The Long Game And Short-Term Concerns: The Ways To Help Minimize Business Weakness

It is an ongoing process, understanding your weaknesses. It can be quite eye-opening to discover what you once thought was a strength, but is actually a weakness in the grand scheme of things. Because running a business requires you, in essence, to clear new paths, to push new boundaries, and to continually explore the horizons, it’s these processes that leave you open for attack. This is why so many young companies refuse to take the risk, either because of financial implications, or they believe that playing it safe will translate to a better version of the long game. But, it is vital, during the infancy of your business, to have a spring clean of sorts, to find out what the best ways are to go about this, and how can you fix yourself up and move on?

The SWOT Analysis

It’s a very simple way to start out. A SWOT analysis (short for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) is a structure that can easily help you to break down the problems. Put simply, you are able to find out what you do really well first, and what you don’t do well second. The overriding idea of taking this structure is to gain an overall appreciation of your business, not just internally, but how you fit under the larger business industry magnifying glass. This is quite a task, but as soon as you start to break down issues such as business mergers, supplier problems, as well as the pesky technology developments, then you can begin to come up with an action plan to ensure your business does better. It certainly sounds like a big task, because it is. But by putting yourself and your business through the wringer, and going through every detail with a fine tooth comb, there are going to be some harsh realities to face up to.

Analyze The Data

After a SWOT analysis has been completed, it’s time to look at the results you gathered. It all depends on how you go about completing this analysis; you may want to open it up to your employees, so they can give you their true opinions from the ground floor. Beware with this, depending on the ship you run, people may not feel inclined to come forward. If you are encouraging honesty, you had best be prepared for a wakeup call. It’s one of those issues that can be incredibly thorny because it can result in a lot of repressed emotions bubbling up to the surface. In going about this approach, what one person views as a strength, the other might view as a weakness, and this is absolutely fine, because it really lays bare what your employees think about the business and how it operates. Pleasing your employees can be a difficult task, but sometimes, these issues can boil down to something that is easily fixable. Technology issues or poor organization are two things that can be fixed with an action plan, as well as a proper information technology security policy. Luckily, there are various resources available now that covers both issues, if you were to visit www.bswllc.com you can see one example of an organization that implements various plans of attack to save a business, from the productivity aspect, to the technological issues. Analyzing the data is one of the difficult approaches to undertake, because to do it properly requires time, effort, and money. And if you are concerned that it is going to be a major investment, it is far better for you to implement it one bit at a time. Doing it this way will help keep up your employees’ morale, because nobody likes major change, but it’s important to keep your eye on the bigger picture. Sometimes, analyzing your weaknesses can bring up results that are a little too close to home…

Look In The Mirror…

Sometimes, fault can lie with us and us alone. And this is a very devastating thing to admit to ourselves. There are many entrepreneurs that feel that, in order for the business to fly, that they have to exercise total control over every single aspect. But this does one of two things, firstly it doesn’t help you in times of emergency, because you are the fundamental card in the proverbial house of cards, and so the business will fall apart, but secondly, it communicates to your employees and your deputies, that you don’t trust them. So how can you get past this? If you look on www.tonyrobbins.com there is the story of Usha Patel who took the opportunity to identify her own individual strengths and use these to benefit the business. Essentially, it’s taking the SWOT analysis structure and turning it on yourself. But if this feels like an incredibly psychoanalytical approach, you are heading in the right direction. In any business, whether you are running a store, a factory, or a trendy startup, the problem can sometimes live with you and your own attitudes, not just to motivation, but to the business as a whole. We are all guilty of feeling overprotective over our babies, and this is something we all need to learn how to relinquish. It can take some time, but if you are the weak cog in the business, it’s far better for you to fess up and make positive steps in the right direction. It’s not pretty, but it’s essential.

We can view our business in terms of a month to month progress, or we can look at it as the long game. The long game is a far more productive mindset to embed, not just in your employees, but in yourself. And so, when it comes to addressing potential weaknesses, as well as the very tangible ones, it creates an attitude within the company to do well. Emotional investment is something that can yield positive and negative results, and whether you are doing a SWOT analysis, or you are ready to hear from your employees what they really think of the business and how it is run, consider it to be a stepping stone to a much better environment and a far more positive business.

