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How to Tell if You Need a Website Redesign

Your website is the very first thing your visitors see, and it largely determines if your customers will stay on the site and make a purchase, or decide to leave. Keeping your website relevant and implementing the latest technological advances to make sure it’s innovative is an important investment in your online presence. There are clear signs that can help you tell if you need a website redesign, such as:

High Bounce Rate

The goal of any site is to retain the visitors’ attention, have them browse around and ultimately make a purchase. A bounce rate determines how many people click on a certain page of your site and leave right away to another site. Installing website analytics can provide you with this information; if you find that your bounce rate is high, you should consider making changes to your site. In fact, one source found that 94% of online users base their shopping and trust patterns based on the site’s design.

Site Not Optimized for Various Browsers and Devices

Unless you are a website designer, you are likely not aware that there is no standard one-size-fits-all website design. Your website may look different when it’s accessed from a computer, a tablet or a phone. Additionally, the screen size and browsers, such as Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome or Apple’s Safari, can affect how your visitors see your site.

Verifying that your website has cross-browser compatibility can be time consuming if you go through them one by one, as there are currently over 300; however, there are tools that can provide this information for you. Browser testing tools, such as Ghostlab and BrowserStack, can bring to your attention the issues you need to address.

Not Ranking High on Search Engines

Although a small portion of your visitors may come to your website directly, a large majority would only find it based on search engine results. To verify how your customers find you, check the referral sources which bring traffic to your site.

You should be getting significant traffic from search engines such as Google, Yahoo! and Bing. If not, you need to incorporate more Search Engine Optimization (SEO) into your content. This includes high-ranking keywords into the content, optimized images,videos and links to pages within your site.

Website Not Easily Navigable

A website that is easy to navigate is imperative for low bounce rates and efficient usability. Some websites have so much content, graphics and links that it leaves visitors confused about where they should click or how to move between pages.

Your site should be simple, not crowded and include top and sidebar navigation menus that won’t require guesswork to get the person to where they need to be.

 

Redesigning your website can be a costly expense; plus, this is not a one time solution, but a process, as sites need to be maintained and improved on a regular basis. To help you afford this cost, IOU Financial can provide a business loan is at little as 48 hours. Contact us to learn more today!

Creative Ways to Attract Local Customers to Your Small Business

Nothing is more disheartening to owners than an empty store, a phone that doesn’t ring, or a website with few visitors. You know you could make sales if only more customers would visit. Well, don’t sulk, get creative. Here are a few ways to draw in more customers:

Signage:

A sandwich chalkboard in front of your store can be a great attention getter. It’s ephemeral nature (you redo it every day) makes it timely, and when you use it to advertise one-day specials, you can expect to attract more customers. Restaurants use this technique all the time, but your retail store can easily adopt it. If the weather is bad, stick a banner in your window instead.

Flash sale:

An intra-day sale can generate excitement if it’s generous – for example, a two-for-one sale or 40 percent off from, say, 1:00 to 4:00 pm. Pick a time when the weather forecast is good. Publicize the flash sale on social media, through emails, text messages, etc. And as mentioned above, list it on you sandwich chalkboard.

Free food:

Nothing packs them in like free food and refreshments. If your store happens to sell snacks, you can use your own inventory for the promotion. Or you can do a cross-promotion with your neighborhood bakery or coffee house. It doesn’t have to be fancy, because the great masses just can’t turn down free food. Hot coffee on a cold day, lemonade on a hot one, Danish on any day – customers and potential customers will enjoy your generosity and might be more willing to buy something from you.

Mobile push:

Double down on your mobile market apps (you use these, don’t you?) to push messages to consumers in the neighborhood who might want to drop into your store while out and about. The message can include a promo code for a special discount or free gift.

