10 Social Media Engagement Tactics That Can Help You Grow Your Audience

Promoting your brand or business through social media is vital. But getting your content out through these channels is not what will get you sales.

The key to a successful social media campaign lies in engagement.

With an engaged following, it is easy to spread the word about your campaigns, new products and services, and initiatives. Although it takes time to establish an engaged audience, all your efforts can pay off big time.

Here are ten social media engagement tactics that help you grow your audience:

Post Frequently and Consistently

The key to creating a successful social media campaign is posting regularly. The more you post, the more engagement you will have.

Many of the most successful companies around the globe have created a strong social media presence online.

At Voy Media Advertising Agency NYC, we always advise our clients to maintain a strong social media presence. That way, you can engage with your audience.

If you have a hard time posting on social media, you can use scheduling tools to curate your posts in advance. It also ensures that you have a social media post regularly.

This helps you save time and effort, but it also enables you to boost your engagements.

Create Original and Engaging Visuals

According to Wishpond, the average user gets 120% less engagement if Facebook posts don’t include an image.

If you want to boost your engagement on social media, it’s essential to curate original and engaging visuals. It can be in the form of videos, photos, GIFs, memes, etc.

Eye-catching images and graphics, for instance, are a great way to boost your social media engagement. More so if you are using visual-heavy platforms such as Instagram.

So, consider adding videos to the mix to provide a refreshing change to the usual content you publish. It allows your followers to experience your brand in a new way, enticing them to comment and engage with your content.

Curate Others’ Content

Regularly coming up with fresh, engaging, and interesting content that can appeal to your followers can be challenging.

With a lot of brands fighting for your audience’s attention in their newsfeed, it can be challenging to stand out. The best way to capture their attention without having to start entirely from scratch to curate other people’s content.

Fortunately, you do not have to come up with new ideas on your own consistently. For instance, when you retract other people’s content, you somehow branded it as your own. Doing so allows you to draw in more people, and steadily build your engagement.

Overall, this makes the content creation process a lot easier. It is also an excellent way to grow your brand and build your engagement based on content that you do not need to come up on your own.

Join Question and Answer Sessions

Joining online question and answer sessions is an excellent way to provide value to users, allowing you to be seen as a valuable brand.

If you can provide relevant answers to your customer’s queries, you can establish your authority in your niche. As a result, you will be your customers’ top-of-mind choice whenever they need your products or services.

A lot of customers are impatient, and they want answers to their queries and questions almost immediately. So, having a dedicated customer response team is essential in catering to those needs.

It also helps you create in-depth blog posts and guides that will provide customers insights with their queries. When you add links to these responses, this will show them that you’re going above and beyond to help customers.

Users like to buy from brands that they trust and know-how to deliver even if things don’t go as planned. Doing so allows you to become a thought-leader and a force to be reckoned with in your industry.

Use Social Media Tools

Technology allows us to do everything a lot better, and social media is not an exception.

Utilizing the right social media not only allows you to improve your online performance. It also helps you analyze your performance.

There are different tools that you can use to automate your social media presence and enhance your engagement.

Using tools like Tweepi, Unmetric, or Everypost, ensures that you are effectively implementing your social media strategies and tactics.

Doing so allows you to create a strong presence on social media.

Conduct Polls and Surveys

Not only do polls and surveys allow you to collect essential data from your target audience, but you will also know how to effectively engage with them. It is also an effective way to gather information about them.

You are interacting with your audience by letting them vote. On the other hand, you can get useful data that you can use for your future marketing campaigns,

If you want to attract your audience’s attention with less effort, consider conducting a survey. You can use tools like SurveyMonkey to help you create a successful campaign.

Go Live

With the introduction of the live feature on social media, you now have many options to boost your engagement.

You can use it to conduct a free online class, launch a milestone, event, or do a question and answer segment.

You can also go live on a daily or weekly basis, to engage with your followers regularly.

Engage With the Latest Trends and Issues

By choosing to engage with the latest trends and issues, you are somehow showing your support and involvement with these issues.

Just ensure that you engage, respond, or share appropriate content and not create offense.

Doing so will help you build your reputation in your industry. It is also one way to show others that you value all the recent happenings in your industry (whether they follow you online or not).

Add Relevant Hashtags to Your Posts

Another way to make your social media posts more attractive to users is by using relevant hashtags. When promoting your brand on social media, hashtags are the key to success. Using this strategy allows your content to become more discoverable online.

These help your posts stand out. Hashtags can also be excellent in tracking discussions for a specific topic. Not to mention that it can help you connect and engage with your audience.

Properly using hashtags allows you to engage with your audience and expand your following with no additional cost.

Respond Quickly and Thoroughly

Social media is not just a tool that you can use to promote and market your products online. It is also an excellent tool that you can use to stay in touch with your prospects and existing customers.

Most people follow brands and businesses on social media to get updates and have a fast and efficient after-sales service. This is not possible when using traditional methods before social media entered the scene.

That’s why social media is an essential aspect of a lot of companies. So, you need to respond to your customers with the right information quickly.

According to Brandwatch, 53% of social media users expect a response from a brand within an hour. Unfortunately, only a few companies and brands have managed to live with that expectation.

But still, there is a lot of room for improvement, though. You can use various social media tools, setting alerts, and constant monitoring.

Over to You

Brands who focus on social media to boost their engagement receive better reach, ROI, and brand awareness. This makes it easy for them to expand and tap their target market.

Keep in mind that working towards your engagement is a difficult task. It will help if you spend time knowing who your audience is. That way, you will see what you need to do to boost your engagement with your audience.

