A Snazzy Design Isn’t All You Need For Small Biz Website Success

If you are in the process of launching your own business, you have most probably been advised time and time again that a website is a must. In the 21st century, running a business without a website is practically impossible, and very few entrepreneurs actually do so. The fact is that a business website makes launching a successful venture that is highly profitable easier. This is because it helps to advertise your brand, draws in new customers, increases your reach, makes it easier to provide top notch customer service, allows you to showcase your products or services, and improves your brand’s credibility.

When it comes to business websites, for both big and small brands, a lot of people make the mistake of focusing purely on design. Of course, aesthetics are important, as to be appealing a website needs to look smart, stylish and professional. However, an attractive design isn’t all that a business website needs to be successful, and it’s important to understand that.

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Easy navigation

Statistics suggest that when people use a website that is not easy to navigate – aka get from page to page and find what they need, it puts them off of returning to that website. Think of it this way, when there are hundreds of companies selling similar products and services, why would a consumer buy via a site that is hard to use and navigate? The answer is that they wouldn’t. Instead, they’d buy from somewhere else, that has a website that’s easy to use and navigate. So it’s crucial that you ensure your website is easy to use – the best way to do this is to ask someone who is objective to test it out for you, as that way you can get an honest report about how easy to use your site really is.

Fast site

Again, a lot of consumers are put off of using websites that run slowly, as there are always alternatives that run more quickly. In today’s increasingly hectic world, people don’t have time to waste waiting for a website to load. Of course, it’s not just consumers that a slow website impacts but also your site’s Google rank – Google (and other search engines) penalise slow websites. For a website that runs fast, you need to select a company that offers website hosting that doesn’t require shared servers, as this means many websites are running from one server, impacting the speed at which the sites load. To learn more about companies offering hosting that will allow your site to run quickly, it could be worth shopping around. Talk to other local businesses, visit forums, and do your own research, so that you can find the hosting that’s the best fit for your business and budget.

Clear, concise information

Don’t underestimate the importance of clear, concise information posted on your website. When it comes to the content that you post on your website, from your ‘About Us’ section to your ‘Services’ page, the information on your website needs to be informative, concise, and most importantly, well written. That’s why, unless you’re a skilled content creator, you don’t want to make the mistake of attempting to write your website content yourself. It’s best to spend a little extra money and outsource the task, to ensure that your website content is up to scratch and reads well.

For a website that you can be proud of, take note of the tips and advice above.

Essential Visibility Advice for Online Stores

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Some would say that brick-and-mortar stores have it easy. If someone happens to walk past, then a simple window display change or witty sign can attract people to your business. Online, people don’t just happen to come across your store – not unless you put a bit more work into online visibility. Here’s what you need to think about.

Optimization

There are two things that ‘optimization’ can be taken to mean in this context; for now, we’ll stick to the type you’ve probably already heard of: search engine optimization. Don’t assume that your website is automatically going to appear on Google just because it’s on the Internet. The fact is that people searching for products online are probably going to get flooded with results from Amazon and eBay. If you want to make sure your online store gets to the first page of search results alongside those giants, then you need to engage with SEO.

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Speed and reliability

The other way ‘optimization’ can be taken to mean is in reference to the speed and reliability of your website. If your online store is a little sluggish or is down for long periods of time, then you need to optimize it. A speedy and reliable e-commerce platform is a must not just because it stops your customers from becoming frustrated. It’s important for your visibility because search engine bots/crawlers can measure how speedy and reliable your website is. The likes of Google don’t want to refer people to slow websites, so your visibility will be throttled if your website isn’t of great technical quality.

Original content

You may have heard before that blogs are great when it comes to marketing. After all, most of the things that people click on in the search engine results are blog posts! A lot of business owners in e-commerce underestimate the power of blogs; that, or they simply don’t see how an online store could fit a blog into its business model. It’s actually easier to think of content for such a website; film and game reviews, news articles about your business, interviews, etc. Get some brainstorming done and you’ll come up with some original content in no time.

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Social proof

People are much more likely to do business with you if you have social proof. This phrase refers to the existence of proof that other people have heard about your business and used it! Customer reviews on independent websites come to mind. Social media is good for building social proof because that proof increases as you get more followers on the likes of Facebook and Twitter. Getting mentioned in magazines and trusted websites is also extremely useful

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The importance of reputation

The reputation your online store has from independent customer review sources (Yelp comes to mind) will also affect your visibility. Search engines favor websites that are highly recommended by customers, and may throttle the results of an online store that doesn’t have a good reputation. Make sure you work on this part of your business; even if you make mistakes, you can still take action to keep a strong reputation.

Eight Ways To Make Your Business Blog Successful

If your business doesn’t have a blog yet, it should be the next thing on your to-do list. Starting a professional blog is a cheap way to promote your business, and if you do it right it can lead more clients, more work, and more profits.

So how do you ensure that your business blog is as successful as it can be? Here are a few tips to lead you in the right direction.

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Set a clear purpose

A blog is a long-term commitment if you want it to be successful, so before you start you need to know what you hope to get out of it. If your sole reason is just to get more clients, then it’s a bit vague. A blog’s purpose is different from a business goal; business goals are focused on helping you drive up sales and client traffic, whereas blogs are more reader-centred, thus they have to engage your online readers. You need to know how you want to engage with readers, even if they don’t end up buying anything from you? Do you want to educate people on a topic you know a lot about? Do you want to demonstrate the benefits of a service you offer? Or do you want to sell them something they don’t know they need?

