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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.

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 Small Business Marketing Tips to Implement During COVID-19

Covid-19 has resulted in drastic changes in human life and socio-economic culture. The virus started spreading in December 2019, has resulted in the close-down of almost every country around the globe. The world is adapting towards the unprecedented situation, yet the loss it has caused to humanity, as well as the economy, is enormous.

Countries such as the United States, Italy, and Australia have suffered severely, along with multiple other countries, resulting in an unstable economy worldwide. More than 30 billion US citizens have been unemployed since the outbreak of the pandemic, and the number doesn’t seem to stop anytime soon.

All types of businesses, including the small scale, have suffered badly due to the spread of Coronavirus. The unavailability of resources and funds have caused multiple business owners to shut their businesses temporarily or permanently.

Some of the business owners think they will eventually have to shut down if the situations continue to persist. This tough time requires a bit of adaptability and reprioritization in your business models. The following are the 5 marketing tips for your small business that you can implement.

Adapt and Adjust your Marketing Strategy

Initially, most of the countries and citizens were in denial of the severity of this situation; however, over time, people have realized how crucial a time it is. Due to this, people are now adapting to the new “normal.” The new normal includes contact-less interactions, social distancing, and minimal exposure to the outside world.

Because of this, your business strategies must alter and adjust according to the new normal. You must be considerate of your situation around and change your content accordingly. You can experiment with the content and posting. Now that the lifestyles have changed, there is a change in trends and types of content as well.

Now is the Time to Show Empathy

The world is facing a tough time, and everyone needs a little bit of kindness. It is important that you, as a brand, must provide support towards the clients and audience. Whatever scenario that you might’ve faced during the pandemic, be sure to spread positivity, strength, and awareness through your platforms.

In the previous few weeks, we have seen a massive shift in several brand’s messages, where they stopped their usual functions and started to help out the community with the COVID-19 crisis. Multiple businesses donated a part of their sales for the relief, food delivery services delivered food for free to those in need, clothing brands such as Adidas, LV, etc. started producing masks for people to stay safe.

No matter how small your cause is, be sure to spread empathy and kindness even in your content. Being blinded towards the situation is not a good strategy to follow in such circumstances.

It is important to focus on your relationship with your current customers. A relationship with your audience can help you gain customer loyalty and trust for the long term. You can stay connected with your audience through:

  • Emails
  • Updating website
  • Informative live sessions and chat

Pivot Your Business

Pivoting your business is not easy, however, if the situation demands it, then you must think of ways how you can continue your service while being considerate. Think of ways to facilitate your clients to avail of your services during such a time.

For example, if you are a retail store, then you must shift to an e-commerce platform to facilitate the customers. You must also keep the virtual audience engaged during this time and not ghost them.

If you have introduced a new aspect to your business model, then make sure to communicate it to your audience and create content around it.

  • Create an online presence if you have not already
  • Build a Multi-vendor marketplace
  • Share useful and relevant information
  • Promote your services through social media campaigns
  • Introduce people to “behind-the-scenes” of your business

Work on Marketing Strategy

The situation around the globe is unexpected, and every day is a new day. Staying aware of the current situation and working on your marketing strategies to fulfill the need of the hour is important.

Stay ahead and try to work around the new strategy to follow. For example, if you have both physical and online stores, now is the time to focus more on your online platforms, promote them, advertise them, and streamline the processes.

Take this time as an opportunity to work on your website’s SEO, ranking, visuals, and inventory management. You can also look for ways to ensure contact-less, safe, and secure delivery for your audience.

Be there for your team members and employees, and guide them towards what can be done next. Now is the time to actively take action while making smart moves. Your new strategy must depend on the type of business. However, a few suggestions are:

  • Help others through your services
  • Paid ads are cheap these days, make use of them
  • Offer online webinars, sessions, classes

Partner With Other Business

Another strategy to follow in the times of COVID-19 is to collaborate with another business to help with the loss of sales or for a better cause. For example, partnering with a clothing brand for the production of masks or with any medical facilitators can help both the entities involved.

You can use your digital platform to raise awareness and help facilitate a cause. Multiple social media influencers used their platforms to raise awareness about Coronavirus precautions in collaboration with the World Health Organization and government.

There can be multiple ways to collaborate with another brand. An example of such a partnership is; Metro Bis is a restaurant in Connecticut, partnered up with several grocery stores and prepared meals that were available at the grocers to help overcome the loss they faced due to the lockdown.

