How Can My Small Business Achieve a Significant Online Presence?

The internet has changed our lives dramatically over the last couple of decades. It has changed our behaviour as consumers (meaning that businesses have to keep up) and one way they can go about doing so is being visible online. One thing small businesses struggle with is competing with more established companies, as an entrepreneur you need to show people that you’re reliable and trustworthy- and that they will have a good experience shopping with you. One way you can go about this is by having a good online presence; when a customer types your business into a search engine, they need to be able to see that you’re very much present and that everything is being run correctly. Here’s how you can go about it.

Get Your Website Right

When you’re a small business without much money to start off with, it’s tempting to want to cut costs on things like web design and have a go yourself. But while you may be able to knock up something that looks ok, it’s always going to lack that professional edge. If you want to make a good impression on customers and clients, you absolutely need to invest in a decent website. It needs to look good, be properly laid out and free of clutter and spam. It should be fast to load and free of errors. A web designer will be able to create something custom to you, so do some research and look through a few designers portfolios. Your website represents your business online, something that looks tacky will do nothing but put people off- after all, if your website is poor its easy to assume that the rest of your business is run the same way. We’re all guilty of thinking this way, how many times have you clicked off a website because it looked a little DIY or it was slow to load? It’s not something that would make you want to part with your money.

Have an App Created

Lots of smaller businesses still aren’t reaping the benefits of what an app can do for their business, meaning rightnow you have the chance to get ahead. Research how much does it cost to make an app and work this into your budget, it’s an investment that could mean big returns for your business. An app makes you look smart and professional, and for now it puts you ahead of your competition.

Get Social

Social media is one of the biggest things to come out of the internet in recent years. It’s something that business owners have been able to take advantage of, as it allows you to get closer to your customers and to communicate with them in a more informal way. You can quickly answer queries and questions, you can share positive comments, reviews and customer photos of your business. You can share marketing materials to your followers including sales, deals and discounts and you can run giveaways and competitions (which will increase your following further). Having a good following and being responsive on social media is a great way to improve your online presence.

Ask Customers For Reviews

Reviews really can make or break your business. When you’re thinking of shopping with a new company but are a little unsure, what’s the first thing you do? Chances are it’s go online and check the reviews. If you were already on the fence, a few bad reviews are going to sway you and lead you to go and shop somewhere else. Great reviews on the other hand will give you confidence, if most others have had a good experience then it shows that you probably will too. As a business owner, you should be investing time into building up your reviews. Ensure you’re putting out a quality service every time, and if there are any problems they should be dealt with quickly and professionally. You need to come to some kind of agreement where your customer is left happy, this will prevent them from leaving you a bad review. You can’t provide any compensation for positive reviews, but you can politely ask and if people have had a good experience with you then chances are they’ll be happy to leave you one. As well as adding a review tab to your Facebook business page, ask people to review you on a third party site like Trustpilot. These reviews are well respected as you have to sign up and verify your identity to post and so you know that anything posted is truthful- not just a company writing their own positive reviews! Another way you can get impartial reviews is by working with bloggers, if you send them out a free product for example they will review it fairly- of course if your product and business is good then it will be a good review. Having lots of reviews online when customers search increases your online presence and can sway anyone who’s a little unsure into making an order.

 

 

 

Digital Togetherness Is The Only Factor Of Success

There is no denying that the Internet revolution has brought us together. People from all over the world can get in touch quickly and in real time, while in the pre-Internet days, letters and long-distance phone calls where the only ways to maintain contact – and these were not effective, as they were either time-demanding or too expensive to maintain. But today, people from all over the world can interact online in a variety of ways, through transactions, messaging and video conferencing. Additionally, the digital world has enabled individuals to combine their skills and voices to deliver a product, or even create a viral reaction. The TV show Lucifer that has been canceled by Fox in May was saved by Netflix as a result of fans coming together on social media to discuss their favorite show. Without the social media buzz, it’s fair to say that the show might not have been saved. Ultimately, digital togetherness creates success. But from a business perspective, the art of digital together is more complex than it seems.