Entertain the kids:

A great way to gain the loyalty of local parents is to offer free, supervised entertainment to young kids so that mom or dad can do a little quality shopping. The area can have games, books, a play table, even a balloon-blowing clown. If you run a country store, how about setting up a small petting zoo – you might even be able to charge entry. Make sure you use trustworthy, preferably bonded, employees to mind the kids, and keep your liability insurance up to date. Offer special discounts to parents who bring in their children, that should really heat up sales.

Loyalty:

Many stores have adopted loyalty programs – have you? There are many off-the-shelf programs you can adopt, and the cost is usually low relative to the bump in sales. On a slow day, your flash sale might be triple points for a few hours.

Contests:

We all love to win. Thrill your customers by having daily raffles and contests. For instance, if you are a florist, elicit poems for specific purposes, such as get well or anniversaries. The best poem gets a discount coupon for future use. You can tie this into your email lists (after all, you have to notify winners), which is marketing gold that pays off many times the costs of the contests.

Revamp your website:

If your website has gone a little stale, it’s time to refresh it. There are many techniques to increase website traffic, including fresh and frequent blogging. If you don’t have time to write new content yourself, hire a good freelance writer and flood the zone with interesting stories.

We’ve listed a few good ideas, but there are plenty more out there – use your imagination and, with any luck, you’ll be swarming with new customers before you know it. If you need additional working capital to put these ideas in action, reach out to one of our Loan Officers to see if a business loan is right for your company.

Biggest Trends in Marketing for the Summer

When it comes to marketing, if you’re wondering how to make the most of the summer season, check out the following trends:

Chatbots:

Technology is neutral. Whether it’s used for good or evil is up to the user. Chatbots were notorious for planting fake news stories that sought to affect last year’s election. However, chatbots can be used for more benign purposes, such as spreading your marketing message via Facebook Pages and other venues. Bots allow for your brand to converse with prospects without the need for a human. The tech is still fairly new, but the potential is huge.

Live streaming video:

YouTube is no longer the only game in town. Instagram, Periscope and Facebook Live are all challenging YouTube as purveyors of live video content. Your brand can create and share live content at any time and from any location. It’s especially useful when you want to interact with a live audience. Check this link for best practices.

Evaporating content:

Snapchat and Instagram are the biggest names in expiring social content, but Facebook Stories is a new product that allows videos and photos to evaporate after 24 hours. This is an excellent mechanism for building excitement with fresh content.

Social traffic:

The holy grail of social traffic is getting it for free – organic traffic. This is becoming increasingly unrealistic, as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook algorithms become pickier about which content gets the most exposure. To play in this game, you certainly need terrific content, but you also might have to cough up some money (pay to play).

Augmented reality:

AR is hot. Snapchat has attracted competition from Facebook Live with new AR components, such as masks and lenses. AR changes your phone’s camera into a sensory input device as new apps proliferate. The marketing implications are limited only by your imagination.

Mergers:

It’s a good idea to stay on top of the latest social media mergers, because they may affect platforms you currently use for marketing. Recent mergers have seen Facebook gobbling up Oculus Rift, Instagram and WhatsApp, Twitter acquiring Periscope and Microsoft grabbing LinkedIn for $27 billion.

Personalization:

The trend is toward highly personalized and targeted content. For example, Facebook is developing sophisticated ad target options that address a marketer’s particular needs.

Big data:

Though big data has been with us for some time, its continually becoming more powerful and comprehensive. Demographic data helps marketers identify and understand the types of customers they attract. Psychographic data gives further insights into the motivations of actual and potential customers – an area of research pushed by Facebook. Attitudinal data describes how folks feel about your products, and behavioral data (or sociographics) is used to analyze online behavior across the web. This infographic neatly summarizes big data’s current state of play.

Social influencers:

Marketing campaigns tied to social content creators are achieving almost universal acceptance. One study found that 84 percent of marketers are planning one or more influencer campaigns in the next year. This is often a cost-effective way to extend your brand’s reach.