 

 

 

 

 

eCommerce Metrics You’re not Looking at but Should be

Nowadays, there are various ecommerce stores available to online consumers. What’s more, there are countless new ecommerce businesses being opened each day. With such a strong competition on the market, it’s difficult for businesses to truly stand out and ensure that their target audience will pick their store to do business with. That’s why many ecommerce stores are tracking their business performance, in order to determine if their store is managing to grow and develop further.

After all, the primary goal of every ecommerce business is an increase in sales and for that you need customers. However, when tracking business metrics, a lot of ecommerce stores tend to track metrics that don’t portray business performance the right way. That way, when profits start to decline, business owners are unable to understand the reason behind such a decline. Therefore, here are a few ecommerce metrics you’re not looking at but should be.

Conversion rate

Many ecommerce businesses neglect conversion rate as a primary metric that should be tracked. The goal of this metric is to show you just how many people are actually converting into customers. With that in mind, you should have a clear picture about whether or not your marketing campaigns and other efforts are actually efficient in driving business goals. As you already know, the purpose of marketing is to engage your audience in different ways and eventually encourage them to make a purchase at your store.

If your marketing efforts aren’t able to do that, then you’re simply wasting time and resources on an ineffective marketing campaign. That’s why conversion rate is such a valuable metric to look at. If your conversion rates aren’t as good as you need them to be, then it’s time to re-think your approach and improve your marketing efforts.

Cart abandonment

Cart abandonment rate is a metric that many ecommerce businesses forget to track. Still, this is one of the most important metrics you should be looking at. As a matter of fact, cart abandonment rate has reached 75.6% for ecommerce stores globally. That’s 75% of lost sales. The main reason you must track this metric is that it shows you if there’s an outstanding issue your customers have with your check out process, which makes them abandon the cart altogether.

In most cases, these issues can be high shipment costs, additional fees customers weren’t aware of, lack of security measures on the check out and so on. All of these issues force your customers to abandon their purchases, which can have a significant negative impact on your sales and revenue. Tracking shopping cart abandonment metric allows you to identify the main issues your customers are having and fix those problems. That way, you can remind customers of abandoned shopping carts, as well as inform them that the issues have been resolved.

Website traffic

Another important metric that’s oftentimes neglected is the website traffic. Website traffic shows you how many visitors you have on your ecommerce store. It also shows how good your efforts are at driving leads to your website from various media channels. The more website traffic you have the more chances of you making a sale. However, the number of website visitors itself is not as important as the origin of the website traffic.

For instance, if you’re using services, such as a Shopify agency, to endorse your ecommerce store, you’d want to know how your website visitors are finding your store. Moreover, you want to know which sources the visitors are originating from. This will show you which marketing channels are best suited for your business. Understanding your website traffic will allow you to focus your efforts on strategies and channels that will yield more qualified leads for your ecommerce store.

Customer acquisition and lifetime value

For ecommerce stores, the one of the most important factors in business success is sales. However, there are expenses you must be aware of to ensure that you’re actually making a profit. For example, if a single customer made a purchase totaling of $200 at your store, it means you made a sale and revenue. But, if it cost a $300 on average to acquire a customer, then you haven’t really made any profits yet.

That’s why it’s important to track customer acquisition cost (CAC) and customer lifetime value (CLV) metrics. Customer acquisition cost shows how much it costs your company to acquire a single new customer, while customer lifetime value shows you how much revenue your ecommerce store generates from that customer during their entire lifetime as a customer. If your CAC is higher than CLV metric, you won’t be making many profits. That means you must work on customer retention strategies to ensure that customers are actually bringing in more value than it costs you to convince them to make a purchase.

