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9 Mistakes You Could Be Making On Your Website That Can Ruin Your Business

Having a website for your brand is a wonderful thing, especially if you are focused on working globally. You can use it to interact with your users, sell your products and services, share content on your products, market your services, share reviews etc.

It became a norm in the business world. Benefits of having a website are highly talked about and praised in our modern society. Experts say that having a website can improve your business, create a good image of your brand and help you expand and engage with more people.

However, no one really talks much about how doing things wrong on your website can deteriorate your image and cost you your business. There are common mistakes that are often made not out of ignorance but coincidentally or because of forgetfulness.

Effects of these mistakes can be seen in sales, website visitation rates and bounce rates. This is why you need to be aware of them and have tools and knowledge to improve your website, eliminate the mistakes you are making and inevitably, improve your business.

Here are some common mistakes and some solutions to them:

There is no social proof

Imagine visiting a website where there are no reviews – good or bad – no newspaper articles or banners claiming that the website is legit. Would you stay on that website and make a purchase confidently?

Your answer is probably no. According to study, approximately 70% of people look at reviews, testimonials and other social proofs before making a decision to buy.

People need a social proof to be sure that they will not be tricked. This is basic psychology – you need to know that someone has walked that path and came out unharmed and happy if you are to walk that path yourself.

And this is what so many websites get wrong.

Avoid this by adding customer reviews, even if they are just good ones to your website. Include your stamps of approval from influencers, newspapers, other businesses from your niche, social media. Do whatever it takes to prove to a new visitor that you will not trick them.

You have a bad layout and design

People are visual creatures. They like looking at pretty things and if your layout and design don’t meet their expectations, you can be in trouble.

Bad layout, for one, can be confusing and hard to focus on. This is another easy fix – you only need to hire an expert to help you figure out what is the best layout for your business.

Design is another place where a lot of mistakes can happen. Wrong color scheme, font or illustrations can lead you to lose a lot of customers. Go for neutral colors that are easy on the eyes, pick readable fonts and make sure that everything is consistency with your brand. Check out the competition and see what they are doing. Don’t let your website look outdated.

There are no social media tags

If you are a business without social media profiles, you know you are doing something wrong.

Social media platforms are so good for businesses because they offer a unique way to build and maintain a relationship with your customers, according to study conducted by Moz. You can see their complaints and praises in the comments sections and use that to improve your business, you can get them to like you better by being fun and interesting on social media – the possibilities are endless.

If you do have social media profiles or pages, share them on your website. A customer can make an easier decision about a sale if they see that you are truly working with real people. Sometimes, this is all the social proof you need.

You have a confusing navigation

People don’t like visiting a website and being confused. Make it easy for them to find a page and move around your site. According to study conducted by Joshua Porter, users are more likely to make 3 clicks on the website to access the target page rather than 12 clicks. If some information is hard to find, they are likely to give up and move on. This is really bad for your business.

Hire someone to review your website as a new visitor and through the fresh eyes, you’ll be able to see if your website is easy to use or not.

You don’t provide enough information

On your website, you need to be open and share enough information about your business and yourself. Display your contact information or contact page prominently  – it should be your main goal for customers to be able to find you easily. Then proceed to tell your story and share just enough for them to be entertained and for you to seem legit.

Sharing too much can also be a problem.

Collin Nevin, an SEO-specialist at Boomessays, states, “You have to give your users enough information about your website and yourself for them to see you as a relevant and trustworthy business and person. Don’t make the information too hard to find and don’t make yourself unreachable. Share your addresses both email and physical, numbers and tell your story.”

You don’t post quality content

Take your time and write content that will truly resonate with your readers. You will not be able to achieve much with bad content. You can hire writers, writing services or write it yourself, but it needs to hold all of the relevant information.

Another mistake with content that you could be making is not checking it for plagiarism. Google doesn’t like plagiarized content, favoring more fresh information and new takes on different subjects. This is why you should definitely employ the services of a plagiarism checker like Copyscape or UKWritings.

You don’t optimize your images for speed

Visual content is always a good idea but not if it slows you down. People don’t like waiting and if your page takes too long to load, they will not stay.

