How to Perform an SEO Audit of your Website

The main goal of any website is to attract as many visitors to it as possible. Organic search traffic, meaning traffic that is not paid for, accounts for over half of all site visitors. The best way to increase organic traffic is to have your site show up on the first page of Google search rankings.

Since Google is the world’s most popular search engine, with 3.5 billion daily searches around the world, it’s advantageous to design your website in a way to maximize results. This will help you attract more audience and increase your brand awareness and sales.

The best way to achieve this is to conduct a yearly SEO audit of your website to catch errors that could be hindering the process. This is just a fancy way of saying that you need to verify that your site has the necessary aspects needed to help the Google crawl bots that scan your site move it to the top of the search results.

How to Conduct an SEO Audit

Verify Google Indexing

If you want your site to show up in Google results, Google needs to include all the pages into its index. The very first step of your SEO audit should be to check Google index; if your site is not listed there, it’s a huge problem since it will never show up in Google searches.

Visit Google Search Console and enter your homepage link or the link of a specific sub-page to make sure Google has indexed it. If you find that your site is not indexed, you can manually submit sitemaps to aid the process.

A very important tip is that Google shouldn’t index your page just once, but keep indexing it to keep it relevant and at the top of search results. This is done by adding new content (videos, blogs and graphs), as well as updating older content. The more Google bots index your site, the more visitors you should be getting.

Conduct a Website Crawl

Since Google has special bots that analyze your site, it’s important to see what they would see. This is possible with website crawl tools, which are available as free and paid versions (Beam Us Up).

This is the best and fastest way to find errors on your site, duplicate content and broken links. Some features will analyze the length and quality of your titles and meta tags as well as assess bounce rate (how quickly your audience leaves your site or a specific page) and conversions (how many people click on a link or buy a product).

Verify Company Name Search Results

Remember that most people are not going to enter your website link when searching for you online, but your company name. Unfortunately, other sites may be competing for that search term, especially if it is a generic word or phrase.

Write your company name into Google to verify that it’s the first organic result that pops up. If it’s not, your business is likely going to another company, which is a problem.

The good news is that you can take measures to correct this issue by creating a stronger online presence for your website. This can be accomplished in five steps:

  • Build branded links
  • Reach out to well-known brands and influencers to mention you on their sites
  • Create business directory listings
  • Create a Google Business listing
  • Create social media accounts

While it’s not necessary to financially invest in this process, it can be extremely helpful. Hiring a professional marketing company to make your site SEO-friendly can be a great ROI. If you need financial help with this goal, turn to IOU Financial. Visit our site at www.ioufinancial.com to learn how you can qualify for a business loan in just 24-48 hours.

9 Tips to Create an Engaging Email Marketing Campaign

Email campaigns are so popular and thoroughly analyzed that it seems impossible to add something new or improve the process. However, things are changing and evolving so rapidly that even email marketing keeps advancing year after year.

Every once in a while, industry leaders and clever marketers come up with something fresh and exciting. There are all sorts of hacks, tools, and tactics to test here, but we want to select the most promising features only. In this post, we will show you nine tips to create an engaging email marketing campaign.

1.   Write a Standout Subject Line

A subject line may as well be the most critical element of an email message. How come? The reason is very simple – it is the first thing receivers see in their inbox. This is why each subject line you create has to be eye-catching and attractive.

The best examples usually include details such as:

  • Numbers: People love when you quantify statements.
  • Humor: Everybody likes a good joke.
  • Emojis: If well chosen, visual components can be very interesting.
  • Questions: Posing questions, you immediately invite subscribers to engage.

You can try anything else that the target audience might seem amusing, but these solutions work well on almost all occasions.

2.   Segment and Personalize

Marketers who do not segment and personalize emails in 2019 are certainly not going to keep pace with competitors. You have to divide the target audience into different segments like new leads, returning customers, and others. Of course, each of these groups demands a different content.

But you need to go one step further and personalize messages. Start with a name since reports prove that emails with names in subject lines have a higher open rate percentage.

Jake Connor, a digital marketer at Assignment Holic UK, claims that personalization has to go beyond names: “The goal is to tailor the message so as to fit the subscriber’s previous interactions with your brand. For instance, someone who already bought one of your products may want to learn more about similar items from your portfolio.”

