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How to Leverage Customer Reviews to Grow Your Small Business

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

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

  • Make search results work for you.

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

  • Share positive reviews in your marketing efforts.

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

  • Take negative reviews seriously.

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

  • Good reviews can improve your profit margin.

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

  • Answer questions.

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

  • Use reviews to gather intelligence.

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

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

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

  • Make your website review-friendly.

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

  • Seek reviews and comments through email campaigns.

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

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

How to Increase Your Visitor-to-Lead Conversion Rate

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

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

Implement site-wide CTAs

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

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

 

Use social proof to your advantage

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

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

Publish customer reviews

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

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

Rely on regular analytics

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

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

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

Guest Post: About the Author

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

Where Should You Spend Your Marketing Budget in 2020?

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

Calculating Your Marketing Budget

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

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

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

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

Allocating Your Budgeted Funds

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

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

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

Understand 2020 Digital Marketing Trends

As you ponder your marketing expenditures, consider these trends:

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

How IOU Financial Can Help

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

Retail Businesses: Improve Your Instagram with These Tips

Instagram is a leading video- and photo-sharing platform that belongs to Facebook. It includes many business-friendly features, including ads, analytics, business profiles, tagged products, purchase page links, shopping lists, support for e-commerce purchases, and more. Instagram is characterized by more engagement and less competition than other social media titans such as Twitter or Facebook. That means you can market your offerings at reasonable ad rates. Check out the following tips to extract maximum value from your commitment to Instagram.

1.    Let Your Creative Juices Flow

To start with, concentrate on solutions rather than products. If you’re a service organization, discuss the processes underlying your offerings. Remember, Instagram is a visually-oriented platform, so you have to look good as you explain the value you provide. Like it or not, you’ll sink or swim based on your visual content. Liberally sprinkle your presence with photos and videos that celebrate your company’s mission, culture, and ways you help your customers.

2.    Optimize Your Entries

You have limited space per posting, so don’t try to cram in too many ideas. Rather, give a single focus to each posting, such as a special promotion, a new product, or a company event. Frequently update the single clickable link (in the Bio section) to point to new content on your website or elsewhere. Use Instagram Business Profiles to give out your phone number and collect comprehensive analytical data.

3.    Make It Meta

You can use Instagram to give viewers a behind-the-scenes glimpse of your company. You can show them how you build your products or deliver your services. Highlight special characteristics of your offerings, such as sustainability and fair trade practices. If you are a manufacturer, show each step in the fabrication process, from raw inputs to production to distribution. Get creative by showing pictures of brainstorming whiteboards and other inside information. As you get feedback, sharpen your postings to reflect the types that work better than others. And to prevent clutter, archive your older posts.

4.    Use Hashtags

Hashtags can increase your reach. You can tailor them to specific campaigns or topics, but always keep them relevant to your content. Set up your main hashtag (e.g., #yourbrandname) and use it occasionally on Instagram and other social media sites such as Twitter. Hashtags help folks find the content they desire. Don’t overuse hashtags — three to five are a good number, even though you can add 30 per post. Also, try some popular ones like #instagood or #tech. Vary where you work hashtags into your postings, from inline to comments to the end of your post.

5.    Share Customer Success Stories

You can @mention others to showcase successful customers and clever collaborators. After all, you can let their excellence reflect back upon you. It’s good marketing (and just good) to support a charity or two, and you can tag them to show your commitment to a worthwhile cause that aligns with your company’s values. You don’t have to be an “official sponsor” of a charity in order to tag them. This technique supplements hashtags, which aren’t necessarily monitored by some visitors. Also, use reciprocal unpaid “shout-outs” to and from your partners. If you prefer, you can use paid shout-outs if your marketing budget permits. Typically, these require payments to a popular brand or influencer in return for their shout-out to you. This can increase your viewership quickly and efficiently.