Other examples of such partnerships can be coaxial cable businesses offering discounted prices to internet providers during the pandemic, delivery services collaborating with e-commerce platforms to expand services whereby helping businesses. Get creative in how you reach customers.

Guest Post: About the Author

Arslan Hassan is an electrical engineer with a passion for writing, designing, and anything tech-related. His educational background in the technical field has given him the edge to write on many topics. He occasionally writes blog articles for Shireen Inc.

How Email Marketing Can Increase Small Business SEO

Digital marketing is a blanket statement used to categorize all types of marketing that happen via digital and internet-enabled devices. Ideally, every digital marketing campaign should incorporate every possible channel to maximize its return. Each channel works differently in how they reach out and engage with customers, but using them together is the best way to get the best out of their individual and collective efforts.

Unfortunately, when it comes to small business marketing, many brands either employ one channel or use a number of them independent of each other. Some of them think the aim should just be about keeping their branding and messaging efforts consistent with each channel.

What is needed is a symbiotic approach. Granted, the immense mutual benefits that having all these channels brings aren’t usually evident right off the bat. But this doesn’t mean that these advantages do not already exist from the beginning. This is especially true in the case of SEO and email.

These channels are among the biggest digital marketing routes, and understanding their mutual relationship can kick things up for your marketing significantly. We have outlined a few ways in which your email marketing strategies can rub off on your small business SEO efforts in the right way.

Emails help you achieve your SEO goals by bringing in qualified traffic

The ultimate objective of SEO marketing is to bring in more customers, and consequently, more revenue. Email can rake in massive traffic to your website — especially if you have a massive email list — like no other marketing channel. And not just any kind of traffic, but qualified traffic; people that have a higher propensity to follow through and convert after reading your email.

This ability is down to how effective personalization is with emails. Personalization allows marketers to send subscriber-specific emails and newsletters to everyone on their email list. When a customer knows that an email was crafted specifically for them and their interests, the potential for a click-through from them shoots up significantly.

If you haven’t started doing this yet, it’s thankfully not that difficult to get started. The first thing you should do is to segment your email list according to subscriber interests. For instance, writing service review companies like Best Writers Online and Online Writers Rating can categorize their email subscribers according to the type of writing service they need. Options include research papers, dissertations, essays, and paper writing.

This way, when they review new writing services, they can notify the different segments of their email list about only the writing services that align with their interests. The ability for an email to bring in this traffic lessens the burden on SEO and enables it to meet its target faster.

Email traffic will boost engagement on your site

No one wants visitors who hop on their site and then go off as quickly as they came. A huge factor that causes this is a disinterest in your site’s resources, content, product, or service offerings. Of course, this means that such visitors are not targeted, high-quality traffic.

However, with your email list, you can solve this problem somewhat. The traffic coming from your highly personalized emails are already interested in your offering and content. This interest causes them to spend more time engaging with your site’s resources. This can only be a good thing for your SEO needs. An average longer site visit and a lower bounce rate help your website rank better on search results pages. No one is sure how important these metrics are to ranking a website, but they certainly do not hurt your chances of ranking.

So even though these site visitors are coming from your email list, they are helping you boost your positioning for keywords. Generally, as long as you remain efficient at driving the right subscribers to the right content, your visibility on search engines can only continue to grow. Essentially, your email marketing will continue to make your SEO efforts and entire small business marketing look good.

Use data from your email testing to plan your on-site content strategy

When it comes to emails, a marketer’s job is never really done. It is common practice for email marketers to tweak the emails continually they send to their list to see which iteration converts the most. And there’s a lot to tweak and test: subject lines, tone and length of copy, CTA, personalization, sender name, target audience, sender’s name, and landing page, among other things.

Besides better conversion, another benefit of continuous testing is that you’re garnering a huge bank of data and insights from the results of your testing. These insights can be employed in your other digital marketing channels to significant effect.

For instance, let’s say that during your testing, you notice that your subscribers responded favorably to a particular email newsletter headline, you may want to consider using that as the title for the corresponding on-site page or to use it as a title for a related article. You may also discover that a particular call-to-action is responsible for a considerable majority of clicks. Consider using such a CTA all over your website, especially the home page.