Make sure that everything is in optimal condition and test your website while imitating similar pressure that it would endure with an enormous flood of visitors.

“Anything that might slow down your loading speed is your enemy. People don’t like waiting. This is why you need to optimize your images, icons and videos so that they don’t slow your loading speed down but improve it. This isn’t hard to do but it will mean a lot for your website and your business,” says Miranda Grayson, a Web Developer at Essayroo.

Your site is not mobile-friendly

Most of the readers like to consume their content and get information on their mobile devices. If your website is not mobile-friendly, they will not ‘pinch and zoom in’ for too long and they will move on quickly to find another, mobile-friendly website.

You make grammar and spelling mistakes

According to new studies and statistics, people don’t like grammar mistakes or misspelt words. It signals them that your website is not to be trusted and that it may be a scam, potentially harmful for their devices. This also represents you as someone who doesn’t care enough to eliminate these when they are so easy to fix by using tools like StateOfWriting or SimpleGrad.

Conclusion

While there are many benefits to having a website, there are also a lot of mistakes that you can make. Some of them are on this list and if you follow these tips on how to fix them, you’ll set yourself up for success.

Guest Post: About the Author

Grace Carter is a content manager at Paper Fellows and Academized, online writing services. She checks content quality, curates writers and explores marketing possibilities. Also, Grace is a tutor at Eliteassignmenthelp.com, academic website.

The Pros and Cons of Mass Messaging for Small Business

If you’re a small business looking to get your message out to a large audience, email blasts aren’t always the most effective mode of communication. While you may think to yourself, I’ve put thought and effort into the perfect newsletter; who wouldn’t want that? The truth is, emails can become like unsolicited phone calls. Many individuals sign up to receive a business’s correspondence, but never actually open an email because they’re too busy or don’t believe the message will appeal to their interests. Let me propose another marketing solution: text message service

Here are some advantages and disadvantages to incorporating a text messaging campaign into your marketing strategy.

Pros:

People Sign Up for Text Messaging

Consumers need to opt in for text messaging when providing their number to a business. This means that those who receive your text messages have specifically stated that they want to hear from you. This eliminates the worry that your text messaging will be regarded in a negative light. They are most likely happy to receive a text from your business.

Email Companion

Due to character limitations, there is only so much you can cram into one text message. You may have an entire newsletter full of relevant and valuable information that a text message simply cannot support. However, using text in conjunction with your email is a smart, effective strategy for optimizing audience engagement. For example, you can send out a text message to advise customers to lookout for an upcoming email.

Current News

With emails, a lot of people will see that they have a notification, but if it is not something urgent, they will leave the email to look at for a later time. Text messaging typically receives a much more immediate response as people keep their smartphones on them throughout the day.

Cons:

Let’s talk about the drawbacks. As mentioned earlier, text messages must be brief. You can’t put a lot of information in your mass messaging blast because you don’t want to annoy your customers with a multi-text message. Also, there’s no room for elaborate graphics or to include the company logo, which is important for brand recognition.

Standing Out

Take into account that consumers may sign up for scores of text messaging blasts. Even the large department stores have text message updates. How can you stand out while contending with these large corporations? You will have to exercise some creativity so that when your text message gets to their phone, they find it unique and enticing and are prompted to take action.

 Getting Volunteers

As we said before, people need to opt into text messaging. People feel more inclined to sign up for email blasts as it is less personal. Even though everyone gets emails on their phone, receiving text messages from businesses can feel invasive to certain people. It’ll be your loyal customers who look forward to text message updates.

No matter if you own a bakery, a flower shop, or a liquor store, you will have to find new ways to reach your local patrons. By implementing a business text messaging campaign, you’re opening up a way to communicate with people and add that old personal touch that has almost been forgotten in this large, technological era. If you’re in need of some extra funding to implement a mass-texting service, IOU Financial can help! With up to $300,000 available in 24-48 hours, you can get the funds you need to grow your business quickly and easily.

Guest Post: About the Author

Ron Kinkade is the Director of Marketing at Call-Em-All, an automated calling and group texting company that provides solutions for small and medium sized businesses, large corporations, membership organizations, community groups, and individuals. Ron has more than 15 years of experience with a proven track record of success. Ron is a graduate of Illinois State University.

