2019 Social Media Trends Businesses Need to Plan For

If there is one thing that business owners should know for certain, it’s that there’s no certainty in today’s world. Technological advances, shorter product life cycles, and shifting consumer demands create changes and surprises that business owners need to be ready for.

A key part to growing and sustaining businesses today is social media. These platforms allow owners to connect with millions of possible customers worldwide. As this field is constantly being innovated, it’s advantageous for companies to prepare for social media trends in 2019 to stay innovative and relevant in their niches.

Increased Integration

In today’s fast world, people expect quick and seamless service, which is why all businesses should focus on creating the most seamless user experiences for their customers. In 2019, more and more companies will focus on social media integration, allowing customers to register for website access, sign up for email lists and more using their social media accounts.

Business owners should consider updating their websites and apps to allow new users to register with just one click through their social media account instead of filling out a long form. This step can help you increase your followers and connect better with your customer base.

More Video

The way businesses connect with users on social media is shifting from written to video content. Over half of all social media users watch videos, with that number climbing consistently.

Video is beneficial because it allows businesses to showcase their products and services, provide how-to guides and reviews. Social media users can form an emotional connection with the brand through video when they feel like the content is valuable to them.

Live video, especially, is becoming an important feature for marketing. Businesses can use this opportunity to share events, sales and new product announcements in real time.

Customized Marketing

In 2019, companies will finetune their marketing with customized strategies. Not only does content need to differ across channels to offer exclusive deals and stories, but business owners should focus on creating custom personas to cater to different demographics.

Whether you own a restaurant, a hair salon or an auto repair shop, customizing your outreach to target different audiences is key. Using insights from social media analytics, you can create customer personas depending on demographics such as age, gender, shopping patterns, income, etc., and create content tailored to those interests and needs.

Chatbots

Customers are demanding instant communication from the companies they shop with, and social media is no exception. While you may not have the budget to offer 24/7 customer service representatives for social media, you can invest in chatbots to solve this problem.

Chatbots are computer programs that mimic actual conversations. Companies can use them to answer questions, troubleshoot and even allow customers to book services and make purchases. With one estimate that 25% of the world will use messaging apps by the end of 2019, integrating chatbots into social media’s direct messaging services should be a priority.

Setting aside a budget to integrate social media trends into your operations is key to staying innovative. IOU Financial can help you with this goal by offering easy and fast small business loans. We can instantly pre-approve you and fund your loan of up to $300,000 in 24-48 hours!

5 Online Courses to Develop Your Management Skills

As a business owner,  it is important to have the developed skills of a leader alongside other hard skills that will benefit your company. Nowadays, people learn various stuff online, from foreign languages to cooking and programming.  There are hundreds of courses available online and most of them are free. Those that have to be paid for, are still significantly cheaper than offline lessons. Browse this list of 5 of the most effective online courses that will turn you into an awesome leader in no time!

Becoming a manager, Lynda

Lynda is an online learning platform developed by LinkedIn. It offers 1 month free trial and you can try any of the lessons for this period. Taking a course will give you a good idea of the qualities a good manager must possess to be useful for the team and company in general. During this time, you’ll get to know your strengths, discover your personal motivation, and learn how to build a good relationship between you and your employees. Also, you will learn how to hire the right people, how to connect, motivate and engage with your team, and act as a coach and role model for your team.

Management course, Alison

Courses on Alison are specialized to suit your own needs. Here we suggest you try not only one lesson, but complete all three courses to make sure that you’re becoming a qualified specialist. Whether you focus on managing people, individual projects, quality, or corporate leadership, there is an opportunity for you to learn from these courses. You can also try a diploma program that is offered in specialty areas. Taking these programs will ensure your success in the field.

Beginning Project Management, Udemy

In this course at Udemy, you will learn the absolute basics of Private Management. You’ll discover the big picture of it and its life cycle. By the end of the program, you’ll have a great grasp of what Private Management is about, what your roles and responsibilities as a Private Manager will be, and how to move forward in your career.