6.    Offer Exclusive Content to Loyal Followers

Give your Instagram followers first access to exclusive content and upcoming promotions. Let them know that they are being singled out to early information about new events, services, and products. You can even tease upcoming events with enticing photos to build anticipation. Satisfy their curiosity about new offerings, offices, or stores. Try to make your Instagram followers feel special.

7.    Use Analytics to Build Success

You won’t know whether your marketing is successful unless you can measure results. You can use Instagram’s analytics and/or those available from third-parties to measure followers, click-throughs, and engagement. Integrate your Instagram analytics with that from other social media sites.

Conclusion

Is your marketing budget sufficient to meet your needs? Marketing is an essential ingredient when you want to grow your business, but it can get expensive. IOU Financial can help you bulk up your marketing budget for a special push. We feature friendly terms, fast funding, and convenient payment options. Contact us today to get a business loan that you can use to elevate your company to the next level.

10 Ways to Get Traffic to Your Website

The buzz word for increasing sales and conversions for any website is traffic, traffic, traffic. As a small business owner, one of the most significant digital assets you have is your website.

When it comes to driving quality traffic to your small business website, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. There is also no single set-it-and-forget-it tool that is capable of driving quality traffic to your site on auto-pilot.

You’ll need to combine a mix of different channels and approaches with the aim of driving the right visitors to your website, increasing conversions, engagement, and sales for your small business.

In today’s online business world, competition is cut-throat. The internet today has over 1.5 billion websites, and over 200 million are active. How can you generate the much-needed quality traffic to ensure that your small business stands out like the North Star?

As a small business owner, you may not have the big marketing budget to undertake expensive marketing campaigns and paid ads aimed at driving quality traffic to your website.

Are you looking for simple, budget-friendly, and highly effective ways to get more traffic to your small business website? Here are some guidelines you should consider.

Create quality content.

When it comes to generating the right traffic for your website, good quality content is sacrosanct. Content is indeed King, and it ranks as one of the top 5 factors for generating quality traffic to your website as outlined by Google.

You can use a mixture of short and long-form content, infographics, or video formats depending on the kind of audience or readers you are targeting with your content.

Your readers should also be able to share your content on various social media platforms easily. Including a share button in your content would be a great way to achieve that.

You can create top-quality content in various forms like;

  • Webinars
  • Whitepapers
  • Emails and Newsletters
  • Podcasts
  • Articles or Blog content
  • Videos
  • Infographics
  • eBooks, and many more.

Although you may not need to use all these formats, having a plethora of content formats at your disposal will help you to reach a wider audience. Good quality content is a great way to keep your visitors engaged.

Imbibe SEO best practices.

Making your website content friendly to search engines is a great way to drive quality traffic to your small business website. Make sure you leverage both off-page and on-page SEO to get the maximum benefits for your website. When it comes to maximizing SEO for your website, here are some must-haves you’ll need to consider;

  • Title tags: This is the unique title or clickable headline given to a particular web page on your website.
  • Meta Descriptions: This is a summary of about 155 characters that describes a particular web page.
  • Keywords: They are relevant words and phrases added to your online content to help improve rankings on search engines.
  • Image ALT tags: They are used to describe images on your website.

Optimizing your website with proper SEO practices is a great way to drive high-quality organic traffic to your site.

Use Hashtags.

Using hashtags in your posts on social media is a great way to extend your reach to a broader audience. When users search for products and services with your hashtags, you’ll get more quality traffic to your website.

Ensure your website is mobile-friendly.

There are lots of visitors who want to access your website through the use of their mobile phones, tablets, and other devices; you need to make sure that your website caters to their needs by ensuring that your website has a responsive design.

Research undertaken by Statista revealed that over 52% of website traffic was generated through mobile phones in 2018. Today, more and more users are accessing websites through their mobile devices; you don’t want to miss out on a large amount of traffic all because you do not have a mobile-friendly website.

To check the mobile-friendliness of your website, you can use this Google tool.