Clearly, the worlds of marketing and technology are intertwined in a growing number of ways. We encourage you to spend some time learning about these and other innovative developments – you can bet your competitors are. Need additional funding for marketing purposes? IOU Financial offers loans up to $300,000. Contact us today for more information.

The Pros and Cons of Adding a Blog to Your Website

When it comes business websites, content is king. One of the most cost-effective ways for a small business to add useful content is through a blog. The more often you can post a relevant, authoritative blog, the more you’ll get out of it. Here are some pros and cons of including blogs on your website:

Pros

Establish authority:

Marketing a product or service on the Internet is essential if you want to sell to the widest possible audience. A business blog educates consumers about your offering and the industry in which you operate. Your blog also showcases your talent and authority, giving readers the confidence to buy what you’re selling. Google bestows a higher Page Rank and better search results on websites that constantly offer authoritative, unique content, and there is no better way to create content than through a daily blog. A good blog generates new readers, who then become leads and (hopefully) customers.

Industry-Specific Marketing:

While blogging can help any company, it is especially useful in certain industries such as hospitality. For example, you can use your blogs to establish communication with potential travelers who are looking for, say, a nice place to stay in your community. If you blog about the local sites and events, travelers will come to rely on your information and will be more likely book their rooms with you when staying in your city.

Search Engine Optimization:

Fresh blogs can help get you on Page One of search engine results for your chosen keywords. Blogs should revolve around a cluster of search keywords. Your marketing effort should therefore expend some resources to ascertain the optimal keywords for your business. Online tools and SEO sites can help you with this task. For example, you can use tools like Google Keyword Tool to help you decide on the exact keywords and keyphrases to use on your website Frequent blogs that concentrate on your selected keywords can help enhance your marketing effort by:

  1. raising brand awareness
  2. solving customer problems
  3. exhibiting thought leadership
  4. establishing authority and trust

By peppering your blog posts with the appropriate keywords, you help improve your results when people search using those keywords.

Social Issues:

Sometimes, you blog not only to market an offering, but to express your opinions on social issues. Your blog and the responses it elicits can act as a forum for you and others to express their thoughts on the interesting and important issues of our times. By combining your blogging with social media such as Facebook and Twitter, you have a great opportunity to reach many people who share (or disagree with) your point of view.

Cons

Resources:

Like most worthwhile things, blogging requires you to commit resources such as time and money. Adding blogs to a website is easy and costs little, but creating good blogs is a talent that needs financial support. For example, you are diverting resources if your employees take time out of their busy days to wrote posts. The other route is to hire a professional freelance writer to create your blog posts. While not overly expensive, you should seek out the best writers with the finest reputations.

Risk:

A poorly prepared blog is worse than no blog at all. A blog is meant to establish your competence and authority, but you’ll achieve the opposite effect if your blog is poor. Some signs of a deficient blog concern:

  1. Poor grammar and syntax
  2. Improper, off-topic or otherwise unsuitable material
  3. Use of too much jargon
  4. Bad or poorly expressed ideas

Clearly, the benefits of blogging greatly overwhelm its drawbacks, especially if you have the resources to write good, effective blogs. Whether timely or evergreen, good blogs deliver benefits that far outweigh their costs.

Are you ready to budget for a blog? Start with the Business Budget Smart Sheet. This resource can help you make sense of tracking and spending, to help you forecast for the future.

The Benefits of Having a Chat Feature on Your Website

A website with a live chat feature has several distinct advantages over competitor sites that don’t chat. The live chat platform allows you to talk real-time with an expert and to exchange files, documents, screen images, and other important information that facilitates quicker issue resolution. While your website might offer phone support, email and other tools, live chat packs a special wallop, as we see in these benefits:

Convenience:

Many online customers appreciate the convenience of getting immediate help from a live person. Chats are often more convenient than phone conversations, because of shorter wait times, no exasperating phone menus, and the fact that important data, such as URLs, are written out for customers – no scrambling to find a pen and paper. A benchmark survey found that customer satisfaction reached 73 percent through live chat, compared to 44 percent for phone support and 61 percent for email support. A live chat agent can push documents and links out to consumers to help resolve problems faster. Many chat facilities allow consumers to receive a transcript via email at the end of the conversation, providing documentation of what was discussed.