Ensure that you implement the social media tactics we have mentioned above to keep your audience engaged. Good luck!

Guest Post: About the Author

Kevin is a founder of Voy Media Advertising Agency NY. He helps businesses maximize the benefits of Facebook Advertising – leading to a dramatic improvement in sales while pushing down costs. Voy Media thoroughly studies each client requirement and comes up with tailor-fit solutions to bring about the best results.

5 Technology Trends That Have Improved Employee Culture

Technology is currently what keeps the world going at the pace we have become accustomed to. As technology improves and new things are designed to make life easier, more jobs are both opened up and replaced. This has a huge effect on small businesses and employees.

These new, growing pieces of technology have created whole new roads in business that before were unthinkable. They have also been able to influence trends and helpful pathways through projects. This impacts employee benefits in the workplace more than it impacts anyone else.

Technology trends greatly affect the workplace and the people who spend their days there immensely. These are the trends in technology that improve employee lives and makes their productivity go up. Many of these groundbreaking applications have been able to significantly improve employee culture.

1. Collaboration

Collaboration is not exactly a new concept in the workplace. It is well known that working together as a team and sharing information is the best and quickest way to complete projects. However, technology has made collaboration at work easier than ever.

This begins with things as easy as sharing files and having a company wiki for everyone to check information on. Having a way for employees to ask each other questions and check deadlines or get help from one another. This is easily done by having one or two simple company-wide communication applications.

The collaboration between employees builds investment in your employees’ lives. They become attached to helping one another and being helped. A healthy, communicative company environment is better for employees and employers.

2. Flexibility

One of the hardest parts of any job is finding the work-life balance you need to stay healthy and happy. This is a struggle many employees have faced over the years. Wanting to be a good worker takes away from family life and wanting to be with your family takes away the time you could spend working.

Technology has made this problem much easier to face and solve. The ability to work online has completely changed the need to stay at work all day without seeing your family. It is now possible to work from home when you need to without having to worry about the quality of your work suffering.

New applications are being made all the time to allow bosses and employees to communicate effectively while one or both are not in the office. This opens the ability for employees to find that work-life balance that has always been so elusive. It also makes communication throughout the company much easier and quicker.

3. Security

One of the benefits of technology in the workplace that is not discussed enough is security. Especially for small businesses trying to keep up with what buyers want while not sacrificing safety. The ability to keep information of employees and customers safe online is indispensable.

Internet security companies are all over the world and they were created specifically to keep your information safe. This includes employee information, customer information, and all your money or business information. If everything is online then your business needs to make sure the internet is a safe place for their employees and customers.

Luckily, this has gotten much easier as so many businesses use the internet to buy and sell products. Employees prefer knowing they are working in a place dedicated to keeping them and their earnings safe. Customers will also appreciate the safe space to enter information and know it will not be stolen or sold.

4. Better Experience

Your employees are the most important asset in your business. They keep everything running smoothly and handle the things you don’t have time for. They also deserve to have the best experience working for you as possible.

It does not matter if you are running a tiny boutique or a huge marketing company, technology will make things run more smoothly. Especially in the lives of your employees who work with customers every day. Technology can make the entire transaction go much faster and end in a better experience on both sides.

Making payments digital gives employees the ability to focus on product and customer experience instead of running a cash register or fixing broken machines. This improves employee experience as they deal with less stress and makes for better customer experience.

5. Staying In The Game

Technology is not stopping or even slowing down anytime soon. If anything, it is growing and constantly changing. This means a relevant business has to keep up with these changes and improvements in order to stay in business.

Your employees will be able to get more done and keep your company running at the same pace as your competition as long as they have the technology required to do so. This requires making sure you provide these tools to your employees to help them do their job.

Employees get frustrated just like you do when the company starts falling behind. Giving them the tools to keep your business in the game is the best way to help both your company and employees. This requires keeping up with technology and communicating with your employees to know what they need.

Conclusion

Technology is not going to stop growing. Supporting your employees and helping your business requires keeping your technology up to date. Recognizing how important technology is in the lives of your employees and your business will help you immensely as the internet becomes bigger.

This might require adding new applications for you and your employees to communicate. Putting company resources all in one place so your employees can always know where to look for information makes collaboration better. Even just making sure your technology is all running smoothly is a vital practice.

As long as you keep your employee and company information safe online, you can only benefit from the addition of better technology. This is a great way to improve the lives of your employees and increase employee satisfaction in the workplace.

Guest Post: About the Author

Gabe Nelson is a content specialist of over 7 years of experience, currently working with Everything Benefits. He has a passion and keen understanding when it comes to employee management inside and out. He has written hundreds of content pieces in numerous niches. Currently, he lives in Missouri with his wife and kids.

Is it Better to Buy or Lease IT Equipment?

At some point in your entrepreneurial journey, you’ll reach a stage where you find yourself no longer able to keep up with the workload. So you decide to hire some in house staff.  This means securing office space and the various IT equipment needed to get things running. 

A problem that many face is that procuring these items can get really expensive, especially if your business involves lots of computers, strong bandwidth, specialized software, and other IT-related items. Usually, you have two options — buy the equipment outright or lease them over a certain period. Now you’re probably wondering which one is better?

The truth is there’s no straight answer to this question. Both options have their unique pros and cons, plus there are a number of things to consider before making a decision. With that in mind, here’s a few key questions that you need to ask yourself before choosing whether to buy or lease IT equipment.

1. How much capital do I have to invest in IT equipment?

Smaller and newer businesses tend to favor leasing IT equipment since they usually don’t have a large enough budget to buy all the computers and software they need. More established businesses, on the other hand, can quickly recoup this expense over the next couple of monthly revenues. 

