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How to Get Customers to Engage With Business Text Messaging

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

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

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

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

Encourage Opt-Ins

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

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

Follow the Law

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

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

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

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

Create a Personalized Experience

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

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

Insider Information

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

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

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

Are You Forgetting the Offline Marketing of Your Online Business?

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

Wrong!

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

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

Local Newspaper Ads

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

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

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

Both ofthese options offer you low-cost advertising.

Join Your Local Chamber of Commerce

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

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

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

Attend Trade Shows

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

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

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

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

Use Branded Merch

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

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

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

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

Help Your Audience

Freebies don’t always have to be tangible.

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

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

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

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

Cross Promotions With Complementary Businesses

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

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

Leverage Guerilla Marketing Tactics

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

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

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

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

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

Guest Post: About the Author

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

How to Perform an SEO Audit of your Website

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

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

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

How to Conduct an SEO Audit

Verify Google Indexing

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

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

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

Conduct a Website Crawl

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

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

Verify Company Name Search Results

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

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

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

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

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

9 Tips to Create an Engaging Email Marketing Campaign

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

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

1.   Write a Standout Subject Line

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

The best examples usually include details such as:

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

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

2.   Segment and Personalize

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

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

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

3.   Keep It Concise and Well-Structured

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

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

4.   Offer Real Value

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

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

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

5.   Organize Q/A Sessions

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

6.   Add Only One CTA

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

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

7.   Use Digital Tools

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

8.   Schedule Emails Cleverly

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

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

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

9.   Measure the Results of Your Campaigns

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

Guest Post: About the Author

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

Small Business Owner’s Guide to Podcast Marketing

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

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

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

How to Make a Podcast

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

The Technical Aspect

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

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

Content and format

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

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

Podcast Promotion

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

Social Media Platforms

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

Be My Guest and I’ll Be Yours

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

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

Advertising Your Podcast vs. Podcast Advertising

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

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

Guest Post: About the Author

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

8 Great Lead Generation Tactics for Your Small Business

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

Act as the Expert: Try Content Marketing

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

Rely on Leaders: Advertise on the Right Platforms

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

Market Smart: Tout Your Strengths

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

Go Digital: Try Targeted Marketing

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

 

Put Yourself Out There: Attend Industry Events

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

Go Word of Mouth: Implement a Referral Program

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

Share the Love: Forge Partnerships with Other Businesses

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

Let Them Come to You: Leverage SEO

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

Guest Post: About the Author 

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

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

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

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

Hire an Influencer

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

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

Interact with your Audience

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

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

Put a Face to your Name

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

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

Use Images

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

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

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

 

Short-Term vs. Long-Term Marketing: How to Optimize Both Strategies

Marketing is an essential pursuit for all companies, creating brand awareness for new customers, generating leads and engaging existing customers to keep them loyal. There are numerous marketing strategies, channels and goals—depending on the needs of the company.

Do you have a new product coming out? Did you just reach a significant milestone? Are you trying to breach a new market? These are all goals that may require different marketing strategies.

Marketing can be divided into short-term and long-term. Let’s discuss both to give you a more comprehensive understanding of which one (or both) is right for your business objectives.

Short-Term Marketing

Short-term marketing, also known as operational or tactical marketing, is a plan for up to one year. This method is typically implemented to promote sales and promotions, new products and services and other events foreseen in the next month to 12 months.

Short-term marketing includes a detailed action plan of the type of marketing (online, print, paid, organic, etc)., who will carry out the strategies, a budget, a sales forecast and expected reach and profit.

Examples of short-term marketing include:

  • Price promotions
  • Discounts to certain groups (military, teachers)
  • Trade shows

Long-Term Marketing

Long-term marketing is a strategy that outlays more general objectives for the next 10 years. Although short-term marketing is easier to conceptualize as it focuses on the now; once you have announced a new merger or heralded a new acquisition, what comes next?

Every company needs to have a long-term marketing plan that keeps the brand fresh and relevant in the eyes of the customers. Long term marketing is beneficial to improve on existing messaging, figure out what works and what doesn’t and optimize leads and conversions.

Examples of long-term marketing include:

  • Public Relations (PR)
  • Social media
  • Paid search engine optimization (SEO)

Best of Both

For the best ROI in marketing strategies, it is advantageous to have a detailed marketing plan. Start by identifying your target audience (who you want your messages to reach), research your competition, create a clear message and establish a budget.

Depending on these factors, outline your goals and decide which can benefit from short-term marketing (announcing a sale or growing your leads) or long-term marketing (promoting loyalty within your established network).

