Get Smarter, Not Bigger With Marketing

The online world is what allows most people to start a business at home. They have skills to sell or a product they can produce from home and the internet is what allows them to get customers without the need for a storefront or an office full of underlings. But big businesses have the advantage in the online world. They have bigger marketing budgets, which means where you can’t outspend them, you’re going to have to out-think them instead.

The website

When it comes to standing apart from competitors and others in the industry, the website is where you have the most potential. You’re in control of the visual branding, the content, the layout and much more besides. But you need to know the fundamentals of good site design to make sure that you’re making the best use out of all of them. For instance, what are the goals of the site? Is it an ecommerce page where people can click and order goods or services directly? Is it meant to drive them to get in contact with you? Those are the focuses you need to cut out the superfluous content. You don’t need as much spiel on what your business is all about if people can buy products directly, for instance. You just need content that directs them to those products and demonstrates the value of them above all else. Your goals should speak to your niche on the market. That’s how you differentiate yourself.

Search engines

There are two ways to compete on search engines with your competitors. And again, having a niche to your business is going to bolster your chances of success with either. In terms of search engine optimization, the more specific you can make your content and the keywords you use, the better. The same goes with pay-per-click advertising, but you can also use tools like those mentioned on Clicteq to make sure a little more room is made for your bids. For instance, you could make your ads more active when there’s less competition. You can also use tools that measure and modify your campaigns as you go on, cutting out the keywords and links that don’t perform as well as others. You want to make sure your money is being spent on only the most effective adverts.

Social media

As a small business, your personal connection to customers plays a much more important role than it does for big brands. Start by finding your own online persona and having a deep enough insight into your community’s wants to curate content that appeals all the better to them by peeking into who they follow and what they like. One of the methods put forward by Small Business Trends is getting some social media management tools to do the heavy lifting for you, too. You don’t want to spend all day dipping in and out of accounts to share a piece of content you’ve made. Instead, spend a good half-hour to an hour of the day scheduling the majority of your messages. You want to stay active in terms of replying and retweeting, but that takes nowhere near as much time as having to pause your work to post new content.

A good online marketing strategy takes time, there’s no doubt about that. When you get the wheels up and running in the business, you might think that you should spend more time making money, not trying to bring in more customers. When that’s the case, remember that there are plenty of services willing to help you with that.

Email Marketing Strategy Challenges of the Modern Marketer

There is no magical formula you can start using, and continue to use, when it comes to marketing. To guarantee success, modern marketers need to stay on the ball as the marketing world changes, watching emerging patterns that will turn into effective marketing techniques.

Email marketing is one of the marketing channels that are most difficult to master. A survey completed by marketers showed that their number one strategic challenge was increasing engagement rates. This infographic shows that if you are struggling in this area, then a good tip is to use segmentation and personalization to achieve higher rates of engagement.

Content creation, or more specifically, creating relevant content for the target audience, is a key driver in engagement rates and should enable you to achieve better results. Survey results also showed that acquiring new customers was also a big challenge for them.

Did you know that email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than using Facebook or Twitter? That’s a pretty astonishing statistic, so if you are struggling with customer acquisition, then you know what area to dedicate your efforts to.

Email Marketing Strategy Challenges of the Modern Marketer - Infographic by Campaign Monitor

Source: Email Marketing Strategy Challenges of the Modern Marketer by Campaign Monitor

The Do’s And Don’ts Of The Perfect Website – When You Work For Yourself

When you work for yourself, you have to be skilled in a number of different areas. Big companies have specific people to manage their accounts, HR and marketing issues. If you are running a startup, or if you work on a freelance basis, you have to be your own boss AND fill all these roles as well. It can be pretty challenging, especially if you are starting out from scratch. But with the right kind of knowledge behind you, you can be sure to pull it off. Take marketing, for example. You might be a successful writer, photographer or consultant – but if no-one knows about you, you are not going to get any business or make any money. Most marketing goes on online these days, so having a strong online presence is crucial to your success. Here are some of the ways you can use your website to your advantage and you can start attracting clients to your business.