Use email marketing.

If you’re looking for a cost-effective way to drive quality, organic traffic to your website, then email marketing will quickly be your best friend. A lot of marketers today say that email marketing is dead, yet, it is still one of the most powerful tools to create awareness for your offer and drive a ton of traffic to your small business website.

Do you know that a staggering 72% of customers prefer to receive information about products and services through their emails? As a small business owner with a limited marketing budget, email marketing is a pocket-friendly approach you can use. If you are yet to take advantage of email marketing, you need to start building your email list now.

List Your Business on GMB, Bing Places, etc.

Creating and optimizing a free Google My Business (GMB) listing is a great way to drive traffic to your website. In fact, you can get as much as 7 times more visitors if your Google My Business listing is well optimized.

A lot of potential customers are looking for businesses daily on Google My Business and other online business directories such as Bing Places and Yelp. Make sure to link your website to these online business directories so that you can drive more traffic to your website and grow your business.

Leverage social video sites

Videos are valuable assets and great tools that can be used to attract new customers and keep your existing customers engaged. Thankfully, social video sites like YouTube or Vimeo are great platforms you can use to host your video content online.

When you create captivating and engaging video content, you can add your website address in the video description column on the social video site. This way, you’ll get traffic back to your website when visitors click on your website link.

Always make sure you post interesting, captivating, and informative video content online. Do not forget to include a call to action (CTA) so your audience can take a particular action.

Use Guest Blogging

Guest blogging is another way to increase traffic to your website. Guest post on reputable blogs in your niche; invite other prominent business owners in your niche to guest blog on your site. You can use both ways to drive blog traffic to your small business website.

You can post content on relevant blogs in the local language of your target audience with the help of online translation services like The Word Point and other brands. Guest blogging also portrays you as an industry leader in your niche.

Be Active on Social Media

The enormous role played by social media in driving traffic to websites of business owners and entrepreneurs cannot be over-emphasized. Your social media audience can quickly become visitors to your website when you share engaging content on your social media page from time to time.

As a small business owner, you should endeavor to maximize the use of top-performing social sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Linkedin, etc. Being active on social media is also a cost-effective way for you to interact with your target audience and build a community of loyal customers.

A survey carried out by Campaign Monitor revealed that 69.6% of small business owners use Facebook to drive traffic to their website, while 48.3% and 47% of small business owners use Instagram and Twitter, respectively.

Build Backlinks

Create links on other reputable websites of industry influencers in your niche that points back to your site. This way, your business is exposed to a larger audience, and your website will reap the benefits in terms of quality traffic.

Moreover, when reputable websites link to your small business website, Google trusts your site more. Here are some link building strategies that you can use to kick start your link building campaign;

  • Ask your friends to refer to your website from theirs.
  • Have a working business relationship with other brands.
  • List your business on reputable and trustworthy online business directories such as Yelp, Thumbtack, Yellow Pages, Better Business Bureau, etc.
  • Post content on aggregator websites like Reddit, Popurls, AllTop, Feedly, etc.

Wrapping things up

Generating quality traffic to grow your small business website can seem like a hard nut to crack if you do not know how to go about it.

If you do not want your website to become a glorified business card, then you need to start using the tips mentioned above to ensure that your website gets the right amount of traffic.

One thing is certain; you need to find ways to grow your small business irrespective of the marketing budget available to you. You need to start seeing good returns from your small business website, and generating quality traffic is one way to ensure that this happens.

Guest Post: About the Author

Thomas Lore is a 23-year old translator. He is also a creative and diligent freelance blogger, who is always seeking for new ways to improve himself. Thomas is very versatile and he wants to reach the tops with his writing skills.

How Small Businesses Can Book Clients Through Social Media

Social media has become one of the go-to ways for businesses to connect with people, be they current or prospective clients. There are a number of reasons for this – advertising on social media can cost less than traditional advertising, and the biggest social media platforms have millions or billions of users. In order to fully appreciate the value of booking clientele through social media, it’s worth taking a deep dive into some statistics about the users of the major platforms.