The good thing about using these insights is that they come from your email list, which is an already proven customer base. So essentially, you’re planning your content strategy with reliable data. This method of “email marketing SEO” helps to draw a connecting bridge that can carry the successes of your email marketing planning over to your SEO efforts.

Repurpose your high-value emails and newsletters as content for your site

Coming up with original, new, and valuable content consistently is sometimes tricky, even for the best marketers. One way to keep delivering content to your email subscribers is to curate some of the best content from within your industry that is relevant to their interests. Use emails to send these posts across to your subscriber lists.

You could also focus on finding gaps in the way your industry talks about pertinent industry-specific issues. Then address these gaps in your emails.

But what if it is site content that is your problem, and not email content? It is still essentially the same problem — a content problem. It can even be solved with a combination of curated and original content. However, another huge source of site content could be your emails. At this point, you’ve probably already sent a lot of high-value content to your subscribers via email. Consider repurposing these topics for your blog and resource pages. Besides, emails can only be so long. Making your emails and newsletters into full-blown high-quality site content not only gives your site more SEO juice, but it also gives you an avenue to expand on relevant information in a way that emails do not allow.

Encourage your subscribers to share your content on social media

If your subscribers connect with your content, they’ll most likely have no problem sharing it on their social media. But asking for the share through your emails allows them to share socially through your marketing campaign.

Google has come out to say that social media shares do not directly help site ranking. Still, a rise in social visibility positively impacts your SEO and improves search visibility, as this Hootsuite study reveals.

Conclusion

As I stated earlier in the article, digital marketing channels are best deployed to complement each other. Don’t be deceived if these channels look unrelated at first glance; the real gem is beneath the surface. Using the small business marketing advice on this list will put you in good standing with your subscribers, and with Google’s rankings and search visibility.

Guest Post: About the Author

Aaron Swain is a writing specialist. He is passionate about marketing and SEO. He expands and improves his skills throughout the writing process to help and inspire people.

Relationship Marketing — What is it and How Can You Use It?

Does your marketing process create long-term relationships with your customers, or do you instead focus on getting the sale and moving on to the next prospect?

There’s a lot of value in building strong relationships. They enable you to spend less time and money on new customers, and it maximizes the value of the ones you have. And customer retention makes a big difference in your bottom line; a retention increase of 5% can increase revenue 25-95%.

What is relationship marketing and how can you take advantage of it to improve your return on marketing investment? Here’s what you need to know.

What is Relationship Marketing?

Relationship marketing is designed to foster long-term engagement, interaction, and loyalty with customers. You want to develop strong relationships by personalizing your marketing approach and meeting their needs as directly as possible.

This relationship is created at the beginning when a prospect is just becoming aware of your brand, and it is fostered through and after the sale. Excellent customer service is a crucial component, as many people leave a company, not because of an inferior product, but because of a poor experience.

Businesses can use a variety of technologies to facilitate the relationship, from social media outreach to email marketing. The data created from these interactions has to be analyzed so your brand can keep pace with how people are reacting to your messages. The key is to deeply understand your customer —  when you know exactly who they are and what their most significant needs are, you can construct highly personalized marketing that helps them feel connected to you.

Understand Your Current Brand Loyalty

The starting place for any relationship marketing program is to know where you are now. Hopefully you already have a strong brand that engenders loyalty, but if you don’t, you can learn how to create one. Understand the psychology behind what makes customers loyal to your brand, and make a plan to move in that direction. Do you currently have a customer loyalty program? If you do, how well is it working? What feedback are you getting from customers who use it— and who stop using it?

Finally, what does your current customer churn look like? Today’s big data and technology mean that you can see this at a very detailed level without much effort. You can not only see what happened in the past but predict what your churn levels will be going forward. Once you’ve gathered data on where you currently are, it’s time to use relationship marketing to improve loyalty and customer retention.

Use Data to Personalize Your Approach

You already understand precisely who your customers are; now it’s time to be deeply personalized in your approach. People crave a unique experience that feels like you know them personally. Companies like Amazon, Netflix, and Hulu do big business by using individual customer history to recommend future purchases.

A personalized experience helps a prospect bond to your company and trust you more strongly. They believe that you understand their needs,  and they are more receptive to hearing your ideas on how to meet those needs. This trust is the beginning of a relationship, and when you keep your communication consistent, that connection deepens over time.