3.   Keep It Concise and Well-Structured

This goes without saying, but too many content creators still don’t pay attention to the style of email writing. Keep in mind that emails have to be concise and straightforward because nobody wants to read more than one page of text.

Essay writing services always suggest using enough whitespace to divide each unit and make your email eye-pleasing. At the same time, you need to create a nice structure with several paragraphs, introduction, body part, and a very logical conclusion.

4.   Offer Real Value

You don’t launch email marketing campaigns just to remind subscribers of your existence. On the contrary, you must have a good reason to address followers and add real value to your messages. What does it mean exactly?

It means you need to create content that really means something to your fans. For instance, prospects who are already near the end of the sales funnel could receive an exclusive discount. It’s a great way to keep them engaged and ready to make the first move.

On the other side, subscribers who are still getting acquainted with your business require a more subtle approach, so you can send them educational content such as infographics, industry reports, tutorials, and so on.

5.   Organize Q/A Sessions

This is the email marketing model we don’t see too often even though it has a huge interaction potential. Namely, you can organize Q/A sessions and let subscribers ask you anything they want brand-wise. Invite them to send you questions throughout the week, while you can collect the best inquiries and answer in the next newsletter. The hack makes people feel acknowledged and serves as a genuine loyalty booster.

6.   Add Only One CTA

The golden rule of email marketing is that one message must contain only one call to action (CTA). We are not suggesting that you shouldn’t add several CTA buttons throughout the content, but each one has to lead to the same landing page or some other type of external content.

This is quintessential because multiple CTA options can confuse your audience and stop them from taking any action. Of course, it would be a disaster for your campaign, so you better make sure to think it through carefully and select only one CTA that serves your business objectives at a given moment.

7.   Use Digital Tools

After everything you’ve read so far, you probably understand that email marketing can be pretty difficult if you do it single-handedly. But instead of doing everything alone, you should make use of digital tools to improve and speed up the process. It’s not possible to mention all tools here, but some of the practical platforms include:

8.   Schedule Emails Cleverly

Although 91% of users have no issues with promotional emails, it doesn’t mean you can bombard subscribers with everyday messages. You must schedule emails cleverly to make the biggest impression on potential customers.

Firstly, make sure to send newsletters regularly. It can be once a week or every 15 days, but it’s crucial to be consistent. Secondly, you should follow big industry events, product launches, and holidays with the corresponding emails.

A good plan of activities is mandatory because it’s not recommended to send more than eight or nine promotional emails monthly.

9.   Measure the Results of Your Campaigns

The last tip is also obvious, but we must not underestimate it. You can’t allow yourself to rely on your feeling or guts. Instead, do your best to measure the results of your campaigns and check the fundamentals:

  • Open rate
  • Click-through rate
  • Conversions and bounce rate
  • List growth
  • Unsubscribers
  • Email sharing and forwarding rate

Conclusion

Email campaigns may be the oldest channel of digital marketing, but it doesn’t mean they cannot get any better. On the contrary, only state of the art tactics can guarantee results and make your emails more attractive than competitors’ content.

We made this post to explain to you nine tips to create an engaging email marketing campaign. Keep our ideas in mind and let us know in comments if you have other useful suggestions – we would love to hear them!

Guest Post: About the Author

Lilian works as an EssayMama. She also works as an editor at australianwritings and assignment masters. Lilian loves doing Edu Birdie reviews. She writes for top essay writing service.

4 Things Small Businesses Must Include in Their Budgets

Budgeting is to business as oxygen is to life: Without it, you die. The reason budgeting is vital to the health of a small business is that it is your GPS device for telling you where you are supposed to go and where you are actually heading. You use the budget to track business expenses, cash on hand, revenue needed and received, and other items to know whether your business is succeeding. The differences between your projected and actual budget numbers are your early warning system when things start to go wrong — or your confirmation that you are on the right track. Those differences are also a call to address problems by changing what you are doing.

Bottom line, your budget tells you how much money you have, how much you must earn and how much money you will have to spend. Importantly, it also tells you how much you might need to borrow to plug any cash shortfalls and to finance your growth. To know these things, you should include in your budget the items listed below.

Required Budget Items

Your budget might have dozens of line items, but they can all be organized into four groups of items that every budget must track: Sales, costs, profits and cash flows.