Expenses:

Chat optimizes interactions, cutting costs relative to phone contact centers. Furthermore, a chat representative can often handle several tasks at once, thereby reducing the need for additional representatives. By spending less time on the phone, chats increase efficiency and save money.

Sales:

The efficiency of chatting produces high customer satisfaction, an important factor in motivating sales. One study shows that live chat boosts sales by 20 percent and provide a typical ROI of 300 percent. For better or worse, Americans demand instant satisfaction, and having to wait for an email reply or a long phone queue is enough to send a consumer to a competitor’s website. A chat representative can walk a prospect through a sale by answering questions and clearing up confusion that could jeopardize a sale. Chatting also provides businesses with an upselling opportunity that can increase sales margins.

Competitive edge:

The cost efficiency of a chat feature makes it an easy way to grab an edge over the competition. Put another way, lack of a chat facility gives your competitors a leg up. When you offer chat, you appeal to many Millennials who prefer typing to talking. Instant messaging has supplanted phone conversations among a great swath of the population. Omitting chat is like fighting the tide – not a good idea.

Data mining:

Phone conversations are hard to share, but you can mine chats for important information that help you recognize unmet needs or sources of frustration. This can lead to the introduction of new product/service features that respond to customer complaints. A savvy marketing person can sort through chat transcripts and recommend important improvements in what you offer and how you offer it.

Outreach:

Better live chat systems don’t wait for consumers to request a conversation. Rather, they invite visitors to ask questions or discuss issues. This proactive outreach can help shy consumers overcome their reluctance to chat, and offers more information that can help convert prospects.

Clearly, many small-business websites would benefit from incorporating a live chat feature. There are many chat packages available for to evaluate. Your webmaster can add a chat facility, or you can hire a third-party provider to do the work. However you get there, a chat facility is a great destination to strengthen your business.

Running your business takes a lot of work. Recognize areas that you may have overlooked while managing your day-to-day operations with our 7 Secrets to Small Business Success!

Free Resources Small Business Owners Should be Utilizing

Small business owners usually work with small budgets, which is why anytime there is a free resource to help you grow or manage your business, you should jump on it! In this article, we will provide three resources that will help you create a website and share articles with your customers, customize a business plan and market your services to clients.

WordPress

If you don’t yet have a website for your company, you are missing out on a lot of business. Not only does having an online presence allow you to sell your goods online, a website can help you advertise your business and help customers find and get to know your brand even if you don’t want to incorporate e-commerce as a selling strategy.

You may not have the budget to hire a web developer and designer; however, no business owner can make excuses for not creating a website when a free resources for this goal is available. WordPress is a tool to help both novice and experienced online users create a site for their business needs. It offers a multitude of options; beginners can choose from customizable templates to create their site, while experts can build a site using code.

WordPress allows owners to connect to clients by publishing articles and blogs, optimizing them with images and keywords, email them to subscribers and automatically post them to social media. Plus, this platform has thousands of different free and paid add-ons that allow them to accept online payments, prepare items to be shipped, analyze their website traffic and much more!

Enloop

Every successful achievement resulted from a solid plan, and any organization needs a business plan in order to grow and thrive. The problem is that not many small business owners have the knowhow to create a professional business plan, which can prevent them from getting a business or investment loan nor from following a roadmap to meet their goals.

Enloop helps business owners analyze their current business practices, set objectives and determine actionable steps to reach those goals. It will provide a blueprint for setting budgets, hire new employees and figuring out marketing budgets for each goal.