Step 1: Spread your online presence

It might sound counterproductive at first, but to build a strong digital front, you need to scatter your presence via a variety of platforms. Indeed, a website is not enough. Customers, however, tend to interact positively with blog posts that answer their queries. In other words, you need not only to establish a blog but to ensure that this blog is regularly updated with relevant and useful information to your potential users. Self-promotional articles simply don’t work anymore. Social media platforms are, naturally, the other essential factor of your online presence. Target platforms that are meaningful to your audience, such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. The more you spread your presence online, the easier you will be to find. A partnership with a business that shares the same or a similar audience can also give you a presence boost.

Step 2: Bring it together

With each digital platform, you gain a detailed data collection report that informs you about the performance of platform-related interactions. However, to achieve a unique overview, you need to partner with an ETL solution that can extract, correct, transform and load all your data together. Instead of working with multiple tools to gain an overview of your whole digital presence, you can use a solution that combines the information for you. It’s not only easier to read, but it also saves you a lot of time in the long term.

Step 3: Make sense out of it

Finally, when all data are together, the most crucial step for your business is to determine which informations are relevant. Indeed, relevant data support business decisions based on facts. You can react to changes in the market or the audience, if you know which KPI to monitor, for instance. For small businesses, where a professional analyst does not run the analysis of data, it can be challenging to differentiate meaningful data from the rest. As a result, data-based strategies can appear weak.

In conclusion, going digital doesn’t mean your business will thrive. The art of building togetherness through your digital presence and data is what paves your way to success.

 

 

 

 

Expert Marketing: How to Get Your Company to Stand out from Your Competition

Getting your business to stand out from your competitors is essential if you want to succeed in business. While you must have a quality product, great customer service and a reasonable price, that may not be enough to encourage people to visit your location. Here are some ideas on how to market your business so that you stand out from your competitors.

Create a Voice-and-mobile-friendly Website

While you probably already have a website, it is essential that it be voice friendly. Making your website voice-friendly allows the user to find your business using their home devices like Alexa, Google Home and Amazon Echo. Use phrases that are naturally spoken, make sure that you list your geographical area and use long-tail keywords. In order to make your website mobile friendly, you should make sure that your website can be viewed on any size device, pick a font that is at least 14 pixels and use high-quality images.

Be Active on Social Media

Being found on social media is essential to separating your business from that of your competitors. Know what social media platform your customers prefer and make yourself visible there. While you will want to post regularly, you will also want to make sure to interact with your target audience. Spending time showing that you care about their concerns and ideas is a great way to build customer trust. When others see customers bragging about your products and services online, then they will want to check your business out.

Build and Upkeep a Unique Building Design

When a customer arrives at your location, they should instantly get a great first impression before they ever walk in the door, get signage companies to put up a new sign that is clearly visible when customers are approaching your business from any direction. Keep the exterior of the business beautiful by painting and landscaping. Make sure that your customers have ample parking and can get in the front door easily. Ensure that the windows are clean and that the sidewalk is free of all trash.

Get Involved in the Community

It is essential that you are involved in your local community. You may want to team up with other business owners to sponsor an event. Join the local chamber or other business organizations. Regularly donate part of your proceeds to a worthy cause while making sure that your donation gets attention in the press. Offer to be a public speaker at events along with contacting local news organizations to offer to be their local expert on topics related to your business.

Using these ideas and your own ingenuity will help you stand out from your competitors. Keep your focus on doing the right things for your community and your business will succeed. You will need to make sure that they can find you when they look on the internet.

7 Helpful Hacks to Get the Best Out Of Your Super Staff

When you started up your business, you never thought it would grow to the size it is today. You started off scribbling ideas on the corner of a notepad whilst in corporate meetings at your old 9-5 job. You knew this life just wasn’t for you and you longed for an escape from the rat race. Your initial business idea stemmed from your lifelong passions and since then it has grown into a somewhat successful company that you are extremely proud of. Although you have conquered a lot in the last few years, you are always looking for ways to build up your company. Hiring employees to help with your workload is the top of your priority list at the moment, but you have no experience in managing and recruiting a team of people. Bringing new people into your company is a scary step for any entrepreneur to take, but it will all be worth it in the long run. You need to focus on what is best for your company when hiring staff; once you know a person is going to fit in, you can then shift your focus onto them and nurture them as they progress through the ranks. You were once a new starter at a company, so you know how daunting this can be. Be kind, considerate and fair at all time and you will soon have a new team of super staff to be proud of.

