How to Increase Your Visitor-to-Lead Conversion Rate

Website traffic is an important metric that reflects the relevance, popularity, and engagement levels of your small business. More people on your site means that you’ve optimized your site very well with ample content and keyword implementation, technical specs, and other nuances that elevate your site’s ranking. It gives you a competitive edge, and it lets you connect with more people in your audience. Their presence is another representation of your standing, but it’s far from the only metric that you should keep an eye on when you’re growing your business.

Transforming that initial spark of curiosity into actual sign-ups and purchases is a whole other issue for small companies, seeking to improve their conversion rate and their customer loyalty. To turn your website visitors into genuine, qualified leads, buyers, and subscribers, you need a targeted strategy for your business. Here are a few steps to consider that can help you boost your CRO and make use of all that traffic on your site!

Implement site-wide CTAs

Website visitors want a sleek, simple, no-fuss experience every time they find themselves perusing your pages. However, some incentive is always a good idea, especially when you know how to effectively scatter call-to-action buttons that inspire them to subscribe or make a purchase. Your CTAs need to be simple, brief, but also clear so that your visitors will know what they should do next.

Your blog posts, your product descriptions, videos, images, all of your content on your site is an opportunity to place an effective CTA that will generate better leads. Use your FAQ page to link back to relevant pages, and post CTAs to entice people to decide with ease. Sometimes, a powerful CTA will do you more good than an entire blog post about the perks of your specific product range.

 

Use social proof to your advantage

Every small business owner knows that building credibility takes time and dedication, not to mention numerous strategies for effective marketing, branding, and communication with your audience. But leveraging your existing credibility is possible when you use tech to show your website visitors that they can trust you like so many others already do. This phenomenon is called social proof, and there are tools that serve to showcase social proof to your website visitors that also help convert more people into leads and buyers.

Small businesses can benefit from integrating a conversion rate optimization tool into their website so as to present social proof to each visitor in a simple, but effective way. The tool will generate notifications every time someone makes a purchase and let your browsing visitors know – this will, in turn, help them take the leap and buy from your business thanks to those brief social cues that others have done the same.

Publish customer reviews

Building trust is the key prerequisite for earning more leads, let alone more purchases and long-term loyalty. In addition to social proof and showing that others have successfully purchased from you, user-generated content is one of the most effective ways to showcase previous customers’ trust and inspire more people to feel comfortable trusting your brand. Wondering where to begin? Start with publishing up-to-date and relevant customer reviews on your site.

Yes, those on Google are also important for your SEO purposes, but make sure that your website visitors are greeted with a few words of encouragement from your previous customers, too. In addition to having a dedicated page for customer reviews, you can publish them right next to products they purchased for further trust-building, and play them on a reel on your homepage, too. Star ratings work well when combined with written reviews and testimonials, but you can also add video reviews from customers as well as influencers.

Rely on regular analytics

To nurture better leads, you need to understand where your tactics might be going wrong in the beginning. In addition to regular A/B testing of your landing pages, you should also keep tracking engagement rates and conversions across your website, too. With that kind of data at your disposal, you can spot the kind of CTAs, product descriptions, landing pages, and other content that have the most effect on your website visitors to actually engage with your brand.

This is the only way to notice if a certain page keeps “losing” visitors and sending them off your site because of too many distractions, a popup that’s annoying them, or a misleading invite to make a purchase. Measure and record the results of each of your campaigns, and keep an eye on the performance of every single part of your site. That will help you gain the necessary data to tweak the entire website for better lead conversion.

Conversion rate optimization is highly dependent on data and customer behavior, but also your own creativity and persistence when it comes to refining your approach over time. Customers change and their preferences change with them, so keeping up with their needs is a key piece of the puzzle. Plus, continuously monitoring industry trends is necessary for your small business to stay competitive since there will always be more eager businesses joining the playing field. Turn more website visitors into quality leads and buyers, and you’ll also improve your customer loyalty and your brand reputation over time.

Guest Post: About the Author

Sophia Smith is a lifestyle and social media blogger, and graphic and UX designer. She is an aesthete and photography lover by heart who absolutely loves everything that includes visual communication. Sophia is also very passionate about yoga and mindful living. Lately, she writes about digital marketing topics, from content to social. She has contributed to a number of publications including Women Love Tech, Leader Maker, Legal Reader, Businessing Mag, Ruby Connection, Cause Artist, and many others. You can find out more about her writing by following her on Twitter. 

How to Negotiate Rent on Commercial Spaces

When it comes to finding a lease there will be several things on your mind; location, size, affordability, and condition to name a few. But, when it comes to renting out commercial spaces the affordability factor becomes a much more important thing to consider. The fact of the matter is that you need to understand not only how much the rent is, but all of the other costs involved in running a commercial space as well. It can quickly mount up.

This is why, when it comes to a commercial lease, negotiation is a key factor and something you should consider doing. As, if successful, you can easily assure a much safer financial setting for yourself.

So, with that in mind, here are the key ways to ensure you get a good rate when negotiating rent for your commercial space:

What is a Commercial Rental Lease?

A commercial lease is a formal, legally binding, rental agreement between your business and a landlord. The commercial lease is something that allows you to use a space for business activity in return for money.

What is the Difference from a Private Lease?

When it comes to setting up a lease, there is a difference between a private tenant lease and one taken out by a company. The underlying foundation of both is fairly simple: the exchange of money for the use of a property for a set period of time. But, there tends to be much more flexibility and less government-enforced protections for a commercial tenancy. A business tenant is expected to take on much more responsibility and have a higher understanding, especially in comparison to first-time renters, for example.

For this reason, a commercial tenancy is more likely to be negotiable in terms of renting prices and terms. As it is more of a business arrangement than a regular residential lease is set out to be.