Have your purpose clear in your mind every time you update your blog.

Make your blog Google-friendly

As your blog is part of a larger marketing strategy to drive up business, you want to make sure it can be easily found online. Google suggests using keywords in the URL, making site navigation easy, and avoiding long URLs as much as possible. Google also uses links and backlinks to determine successful websites, so if many reputable websites link back to your blog it is an indication of good quality.

Update consistently

Whether you post a new article weekly or every day, you stand a better chance of winning over your readers if you update your blog consistently. In fact, once your regular readers catch on to when your usual post date is, you’ll find that this is the day your get the most web traffic. If you have trouble coming up with topics to write about when you’re due to update your blog, you might benefit from coming up with a list of topics a few weeks in advance to help you plan ahead. Alternatively, you can stay updated with news within your industry and make some personal comments in response.

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Find your niche

You might know a lot about several different topics, but that doesn’t mean you should write about all of them. In order to achieve your goals and nurture a readership, you need to focus on a single topic and establish yourself as an expert.

One obstacle you may find here is setting yourself apart from other online blogs that cover the same topic. The best thing you can do is choose your expert topic, research what the competition is doing, and try to do it ten times better.

An exception to this rule is to go with a subject that’s relevant to only a few people. It will be tough at first, but once those people find you, you’re going to have a secure and loyal readership.

Connect with your readers

The beauty of the internet is that we don’t have to know people personally to strike up a conversation. Once your readers know about you, make yourself approachable by responding to their comments on your posts, or setting up a social media account specifically for your business. By doing this, you are opening up a dialogue between yourself and your readers, and you can then start to address their problems in your posts.

If you notice that a number of them want to know more about a specific subject within your specialty topic, you can plan a post around that interest. You can also answer a question that keeps popping up in the comments.

The more you make yourself useful to your readers, the more they will come to value your opinion and consider you an expert in your field. Once that happens, your readers could even become customers.

Be willing to go off topic

Once you have an established readership, you can have a bit more freedom to experiment and go off topic; this might not always be popular, but it doesn’t hurt to try. A willingness to introduce new topics shows that you can think creatively, that you’re knowledgeable about other topics, or that you’re eager to learn more about something new. You could even take suggestions from your readers and give them a short acknowledgement somewhere in the article.

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Have guest posts

Guest blogging can become a useful marketing tool for your business. Not only will your guest blogger likely be a contact from your industry, but they will have their own following, and will promote your business and your blog to their own readers. Your readers, in turn, may search for your guest’s website and start regularly following their updates.

Another benefit of a guest blogger is that they will know different things about the same topic, so you’re learning something new alongside your readers. Additionally, you may know things about your topic that your guest doesn’t know, so you could extend an offer to write a guest post for their blog.

Finally, guest posts can give you a short break from updating, and inspire you with fresh ideas.

Don’t be afraid to get a little personal

There’s a reason you started your business in the first place. You had a passion for something, or there were extenuating circumstances that pushed you in a certain direction.

As your blog becomes more successful, your readers will come to know you on certain level, so why not share little parts of your history with them (if you feel comfortable). An anecdotal post can show a different side of you and even attract a new type of reader.

5 Ways To Blog Your Business To Success

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Blogging isn’t just a hobby for budding writers. Many have realised it’s business potential and are using it as a modern marketing tactic, even using it as a way of generating a little more income. Here are a few ways that you blog your business to success.

To boost credibility

Blogging allows you to show off your know-how and hence convince people that you’re a business that knows its stuff. Many business owners will use blogging to give advice within their field. This could be advice to your clients (a real estate agency might give advice on finding a mortgage or packing for the move) or advice to other budding people within your trade (a ‘how to get a job in real estate’ kind of post for example). You can also blog about your own personal achievements within your business.

To improve SEO

You can improve your search engine rankings by doing your own SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). This works by carefully selecting keywords that link back to your site. Guest blogging is the best way of doing this – GuestPostTracker.com shares guest blogging tips on the subject. There are many business blogs that accept guest SEO posts. Just make sure that your post isn’t too promotional or spammy – search engines like keyword links that look natural.

To keep your website busy

An active website encourages visitors that your business is also active. If you haven’t updated your website in years and this shows, visitors may think that your company hasn’t been operational for years and move on to the next company. Writing regular blog posts is the easiest way to keep your site looking active and busy.

To network

Blogging is a great way of networking and meeting new people within your trade. By encourage comments on your blog posts, you can create conversation and interact directly with people online. You can also use blogging as a cross-promotion strategy and a way of building strong relationships with other businesses. You can offer to write a blog post promoting another company, in exchange for them writing a promotional blog post about you. This can allow both of you to share each others’ audiences. Cross-promotion works most effectively when the two of you are in the same trade but not in direct competition. An electrician company might choose to cross-promote with a plumbing company, whilst a car dealer might choose to work with a car loan company.

You can even make money from blogging

It’s possible to even make money from blogging alone. If you get enough of a readership you may be able to place ads on your blog posts that generate revenue every time someone clicks on them. You can also write sponsored blog posts for other people, advertising such services on sites such as Craigslist and Fiverr. This blog post offers some great advice on how to make money through blogging. Even if you’re only making a couple quid here and there off of blogging, that’s extra money you wouldn’t have had before.

What Makes Your Web-Based Enterprise Different?

Web-based companies might be booming right now. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that all of them are. The competition is fierce in this sector, and you’ll only get ahead if your business is different to all of the others out there that are vying for the public’s attention. Making that happen is easier said than done, however. Here are some of the best ways to make your web-based company stand out right now.

