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4 Traits You Need in an Employee for Top Notch Content Creation

Content creators are extremely valuable because they are the link that connects your business to your target audience. Content is anything that can be used to describe your company, such as text, website content, email marketing, blogs, press releases, videos and images. This helps people understand what your company is all about, learn about your products and services, initiatives, beliefs, etc.

When you have made the decision to bring on a content creator, your first thought should be what type of person would be a good fit for this position. Content is subjective, and, as such, there’s really no “test” you can give to a prospective candidate that you can give to a bookkeeper or a computer engineer, for example. However, there are certain traits that top notch content creators possess; looking for a person with these traits will help you make a smarter hiring decision.

Teamwork

Content is typically a team effort, and the most relevant and engaging content usually involves cross collaboration between different departments. As such, the best content creator will have teamwork abilities so that they can work with marketing, advertising, PR, accounting and sales to get the most comprehensive vision of the company and the goals that the content should set out to achieve. 

This type of individual should be able to ask the right questions and actively listen to the answers. They should respect the fact that various people may have competing ideas or objectives, and work together to come up with a similar direction. Finally, they should be open to making changes to the content based on feedback from others.

Creativity

Content truly relies on creativity and being open-minded and innovative in order to construct a memorable customer experience. It’s advantageous to review the portfolio of any employee you are considering hiring to view their past projects and gauge how creative they are.

Ask about the person’s creative process, and what they use as inspiration for their work. What do they do if they have writer’s block? How do they make sure their work is unique and distinct from the competition?

The answers to these questions will give you more insight about the candidate’s preferred working style and if they would be a good fit for your team.

Communication Skills

Excellent communication skills are a must when it comes to content creation, and include oral, written and interpersonal abilities. Creativity is only one step of the puzzle, but being able to express those ideas to the right audience, formulate thoughts and create a finished product is the most important step.

This is a great topic to ask about when you are checking the employee’s references, as communication skills can easily be judged by former colleagues and employers. Ask about how the person got along with others, how they resolved conflict and how well they were able to evaluate the knowledge and receptiveness of the target audience when creating content.

Drive

There is a lot that goes into creating the best content, such as:

  • Researching the latest trends in the industry
  • Keeping up with the competition
  • Interviewing experts
  • Finding the best images
  • Learning the needs of the customer
  • Understanding audience preferences
  • Experimenting to see what works better

These qualities are truly up to the individual to learn and implement, and, as such, the right candidate should be driven, self-motivated and results-oriented. You want the person who makes it their mission to create top notch content, and will stop at nothing to get there.

The most experienced and qualified content creators do not come cheap, and you will have to make a competitive offer to bring them on your team. However, don’t let this stop you from hiring the right employee, as they will surely bring a great return on your investment. Instead, consider getting a small business loan to offset this cost. Contact IOU Financial today to learn about our easy and safe process to get you funded in as little as 48 hours.

6 Ways to Increase The Value Of Your Business Over Your Industry Competitors

Instead of trying to shoot for the moon in terms of your company’s aggregate value, it might be better to measure your success against the competition in your industry. If you can increase the value of your business compared to those in your industry, you will capture market share and be that much closer to achieving market dominance.

Here’s how to do it.

Understand Customer Options and React Accordingly

The most important thing you can do as a business owner or manager is put yourself in the position of a prospective customer in need of your product or service. Get a sense of the options on the market. Consider what differentiates the competition from your business. This is not to say you should steal the competition’s ideas; rather, you can enhance your offerings all the more if you understand what customers have to choose from.

Offer Something Unique

Variety is the spice of life. Differentiate your offerings from that of the competition and your business will ramp up. Even if you offer a product or service with a subtle difference, this unique twist will distinguish you from the rest of the competition. Just make sure the distinguishing factor makes your offerings better than the competitors’ products in some way.

Invest in Your Online Footprint

It is not enough to simply have a website or a Facebook account. Your digital marketing efforts should be a major component of your overall marketing campaign. This means you should have a website with a regularly updated blog, social media accounts on all the major platforms, an active email account and other web-based touch points. Make your company accessible through the web and it will be that much easier to establish a rapport with your target audience. After all, those who seek you out online are inclined to spend for your products and services as they have displayed an active interest in your line of business.

Make Your Employees the Heart and Soul of Your Business

No single man or woman can operate a business of considerable size on his or her own. It is important to recognize the fact that at the end of the day, your employees really are your business. Hire the best employees on the market, invest in your staff to retain their services and your company’s value will eventually surpass that of the competition. 

Keep Your Finger on the Pulse of the Industry

Forewarning of industry advancements and other events of significance really can give your company a meaningful competitive advantage. Continue to research and analyze the happenings in your particular industry. If research is not your thing, consider outsourcing research and writing projects to freelancers who can add insightful content to your online blog. Remain in the loop and your informational edge will provide your company with a significant competitive advantage across posterity.