Cash flow is a big deal and small businesses are not likely to shell out what little capital they have at the expense of other essential obligations like rent and staff wages. It’s true that leasing IT equipment can cost more in the long term, but it has a less debilitating effect on cash flow since the payments are spread out over the lease period. 

That being said, if your business has enough capital to buy the necessary IT equipment outright, and you don’t plan on spending money on upgrades frequently, then buying might just be the best option.

2. What competitive advantages will I gain by having top quality IT equipment?

Leasing gives your business access to IT equipment that you would not normally be able to afford if buying outright was the only option. As leasing allows you to spread payments over a given period, you can use the leased IT equipment to bring in enough revenue to cover the lease premiums.

If your business revolves around technology, for instance – data science and analytics, this can be crucial to success. Additionally, with leasing, you have more freedom to upgrade your machinery as needed, since you’re cash-strapped from the IT equipment that you have purchased.

However, if your business’ IT needs revolve around emails, simple file sharing, and document storage; perhaps there’s hardly a need for regular updates, then it might be best to just buy and own your own equipment.

3. What is my overall IT strategy?

Your overall IT strategy should inform how you acquire IT equipment for your business. On one hand, you can quickly swap machines in and out if you lease them; on the other, nothing compares to the freedom of owning your own equipment and modifying or upgrading them as you see fit.

If your business comprises a lot of distinct roles, then it might be more ideal to own those specific machines and have the freedom to modify them as needed. Generally, you can’t even do this with leasing since you don’t own the equipment. 

By first examining your IT strategy, you can decide if it makes more sense to own the equipment or whether utilizing the flexibility of leasing fits better with your current and long-term goals.

4. Do you have IT experts in your business?

Purchasing computers, printers, webcams, and other IT stuff means you are also responsible for their maintenance. Plus if they ever require troubleshooting or an upgrade, that’s on you too. 

The good news is most of these purchases are covered by manufacturer warranties, so it’s not like you’re always paying. Still, it would be extremely beneficial to have team members who know their way around your IT equipment. 

Whether it’s a quick hardware fix here or troubleshooting a faulty program there, having IT experts in your business to take care of the machines when necessary is a huge plus. 

On the other hand, when leasing the IT equipment, it is the lessor who is usually responsible for the upkeep and troubleshooting. In fact, in most cases, the lease contract will stipulate that you are not allowed to tinker with the machines yourself.

If you don’t have dedicated IT leaders in your business, then leasing the equipment may be the better way to go. This way, you’re effectively outsourcing your IT needs so all you have to worry about it keeping up with the monthly premiums.

Operating Lease vs. Capital Lease

If you’re just starting out in business or perhaps there isn’t enough cash flow to fund your IT equipment purchase, then chances are you’ll opt to lease instead. Before you do, you should first understand what type of lease to go for — operating or capital?

Also known as true leases, operating leases are when you rent the equipment over an agreed period of time. You’ll keep making payments for as long as the contract is valid and return the machines upon expiry. You can then choose to renew or make a new arrangement with the leasing company. 

With a capital lease, you have the option to acquire the equipment once the lease term is over. Often, you’ll have to make some additional payments, but once complete, the equipment is fully yours. 

It’s important to understand these because these leases are not treated the same way for tax purposes. You don’t own the equipment in an operating lease, so the monthly lease payments are deducted as a regular business expense. However, there will be no depreciation deductions. With a capital lease, you treat the equipment as though you have purchased it and therefore qualifies for depreciation deductions for tax purposes.

The Bottom Line 

Buying or leasing IT equipment both offer their fair share of unique benefits and drawbacks. Choosing the right financing option then depends on your answer to the questions listed, as well as how “hands-on” you want to be with the management and maintenance of the machinery. 

Guest Post: About the Author

Sam Maley is the Marketing Manager at Bailey & Associates. He enjoys educating clients about how to get the most bang for their buck from business technology investments.

CRO and SEO: How to Combine Strategies for Your E-commerce Business

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization) do not compete but go together. SEO, CRO, and SEM are the tailwinds of running an online eCommerce business

SEO is a tactic employed to gain more traffic to your website. It includes features like keyword research, creating engaging and relevant content, which relates to what your visitors want. CRO implies converting the leads into actual sales. It involves website design, CTAs (call-to-action), and using high-quality graphics.

Below, we have shared the best SEO and CRO strategies for running a successful eCommerce website.

How to Boost ECommerce Business With CRO and SEO

Read the 6 most powerful eCommerce marketing strategies with eCommerce SEO tips and CRO tricks to boost your sales.

1.   Create Catchy Design With Engaging Content

Each eCommerce platform must have a design that goes well with their product. Also, content is king; it must fit into the website design, which greatly contributes to increasing sales.

In short, use Google-optimized text and a user-friendly interface. Choose the relevant keywords for your descriptions and sales pitches. Top experts in the industry recommend various SEO tools for eCommerce websites. Look for the keywords that drive sales and traffic to your platform.

Lastly, do not forget the CTAs. Using the sale-oriented buttons in your website design will attract more visitors and generate more conversions. We would also recommend you hire a designer to improve the UX design of your site.

2.   Know Your Page Speed

When Google released its latest update, some experts considered Page Speed as one of the ranking factors. Well! It might be right. Google may penalize your website if it is running slow.

Optimize your web pages and improve the readability. As your content and design should be better than your competitors, your page speed matters a lot. Make sure you are one step ahead of your rivals.