Are you Monitoring Your Online Reputation? How to Get Started.

The advent of the internet age has made competition for all businesses a bigger challenge than it ever was before. As customers are no longer constricted by time or distance, they’re able to purchase goods from around the world.

Since it is difficult to compete by offering unique products or lower than average prices, business owners should strive to provide the best customer service, which goes a long way in keeping current customers loyal and attracting new clients.

It’s important to monitor your online reputation to see what is being said about your brand online because 74% of shoppers base their purchasing decisions on positive online reviews. That means that if you have poor reviews about your products or services, you may be losing out on ¾ of your potential sales! Read on to see how you can get started with monitoring your online reputation to help your business succeed!

Set Up Google Alerts

Google offers an incredibly useful tool that all business owners should become familiar with; and the best part is that it is completely free! Instead of dedicating hours of your time on a weekly basis to scouring the web, Google Alerts will email you when your business is mentioned online on websites, blogs, etc.

Setting this up is easy; simply log into or create a Google account and set up words or phrases that you want Google to track. This can include your company’s name or the names of products or services you offer.

Know Where Your Audience “Hangs Out”

Although Google Alerts is a great resource, you can’t rely on it to report 100% of what goes on online. This is why it’s important to know your audience—customers, employees, investors, etc., and learn where they hang out online.

If you have a physical location, such as a restaurant, body shop or hair salon, it’s likely that your customers tend to frequent review sites, such as Yelp.

If you target a younger demographic and/ or offer products or services that are presented well in photos and videos, such as a travel agency or a clothing boutique, your target audience may be found on Instagram.

On the other hand, if you offer professional services, such as bookkeeping or accounting, you may find your company being mentioned on professional sites, such as LinkedIn or Glassdoor. Remember that your employees may also leave reviews about the experience of working at your company, which can influence shoppers!

Verify Your Information is Correct

While the internet offers a multitude of benefits, it also often takes the control out of business owner’s hands. You can’t regulate what a person or a company posts online, and that may lead to wrong information about your business being posted.

Yext is a helpful tool that can help you manage listings on review and location sites, such as Yellow Pages. It automatically reviews these sites and alerts you when a mistake is found or there is no information at all.

This will help you keep your contact information, address, business hours and link to your website current so your customers can always find you.

Monitoring your online reputation is the first step; however, the most important step is the second one. If you notice a bad review or wrong information about your business posted online, do something about it! If a customer had a negative experience shopping on your site or visiting your brick-and-mortar location, reach out to them and attempt to make it right. Showing your online audience that you are invested in your brand’s reputation and committed to providing the best customer service will go a long way in setting you apart from the competition!

If you need financial assistance with establishing your improving your online presence, turn to IOU Financial. Our company specializes in small business loans of up to $300,000 in as little as 48 hours.

How to Effectively Set Up Your Website to Collect New Leads

Content has always been a very important component of inbound marketing, and now more so with Google’s algorithm that reward fresh, relevant content. Without good content, it is hard to drive visitors to your website or convert them into leads.

Decide on your messaging strategy:

Here are four questions to ask yourself about your website’s content:

  1. Do visitors immediately understand what the website is about?
  2. Will visitors know which page they are on and why?
  3. Can visitors easily navigate to the next page?
  4. Is there some value proposition to cause visitors to interact with your site rather than someone else’s?

An affirmative answer to all four questions will translate into more traffic, more leads, and a lower bounce rate.

Here are a few tips for making sure your message gets out:

  • Use headlines and subheads to outline your most important ideas on each page. Avoid clichés, doublespeak and jargon.
  • Offer a powerful value proposition. That means either giving away something of value of offering it at an incredibly attractive price. Anything from downloads to free offers can be used.
  • Include clear calls-to-action, which direct visitors on what to do next to benefit from the value proposition. Put links into the body content that direct readers to registration dialogs, data intake forms, exclusive offers, etc.
  • Perform A/B testing on your copy and headlines to see which alternative yields better results. There are online tools from Google and others that help determine which variation drives more conversions.
  • Go beyond simple product content. Offer eBooks, videos, whitepapers and other types of educational content. This attracts visitors who may not know yet that they want to buy from you – they are on the outer tip of the marketing funnel. Suck them into the funnel with free, valuable content.
  • When delivering a sales pitch, use a writing style that matches colloquial one-on-one conversation. Pronouns like “you” and “we” are preferred over “one” or “they”. Never talk down to your audience.
  • Your content should help visitors solve their problems. Don’t go around bragging about how you are the best – instead make a point of explaining how your content helps viewers.