Things to Look Out For

Some of the biggest factors when it comes to commercial leases that are important to be aware of are the factors that can affect rent… or may mean financial payouts at a later date. This includes factors such as:

  • Rent Reviews – these can quickly raise the price of your rent and perhaps make the lease completely unaffordable. If you have a rent freeze clause for several years, it is important to know when the review is expected, as you can then determine your financial standing before the increase.
  • Underletting – sometimes a commercial lease doesn’t always work out. Not all businesses last beyond their first two years or so. It’s important to understand if you have options in case this happens. A good choice would be to underlet the space to a different company. But, beware–you are still liable even when you underlet!
  • Breaking the Lease – in some instances, ending a commercial lease early may be necessary. To protect your business you should always try to ensure there is a break clause that will allow you to break the lease early. This can save you financially, as otherwise you would be held liable for rent until the very end of the lease.

It is important to understand these terms and know the financial implications.

Tips for Negotiating your Commercial Rent

Once you understand the basics of a commercial lease, it is then a simple case of actually negotiating it. This can be quite a long process and you are not always guaranteed success. But, if you do manage to secure a reduced rate it can be incredibly beneficial to your long-term business finances.

  • Understand the costs and try to research the area. If the rent seems a little steep in comparison to the competition, then mention it – you may get a discounted rate to match the market!
  • Get a professional opinion. At the end of the day, you won’t find the best rate unless you involve a professional expert to advise on the issue.
  • Do not agree to pay legal fees for both parties, as the landlord should be able to cover their own costs.
  • Understand the extent of the reparation clause in your agreement and what this means for you from a monetary standpoint. Don’t immediately agree to fix everything at the end of your tenancy, as this could mean much more than you expect!
  • There may be some different ways that a landlord may wish to entice you to rent with them. So, ensure you ask about any potential inducements (it may not be money, but it could be a sweet deal).

When it comes to a commercial lease, assume everything is up for negotiation if you have certain needs or want something slightly different. As a tenant, the negotiation process is almost always in your favor so it’s a good position to be in. But, if you feel unsure or unable to negotiate, you can always get someone on your side to help/do it for you.

In these cases, you will end up paying for their expertise. So remember to weigh out their costs vs. the savings you are achieving to determine if it is worthwhile or not.

Final Thoughts

Overall, when you are starting or moving a business into its first official commercial space, it’s important to be aware of your position and how best to take advantage of it. Especially when negotiating your lease, as it could mean a great deal of savings/benefits for your small business.

Guest Post: About the Author

Natalie Wilson is a freelance writer for a number of different business publications. With a range of knowledge in the business and insurance sector, she is an avid researcher and writer in the commercial property valuation field. Natalie is now a freelance writer looking to specialize in the topic. You can connect with her on Twitter.

6 Ways eCommerce Businesses Can Cut Their Shipping Costs

Shipping can either make or break new eCommerce businesses. Massive corporations like Walmart and Amazon have shipping down to an exact science, with order fulfillment centers all over the country. Amazon already accounts for around 40 percent of all online sales. To compete, small businesses need to find a way to get their products to consumers quickly without charging them a fortune in shipping. In fact, 28 percent of online shoppers abandon carts because of unexpected shipping costs. When it comes to winning over new consumers, new e-retailers need to do everything they can to lower the cost of shipping without impacting the overall quality of their delivery services. Here are six tips for cutting shipping costs in the eCommerce industry.

Purchase Used Shipping Materials

It all starts with finding the right shipping materials. Companies looking to save money on their shipping costs should consider purchasing used shipping containers. Consumers don’t really care how their packages arrive as long as the product is intact and arrives on time. Purchasing used plastic containers, gaylord boxes and other shipping materials can help these companies save a fortune over time. Many of these containers will just end up being recycled or disposed of eventually so this is one of the best places to reduce costs. Companies can even label their used shipping containers to create more brand awareness. It’s just about finding low-cost materials that keep the company’s products secure.

Print Labels at Home or the Office

Companies can also print their shipping labels at home instead of going to the post office. Websites like Stamps.com make it easy to print shipping labels, which saves the company a trip to the post office. They can have the carrier pick up the package right from their home, office or warehouse without having to worry about pick-ups and drop-offs. If the retailer is using a sales platform, they can connect this software to their printer and the machine will automatically print off shipping labels every time a new order comes in. When getting products out the door as fast as possible is the only way to succeed in the eCommerce industry, companies should try to shave off as much time as they can from the order fulfillment process.

Reduce Package Size and Weight

Most package carriers like UPS, FedEx, and the U.S. Post Office will charge companies for shipping based on the size and weight of their packages. Companies should find shipping containers that match the size of their products, so they don’t end up overpaying for shipping. They still need to leave room for packaging materials that keep their products safe, but the smaller the container, the less the company will end up paying for shipping.

Retailers should also look for lightweight used shipping materials such as cardboard boxes and plastic totes. Reducing the overall weight of the package can be just as important as its size when it comes to trimming costs. To keep their items safe, retailers can use recycled shipping materials like recycled newspaper, cardboard pellets, and other low-cost items. These materials tend to weigh less than other types of shipping materials and they cost less upfront as well. Not to mention they’re also good for the environment.

Partner with Regional or Local Carriers Whenever Possible

While UPS and FedEx might seem like the obvious choice when it comes to shipping, there are other carrier services that might charge less. Companies should spend some time researching the carriers in their area until they find the lowest possible price. They can even use this research as leverage to negotiate with carriers, especially if they plan on shipping out hundreds of items per year.

Some regional and local carriers may only serve a certain part of the country, but if the company’s consumers also happen to live in this area, it might be the company’s best choice when it comes to shipping. Some smaller carriers are doing everything they can to compete with the likes of UPS and FedEx, so some companies might be able to negotiate a lower price, considering the carrier will be grateful for their business.