Our best recommendations for testing your page speed is Google Page Speed, GTMatrix, or LightHouse — 75 or more is considered ideal by Google. Once you have diagnosed it, you will have less bounce rate and more page views.

3.   Use Social Media

According to Lifehack.org,  “Social Media can be a great tool for promoting your brand, business, or products. It helps you find clients, get jobs, and sales pitches. Social Media for your eCommerce business is a big plus.”

Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms can be a great tool in harnessing your traffic and, eventually, enjoy more sales. Learn how to use social media channels to attract visitors to your website. SEO uses various keywords and texts related to your social media platforms to give visible signals to Google.

4.   Design Your SEO Sales Funnel

SEO specialists have one thing in common: they aim to get more visitors with the intent to purchase goods or services. If you aim at 50,000 visitors with a 2% conversion rate, it would be better than 1,000,000 visitors with a 0.5% rate.

The main goal is to get more traffic. We would here advise you to design an SEO sales funnel to ensure you do your best to attract new clientele.

The three-step process for eCommerce SEO sales funnel includes:

  • Know the Top Sales Funnel Queries: The top sales funnel will help you get many potential visitors by answering your customers’ broad-term requests.
  • Middle Sales Funnel: This part consists of creating content with a specific client in mind. Thus, you need to follow eCommerce for SEO to drive more engagement.
  • Bottom of the Funnel: Lastly, this step is crucial for your conversion rate optimization campaign. It would help if you answered everything about the products, including shipping, pricing, tax, and other relevant details.

5.   Mobile-Friendly Page

Mobile-friendly pages are the linchpin of your SEO and CRO efforts. Google’s update considers mobile-friendliness as one of the most crucial factors in ranking. Fix your site navigation for mobile and tablet devices.

Also, more than 50% of sales are made through the mobile device. While you are optimizing your page for gadgets, make sure it has a fast loading time. Use mobile-friendly images and design elements to reduce the bounce rate.

SEO for mobile alone will boost your CRO efforts as both of them complement each other. And hence, it is a cornerstone of your sales cycle. Create a customer-centric page with visible CTAs and discount buttons.

Bottom Line: Is SEO & CRO Crucial for Your eCommerce Business? 

The short answer is yes. As said above, your SEO & CRO efforts are the tailwinds of your business. eCommerce meaning has been rethought due to Google roll-out features and a more competitive market. Thus, it is vital to keep your potential customers on record. SEO works by driving organic visitors to the sales page, whereas SEO focuses on sing the targeted paid ads. In the end, CRO gives a final push to turn the leads into conversions.

We would recommend you to hire eCommerce SEO services, which are now available at an affordable price. Once you have got your loyal customers, you can make your business a goldmine.

If you have valuable eCommerce SEO tips or questions, share them with us in the comment box.

Author’s Bio

Thomas Glare is a skilled SEO specialist and copywriter who runs the PR agency with his friend and works part-time for an online magazine. He is crazy about the Book of Ra, so when he finally gets some free time to relax, he spends long hours trying his luck there.

Resources for Business Owners with Disabilities

In 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 19.3% of Americans with disabilities were employed, compared to 66.3% of those who did not have a disability. Those with disabilities were also much more likely to own their own business compared to those without disabilities.

Why would someone with a disability want to own their own business?  There are a lot of perks. Self-employment offers a lot of flexibility. You can set your own hours, determine the nature of your work, and, to a point, decide what your income will be.

If you are a person with a disability who is thinking about or already owns your own business, you are not alone in your venture. There are many ways you can get the help you need, whether that be financial help, outsourcing, or business counseling services. There are also special avenues for disabled veterans with small businesses. This article will help you get the assistance you need.

Going into Business

So, you’ve decided to go into business. The first thing you need to decide is what you want to do. You can be a writer, a craftsperson selling a unique product, or own a venue that you rent out for special events. The ideas are endless, but you shouldn’t go into business without at least some idea of what you want to do. Even if you have just the sliver of an idea, there are plenty of resources that can help you get the ball rolling. After that, the next step is to write a business plan. Need help with that? There are a lot of places you can go for help. The Small Business Administration, for example, offers counseling to help you through the process.

Once your plan is in place, the next step is to look for financial assistance. There are many funding resources in place specifically for disabled entrepreneurs, including grants. You can look into a grant sponsored by the federal government, or if you’re the creative type, check out the National Arts and Disability Center that offers grant money to artists who need financial backing to promote their work. The best thing about grants is that you do not need to pay them back. If grants don’t work out for you, there are also plenty of places to find an affordable loan.

When you’re an entrepreneur, not only do you need to find money to get you started, but you also need to find ways to save money. Luckily, there are many tax breaks and credits specific to entrepreneurs. You can save money by tracking the miles you travel for your business or write off debts from clients who didn’t pay you. You also qualify for a tax break if you offer your employees a 401K.

Outsourcing

Once you’re established and your business is going well, you may want to start outsourcing some of your responsibilities. There are many aspects of your business that you may want to consider hiring someone to do:

  • Generating leads
  • Managing your inventory
  • Handing your transcriptions
  • Providing customer service

One advantage of outsourcing is that it can actually save your company money. It is much cheaper to hire someone for a specific task rather than hiring an employee whom you’d have to pay taxes and benefits for in addition to paying for training.

When considering outsourcing, do not outsource anything that may cause your business to lose its competitive edge. In addition, interview your outsourcing prospects carefully and remember that the cheapest person you can hire is not always the best person. Quality is sometimes more important and will save you money in the long run.

With today’s technology, there are a lot of outsourcing websites to use to search for the best candidates to fit your needs. Upwork, Outsource.com, Fiverr, and Guru are just a few of the websites you can look at.