Share quality content:

When we speak about quality content, we are actually talking about quality, unique content. If you copy, you die. Search engines pick it up right away and penalize you, sometimes by de-indexing you altogether. If you have nothing original to say, don’t say it. Next, write to the highest language standards you can. Humans appreciate good grammar, sentence construction, proper spelling and logical thought. Your original content should educate or entertain its readership – boring content is, well, boring. People are busy and need to extract value from your content, or they will spend their time elsewhere.

There are times when it helps to provide evidence to prove a point. If, in the course of presenting your material, you quote facts, statistics, events, etc., give them some backing with a credit, either inline or as a footnote. A backlink to your source would be appropriate.

Finally, try to avoid jargon and clichés, such as “cutting edge” or “mission critical”. These phrases have been so overused that they have lost their meanings. They turn off readers and make your content seem suspect. Prose that contains phrases like “ground breaking” seldom is. Often, spammy websites substitute clever headlines and captions for clear content. You can’t trick your readers into enjoying your content with snappy headlines alone. Give them clear, concise material and leave the gimmicks to others.

If you’re looking to re-vamp your website and need to hire a marketing pro to do so, IOU can help with the funds. Visit our site at www.ioufinancial.com to learn more about how you can borrow up to $300,000 in under 48 hours.

 

Facebook Ads: The Basics for Small Biz

Being the most prominent social media platform around the world, Facebook can’t be ignored when it comes to planning an advertising strategy for your small business. Two billion people around the world use this platform every month, which gives companies a large potential customer base to connect with. The benefits of creating Facebook ads is you can set ad campaigns to any budget, and they can be viewed on any mobile device!

Setting Up Facebook Ads

Business Ads Manager allows even the most novice online user to set up eye-catching and relevant ad campaigns for their customers with these steps:

  1. Click on Create New Campaign
  2. Select a campaign objective—Decide what the main goal of the ad campaign is so Facebook can optimize features to help you get there, including:
    1. Awareness: brand awareness or reach
    2. Consideration: traffic, engagement, etc.
    3. Conversion: sales or store visits
  3. Name the campaign
  4. Choose your audience—Choose who sees your ads based on their location, age, gender, language and even interest and behaviors
  5. Set up Ad Placement—Facebook has the option to determine where your ads will be shown, or you can decide yourself. It’s important to note that the cost of the ad will vary based on where it’s placed. The options include:
    1. Facebook News Feeds
    2. Facebook Right-Hand Column
    3. Instagram
    4. Audience Network
    5. Instant Articles
    6. In-Stream Video
  6. Choose your daily budget and when you want to start/ stop running your ads
  7. Add content—Add a video, photos and or text to make your ad go live!

How to Track Facebook Ad Campaigns

Although business owners choose their daily budgets, it can take a significant investment to reach a wide audience on Facebook. As such, it’s advantageous to track the results of the campaigns and see which ads outperform others. Your audience may prefer videos over pictures, or they may respond better to one type of text over another.

Here are the steps to track ad campaign results:

  1. Click on Ads Manager.
  2. Choose between Campaigns, Ad Sets or Ads to see the analytics for each one
  3. Click on Columns dropdown menu
  4. Click on Customize Columns and decide what you want to track, such as purchases
  5. Click Apply to see results

The great thing about Ads Manager is that it provides options to not only see results but to test your ads and then make meaningful changes to help them perform better.

Finding Your Target Audience

Possibly the most important step in reaching your objective when advertising on Facebook is finding your target audience. You may create the most compelling ad, but if the people who see it have no need for your product or service, they will not buy it.