Purchase Insurance from a Third Party

Depending on the overall value of the package in question, some retailers may want to get insurance for their packages, or at least offer their consumers the option. While signing up for shipping insurance through a major carrier like UPS might be more convenient in the moment, going to a third party can help these companies save money. Third-party shipping insurance providers usually offer a lower rate than some of the biggest carriers in town. Retailers should establish a lasting relationship with an insurance provider, so they can quickly insure their packages without having to go through a carrier like UPS. If the company is doing a lot of shipping, they might be able to negotiate a lower rate per package.

Be Aware of Hidden Fees

There are all kinds of hidden fees involved in shipping, especially if the company is shipping to a remote area or a foreign country. Having the customer sign for packages, shipping insurance, rush hour surcharges and more could easily inflate the cost of shipping. Most consumers don’t want to deal with these kinds of fees. They just want to see “Free Shipping” and move along with their day. That’s why the retailer should do this research beforehand, calculating the entire cost of the shipment instead of surprising the customer with a last-minute fee. Retailers should try to find carriers that limit these kinds of fees altogether

Final Thoughts

Reducing the cost of shipping is about more than saving retailers money. Low-cost, reliable shipping is one of the only ways these companies can compete with massive e-retailers like Amazon and Walmart. The more a retailer can save on shipping, the more they can pass on these savings to the consumer.

Guest Post: About the Author


David Madden is an efficiency expert, as well as being the Founder and President of Container Exchanger. His passion and business is to save companies money through the use of used reusable and repurposed industrial packaging such as plastic and metal bulk containers, gaylord boxes, bulk bags, pallets, IBC totes, and industrial racks. He holds an MBA as well as a certificate from Daimler Chrysler Quality Institute for completion of six-sigma black belt training.

10 Ways to Get Traffic to Your Website

The buzz word for increasing sales and conversions for any website is traffic, traffic, traffic. As a small business owner, one of the most significant digital assets you have is your website.

When it comes to driving quality traffic to your small business website, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. There is also no single set-it-and-forget-it tool that is capable of driving quality traffic to your site on auto-pilot.

You’ll need to combine a mix of different channels and approaches with the aim of driving the right visitors to your website, increasing conversions, engagement, and sales for your small business.

In today’s online business world, competition is cut-throat. The internet today has over 1.5 billion websites, and over 200 million are active. How can you generate the much-needed quality traffic to ensure that your small business stands out like the North Star?

As a small business owner, you may not have the big marketing budget to undertake expensive marketing campaigns and paid ads aimed at driving quality traffic to your website.

Are you looking for simple, budget-friendly, and highly effective ways to get more traffic to your small business website? Here are some guidelines you should consider.

Create quality content.

When it comes to generating the right traffic for your website, good quality content is sacrosanct. Content is indeed King, and it ranks as one of the top 5 factors for generating quality traffic to your website as outlined by Google.

You can use a mixture of short and long-form content, infographics, or video formats depending on the kind of audience or readers you are targeting with your content.

Your readers should also be able to share your content on various social media platforms easily. Including a share button in your content would be a great way to achieve that.

You can create top-quality content in various forms like;

  • Webinars
  • Whitepapers
  • Emails and Newsletters
  • Podcasts
  • Articles or Blog content
  • Videos
  • Infographics
  • eBooks, and many more.

Although you may not need to use all these formats, having a plethora of content formats at your disposal will help you to reach a wider audience. Good quality content is a great way to keep your visitors engaged.

Imbibe SEO best practices.

Making your website content friendly to search engines is a great way to drive quality traffic to your small business website. Make sure you leverage both off-page and on-page SEO to get the maximum benefits for your website. When it comes to maximizing SEO for your website, here are some must-haves you’ll need to consider;

  • Title tags: This is the unique title or clickable headline given to a particular web page on your website.
  • Meta Descriptions: This is a summary of about 155 characters that describes a particular web page.
  • Keywords: They are relevant words and phrases added to your online content to help improve rankings on search engines.
  • Image ALT tags: They are used to describe images on your website.

Optimizing your website with proper SEO practices is a great way to drive high-quality organic traffic to your site.

Use Hashtags.

Using hashtags in your posts on social media is a great way to extend your reach to a broader audience. When users search for products and services with your hashtags, you’ll get more quality traffic to your website.

Ensure your website is mobile-friendly.

There are lots of visitors who want to access your website through the use of their mobile phones, tablets, and other devices; you need to make sure that your website caters to their needs by ensuring that your website has a responsive design.

Research undertaken by Statista revealed that over 52% of website traffic was generated through mobile phones in 2018. Today, more and more users are accessing websites through their mobile devices; you don’t want to miss out on a large amount of traffic all because you do not have a mobile-friendly website.

To check the mobile-friendliness of your website, you can use this Google tool.

Use email marketing.

If you’re looking for a cost-effective way to drive quality, organic traffic to your website, then email marketing will quickly be your best friend. A lot of marketers today say that email marketing is dead, yet, it is still one of the most powerful tools to create awareness for your offer and drive a ton of traffic to your small business website.

Do you know that a staggering 72% of customers prefer to receive information about products and services through their emails? As a small business owner with a limited marketing budget, email marketing is a pocket-friendly approach you can use. If you are yet to take advantage of email marketing, you need to start building your email list now.

List Your Business on GMB, Bing Places, etc.

Creating and optimizing a free Google My Business (GMB) listing is a great way to drive traffic to your website. In fact, you can get as much as 7 times more visitors if your Google My Business listing is well optimized.

A lot of potential customers are looking for businesses daily on Google My Business and other online business directories such as Bing Places and Yelp. Make sure to link your website to these online business directories so that you can drive more traffic to your website and grow your business.

Leverage social video sites

Videos are valuable assets and great tools that can be used to attract new customers and keep your existing customers engaged. Thankfully, social video sites like YouTube or Vimeo are great platforms you can use to host your video content online.

When you create captivating and engaging video content, you can add your website address in the video description column on the social video site. This way, you’ll get traffic back to your website when visitors click on your website link.

Always make sure you post interesting, captivating, and informative video content online. Do not forget to include a call to action (CTA) so your audience can take a particular action.