A Smooth User Experience Without Any of the Common Problems

There are some common problems that users experience all the time. The exact problems I’m talking about vary depending on what kind of technology is being used. If you are not able to make the user experience smooth, you will be dismissed by customers who are sick of this kind of amateurishness from companies. If you want to stand out, surprise the people using your services by making them smooth and easy. You can go to Stackify.com if you want help with testing web apps. Always test and test again to iron out faults before giving software to the public.

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A Service That Makes the User’s Daily Life or Job Simpler

Everyone wants their daily life or the job to be easier than it is. So, if you want to get ahead and do what’s right for your customers, you should address a need that they have. Maybe they have to do a particular job online by themselves. If that’s the case, you could come up with a service that automates those things for the user. This makes life easier for them, and it has a real function that will have a direct impact on them. That’s what’s most important, so emphasise this when offering something new to customers.

Speed of Delivery

It doesn’t matter what your web-based business does. It will definitely need to deliver something to customers. For ecommerce companies, this could mean delivering actual products. But for companies selling web-based services, it can be just as important to offer that service fast and efficiently. If you leave people waiting around, your business won’t stand out. And if it does, it will be for all the wrong reasons. For example, one of the things that Amazon is known for is very fast deliveries. This is what people like. They want to receive whatever it is they paid for in a rapid manner.

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Endorsements from Important People

Finally, you should look to secure some big endorsements from people that your target customers listen to. These could be as big or small as you like. But what matters is that these endorsements come from trusted voices in your industry. It might be a famous blogger or vlogger who has a large audience and following online. If you can link up with people like that, you can raise awareness of your business and products among people who you want to turn into customers. That’s a pretty big deal, and it can really make your business stand out from the crowd.

Dam-Busting: Open Up Those Revenue Streams

Perhaps the methods of doing business you’ve set up aren’t doing the trick as much as you would like. Maybe you simply want to ensure that you’re squeezing every penny you can out of your market. Some businesses might see that as a sign to go through the long process of creating whole new products and services. However, you can get smarter and open new revenue streams based on what you already have, instead.

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Expand your lead building

There are a lot of different ways to build leads on the internet and outside of it and there’s a good chance that you haven’t fully explored all your options yet. Online, have you made use of SEO, PPC, content marketing, and the plethora of available methods? If you’re mostly doing your business online, have you considered how making a real appearance through trade shows and other events could help you reach audiences you haven’t thoroughly explored yet? Keep looking for new ways to build those leads.

Sell to your friends

One way to expand those leads is through the people that are already your customers. Word-of-mouth is always powerful, but waiting for them to spread the word isn’t always the most efficient. For instance, using a gift card template is a simple method to create a new revenue stream based on the social aspect of spending with very little investment required. Setting up a referral system might require a little more investment, but besides incentivizing word-of-mouth, rewarding discounts on future purchases for the referrer gives them more reason to keep coming back. You can build a new lead as you retain an old one.

Give more bang for their buck

Based on that logic of widening existing revenue streams instead of opening entirely new ones, retaining customers is important. Getting them to spend more often isn’t necessarily difficult, either. Just as referrals can offer them more value for being a customer, setting up a loyalty system can work just as well. Whether that’s offering them points or giving them more exclusive rewards, you have to decide how much you’re willing to invest in retaining your customers. The more value for them, the more likely they are to make use of such reward schemes.

Take it on the road

If you’re in the business of services as opposed to products, then sometimes a demonstration is just what you need to close more sales. To that end, you shouldn’t always expect people to take the first step and come to you. Especially in IT, you sometimes need to help them thoroughly understand the value on offer before you really have their interest. Turning your business into a traveling workshop can help you more thoroughly explore the market and make it a lot more convenient for businesses that might show an interest.

On some occasions it may, in fact, be time to look at new products and services. But don’t jump the gun before considering if the above methods could help you optimize your current revenue streams. It’s not an efficient way to do business.

Why Ads Aren’t Giving You What You Want

Advertisements play a huge role in any online marketing strategy. They take up a huge amount of your budget, too, if you’re like most other businesses. You don’t want your money going to waste, so to find that your ads aren’t landing as well as they should can be a heavy blow. But it’s one that can be very informative. It gives you a good incentive as to where you’re going wrong.

 

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You don’t have an objective

If you don’t have objectives behind your marketing plan and your adverts in particular, then what are you complaining about? You’re not seeing what you want because you don’t know what you want. Figure out what your objectives are and use that to inform your advertisement. If you want to sell a product, hone it down to that product. If you want more clicks on your site, then make sure the advertisements are aimed at why your site is of interest. For instance, think about content on the site that is particularly persuasive to the audience.

You didn’t put the customer first

The keyword in the last point is ‘persuasive’. You are trying to persuade the potential visitor or customer before anything else. The advert, whether it’s text, video, or message, has to convey one thing only. What is the value of following it? What does it do for the person who clicks it? Adverts that only serve as a signpost for a business or a branding exercise aren’t going to have much relevance to the people who see them. So, they’re not going to get very many clicks.

You never learn

You have an objective and you have a focus on the person you want to click the ad. It’s still not a sure thing, of course. Marketing is always going to be trial and error to some degree. So long as you’re correcting those errors, that’s what matters. For instance, using PPC tools like those on Clicteq can help you automatically remove ads that aren’t working to focus on those that do. Analytics tools also make it a lot easier to see which combinations of keyword, content, and landing page work best. Keep evolving the approach.