It’s important to keep both visions in mind when designating resources to any marketing goal. If you allocate all your funds to a short-term strategy, you may not have enough to dedicate to future growth. On the other hand, if you only think about the distant future, you may not generate enough profits to sustain your company in the short-term.

If you need financial assistance to invest in a short-term or long term-marketing plan that you feel can take your business to the next level, consider getting a small business loan. IOU Financial works with companies to help them reach their goals. Contact us today to inquire about our easy, secure and fast loans that can be funded in as little as 48 hours.

Make Your Business More Efficient With These Stunning Tips

Running a profitable business is everything but simple. A study shows that more than 540 thousand new companies are launched each month, but a staggering portion (50%) of small businesses fail within two years.

It’s obviously not so easy to start a company and keep it productive in the long-term perspective, but what can you do to prevent failure and make your team more efficient? There are tons of tricks and tactics to use here, but some of them prove to be more fruitful than others.

In this post, we will show you seven ways to make your organization super successful. Let’s take a look!

1.   Determine Business Goals

As an entrepreneur, you must have some goals that you are trying to reach. The ultimate objective is, of course, revenue generation, but this should never be the one and only business goal. On the contrary, you can only achieve it if you previously fulfill all other preconditions.

What you want to achieve depends on the nature of your business, but most companies are trying to hit the following targets:

  • Traffic increase: One of the first objectives is to raise awareness by attracting more people to visit your website.
  • Customer retention: Perhaps your goal is to build a larger base of loyal consumers.
  • Improve customer service: Customer service is an important brand differentiator, which is why you should try to improve the overall level of consumer satisfaction.
  • Lead generation: A lot of companies are trying to generate verified leads.
  • Drive conversions: Finally, you want to convince prospects to convert.

2.   Customer Service

We already mentioned that customer service is a critical part of every organization – and for good reason. According to the research, more than half of consumers have stopped doing business with a company because of a poor customer service experience.

In such circumstances, you cannot afford to neglect this segment of your business. Customer service agents have to be knowledgeable and polite, answering clients’ inquiries in a timely manner. Besides that, chatbot technology made a massive breakthrough in the last few years, so we strongly recommend you to consider adding it to your customer service portfolio.

3.   Choose Marketing Channels Wisely

Small businesses should choose their marketing channels very carefully. You probably don’t have too much money to spend on brand promotion, so you better find the most productive and cost-efficient ways to tell the world about your company.

This is where digital marketing steps in to save your day. Namely, content creation costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about three times as many leads. The best thing about it is that you can distribute pretty much the same types of content through different channels, including social media, a website, email newsletters, and so on.

Digital marketing is amazing because it allows you to reach global audiences almost instantly, but you don’t even have to spend the budget on it. If you are able to create outstanding content week after week, you can earn higher search engine ranking organically and enjoy the privilege of forming a wide fan base.

4.   Make Use of Local SEO

Do you know that 46% of all searches on Google look for local information, while 70% of customers visit a store based on information found online? More and more users conduct “near me” searches, so you should exploit this fact to make your physical store visible online. All you have to do is create a business accounton Google and add company-related information such as address, phone number, etc.

5.   Retain the Best Employees

Products, services, software, and devices don’t make a company. On the contrary, employees are what makes your organization so valuable and you must give all you have to retain the best workers. This is not only common sense but rather a proven fact as the cost to replace a highly-trained employee can exceed 200% of their annual salary.

How can you stop your best people from leaving the company? You can try a number of different methods:

  • We all work to make a decent living, so it’s always a good idea to give your finest employees a raise.
  • You should embrace workplace flexibility and help employees to balance between personal and professional duties.
  • Another option is to provide workers with small perks such as free snacks or gym memberships.
  • Of course, building a friendly atmosphere is a great way to improve employee retention.

6.   Leverage Online Tools

No matter what you do or how well you do it, you can always find a digital tool to speed up, automate, or improve the process. This goes for almost all areas of business as you can quickly search and find different types of online assistants. From proofreadingand case study writing service all the way to virtual surveys and collaboration software, tons of incredibly useful tools are only a few clicks away from you.

7.   Analyze Achievements

We begin and end this list with your business goals. While the first part was dedicated to goal-setting, the last one is all about measuring the results of your professional activities. Key performance indicators (KPIs) must follow the goals you set because it’s the only way to determine whether you are doing the right thing or not.

As soon as you notice that something is not functioning the way you planned, you should change it or remove it completely. Of course, business analytics is not a one-time process, which means you have to do it regularly in order to maximize the productivity of your organization.