The Statistics

Instagram has over a billion monthly active users and over half visit the site daily. 80% of those users follow at least one business page and 72% of users have purchased something they’ve seen on the platform. For those doing the math, that’s 720 million people who have purchased something they’ve seen on Instagram –  an enticing number for any business. Facebook (which owns Instagram) has over 2.3 billion monthly active users, 74% of whom visit the platform daily. That means a hefty percentage of the world’s population uses the platform every day, so if you have products you’re looking to ship to a global audience, Facebook is the place to be.

Twitter’s statistics are a little different. They look not only at daily active users but monetizable daily active users – in other words, the users who actually see ads (many people use ad-blocking software). There are 145 million such users every day. The company also reports that ad engagement is up and the cost for advertising is down.

Which of these platforms should you set up for online booking? Preferably, all of them, but that may require more resources than you’re willing to commit. Should that be the case, it’s important to understand where your customers are hanging out. You want to focus your efforts on the platforms that host the most users of your target demographic and you want to post during the hours those users are active – but we digress.

In order to book clients, you’ll need a business page on all of the platforms you want to use. Setting up these pages is fairly straightforward. For those who don’t have a business page, you can check out this handy guide that explains how to create a business page on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

How to Implement

With your business page set up, it’s time to start booking clients. The simplest way of doing this is to incorporate a link to a booking page on the business page of your main website. Each platform has a slightly different way of going about this. 

When using Twitter, you’ll log into your account, go to “Profile”, click “Edit my profile” then add the link to your booking page in the Web section. Simple!

Want to book clients on Facebook? You have a number of options: The most commonly used is going to your business page, clicking “Add a Button”, selecting “Book with you”, then “Book now”, then clicking “next”, then selecting “Link to Website” and adding your link. Recently, however, Facebook has added its own appointment booking software which you can use for free by clicking “Appointments on Facebook” and following the prompts.

How about booking clients on Instagram? The process is fairly straightforward: go to your business page, then edit profile, change your URL to your booking page, then change your Bio to something like “Click here to book!” (or a more exciting, emoji-filled call-to-action).

It’s worth noting here that there are many types of booking software available and they can save you a lot of time. Researching this software and finding the one that best suits your needs can drastically improve the efficiency of your business, especially if you find yourself suddenly flooded by a swell of social media requests. This software can automatically sync with your Google calendar, they can send you text message alerts, and they can even accept payments on behalf of your business. While their utility depends heavily on how much of your clientele books online, they can be incredibly useful.

Getting Clients to Book

Now that we’ve gone over the mechanisms of how to set up booking through social media, it’s worth taking a look into how to get clients to actually book. We could write whole manuscripts on the topic, but we’ll take a brief look now.

Consistency is key on Instagram and on other platforms. You’ll want to post at the same time of day, every day, at least once a day, in order to grow your following. Remember, every person who sees your profile sees your booking call-to-action, so each view is a prospective client. You’ll want to be careful not to oversaturate followers with posts, however, or they might unfollow you. Quality, not quantity, is key. This is especially true on visual platforms like Instagram; a couple of tweets in a single day doesn’t hurt as much as a barrage of image posts.

You’ll also need to learn how to use hashtags properly. In brief, you want to use hashtags that are common enough to be searched for, but uncommon enough that you’re not drowned out in a bunch of noise. You might also find value in following trends being set by the platforms’ power users. In essence, you’re looking to carve out a niche on the platform. There is a lot of room on most platforms to use multiple hashtags, so don’t be shy about using multivariate testing to see which ones have the most pull. 

Finally, you’ll want to make sure your call-to-action is eye-catching. Depending on what business you’re in, that could be something as simple as “Book Now” (seniors, for example, are often not looking for wacky call-to-actions). An amusement park, however, might have firework emojis and “Start your adventure here!” as a call-to-action. Know your industry and tailor all of your social media marketing appropriately. 