Create Compelling Content

Part of building a relationship with your customers involves not continually focusing on the sale. You want to bring them into your brand story and help them to see a more personal view of your company. For instance, Marriott advertised in 2017 on Snapchat with “Snapisodes” that highlight a variety of travel destinations. Of course, they hope you’ll book with them when you travel, but the marketing itself isn’t a sales pitch. It’s educational and informative and helps build the relationship young people have with the brand.

As another example, Zappos uses their “Beyond the Box” page as a newsroom of behind-the-scenes content, including a story about an employee determined to live their best life despite cancer.

These stories aren’t direct sales pitches, but they are emotional, compelling snapshots that help readers feel more connected to the brand.

Make Your Sales Process Efficient and User-Friendly

When people are ready to buy, you don’t want to put any obstacles in their path. Be sure you’re aware of the user experience on your website and throughout the sales process. Smooth user experience will reinforce the sale and increase your profitability.

You also need to make sure your behind-the-scenes processes are efficient, from the sale to customer service. Customer service is especially important because a poor experience here can undo all the hard work you’ve put into building your customer relationship. With an easy-to-use sales process and great post-purchase support, you can win a customer for life.

Maintain Your Relationship After the Sale

The biggest goal of relationship marketing is to maintain your connection to a customer after the initial sale. When an existing customer makes a second, third, or further purchase, they often spend more money. You also don’t have to spend all the marketing time and money on winning those subsequent purchases.

Existing customers aren’t just valuable because of the additional buying they do, but also because of the advocacy they can provide for your brand. A happy customer will talk to friends and family about your products and encourage them to buy as well.

A great customer relationship pays significant dividends over the long term. That’s why you can’t afford to focus on single-transaction marketing. Start building relationships today!

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.

Guide to Marketing Your Small Business

When you run a small business, you may not have as much money in your budget to work with as you would like.

That doesn’t mean, though, that you should cut your marketing expenses when funds are tight.

As a small business owner, marketing is one of your most valuable tools. As such, it is one that should never be neglected. While you may not have the money to run multi-million-dollar campaigns, there are marketing methods that are affordable on even the tightest of budgets.

If you are looking to get the most out of a limited marketing budget, keep reading to discover some helpful tips in this guide to marketing your small business.

Get a Clear Picture of What You Can Afford

If you know that you have a limited marketing budget but don’t know exactly how much you can afford to spend, now is the time to crunch some numbers. Before you dive into creating a campaign, you need to figure out exactly what you can (and can’t) afford.

Coming up with a marketing budget can be tricky. If this is something that you are struggling with, talk to your accountant. They’ll run the numbers for you and help you determine how much money you can afford to invest in your business’ marketing efforts.

Create an Elevator Pitch

As a business owner, you should be marketing all the time regardless of where you are. That’s where your elevator pitch – a short statement intended to engage someone and pique their interest in your products or services – comes in.

According to a study conducted by Microsoft, the average human attention span is a mere eight seconds. In other words, you only have eight seconds to engage someone and make them want to know more about your business. From there, you only have around a minute to sell them on your service or product and make them want to buy.

In short, you need a killer elevator pitch.

If you are good with words, writing your own pitch is your best bet. If it’s something you struggle with, though, paying a professional writer to help you out is well worth the investment. A solid elevator pitch is something that you’ll use time and time again, and the return on your investment will be huge.

Invest in the Right Swag

When you are working with a limited budget, trying to market your business with wholesale hats or t-shirts might seem out of the question. Hear us out, though.

While the initial cost of investing in branded swag for your business may seem out of reach, there are ways to make this type of marketing more affordable. And using the right promotional items can provide a huge return on your investment.

Buying customized pens or keychains has a smaller upfront investment than buying t-shirts or hats, but think about what usually happens to those items. They end up in junk drawers or trash cans and are never seen or thought about again.

Something like a hat or t-shirt, on the other hand, is likely to be used time and time again. If you buy wholesale blank t-shirts and print your logo on them, every time someone wears one, they become a walking billboard for your business. The number of impressions that can be made by a single hat or tee is huge, so this type of swag offers a lot of bang for its buck.

If you can’t afford to pay for custom-printed apparel or accessories for your business, there are ways to make it more affordable. You could, for example, buy wholesale blank t-shirts and customize them yourself using iron-on vinyl decals. Another option? If you have a friend or associate with a screen printing or embroidery shop, see if they would be willing to customize your blank hats or shirts in exchange for the products or services your business offers.