There are plenty of metrics that businesses can track in order to assess the overall performance of their company. However, it’s difficult to decide which metric will actually show viable results. That being said, metrics that are most commonly overlooked by ecommerce stores often turn out to be the important ones. That’s why it’s important to understand which metric will actually bring value to your ecommerce store and track it regularly, in order to ensure business success.

Guest author, Raul Harman, is a B.Sc. in Innovative entrepreneurship and has a lot to say about innovations in all aspects of digital technology and online marketing. While he’s not enjoying football and great food, you can find him on Technivorz.com

Into the Future: Leveraging Customer Data to Grow Your Business

When it comes to getting information, there is no lack of data available. In fact, the amount of data available on every individual in the country, not to mention the world, is growing by leaps and bounds every day.

Gathering data is one thing, but actually processing that data into a useful, coherent picture is a whole other issue. With AI, however, even that is becoming more and more possible. The final step is understanding how to take interpreted data to grow your business. Here are 5 ways in which you can leverage customer data to secure growth and success.

1. Identify holes in the market

Some of the most profitable businesses in the world leveraged a gap in the market. They found product or service that was not currently available and made it so. There are two ways to go about this, however.

The first is to listen to clients and consumers to identify their needs. The second is to come up with a product idea and try to sell the public on its merits. Needless to say, creating a product people are already looking for is a far easier sell than trying to convince them they have a genuine need for your product.

This is where big data can help. It can analyze hundreds of sources, from social media to customer surveys and questionnaires to customer feedback on competitor’s websites to determine what the common themes are. What are they commenting about, complaining about or requesting again and again?

Armed with this information, you can tailor your product line or service to meet the needs of a consumer base not yet currently getting its needs met.

2. Market testing

Perhaps one of the most frustrating aspects of marketing has been the lack of truly comprehensive feedback about what marketing materials or campaigns were working and which weren’t.

While you may have noticed an increase in sales after a particular marketing campaign or drive, getting truly detailed information about where specifically your campaign was having the most impact was next to impossible.

Today, however, with advanced analytics, you can get detailed insights into exactly which campaigns are working and which are not and in what sectors.

Analytics can tell you what efforts are resulting in likes or clicks and which are actually being converted into sales. In addition, analytics can give you detailed information about demographic responses to determine if you have actually appropriately identified your target demographic or not.

It may turn out that the teens you initially targeted your campaign towards are not the actual consumers buying your product, but rather their moms. This information can help you find better tools to get your marketing to the right groups.

Analytics allow you to tweak, tailor and fine-tune your marketing efforts on-the-fly to supercharge their effectiveness mid-campaign.

3. Targeted product offerings

Data doesn’t just tell you what products people are buying, it tells you who is buying them. Buying preferences not only tell you a lot about your consumers, but they can also help you make specific product offerings that they may be interested in.

This can also be a good way to build good relationships with partner businesses that offer products that are complimentary to yours. If someone buys a certain pair of shoes or a bag, you can offer a cleaning or storage solution for them. If someone buys an electronic device, you can recommend a case or a charger for it.

Data can also tell you how to target market products for certain consumers. For instance, if 5 out of the last 7 products they purchased were all purchased in red, then when you send them product offerings, you can make sure the product offered is always pictured in red.

AI, analytics and automation are designed to work seamlessly together. By utilizing each tool, even the smallest of businesses can tailor their marketing to an individual and specific client or consumer.

4. Keep up with minute-by-minute changes in the market

You’ve probably noticed that almost all gas stations now have digital price boards. This is because gas station owners had to manually go out and change gas station prices every day based on current market prices.

In a market where prices are constantly in flux, however, digital boards allow an automated system to change prices numerous times each day to keep pace with fluctuating market prices. Analytics offer the ability for other businesses to adapt this same model.

Every day, events around the world can have a direct impact on your business and predictive analytics helps you stay on top of moment-by-moment events that can be so significant for the future of your business.

Say a revolt in China leads to the shutdown of a factory that make a component you depend on to create your own product. AI can alert you to this immediately so you can in turn immediately find another supplier so there are no delays in production.