If you already know the demographics of your customers, Facebook can create a Lookalike Audience of similar people to show the ad to.

If you are not sure who to target, Facebook’s Audience Insights is a great tool. Simply type in an interest or topic close to your field, such as Ford Motors, and you can get information about the people interested, such as their demographics, what other pages they like, where they live, their relationship status and more!

You can then use this information to set up your custom audience on Facebook. If you need financial help in hiring a professional to set up your Facebook ads or to increase your social media reach, a small business loan can help. IOU Financial has worked with many companies to help them reach their goals with loans of up to $300,000. Click here to learn more and contact us today!

Google Adwords: The Basics for Small Biz

To keep your company profitable and competitive, it is important to create a strong online presence. To accomplish this goal, a necessary tool is Google Adwords, a search marketing tool. Unless you’re an internet or marketing expert, this process may be confusing, which is why we are going to break down the basics of using Adwords for your small business.

What is Google Adwords?

There are two ways to help your website rank higher in Google searches, organically or by paying. If you have a new website, it can take months or even years for it to climb the rankings, causing your site to live in obscurity and losing out on sales. As an alternative, Google allows you to pay to have your site show up on the first page of Google.

The paid results show up on the top of or to the right of organic results, and while they look almost identical, they do have a “Sponsored” label to identify them.

How Does Adwords Function?

Adwords allows you to advertise based on keywords (words or terms relevant to your business) that your customers are likely to search for when looking for your products or services. The tool provides relevant data, such as how many people search for the keywords, what the competition for each term is, and how much it would cost every time a person would click on the keyword (PPC).

Once you find relevant keywords, you can bid on them against your competitors, and if you place the highest bid, your link would appear in paid Google search results.

How to Set Up Google Adwords?

Once you have your keywords, you can set up a paid campaign on Google Adwords by following these steps:

  1. Select a campaign: Google gives you a variety of options for the type of campaigns you want (video, search, etc.). Select the type you want and give it a name.
  2. Choose the area: Decide where you want to advertise by country, state, city or even metropolitan area.
  3. Choose your bid strategy and budget: Google allows you to choose how to place bids, depending on conversions, clicks, views or impressions. You can also set daily maximum bids to stick to your budget.
  4. Fill out Ad Extensions: This is additional information you want your ads to show about your company.
  5. Write a headline and short text for your ad.
  6. Insert keywords.
  7. Set your default bid: The max you want to pay per bid.
  8. Enter your billing information.

How Do you Track Your Google Adwords Results?

Any time you spend money on marketing or advertising, it’s important to track results to see what is effective and what isn’t. Over time, you will see which keywords bring the best results, and you can concentrate on specific campaigns to help with your ROI.

To track your Google Adwords conversions, follow these steps:

  1. Click on Tools, and then Conversions in your Adwords account.
  2. Click on the +Conversion button.
  3. Click on website to track the results.
  4. Name the specific action you’re tracking, such as how many people sign up for your newsletter, make a purchase, visit a site, etc.
  5. It’s possible to define a monetary amount under the value section if you only offer one product/ service. For example, if you sell T-shirts for $19.99, that is the value you’d input. If you sell items for different amounts, you can specify that amount value for different conversions.
  6. Count: Choose to either count one conversion per ad click, great to track leads, or for sales, you can track every conversion.
  7. Conversion: Decide how long you want to track the ad for, from 1 day 90 days.
  8. Click Create.

By concentrating on finding a new audience base with paid online marketing, you can expose your brand to new customers and grow your sales. If you would like to hire an expert in this field to share their expertise in this area with you, or need financial assistance in paying for online ads, IOU Financial can offer easy and fast small business loans. Visit our site at www.ioufinancial.com to learn more about how you can borrow up to $300,000 in under 48 hours.

Ways to Utilize Customer Stories for Growing Your Startup

Customer stories seem to be really powerful. Startups should be smart enough to take the fullest advantage of inspiring customer stories or customer experiences. We know that only a great product cannot spell success. For a startup to grow and succeed you would be requiring both great marketing and also, a great product.