Conclusion

Small businesses depend on hard work and strategic planning, so you’ll have to invest a lot of time and efforts into making your company profitable. We can name dozens of interesting solutions on how to improve your organization, but there are only a few mechanisms that can guarantee excellent results both short- and long-term.

In this post, we presented you with seven ways to make your business more efficient. Make sure to remember our tips and let us know in comments if you have any other ideas to share with our readers – we would be glad to read it!

Guest Post: About the Author

Jacob Dillon is an editor and journalist at EssaysOnTime. The best way for Jacob to express himself is to write. Being passionate about what he does, Jacob likes to discuss stirring events as well as express his opinion about technological advancements and evolution of society. Find Jacob on Twitter and Facebook.

Designing Mobile Websites for Voice Search & Why Is It Important?

If you want to get an edge over the competition, you need to utilize every tool you can get. Some tools push you forward, others don’t let you stagnate. An example of the latter is mobile optimization. Before it was a bonus if your website was optimized for mobile. Now, however, it’s practically expected. Customers will be annoyed if they visit an unoptimized, mobile-unfriendly website. This is further exacerbated by the fact that most people do their browsing with their phones anyway.

But, a new and relevant trend now is optimizing your websites for voice search. If done properly, it can really make a difference. Read how and why below.

Why it matters

Beside the fact we mentioned (namely, getting every edge you can), there are reports that web browsing using voice search is growing steadily. This is due to the appearance of more, and higher quality, gadgets, and elements that utilize voice search. We all know about Apple’s Siri, Google Now, Cortana, Alexa… Everybody sees the potential utility and futuristic aspects of using voice search.

So, why does it matter? Because if you properly set everything up, having good voice search functionality will get you more traffic. It also improves your SEO, because people get their answers faster. This speed mitigates high bounce rates and other negative signals that influence your rankings.

But, how to actually optimize properly?

Implement locations within your content

The aspect of localized SEO can get you much better results than simply focusing on every search engine optimization elements equally. And while we do believe that you should have proper SEO done for your website, know that there is only so much you can do if you go too general. Focusing on improving your localized SEO, on the other hand, will give you better results, especially if your company localizes its business dealings to your region. Now, this all matters for voice search in that there are reports stating that almost half of all voice searches are done for local businesses.

So, here is what you should do. Include the name of your city into your metadata and into your content. Use certain phrases, words, and images that are specific to your region. Remember to tag all your images and videos appropriately, placing the name of your region within. Provide audio transcripts for your videos if said videos contain relevant localized SEO keywords.

Use callouts

You want your content and SEO to be as organic as possible. The point you should be moving towards is setting up the content within your website to sound more like a conversation, than a robotic one-sided monologue. To do this, one of the steps that you need to consider is figuring out what questions your potential clients may ask. Either use certain tools, like Answer the Public or just check Google Analytics data and Keyword Finder.

When you figure out the questions, you obviously need to answer them. The answer themselves can be placed in featured boxes within relevant pages on your website. If done properly, these answers can show up in featured snippets, attracting users even more.

You can always delegate these kinds of tasks to one of your employees. However, this can draw away valuable manpower, resources, and time from some other obligations. Another option is contacting a company like Hoppingmad Website design, that will take on the entire task of setting a website up, requiring only minimal input and time investments on your part.

This all is similar to regular SEO – figure out what the potential client is thinking, and implement it. The difference here is that you want it to be more customized towards voice search.

Common query answer locations are vital

You want to provide your potential clients with information right away. It’s pretty obvious that people want to get what they need as soon as possible, especially if they are using voice search. And this isn’t just about getting content, but also about finding your company, and what you are about, quickly. They want to find out your address, make a reservation, get info on what you offer…

For this reason, you want to place this relevant information at the top of your navigation bar. You want to put in the navigation bar, or in the header. For example, let’s say an individual wants to reserve an appointment with you or your company’s official. Furthermore, let’s say you offer stock market consulting services. They may use voice chat to search for “stock market consultations Brisbane”. If you set up your location properly (see above), and if you have this phrase somewhere at the top of your page, or in your header or title, you increase your chances greatly of being found.

Setting up “Google My Business” can also improve your odds. Register your company properly, fill in all the information that is required of you, and you will definitely see results. The reasons for this is that “Google My Business” gives you an easy and structured system to improve your Google rankings.

Conclusion

Voice search is the future. It’s simple, convenient, and gets the job done. Trying to get the best results with minimal input and investment is an intrinsic part of human nature, and voice search plays directly onto that. So, remember to take care of where you put the most common answers relevant to your business. Try to get proper localized SEO up and running, and use proper callouts.

Guest Post: About the Author

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