The overall ‘look’ of your website

First impressions count; especially in business. A client will figure out whether they want to work with you or not in the first few minutes of looking at your website. Two things are important here: functionality and design. If your website doesn’t have a clear heading, navigation bar and contact form, potential customers are simply not going to be interested. After all, no one has time to spend ages trying to figure out how to use a website – your service should work for them, not the other way around. Secondly, pay attention to the colors, fonts and photos used on your website. If your business is, for example, a bespoke marketing service, the whole thing should look classy, expensive and sleek. A multicolored website with six different types of font is not going to tell your customer that you will be able to create something modern and timeless for them. If you are in any doubt, contact a Website Design Agency who will help you create a website that truly represents your brand.

The right amount of information

When you are freelance, you often work quite closely with your clients – often on a one to one basis. In order for people to want to work with you in the first place, they will need to know a bit about you. An ‘about me’ page is designed to give an insight into your personality for the potential client, so they will know if they want to work alongside you. However, be careful not to overdo it. After all, they don’t need your life story. A paragraph or so about your professional background, and maybe some personal interests to (to lighten the mood) should suffice. Include a professional picture too – everyone likes to put a face to a name.

Portfolio

In order to trust you, a client will first want to see some examples of your previous work. If you are charging a lot of money for your service, it is only right that they know they can put their faith in you. Build your portfolio carefully – avoid anything of little worth, or any material that is over five years old (unless it is groundbreaking). You can add different types of plug-ins to your website in order to display your previous work effectively.

5 Creative Ways To Advertise Your Business

Great businesses are always looking for creative ways to push the envelope and bring in more money. With 543,000 new businesses opening each month, competition is fierce. As a business owner, it’s your job to stand out from businesses that offers similar products or services. These businesses could even be around the corner. Small businesses often find themselves in competition with other small businesses for territory and the same population of clientele. To give your business the upper hand, try one of these five creative ways to advertise your business:

Vehicle Wraps

A vehicle wrap is a great way to get your business some attention, both on and off the road. Whether you’re driving down the highway or in a parking lot, people are reading your vehicle wrap — even if they don’t necessarily mean to. This is because it’s a natural habit to divert your gaze to anything attention-grabbing in your peripheral. And if part of your business consists of making deliveries or driving for any reason, why not advertise while you’re at it?

By using a vehicle wrap, you’re investing in long-term advertising. Vehicle wraps are an effective way to spread your brand message. This powerful marketing tool is not only attention grabbing, but helps you reach a wider audience in a non-aggressive way. Unlike print ads, popups, and radio commercials, vehicle wraps don’t disrupt consumers. They’re also cost-effective, compared to traditional advertising that have recurring costs.

Additionally, business owners can get creative with vehicle wraps and spark a dialogue. Be sure to include the basics, like a phone number and business name, and make it simple for people to understand the services you have to offer.

Virtual Showrooms

There are tremendous benefits to virtual showrooms, and because this advertising method isn’t overdone, it offers your business a unique edge. Virtual showrooms are websites that serve as an exact replica of what’s happening in your showroom. They’re perfect for car dealerships, furniture stores, real estate agencies, and much more. These showrooms can do wonders for conversion rates, especially if your business sells large and/or unique items, or is quite a distance away from major towns and cities. It gives potential buyers the opportunity to explore what you have to offer without making too big of a commitment.

Fiverr Flyers

Fiverr is platform that allows businesses to take advantage of a range of low-cost services, from graphic design to writing and marketing. The “Flyer & Handouts” section of the “Advertising” category offers unique and personalized flyer services that cost next to nothing. There are dozens of users who will distribute hundreds of flyers at campuses or malls starting at just $5, with incremental increases for additional flyers and features. Many of the users offering these services have hundreds of five-star reviews. These testomonials offer a glipse of how effective this “outdated” method can actually be in a modern world.