Growing as a Manager, Future Learn

What differs this program from the previous ones in this list? It has been developed by The Open University Business School – a pioneering institution that is triple accredited by Chartered Management Institute (CMI) – the leading authority on leadership in the UK. Even if you are not planning to work in Great Britain, this online certification will turn your professional skills to the new level.

Business Strategy, EDX

A qualified business owner must not be only the leader and a good team player. They must know how to develop the business. One of the fundamentals of professional development for managers is mastering of business strategy essentials. What helps people to improve their position in the marketplace? A good strategy does. To execute an effective strategy, a specialist must have a grasp of specific tools and frameworks. That is exactly what Business strategy course from Wharton will give to you. Here you’ll gain knowledge that will make you competent enough to evaluate your strategic environment in the present and the future, and engage you in a strategic planning process that works.

Guest Post: About the Author 

Judy Nelson is a writer at https://eduzaurus.com/ whose main topics are dedicated to management issues of different kinds. She used to share her thoughts with all those who were interested in getting useful information on business topics mostly. Her life motto is: “A good leader has to have a purpose that is larger than his daily duties are, and the balanced personality and skills to put that purpose into action.”

How to Promote Your Brand and at the Same Time Do Nothing

Branding is a diligent and time-consuming process. You may hire an entire team to do it for you, but you’ll have to be involved in one way or another. As a business owner, you might be wondering: is there a way to make branding easier, so you can focus on the business itself?

Let’s see. We’ll suggest few ways on how to promote your brand without doing anything complicated

Start a Blog

As any other smart business owner, you already covered the website part, right? You absolutely need to establish the brand’s online presence. When people are interested to buy your products or services, they are going to search for them online.

But did you implement a blog section on the website?

Blogging is a crucial element of search engine optimization. Mark Roberts, part of the marketing team at Essay On Time, explains that: “When someone searches for a product or service you want to sell, Google will show them high-quality results. Google evaluates websites according to many factors, but content is the main one. The blog gives you tons of space to provide such content, which would appear in the first page of results and attract target customers your way.”

But we were talking about promoting a business without making much effort right? Blogging seems like a lot of effort. It won’t be if you hire the right people. You may count on freelancers or writing agencies.

Start an Affiliate Program

You don’t have much time to promote your business? Why don’t you let the customers promote it for you? When you start an affiliate program, each customer will get benefits, such as discounts or free packages.

Payoneer, for example, is an online payment service that has such a program. For every new user that signs up through the affiliate link, the user who recommended it gets an actual payment. If that’s too advanced for you, you can offer simple discounts and free products for each referral.

The best part is that you just develop the program and it works for you. You’ll be gaining new customers by the day.

Giveaways!

Before someone decides to buy a product or service from you, they will want to read a review. It’s no wonder why people are so obsessed with Amazon reviews. They want to be sure they are spending their money on something valuable.

But how do you get enough reviews when your business is still new? Giveaways!

Organize contests with valuable prizes: product packages or yearly subscription to your service. Ask the winners to share their honest experience, and feature those reviews at your website.

Connect with Influencers

Since you cannot engage in all activities needed for the promotion of your brand, you need people who will promote it for you. Social media influencers! That’s what you should be thinking at this point.

When you connect with influencers on Instagram, Facebook and other platforms, you’ll make a deal. You’ll send them a free package of products or provide a subscription to your service free of charge. Most influencers will require a payment, too. What you get in return is promotion in front of thousands of people.

These are social media users who have a huge base of followers. When you gain such exposure, it will be a matter of time before your brand becomes big.

When engaging in influencer marketing, it’s important to target influencers with relevant interests to what your brand provides. You want to target an audience that would buy from you. So choose your influencers wisely.

See? Branding is not that big of a deal, after all. Of course; you have to make an effort to make the process successful, but some aspects can run smoothly without major involvement on the part of the business owner. Hopefully, the above-listed tips will make the branding process simpler for you.

Guest Post: About the Author

Terence Murray is a journalist and an editor from London. He loves to meet new people and talks with them about literature, photography and jazz music. Join him on Facebook and Google+

Want to invest in better branding? IOU can help you get the funds you need to get started with up to $300,000 in as little as 24 hours.

