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10 Video Content Ideas That Work with Your Small Biz Budget

Savvy marketers know that, in 2019, video marketing simply must be a part of the strategy. To illustrate why that is, let’s take a look at a few stats: 93 percent of businesses say they’ve earned a new customer by posting a video on social media and 72 percent of users say they prefer video over text when they’re learning about a product or service. Video as a digital medium and a mode for advertising grows exponentially every year, making it a requisite for all businesses looking to position themselves for success.

With all of this in mind, it’s clear that your small- or medium-sized business could benefit greatly from integrating video into your process. But with a limited budget, is that even possible? Indeed, it is! Start by realizing that you don’t need any expensive equipment or software to shoot viral-worthy vids. In fact, you can transform your DSLR camera or iPhone into a high-tech piece of equipment by purchasing affordable video accessories to outfit your existing gear, and there are plenty of free and cheap editing programs out there.

Coupled with some of the affordable video concepts listed below, you’ll be well on your way to a successful campaign that doesn’t bog down your budget.

  1. Crowd-Sourcing Content: Basic User-Generated Videos

    Looking to produce compelling video content without actually making any videos? Here’s a tip: encourage your users to make their own vids that you can use in your campaigns. Offer an incentive to your fans to create a review, a tutorial video or a testimonial that you can then turn into its own video. Nothing’s better than word-of-mouth advertising, and this is one of the best ways to do it in the world of modern marketing, where everything’s online.

  2. Getting Personal: Meet the Team and Behind-the-Scenes

    One of the things that video marketing does especially well is helping users connect with brands, giving marketing a real, personable face and voice. Filming a few behind-the-scenes videos, such as a meet the team video or a how it’s made video, will help your viewers, fans and potential customers get a better idea about the essence and vibe of your company. Don’t forget to film an interview or a feature showcasing your founder and the origins of your brand.

  3. Brand Rep 101: Testimonials and Reviews

    Perhaps the most obvious way to use video as a marketing tool is to create content that promotes. Invite in a few of your most loyal customers or those who have seen amazing results from your product and film an interview-style video featuring their feedback. Make sure your testimonial videos are built for success: make them short, simple and authentic, and definitely don’t use a script.

  4. Educating Users: How-Tos andTutorials

    Gone are the days of in-store demos and door-to-door salesmen. These days, YouTube is all you need to explain how your product works. Have one of your most camera-ready employees film how-tos and demonstrations detailing how your product or service works. Whether you film it yourself with your iPhone (and a few essential filming accessories, of course) or have an artist create a custom animation just for you, you can count on these vids to educate and sell at the same time.

  5. NoFilmingNecessary: Webinars and Audio-Only Videos

    Naturally, with the set, the hair and makeup and the lighting, the visual component of video marketing can be hard on the budget, especially when you’re working with minimal funds. Consider recording audio only and then pairing the audio portion with still photos, screen-sharing shots and other components to provide the same enjoyable viewing experience of a regular video. This can be done relatively easy with your phone or DSLR and a camera microphone.

  6. Expert’s Circle: Interviews and In-Depth Guides

    If you want to position yourself as a thought leader in your industry (and therefore gain more leads and better brand recognition), you need to be pulling insight from the experts in the field. Cater to general searchers who are looking to learn with educational, expert-driven content that adds to a broader conversation.

  7. Live-Streaming:Day-to-Day Snippets

    No doubt about it: embedded videos and a strong presence on YouTube and other platforms are great, but you also have to make sure you’re leveraging your “one-and-done” channels, like Snapchat, Instagram Stories and Facebook Stories to get your products in front of users. Film and post everything from employee community engagement to press conferences and company networking events.

  8. Listicles: Turning Your Text Content into Compelling Videos

    You’ve probably come across short videos on Facebook and Instagram that feature still photos and video clips with text overlays, highlighting interesting facts or telling a story. This is a great format for companies that want to repurpose their existing text content into video format — listicles, tip articles and buyer’s guides can make surprisingly sharable video content.

  9. Adding Art: Animations and More

    It may be a lot cheaper and even more effective to ditch the video footage altogether. Instead, consider hiring a digital artist to create an animation or a stop-motion video highlighting your product or service. These kinds of videos tend to capture the attention of people scrolling through your feed, but they don’t require actors or a set, so they can save you a pretty penny.

  10. Influencers: Creating ‘Why We Love It’ Vids

    Finally, don’t forget to invite real, influential users to come onto your channel to help highlight why it’s worth trying your product or service. Whether you enlist a real-life user from your community or a professional influencer is up to you, but you can count on these vids ramping up your reputation and earning you more followers.