Sales and Other Revenues

These figures are the foundation of your budget. You can’t spend money unless you make it, and you don’t want to overestimate how much you’ll make by donning rose-colored glasses. Your estimates should be conservative but realistic — if they turn out to be too conservative, well, that’s a good thing. On the other hand, bloated estimates could leave your business floating belly up.

Estimating your revenues is hardest if you are just starting up your business, because you don’t have any prior-year data. That’s why you did extensive research by talking to other owners in your same field, undertaking market research, and relying on your knowledge from previous jobs.

Be sure to include, if appropriate, estimates for sales allowances and returns, which you subtract from gross sales to calculate net sales.

Total Costs and Expenses

To make money, you must spend money– those are your costs and expenses. You should categorize your costs by type:

  1. Fixed costs: These are costs that remain the same independent of your sales numbers. They include rent, insurance, property taxes, leased furniture and so forth. While these costs are called fixed, they are not carved in granite. “Fixed” just means that it will take a while (up to a year and maybe longer) to change these costs.
  2. Variable costs: These are costs that vary directly with sales volume. They include the costs of merchandise, raw materials, labor, utilities, freight, inventory and alike.
  3. Semi-variable costs: These are costs that can slowly vary with the volume of business. For instance, they include the costs of salaries, marketing, communications and various elements of overhead.

Profits

Profits, or net income, are revenues minus all expenses. Ultimately, your business won’t succeed unless it can generate profits. Your budget should include estimated  interest and income tax expenses when projecting profits. If your budget tells you that it will take years before you might begin making profits, you should re-evaluate your business model and see if you can operate until the profits begin rolling in.

Projected Cash Flows

Lack of profits can slowly poison your business. Lack of cash can stab it in the heart. Your cash flows revolve around collections and disbursements. The timing of both will reveal whether your cash inflows and outflows align. To some extent, you can try to accelerate collections and delay disbursements when revenues fall short or unexpected expenses arise. Your budget will indicate when you might have to inject more cash into your business, either by contributing additional capital or taking out a loan. If the latter is required, contact us at IOU Financial for a quick working capital loan on easy terms and convenient daily repayments.

Budget Templates

You don’t have to build your budget from scratch. We recommend our Business Budget Smart Sheet, which will help you analyze your spending patterns, streamline areas of overspending, gauge the cash flow impact of fixed and variable costs, and much more.

Small Business Owner’s Guide to Podcast Marketing

 Small businesses need to find their voice. Building a loyal audience and customer base around your brand has never been as important as it is today. In modern business, content marketing plays an essential role in promoting your company’s mission and vision and stats tell the tale. Content marketing is used by 86% of B2C marketers, while that number rises to 91% for B2B marketers.It seems that as long as you have something relevant to say and are willing to present it in an attractive manner, your message will be heard.

On the road to discovering your company’s voice, you might want to speak up! One of the more attractive methods of content marketing is, in fact, podcast marketing. Now sure, not everyone will feel comfortable exposing themselves directly to an audience but there are a bunch of reasons why you should give podcasting a go.

For starters, podcasts are becoming more important because they are both a great source of entertainment but also an amazing educational tool. It is a great way to build a close relationship with your audience. Another benefit is that podcasting as a medium of communication is a lot more engaging than some other forms used for content marketing. Finally, making a podcast allows you to perfect your public speaking skills in a safe environment where you control what part of the conversation actually gets released.

How to Make a Podcast

You should know that even though the process might seem complicated, it’s very easy to grasp once you’ve understood the basics.

The Technical Aspect

The most fundamental piece of equipment you’ll need is something to record yourself speaking, meaning a microphone and some basic recording software. Everything else, from studio headphones to sound design software, is there to help you achieve certain levels of production quality. As your need for production quality grows, so will the need for investing additional resources. For example, let’s say you’re looking to go with a video version as well since YouTube is a great place for promoting your podcast. Like all of your company videos, you’ll need to work on giving it a professional look, which will require more investments like getting the right video recording and editing equipment, setting up a place to shoot, etc.

If you’re only starting out, try to determine a standard that you’re satisfied with while staying within budget. The production quality of your podcast is only a small portion of the story.

Content and format

With technicalities out of the way, you need to focus on the format of the show and the content of your episodes. Will it be hosted by more than one person? Are you going to have guests on? Once you’ve determined the format, you have to prepare and research what type of content would be most relevant to the audience you’d like to gather around your show.