  1. Innovative Interview Techniques

If you have never interviewed anybody before the thought of this might terrify you. However, you will have been through interview processes before in your previous jobs, so you will have more knowledge than you think. Write down the key traits you’re looking for from each candidate and don’t forget to research great exit interview questions. You will only be able to gain valuable information, by asking good questions. Use open questions to gain a deep insight into your prospective employees, so that you know you’re hiring the right person for the job.

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  1. Explain the Job Description Clearly

When you put out the advertisement for the job, make sure you are laying out the job description clearly and concisely. People can often be misled by job descriptions and this will ultimately end up wasting your time. You should clearly state the qualifications, background and experience you are looking for, as well as the salary details and start date. If you miss out this important information from the job description you might just be leading somebody on. You want people to know exactly what they are signing up for, so clearly list their roles and responsibilities before you offer them the job.

  1. Listen to their Problems

When somebody first starts working for you, they might not feel completely comfortable coming to you with their issues. Make it clear from the get go that you offer an open door policy in your workplace and you are available to talk at any time. You never know what people might be going through at home, so make time for them and help them out as best as you can.

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  1. Allow them to Progress

Every worker wants to know that their career will progress over time. Clearly outline the opportunities for promotion and progression to everybody who joins your company. They want to know there is something to work towards and it will keep them motivated every time they step into the office. Allow certain employees to shadow their superiors and offer insights into what their other colleagues do on a daily basis. Growing their knowledge and enhancing their skills will benefit you, them and your company as a whole.

  1. Trust Them

Nobody wants to be micromanaged at work; it is extremely demotivating and demoralizing. Make sure you establish a level of trust amongst your staff so that they feel free to carry out their duties effectively and without being judged. Schedule regular catch ups with each of your members of staff, so that you can monitor their progress regularly and talk about where improvements could be made. Equally, make sure you give them credit when they deserve it and offer incentives for those who are excelling.

  1. Spend Time Getting to Know Everyone

Your employees want to feel important and valued in your company, so don’t just see them as another body to carry out an important task. Get to know them on a human level and it will work in your favor. You will be able to learn their hobbies, likes and dislikes; this will actually help you to schedule them on shifts, organize business trips and other work related activities. You might find that someone is really interested in travelling, so they would be the ideal person to send on a business trip overseas. Getting to know people and how they operate will work wonders for your business as a whole.

  1. Socialize with your Employees

The time you spend with your staff doesn’t need to be limited to the office. Organize social events and seasonal activities so that everyone gets the chance to blow off some steam after a big deadline. Offer to take everybody out for a coffee at lunchtime, or throw a surprise birthday party on somebody’s special day. Socializing with your colleagues and going that extra mile is really important, as it helps you to build friendships and solid professional relationships outside of the workplace.

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Every entrepreneur has to take huge leaps at some point in their career and now it is your turn. Allow your company to grow and flourish, by hiring people that are going to be excellent representatives of your business. As long as you trust each individual and you treat them with respect you will be able to have excellent working relationships with them all. Over time you will become confident in your interview skills and managerial know how; your employees will grow to respect you and you will be setting yourself up for huge success in the future.

Improving Digital Performance With No SEO Strategy

One way SEO strategy has affected how people write for the web is by created the term ‘keywords’ with the launch of one of the first worldwide online indexing tools, Google in 1998. Keywords were first perceived as words you could use to attract visitors to your website, which during the first years of Google consisted too often in maximizing high search volume terms that may not be related to the page content. The first personal blogs used to attract visitors by adding popular terms at the bottom of the page or directly into the metadata. Needless to say, the volume of visitors increased significantly. Since then, Google has punished this black hat SEO strategy with the introduction of Google Panda in 2011.