Outdoor Signage

Common for retailers and restaurants, sidewalk and window signage provides passerby with a glimpse of what to expect from a business. Creative outdoor signage can actually attract customers who would have continued walking otherwise. Use these signs to advertise promotional deals, discounts, or speciality items. And don’t be afraid to have a little fun. For example, creative chalkboard signs with funny sayings and pictures tend to get photographed on social media at the very least. At the end of the day, you’d be surprised at the dollar value a simple sign could be.

Online Quizzes

Sponsored quizzes are popular for big brands, but even small business owners can take a piece of the pie. Consumers love online quizzes, and if you use your social media (and maybe a little advertising) to promote them, your quiz has potential to go viral.

For example, let’s say you’re a home goods store and want to capitalize on Valentine’s Day. Your quiz could be titled: “Which Gift Would Be Perfect For Your Lady? Take This Quiz To Find Out!” Quiz results could include nice gifts your shop sells and catchy content about unique ways to present the gift. Quiz options are endless, and there are plenty of ways to make them relevant to your business.

Help for Your Online Shop: Finding the Perfect Platform for Selling Your Wares

Now that you have got all your wares aligned and thinking of launching your online business, it’s time to start finalizing the most suitable platform for yourself. Online retail sales in the UK reached £52.25 billion, which shows the immensity of the online market.

Below are some of the considerations you need to make before settling on the finest platform to sell your products/services online:

Stock Size

What is the stock size you’re looking at? When you’re looking for a store platform to use, be sure to see that you’re paying the smallest possible amount of money required. Conduct thorough research to make sure you aren’t being ripped off.

Security, Hardware, and Monitoring

Ideally, you should have a say in the hardware as well as the operating and security solutions being chosen by the web hosting service. Choose advanced and reliable server line operating systems like IBM iSeries to ensure that your money doesn’t go down the drain.

The hardware also needs to be sturdy to bear the brunt of thousands of visitors monthly. Make sure to see the essential RAM and CPU components.

Physical vs. Digital?

This is one of the most crucial questions worth asking. Are the goods you sell are physical or digital? This will vastly impact your shipping costs. Did you know that eight out of ten customers would choose an online retailer just because of free shipping? That’s why it’s wise to hunt for a platform that fits your product needs – just like a glove.

Financial Feasibility

See if the different deals offered fit your budget. If possible, go for the opportunity to pay monthly installments rather than promising to share a small percentage of your sale with the company.

Self-Hosted or Cloud Platforms?

If you’re sure you can modify the look of the online store, then by all means, you should look for platforms enabling you to go for self-hosted stores. Many e-commerce platforms allow you to alter your store as per your needs.

Some popular cloud platforms include Bluepark, Volusion, Shopify, and Magento Small Business. Cloud platforms are all the rage but you need to know the pros and cons before deciding if it is your thing!

Pros and Cons of Cloud Platforms

You don’t need to have any capital expenditure or pay any maintenance charges. That’s because these platforms come with their own set of technical support so you can sit back and let them take care of the technical nitty-gritty details.

But here’s the con: You might not be able to get your hands on highly customized websites with exclusive website branding. Also, you might not find the scalability for websites to grow along with your business needs.

Pros and Cons of Self-Hosted Platforms

Supposing you opt for the self-hosted e-commerce, you have the flexibility of creating a web store with customized branding. The solutions are scalable, with the potential to grow along with your business.

However, with these platforms, the costs can go upward to thousands of Euros a year. You’re also exposing yourselves to security issues when using a free shopping cart.

The Bottom Line

Coming up with your online shop just requires one thing: research! So, conduct ample research based on the product/service you sell so that you’ll be able to round up some of the best platforms out there to make your online shop functional. You can have the right information at your disposal by comparing the major e-commerce players to get the best deal.

Rebecca O’Brien has worked on the tech support team for a web services provider for several years. She likes helping people, especially small business owners, and has the ability to word things in an easy to understand way.

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