Use Guest Blogging

Guest blogging is another way to increase traffic to your website. Guest post on reputable blogs in your niche; invite other prominent business owners in your niche to guest blog on your site. You can use both ways to drive blog traffic to your small business website.

You can post content on relevant blogs in the local language of your target audience with the help of online translation services like The Word Point and other brands. Guest blogging also portrays you as an industry leader in your niche.

Be Active on Social Media

The enormous role played by social media in driving traffic to websites of business owners and entrepreneurs cannot be over-emphasized. Your social media audience can quickly become visitors to your website when you share engaging content on your social media page from time to time.

As a small business owner, you should endeavor to maximize the use of top-performing social sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Linkedin, etc. Being active on social media is also a cost-effective way for you to interact with your target audience and build a community of loyal customers.

A survey carried out by Campaign Monitor revealed that 69.6% of small business owners use Facebook to drive traffic to their website, while 48.3% and 47% of small business owners use Instagram and Twitter, respectively.

Build Backlinks

Create links on other reputable websites of industry influencers in your niche that points back to your site. This way, your business is exposed to a larger audience, and your website will reap the benefits in terms of quality traffic.

Moreover, when reputable websites link to your small business website, Google trusts your site more. Here are some link building strategies that you can use to kick start your link building campaign;

  • Ask your friends to refer to your website from theirs.
  • Have a working business relationship with other brands.
  • List your business on reputable and trustworthy online business directories such as Yelp, Thumbtack, Yellow Pages, Better Business Bureau, etc.
  • Post content on aggregator websites like Reddit, Popurls, AllTop, Feedly, etc.

Wrapping things up

Generating quality traffic to grow your small business website can seem like a hard nut to crack if you do not know how to go about it.

If you do not want your website to become a glorified business card, then you need to start using the tips mentioned above to ensure that your website gets the right amount of traffic.

One thing is certain; you need to find ways to grow your small business irrespective of the marketing budget available to you. You need to start seeing good returns from your small business website, and generating quality traffic is one way to ensure that this happens.

Guest Post: About the Author

Thomas Lore is a 23-year old translator. He is also a creative and diligent freelance blogger, who is always seeking for new ways to improve himself. Thomas is very versatile and he wants to reach the tops with his writing skills.

Business on a Budget: Smart Spending Tips for Business Owners

For new and experienced business owners, balancing income and expenditures is never as easy as it seems. There is a qualitative cost to every decision made, and extreme cost-saving measures can make it hard to attract employees. Spending too little on marketing can cause a business to become invisible to potential customers, too.

Short-term profits can inspire investor confidence but sustaining a company over the long term requires a different kind of thinking. Retaining employees that can grow a company is hard, especially in an era when the internet allows employees to search for a new job with a click of a button. Employees need to be motivated to maximize their output—and that motivation often comes from feeling like they’re being invested in.

Cutting corners isn’t worth it if it kills a business’s image or employee morale. Here are the basic ways owners can spend their money wisely while still investing in the future.

Employee Benefits That Matter

Sometimes business leaders assume that “networking opportunities” are a great way to attract young professionals. While this is true for extroverts who want to build a name for themselves, many entry-level employees are more concerned with basics like health insurance. Older employees may also be seeking good 401k contributions, and time off matters to employees who have kids or want to travel—but one thing is for sure: Free luncheons and gym memberships don’t retain employees.

Health insurance is expensive, but it’s a much better use of money than catered networking events and yoga classes. Even if your labor force isn’t facing a high turnover right now, remember that employees’ priorities change as they have families or start to face health problems. They may seem to enjoy working for you, but they may seek out employers that offer better health insurance benefits, leaving you scrambling to find their replacements.

Keep Travel Costs Low

Travel can seem like an inevitable cost of wooing new clients and establishing trust with suppliers, but now it can often be replaced with video calls. While sometimes in-person meetings are necessary for inspecting supplier facilities or other manufacturing-related work, they are often just to make meetings clearer and more efficient than the standard conference call. Video calls offer a perfect balance of coordinated visuals and reduced costs for all parties. Travel can also burn out employees with families at home, so it’s not always a perk that attracts or motivates employees.

If clients begin to expect visits from executives, then it can be hard to stop those visits later on, so it may be best not to start them in the first place. Plus, the money saved by minimizing travel can be passed on to customers. Since travel is such an avoidable cost, it makes sense to keep it low at first, and then increase that budget if managers insist that it is needed.

Buy in Bulk

While buying in bulk requires some foresight and planning, it can be well worth it in the long run. Basic office staples like paper and printer ink cartridges have a near-indefinite shelf life, so stocking up on them is an excellent option for reducing long-term costs. It can also make it more worthwhile for you to do specific tasks in-house—like printing large quantities of newsletters and other essential documents.

Coffee and other cheap food items should be kept around the office as well. Instead of having someone run out for coffee ahead of meetings, encourage employees to use a basic stock of coffee, sugar, and creamer to avoid wasting time or being late for the meeting. For employees who are on a deadline or simply forgot to eat lunch, having granola bars stashed in the kitchen can make a huge difference in how quickly they’re able to get back to work.

Avoid Catering

Catered lunches are nice for meetings on a tight schedule, but they’re ultimately a waste of money. In many metro areas, even having sandwiches and chips delivered can cost over $15 per serving. Pizza can be cheaper but can still add up to hundreds of dollars per month for large departments.

Catering is only necessary for meetings with clients when the meeting location is far from most lunch options. It’s great for offices in a far-flung industrial park, but for urban offices with a variety of sandwich shops nearby, it’s better to give employees time to grab their lunch. Plus, catering for a large group can be tricky due to allergies and other dietary restrictions.

Choose the Right Location

Having office space in a high-traffic area is important for businesses that need to regularly attract new clients and customers. However, the exact location of that office can be tricky to figure out, especially in expensive metropolitan areas. While downtown offices can be great for visibility and networking, they might not be feasible for new startups or companies with razor-thin profit margins.