Self-Care and Business Resources for Veterans

For many veterans, the transition back to civilian life can be difficult and many of those who do not seem to fit in turn to entrepreneurship. Approximately 9% of all businesses are owned by veterans. That’s about 2.4 million businesses.

Caring for your body as well as your mind is important for everyone, but for a veteran, life can be especially hard, and it’s important for veterans to practice self-care.  This can entail a number of different things and will vary according to the needs of the veteran:

  • Exercising regularly
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Eating a well-balanced diet
  • Finding a new hobby

The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs also provides assistance towards self-care. It is in the form of a self-assessment than veterans can use as well as a month of reflections and activities that veterans can participate in to help them turn their attention towards themselves.

If you are an entrepreneurial veteran, in addition to the resources listed in the above sections of this article, there are resources specifically for you and your special needs as a veteran. You can check out the local Veteran Business Outreach Center, who can hook you up with training and mentoring right in your community. The Veteran and Military Business Owners Association and VetToCEO program are other great resources that provide a wealth of information.

Many people with disabilities including disabled veterans choose the route of entrepreneurship. It offers them the flexibility they need, and, in the case of veterans, a place to call home in the turbulent, civilian world. And they are not alone. There are many resources out there to help them on their journey towards becoming their own boss.

Guest Post: About the Author

Luke Smith is a writer and researcher turned blogger. Since finishing college he is trying his hand at being a freelance writer. He enjoys writing on a variety of topics but technology and digital marketing topics are his favorite. When he isn’t writing you can find him traveling, hiking, or gaming.

7 Steps to Create a Content Marketing Strategy to Grow Your Small Business

Businesses thrive on smart and accurate marketing strategies. Without a good strategy, consumers will have no idea what to expect from your company. A marketing strategy will enable your company to reach your target audience and let them know that you are a viable option. This is the best way to get attention for your business and get people to buy your product or avail of your services.

Large companies have a marketing team ready to strategize and plan how they sell their business. However, smaller companies may not have access to this. Because they are operating on a smaller scale, they might not be able to afford a large team in order to boost revenue. With the dawn of social media and online resources, it has become incredibly easy for small businesses to gain a wider audience.

If you are a small business looking to get that extra boost, read on. In this article, we list down seven ways that you can grow your business. From using media platforms to creating smarter campaign strategies, we discuss all things marketing. Here are the best ways that you can elevate your content marketing game.

Understanding Your Market

Knowing who you want to sell to is the first step in order to establish your brand. This determines the look and feel of the marketing that you will be doing. If your market is composed of mostly young people, consider making your advertising material eye-catching and modern. If you’re catering to the older population, make sure that your material is clean and gets the point across quickly.

Using the Media

The media is the best way to get the word out about your budding company or startup. Because they reach out to almost all people in society, placing your business on the map is a good idea in order to get things started for you. You have the option of either using traditional or social media.

Traditional Media

Traditional media is commonly known as print ads, radio ads, and tv ads. This form of marketing is best for audiences belonging to an older age group. Because this is seen as more traditional, not many young people will be able to see your ads. However, if your market is for older individuals, this is a good way to reach out to them. Keep in mind, though, that traditional media often charges you for the ads you want to be aired. Make sure that you remain within a budget to minimize costs.

Social Media

If you’re looking to get into a younger market, social media is your best bet. Social media sites like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook are widely-used sites by the youth. This is a great way to reach out to a younger market and get your business on the map. The best part? Using social media for your business is totally free. While there are ways to pay for a wider reach, they aren’t necessary at all.

Planning your Strategy

Planning ahead is a great way to make sure you have a solid marketing strategy. Before you even start advertising, make sure you have a month’s content ready to publish to avoid dead air. This is the perfect time to plan out branding as well. Planning ahead can be what makes or breaks your future as a business, so make sure to take the time to plan it well.

Influencers

Some businesses reach out to influencers to boost their reach. This is a strategy typically done by businesses that target a younger audience. Because influencers have a wide reach, their influence can mean big things for your company.

When dealing with influencers, always make sure that the terms are clear. Some influencers ask for a payment, while others are happy with receiving a free sample of your product. Make sure that your budget is enough before reaching out to influencers.

Promos and Bonuses

If you want to give a good impression to your potential buyers, try starting a promo in your opening week. This can get people talking about your company and attract potential customers. Whether it’s a giveaway or a discounted price, people will surely be more likely to have an interest in your company. This is also a good way to establish good relations with your client base.

Have a Clear Schedule

Success doesn’t happen overnight. Sometimes, your most loyal clients will discover your company a week or even a month into launching. In order to make sure you are seen, stick to a strict schedule. It doesn’t need to be daily, but make sure you’re marketing your company a few times per week. This can boost your chances of being seen and allow customers to flow in.

Invest in a Marketing Team

When you’ve already grown as a company, consider investing in a team that will handle all your marketing needs. It doesn’t have to be a large team composed of 20 people. It can be a small group that’s dedicated to getting your company on the map. By having a dedicated team, marketing will go efficiently and will yield greater results.

Conclusion

In this day and age, the competition in the business sector is high. With these tips and tricks, you’ll be able to stay afloat and stand out in the sea of competitors. Slowly but surely, you’ll be seeing your business grow soon enough.

Guest Post: About the Author

Laura Garber is a professional writer and career coach. She has led so many people to success and has helped achieve her dreams by helping them craft their resumes. If you are looking for someone who can do your resume in a professional style, she’s the best there is.