Guest Post: About the Author

Kiara is a natural organizer and she understands how important time and resource management are for small businesses. That’s why she is the perfect Content Manager for BookedIN – because BookedIN software is the perfect way to organize your business life. She enjoys spending her time reading and learning new things.”

You Have A New Lead — What’s Next?

Leads are great, but only to the extent that you convert them to customers. It’s not rocket science, but you do need some smarts about motivating leads to purchase your goods or services. In this article, we’ll give you some tips on how to qualify and convert leads, thereby increasing your sales and growing your business.

There are plenty of useful tools for nurturing and converting leads. You can use a customer relationship management (CRM) app to keep track of leads, customers, and interactions. You can use a tool to automate your email campaign, or perhaps use an entire platform such as HubSpot, which offers a suite of tools for inbound marketing.

To simplify the discussion, let’s say your small business acquires leads by collecting the email addresses of website visitors. Perhaps you have a free offering that requires a visitor to enter an email address to qualify. Now, some leads are more promising than others. Here’s how to identify good leads and engage them:

  1. Optimize product pages:

    Your website should clearly describe what your company does and what it offers. Visitors should be able to easily navigate to product pages for the particular goods and services that interest them.

  2. Always include calls to action (CTAs):

    You use CTAs to collect email addresses and other basic information when visitors request a free download, demonstration, or some other goody. This is the most common way to collect leads. You can also buy sales lead lists from list brokers who deal in your industry.

  3. Nurture leads via email streams:

    You can create streams of automated emails to nurture leads. You start with emails that offer generally useful information and then slowly introduce your sales pitch in later emails. Using email management software like Mailchimp can help you track the progress and effectiveness of your email campaigns. Software can vary the mail stream depending on the lead’s responses. You want recipients to open their emails, so include compelling information, special deals, and other enticements.

  4. Schedule a meeting:

    The email campaign should help you identify the most promising leads. These are the ones that would benefit from a personal contact, such as a phone call, meeting, or an invitation to a seminar. You should try to schedule the follow-up interaction as soon as possible before the lead loses interest or is otherwise distracted. You can automate a Google Calendar entry that leads can post.

  5. Institute a reminder strategy:

    The reminder strategy involves contacting a lead via an email, phone call, text message, etc., about a scheduled interaction. A gentle reminder can reduce the number of no-shows. You will want to confirm their preferred method of communication, including their best phone number and email address.

  6. Offer a deal:

    You should understand your competitors’ offerings and prices so that you can offer an enticing deal at a defendable price. That means ongoing market research so that you can always present a competitive price.

  7. Track your sales reps:

    If your business is big enough to have sales reps, you must track their performance over time. Underperformers may need training and additional support.

  8. Collect statistics:

    Your marketing return on investment (ROI) can only be measured if you collect meaningful statistics on your marketing and sales efforts. There are many stats to track, but of course the most important one is leads who make a purchase — your conversion rate.

Conclusion

Leads are valuable, don’t let them go to waste. Review your marketing and sales strategies over time by way of conversion ratio and other metrics. And if you don’t feel like you’ve got a handle on this aspect of marketing, there are many resources available to you, including books, websites, videos, courses, seminars, toolkits, and so forth.

5 Tips on How to Boost Your Business With Webinars

If you’re looking for new effective ways to promote your business, webinars are certainly worth giving a try. Webinars have proven to be an effective tool that generates high-quality leads quickly. One of the great advantages of webinars is that even small businesses and startups can afford them.

If you own a small business, the chances are that you like to learn something new and you already know what webinars are. And if you don’t, here are some great webinars for small business owners. However, webinars are not only a good educational tool but also a very effective solution for businesses that want to promote their products or services, gaining visibility and attracting a fresh audience.