Startups usually do not have amazing marketing budgets. They may not be in a position to splurge on a single advertising campaign. However, the best thing about startups is that they do not require thousands to spend on advertising. Startups are known to boast strengths that they could utilize for fueling their marketing and grabbing customers. Customer stories could be used effectively for achieving incredible growth. If your business gains a lot of recognition, you could earn a lot of profits and you could make all your business debt repayments promptly on time. Your startup would be prospering without any hiccups.

You have got to agree that there is a massive difference between simple promises and real results. Every startup promises to provide a solution to a particular issue that sounds pretty exciting. However, nothing could persuade potential customers better to purchase anything than when they are actually sure that it works perfectly. This is exactly where the customer stories fit in. Startups could use effective customer stories for demonstrating how their specific products or services would be solving problems and making things easier for you. Customer stories must be powerful enough to motivate potential customers to ultimately take the buying decision. Let us explore how customer stories actually help in boosting marketing.

How Customer Stories Help in Boosting Marketing

Customer stories or powerful case studies could be utilized all through the sales and marketing funnels. They are supposed to be truly important not simply because of their versatility and flexibility but because they play a pivotal role in the accomplishment of three core responsibilities.

They Help in Building Credibility

If you are a startup and have recently started your business, it is necessary for you to convince your customers of your credibility. You need to prove to potential customers that you are trustworthy. If you are able to successfully demonstrate that there are several other people who are relying on you and are pleased and happy with your company, it becomes easier for the prospects to appreciate your worth and take the final step confidently toward buying your product or service.

They Demonstrate & Prove How Your Product Actually Works

It is obviously tough for people to understand how a product would be functioning when it is actually presented to them, in the abstract. A case study that reveals the story about the way you have assisted your customer would help other customers to visualize precisely how they would be benefitted if they work with you.

They Would Be Assisting You in Up-Selling & Cross-Selling Customers

While creating a customer story, you would be asking your customers to actually share the slightest details of how they have been successful in generating higher profits by using your product or service. When your customers start reflecting on the various benefits they had experienced with the help of your product or service, it is quite likely that they would want some more services or products from you.

Ways to Create Convincing & Compelling Customer Stories

Effective customer stories could be taking different formats including videos, written stories, and audio recordings; however, the persuasive case studies would be having certain things in common.

They Would Be Talking About the Core of the Issue:

Prospects are interested in knowing if your products could solve the issues they are facing. You must communicate very clearly that you appreciate and understand the problems and the associated pain.

They Describe in Detail the Precise Solution You Provided:

When you describe in detail and talk about precisely how you had helped in solving the problem, your customers would be visualizing the solution clearly in their minds. They could easily visualize how your product would actually work.

They Demonstrate How Exactly the Customer Was Benefitted:

Precisely how much revenue was generated by your product? How much savings did the customer achieve? How much time did he save? How many new customers did your client gain after using your service or product? The more clearly you are able to highlight the benefits, the easier it would be for potential customers to understand your true worth.

They Use Actual Names & Pictures:

People would not be convinced if you present a wonderful case study without including the actual name of the company. Most customers are reluctant about sharing details and personal info with others. So, it is essential to ask upfront if your customer is actually willing to contribute personal details while participating in the exercise. Many customers, on the other hand, would be incredibly excited and enthusiastic about the entire affair and would cooperate with you.

Easy Tips to Promote Your Customer Stories

  • Publish your customer stories on your website.
  • Publish a fascinating blog post.
  • Share the customer story on your social media platforms.
  • Incorporate inspiring customer stories into your presentations.
  • Request your loyal customers to share your authentic customer stories with their contacts.
  • If your customer has done something newsworthy with the help of your product, turn your customer story into an important press release to grab a whole lot of attention.

Conclusion

Stories are supposed to be shared experiences. Humans are actually hard-wired toward receiving information basically through storytelling. So customer stories would work great wonders for the growth of your startup. Customer stories could truly improve your marketing, sales, and PR. However, the outcomes depend largely on how well you go about creating customer stories and utilizing them to your advantage. Startups are clever enough to take advantage of inspiring and persuasive customer experiences for achieving unprecedented growth.