Consider Acquiring a Competitor

One of the best ways to enhance your company value is to scoop up a competitor. Do your research, determine which companies would provide a strategic competitive advantage and make a bid. Bring the right company into the fold and you will immediately boost your company’s value. Perhaps more importantly, buying out the right competitor can directly eliminate a large part of the competition.

Keep Pushing to Expand Your Market Share

Focus on enhancing the value of your business and it will not be long until you emerge from the pack. Capture additional market share with each passing day and you will get better prices from suppliers, have more leeway with business partners and enjoy lower overhead costs. Continue to push for more and more customers until the competition gives in. You might even win enough market share to attract attention from a larger company looking to merge with or acquire your business.

Guest Post: About the Author

Marla DiCarlo is an accomplished business consultant with more than 28 years of professional accounting experience. As co-owner and CEO of Raincatcher, she helps business owners learn how to sell a business so they can get paid the maximum value for their company.

How to Get Customers to Engage With Business Text Messaging

Engaging with customers is necessary to promote customer loyalty, increase sales and fight the competition. Keeping an open line of communication between your customers and your brand is important, but what is the best way to do so?

There are so many different ways to promote engagement—from online ads, social media presence, content creation and email marketing. While all of these can be beneficial in their own right, it’s surprising that business owners often overlook the most effective and least expensive way, text messaging!

Did you know that almost every single American (95% to be exact) owns a cellphone? It’s rare to see any adult, or even child, without a phone in their hands. While you have to wait for your customer to check their email or visit a social media site, a text message just pops up on their phones! This is a much faster and effective way to communicate with your clients.

Here are four proven strategies to get your customers to engage with business text messaging:

Encourage Opt-Ins

In order to utilize SMS marketing (text messaging) with your customers, you must encourage them to give you their phone number. This is usually most effective when a certain reward is offered.

For example, you can offer an exclusive discount, a special promotion, or a free product or service for signing up to your list. Alternatively, you can explain the benefits customers can expect from your text messages—such as being the first to hear about new products and sales.

Follow the Law

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is very strict when it comes to enforcing the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The Act states that businesses must disclose in a “clear and conspicuous” manner the fact that they plan to text their customers if they provide their mobile numbers.

Consider adding this text anywhere you allow your customers to share their mobile numbers:

  • “By participating, you consent to receive text messages sent by an automatic telephone dialing system.
  • Consent to these terms is not a condition of purchase.”

Be very careful about following this act, because failure to do so can leave you with a hefty fine!

Create a Personalized Experience

It’s advantageous to segment your customer base by certain factors, such as age, shopping preferences, location and so on. That way, you can personalize your SMS communication based on these aspects instead of sending general texts to all of your customers.

This extra step will make your texts more valuable to your clients, and will promote their interest level in reading the texts and frequenting your business.

Insider Information

People love to feel special, so why not help them to feel like a VIP and offer them insider information via your texts? Send photos of sales racks the day before the event, share your plans for the future and pics of new merchandise before its displayed in the store.

This exclusive information will pique your clients’ curiosity, and will keep them waiting for the next text!

If you truly want to invest in your SMS marketing strategy, hiring a professional or purchasing special software can be beneficial. IOU Financial recognizes that small businesses may not have the budget for this, so we are happy to secure a small business loan for any of your needs. Contact us today to learn more!

Are You Forgetting the Offline Marketing of Your Online Business?

So, you’re running an online business or an e-commerce shop, and there’s no need to advertise your business offline?

Wrong!

You should be jumping at every opportunity to promote your products and services and drive offline traffic using both innovative and conventional methods.

Here are a couple of ideas on how to do that.

Local Newspaper Ads

It’s true that many people, particularly younger audiences, use digital sources when it comes to consuming news and learning about new products, but according to a recent media consumer survey conducted by Deloitte,55% of respondentsstill use newspapers, magazines, TV, and radio as their main sources of information.

Bearingthis in mind, you should target your audience with ads in local newspapers.

Moreover, many colleges and high schoolshave their newspapers which means that even if your product and services are aimed at younger people, you can reach them throughthis old-school medium.

Both ofthese options offer you low-cost advertising.

Join Your Local Chamber of Commerce

This is a no-brainer as your local Chamber of Commerce will help you increase brand awareness and make your business come off as more legit in the eyes of your prospects.

For example, if a company is a member of the Chamber, 43% of consumersare more likely to purchase from it.

Besides boosting the reputation of your business, this membership will also positively impact your local SERP rankings, as every chamber has a website. In other words, you’ll be listed on their website and this will put you on your prospects’ map.