SEO is an important part of running a small business in general, but it can add incredible value to your podcast marketing too. For instance, by researching keywords, you’ll be able to define the questions your audience needs answered and you’ll get to do the answering. It will also be of help when you’re optimizing your show notes. If you place your podcast on your website as well, each page should be optimized in order to improve its ranking. If you’re able to afford it, you can even consider adding a transcript of the full show.

Podcast Promotion

Once you’ve produced your podcast, you’ll need to upload it to relevant platforms such as iTunes, Libsyn or PodBean. However, developing a strategy for promoting your podcast is the final piece of the puzzle which will make all the difference.

Social Media Platforms

Using social media to promote your podcast is a must. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram will help you build a community while enabling direct contact with your audience. Your episodes are a great source of promotional material, meaning you can use it to create quotes, sound bites, promotional posters, trailers, infographics or anything that your audience might engage with. Once you’ve gathered a significant following, you can include your followers in the production of the show. They can suggest topics for future episodes or you can even create a special, periodical Q&A show where you’ll answer their questions and give them a shout out.

Be My Guest and I’ll Be Yours

Having guests come on your show has great promotional value. They usually have audiences of their own and you will access them via that episode. The size and the engagement level of their audience is an important parameter to take into account when inviting people on your podcast. Bear in mind that they’ll be looking at your reach as well.

Aside from having guests on, you can also make guest appearances on other people’s shows. The same benefits apply here and this is an aspect of podcast marketing that doesn’t require for you to have a podcast of your own. In order to make the most out of each appearance, keep a couple of things in mind. Make sure you go on shows that have an audience which is likely to respond positively to your brand, service or product. It’s also essential that you have your company’s online information in order since your contacts, website, and social media profiles will be available in the show notes. Lastly, consider making a discount offer that only the listeners of the show can use, by offering a promo code or sharing a special landing page. That way, you’ll not only entice them to become paying customers but you can also measure the influence of each individual appearance.

Advertising Your Podcast vs. Podcast Advertising

Paying for ads to boost the growth of your podcast is great if you can set aside a budget for it. But for small business owners, podcasts are more of a promotional tool rather and that money is usually reserved to be spent elsewhere.

Podcast advertising, on the other hand, can be quite useful in more ways than one. If your audience is large and engaged enough, you can start monetizing your podcast by selling ad spots to other companies. Still, if you don’t have your own podcast, you can advertise your company on other people’s shows and reach new customers that way.

Guest Post: About the Author

Mark is a biz-dev hero at Invoicebus – a simple invoicing service that gets your invoices paid faster. He passionately blogs on topics that help small biz owners succeed in their business. He is also a lifelong learner who practices mindfulness and enjoys long walks in nature more than anything else.

5 Ways You Can Increase Employee Productivity

Are you the type of boss that wants to walk into an office with happy and energetic employees? Do you want to be certain that your staff members are meeting deadlines and contributing their fare share to the workload? Do you want to increase profits and take over the market share in your industry?

All of these objectives are only possible for companies that have truly productive employees. If you feel that your team can use some help in this area, utilize the 5 ways listed below.

Prevent Burnout

Employers highly rely on their highest performing employees with the most tasks as well as leading other team members. However, did you know that one in five of the top employees feel highly burnt out on the job?

Burnout leads even the most invested employees to become extremely stressed out, tired and disengaged. Although you want to make sure your staff members are working at optimal levels, it’s important to review the hours they spend in the office each week and make adjustments for extremely busy schedules.

Productivity Tools

Using technological solutions to promote productivity amongst your employees is extremely advantageous. For example, software such as Slack allows users to streamline communication through video-calling, file-sharing, direct messaging and notifications all in one platform. This saves time because one no longer needs to search in the inbox for lost emails, and all forms of communication are stored on a single channel in a message-forum format.

Performance Reviews

In order for your team members to be motivated to work hard, they need to know that management is aware of their efforts and appreciates it. Even the hardest working employee is likely to slack off if they feel that no one is watching.

Conducting regular performance reviews is an excellent way to work together with each employee to set individual and group goals, monitor performance and give your feedback. This way, the top performers will get positive feedback, encouraging them to persist in their work efforts, while others can get help and mentorship to improve in their weakest areas.

Contests

Healthy competition can do wonders to encourage even the most unproductive individual to improve. There are many ways you can create this in your corporate culture, from an employee of the month program to a simple contest specifically for each department.