Embrace Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is huge, and it should be a part of every small business owner’s overall marketing strategy. When you consider the fact that email marketing has an average return on investment of $38 for every $1 spent, there is no denying that money spent on digital marketing is money well spent.

Email isn’t the only option, though.

Search engine optimization, online advertising campaigns, social media marketing, etc. can all help you build awareness of your brand and connect with your target audience. Don’t try tackling it all on your own, though. Working with a marketing agency is well worth the investment. Keep in mind, too, that most agencies offer service packages at various price levels to make it possible for even smaller businesses to afford their services.

Build Relationships

Consumers don’t want to be sold to. They want to have meaningful relationships with companies that provide the products and services they need. Rather than inundating members of your target audience with advertisements and marketing materials, get to know them. Provide them with valuable resources that will help them out without costing them a single penny.

Keep in mind, too, that keeping customers is less costly than acquiring new ones. Make customer retention a primary focus in your business. Keep your current customers happy, and give them an incentive to share your business with their family and friends. Treat people the way you would like to be treated, and you will likely see an uptick in your revenue.

Conclusion

You don’t have to have a multi-million-dollar budget in order to successfully market your small business. As you can see, there are all sorts of affordable marketing methods that will enable you to build brand awareness, gain new customers, and keep existing ones without spending a small fortune. You may need to get creative, but you can market your company on even the tightest of shoestring budgets.

Guest Post: About the Author

Brenda Kimble is a writer and stay-at-home mother of two daughters and a son, plus their beagle named Duke! In her free time, she loves crafting, spending time with her family, and writing for companies. She also enjoys strolling the streets of her quaint neighborhood in Austin, Texas to find the trendiest hot spots for fashion, food, and live music.

How To Recover From A Sudden Fall In Web Traffic

One of the things no one likes to see when logging into their Google Analytics account is that their website traffic is in decline. Especially if it seems to be completely out of the blue, and very suddenly. There is no reason to start panicking yet, and you should be aware that any feedback, even the negative one can be helpful, and actually turn out to be a great way to improve. If you’ve noticed such a decline, it simply means it is high time to perform another SWOT analysis of both your brand and its website. Follow these guidelines and find your weaknesses in order to level up! 

Double-check the data

Before starting with the damage control process, you need to make sure you are dealing with the correct and up-to-date data. There is always a possibility that the latest upgrade has altered the status, so the first step is to log into your admin account and inspect the code to check for any delays in the reporting of data. Imagine that, you may not even have the problem! You can do this by entering the control/command + F, and search for the analytics section. If your code is not altered and there is no missing data, it’s time to see what’s caused the drop.

A more thorough analysis of the data can be done with the help of the search console. Google is offering this option for the fastest tracking of errors, in order to improve your website’s user experience. The next step is to check the ranking of your targeted keywords, so you can optimize them better if needed. You can even check for any other websites that are proving a link to your site by choosing the “Search Traffic” option. External links are important, but the internal linking structure maybe even more. You don’t want users to have any error messages due to some broken links, which may be the cause of the fall. Now, when you’ve gathered this information, you are ready for the next step.

Check for Google penalties

There are numerous messages from Google which can help you see the problem. So, if your website has been violating some of the recommended rules and regulations, Google has reserved the right to give you a penalty. Don’t worry, if this is the case, there are some things to do about it, and get the said penalty removed, bringing your traffic to the original levels. One of the most common reasons for the violation is the omission factor. By using this phrase, Google is telling you that your website has weak links in the code.

For example, your website may be prone to some processes that are not in your control, which can not be a good thing. Remember that Google is trying to warn you because if not in compliance with all the regulations, your website can be an easy target to be hacked. And everything you’ve been building and working on can be lost, not even to mention that you’d be risking your visitors’ personal information and IP addresses. You need to make sure that your site doesn’t support or allow any type of spam content, whether from users, or some other hack-related problem.

This is only one of the reasons why it’s highly recommended to hire a service of a digital marketing agency to help you track the regulations and any irregularities. Furthermore, investing in SEO services will result in better on and off-page optimization, preventing most of these issues. The experts can read into the results faster, and there are whole teams of people dedicated to specific areas, who have already dealt with similar issues, meaning they will know what is the priority. They can also help you in the analysis of your competition, checking for any negative mentioning of your brand.