This is a free resource that allows users to create business plans with their AutoWriteTM feature that generates text for each section in 16 languages. You can invite your partners to view your text, edit it and suggest changes, while the program automatically saves all updates in the cloud. Once you and your team finish your plan, Enloop will grade your firm’s forecasted performance to let you know whether you’re on the right track.

MailChimp

If you’re not marketing your small business, you are not growing. Fortunately, there is a free resource that helps business owners market their small business completely free or with a limited budget.

MailChimp lets you send out up to 12,000 marketing emails to up to 2,000 subscribers every year. This system is easy to use, even for beginners, and integrates with WordPress so you can lead your audience straight to your website.

You can create email campaigns, customize them with content and design and choose to whom and when they will be sent out. To tailor campaigns to your customers, you can design A/B Split Campaigns, which let you test which subject lines, content and times work best for your audience.

These three free small business resources all have paid options that may be advantageous for your company. If you need help to afford these services, turn to IOU Financial! We are committed to providing small business loans in as little as 48 hours.

Looking for other free resources? Check out our Business Budget Smart Sheet.

How Using Adwords Can Boost your Business

The internet contains millions of websites – how can you lead potential customers to yours? When individuals need to find a product or service, they search for it on Google, the most popular search engine in the world. If your business is not included on the first page of Google search results, it’s likely no one will ever click on your link. In fact, the higher up the chain you are, the more traffic you will get. One statistic stated that website listed as one of the first results got 36.4% more traffic than those listed below. Utilizing inbound marketing, you can help online users find your site or social media page, and AdWords is the solution you need to help you boost online traffic and increase your sales!

What is AdWords?

AdWords is Google’s own advertising service, which allows business owners to create ads that will be shown as “Sponsored Links” above and to the right of the organic (non-sponsored) Google search results. When a person searches for a specific keyword, your ad will show on their screen, encouraging them to visit your site.

What are Keywords?

We’ve mentioned keywords a few times in this article, but what exactly are they? They are the words or phrases that online users utilize to search for something online. Keywords can be as simple as a business name or as complicated as “affordable Italian restaurant near me.” Each and every business likely has hundreds, if not thousands, of applicable keywords.

AdWords allows business owners to pay for search engine optimization (SEO), which tells Google to list your site in its top results. AdWords has a pay-per-click (PPC) system that charges you every time an online user clicks on your link when it’s in the sponsored section. Keywords are not created equal, and some cost more than others.

Many business owners don’t know which keywords can help them improve their online presence; however, Google has a free tool that allows them to conduct keyword research. Google’s Keyword Planner lets online users search for a keyword, get suggestions for other related terms and provides information about how competitive that keyword is, how many people search for it, and how much it would cost in a PPC campaign.

What are the Biggest Advantages of Google AdWords?

Compete with the Big Guys

While it’s not necessary to pay for campaigns in order to utilize SEO as part of your inbound marketing, growing an online reputation organically can take a long time. Plus, small businesses have to compete with others who may have expert marketing professionals on their team, promoting their website through blogs, articles, social media outreach, etc. AdWords levels the playing field by allowing anyone to bid on a keyword to advertise their brand.

Target Your Audience

If your business only caters to local customers, there’s no point for you to pay for clicks from people outside of your targeted area. AdWords solves this issue by allowing businesses to geo-target which locations their ads get seen in. You can specify which city you want your ad featured in, or even a specific proximity around your local business.

Retarget Your Visitors

Google AdWords has a feature that follows your online visitors and features ads for something they searched for on your site on other websites they visit, a strategy called retargeting. If you’ve ever searched for a pair of shoes, only to have them pop up for weeks after on various sites you visit, you’ve seen retargeting work its magic.

Online marketing with Google AdWords can be planned according to your budget; however, if you want to make a real impact, you may need to invest in this endeavour. If you can benefit from financial help to start this process, IOU Financial is committed to fueling the growth of small businesses. Contact us today!