What Webinar Marketing Is

Webinar marketing is based on the use of online seminars in order to reach out to a wider audience and to promote products or services. Usually, webinars provide valuable information for free, giving the participants an opportunity to purchase services and products offered by the company that created the webinar.

Just like downloadable ebooks or checklists, webinars act as lead magnets. However, they offer more value and they can also bring you better leads. Usually, webinars include a presentation and a Q&A session. The video format allows you to establish effective communication and to demonstrate your services and products in real-time.

Webinar marketing is an approach that benefits you while also educating your audience, which adds value to your marketing efforts. Besides, video content is extremely popular. Experts predict videos to make up 82% of all internet traffic by 2022. Besides, 72% of consumers like to learn about new products from videos. Compared to other types of video content, webinars are relatively cheap to produce. That’s why we mentioned webinars in our list of the best types of video content for small businesses.

Although webinars are often aimed to get the audience interested in purchasing something, it’s important to understand that they shouldn’t look like a sales pitch. A successful webinar provides value. Relevance and quality of the information that you provide determine the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. Here are some tips that will help you make your webinars interesting and effective.

How to Boost Your Business With Webinars

Choose the right topic

The main thing that determines whether or not people will want to attend your webinar is the topic. First, you should choose the right words for your title so that it will appeal to a wide audience. Secondly, you should determine what topic is most likely to generate interest.

When choosing a topic for your webinar, you can research keywords related to your niche and determine what people are searching for. The chosen keywords must be not only popular but also unique. Offering something unique is especially important for new businesses that face strong competition.

You may also check your existing ebooks and posts on social media or blogs to find content that has performed well. This way, you may find an engaging topic that will be interesting for your target audience. The main thing so to research your niche and not to choose a topic simply based on your instincts.

Plan your webinar properly

Successful marketers know that they shouldn’t rely on luck. You cannot improvise when your goal is to create an effective marketing product, especially if you’re creating educational content. You need a well-designed strategy and a clear plan.

First, you should understand why you need this webinar. You can use webinars for various purposes, and your purpose determines what strategy you should use. For example, you may want to launch a new product, to attract new leads, or to establish your brand as an expert in the niche.

When planning a webinar, think of your audience and determine what types of content might be most valuable and engaging for them. Focus on a single topic and plan the structure of your seminar. Usually, seminars are one-hour long. You may dedicate 45 minutes to the presentation so that you can spend the remaining 15 minutes answering your audience’s questions.

Do your best to create high-quality content

First, we recommend that you approach this step as a continuous process. Even if your marketing strategy has already demonstrated some success and some people showed up, you won’t be able to make them come back if you don’t produce more great content. Your content must be exciting and fresh.

We recommend that you offer useful information and a solution to the problem you’re helping your customers with. Always try to provide the ultimate solution but make sure to focus on helping your attendees, without being too self-promotional.

You should also make sure that your webinars will reach the widest audience possible. If you’re selling your products internationally, you may want to make your content understandable for people who speak different languages. Although it’s difficult to translate webinars in real-time, you can record them and add subtitles. Just make sure to use the right translation service, such as The Word Point.

Keep your audience engaged

Your presentation shouldn’t be boring. Thanks to modern technology, you have plenty of opportunities to grab your audience’s attention and to keep them engaged. Make sure that you’re broadcasting high-quality audio and video. Look at the camera so that your viewers can maintain visual contact with you.

The pacing of your presentation is also important. We recommend that you switch slides quickly so your audience will pay attention. Otherwise, your webinar may become boring. Your slides must be to the point and not overloaded with text. Just write the key points and keep your presentation simple and straightforward.

Promote your webinars

Even if your webinar is very informative and engaging, you may still have to do a lot of work to get enough participants. First, don’t promote your webinar at the last moment. According to statistics, only 33% of your audience is likely to register on the day your webinar goes live. We recommend that you start promoting your webinar in advance.

