of social media as the marketer’s dream tool. It is entirely free of charge (unless you choose to pay for even better services…) and you can get your message out into the world immediately, to be received by millions of people. Social media marketing works best when it focuses on interaction, as this is what people expect on those sites. So try to make your social media feeds as light-hearted and above all interactive as possible.

Website

All businesses need a website. This is no longer up for debate. If you want your business to have a decent online positioning, then a website is absolutely essential for that to happen. Of course, websites vary hugely, and you want to do everything you can to make sure that yours is as pristine and polished as possible. For that, you will need to go through step by step and ensure you get everything right, including the technical aspects of having a website. Get yourself a decent hosting service first, one you feel you can trust, and be sure to spend time designing your website as perfectly as possible. Keep on brand message as you do this, otherwise the effectiveness of having a website is basically destroyed. Above all, be sure to keep it secure, especially if it is an ecommerce site, as your customers need to know that they can trust it.

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Mobile

Increasingly, mobile is becoming a big part of the way that people access the Internet. Wherever you appear online as a business, you need to be sure that it is mobile-friendly. It goes without saying that you need to be sure of this for your own website but you should also encourage third party websites where you are mentioned to do the same. It really is better for everyone, from the business down to the consumer. Moreover, you might want to consider building a smartphone app, so that your customers can keep in touch with you in an even easier fashion.