However, low-quality sites continue to find loopholes to drive visitor traffic. When it became obvious that link building could improve the ranking ability of a site, unscrupulous digital entrepreneurs offered to sell backlinks, causing several websites to suffer a drop in ranking when Google introduced the quality link penalty. However, the new approach to create quality and natural-looking links is to build a link wheel. While it is not a Black Hat style, it’s fair to say that it can be difficult for businesses to maintain informative content generation across each site of the wheel.

For now, Google hasn’t yet picked on it. However, as the general quality of content is sinking across the web, it’s fair to say that the AI within the ranking algorithm might start to penalize link wheels in future.

So what is the best approach to improve your online performance durably and without risking future penalties and algorithm updates? The answer is surprisingly simple. Don’t do SEO.

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The web strategy pyramid ignores people

 

There’s only so much SEO you can do

The dangers of homepage SEO

Although no marketer in their right mind would intentionally ditch their SEO strategy, there’s an important lesson to learn. Namely, SEO doesn’t always work for you. In fact, when it comes to your main web page, your homepage SEO, the answer to the question ‘should you even worry about it?’ is more likely to be NO. It’s not a matter of ignoring your homepage completely. But it’s important to understand that your homepage should not be the main linking page for your SEO strategy.

Make sure you limit your keyword choice

One of the most common mistakes made by small companies is to reproduce the same SEO strategy that works for big brands. Big brands naturally receive more links because they are more customers, more advocates, and more press. Consequently, a variety of anchor texts link to the homepage, and such a link constellation is sustainable because there is sufficient content out there to justify the diverse keywords. For small brands, the external content spreads too thin to make it work.

Manage your reputation

Additionally, it’s the constant generation of content from commentators, social media users, bloggers, and journalists that create a rich brand reputation for big brands. Because big brands are likely to have a lot of advocates, they can enjoy a positive reputation even if they sometimes get things wrong. What happens to small businesses who have a handful of dissatisfied customers? They immediately suffer from a negative reputation, which affects your ranking scores too. Ultimately, if Google notices that your brand is unpopular, it’ll push you deeper in the search results. As it is difficult for small brands to find advocates, fixing a damaged reputation is a slow and painful strategy.

You can’t win the keywords war

GDPR will affect data accuracy

If you hone your SEO skills developing keyword-ranking strategies, it is time to change your ways before the GDPR comes into force at the end of May. Indeed, the General Data Protection Regulation is an EU data privacy regulation that affects the way data collecting, monitoring and analyzing tools handle EU data. With penalties of €20 million, it’s not something you want to ignore. Unfortunately,  the GDPR will reduce the information you can get from your data processors, whether it’s Google Analytics or specialist keywords tools. Geographic reporting accuracy will be reduced in Analytics. It is currently unclear how further tools will deploy data privacy recommendations, but you can expect fewer data to improve your rankings.

The keyword search has changed

Additionally, since the apparition of voice-controlled assistants, such as Amazon Echo, the way people search online has changed. Amazon Echo, being shared by the family, can affect the way the search engine provides the most relevant results for a user. Additionally voice search transforms the way people think about keywords, as it tends to be performed in a conversational tone.

Alt text is overstated

There’s another essential voicing tool that is too often ignored, and it’s the screen reader. For the sake of accessibility, marketers insist that all alt text content should be completed, both for visually impaired users and for crawlers. The main issue with using screen readers as a cover for search engine writing is that it can generate confusing and unclear web pages. Imagine, for instance, a ‘send’ button at the end of a form. The alt text normally labels the button ‘send’ + [keywords]. The screen reader naturally reads the text ‘send’ that’s written on the button, causing duplicate and unnatural content for the user. A similar argument can be made for images used as placeholders. They disturb the screen reader experience and might ultimately be picked up by the AI learning function in Google’s algorithm.

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Create useful alt text

How long do people spend on a page?