How Newsletters Can Help You Retain Customers

How do you turn a one time client into a repeat customer? This is the question every single business owner needs to ask themselves.

Attracting a new client has a certain acquisition price attached to it—how much you spend on advertising and marketing to make a sale. However, successful businesses are the ones that figured out a strategy to keep the customers coming back time and time again.

The trick to promoting customer loyalty is engagement, and one of the best ways to promote engagement is with a company newsletter.

Newsletter Definition

A newsletter is either physical, or more commonly, digital periodic content that a company distributes to its customers. You choose what to put in the newsletter, but typically it contains product-specific articles, coupons, deals, new product announcements and more.

A contact list is required to distribute the newsletter, which means that businesses should collect their customers’ email addresses online or at a brick-and-mortar location.

Benefits of Utilizing a Newsletter

There are numerous advantages that set apart businesses that distribute newsletters from those that don’t, including:

  • Increased sales—when customers are alerted to new products or sales, they are more likely to make a purchase.
  • Customer loyalty—when you upkeep regular communication with your customers, your brand stays fresh in their mind and they don’t forget you.
  • Customer trust—when you share relevant and educational content with your customers, they start viewing you as an expert and trust your recommendations.
  • Cost effective—a digital newsletter is free to create and distribute, which is a cost effective marketing strategy.
  • Trackable—online software allows you to analyze how many people opened your newsletter, and whether they took any actions (clicked a link, visited a website, made a purchase).

Three Tips for Creating an Effective Company Newsletter

It’s important to remember that your customers typically get dozens of new emails in their inboxes, so you must take steps to encourage them to open and read your newsletter. Follow these tips to create a truly effective newsletter:

Research

You want to create a unique newsletter that offers your readers tips and advice they can’t find anywhere else. However, how do you know what’s out there without doing research? Subscribe to your competitors’ newsletters to see what content they are disseminating, what you can learn from them and what you can improve on.

Do research in your industry to read about the latest developments to see what you can share to educate your customers and set yourself up as an authority figure.

Keep it Simple

Don’t get overly excited about the opportunity to connect with your readers; instead, decide on the angle you want to cover in each newsletter. Don’t bombard your customers with too much content, but focus on a specific topic (individual product or service, how to guide, a review, etc.) and then organize your newsletter around that.

Avoid Being Too Salesy

Although the main goal of the newsletter is to increase sales, don’t give that fact away to your readers. While  you want to promote your brand, focus on the educational aspect first. A good balance is 90% educational and 10% promotional, which would provide the ultimate value to your readers.

You may want to invest in software in order to create professional and unique layouts and formats for your newsletter. It may be advantageous to hire a professional copywriter and designer to create graphics and images. If you need help with affording this venture, IOU Financial is ready to help. We offer convenient and fast small business loans of up to $300,000 in under 48 hours. Click here to learn more!

Advanced Marketing Tools for Small Businesses

Today, with the huge number of small businesses coming up every day, all small business owners are looking for ways to stand out. Although no one can predict what the future of businesses holds, no one wants to fall under those businesses that fail after a few months of operating.

In this internet era, no one can afford to ignore digital marketing. For your business to be on the edge of the competition, you must have effective strategies in place from the first day of launching your startup. This applies to every type of industry. A powerful strategy is one that takes advantage of social media and search engine optimization to drive traffic among other things.

But without the right tools, your digital marketing is as good as dead. Well, of course, some of these tools are free and some are paid, which means you will have to pay some amount of money annually to use them. Marketing tools are very helpful to both experts and beginners.

Some tools will help you to spy the competition to know your business rivalries’ strategies among other important things. Others will help you to identify the most searched phrases so that you can target people conducting those searches online.

In this post, we’ve prepared a list of advanced marketing tools for small businesses that have also been tried, tested and recommended by experts in the field.

Answer The Public

Answer The Public is one of the most popular tools recommended by professional assignment writers today. This is a free tool that will help you find out the topics and questions that people type on Google when searching for information. You just need to enter your main keyword that you want to rank for and the tool displays the topics and questions.

Once you’ve identified the topics and questions, you can then include it naturally throughout your content so that when Google crawls your site looking for the best information related to the topic searched, your site can rank better and thus being able to convert your website visitors to real customers since you will have answered their questions with your content already.