Guest post: About the Author

Marina Thomas is a marketing and communication expert. She also serves as content developer with many years of experience. She helps clients in long term wealth plans. She has previously covered an extensive range of topics in her posts, including business debt consolidation and start-ups.

How to Make The Most out of Your Direct Mail Marketing

Many people have dismissed direct mail since the introduction of online advertisement tools. While online tools are vital for small businesses, it is a mistake to assume direct mail is not as helpful; for one, it can be highly targeted. A small business owner has to purchase a mailing list with the addresses of people interested in what the company sells. It is much easier to entice people who are interested in your product or service, which is just one thing that direct mail marketing can do for a business.

Building Your Target Audience

The first step you need to take is purchasing a mailing list. The list will contain individuals who are interested in the products you sell or the services you offer. Now, some people just use that mailing list and send off their marketing material. The material is marked with a coupon or something similar that you can track if those coupons are used in your establishment later. You can slash the mailing list, and just focus on a particular area that responds well to your mailing list.

Another step you can take is to use the mailing list as a starting point. What you want to do is make a mailing list even more specific by using demographics. You probably already know which groups of people respond well to your product or services. Use that information to target your potential customers even better. What you are doing here is reducing waste because you do not want to spend so much on advertisements that may simply end up in a trash can.

Getting the Best ROI From Direct Mail

Making sure your direct mail marketing is effective takes work. There is no doubt about that truth. The following are a few tips to ensure the best ROI you can:

Clear Call to Action

Potential customers do not want to be confused regarding what steps they can take to benefit from your products or services. This means your direct mail should be very clear and use simplistic language to tell potential customers about your offers.

Be Sure to Include Perks 

Potential customers are being pampered by many other businesses like yours. You need to make sure that you pay attention to the perks competitors are offering potential customers and see if you can beat them. A good option is to offer a few coupons, but you can spice it up by partnering with other complimentary businesses to double your clientèle.

Use Names Effectively

People love to receive mail, especially mail that is addressed to them directly rather than just the resident. You want to make sure that you use the name of the person who lives in the location. Pepper the recipient’s name throughout the letter or marketing material.

Try to Avoid Being Aggressive

Yes, you want new customers, but you do not want to seem too desperate. Do your best to ensure you only include a few calls to action or just one. People do not like a pushy salesperson, so they will not appreciate pushy marketing material.

Taking these steps should help reduce the chances of your material being tossed away with the rest of the refuse in a household. Make sure you design your marketing material with intent. Usually, what works best is something clean, simple, and printed with big letters. It would be wise to speak to a direct mail marketing consultant. This specialist can help get your message across effectively.

Guest post: About the Author

Caylanne Crowne is a contributing writer and the media specialist for Allegra Network. She regularly writes for marketing blogs with an emphasis in career building and print marketing.

How to Help Your Audience Connect with your Brand Through Compelling Images

A famous saying states that a picture is worth a thousand words. This couldn’t be more true when it comes to increasing brand recognition and improving customer loyalty.

Did you know that 67% of consumers pay more attention to images, and often find them more important than written content, such as descriptions and even customer reviews? Including images in the way you tell the story about your company helps individuals create an emotional connection and become lifelong shoppers.

Read on to learn what type of images you should consider implementing for your business and how to choose the best ones within your budget.

What Images Can Help Your Branding?

Logo

Think of world-famous logos that require less than a second for a consumer to recognize them – such as Nike, McDonalds or Apple. This can help you understand how important a compelling logo is to the success of your business.

“We have less time and less space to tell our stories in than ever before,” says Alina Wheeler, branding expert. “To rise above the clutter, a symbol or a logo is the fastest communication known to man. It unlocks associations with your brand on sight, so it’s important to get it right the first time around.”

Product Images

Images run the show when it comes to designing your products or showcasing them on your website, catalog or in your marketing materials.

Website/ Marketing Images

As online users are bombarded by information, they skim over website content quickly and prefer images to help tell the story. Images are also highly shareable and boost search engine optimization (SEO).

Where Do I Find Compelling Images for My Branding Needs?

Stock Images Websites

As a small business owner, you likely don’t have the budget to hire world class photographers or marketing experts. However, that does not mean you should forego using attractive and high resolution images for your business.