For businesses that have a strong manufacturing focus, offices near an industrial park can be just as good as downtown space. Opening a store downtown may seem like a great way to grow a business, but if most local shops are closer to the suburbs or in another trendy area, then that downtown location may be a waste of money.

Getting the best value possible will come down to a balance of location, size, and available amenities, so be prepared to sacrifice one of those three. Depending on the location, parking and other auxiliary costs could be more expensive as well.

Seek Employee Development

Sending employees off to special training can seem like an unnecessary cost, but it can be a huge asset to a growing business. Clients care about reliability and skill and being able to tout your employees’ certifications can help significantly in competitive and crowded industries. Even if the training doesn’t matter to clients or customers, it could be worth it for small businesses that need to run more efficiently on a shoestring budget.

Carefully research training in your industry to determine which ones will offer a significant return on investment. A vaguely titled training provided by a random consultant may not be worth the money, but a certification course offered by a university could be a game-changer. Of course, local and online options are preferable to far-flung training with high travel costs.

Negotiate with Everyone

Suppliers, vendors, landlords, and even lawyers all come with a price tag. However, that price tag can be surprisingly flexible—especially if you have a long-term healthy relationship with them. In economic downturns, landlords are particularly willing to negotiate a cheaper lease instead of risking losing a major tenant.

Negotiation is an art, so special training may be necessary to get results without hurting relationships with clients and suppliers. Plus, it’s far easier to negotiate cheaper hourly or per-unit costs when buying in bulk, so start with your biggest bulk expenditures. While your savings may not seem like much at first, they’ll add up after just a few months.

Your business’s overall outlook can improve quickly with negotiation skills and other tweaks to spending practices. Even businesses with low overhead can see savings when per-employee expenditures are taken into account.

Guest Post: About the Author

Tania Longeau serves as the Head of Services for InkJet Superstore. Tania oversees a team of Operations and Customer Service Reps from the Los Angeles headquarters. Before joining InkJet Superstore, Tania was a team leader and supervisor working for one of the biggest mortgage and real estate companies in the country. She is a happily married mother of one who enjoys spending time with her family and reading in her leisure hours.

How to Define and Implement Your Office Culture

These days, if you don’t have an appealing company culture, you can forget about attracting top talent. Office culture is defined as the environment you create for your employees, down to everything from the way your office is decorated to the core values and beliefs of the company at large. And while it may seem insignificant, this stuff matters a whole lot to your most-likely pool of applicants — millennials and Gen Z’ers — who repeatedly say they only want to work for companies that have a positive impact.

In fact, according to the 2019 Deloitte Global Millennial Survey, the vast majority of millennials and Gen Z’ers say they’d leave a company that didn’t align with their values. The study found that they’d ditch an employer that didn’t have a positive impact on local communities (74 percent say they’d leave), didn’t provide a motivating and stimulating work environment (73 percent say they’d leave) or didn’t prioritize diversity and inclusion (75 percent say they’d leave). The study also showed that work-life balance and flexible working practices are non-negotiables for the talent pool.

So, if you want to be at the top of your game and get the best of the best on your team, you’ve got to develop a workplace culture that caters to them. Here’s how.

  1. Brainstorm with Leadership:

    Step one: Figure out what your company believes in. While surveying your workforce will be important, your organization’s core values should start at the top. That’s what being a leader is all about! Once you have a general idea of your cultural foundation, send out a survey to all of your employees to get a general idea of what they believe in and care about.

  2. Create a Mission Statement:

    Once you’ve gathered the data, it’s time to put it into the official rulebook. Look to some game-changing companies to see what their mission statements are all about (remember, Google’s code of conduct famously used to say “don’t be evil”) and to get inspiration. Read good examples of company mission statements from Patagonia, TED and Life is Good.

  3. Brand and Promote with Your Mission Statement:

    Having a mission statement does you no good if you don’t use it to guide your company! Post it around the office and make sure every department references it in their daily decision-making. Remember to feature it in your branding, especially if you’re hoping it will attract a higher caliber of talent to work for you. Lastly, be sure to create a designated page for it on your website (and share it on social media).

  4. Hire with Your Mission Statement in Mind:

    Speaking of talent, your office culture is going to be really important when you’re deciding whom to hire. Now that you’ve got your mission set in stone, you can conduct “cultural fit” interviews, which include culture-focused questions in addition to aptitude-oriented ones. Some examples of culture fit interview questions include:

    1. Outside of work, what are you passionate about?
    2. How do you maintain a good work-life balance, even when you’re especially busy at work?
    3. What’s your view on co-worker relationships?
    4. In what kind of environment do you feel the happiest and productive?
  5. Celebrate Your Culture with New Hires:

    You’ve now got a mission statement as well as branding and employees to support it! Congratulations! Make sure you celebrate your workplace culture with every single new hire by surprising them with unique onboarding gifts and activities. On their first day, give them some company swag coupled with something more lighthearted to demonstrate your culture and break the ice, such as some funny socks or a cute mug.

  6. Designate Culture Captains:

    Perpetuating the culture of your workplace is important to ensure that it keeps its core values at the forefront as it rapidly grows and changes. But leadership can’t always be on the ground ensuring that culture is infused in every factor of business. That’s where your culture captains come in. These workers serve as culture representatives who can keep your mission statement alive through events, games, and awards.

  7. Plan Regular Culture Events:

    Have your culture captains set up a monthly employee activity that involves either the whole company or the whole department, depending on the size of your operation. Getting together periodically for non-work events brings your team closer together and solidifies your workplace culture. Activities like bowling, pro sports games, escape rooms and volunteering make awesome alternatives to the standard happy hour.