55% of visitors spend less than 15 seconds on any page and read only about 20% of the content. Users skip most of the content to find the answer they need, so that 70% of your SEO content is not seen. It’s a fast-paced environment, and people want immediate answers. In other words, the SEO rule of a minimum of 250 words per page is useless.

The key learning is that everything you know about SEO is changing. How long until the algorithm is updated, we don’t know. But one thing is for sure: Write for real people, not for search engines if you want to make the most of your online presence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 Social Media Metrics Your Business Needs to Track

Simply having a social media account is not enough to grow your business. Just like everyone else, you probably want to get more followers, more likes, more retweets, more click-through, etc. But are all of these things going to help you boost your business?

In this jungle of social media metrics, it could be confusing for you to choose which metrics are actually important for your company. But don’t look at this in a bad way. You have a lot of data in your hands, so use this data in order to understand your audience.

Luckily there is a solution. Take a look at these four metrics that will help you achieve growth.

Engagement: Do people actually like your content?

How many times did someone take action on your posts? Sharing, clicks, comments, reactions – all of these things matter.

These actions validate your content and they will show you if your posts are important to your target audience. If you keep tracking these metrics, they will help you plan your content strategy and see what kind of post you should create, but also which post you should avoid.

The simple step is to use average engagement rate that will take your metrics a step further. It will show you a true value of your content and how it impacts your followers. You can also identify optimal time for engagement. Knowing when your audience is most active will raise your engagement, so keep tracking and post when they are online.

Never underestimate your competitors because you can learn from them. See what kind of content works for them by tracking their engagement rates.

Mentions: Does anybody talk about your brand?

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All mentions are important, whether they are written in a positive or negative manner. Your goal is to promote actual online conversations and discussions, but try to give your best to induce positive reactions.

For starter, you should become a part of that conversation and show people you care about their opinion. But when it comes to monitoring mentions, you should use these metrics in order to find out how many people are talking about your brand and more importantly – who is talking. A simple step that can inspire you to boost your mentions is to take a glance at your competitors’ mentions. Don’t steal their idea, just let yourself be creative. People will value your uniqueness.

Nevertheless, if you are having a trouble with social mention monitoring, you can always hire a professional to do the job for you.

Conversion: Do you have enough traffic to your website?

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How many people took an extra step and visited your site via your social media page?

Tracking a total number of conversions will show you if your social media strategy achieves its purpose. To convert, you need to engage people by giving them a strong call-to-action. You can use analytic tools such as Google’s URL builder and collect all important data about the specific link. This will help you realize what kind of social media content is attracting the greatest amount of traffic to your page.

So, track the number of conversions that happened within a month or a week and match the data with particular content. These valuable metrics will tell you how fast your business is growing. So, if your conversion numbers aren’t where you want them to be, you can do something about that immediately. Start looking for new trends and change something in order to improve your strategy.

Sentiments: Do people like your products?

You can actually get into the mind of your customers while you are online. With a little help of sentiment and emotional analysis, you can track online conversation from all social networks and see how people feel about your products.

You would probably love to see just positive comments, but tracking negative ones will help you improve your business. A sudden spike in negative sentiment will show you what you should change. Moreover, you will be able to resolve this problem and calm people down. Maybe your brand is well-liked, but there is always a room for improvement.

These metrics bring as to a whole new level of marketing. Sentiments and emotional analysis will help you create a positive social media presence your business needs.

Track What Matters

Everyone obsesses over how many followers they have. Yes, it’s nice to have a large number of followers, but that doesn’t matter as much as you may think. What you want is for people to become familiar with your brand and your message. You want them to go to your website and buy your products. So, use these metrics in order to get to know your audience and grow your business.

Guest author, David Webb, is a Sydney-based business consultant,online marketing analyst and a writer. With six years of experience and a degree in business management, he continuously informs the public about the latest trends in the industry. He is a regular author at BizzmarkBlog. You can reach him on Twitter or Facebook.

 

 

How to Build a Successful eCommerce Brand

People are rapidly turning to online shopping, which makes it a perfect time to start an online business. However, there are probably hundreds of companies out there offering products that are same, or at least similar, to yours.