Once you start exploring, you’ll be surprised to find out how many clever video concepts you can nail without a hefty investment. It’s all about leveraging what you have around you — your existing equipment, your existing content and your video-ready team — and then dialing it up a few notches by adding the special sparkle of video. When your brand goes viral, you’ll be glad you made the effort!

Guest Post: About the Author

Ethan Long is the business development director for MovoPhoto. Before starting with them, he worked in advertising in NYC where he gained over eight years of experience in content and video marketing. In his free time, he enjoys being outside, learning new photo and videography techniques, and spending time with his wife and their dog, Rory.

Small Biz Marketing in 2019: What to Avoid

Every business owner should have marketing at the forefront of their minds. This is imperative to connect with new customers and to encourage existing customers to remain loyal.

The marketing landscaping is ever changing, and staying on top of this field is necessary to beat the competition and keep your brand relevant in your industry. In 2019, there are many new developments to stay abreast of, but even more importantly, there are four main things to avoid!

Marketing Mistakes to Avoid in 2019

Not Having a Clear Direction

In 2019, there are more marketing opportunities than ever before—from social media, traditional advertising, mailers and search engine optimization (SEO), it can be overwhelming to try and pursue every single avenue. Unfortunately, small business owners simply don’t have the financial or operational resources to compete with the big brands that dominate all marketing channels.

A smart strategy is to create a concise marketing direction annually, and carefully choose the channels you will pursue based on available resources. This will allow you to connect with your target customer base instead of spending time and money becoming diluted in many different spaces.

Not Using Analytics

It’s imperative to measure your return on investment (ROI) on any marketing strategy you invest in. This is impossible to do without measuring the analytics of every marketing goal to see how well it performed.

Having a clear objective in mind is important before implementing any marketing step. Consider whether you want to:

  • Get a certain amount of clicks on your site
  • Get a specific amount of sales
  • Get a certain amount of shares on a social media platform

Measuring the results of your strategy is necessary to minimize marketing waste and make adjustments to make it more successful.

Not Conducting A/B Testing

Not allowing your customers to choose what type of content they prefer is the third major mistake of 2019. Split testing, also known as A/B testing, allows the business two create two versions of an email, website or other content. While it can seem daunting to have to create two completely different templates, you may choose to test only the email subject line, sender address, image, font and/or content. For example, you can test what type of product images your clients react to more, or what email subject results in more readers opening an email.

Split testing allows you to poll your audience without them knowing it; their actions will dictate the more popular choice. You can test whether they prefer a statement or a question in the subject line of an email, serious or humorous content on your site, sales or new product announcements, etc.

Although split testing does not offer any guarantees, getting detailed information about what your audience prefers will help you improve your marketing strategy in the long run, leading to an increase in engagement and conversion rates.

Not Using Videos

If you are not using video as part of your marketing strategy, you may be losing up to a third of your potential visitors! Videos keep the attention of individuals up to 37% longer than other forms of advertising, which is great for engagement.

YouTube is catching up to Google as one of the world’s most popular search engines, so not investing in video marketing is just not smart! Videos allow you to interact with your customers, giving them access behind the scenes and offering product demonstrations and unboxing videos.

To truly take your business to the next level, you will need financial resources to market your brand. Remember that your competition is likely trying the same strategies you may be, so having a specialist in this area to guide you can be extremely advantageous. Let IOU Financial help you finance your business goals with a loan. We can have the money in your account in as little as 48 hours, call us today to find out more!

How to Use Instagram Stories to Engage with Your Customers

Instagram is an extremely popular social media network that over ⅛ of the world, or 7.7 billion people, is currently enjoying! It allows users to share their photos and videos, follow others and search for content based on keywords.

While Instagram is not intended specifically for business use, such as LinkedIn, all of the biggest and many of the smaller brands around the globe are seizing the opportunity to connect with a broader audience. Learning how to use Instagram stories, a great newer feature of this platform, is a proven way to engage with your customers.

Instagram Stories Explained

Instagram users are able to share content by uploading it to their profile grid, but they can also create stories, which is a feature that shows photos and videos in a bar at the top of the main feed. Unlike regular content on the feed, stories disappear within 24 hours, making it more tempting for your followers to view your stories daily, or risk the chance of never seeing them again.

When your followers open their Instagram account, they are able to see circles with the accounts they follow that uploaded an Insta-story. All they need to do to see it is to click on it to see it. In addition to uploading your content, you can add music, text, images and locations to your stories. Note that your followers can’t like or comment on stories like they can on other content.