  8. Reward Top Performers:

    When you see an employee or department excelling in a certain area that adheres to your company’s core values, reward them! This is the best way to perpetuate workplace culture so it’s something that your entire crew adopts. Consider instituting a monthly culture-focused award and making the prize something everybody really wants, like an extra day of paid vacation or a gift card to the best restaurant in town. Don’t skimp! The better the prize, the more your workforce is likely to take it seriously.

Here’s the thing: All prospective employees want an appealing office culture, which means that modern operations feel the need to manufacture it, and that tends to come off as forced or fake. Plus, the applicants you probably want to hire don’t pay attention to things that they don’t deem authentic. The most important thing to keep in mind while you’re building out your culture is to center it around the things you and your workforce actually care about. Be authentic and reap the rewards!

Guest Post: About the Author

Josette is the Marketing & E-Commerce Associate at The Sock Drawer. She is known as the person you want helping you, who approaches each little detail thoughtfully but also has a strong sense of humor and a whip-smart attitude. Outside of work, she loves to dance, hang out with her cool husband and kids, and inject her upbeat energy everywhere she goes!

How Small Businesses Can Book Clients Through Social Media

Social media has become one of the go-to ways for businesses to connect with people, be they current or prospective clients. There are a number of reasons for this – advertising on social media can cost less than traditional advertising, and the biggest social media platforms have millions or billions of users. In order to fully appreciate the value of booking clientele through social media, it’s worth taking a deep dive into some statistics about the users of the major platforms.

The Statistics

Instagram has over a billion monthly active users and over half visit the site daily. 80% of those users follow at least one business page and 72% of users have purchased something they’ve seen on the platform. For those doing the math, that’s 720 million people who have purchased something they’ve seen on Instagram –  an enticing number for any business. Facebook (which owns Instagram) has over 2.3 billion monthly active users, 74% of whom visit the platform daily. That means a hefty percentage of the world’s population uses the platform every day, so if you have products you’re looking to ship to a global audience, Facebook is the place to be.

Twitter’s statistics are a little different. They look not only at daily active users but monetizable daily active users – in other words, the users who actually see ads (many people use ad-blocking software). There are 145 million such users every day. The company also reports that ad engagement is up and the cost for advertising is down.

Which of these platforms should you set up for online booking? Preferably, all of them, but that may require more resources than you’re willing to commit. Should that be the case, it’s important to understand where your customers are hanging out. You want to focus your efforts on the platforms that host the most users of your target demographic and you want to post during the hours those users are active – but we digress.

In order to book clients, you’ll need a business page on all of the platforms you want to use. Setting up these pages is fairly straightforward. For those who don’t have a business page, you can check out this handy guide that explains how to create a business page on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

How to Implement

With your business page set up, it’s time to start booking clients. The simplest way of doing this is to incorporate a link to a booking page on the business page of your main website. Each platform has a slightly different way of going about this. 

When using Twitter, you’ll log into your account, go to “Profile”, click “Edit my profile” then add the link to your booking page in the Web section. Simple!

Want to book clients on Facebook? You have a number of options: The most commonly used is going to your business page, clicking “Add a Button”, selecting “Book with you”, then “Book now”, then clicking “next”, then selecting “Link to Website” and adding your link. Recently, however, Facebook has added its own appointment booking software which you can use for free by clicking “Appointments on Facebook” and following the prompts.

How about booking clients on Instagram? The process is fairly straightforward: go to your business page, then edit profile, change your URL to your booking page, then change your Bio to something like “Click here to book!” (or a more exciting, emoji-filled call-to-action).

It’s worth noting here that there are many types of booking software available and they can save you a lot of time. Researching this software and finding the one that best suits your needs can drastically improve the efficiency of your business, especially if you find yourself suddenly flooded by a swell of social media requests. This software can automatically sync with your Google calendar, they can send you text message alerts, and they can even accept payments on behalf of your business. While their utility depends heavily on how much of your clientele books online, they can be incredibly useful.

Getting Clients to Book

Now that we’ve gone over the mechanisms of how to set up booking through social media, it’s worth taking a look into how to get clients to actually book. We could write whole manuscripts on the topic, but we’ll take a brief look now.

Consistency is key on Instagram and on other platforms. You’ll want to post at the same time of day, every day, at least once a day, in order to grow your following. Remember, every person who sees your profile sees your booking call-to-action, so each view is a prospective client. You’ll want to be careful not to oversaturate followers with posts, however, or they might unfollow you. Quality, not quantity, is key. This is especially true on visual platforms like Instagram; a couple of tweets in a single day doesn’t hurt as much as a barrage of image posts.

You’ll also need to learn how to use hashtags properly. In brief, you want to use hashtags that are common enough to be searched for, but uncommon enough that you’re not drowned out in a bunch of noise. You might also find value in following trends being set by the platforms’ power users. In essence, you’re looking to carve out a niche on the platform. There is a lot of room on most platforms to use multiple hashtags, so don’t be shy about using multivariate testing to see which ones have the most pull. 

Finally, you’ll want to make sure your call-to-action is eye-catching. Depending on what business you’re in, that could be something as simple as “Book Now” (seniors, for example, are often not looking for wacky call-to-actions). An amusement park, however, might have firework emojis and “Start your adventure here!” as a call-to-action. Know your industry and tailor all of your social media marketing appropriately. 

Guest Post: About the Author

Kiara is a natural organizer and she understands how important time and resource management are for small businesses. That’s why she is the perfect Content Manager for BookedIN – because BookedIN software is the perfect way to organize your business life. She enjoys spending her time reading and learning new things.”

5 Tips on How to Boost Your Business With Webinars

If you’re looking for new effective ways to promote your business, webinars are certainly worth giving a try. Webinars have proven to be an effective tool that generates high-quality leads quickly. One of the great advantages of webinars is that even small businesses and startups can afford them.

If you own a small business, the chances are that you like to learn something new and you already know what webinars are. And if you don’t, here are some great webinars for small business owners. However, webinars are not only a good educational tool but also a very effective solution for businesses that want to promote their products or services, gaining visibility and attracting a fresh audience.