In some cases, having this information first can help you lock down a contract before a competitor jumps in and starts a bidding war. Having necessary components while your competitor does not may lead to them no longer being able to offer product that you now can.

While targeted product offerings and analytics are nothing new, AI is growing by leaps and bounds to allow even the smallest of businesses the ability to take advantage of some of the tools giant corporations have been using for close to a decade.

Smaller businesses also have an advantage in that they often have smaller consumer bases, which allows them to use AI and automation to personalize their marketing and product offerings in ways big businesses can’t touch. This means that today’s small business has an opportunity like never before to compete with corporate giants.

 

Jasmine Williams covers the good and the bad of today’s business and marketing. When she’s not being all serious and busy, she’s usually hunched over a book or dancing in the kitchen, trying hard to maintain rhythm, and delivering some fine cooking (her family says so). Reach out to her @jazzymin88

 

6 Common Reasons Your Marketing Plan Isn’t Generating Leads

Marketing has never been easier according to the experts. Today, an entrepreneur with zero experience and an internet connection can learn the tricks of the trade. All of the info is available online at the click of a button. As a result, businesses and blog and the platform of your choice can compete. Forget about the size as it doesn’t matter. Whether big, small or medium, there is nothing you can’t achieve concerning marketing.

So, if this is the case, why are you struggling to generate leads? It isn’t as if you don’t use modern techniques such as search engine optimization. And, you also invest in paid marketing such as pay-per-click. Still, the amount of leads coming back to you is poor, and you can’t figure out the problem. It’s a head-scratcher.

Without a steady flow of leads, it’s challenging to make conversions and increase sales. Sadly, failure is always an option in business so it’s essential to fix the issue as soon as possible. Without knowing the details, it can be very tricky. The good news is that there are six common reasons for lack of leads underneath. Hopefully, these will be able to help you reverse your fortunes.

Your Aim Is Off

Regardless of the plan, it isn’t going to work if it is aiming at the wrong people. There is no point throwing darts in the dark because it’s a waste of time and energy. Oh, and don’t forget the money either. The key is to optimize every feature to give it the best chance of succeeding. The first step then is to find a base of people who are going to be interested. That way, there is more of a chance that it will grab their attention and make them curious.

You may have an idea of the base, but there’s also a chance that you don’t fully understand the demographic. Are women or men more likely to buy the product or land on the site? What age range? Why do your services seem to resonate with this group? Delving into the specifics should help you find your perfect customer/visitor. Once that person is in your sights, aiming at him or her, and millions more like them is straightforward.

A buying persona should keep you on the right track. For those that don’t have one, visit Lead Forensics now and check out the post for more info.

And So Are Your Methods

The people aren’t the only thing to consider; there’s the method too. Every individual has a preferred contact setting depending on their tastes. For example, the older generations are advocates of speaking on the phone. Some hate cold-calling because it’s annoying, yet they like the directness of talking to a human advisor. Your job is to figure out which people like which platform and then use the info to target them.

Although it sounds like mind-numbingly long work, it’s not too tricky. Use age as a factor to break the base down into groups. The baby boomers have already gotten a mention, so now focus on the other subsections. Young customers are easy because they love to interact via social media. To optimize their experience, try and figure out which account is their favorite: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat. The trickiest people are the inbetweeners. Middle-aged men and women are retro and modern at the same time, which makes them awkward. An excellent tip is to use their personal info. For instance, entrepreneurs and business-oriented people will respond to email blasts. A housewife or husband may prefer an app because it suits their lifestyle.

Whichever one you choose, be sure to engage and interact when possible. Adding value often sticks in a person’s mind and encourages them to follow up.

The Tone Is Wrong

It’s essential to speak to people politely and respectfully. Still, there is no need to be boring. Boredom turns people off and makes them want to run a mile. So, finding a balance is a must to ensure there is value in the interaction. There is nothing worse than picking up the phone to listen to a sales rep babble on without pausing. When the other party can’t speak or ask questions, there is bound to be frustration which will result in them bouncing. This is one sales error to watch out for, but you can visit ej4 today for lots more.