If you want to get the biggest number of participants, we suggest that you start to promote your webinar at least one month before it goes live. We also recommend that you promote your webinars on Tuesdays, as it turns out that 25% of people who attend webinars register for them on this day of the week.

When promoting webinars, try to use as many channels as possible. Promote them on social media and run email campaigns. According to research, 70% of people sign up via email. Don’t forget to create a nice registration page and send reminders before your webinars start. You may also edit your thank you message to add a link to the registration page.

Wrapping Up

Webinars are a great marketing tool that allows you to not only promote your business but also sell your products. However, the success of your webinars depends on your ability to create valuable and engaging content. Follow our tips, and you will take your marketing strategy to the next level, creating winning webinars that help your audience and generate sales.

Guest Post: About the Author

Frank Hamilton is a blogger and translator from Manchester. He is a professional writing expert in such topics as blogging, digital marketing, and self-education. He also loves traveling and speaks Spanish, French, German and English.

SEO in 2020 — How to Rank as #1

SEO is in a dynamic phase right now, thanks in part to the evolution of Google’s ranking algorithms and in part to the move to optimize visual, voice, and Facebook Search channels. If you are a webmaster or a business owner (or both), now would be a good time to re-evaluate your SEO practices with an eye toward bringing them up to date. Here are a few areas to consider:

  1. Beneficial Purpose:

    Google now places a heavy emphasis on the beneficial purpose of a website during the ranking process. Pages should be user-centered to achieve their intended purposes. This includes sharing topical, personal, or social information, sharing various forms of media, expressing opinions, entertaining visitors, selling services and products, running a forum, and facilitating user interactions. Pages that seek to make money without helping users are now considered to be of low quality.

  2. YMYL Content:

    YMYL stands for “your money or your life.” Broadly, this is critical information that your website must get right. Specifically, inaccurate or deceptive YMYL content might affect a reader’s financial stability, safety, health, or happiness. Google now places greater scrutiny on the truthfulness of YMYL pages, including ones that cover news, legal issues, governmental developments, financial and medical advice, shopping information, and information on groups of people.

  3. EAT Factors

    EAT, or “expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness,” was once the entire basis of page quality, but now is one of several factors. YMYL content must meet a higher EAT standard, demonstrating the credentials of experts and generally recognized authorities that are considered honest and accurate. EAT factors are of the highest importance on pages containing medical, scientific, financial, legal, and other information that supports decisions.

  4. Scaled Content:

    Important, high-quality information should be shared in a coordinated way, including long-form articles, press releases, videos, podcasts, multiple platforms, chatbots, and Google Actions. The trend is to develop original, expert content and then distributing it through multiple channels and media.

  5. Avoiding Staleness:

    You can help your ranking by updating old content, something that Google notices. For many websites, that means updating or archiving pages that are six months to two years old. Google will downgrade a page that loses relevance because the information is dated. You should update your content to include the latest links, statistics, and external resources. Also, you should regularly audit your pages for duplicate, conflicting, or sketchy content. There are audit tools (e.g., DeepCrawl, SreamingFrog, SEMRush, etc.) available to help you identify problem areas.

  6. Facebook Search:

    Paid social and paid search are increasingly intertwined. Is your Facebook search-ad strategy up to date? All brands can now place Facebook ads that automatically receive Automatic Placement support. That means your ads will appear in the Facebook Marketplace as well as primary search results. Your strategy should include using niche keywords targeting less saturated audiences.

  7. Sharpening Backlinks:

    Backlinking continues to be an important tactic to boost the credibility of websites. Your backlinks should target competitive keywords, especially in highly-competitive markets. These should be quality backlinks that promote specific marketing outlets, such as digital marketing platforms that serve similar audiences with high domain authority. By the way, these same considerations also apply to guest postings, encouraging long-term recurring contributions.