What Webinar Marketing Is

Webinar marketing is based on the use of online seminars in order to reach out to a wider audience and to promote products or services. Usually, webinars provide valuable information for free, giving the participants an opportunity to purchase services and products offered by the company that created the webinar.

Just like downloadable ebooks or checklists, webinars act as lead magnets. However, they offer more value and they can also bring you better leads. Usually, webinars include a presentation and a Q&A session. The video format allows you to establish effective communication and to demonstrate your services and products in real-time.

Webinar marketing is an approach that benefits you while also educating your audience, which adds value to your marketing efforts. Besides, video content is extremely popular. Experts predict videos to make up 82% of all internet traffic by 2022. Besides, 72% of consumers like to learn about new products from videos. Compared to other types of video content, webinars are relatively cheap to produce. That’s why we mentioned webinars in our list of the best types of video content for small businesses.

Although webinars are often aimed to get the audience interested in purchasing something, it’s important to understand that they shouldn’t look like a sales pitch. A successful webinar provides value. Relevance and quality of the information that you provide determine the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. Here are some tips that will help you make your webinars interesting and effective.

How to Boost Your Business With Webinars

Choose the right topic

The main thing that determines whether or not people will want to attend your webinar is the topic. First, you should choose the right words for your title so that it will appeal to a wide audience. Secondly, you should determine what topic is most likely to generate interest.

When choosing a topic for your webinar, you can research keywords related to your niche and determine what people are searching for. The chosen keywords must be not only popular but also unique. Offering something unique is especially important for new businesses that face strong competition.

You may also check your existing ebooks and posts on social media or blogs to find content that has performed well. This way, you may find an engaging topic that will be interesting for your target audience. The main thing so to research your niche and not to choose a topic simply based on your instincts.

Plan your webinar properly

Successful marketers know that they shouldn’t rely on luck. You cannot improvise when your goal is to create an effective marketing product, especially if you’re creating educational content. You need a well-designed strategy and a clear plan.

First, you should understand why you need this webinar. You can use webinars for various purposes, and your purpose determines what strategy you should use. For example, you may want to launch a new product, to attract new leads, or to establish your brand as an expert in the niche.

When planning a webinar, think of your audience and determine what types of content might be most valuable and engaging for them. Focus on a single topic and plan the structure of your seminar. Usually, seminars are one-hour long. You may dedicate 45 minutes to the presentation so that you can spend the remaining 15 minutes answering your audience’s questions.

Do your best to create high-quality content

First, we recommend that you approach this step as a continuous process. Even if your marketing strategy has already demonstrated some success and some people showed up, you won’t be able to make them come back if you don’t produce more great content. Your content must be exciting and fresh.

We recommend that you offer useful information and a solution to the problem you’re helping your customers with. Always try to provide the ultimate solution but make sure to focus on helping your attendees, without being too self-promotional.

You should also make sure that your webinars will reach the widest audience possible. If you’re selling your products internationally, you may want to make your content understandable for people who speak different languages. Although it’s difficult to translate webinars in real-time, you can record them and add subtitles. Just make sure to use the right translation service, such as The Word Point.

Keep your audience engaged

Your presentation shouldn’t be boring. Thanks to modern technology, you have plenty of opportunities to grab your audience’s attention and to keep them engaged. Make sure that you’re broadcasting high-quality audio and video. Look at the camera so that your viewers can maintain visual contact with you.

The pacing of your presentation is also important. We recommend that you switch slides quickly so your audience will pay attention. Otherwise, your webinar may become boring. Your slides must be to the point and not overloaded with text. Just write the key points and keep your presentation simple and straightforward.

Promote your webinars

Even if your webinar is very informative and engaging, you may still have to do a lot of work to get enough participants. First, don’t promote your webinar at the last moment. According to statistics, only 33% of your audience is likely to register on the day your webinar goes live. We recommend that you start promoting your webinar in advance.

If you want to get the biggest number of participants, we suggest that you start to promote your webinar at least one month before it goes live. We also recommend that you promote your webinars on Tuesdays, as it turns out that 25% of people who attend webinars register for them on this day of the week.

When promoting webinars, try to use as many channels as possible. Promote them on social media and run email campaigns. According to research, 70% of people sign up via email. Don’t forget to create a nice registration page and send reminders before your webinars start. You may also edit your thank you message to add a link to the registration page.

Wrapping Up

Webinars are a great marketing tool that allows you to not only promote your business but also sell your products. However, the success of your webinars depends on your ability to create valuable and engaging content. Follow our tips, and you will take your marketing strategy to the next level, creating winning webinars that help your audience and generate sales.

Guest Post: About the Author

Frank Hamilton is a blogger and translator from Manchester. He is a professional writing expert in such topics as blogging, digital marketing, and self-education. He also loves traveling and speaks Spanish, French, German and English.

4 Reasons Why You Should Hire a Tax Accountant for Small Business

Tax accountants do much more than only handle your tax return. They advise on legislation that could affect your business. They oversee and prepare your company’s tax compliance reports. And they give feedback about budgetary concerns. If you’re running a business without a tax accountant, you can probably already see why adding one to your firm is a good idea. Not convinced? Then check out these four reasons.

A Tax Accountant Can Be a Good Investment

You may be worried about the cost of hiring a tax accountant, but an accountant can actually save you money in the long run. Most tax accountants have a wide variety of accounting knowledge and skills, so your accountant could be the perfect fit for the other accountancy tasks of your company. By getting invaluable tax and general advice from an accountant, you are sure to see your profits grow more than they previously did. A tax accountant could be the best investment you make in your business. If you run a more significant company, it’s worth investing in hiring a certified public accountant. CPAs are qualified and highly experienced. So, they can assist in tax issues and a variety of other accounting elements like financial planning, mergers, acquisitions, and investments.