Pinpoint the major problems

It is true that the website is losing traffic, but it can’t possibly be the whole thing. Meaning, there must be certain pages or keywords that are declining in a number of clicks. You must identify them precisely, and track these changes. Change the date range in order to see if the decline is steady, and compare the results for several time intervals. This will help you put the things in perspective, and gain some valuable input. Perhaps it’s time to alter the targeted keywords, or add some new ones!

If you have established that the penalty was given, check for other search engines to confirm this. So, if your ranking hasn’t dropped on, for example, Yahoo browser, there is your confirmation. There are two types of penalties and you’ll have to deal differently with algorithmic and manual penalties. Check for the Manual Actions field in the Search Traffic option to see if you have any messages. Any duplicate content or unnatural links can be considered a threat, and you need to remove it as soon as possible.

Damaging reviews and misleading content

Consider the possibility that there is a decline in your website traffic due to some bad publicity stunts created by your competition. Or maybe one of your customers was not satisfied with your service, and it turns out they have a blog, vlog or are popular influencers. People are following the trends and listening to reviews of “relevant” others, so check for anything that could’ve caused the problem, as you may be able to fix it. Brand awareness is crucial in business, but it can be a double-edged sword.

The public perception of your brand is hard to establish but quite easy to destroy. Negative reviews can follow you for a long period of time, and they will drive away potential customers. And not only from your website but from your brand completely. Don’t put yourself in such a risk, and work hard to get to the bottom of it, if this is the case. Try to find the source of these negative reviews and offer a formal apology, along with a gift in merchandise, service or discounts for future cooperation.

Conclusion

There are plenty of reasons and causes for the fall in traffic, and for each of those numerous variables to consider. The best you can do in order to solve the problem is to investigate all the data thoroughly and invest in a professional service to help you speed up the analysis. Whatever the reason behind the decline, you ought to approach the problem systematically and without any panic moves. Be aware that there is a real possibility that traffic simply fluctuates if you can’t find a problem in your code or any other sources we’ve mentioned. You can always use this situation to improve your business in general, and maybe even find out about new methods and strategies you can apply to grow traffic.

Guest post: About the Author

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

How to Leverage Customer Reviews to Grow Your Small Business

You shouldn’t underestimate the importance of customer reviews to support and expand your business. The vast majority of consumers read reviews before making a purchase and use social media to help them decide. Customers who take the time to write reviews want to see them posted and discussed. Moreover, prospective customers want to read reviews. Therefore, for better or worse, customer reviews are necessary if you want to sell your products or services.

It’s your challenge, and opportunity, to leverage customer reviews to the benefit of your business. Check out these tips on getting the most from customer reviews:

  • Make search results work for you.

    By increasing your online visibility, you can increase website traffic and exposure to customer reviews. You can use these reviews for SEO and search rank purposes, as well as showcase your excellent offerings.

  • Share positive reviews in your marketing efforts.

    Most consumers will have a better perception of your offerings when they are exposed to positive reviews. For example, if a customer gives you a great review on Yelp, feature it on Facebook and Twitter. There is no harm in bragging, especially when sourced from a happy customer.

  • Take negative reviews seriously.

    Don’t be defensive when you receive an unflattering review. Instead, respond to it by offering your assurance to address the issue. Then, do just that – use the review to improve your products and services. Reviews can reveal all sorts of problems, whether at your store or on your website. If multiple reviews identify the same problem, your top priority should be to fix it.

  • Good reviews can improve your profit margin.

    When you receive consistently good reviews, you’ll likely see an increased demand for your offerings. That should allow you to raise prices and beef up your profits.

  • Answer questions.

    If you have a small business, you probably have a manageable number of customers who have questions. In other words, you should take the time to answer all the questions you receive on your website and social media.

  • Use reviews to gather intelligence.

    You have competitors, right? It’s worth your time to monitor their reviews on sites they don’t control. It’s a great way to learn about their strengths and weaknesses. Use that information to adjust your own business to accentuate why you’re better than the competition.

  • Invite bloggers to review your offerings and then link to those reviews.

    When a popular, authoritative website links to yours, you gain some valuable link juice that gooses your SEO. Therefore, consider contacting well-known bloggers and influencers and ask them to review your business. See if you can suggest the link’s anchor text to extract maximum SEO value. You can encourage bloggers to review your business via an affiliate program in which you actively promote the products of affiliates.
    The affiliate program’s financial incentives can encourage bloggers to review your offerings.