Why not offer a $200 gift card to the top selling customer service rep for the month of June? Another great idea is offering a paid day off to a CPA who can file the most tax returns in a quarter.

Room for Growth

If you would like your employees to do their best for you, you must recognize and reward their efforts by helping them. A company that places a lot of value in helping their employees advance in their careers by promoting from within will have the best results in productivity improvement.

When the people that work for you know that when they work hard they will gain more responsibility and a higher paycheck, they will be more invested in their jobs.

There are many more ways that you can promote productivity in your office. The main thing to remember is to be involved in the daily operations of your company and motivate your staff.

 

8 Great Lead Generation Tactics for Your Small Business

Even if a company has a winning product, a top-notch customer service model and a team full of overachievers, it won’t go far if nobody knows about it. While the way we generate leads is rapidly evolving, the goal remains the same for small business entrepreneurs: to grow business without maxing out the budget. Thankfully, there are dozens of amazing ways savvy small business marketers can tout their businesses on a dime, thanks in large part to the power of the internet. The best part is, digital marketing has leveled the playing field significantly, so smaller companies can compete with the big guys in powerful ways. Here’s how the best brands are doing it.

Act as the Expert: Try Content Marketing

Content marketing means creating and sharing industry-related content—guest articles, blogs, videos, infographics, etc.—that may be of value to a potential lead. This type of marketing is all the rage, and it works. In fact, according to Marketo, 93 percent of business-to-business companies say that content marketing generates more leads than traditional marketing. On top of that, the pros report that content marketing strategies can earn you three times as many leads as traditional outbound strategies but at a cost savings of 62 percent. There’s no reason why any company should skip this high-yielding tactic.

Rely on Leaders: Advertise on the Right Platforms

Today’s lead generation efforts are all about streamlining and creating hyper-targeted advertisements (more on that below). And with so many industry-specific platforms out there, it’s easier than ever to get the word out about your product or service, so long as you select the right ones. Rather than casting a wide net on social media, take your ads to websites and apps that serve your ideal customer. If you’re in real estate, place ads on Zillow, Redfin and Trulia. If you’re a contractor or a carpenter, funnel some of your dollars into HomeAdvisor, Thumbtack or Angie’s List. There’s a site for just about everything these days.

Market Smart: Tout Your Strengths

If you work in an industry that’s especially competitive where you live, you have to come up with a special formula that can’t be replicated by others. One of the best ways to do this is to play heavily to your strengths and what sets you apart. Advertise why you’re the best choice. Perhaps you earned a special award in your region, or you’re known for completing work in half the time as the other guys. Make sure that the copy on your ads reflects the things that make you different from the competition.

Go Digital: Try Targeted Marketing

Gone are the days of casting a wide net in the newspaper or on TV and hoping blindly for big returns. Now, you can zoom in on your target consumer and play only to him or her. By studying the demographics of your highest value customers, you can create a customer persona that you can then use to advertise on social media, Google Ads and other platforms. These days, you can advertise to very specific users by age, gender, household income, education level and even hobbies and interests. Make sure to capitalize on this opportunity if you’re able to carve out a basic persona of your core customer.

 

Put Yourself Out There: Attend Industry Events

With buzzwords like targeted marketing and search engine optimization(SEO) dominating the sales dialogue, it’s easy to forget that good, old-fashioned networking still works, too. The fact of the matter is that attending industry events is especially effective in certain industries, especially business-to-business fields and niche markets. Attending trade shows, conferences and even industry happy hours gives you the chance to demo your product or service, to make a personal impression and to connect with others with whom you can forge valuable long-term business partnerships. Take it up another level by hosting your own industry event, and make sure to blast it on email and through social media to get the word out.

Go Word of Mouth: Implement a Referral Program

You spend a lot of time ensuring that your customers are happy, so they share your company with their friends and write good reviews online. But, without an incentive, most people won’t go out of their way to share information about your business with those around them, which is why implementing a referral program could be well worth your while. It’s simple: referrals work, with customers being four times more likely to make a purchase when referred to by a friend and referred customers bringing as much as a 37 percent higher retention rate.

Share the Love: Forge Partnerships with Other Businesses

As they say, business begets business. Cozy up with other business owners and entrepreneurs in your industry or area in order to create high-value partnerships that could pay you back royally. Sharing leads and going in on advertising efforts—such as collaboratively sponsoring an advertising campaign or working on a special offer for customers of both companies—can help you earn your company twice the business at half the price. Remember: it takes a village to run a business!