You use bad quality links

The right tools mentioned above should help you avoid this, too. We’re talking about the kind of issues in the examples named at Search Engine Land. Generic pages on the other end of a click, landing pages that don’t work, broken URLs. You can automate all of these out of your PPC advertisements. But if you’re using video or image advertisements, then you’re wasting money. A bad quality link might have people landing on a page that doesn’t exist or a page that isn’t specific to the ad they clicked, so they just close the page again. Always test the veracity and the relevance of a link before you launch ads using them.

Mastering the art of advertising online, regardless of what platform you use, can be a long process if you ignore the tips above. While you do that, you’re spending more and more on ineffective messages. Make the changes you need to make and make them now.

The Key To Online Business Success

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In this ever-improving world in terms of technology and digital solutions, the expectation of businesses to move with the times becomes evermore pressing with each passing day. Every time you’re on top of the game, the game changes. Whether you’re running a business entirely based on the internet or one with an online store as well as a physical one, the demand for you to adapt to the latest trends in the market is stronger than ever.

Whilst the advancements of technology have made things easier than ever and they shouldn’t be understated, this doesn’t relieve any of the stress or tension placed on you as a business owner. It might become a little overwhelming trying to not only stay ahead of your competitors but keep up with them at all. If your business is starting to run out of ideas, then here are some pieces of advice which might help paint a clearer picture of the key to online business success.

You need an IT support team

If your business is entirely based online, you might be scoffing and telling yourself that you and your team already have a good handle on the technology required to keep your business running. However, IT support isn’t just useful with regards to creating a website and online store in the first place; a support team can help your business stay protected against external threats, such as hackers, by constantly keeping your data safe with the latest methods in digital security.

Whatever kind of business you’re running, and no matter how important the online aspect of your operations may be to its success, there’s no denying that every business in the twenty-first century stores data online to some extent and, as such, requires some form of data protection in the event of an attack or technical failure. Of course, even if your business is already well protected in that regard, given that it may be entirely based online and maintained by tech professionals, outsourcing IT support might still be a viable option for your business as it could relieve some of the stress put on you and your team. There’s so much work to be done in any business operation, whether it’s based online or not, and freeing up some time in your employees’ schedules, which could be better put to use elsewhere in the company, might just help you achieve greater success.

The customer expects a personal experience

One problem with the online world is that it connects us all more than ever before, and yet many people feel a disconnect between themselves and the person to whom they may be talking. In business, this puts more work on your shoulders; you need to constantly be fighting to create a personal connection between your brand and your customers, in order to ensure that mutual trust and loyalty is built from there.

This is the key to regular customers and a successful business in the long term. You could check here for helpful advice with regards to improving your eCommerce store experience for customers. You need to be constantly reminding your target audience that real life people are behind every computer screen in your company. Using clever marketing tactics such as live videos on Facebook might help to solidify that idea in consumers’ minds.

Maintain your reputation

Your brand shouldn’t just look good on paper; it needs to deliver on its promises. No matter how sleek and shiny your marketing campaign, if your business receives bad reviews from its customers, then you’re going to lose interest from potential new consumers, and it’ll be hard to claw back that sterling image with which you started.

Come To Terms With Your Tech Dependency

We don’t think that there’s any business left on the market today that isn’t reliant on technology. If you think about it, even offline businesses now use tech and online software to promote their company. Most larger corporations are also setup with the possibility of selling online or even through apps. We haven’t even mentioned the fact that most businesses now operate on computer networks too. What happens if that network crashes or fails? Essentially the business will no longer be able to operate effectively on the market, and that’s just one of the issues with the increased reliance on tech. Business owners must understand what it means to be reliant on technology, taking advantage of the benefits and understanding the pitfalls.

Preparing For Disaster

 

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 One of the main issues to consider when your business is dependent on tech is knowing what happens and what to do when it fails. Business tech can fail for a wide variety of reasons from an attack on your company, a computer virus or a random system error. In any of these cases, you could end up losing a lot of important data, and you might even find that your company is pushed out of the market. Don’t forget, when systems crash your business will suffer a period of downtime. During this period, you won’t be able to sell, and that means that customers can easily forget about you and what you’re offering on the market. Luckily, there disaster recovery solutions by Infrascale and other similar companies that can help here. With a solution such as this, you can ensure that though your business will be down it can be back up and running in mere minutes. There’s no chance of any customers forgetting your company in such a short amount of time.

Options For Sales

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 You would be crazy not to offer your customers as many sources for sales as possible. You need to think about everything from a website online to an app to mobile possibilities. Don’t forget, forty percent of online customers are now using mobile devices. As such, it does make sense to ensure that they can buy from your business on their mobile or their tablet. You can do this by investing in a mobile responsive website design. There are plenty of web designers that can guarantee this possibility for your company. With a fully optimized website, you can even increase your site ranking, so it’s a win-win situation.

Cutting Staff And Costs

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You might find that by using new tech it is possible to cut the number of staff you need for your business. Rather than hiring employees to complete certain jobs, they can be managed by automated software. For instance, did you know it’s possible to manage invoices these days without the help of an accountant? By inputting how much staff get paid, you can get invoices sent out and managed using automated software. It also reduces the chances of a mistake being made.

We hope you see now how while you do need to prepare for the challenges of tech dependency, it can also be incredibly useful in modern business.