Google Keyword Planner

You want to launch a pay-per-click campaign, grab a Google Keyword Planner. This is a handy tool if you want to set up an AdWords campaign for your small business. The greatest feature of this tool is the search volume calculator that enables you to type in your keyword and the tool displays its search volume. You can also search keyword by location to see how many people are searching for the same keyword in your area.

Hootsuite

It’s not a question; social media plays a huge role in today’s digital marketing regardless of the size of your business or industry. Hootsuite saves you loads of time by planning your social media posts in advance. This tool is equipped with great features that will help you as you start your business. You can use it to accomplish many tasks such as:

  • Connecting with blogger and influencers in your industry.
  • Engaging your audience through a central dashboard and etc.

The good thing about Hootsuite is that you can use it to manage almost all your social media accounts in one place.

Google Analytics

This is one of the best and free tools from Google. When starting your business, analytics should be the first things to consider in your digital marketing strategy. It’s easy to add the Analytics code to your site and start to monitor the actions of your website visitors. Although many people term it as a traffic tool, it can do more than that, especially for your marketing strategy. For instance, you can be able to know the sources of your traffic.

Google Analytics is a tool that you should install in your site immediately you launch your business.

MailChimp

Email marketing is currently used by a large percent of B2B and B2C firms. Why should you be left out of this?

MailChimp boasts more than 14 million customers and this makes it one of the top email marketing providers currently. This tool has a free plan for users with less than 2,000 subscribers with a limit of 12,000 emails per month and a pro plan starting from $199/month. For a small startup, you can start with the free plan and advance to the other plans as your business grows.

HubSpot

HubSpot is one of the best tools for sales and marketing and is also the best CRM software out there. This tool helps you from attracting customers until when the customers make a purchase. It keeps your marketing funnel in a good working order. It is equiped with tools that help in creating landing pages as well as calls-to-action, SEO, blogging and more. In short, we can say that it is an all-in-one marketing software.

Canva

To spice up your marketing strategy, you need stunning images and, presentations and posters. Canva is your tool for that. It features excellent tools with guides which makes it easy to use for both experts and beginners.

Buffer

Buffer is another social media management tool that helps you to plan your social media posts to publish on various platforms in one place. It has a free version that allows you to schedule a minimum of 10 posts for every social media platform. You can also use the premium and analytics tools as well.

SEMrush

SEMrush is another best tool for monitoring and evaluating your site’s organic rankings although it’s free version is limited. However, the free version can still help you to improve your SEO.

TweetDeck

As the name suggests, TweetDeck is another great and free marketing tool for managing your Twitter profile. This tool allows you to manage your lists and tweets in the best possible way on Twitter.

Final Thoughts

To be sure of success in your digital marketing strategy, you need to use the right tools for the job. We hope that this list will help you choose a tool that will take your online marketing to the next level.

There are many tools apart from these, but we’ve selected a few of the most effective that have also been recommended by online markers worldwide.

Guest Post: About the Author

Lilian Chifley is an IT specialist, teacher, and blogger from Sydney. She loves to talk about artificial intelligence and modern education. You can find Lilian on Facebook and Twitter.

How to Create Infographics for My Business

Your business requires marketing material to connect with potential customers. This can involve a website, social media presence, brochures, coupons and advertisements. There are two types of content that marketing requires—visual and written.

While photos and videos are a given when it comes to the visual way of presenting your business, infographics are also relevant. These are charts and graphs that make it easier for viewers to comprehend data or information. Research has found that companies who used infographics saw their online traffic grow by 12%.

You can explain to your customers that taking your supplement can reduce their blood pressure by 25% in written format, or you can create an infographic (see below) that will help them see the information in a new light, break up text and add some color and visuals to your content.

Types of Infographics

All infographics are not created equally, there are various types that work well for specific purposes:

  • Statistical infographics
  • Informational infographics
  • Timeline infographics
  • Process infographics
  • Geographic infographics
  • Comparison infographics
  • Hierarchical infographics
  • List infographics
  • Resume infographics

How to Create an Infographic

If you are sold on the importance of infographics, here are three different ways you can create them:

Download an Infographic Template

HubSpot allows you to download 15 templates for infographics completely free! This is perfect for beginners because you don’t have to spend hours designing one on your own or learning the process.