You can find high quality, yet low cost images on a variety of websites, such as iStockphoto.com‎, Shutterstock and iStock. These websites include free and affordable stock images that you can purchase for commercial use. Some of the images can be purchased for as low as $1! Simply type in the keyword or topic you need (dentist, secretary, high-heeled shoes) and find all the related images available to be purchased.

Fiverr

While stock images may be useful for design elements, when it comes to creating unique visuals for your brand, such as your logo, you can’t rely on an existing image. Fiverr is a very useful site to connect with freelance designers (and other specialists).

For as low as $5 (and up), you can find a professional to create a one-of-a-kind image for your business needs. Fiverr also allows you to read freelance profiles and customer reviews as well as view samples of their previous work.

Create Your Custom Images

You don’t have to be a professional graphic designer to create images for your company. If you would rather do this task yourself than rely on others, you can do so with the helpful of online tools.

Sites such as Canva provide ready-made templates so you can create specific visuals for marketing, articles, infographics and more! Freelogodesign promises to help you create a free logo in just minutes. You can then add that logo to merchandize to market your products or services.

There are a multitude of ways to find free and affordable images, or make them yourself with the help of existing tools. If you would rather invest in your brand by hiring a professional or need financial help in utilizing the images you created to market your brand, IOU Financial can help. Visit our site at www.ioufinancial.com to learn about our quick and easy small business loans.

 

 

 

Instagram Ads: The Basics

If you have explored advertising on any social media platform, you have likely focused your attention on Facebook. However, a rising star in this space is Instagram, which has grown from 90 to 800 million since 2013!

Although Instagram gives owners the potential to connect to a large group of users, cutting through the online clutter is difficult for small businesses that are trying to increase their brand recognition… Simply posting content and waiting to grow your following organically can take months, if not years.

A better strategy to reach a mass audience instantly may be to pay for Instagram Ads. The ads would be featured as “sponsored posts” that would come up on users’ feeds as they browse. The goals of utilizing Instagram ads would be to “grow brand exposure, website traffic, generate new leads, and move current leads down the funnel (and hopefully towards converting).”

Are Instagram Ads Effective?

Is investing in Instagram ads effective? The results speak for themselves. “In March 2017, over 120 million Instagrammers visited a website, got directions, called, emailed, or direct messaged to learn about a business based on an Instagram ad,” according to a source.

Why are Instagram Ads Effective?

Unlike advertising on a website or on television, where you can choose the channel, but not who sees your ads, Instagram allows you to target your audience base. This means that you have the ability for your ads to be shown to selected individuals, based on factors such as gender, age, location, interests, etc.

Plus, you can create groups for each ad, choosing between:

“Saved Audiences – interest-based targeting

Custom Audiences – retargeting audiences and customers

Lookalike Audiences – people similar to your other audiences”

How to Set up an Instagram Account to Create Ads

Using Instagram is very easy, and a business can set up an account within an hour to get started with the following steps.

  1. Because Facebook bought Instagram, you can use your Facebook account or create a personal Instagram account to get started.
  2. Sign up for a Business Manager account.
  3. Create a Business Page.
  4. Enter all the required information, such as your business name and details and your contact information.
  5. Create your ad.
  6. Choose an ad objective, which includes goals like brand recognition, engagement, reach, traffic, app installs, lead generation, etc.
  7. Choose who the ad will target, decide on your budget, create a schedule and narrow down on the creative aspect of your ad.
  8. Start advertising!

Examples of Inspiring Instagram Ads

If you are not extremely creative, there are a multitude of examples online of Instagram ads that can inspire you, such as:

55 Amazing Instagram Ads

84 Best Instagram Ad Examples in 2018

You do not require a large budget to get started with advertising on Instagram. AdEspresso’s research has found that the average price of a pay-per-click Instagram ad is around $0.80. Although, to reach a substantial amount of people, you may want to hit the ground running!

IOU Financial can help you to market and grow your business with a small business loan of up to $300,000. Call us at 1.866.217.8564 or visit us online at www.ioufinancial.com to learn more!