 

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Your Customers Need To Be Front And Center

It’s important  you keep your customers and clients in the loop when you are running your company. You need to make sure that they are made aware of any changes and are never left in the dark about updates to your business model. You may also want to think about how customer demand can be altered by the way your company is run. But how do you make sure that you are keeping your customers in the center of all your business news?

Use Social Media

You need to make sure that you are using social media to keep up with your customers so they understand everything that’s happening with your company. Don’t forget, social media is also a great temperature check. You can use social media to check how customers feel about your company and what changes they might like to see.

Run Surveys

As well as this, you might want to think about running surveys for your company. These days it’s easy to arrange surveys, ask whatever questions you want and release them online. You should be doing this before you make any changes to your business model. Although, you do want to control how you release it. You don’t want a survey to be viewed as spam.

Prepare Them

Finally, you need to think about preparing customers, and you can do this by educating them. If you are making any changes to your business, you need to show them what it means for them. They need to be made aware, and you can look at the following infographic on telemedicine to find out how to do this.


Created By ROI of Telemedicine

How To Google Yourself

Today’s post is a submission from ReputationManagement.com on How To Google Yourself, which is great advice when considering your online persona and profile.

How To Google Yourself

 

 

Things To Consider When Outsourcing

Like a lot of small business owners, you might have mixed feeling about outsourcing. Despite how easy it is to start a profitable business in this digital world of ours, “outsource” is still a dirty word in some circles. However, if you want to get through that initial period of uncertain trade in the most cost-effective way possible, outsourcing may be the way to go. Here are a few areas where you should consider reaching out for help.

Marketing and Growth Hacking

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You probably knew a thing or two about marketing long before you decided that you were going to start a business. Still, despite all your efforts, you may simply be failing to make sales. To give your business a healthy kick-start on the marketing front, it may be worth hiring the services of a growth hacker. If you’re not already aware, a “growth hacker” is a professional with a keen understanding of modern marketing tech – SEO, website analytics, A/B testing, content marketing, and so on, to get a given target market to flock to a business’s products or services. Marketing has always been in a feverish state of fluctuation and evolution, so if you’re finding it a little hard to understand, this could be a very smart area to outsource.

Reception and Customer Service

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Obviously, someone needs to answer the phone when it rings at your business. However, if it’s you, or the dreary-voiced guy who’s in charge of your IT, then it can give off the wrong impression. Obviously, your customer facing skills aren’t going to be a direct reflection on how good your products are, or the professional standards of your services. Having said that, the first impressions people get of your company can make all the difference. Outsourcing your reception and help desk needs is a little clichéd, I know. However, it may be a very smart move if you’re currently taking customer calls on your own steam. Just make sure you shop around, and find a help desk service that has worked with businesses that are similar to yours in the past. This will make it much easier to assure they fit in with your company culture.

Payroll and Taxes

You may have started your venture because you wanted to make money, but I’m sure you didn’t want to spend a lot of time crunching through mind-numbing spreadsheets. If it’s tough to find time for your bookkeeping needs, or considering them simply makes you want to bang your head against a wall, then you may want to get help with your taxes and payroll. Financial services like this are one of the most widely outsourced aspects of business in the world, and something you should seriously consider passing onto another firm. While it may not save you a huge amount of money, it will definitely save you a lot of time, headaches, and possibly legal trouble. Commercial accountancy is big business, so it won’t take long to find a firm that’s a great fit for yours either!

Why Your Online Shop Isn’t Working And How To Fix It

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Initially, it started as a hobby. You sold a few items online and had some success. Your friends and family liked your products and placed a few orders. Word got around. Encouraged by this you took it to the next level and set up an online shop, and orders began trickling in.

However, it never really took off as you expected. You don’t receive as many orders as projected and you’ve had some problems with delivery. A couple of negative reviews have made things worse. What’s gone wrong and how do you fix it?

1. Review

Take a step back to review and reassess. Go through the sales process at each point and try to understand where things are going wrong. A good place to start is with your current customers. Ask them for some honest feedback about your product, the online shop, delivery, etc. There are lots of online survey tools you can use for this. Offer an incentive, such as entry into a prize draw to encourage customers to take part. When compiling questions, use some of the suggestions below to receive meaningful feedback.

2. Your Product

Regarding your product, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is this a quality product?
  • Is there sufficient demand for your product?
  • Are other people selling it?
  • Is the pricing right?
  • Are you targeting the right customer base?
  • How are customers using your product and does this affect how it is marketed?
  • Is the packaging consistent with the product and relevant?

Presumably, you went through a process of market research before you began. If not, you should go through this process now.

3. Delivery

One common reason customers give for abandoning their shopping carts, is delivery. Either postage and packaging costs are too high, or the order cannot be fulfilled on time. We live in an environment where orders can be delivered quickly and efficiently. If you’re not able to fulfill these requirements, it might be time to consider an outsourced fulfillment center. Your products will be packaged and delivered professionally and in a timely manner. This will free you up to work on other areas of your business, such as marketing, etc.

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4. Your Website Isn’t Responsive

Gone are the days where customers placed orders solely from their desktop. They now expect to be able to place orders at any time on a range of devices. If your website doesn’t perform well when viewed on a tablet or mobile device, you could be losing a large percentage of your customers. You don’t have to invest in fancy apps. You just need to ensure your website is responsive. This means that it is optimized for different viewing sizes and will perform well regardless of the device.