Simply download the template you want to use into PowerPoint, use tools to easily customize it to your unique needs and create a code to embed the graphic to your site or social media platforms.

Create an Infographic from Scratch

Once you get comfortable with customizing infographic templates, you can move on to creating unique graphics from scratch. This will help your brand distinguish itself from competitors who may be using the same software you are to make similar templates.

There are many software options to choose from to do this, one of them being Canva. All you have to do is either upload your own image, or choose from their library of over one million illustrations, photos and graphics. Choose from over 130 fonts, various colors and backgrounds by dragging and dropping various options.

You can save your designs on Canva to reuse them or make small changes on additional marketing campaigns.

Hire a Professional Infographic Designer

If you don’t feel comfortable with using templates or software to create an infographic, or simply don’t have the time to do this—outsource it to a professional designer. An affordable way of doing this is through Fiverr, a site that connects you with freelancers.

Type in what type of work you need help with, and browse through different freelance profiles. You will have the chance to read reviews about them and see samples of their previous work.

IOU Financial believes in helping small businesses succeed. If you need help with investing in your marketing strategy, contact us today to inquire about our simple and fast pre-approval and funding process for your business loan.

 

4 Ways Business Loans Support Your Financial Status & Help You Achieve Your Goals

There are a plethora business opportunities in the world today, many of which did not exist decades ago. As technology advances, many digital trends influence the types of businesses that pop up. Even on social media platforms, there are businesses that cover how best to manage social walls and increase followers. One thing is important in all these, whether you are an online merchant or a manufacturer of kitchen wares, whether you render services or sell products, the core of business strength is capital.

The truth is every business needs a solid financial status to be able to thrive. Sometimes, there might be some hitches in the running of a business- like low inventory, the need to hire staff and grow sales, or the need to carry out a profitable marketing campaign. Considering a business loan might be recommended. Although some individuals try to be cautious, there are immense benefits that getting a loan offers.

4 Ways that Business Loans are Beneficial to You

Not every reason is valid enough to seek a loan. However, there are solid reasons that support this. Just like making a purchase comes with costs and benefits, getting a loan can have a positive impact on business when weighed against the cost. Here are 4 ways that this can benefit your business;

Expansion of Business Activities

More customers are coming into your store and you need more staff to cater for the increase in activities, or you need to add a new location to your business, or there are new products and services that your business can provide- if this is the case, you might need to expand your business to accommodate more hands on deck, or have new space for business activities.

It might be very demanding on the finances of your business when it comes to bearing the cost of adding another location or venturing into a new market, even though these moves can boost the profitability of your business.

Getting a loan can ease these processes by providing ready capital for new overhead and upfront costs. In considering this, it is important to have a proper plan and forecast to ensure that the new activity would be profitable enough to cover the repayment of the loan.

Increased Liquidity

For many businesses, inventory is an important component of commercial activities. It is important to keep your inventory replenished and of high quality. With a sales projection, you can forecast the profitability of acquiring more inventory and improvement in cash flow can help you achieve this.

Apart from inventory, day-to-day activities are also crucial to businesses; you might need to train staff, pay salaries or effect repairs on machineries. Loans can improve your liquidity and help you cover these activities smoothly.

Invest in Marketing

Marketing can be the very approach your business needs to pull in more potential customers. However, due to the cost that marketing entails, some businesses tend to put it on hold. This is because successful marketing campaigns require a tangible budget.

Since marketing is needed to spur business growth, investing in a campaign can increase your customer base. Taking up a loan can help you execute a solid marketing strategy, thereby increasing customers and improving the financial status of your business.

You Keep the Profits

Compared to getting investors for your business, one benefit that loans offer is that the profit you make is retained for you and your business. On the other hand, investors require that they have a share in the profits of your business.

With loans, you can venture into new business opportunities, expand your business or get needed equipment, all of which are beneficial to you in the long run even after the loan payments are made.