5 Tips to Make Your Small Business Customer Service Stand Out

In a world where customers need and want to communicate with their favorite brands on a daily basis, having a strong customer service team is paramount. It doesn’t matter if you’re running a seasonal business or a year-round venture, or if you have aspirations to stay a small company in your local market or expand into the international scene, there is no denying that you need a crack team of customer service agents to keep your customers happy. In turn, this will allow you to boost customer retention, and by extension, to improve customer acquisition over the long term.

However, it’s not just enough to have someone pick up the phone every once in a while, no, you need to build a thriving customer service department and use the right tools for communication and CRM in order to increase sales and satisfaction across the board. Let’s break all of this down and show you the five tips you can use to make your customer service department stand out and achieve better results.

It all starts with a personalized service

Personalization is one of the foundational pillars of modern business, whether you’re talking about sales, marketing, internal or external communication, or any other process in your company. The modern customer doesn’t want to be another number in your sales funnel, instead, they want to feel appreciated for their purchase, their loyalty, and their commitment to your brand. If you want to succeed over the long term, you have to acknowledge the individual.

To do that, you need to emphasize personalization in marketing and sales, but most importantly, in customer service as well. After all, customer service is a powerful conversion tool, and it can help you market your brand in a powerful way. Let your customer service agents take a personalized approach to every customer and every problem, and really delve deep into their unique perspective in order to craft personalized solutions that the customer will love.

Look for employees with excellent people skills

In many ways, your employees are your biggest brand advocates, which means that their demeanor and the way they communicate with the outside world can have a profound impact on your brand’s reputation, perception, and authority in the eyes of your customers. This is why you need to hire the right people for your customer service team instead of just hiring anyone to pick up the workload quickly. 

Carefully screen all applicants to find talented individuals who possess the right soft skills, but also understand the importance of branding and brand etiquette, and are creative and flexible when facing particularly difficult customers. These people are not easy to find, but once you do, it’s important to inspire them to stay in your team by offering a competitive salary and plenty of growth opportunities – after all, they are the ones who will take your company forward.

Increase availability and call quality with VoIP

No matter how talented your customer service agents may be, you can’t expect them to achieve the results you’re looking for if they don’t have the right tools at their disposal. If your agents are using traditional and outdated phone systems, then there is only so much they can do to keep the customers happy or run an efficient customer service department. This is why VoIP technology is so popular nowadays, as companies need digital communication systems to ensure efficiency and save money.

VoIP represents the best in business phone technology because of its many digital features that allow you to run a productive customer service department from anywhere in the world and keep your teams in sync at all times. However, the biggest advantage of VoIP is that it has a lower cost per call for national and international communication, meaning that you can prevent extraneous financial loss while maintaining around-the-clock support service.

Leverage customer feedback and testimonials

To build a reputable brand image, you have to inspire your customers to leave positive reviews and feedback on your site and other key platforms around the web, including social media, Google, and other review sites. Reviews and testimonials are a true treasure trove of customer information, and they can help you shape your customer service department and improve your marketing strategy, sales, and more. Pay close attention to what your customers are saying, and extract key insights to optimize and adapt every process in your customer service department.

Build a thriving community

Lastly, customer service can have a powerful impact on your online community, so it’s important to use it to inspire people to become loyal customers and brand advocates. Your agents shouldn’t just solve problems, they should also motivate the customers to achieve certain goals, inspire them to spread the word of your brand, and most importantly, welcome them into your brand’s family. This will invariably build loyalty and expand your community, and it will bring quality leads to your doorstep through stellar word of mouth.

Wrapping up

In many ways, customer service can help a company achieve its long-term goals. Now that you know how to make your customer service department stand out, be sure to maximize its potential and use it to build a more successful company in 2020 and the years to come.

Guest Post: About the Author

Lauren Wiseman is a marketing specialist, business writer, and entrepreneur, currently based in Melbourne. She helps clients grow their personal and professional brands in a fast-changing and demanding market environment. Covering finance, technology, and digital marketing topics, Lauren strongly believes in a holistic approach to business. She is also one of the authors behind Bizzmark Blog and a regular contributor to several renowned business blogs.

How to Increase eCommerce Sales for Retail Stores

Starting and running an eCommerce business is never easy unless you put in place the right strategies. In the eCommerce world, opportunities are less and competition high, and you, therefore, need to do things differently to enrich your site’s shopping experience. Increasing sales is a crucial goal for all enterprises, but it requires both dedication and effort. Here are various tips to help you boost sales and run a successful online retail business.

Optimize your site

You only have a few seconds to grab customers’ attention once they land onto your site. Therefore, invest in quality product images, make your site responsive, and quick to load. 

Also, make the shopping process seamless and eliminate any unnecessary steps during the checkout. Use the necessary tools to improve your clients’ details security. Cloud computing is cheaper, and it will also help you access customer data to help understand their needs better.

You may also want to consider search engine optimization to reach a wide range of potential clients. To achieve this, do keyword research to determine how clients search for your products online. You can then include the appropriate title tags, keywords, body copy, and image alt tags.

Enable Mobile Shopping

Ensure that your site is well-optimized for the mobile phone application. Most clients, especially millennials, love shopping from their phones or tablets. You can also consider building a mobile app to improve customer experience, which will boost sales. Further, run mobile-specific adds on Facebook to help direct potential clients to your product page.

Automate your Email Marketing

Emailing is one of the most effective online marketing strategies that give you a chance to engage with your target clients easily. However, automation will help boost your marketing campaign and smoothen the process further.

You can use pre-set triggers to send timely messages to your clients. For example, if a client abandons their cart, he will receive an automatic email to encourage him to complete the transaction. As soon as a potential client trips an online trigger, he will receive an email inviting them to check out the products.