When writing your website brief, you should specify that the site meets Google’s Mobile Friendly requirements. You may also have heard about AMP, which stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages. This is likely to become increasingly important, in terms of how your website ranks in the search engines. Essentially AMP is a streamlined version of the code used to create your website. It focuses on readability and speed. Expect to hear more about this over the coming months.

5. Your Design Isn’t User-Friendly

When you launched, a friend developed your website for you. And that was great because it saved you a lot of money. However, unless they are a digital expert, they are unlikely to be familiar with everything that goes into web design and development. For example, user journey, intuitive processes, SEO, user-friendly controls, page load times, etc. If your website is confusing or difficult to use, customers are likely to click away in frustration and shop with a competitor. A good way to check this is to set up a funnel in Google Analytics and work out where users are leaving the process.

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6. Your Photos Are Not Up To Scratch

Presentation is everything. If your product photographs are not up to scratch, they are less likely to sell. When a customer can’t see or pick up a product in real life, they rely solely on the product images. So, a few quick pics on your mobile phone won’t cut it. If the photographs are not professional, customers may deduce that the products and service are not professional. Either set up a small studio and learn how to take the images yourself, or outsource to a professional.

When arranging photo shoots, consider the following:

  • As well as cut-out images, would it be beneficial to show the products being used? This is important for items such as clothing, etc. as it provides context.
  • Can the customer see all angles of the product?
  • If the product is available in different colors, each color should be shown.
  • Video is also useful to demonstrate products further, in terms of how they work or behave, etc.

7. Your Marketing Isn’t Up To Scratch

If your problem is getting customers to your website, you need to review your marketing. Do you have a comprehensive marketing strategy in place, that includes everything from mailouts to mobile marketing? If you haven’t, it’s likely that potential customers are not even aware of your existence. You need to put together a comprehensive marketing plan that will address your core customer base and establish meaningful targets.

A good marketing plan should look at all aspects of marketing, including traditional offline channels and a comprehensive digital marketing strategy. Each of your objectives should be specific, measurable and timebound. A marketing plan isn’t something that you go to great pains to write and then leave in a drawer. It is an ongoing entity and should be the focus of your marketing activities. ‘Doing a bit of Twitter and Facebook’ just won’t cut it, and your business is unlikely to achieve growth. If you feel that this is not something you can comfortably achieve yourself, you should look for an expert to help you. They will work with you to establish and execute a comprehensive plan of action. Each step should be monitored and measured carefully. This will provide you with useful data for future campaigns and will identify areas for improvement.

There are many reasons why your online shop may be failing. The above are just a few. That’s why it is important to begin this process by performing a review and working out exactly what is going wrong. You can then take the necessary steps to turn it around.

Think Again: 4 So-Called Essentials Your Business Doesn’t Actually Need

There is plenty of information which claims you need certain ingredients for a successful business. More often than not, these things are not actually essential, but only seem to be. In business, there is always a way around any given ‘essential’, and in this article we will be looking at some of the ways to do this. The fact is, you actually only need a very small amount of things to begin and run a business. As long as you are happy to be fairly minimalist in your approach, you will find that running a business can be much easier than you may have thought. Let’s take a look at four things your business doesn’t actually need.

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Capital

It is a fair assumption to say that your business needs funds in order to get up and running. It is true that you will probably need some kind of money in the beginning. However, you might be pleasantly surprised at how little you really need. The truth is, taking out a bank loan for your business might not actually be the way to go. You can easily set up a business with whatever personal income you already have. There are examples of businesses which started for less than you might spend on coffee in the average month. You will need some kind of money, yes, but don’t go thinking that you need to start your business career in debt.

Office

Most people assume that an office is necessary for any business which wants to be taken seriously. But plenty of successful businesses have been run out of someone’s bedroom or attic. What’s more, it is possible to have all the benefits of an office without the stresses of running one. This is where services such as mail forwarding addresses can come in handy. With these forwarding addresses, you can have somewhere to give your clients – and still run the business from home.

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Website

If you ask the majority of marketers whether a website is essential, they will probably tell you yes. However, there are many ways to market your business without having to have your own web space to look after. Social media alone will enable you to market your business as much as you could possibly need to. As long as you are making the most of these websites, it is unlikely that you will really need one of your own. You might benefit from a website in the long run, but it is not something that you should consider to be essential.

Mobile App

Something which is becoming increasingly common these days is businesses having a mobile app. If you are offering a service, it can be tempting to try and make it work through a mobile app. However, this is unlikely to be absolutely essential. The truth is, an app is only going to be vital if your business is solely in the business of selling that app. For any other company, an ap might be handy – but never essential.

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Blogs: The Personality Your Business Needs

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What is the most important method of communicating in business in the digital age? There is a lot of work that has to be put into making a brand out of your business. And you need to ensure that it goes across the right platforms and to the right markets. Can a business be communicated effectively in one single tool? Is there a magic formula? I will argue the case for blogging and why it can work for all sizes of business. From the small startup all the way through to your massive conglomerate.

Why Blog?

To blog is to get the word out there. There are many companies that use blogs on such a small scale that they are deemed insignificant to the overall ethos of the company. It is merely thought of as a little addendum or a corner to cover. While many small businesses may use this as a marketing tick-box exercise, if you want to get a blog to sing, you can get it via the correct social media channels. There are so many people that have started a blog to get their ideas onto paper, and it spiraled into a massive money spinner, inspiring and creating a high amount of custom towards one product. You can do this with your business too.

What Can It Do For Me?