Every business needs financing no matter the nature. Although some are of the opinion that adding debt counters the growth of your business, with the right approach, debt financing can come in handy and boost your profitability. Not every business needs to take up a loan. There are several things to consider such as the terms of repayment and interest rate. It also requires proper planning and knowledge of the market so as to ensure that the profitability of the business can cover loan repayments and keep you in an excellent financial standing.

Every business envisages steady growth. With the above put in place, loans can improve your financial status and help you achieve goals. Its benefits can still be visible even after the loan has been cleared.

Guest Post: About the Author

Ali Khan is a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) specialist and a content marketer. He works as a search director in a reputable organization. His main area of interest is digital marketing management and SEO outreach. He writes unique and research driven content about SEO analysis, Social media, Physical fitness and more.

Should My Business Be Using IGTV?

IGTV (for Instagram TV) is the new Instagram video app that supports vertical-format video on smartphones and desktops. You can post videos of up to 10 minutes in length, although creators with large audiences can post videos up to 60 minutes long. Instagram, a part of Facebook, is now set to compete directly with YouTube, giving individuals and businesses a new social media channel. Let’s explore how your business can profit from IGTV:

You can’t ignore video:

About a third of online activity involves watching video according to Wordstream, and Ciscopredicts 78% of mobile data traffic will be video by 2021. Viewers of video ads are twice as likely to tell others about them compared to text or image ads, and 25% of viewers make an immediate purchase after viewing a video ad[i]. There are more than 3.5 billion[ii] unique mobile internet users who on average spend 69%[iii] of their media time on their phones. Eighty percent[iv] of global internet usage will be driven by mobile devices and half[v] of an individual’s digital media time occurs on mobile apps. These statistics compel businesses to include marketing videos in their content marketing strategy, lest they cede the territory to their competitors.

IGTV supports clickable links:

You can add multiple links to your IGTV video’s description to drive traffic to your website, other videos, or wherever else you choose. To ensure your viewers know about the links, mention them in your video. This feature has the potential to significantly increase your website traffic and conversion ratio. You can also add up to 30 hashtags in your video description, meaning you will gain visibility through regular hashtag searches. These features should help you grow your channel and your business.

IGTV is easy to use: 

Even the smallest businesses can easily create IGTV videos. You don’t have to have Hollywood production values to create compelling videos, although expert videographers can use all their tricks if they choose. To create an IGTV, turn on the video feature of your phone and start recording. You can use simple yet powerful video editor apps such as InShot, Splice and VideoShow to add music, titles, voice-overs, emojis and special effects. With a little thought, you should be able to create entertaining and engaging content. Once you’re happy with your video, simply upload it via the IGTV mobile app and you’re all set.

Your Instagram followers automatically follow your videos:

This setup means you can increase the value of your Instagram account substantially by uploading your marketing videos. Sure, you can create weekly or monthly videos, but if you run daily promotions, IGTV can get the word out fast in a compelling manner. Retailers and merchandizers will find this capability a boon for driving customers to their websites and/or brick-and-mortar stores.

You can create training and product demo videos:

Your marketing push can include high-value videos that increase the knowledge of potential or actual customers. You can also train your employees or demonstrate how your product is used. The ways you use IGTV to increase sales, service and support are limited only by your imagination.

IGTV, when properly leveraged, has the potential to grow your business significantly. In fact, you might find you need expanded inventory, more employees, a larger store, or perhaps additional stores. If you need working capital to expand your business, consider a business loan from IOU Financial, where you can borrow up to $300,000 on convenient terms quickly and easily.

[i] https://thenextscoop.com/use-instagram-igtv-business/

[ii]https://www.statista.com/topics/779/mobile-internet/

[iii]http://www.comscore.com/Insights/Presentations-and-Whitepapers/2017/2017-US-Cross-Platform-Future-in-Focus?

[iv]https://www.zenithmedia.com/mobile-forecasts-75-internet-use-will-mobile-2017/

[v]https://www.comscore.com/Insights/Blog/Smartphone-Apps-Are-Now-50-of-All-US-Digital-Media-Time-Spent