Offer more Discounts

Everyone loves getting good deals, and discounts are thus a great way to improve sales. Use regular offers to trigger inactive leads and keep previous buyers engaged. The more you give away, the more prospects will perceive your brand, resulting in more sales. Include some gifts in your business financial plan, use them to improve people’s perception of your products, and it may boost your profit margins shortly.

Discounts act as an excellent method to introduce your products to people and tempt them to purchase more. Also, reward your repeat clients by offering a loyalty program where you give them some points to enjoy more products, free shipping, or discount coupons. Further, you can include a free shopping promotion.

Active Engagement on Social Media

Social media advertising is a great way to drive visitors to your site and convert them into paying customers. Use multiple social media channels like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter to reach out to a million users interested in your products.

Target different people with varying ads to reach out to a specific customer base. Also, remain active across various platforms to grab your target customer’s attention. Engage your followers by answering all questions concerning your products and following up referrals.

Ensure Excellent Customer Support

To stand out in the competitive market, you need to deliver exceptional customer service. Set aside a reliable help desk to respond to your customer’s concerns swiftly. Your level of service significantly affects your business sustainability, and you may want to avail of various mediums in which clients can reach out to you.

Invest in a customer service technology like live chat or chat both to help in engagement automation in context chats. It will help push the client to ask questions, which may boost conversion rates by creating a great shopping experience.

Summary

If you experience slowing or stagnating sales, you need to adopt new strategies to market your products. Create a secure website, offer a lot of promotions, get active on social media, and optimize your site for mobile devices. The above guideline aims at shining light on how to increase eCommerce sales.

Guest Post: About the Author

Emily Lamp is a professional writer, working closely with many aspiring thinkers and entrepreneurs from various companies. She is also interested in technology, business growth and self-improvement. Say hello to Emily on Twitter @EmilyLamp2.

10 Free Tools to Effectively Manage Your Business

When you want to run a successful business there’s a whole host of things you need to know. One of the most important things is to build a series of management protocols that allow you to stay on top of things without drowning in paperwork. There are a whole host of different tools out there, some of them demand an investment, but there are also others that won’t cost you a penny. Let’s take a look at 10 of the best free tools to see what you can add to your business.

The Wix Website Builder

If you want to build a site without paying out for all the fancy add-ons you get from many hosting platforms, this is the way to do it. Wix allows you to create responsive, mobile-friendly sites without having to enter a single line of code. Just what you want when you’re trying to get your big idea out there without spending hours learning every skill under the sun. They claim that you’ll get 100% free website hosting and design possibilities. Use Wix for free as long as you want, but if you need professional features like your own domain name or e-commerce you’ll need to opt for their premium option.

Avast Free Antivirus

Cybersecurity is a hot topic right now, and it’s heating up all the time. If you want to run a successful business then it’s absolutely vital you invest in the best anti-virus protection. Avast is one of the top choices when it comes to free antivirus software. It offers an on-demand malware scan, on-access malware scan, website rating, malicious URL blocking, phishing protection, behavior-based detection, and vulnerability scan.

Grammarly

If writing just isn’t your thing, don’t worry. There’s finally a program out there that can add the polish your ads and emails have been waiting for, and it is completely free. It’s a great way to ensure that everything that’s sent on behalf of your business is professional and accurate. Take the time to get to know all of the functionality it has to offer. There is an upgrade that comes with a monthly subscription fee if you want to take your proofreading to the next level. However, the basic free version does a great job on its own so it is not a necessity.

The Hemingway App

This tool follows on nicely from the last, and it does much the same thing. The USP is that it specializes in breaking up wordy but otherwise correct sentences. This is especially useful if you don’t feel like approaching half a dozen writing companies to try and find someone who can connect with your brand. The app also checks the readability of your content so you’ll know if you need to make some changes to make it more comprehensible. The best part is that you can use it for free.

Skype

Despite the rise of Zoom and FaceTime, Skype is still very much alive and well. If you want to be able to talk to suppliers, vendors, and colleagues anywhere in the world for free, this is the tool you need in your kit. It’s easy to use and intuitive, and all you need is a phone and a WiFi connection. Ideal if you want to ensure your business never has to break stride.

Excel

It’s the classic program we all grew up using, but there’s still a place for Excel in today’s business world. The program comes with the basic Microsoft Office package that pretty much everyone has so you won’t need to spend money on additional organizational tools. Use Excel to keep track of every aspect of your business and make all the information presentable and easily accessible.

Hootsuite Free

Social media is the tool that connects your business with the rest of the world, so you need to know what it’s saying about you. Hootsuite’s aptly named free version allows you to ‘hear the echo’ by seeing how your customers and followers are reacting to your content. This is a great way to extend the reach of your customer service into the social domain. It’s also a great way to humanize your business by putting a personal face to your brand.

MailChimp Forever Free

Email marketing is one of the easiest ways to take your business to the masses, and it’s great there are tools like MailChimp that are so easy to use. If you want to be able to send campaigns for free, their Forever Free package is just what you’ve been looking for. Over time you might consider the subscription version so you can launch larger campaigns, but for now, it’s more than up to the job.

Zoho Docs Management

Document management is one of the things that few of us think about when we’re launching a business, but before you know it record keeping is a daily struggle. Zoho allows you to keep everything just where you need it, making it easy to look up key supplier and customer details with the click of a button. Just what you need when you want to provide the best-in-class service you want your business to be known for. Zoho Docs is always free for teams of up to 5 users so it is perfect for small businesses.