  8. Schema Use:

    The joint facility Schema.org provides websites with a structured data markups that major search engines interpret page information. You need Schema to provide snippets that serve as zero-click results on the search results page, a good strategy to keep searchers from traveling to another site to answer a question. Also, Schema supports voice-based queries such as those available through Google Assistant.

Conclusion

We’ve given you eight tips to help you improve your SEO practices in the new decade. Space limitations prevent us from exploring additional tips that you should check out on your own, including Accelerated Mobile Pages, page speed, Google Search Console, different language hreflang tags, and more. So saddle up, cowpokes, and git that SEO done – don’t let your competitors get the jump on you.

Up Your Social Media Strategy with These Tips

Social media has burrowed into the population’s psyche as an indispensable source of news, opinion, and gossip. Approximately half of the earth’s population uses social media via platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. The average time a social media fan spends on these platforms exceeds two hours per day. The message is clear: You need to include social media in your business’ marketing strategy. Here are some handy tips to up your social media presence.

1.    Create a Comprehensive Content Marketing Plan

You begin by asking yourself some probing questions to help you determine the type of content to adopt:

  • Who is buying your offerings? Define your market in terms of income, age, gender, location, needs, likes, behaviors, and challenges.
  • What subjects interest your market?
  • What social media platforms do your customers use?
  • Do they prefer a particular type of content?
  • What content do you have to revamp or add?

Use the answers to guide the creation of your social media content. For example, a distillery might target an audience that is interested in drink recipes and food pairings. At the very least, begin a blog that addresses your market with relevant content. Then, share your blog and other content across multiple social media platforms. Include videos, SlideShare presentations, infographics, and visual content. Use scheduling tools (SproutSocial, Buffer, Hootsuite, etc.) to push out and publish content on various platforms. After posting, continue to engage your audience by answering questions and responding to comments. Consider features like contests, surveys, and promotions to spark additional interest in your content.

2.    Distribute Content to the Right Platforms

Pick the right platforms for different types of content. Start with Facebook to post news and entertaining information, including videos. Use LinkedIn for content appealing to your B2B audience, and Instagram for high-quality videos and images. You get the idea. Also, share your content with a schedule tailored to each platform. For example, you might want to add Twitter and Facebook content twice per day, whereas a few times per week for LinkedIn.

3.    Use Video Content

Nothing beats the power of video for engaging your audience and making a memorable impression. It’s a great way to tell your story and promote conversions. Consider these video ideas:

  • Animation
  • Listicles
  • Product videos
  • Interviews
  • How-to videos
  • Live-streaming videos

You might try to turn your most popular blogs into videos. Also, identify your top keywords to drive interesting subject concepts. There are tools that generate visuals from keywords as well as video creation tools to help you share your story, including AnswerThePublic, Promo, and Wave.video.

4.    Consider Using Influencers

Studies show that the marketing plans that include influencers have a higher return on investment. The right influencer can boost your exposure to your target audience. You can save money by using niche influencers rather than general ones because they charge less and are more effective if chosen correctly. There are several tools (Awario, Upfluence, NinjaOutreach, BuzzSumo, etc.) that can identify the most relevant influencers for your business. Niche influencers should have a good-sized following and a proven ability to stimulate engagement. Trust your influencers to shape their contributions, because they have the experience to resonate with your audience.

5.    Measure Your Outcomes

This is a must. Use tools to monitor and measure the effectiveness of your social media strategy. These tools include TweetDeck, Awario, Talkwalker, and Mention. You can track likes, comments, and shares to gauge involvement, and dig deeper by using UTM parameters and A/B tests to gather detailed data on traffic and conversions. You should also monitor your competitors’ marketing activity. Consider performing a social media sentiment analysis to help you understand what is motivating conversations among your audience members.

Conclusion

There seems to be no end to the growing influence of social media. That escalates the stakes for an innovative social media marketing strategy to increase your presence on the popular channels and boost sales. You want to outshine the competition, and the tips presented here can get you going on the path to success.