Let Them Come to You: Leverage SEO

Last but not least, don’t miss your opportunity to garner attention from Google and other search engines through SEO. Boosting your website’s SEO performance can ensure that it appears at the top of the search engine results page (SERP) when someone queries your business and related keywords. Follow SEO best practices, like including keywords in your website and creating high-quality, original copy for each page, in order to trigger Google to rank your page higher.

Guest Post: About the Author 

Jason brings 15 years of deep technology, product development, and marketing experience to Surety Bonds Direct. He has been leveraging Agile practices for well over a decade and is versed in various Lean practices as well. Jason has worked on substantial and complex systems dealing with secure information ranging from payroll and employee systems, to e-commerce, to travel-reservation APIs.

What Your Business MUST be Doing to Stand Out on Social Media

With billions of people logging into social media networks worldwide, by now every business owner must know the importance of having a brand presence on social media. In fact, 94% of all small businesses have at least one social media account. The frustrating factor for many small and medium-sized business owners is that between the short attention span of online users and the competition in your niche segment, it is extremely difficult to engage with your target audience.

Giving up hope is not an option; however utilizing strategies to stand out on social media is imperative. Read on to find out what you must be doing to stand out on social media.

Hire an Influencer

If your company does not have a large online following, you can acquire new leads by paying someone who has a relationship with thousands or millions of people online. This process involves paying an influencer, such as an actor or actress or a YouTube or Instagram celebrity to promote your business on their page or your page.

Businesses with smaller budgets may not be able to afford hiring a true celebrity, but the good news is that “mid-level influencers like bloggers…{can} drive 16 times more engagement than paid media and ‘mega influencers’,” according to a source.

Interact with your Audience

For most people, social media is an abyss where they like and share images and leave comments with no response. If you want to set your company apart from your competition, take the time to interact with your audience.

If you foster communication by asking questions and  requesting feedback, you will make your followers feel appreciated and important. Having the ability to contact the owner of the company and ask questions and recommendations about the products or services offered will generate  more leads and increase your profits.

Put a Face to your Name

All humans are looking for a connection, and it’s very difficult to connect with a business. Therefore, putting your face to the your company name will present the human side of your brand to your followers.

Sharing your story, your troubles and tribulations and your ultimate success can create a story for your audience and foster engagement. This will set you apart from many other companies that are just on social media to promote their offerings.

Use Images

Images are the clear winners of social media content because they’re easily digested, break up word related content and are easier to remember. Utilizing high-resolution images with bright and interesting colors will definitely stand out in the sea of social media content.

Consider creating a theme or a color palette to create images that tell a certain story and are easier to associate with your brand, thus making them easier spot and harder to forget.

To create maximum exposure for your social media presence, it can help to pay for advertising and marketing. IOU Financial is ready to partner with you to make this dream a reality. Contact us to find out how we can approve you for a small business loan this week. Visit www.ioufinancial.com

 

How to Create Loyal Ecommerce Customers Through Relationship Building

Every small business owner knows building relationships is the best way to cultivate repeat customers. But how are you supposed to develop relationships with new customers when your only interaction is a short ecommerce sales cycle? Our advice will help you draw first-time customers to your online store and convince them to return to your small business again and again.

Getting Customers In the Virtual Door

Before you can cultivate repeat customers, you need to attract first-time shoppers. If you have an online store that’s not getting much traffic, ask yourself if your site has these essential features:

A great user experience: An ecommerce store must be both pleasant to look at and easy to navigate. Unless you’re an experienced web and graphic designer, a website builder with ecommerce support is the best way to build a mobile-friendly ecommerce site free of problems that drive customers away.

Compelling, consistent branding: Your brand isn’t just your name and logo. It’s also the colors you use, your typography, and your tone of voice. Keep these elements consistent across your ecommerce site to build a strong online brand.

Reviews and ratings: Along with detailed product descriptions, product reviews generate customer trust. A first-time shopper is more likely to make a purchase if they see that other customers are happy with the product and service.

Fast and easy checkout: Nearly 70% of shoppers abandon their cart before making a purchase due to inconvenient checkout processes. Lose fewer customers by allowing for guest checkout, flexible payment options, and fast and free shipping. Ensure your checkout process is secure, and let customers know by displaying security badges like VeriSign.