Evernote Scannable

Last but not least, we come to one of the most intuitive and easy to use document management tools on the market today. Evernote Scannable is a free tool that allows you to instantly upload your physical copies into an easy to search online portfolio. There you can add additional annotations, file everything away, and even reference it. Perfect when you want to ensure that everything you need is ready and waiting when it’s time to get to work.

Conclusion

Even though many business managers are putting an emphasis on paid management tools, there are plenty of free options that can do the same job. As you can see, all of these apps, tools, and software are completely free and highly efficient. You can always switch to an upgraded version but for starters, these options are more than enough.

Guest Post: About the Author

Daniela McVicker is a blogger and a freelance writer who works closely with B2B and B2C businesses providing blog writing, copywriting and ghostwriting services. Currently, she blogs for Essayguard. When Daniela isn’t writing, she loves to travel, read romance and science fiction, and try new wines.

Starting Your Own Business in a Post COVID-19 World

Starting your own business can be daunting at the best of times. For young entrepreneurs who have been building plans to put their ambitions into action, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic can feel like a wrench thrown into the works. The business landscape has changed rapidly, and — in some ways — permanently.

While this almost certainly means that changes may need to be made, it doesn’t necessarily mean an end to even your loftiest enterprise ambitions. Rather, our post-COVID-19 world can offer new opportunities to design a more robust company from the ground up. Beginning your entrepreneurial journey at this time allows you to make these adjustments an integral feature of your business, rather than a crisis you have to react to.

We’re going to take a look at some areas in which entrepreneurs need to focus. What are the new options, in addition to the essential elements all start-ups needed prior to this pandemic? How can you help make certain that your new venture can not only navigate the challenges of this crisis but be prepared for those in the future?

Gathering Resources

There can be significant costs involved in starting a new business. Quite aside from employees and raw materials, there are often hidden costs such as insurance and permits. Gathering your resources during a pandemic can be especially challenging. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that even prior to the coronavirus, many startups launched with limited resources, operating out of bedrooms and basements in order to build their profiles and finances before moving on up to more traditional environments.

As a result, the last couple of decades have seen the development of resources aimed at home entrepreneurs, and are now relevant to the challenges you face in a post-COVID-19 business environment. Marketing tools such as Google Analytics and Mailchimp are accessible from anywhere in the world you happen to be and don’t necessarily need an entire marketing team to function. Similarly, the gig economy has seen the emergence of invoice payment platforms such as PayPal and Square, and Wagepoint can be used to handle your payroll needs.

You also have to acknowledge that there has been something of an investment crisis as a result of this pandemic, with some investors reluctant to commit. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean getting funding is impossible. According to a report by Startup Genome, during the last two recessions, though there were fewer dollars loaned to startups, a higher number of businesses received investment. This suggests that if you can adjust your business plans to demonstrate that your operations can be more cash efficient, you are more likely to be able to attract investors — even in economically bleak times. It may also point to the necessity of services of these funded businesses.

Online Operations

Another of the key results of the pandemic has been a shift to remote working operations. Some established businesses have struggled to adapt to this model, needing to invest additional funds into equipment, or finding that some of their employees aren’t suited to a work-from-home environment. However, by starting your business at this challenging time, you have the opportunity to build remote working into your operations as a foundational feature, and can benefit from the potential for greater productivity and lower overheads.

Begin with your search for employees. By embracing a remote culture, you have the ability to choose from a global talent pool, depending on the labor regulations in your state, and build a diverse workforce that can help you not just function but innovate. As the popularity of remote working has grown, there has also been a development in hiring platforms specifically aimed at those who have experience working remotely. AngelList, Remotive, and Working Nomads are among the most popular venues for this.

This also gives you the opportunity to source and invest in the technology and software that is optimized for remote operations from the get-go. Ensure employees have the software needed to complete tasks wherever they are and organize the workflow to utilize remote project management platforms such as Slack, Asana, or Trello. Your website also needs to be optimized to act as the storefront of your remote business. Place focus on how easy it is for the user to navigate your site and make contact with you, and thoroughly test this for any potential bugs or performance issues before going live.

Protection from Disaster

Believe it or not, there is value to be found in starting your own business during a pandemic. You have the ability to gain an insight into how various aspects of the crisis are affecting businesses the world over, where mistakes have been made, and what solutions appear to work best. This means you already have some tools to help you build disaster management into your business operations, which can help you mitigate the impact of future problems.

Young entrepreneurs starting their first businesses should already be committing to some in-depth research. Deep dives into business publications — whether popular articles on Forbes, or videos in which entrepreneurs share their experiences — can help you to also identify where the key areas of concern have been during this crisis. Many business leaders have been candid about what solutions have worked for them, and the causes of failure.

Seriously assess whether your current business plan suggests you could weather these types of challenges. Is your business agile enough to make changes at short notice? Have you diversified your supplier pool enough to continue functioning if one or more of them suddenly drop off the radar? Have you created a disaster recovery plan that considers various scenarios? This hasn’t been an easy time for any of us, but you can use it to make your business more flexible and competitive.

Conclusion

The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly served to shake the confidence of business leaders, and it can feel as though starting a new enterprise at a time of crisis can be unwise. However, you can use the tools, practices, and experiences of this difficult time to build a business that can be successful. It’s never going to be easy, but you can use this period as another resource at your disposal.

Guest Post: About the Author

Luke Smith is a writer and researcher turned blogger. Since finishing college he is trying his hand at being a freelance writer. He enjoys writing on a variety of topics but technology and digital marketing topics are his favorite. When he isn’t writing you can find him traveling, hiking, or gaming.