How to Use Instagram Stories

Creating a story is extremely easy; just click the “+” sign on the top left of your screen. You will have the option to upload content from your phone or to use the camera to take a new video or photo.

The screen will provide you with the options to customize your content with filters, stickers, drawings and text. You can check analytics of who has viewed your story by clicking on it; you will be able to see every single person who saw the story, along with a total count.

Tips to Encourage Engagement with Instagram Stories

Tag Your Location

If your business has a physical storefront, make sure to tag it in every single Insta-story you create. The location tag will show up right on the story, allowing your followers to clearly see your business name.

Instagram allows users to search for companies in certain locations, such as “hair salon New York,” and is a great way to connect to a new customer base.

Add Hashtags

Hashtags are keywords that you can add to your story along with the # sign. Examples include:

  • #cheapmechanicLouisville
  • #ChineseFoodinLosAngeles
  • #trendiestshirtsonline

Instagram now allows users to search stories by hashtags, so as long as you know what keywords your customer base will use, you can attract them to your profile with your hashtags.

Use Polls

Polls are a fun feature on Instagram stories that allows you to ask your followers to vote on a certain topic. After adding a photo or video, add the “Poll” sticker to your story and write your question with two answer choices. Voters will be able to choose their selection right on your story, and you can see the answers.

This is a great way to engage with your followers and ask them what they prefer to see in your stories, what questions they may have, what products or services they are mostly interested in and more!

Instagram is a fun way for you to connect with a wide range of audience online. It can be a great marketing strategy, but since there is so much competition, it may be helpful to work with an Instagram specialist or influencer to truly make your business stand out on this social media channel.

As this takes a financial investment, you should consider a small business loan. IOU Financial is ready to fund your next loan in just under 48 hours. Click here to learn more.

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.

Four Ways you can Boost Social Engagement for Your Business

As a business owner, your priorities should not only be to make a sale, but to create a loyal customer from a one-time shopper. These days, offering a quality and innovative product or service is no longer enough to stay competitive in your niche. One of the biggest factors that separate successful companies from those that fail is an excellent social engagement strategy. What is social engagement, and how can you implement it for your company?

Social Engagement Explained

Just like any relationship takes work, so does the relationship with your customers. Although you likely do not have the time or resources to communicate with each person on an individual level, you can start a conversation online.

Social engagement involves communicating with your target audience in an online setting. Platforms such as social media, blogs, forums and your own website make it possible to stay connected to your online community.

Writing blogs with how-to tutorials on using your offerings, answering questions on forums and starting conversations relevant to your industry are all great ways to engage with your customers.

One study found that customers tend to spend upwards of 40% more on companies that they are engaged with! Utilize the tips below to boost your social engagement and raise sales!

Four Ways to Increase Social Engagement

Utilize Images

A picture is worth a thousand words—and boosts interaction rates by 85%! Online users are so overwhelmed by the information they digest online that imagery helps them notice your content and interact with it better. Including images in your content helps with free marketing, as that copy is shared 35% more than copy without images.

Utilize CTAs

You have a goal in mind when sharing content with your audience, so tell them what that goal is! Including a call to action (CTA) can have tremendous benefits to your marketing strategy—CTAs on Facebook have been found to increase click-through rates by 285%.

Consider what action you want the user to take—whether it is to visit your website, subscribe for your blog or share your content with others, indicate that in your CTA.

Create a Giveaway

Everyone loves to be a winner, so why not create a contest to increase your social engagement? Giveaways provide excellent opportunities to collect consumer data, market your brand to a new audience, generate leads and grow your social network.

Carefully think about the goal of the giveaway and create specific rules for entry. For example, if you want to focus on brand recognition, make it a requirement that entrants must share the contest with three of their own contacts to be eligible to win.

If your goal is to grow your lead base, ask entrants to like your page or subscribe to your blog, which will help you communicate with your audience later to promote your brand.

Become Your Brand’s Ambassador

Some of the best known companies have a face attached to their name, such as Elon Musk for Tesla and Mark Zuckerberg for Facebook. Become your own brand ambassador to help your audience create a true relationship with you and your company.

Share your story with your customers so they can get to know you, and understand your journey. Share tips on the best ways to use your products, and share images of yourself using them in your daily life. Create live videos where you interact with your audience and answer their questions. All of these strategies will help you forge a loyal relationship with your customers, and will keep them shopping with your company time and time again!

IOU Financial wants you to invest in your social engagement strategy. Imagine how much faster and more efficiently you can connect with a new audience if you had upwards of $500,000 to invest in marketing! Contact us today at www.ioufinancial.com to find out how you can get approved and funded for a small business loan in under 48 hours!

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