Tailor the experience to the platform. Calls should have a consistent tone and shouldn’t be out of the blue. Cold calling is a sure-fire way to get them to hang up without a word. Emails are less formal and can use a chatty, colloquial voice. Also, there’s lots of room for multimedia such as photos, videos and gifs, so don’t be scared to get creative.

Social media is where the most informal interactions take place. When people log-in to their accounts, they don’t want to see forced, pointed, corporate tweets and posts. The most successful marketing plans center on organic conversations full of witty banter.

You’re Jumping The Gun

From the beginning, the end goal is in your sights. If the strategy can get them to convert or make a purchase, then everything will be hunky-dory. It’s important to keep the result in mind but it shouldn’t be at the forefront of the plan. Otherwise, you run the risk of jumping the gun and peaking too soon. Users hate this because it feels as if they are being forced into doing something rather than making the decision naturally.

Focus on providing the right info at the right time. To do this, analyze the process and where everyone stands on the spectrum. Are they at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end? The answer is essential because what you offer should be totally different for all three. At the start, an interested party wants as much info as possible so that they can compare and contrast. The middlemen and women love to hear about solutions to their problems. And, the guys and girls at the end want a sweetener to seal the deal.

By all means, get in front of them early to catch their eye but don’t be pushy. Everyone knows being clingy is a huge turn-off.

Patience Isn’t Your Strong Point

There is lots of activities available and not enough time to get through every single one. As a result, it’s tempting to discard the ones which don’t seem to work. After all, what’s the point in wasting time and money? Although changes can be positive, they can also be a hindrance. In this scenario, a lack of patience may cause you to throw away a feature which will work in the future. There is no way to tell if it is a failure until enough time has passed.

With that in mind, don’t get anxious when something appears not to work. Instead, let it grow and prosper until you are sure. Otherwise, there may be a lot of money left on the table. Take content marketing as an example. It takes a while to build up a reputable portfolio. Some of the market leaders have been doing it for decades and are still learning.

So, the aim isn’t to throw out as much content as possible and hope for the best. Instead, you need to focus on quality over quantity and build a core brand to get results. However, don’t assume they’ll appear out of thin air overnight because it takes hard work and endurance.

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You’re Not Number-Driven

Some people don’t believe in stats and they have a good reason. If you are unable to speak the language, then a lot of info can get lost in translation. Lots of businesses have developed strategies they thought would work yet they tanked. Why? It’s because they read the numbers wrong and didn’t understand the nuances. Still, marketing is a numbers game.

The reason is analytic software. Today, it’s easy to see who is doing what and why without basic math skills. The program does it all for you and prints the info in easy-to-understand chunks. More importantly, it shows you where there are flaws and what needs fixing. It’s incredible the number of strategies that have glaring flaws yet continue regardless. To put it into simple terms, it’s because the people in charge don’t use the analytic software.

Reverse engineer the data to locate the solutions. For example, go back and see where the leads came from in the first place. Then, compare the different sources to the success rate. Are there some which provide better conversions than others? Use this to figure out what gets you the best quality results, which in turn should reveal the best quality leads. Although it’s easy for analytic software to take a backseat, you need to keep on top of it on a regular basis.

Do any of the above seem like mistakes you are making currently? Could they be the reason lead generation is suffering?

The Exciting Future Of Robot Development

There’s a lot the future is going to bring us. Considering everything going on in the world right now, we know things are going to be extremely different in 5 or 10 years time. And there’s no future possibility more exciting (or daunting, depending on who you ask) than the idea of robots operating in our society.

Sure, we already have forms of AI in our phones and in our houses to play music and record the shopping list for us, but what about actual walking and talking robots with semi-human faces? Are they on their way? With that question in mind, here’s some technological developments in the works regarding our mechanical counterparts right now.

There’s a lot of imagination surrounding the future of robots, and the future isn’t so distant…

Humanoid Robots are On Their Way

But don’t worry, we’ll still be able to tell them from any other humans out there! The idea about having robots take jobs away from people, considering the rates of unemployment out there currently, but having an AI to take part in potentially dangerous tests and experiments to save any human from having to participate can be seen as a huge success.