From the perspective of business, you can utilize a blog in one of two ways. Very simply, you can make an external blog and/or an internal one. Internally, it can work to communicate the company much like a newsletter, but it can be so much more. If you use the internal method to create a tone and style that is pleasing, it has been a good testing pad to learn what works and what doesn’t.

Externally, you are using a blog to give your company a face to the name. You can speak about whatever is useful to your customers. You are communicating what your business is, and how it operates. While there are small companies that can type out their basic processes and put in a quaint little blog that maybe a few thousand people will see, it isn’t going to project that business into the big leagues. You can always outsource to a professional blogging company like the hoth blogger to choose the content that is right for you.

The Image Of Your Company Can Be Defined By Your Blog

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If you decide to go down the blogging route, be sure that whatever the content is, that it reflects who your company is. If your business is of a rustic, family-run style, then having complex language and terminology is not going to be the right fit. The language and the images are signs and signifiers that will loom large in customers minds. So if you choose images or decide to create your own, then they need to be a perfect fit. Finally, it is so tempting to think of the blog as a random bit of text on the website that no one will read. A blog is a marketing tool that you need in your arsenal. So use it!

How To Overcome Your Sales Problems In 3 Minutes Flat

Sales figures aren’t the only crucial barometer in business, but they’re certainly important. After all, without revenue, you aren’t going to get anywhere. So if your sales numbers are sliding, fixing this problem needs to become the very top item on your agenda.

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Increasing sales revenue and gaining new customers can feel like a daunting task. But it doesn’t need to be as tough as you’d think. Here are five top tips that should work wonders for the brand.

Boost Web Presence

Shifts towards the digital arena cannot be ignored.  Upgrading your web visibility with localized SEO will increase brand awareness offline as well as on. Missing out on those opportunities would be a sin.

Meanwhile, embracing modern tech by launching an App can help your company feel more relevant in the modern arena. If it enhances the perceptions of your visitors, it can only increase your hopes of sales. If it helps you reach new audiences too, that’s a huge bonus.

Encourage Decisions

Customers often avoid buying products because they don’t have to. Consumers often show an interest before continuing to put off their purchase until tomorrow. But tomorrow never comes unless you actively force it.

The best way to do this is through timed promotions. Whether it’s automated email streams or in-store offers doesn’t matter. Forcing customers to make a decision won’t always work. Then again, four completed transactions have to be better than 10 maybes. Doesn’t it?

Utilize People Power

Your marketing endeavors are important and can go a long way to creating a sense of enthusiasm for the business. However, nothing you do will carry the level of authority that the power of recommendation will bring. Let’s face it; customers are far more likely to respond in a positive manner when they hear good words from friends and family.

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Nowadays, consumers are equally likely to listen to the words of popular figures and strangers. As such, using customer testimonials and influencer marketing can be a great way to see conversions shoot through the roof. Better still, you won’t need to put in any extra effort yourself.

Accept More Payment Methods

Your products won’t attract everyone. But it’s important that those interested people become customers. Losing them due to a lack of payment facilities would be nothing short of a scandal. For starters, you should invest in the technology that accepts as many cards and payment types as possible.

However, it’s equally important not to overlook traditional methods, particularly in B2B transactions. Services like check o matic will ensure that those aspects of the business are running as expected. Ultimately, with added flexibility, you should see a far greater reaction.

Give Out Freebies

Keeping your business fresh in the minds of your customers is vital, and promotional goods like t-shirts and mugs are a great option. It doesn’t only show a level of appreciation to customers old and new. Perhaps more importantly, it gets them feeling positive about the brand.

In addition to those items, you could hand out overstock and end of line items to loyal customers too. It’s a reminder of the quality products you offer, as well as the service. Essentially, learn to look after the consumer, and they will return the favor.

Twitterfeed.com shuts down

I just got the sad news…

Howdy, Twitterfeeders!

We’re writing to let you know that Twitterfeed will be shutting its doors on October 31st, 2016. It’s been one heck of a run and we can’t thank you enough for your loyal usage and support over the years.

If you’re looking for a service similar to Twitterfeed to continue using in our absence, we recommend checking out the good folks at Buffer.com or Dlvr.it.

Thanks again for all the feeds!

- Mario
Founder, Twitterfeed
139 5th Ave. New York, NY 10010

Google To Tax Australian Adwords!

As of November 1st, Google will be charging GST on Google Adwords.

How To Protect Yourself Against Hacking

This article is a great starting point to protecting yourself from the Privacy Pirates

Some articles are just so good, you’re better off going straight to the source, this is one of them!

Mobile Apps Aren’t Just For The Big Brands: They’re For The Little Guys Too

It might seem that the mobile business app space is dominated by the big brands – and it is. But you’d be wrong to think that they were the only companies benefiting from the technology. The mobile app market has matured considerably. And today, mobile apps are just as common among corner shops as they are corporate giants.

Mobile apps involve more than just making your website mobile friendly. They’re an effective marketing strategy in their own right. And if your business is in a suitable industry, they can take your marketing efforts to the next level.

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There’s a chance that you’ve already experienced this phenomenon in action. You might have been to a beauty spa or a restaurant with its own app. The purpose of these apps is to make the customer experience more engaging and boost brand appeal.

Businesses are developing apps for all sorts of reasons. Around a fifth are building apps purely for the purpose of marketing their products. Another 30 percent are doing it to directly generate revenue. And around half use apps to either support or engage with customers on a regular basis.

If that hasn’t sold you on the idea already, check out these reasons why mobile apps are good for the little guy too.