Google Analytics: Everything You Need to Know to Track Your Traffic

If you are a business owner, you know the importance of an online presence for your company. Even if you don’t sell your products online, you need to create brand awareness through marketing and advertising to build a strong and positive reputation. Simply creating a website is not enough for this endeavour. To make your efforts more effective, utilize Google Analytics for big benefits for your business!

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is the world’s biggest freemium (free and paid options) web analytics solution. It provides information about web traffic of websites, apps and offline channels. It offers a suite of options to help owners improve their online presence and target their specific audiences.

What are the Benefits of Google Analytics?

  • Improve marketing campaigns to make them more effective
  • Improve website usability by tracking visitor patterns
  • Learn the demographics of your target audience
  • Learn which sources provide the best return on your investment
  • Connect with your customers by creating valuable content

How Does Google Analytics Work?

To start reaping the benefits of this solution, follow these steps:

  1. Sign up for a Google Analytics account here. You can also register using your Google+ account, if you have one.
  2. Set up a property, a website or app whose data you want to track here. You can add up to 50 properties under one account. 
  3. Add the tracking ID code and/ or the JavaScript tracking-code snippet Google Analytics will provide you to the property to start tracking results. Use this for help in finding your codes, and install it on every single page of your website. 
  4. Set up Site Search, which will track and report what users search for on your site. 
  5. Configure user management by managing user permissions for your marketing, graphic designers and PR teams (if applicable). You can grant some of them access to simply view the data, while others can make changes affecting your account. 
  6. Configure what Google Analytics tracks by focusing on where the audience clicks on your site; these can be links, videos, photos, etc. 
  7. Set up goals to monitor if/ when your objectives are met. Goals will let you know when a purchase has been made, a newsletter signup has been received or a link has been clicked. Goals are crucial to evaluating the success of your campaigns.

How to Read Google Analytics Results

Once you setup your Google Analytics account, you view the Audience Overview report for each property you had added. You will be able to view traffic results based on specific date ranges, or compare one day, week, month or year to another. Hovering over certain parts of the report will provide you with more information on each section.

Under the metrics, Google Analytics provides top ten results for countries, languages, browsers, etc. that characterize your audience. Clicking on the report will also provide additional information, such as the parts of the country.

There are many other paid, premium features on Google Analytics which can help you make better business decisions. If you need help investing in these solutions, IOU Financial can help! We offer small business loans in just 24-48 hours!

 

Surefire Ways to Turn Potential Customers Into Loyal Customers

Every business owner knows that the way to successfully grow a business is to have a loyal customer base. The increasing competition in the global marketplace makes customer acquisition costs (aka the amount of money it takes to land a sale) higher than ever before. Plus these days, the cost of online and traditional marketing that lead individuals to visit a website or a retail location doesn’t guarantee a sale. So how can businesses guarantee growth?

The businesses that have grown have found that the only way to do so is to turn potential customers into loyal ones. In fact, “on average, it costs approximately five times more to attract a new customer to your business than it costs to retain an existing customer,” according to one source. The companies that are not able to secure long-standing clients find that the price of constantly chasing after new customers often can’t sustain the business. But how can businesses land loyal customers? Follow these tips!

Consistent Communication

How many times have you purchased an item you simply loved, but then couldn’t recall the website or store where you found it? This is a problem many business owners have not found a solution to, although the solution is fairly simple. As with any relationship, if you want to upkeep a relationship with your clientele, you need to work at it. The way to do that is to keep in constant communication with current and potential clients.

A simple strategy to implement that relationship is to create a database of your online and physical visitors. In order to collect your customers’ information, you should ask them to sign up for a newsletter or enter their email to receive exclusive coupons and discounts, as well as helpful articles and announcements about new products or services. Doing so will not only keep your brand fresh in your customers’ minds, but will also encourage them to shop with you.