Attend Trade Shows

Trade shows and other industry events present you with a great opportunity to build and expand your network, showcase your products and services, and attract new customers.

You will meet a lot of interesting people and possibly strike up some business relationships.

The trick is to prepare yourself thoroughly and promote your business in the best possible light by investing in custom branded bannerswhich will make your booth or display table stand out.

Apart from being in attendance, you should also consider becoming a speaker at such events. This way, your business will gain additional exposure, and you’ll establish yourself as an authority in your niche.

Use Branded Merch

Pens, tote bags, baseball caps, t-shirts, and other ordinary items with the logo of your company on easily turn into powerful advertising tools that keep on giving and building awareness.

Instead of slipping potential customers or business partners your business card, you should give them something that they can actually use. You can be sure that they’ll wear the t-shirtor put their data on the flash drive you gave them.

Unlike a business card, these objects have another purpose other than simply promoting your business.

Finally, whenever people use that flash drive, they’ll see your logo and company name which means that you’ve managed to integrate your brand into their daily routine. This is the brand repetition with a twistsince people have learned how to successfully ignore advertising, but branded merch also provides value which makes it hard to be oblivious to.

Help Your Audience

Freebies don’t always have to be tangible.

You can offer to help your prospects and help them learn something new or solve their problems.

Just like you write blog posts and create how-to guides and videos for your online marketing, you can also do the same in real life.

You can host free seminars or make guest appearances at local radio shows and talk about some of the most common pain points of your audience, and answer their questions.

Educational workshops are another way of getting in touch with your audience and offer them something of value.

Cross Promotions With Complementary Businesses

By joining forces with a company which offers complementary products or services, especially if it’s a brick-and-mortar business, you can find a great offline channel to promote your offer in a context.

Another good idea is to partner with a local business with a strong offline presence but no online experience and reach. This partnership can be beneficial for both sides as you can be featured in their offline promotional efforts and vice versa.

Leverage Guerilla Marketing Tactics

These unconventional methods can draw your audience’s attention without spending a fortune.

Graffiti allows you to spread the word about your business by using dull city walls as a canvas. They’re highly visible and it’s hard not to take notice. Just make sure to obtain all the necessary permits.

Leaving sticky notes at random places such as coffee shops, libraries, or bus stops is a great way ofcapturing people’s attention in a subtle and yet memorable way.

Or you can sneakily leave branded pens at banks or other places where people might need them,

As you can see, these methods are pretty simple and straightforward, and by neglecting offline marketing, you’re leaving too much money on the table.

Guest Post: About the Author

Michael Deane is one of the editors of Qeedle, a small business magazine. When not blogging (or working), he can usually be spotted on the track, doing his laps, or with his nose deep in the latest John Grisham.

How to Perform an SEO Audit of your Website

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

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

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

How to Conduct an SEO Audit

Verify Google Indexing

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

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

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

Conduct a Website Crawl

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

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

Verify Company Name Search Results

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

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

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

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

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

9 Tips to Create an Engaging Email Marketing Campaign

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

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

1.   Write a Standout Subject Line

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

The best examples usually include details such as:

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

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

2.   Segment and Personalize

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

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

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

3.   Keep It Concise and Well-Structured

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

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

4.   Offer Real Value

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

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

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

5.   Organize Q/A Sessions

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

6.   Add Only One CTA

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

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

7.   Use Digital Tools

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

8.   Schedule Emails Cleverly

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

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

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

9.   Measure the Results of Your Campaigns

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

Guest Post: About the Author

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

Small Business Owner’s Guide to Podcast Marketing

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

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

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

How to Make a Podcast

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

The Technical Aspect

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

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

Content and format

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

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

Podcast Promotion

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

Social Media Platforms

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

Be My Guest and I’ll Be Yours

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

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

Advertising Your Podcast vs. Podcast Advertising

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

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

Guest Post: About the Author

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

8 Great Lead Generation Tactics for Your Small Business

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

Act as the Expert: Try Content Marketing

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

Rely on Leaders: Advertise on the Right Platforms

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

Market Smart: Tout Your Strengths

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

Go Digital: Try Targeted Marketing

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

 

Put Yourself Out There: Attend Industry Events

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

Go Word of Mouth: Implement a Referral Program

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

Share the Love: Forge Partnerships with Other Businesses

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

Let Them Come to You: Leverage SEO

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

Guest Post: About the Author 

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

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

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

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

Hire an Influencer

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

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

Interact with your Audience

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

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

Put a Face to your Name

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

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

Use Images

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

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

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

 

How to Create Loyal Ecommerce Customers Through Relationship Building

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

Getting Customers In the Virtual Door

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

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

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

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

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

Retaining Customers for the Long Term

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

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

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

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

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

Guest Post: About the Author

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