The good thing is that branding can be a lifesaver for your business. You have to stand out from the crowd and show people why they should purchase your products, and not the products of your competitors.

Your products might be great, and your website appealing and well-optimized, but that doesn’t mean that you will succeed. According to statistics, 55% of all eCommerce sales are done through branded stores, while 45% are done via marketplaces. Therefore, you have to build a strong brand in order to beat your competitors.

It’s time to take the first step towards your success.

Personalized, but safe service

Customer data points are very useful for personalization. The data is your gold because you will know what your customers want before they do.

So, include those data points in your eCommerce business:

  • Shopping Cart – recommendations based on the current content of a customer’s wish list or cart
  • Search Queries – recommendations based on search terms
  • Purchase History – recommendations based on a customer’s past purchases
  • Social Behavior – recommendations based on product rating, shares and likes

You can also recommend products based on geographic location and customer segmentation, such as demographic. Use this data to provide your customers with the best service possible. This will help you understand your customers and their relationship with your product and brand.

Are your customers mostly gift-buyers? How often do they buy products from your website? Look for patterns in your customers’ behavior because that is precisely what will point you in the right direction. Also, it’s always a good idea to personalize your product packaging. Many brands are doing it, and people seem to love it.

Since, as an online business, you will collect and retain sensitive personal information about your customers, you have to show them that their information is safe with you, especially when it comes to payment and delivery.

You can make your brand trustworthy and reliable by using payment card industry data security standards (PCI DSS). These standards apply to all organizations that store, process or transmit cardholder data, so your business should have PCI DSS compliance, too. However, keep in mind that, even though you are operating online, you still need to adhere to your federal and state privacy laws.

Engaging approach

The impression you make on people who come in contact with your brand for the first time is very important. Therefore, you should make sure that they see your brand in the best light.

First, you have to ensure that your customers can see and feel that they can engage with your brand.

Always ask your customers for their opinion. Give them an opportunity to review your products and chat with you. Use these options on your website and social media pages. 71% of consumers who have had a good social media service experience with a brand are likely to recommend that brand to others. So, this will help you both increase brand engagement and attract new customers.

Next, you can turn your customers into brand ambassadors who will help you share your amazing story all over the internet. They are a powerful tool that will help you raise awareness about your company. The reason that brand ambassadors are so credible is that they don’t actually work for your company but are only huge fans.

Emotional connection with your target audience

If you want others to share your story, you have to give them a reason to do so. Tell them your story and engage with them on an emotional level. By giving customers a strong “why” you will provide them with something to believe in. Try to answer these questions:

  • How did you start your business and why?
  • What are your values?
  • What makes you different from your competitors?

People like to hear a story behind the products they buy. Get them to fall in love not only with your products but your brand as well.

For example, if you use your lifestyle as an inspiration for your brand image, you will attract people with similar interests.

If your vision matches your customers’ opinion, your fans will be dedicated to you. Actually, if you include this vision in your posts on social media and newsletters, they will be happy to share that with others.

Consistency as a branding tool

Did you choose your style? What about the color, design, style of writing, and other elements of your brand? Do your social media channels, emails and adds follow your style?

Once you determine your style, it’s important to stick to it. Use it consistently in all of your marketing efforts in order to become recognizable.

Your style represents your brand’s personality. It can tell more about your values then you think, and it can engage people on an emotional level.

Whenever you want to share something, ask yourself – is this consistent with your brand story?

Remember, your employees should also understand your style and vision. They have to represent your brand in the best possible way.

Conclusion

If you miss the opportunity to build a brand today, it can cost you your business. Products come and go, but if you build a personal brand, people will keep coming to your web shop.

Remember, brands are not established in a day, but these tips will help you get one step closer to success.

 

Guest author, David Webb, is a Sydney-based business consultant,online marketing analyst and a writer. With six years of experience and a degree in business management, he continuously informs the public about the latest trends in the industry. He is a regular author at BizzmarkBlog. You can reach him on Twitter or Facebook.