Retaining Customers for the Long Term

A shopper’s first purchase gives you an “in.” Now, what will you do with it?

Email marketing: If you collect email addresses (and you should!), email marketing is an easy choice. Email marketing is a casual, low-cost way to build trust in your brand and entice customers to shop. Email marketing can be used for advertising, storytelling, and informing, but the best email marketing campaigns combine a variety of content types.

Making an ask: When you want to get more creative, try asking for help. It’s well-known that asking for favors builds interpersonal relationships, and that same tactic can be applied in ecommerce. Small favors like completing a survey, leaving a review, or tagging a friend in a social media post are a great place to start, but don’t be afraid of bigger asks. Crowdfunding is a surprisingly effective way to get customers emotionally invested in your small business, especially when you offer incentives for their support. And especially for small businesses, it’s also a viable form of small business funding.

Establishing authority: You also need to focus on building authority in your niche. This is especially important if you’re in an industry with a lot of competition. Establishing authority encourages buyers to trust you over other brands, which means they’ll not only buy again, they’ll tell their friends about your business. Content is the go-to strategy for building authority. Post informative, relevant content on your site, and share guest posts on other websites your customers visit. Another innovate strategy is expert reviews— instead of you telling customers why your products are worth buying, get a trusted industry name to do it!

The biggest mistake ecommerce first-timers make is assuming that a great product is enough for a successful store. But just like brick-and-mortar businesses, ecommerce isn’t just about what you sell, but how you sell it. By putting customer needs first and building relationships every step of the way, you can turn e-commerce into a major asset for your small business.

Guest Post: About the Author

Lucy Reed considers herself an entrepreneur since she was a kid, from the lemonade stand she opened in her parent’s driveway at age 10 to the dog walking business she started while in college. She created the site GigMine.co to help like-minded business people take advantage of the growing sharing economy. 

Short-Term vs. Long-Term Marketing: How to Optimize Both Strategies

Marketing is an essential pursuit for all companies, creating brand awareness for new customers, generating leads and engaging existing customers to keep them loyal. There are numerous marketing strategies, channels and goals—depending on the needs of the company.

Do you have a new product coming out? Did you just reach a significant milestone? Are you trying to breach a new market? These are all goals that may require different marketing strategies.

Marketing can be divided into short-term and long-term. Let’s discuss both to give you a more comprehensive understanding of which one (or both) is right for your business objectives.

Short-Term Marketing

Short-term marketing, also known as operational or tactical marketing, is a plan for up to one year. This method is typically implemented to promote sales and promotions, new products and services and other events foreseen in the next month to 12 months.

Short-term marketing includes a detailed action plan of the type of marketing (online, print, paid, organic, etc)., who will carry out the strategies, a budget, a sales forecast and expected reach and profit.

Examples of short-term marketing include:

  • Price promotions
  • Discounts to certain groups (military, teachers)
  • Trade shows

Long-Term Marketing

Long-term marketing is a strategy that outlays more general objectives for the next 10 years. Although short-term marketing is easier to conceptualize as it focuses on the now; once you have announced a new merger or heralded a new acquisition, what comes next?

Every company needs to have a long-term marketing plan that keeps the brand fresh and relevant in the eyes of the customers. Long term marketing is beneficial to improve on existing messaging, figure out what works and what doesn’t and optimize leads and conversions.

Examples of long-term marketing include:

  • Public Relations (PR)
  • Social media
  • Paid search engine optimization (SEO)

Best of Both

For the best ROI in marketing strategies, it is advantageous to have a detailed marketing plan. Start by identifying your target audience (who you want your messages to reach), research your competition, create a clear message and establish a budget.

Depending on these factors, outline your goals and decide which can benefit from short-term marketing (announcing a sale or growing your leads) or long-term marketing (promoting loyalty within your established network).

It’s important to keep both visions in mind when designating resources to any marketing goal. If you allocate all your funds to a short-term strategy, you may not have enough to dedicate to future growth. On the other hand, if you only think about the distant future, you may not generate enough profits to sustain your company in the short-term.

If you need financial assistance to invest in a short-term or long term-marketing plan that you feel can take your business to the next level, consider getting a small business loan. IOU Financial works with companies to help them reach their goals. Contact us today to inquire about our easy, secure and fast loans that can be funded in as little as 48 hours.