  • Make your website review-friendly.

    That means asking visitors to leave reviews and making it easy for them to do so. Make reviews easy to find, whether on your website or on mobile devices. Don’t ignore valid bad reviews, as these make your business more trustworthy. Of course, always respond to the negative reviews in a positive, non-defensive way.

  • Seek reviews and comments through email campaigns.

    You should be building your customer email list all the time. Use that list to ask for a review whenever a customer makes a purchase.

As you can see, there are many actions you can take to get more value from customer reviews. It may take some extra work, but when leveraged properly, that additional work should pay for itself many times over and help you grow your business.

How to Increase Your Visitor-to-Lead Conversion Rate

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

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

Implement site-wide CTAs

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

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

 

Use social proof to your advantage

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

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

Publish customer reviews

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

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

Rely on regular analytics

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

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

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

Guest Post: About the Author

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

Where Should You Spend Your Marketing Budget in 2020?

In general, small businesses allocate 7% to 12% of their gross revenues to marketing. This compares with the Small Business Administration’s suggestion of spending 7% to 8% on marketing. Of that amount, the total budgeted to digital marketing is expected to rise to 45% in 2020 compared to 42% in 2019. The biggest share of digital marketing expenditures will go to video marketing, and social media ads will account for 25% of the average digital marketing budget. Let’s dig a little deeper to see how you should spend your marketing dollars.

Calculating Your Marketing Budget

It’s not too hard, just follow these steps:

  1. Identify your gross revenue: This is revenue before any expenses, deductions, or allowances. If you are a new business or the market has changed, you can use estimated revenues.
  2. Determine your ideal marketing budget: If your company is younger than five years old, your budget should be in the 12% to 20% range. You need to spend a high amount to help establish name recognition. Older companies should budget between 6% and 12% unless you are establishing a new brand name.

For example, assume your business is a startup and you expect to gross $100,000 in the first year. With a budget between 12% and 20%, your marketing expenditures should range from $12,000 and $20,000.

On the other hand, let’s say your company is 10 years old and grosses $1 million annually. With a budget of 6% to 12%, you should expect to spend between $60,000 and $120,000 this year on marketing.

Allocating Your Budgeted Funds

To know how to allocate your 2020 marketing budget across online and offline channels, you should review what worked in 2019. To start, identify the 5 to 10 most successful 2019 marketing strategies in terms of leads and sales. Break down the information to categorize your previous-year marketing spending, including:

  • Branding
  • Email
  • Events
  • Public relations
  • Print ads
  • SEO
  • Social media
  • Training
  • Website

The quality of your marketing data will help determine how much value you can extract from this exercise. To the extent possible, you want to spend money on the strategies with the highest marketing return on investment (ROI).

Understand 2020 Digital Marketing Trends

As you ponder your marketing expenditures, consider these trends:

  1. More than 90% of customers claim to rely on influencers to help them decide on purchases. In other words, it makes sense to allocate money for influencer fees.
  2. You really can’t afford to ignore video because it gets results. You can create streaming or live video for a modest cost. Check your community resources for companies that can handle video for you.
  3. Sophistication is on the rise. Look for increased use of artificial intelligence, video search, and 5G networks.
  4. You can better convert website visitors to leads by making your site more interactive. Think about adding live chat, quizzes, games, and even virtual reality.
  5. Do you understand micro-moments? These are instances where folks reflexively utilize their device(s) to do, watch, discover, buy, or learn something. In a micro-moment, people are ready to decide and/or spend money. For you, this means helping visitors act on their micro-moment. You do this by providing value, including timely articles, links to valuable resources, tools, help desks, etc., on websites and apps.
  6. Be aware that smartphones may eclipse websites this year in terms of video-based advertising.
  7. Concentrate your marketing on social media sites most relevant to your potential customers, be it Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc.
  8. Never forget that content is king. That means you should allocate sufficient budget to pay for high-quality, authoritative, and timely articles employing SEO features to drive an organic presence in search results.

How IOU Financial Can Help

Frequently, a mismatch develops between revenue collection and marketing expenditures. In other words, you may need to borrow money to exercise a timely marketing strategy. IOU Financial can provide quick, hassle-free funding so that you can realize your marketing objectives on your timetable. Contact us today for more information.