You Can Avoid the Nightmare of Doing Tax Returns

Tax accountants obviously deal with tax issues. So, if you’re unsure about your taxes, you should hire a professional. After all, doing your company’s tax returns can be an outright nightmare. You need to know what tax codes mean, which forms you need to fill out, how to fill out the complicated forms and a hundred other things. With so much time and stress focused on your tax return, you’ll probably also be worried about incurring hefty fines from getting your return in late. If you’re not an expert in tax, it’s best to hire a tax accountant. He or she will ensure you avoid any late-fines and put your paperwork in order.

A Tax Accountant Helps You Stay Legal

If you don’t fully understand your taxes, you could end up overlooking a critical detail which could result in a severe fine or even an illegal action. If you want to ensure you stay on the right side of the law, hire a tax accountant. He or she will be able to advise you on other legal matters too. There are a lot of rules and regulations for business owners, and understanding all of them can be tricky. For instance, you may not know that you legally need to take out employers’ liability insurance. Having an accountant as part of your team ensures your business meets all applicable rules and laws.

You’ll Have More Time to Focus on Other Things

However large or small your business is, you’ll know that it takes up a considerable amount of your time. On top of full-time working hours, you’ll probably be doing other tasks like maintaining your firm’s website, ordering stock, looking for new contracts, or looking over any other business fundamentals. Indeed, running a business can often mean you have little leisure time to spend with your family and friends. Taking time out is essential for any business owner, but with a seemingly never-ending list of tasks, how do you find that extra time? Of course, the answer is: get a tax accountant. Hiring an accountant to handle your taxes and organize your finances means there’s a huge chunk of your work-life that you suddenly don’t have to handle. Instead, you can focus more on other critical areas of your business and spend more time with your loved ones.

Guest Post: About the Author

Erika is an independent copywriter and content creator. She is an avid reader who appreciates unread books more than read ones. You can follow her on Twitter.

Relocating a Business: 5 Factors You Need To Know

Relocating a business can be a very complex issue, whether you’re moving to another state or just down the street. To make everything run as smooth as possible, you need to plan the move carefully. The stakes are very high and there are a lot of things that could go amiss if you don’t organize everything down to the last detail. There are some factors you should make your priority in order to avoid future trouble.

Proximity to Transportation and Accessibility

When picking a new location for your business, one of the most important things to take into consideration is transportation options. In metropolitan areas, a large number of people rely on public transport, so if you have access to metro or bus stations it is good for both your customers and your employees. It provides the staff with a convenient and easy way to travel to work. Plenty of them might even be happy that they don’t have to get behind the wheel every day! Some people, however, find public transport intimidating and foreign so you should inform your employees about their options ahead of time. Organize a meeting with the staff before relocating and let them know about the nearby public transit options.

As for customers, you need to make sure they know how to find you and that they have easy access to your facility. Measure the doorways to make sure they aren’t too narrow and look for any step-ups that make it difficult for people to enter. If some concerns are raised, discuss them with your landlord before you sign a lease or your company could be subject to a lawsuit.

Staffing

There are a few main factors you need to consider concerning your staff.  First, you need to figure out the number of employees you need at your new location. If the new facility is bigger than the previous one, there might be a need for increased staff numbers. Is it feasible to hire more people with the current profit?

Second, can you attract a new workforce? Chances are you will have to let go of some of your trusted old employees as you move to a new location and you might need to hire new staff. If the living conditions in the area aren’t so good, you might find it difficult to find new people to hire. Looking for and training a new group of qualified and skilled workers can take some time at first. Do not forget that new people in the workplace might need some help fitting in. Team building exercises will bring your workers closer together and they will have fun in the process!

Hidden Costs

Looking at the rental price of your new building can be deceiving. Make sure not to take every expense at face value when relocating, as it can be easy to overlook many of the less obvious costs. When comparing two locations price-wise, don’t forget to also include expenses such as utilities, parking lots, flooding possibilities and snow removal costs. The new location might seem more expensive when you first look at the rent, but it could be the more economical choice overall if the price includes heating, cooling, wifi, parking and so on.

This requires a lot of research, especially if you’re moving to another country. Some things to look into are good infrastructure (you don’t want to deal with common power outages!), legal and regulatory structure and the culture. Ensure that the people have adequate education and if local universities provide courses that fit your company’s needs.

The move itself can also be costly and sometimes won’t go the way you planned. To avoid any hassle, you could hire a reliable logistics management services provider. They will do all the heavy lifting so you don’t have to.

Keeping Both Locations Running

This is a thing that can seem obvious at first, but keeping both locations running during the move is extremely difficult and requires a lot of cautious planning. If you don’t think this through properly, you might end up with a lot of unhappy customers! Either figure out a plan to keep the business running during the move, or make sure your customers are notified ahead of time that you’ll be taking a break for some time. Explain the issue to them and let them know when you will be open again. You will probably still end up with some complaints because not everyone will see the announcement in time, so beware!

Apart from the customers, it is also crucial to update your corporate address if you want to avoid orders and mail going to your old facility. Check if all suppliers and delivery services have your new location in mind.

Proximity to Amenities

While access to transportation options may be the most important thing to consider when looking at the facility’s surroundings, it is also a good idea to check if there are local amenities available in the area.

Having lunch options within walking distance is a sure way to keep your staff happy. Inform them about any shops, convenience stores, cafes or gyms you find nearby. Having the ability to run some errands or do some quick grocery shopping after work will be much appreciated by your workers. Keeping employees satisfied isn’t only a responsibility, but a pleasure as well.

Conclusion

Moving can cause a lot of headaches for both you and your staff. This list doesn’t cover all the issues you might face when dealing with such a complicated task, but it will surely help keep you on the right track. It is a risky business, but if you plan ahead carefully and strategically, success is nearly guaranteed.

Guest Post: About the Author

Nick is a blogger and a marketing expert currently engaged in projects for Media Gurus, an Australian business and marketing resource. He is an aspiring street artist and does Audio/Video editing as a hobby.