The idea of bringing cybernetics into the work sector is something that’s debated a lot, but also focused on as something we can move into to make the working world both safer and easier. Check out articles on Human Paragon if you want to know more about this in particular; there’s a lot artificial intelligence can perform or pick up on that many humans cannot, and it’s this idea of efficiency in human form that excites a lot of companies out there.

AI Looking After Your House

We already have Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home to sit on our coffee tables and tell us the weather, but is there bigger ways an AI can take part in your household? Apparently, yes. Already there’s an app to allow these technologies to control the lights and the heating in your house, as long as there’s an electronic connection between the two.

And we see it all the time on the TV and in movies; the sci-fi genre is often based on the idea that an AI is in control or on the rise over humans. But it won’t quite work out that way in reality: they simply make running a household a lot more convenient and easy, and they can order things online for us. You can turn off the categories of data they take on you, and they can always be switched off or unplugged if you’re worried about what they’re gathering.

What are your thoughts on the coming implementation of robots? If you’re someone who likes the idea of a technological world, this is something to look forward to. Don’t worry, the security surrounding these ideas aren’t as bleak as the media can make them seem, but you can always choose what AI comes in and out of your house.

Don’t Dilly Dally About Data

Do I need a cloud server or should I use a hard drive? Is it worth hiring a data management expert? What type of security do I need? What penalties are there for not remaining compliant? These are just some of the questions that are probably swirling around your head when thinking about data issues in your company. You probably think that you have time to ponder these and make the right decisions, but you don’t.

You may not know that nearly one-third of all companies on the market will be exposed to a cybersecurity issue at some point this year. That means if you haven’t already made the right decisions your data could already be vulnerable. You don’t want that, so let’s look at the ways that you can prevent it. You need to make snap decisions here as soon as your business is on the market or even before.

DO Use A Cloud A Server

You have probably been toying with the idea of either hiring or buying a cloud server for your company data. It’s time to stop thinking about it and start doing it. While some people like to point out the security holes in cloud servers, they are nothing compared to hard drives. Someone can hack into your hard drive from their home in minutes if it’s connected to a network. Or, they could just walk into your property and walk out with all your customer data. With a cloud server, it’s far more complicated because then the data is kept off-site.

When you are thinking about cloud servers, do make sure that you research different companies rather than opting for the first one you find online. Quality of service can vary dramatically here.

DON’T Think Your Industry Is Special

It isn’t, and this is a big mistake that business owners are making right now. It is true to say that some companies need to worry more about data than others. For instance, if you work in the medical sector, you need to make sure that you are remaining HIPAA compliant and you can learn more about that on sites like www.nahs.co. But, all companies are held be similar data guidelines and regulations. In Europe, for instance, The GDPR recently came into full force. This impacts every business with ties to Europe, and that brings us to our next point.

DO Hire An Industry Expert

If companies should learn one thing from the new GDPR it’s that data laws can change fast. You can learn more about the GDPR on www.cio.com. While companies were given two years warning here, it still wasn’t long enough for some businesses to get in shape before the strict penalties were imposed. That’s why you should hire a data compliance expert. They can help make sure that you do remain completely compliant and that your business is up to date with changes to the law.

We hope you find this information useful and start making quick decisions on how to protect your business from data issues right now.

 

 

What is mobile marketing automation?

There have been a lot of new terms that business people, customer service representatives, and marketers have come to know over the last few decades. Take mobile, for example: Where once we used to be desktop or laptop based work spaces and free time, in the past few years mobile has re-made how we do nearly everything. And mobile has grown at a pace that few expected when it was first introduced. In fact, mobile-only users are now expected to top over 50 million in just a few years. That means those people may not even have a laptop, at all.

So marketers have to figure out how mobile users are different than other users, and marketers also have to figure out how to use automation when possible in order to make their more complex job easier. How do they do that? This graphic explains it.

What Is Mobile Marketing Automation?