Increased Customer Visibility

The data shows that the average person spends around two hours a day on mobile devices. That’s a lot of time to be exposed to just one platform. Granted, customers probably aren’t spending all of that time exploring every nook and cranny of their business apps. But that doesn’t mean that they won’t, at some point, want to use your app.

Customers will often scan their phones for the apps that they want to use. When your app is there on the screen, your brand gets imprinted on the customer’s mind. Suddenly, your logo is strangely recognisable. And customers find themselves thinking about your company way more than they would have otherwise. Thus, having an app can serve as an important source of advertising, regardless of whether customers use its actual functions.

Direct Marketing Channel

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Your mobile app doesn’t just have to provide a link to buy your products. And it doesn’t just have to facilitate your particular service. It can provide customers with any information you feel would be helpful to them. Apps can serve up booking forms, messengers, user accounts and news feeds. This means that apps are a lot more self-contained than other platforms, like websites. Businesses can, therefore, target the type of information they want to put in front of their customers. Sales and promotional activities can be much more focused. Push notifications can be used to prompt customers when your product or services make sense.

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Provide Your Customers With Value

Most companies offer some kind of loyalty or reward programme to their repeat customers. The old fashioned way was to do this using a physical card. And so getting points onto your card or account was a hassle. But with a mobile app, it needn’t be. You can use mobile apps to make it easier for your customers to build up rewards. And you can even build in smart features that allow them to track their progress toward a particular goal. Once you make the customer experience easier, you’ll get more customers and more revenue. Make sure you check out services, like PunchMe, that allow you to create loyalty programmes on smartphones.

Stand Out From The Competition

Now might be the time for small businesses to embrace the mobile app. But the mobile app is still rare among smaller companies. Those that take the time to learn how to make apps put themselves at a distinct advantage over the competition. It’s the sort of thing that customers really notice. The cool thing is that there are now a bunch of courses, like this from Simplilearn, that can help businesses learn how to make their own apps. These days, you don’t even need to hire an app developer to give yourself a leg up. You can invest in yourself and start making great apps for your business today.

Increase Customer Engagement

One of the things that web experts always go on about is the importance of having a chat feature. Chat features allow customers to immediately engage with your business and build trust. You can do the same thing with mobile apps. Mobile apps provide a platform for messenger services or help desks. You can communicate update information through your mobile app to your customers. Or you can offer a help desk service, providing technical support and advice.

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Just think about apps like OpenTable. OpenTable built its success on its messenger function. The last thing customers wanted to do was to spend ages, ringing up restaurants and booking tables. OpenTable made it possible for them to get the table that they wanted with just a few taps on their smartphone. There is probably a whole host of ways you could simplify your business too with a mobile app. Right now, your customers might have to ring up and spend time talking to a representative over the phone. Wouldn’t it be cheaper and better if they could just get what they wanted through a targeted app?

The evidence suggests that most customers prefer texting to calling. This is particularly the case when the task is something routine, like booking a cab. Thus, with a mobile app, you may be able to capture customers who would otherwise be put off.

Build Brand Recognition

Building a brand is a complicated operation that involves many channels. But one of the best channels is the mobile apps. The mobile app is much more than just a visual image or a slogan. It can brand your business through unconventional channels. Let’s say, for instance that you run a consulting firm, and you want to build a brand around expertise. You could use a mobile app as a conduit, through which to send customers bespoke information. Customers would see you producing regular content, convincing them that you truly are at the top of your field.

What if you run a legal firm? Well, one way you could brand your business would be to include a “calculator” function into your app. Customers could use your app to work out a compensation estimate for various injuries or accidents. Thus, your app would be far more than just a newsfeed about your firm. It’d be a tool that clients could use to work out if it is worth pressing charges.

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How about if you run a medical practice? Well, there are some obvious uses for mobile apps here too. The number one problem facing practitioners is the fact that patients don’t turn up to their appointments. Apps, therefore, can be used to both book appointments, and remind people they need to show up. The other big problem is making sure that patients stick to their treatment plan. Apps can be used to automate reminders, telling patients what they need to take, and when.

But it’s not just the practical applications that can help build a brand. It’s also the fact that exposure to your brand makes customers want to buy more quickly. The important concept here is something called “effective frequency.” Effective frequency is advertising jargon for the number of times a person needs to be exposed to a brand before they buy it. You can reduce the cost of these exposures by getting your brand in front of your clients. The more personality you can inject into your app, the more effective each exposure will be. According to data and experience, you need around 20 brand exposures to really make an impact on your customers.

Cultivate Loyalty

Perhaps the biggest reason why your business should use mobile apps is customer loyalty. To be successful, you need customers who come back over and over again. The advertising space is a crowded one. Your rivals have AdWords campaigns, ads in the phonebook, Facebook pages, email marketing and so on. With so many advertisements all over the place, it’s easy for your business to get lost in the chaos. This is how mobile apps can help. They’re not so much an advertising platform as they are a tool to connect with customers. Just as in the past, the thing that customers value the most is the connection they have to your business. Mobile apps can help customers become loyal lovers of your product in a way that just wasn’t possible in the past.

If there was ever a year in which the mobile app was set to hit the big time, it was 2016. According to figures published last year, 40,402 businesses created apps. Golf course, hotels and even plumbers all got in on the action. Companies are realising that consumers have an appetite for interacting with their firm on a daily basis. They don’t necessarily have to be loyal to their brand. There just needs to be something that they can grab onto in the app itself that’s useful.