Customer Service

Other than quality offerings and affordable pricing, one the most important characteristics that separates successful businesses from unsuccessful ones is customer service. Although some business owners try to cut costs in that area by automating the process or transferring services overseas, the truth is that companies can’t afford not to invest in excellent customer service.

World-known brands, such as Amazon and Zappos, developed their entire business plan on the importance of the customer, treating them with respect and integrity. When your organization has a solid customer service plan, you offer a value to you clients that will set your business apart from the competition, leading to repeat sales.

Become an Authority

While every business owner wants to be great at sales, the most successful entrepreneurs know that one sale doesn’t lead to lifelong loyalty. They have caught on to the fact that while customers can purchase products from anyone, they are much less likely to be swayed by competition if they trust the source they are buying from.

How do you get your customers to trust you? Honesty and transparency are two ways, but authority is another. If you become an authority in your niche market, you will put yourself in the position to give shopping advice and curate what your customers should buy, instead of leaving the decision up to them.

By truly becoming an expert in your field, whether it’s health, marketing, accounting, etc., you can write helpful articles, answer questions and make online videos that educate your clients about your space. When you are seen as a leading figure, your potential customers will turn into loyal customers.

 

The truth is that while it is more cost-effective to land a repeat sale than a new sale, you will likely need help in investing into a customer loyalty program. IOU Financial is here to fuel the growth of small business. We can provide a small business loan of up to $150,000 in as little as 48 hours. Contact us today!

Top Marketing Mistakes You’re Making Right Now

A good marketing strategy can make or break a business. There have been startups that have succeeded simply because of their brilliant marketing ideas, and established brands that have failed due to marketing mistakes. Most small business owners don’t have the budget to hire marketing consultants that can advise them on the best way to their spend funds, which is why so many are making mistakes that are hurting their profits. Are you making any of these marketing mistakes?

Not Having a Website

Did you know that 97% of individuals search online before making a purchase? Before you give the excuse that you run a local business, consider that half of those online searches are for local businesses. Whether you have an e-commerce or a brick and mortar company, you must create a website! Not doing so is a huge marketing mistake because if your company is not featured in local listings and on local review websites and doesn’t have an online presence, it is as if it doesn’t exist in the real world!

While it can be beneficial to have an elaborate website with many pages and features, it can also help your marketing efforts to just start with a basic website. Online tools such as Wix and WordPress can guide you in creating a free or low-cost site in no time. You can always customize it later to achieve better marketing results.

Not Targeting Your Audience

Every business has a specific customer base that makes up the majority of their shoppers – for Toys “R” Us it’s parents, for Staples it’s working professionals. Marketing without first establishing your target audience is akin to fishing without having a map of local bodies of water that contain fish. Does it matter if you land in a lake or in a shopping mall? It does, and it matters just as much when it comes to marketing.

Without an established customer base, you are simply wasting your efforts and funds on those that don’t need or aren’t interested in your offerings. Analyze your existing customers to get a good understanding of their age, gender, location, ethnicity and shopping patterns in order to fine tune your marketing efforts to communicate with them more effectively.

Not Tracking Results

If you feel that you have wasted thousands of dollars on marketing and not seen results, you may be correct! However, your feeling on this matter is not enough because you need to have concrete facts at your disposal!

You need to have tracking set up for every single marketing tool you invest in. If you pay for a home mailer, include a special code that customers can use to receive a discount or promotion. For example, if a client uses the code “SAVE10” to save 10% on their purchase, you can track how many times that code was used to see how much revenue that mailer brought in.

If you invest in a social media campaign, you can use online tracking tools to monitor how many people had access to see it, how many viewed your content, how many interacted with it and how much money you made from that campaign.

You must carefully track each individual marketing effort to figure out which ones are effective and which ones are not. Only then will you create a successful strategy to build your brand and increase sales!

For help in marketing your small business, turn to IOU Financial. Whether you want to invest in a full functioning website or in marketing software, we can offer business loans up to $150,000 in 24-48 hours.