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Ways to turn social media fans into customers

How To Turn Social Media Fans Into Customers

So your business has taken the plunge into social media. You have a Facebook page and are actively tweeting and blogging. Best of all: You’ve got a growing list of social media followers.

But are those fans buying your products? What can you do to help convert them into loyal customers?

Here are six tips for upping your social media sales conversion success.

 

1. Create a strategy

Start off on the right foot by creating a social media strategy. All those Facebook posts and tweets may not help your sales much without proper planning.

First, determine the goals of your social media presence, whether it’s attracting more customers, boosting brand recognition or improving customer service. Decide who your target audience is, and spell out a content strategy covering:

  • your key messages
  • kinds of content that will appeal to your audience
  • a list of keywords that describe your business. You’ll use these words in your content to help you rank higher in Internet searches for those terms. You can use Google AdWords Keyword Tool to find popular keywords relevant to your business.

Second, create an action plan that sets out employee responsibilities for social media tasks and a publishing schedule for posts.

 

2. Optimize your website

The greatest social media page in the world won’t do you much good if it’s driving fans to an awful website—one that’s hard to navigate and plagued by jargon-laden text.

A clean, attractive website with compelling visuals is all-important for converting social media fans into paying customers. Visitors shouldn’t need to do a lot of clicking or scrolling to find what they want. Pages on your site should also prominently feature your contact information and clear calls to action—a box or image that asks visitors to take the action you seek (e.g. buy your products, contact a sales rep or sign up for a newsletter).

 

3. Create unique landing pages

Improve your conversion odds by creating unique landing pages for each of your social media pages. This is a special webpage designed specifically for visitors arriving from a social media page. Make sure you have consistent messages and a clear call to action on the landing page.

 

4. Use social selling

Social selling is the process of building a network on sites like LinkedIn and Facebook to make connections and present yourself as an expert in your field.

To get started, research companies you are interested in doing business with and take a close look at who you’d want to connect with. Then, connect and start building a relationship with those people by sharing content, inviting them to events or introducing them to potential customers.

But don’t expect this technique to make big wins quickly. Social selling is all about fostering relationships over the long term.

 

5. Explore social media’s conversion features

Social media platforms now allow businesses directly promote their products and services with paid ads.

Facebook, for instance, allows you to create special deals that can be redeemed on your website or in-store. You can also create ads that show your catalogue to a target audience, or even promote store visits to people close to your location. Instagram has similar features that can be used to target consumers directly.

Meanwhile, Pinterest allows businesses to use five types of “rich pins” that display additional information about your posts.

Product pins, for example allow you to show where and at what price the pictured product can be purchased. Because many people on Pinterest use the site as an online wish list, product pins can be a great way to boost online sales.

If you do business in the United States, you could even choose to create a buyable pin, which allows users to purchase a product directly on Pinterest.

 

6. Measure, learn and optimize

As in any conversation, listening is half the job. Be sure you’re monitoring what fans are saying and doing. Look at what kinds of content sparks the most reaction and leads to the best conversion rates. And monitor other successful companies in your industry to see what they’re doing on social media.

Then, optimize what your activities to do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.

 

Content By: BDC Read More Here

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6 Best Affiliate Marketing TipsThat Will Earn You More Money

6 Best Affiliate Marketing TipsThat Will
Earn You More Money

So, you’ve joined an affiliate program! That’s great news. According to Forbes, affiliate marketing is now responsible for more than 15% of e-commerce sales. That puts it in the same league as email marketing and ahead of social commerce and display advertising—whoa!

But we’re probably not telling you anything you didn’t already know. What you’re here for today is to get some answers to the question, “How can I make more money with my affiliate program?” So, on with the affiliate marketing tips and tricks!

1. Choose Affiliate Programs Wisely

Not every affiliate program is created equally, and not every affiliate program will make sense for your customer base (we’ll cover that in more detail in section two). In addition to those factors, there are other considerations you’ll want to make:

  • Choosing quality over money. Sure, you can probably make a higher commission if you sell a lower quality product, but people will probably be less likely to buy because most have wised up to cheap products. Plus, promoting junk can seriously damage your credibility.
  • Consider promoting digital products. Some of the best affiliate programs to make money are online. These often have high conversion rates because they provide instant access and instant gratification to purchasers.
  • Consider promoting products that renew monthly. It’s okay to promote products or services that generate a single commission, but receiving a monthly recurring commission makes your affiliate business more predictable and stable.

  • Choose vendors that will negotiate. Find vendors who will renegotiate your commission if you start to consistently generate a lot of affiliate sales for them.
  • Choose vendors with a good landing page. Reconsider partnership if landing pages have an outdated design, are full of ads, contain way to much text and spelling and grammatical errors, have too many calls to action, or contain a phone number (you probably won’t get commission if orders are placed on the phone). Remember, if a page turns you off, it will turn off your visitors too. 
  • Look for programs with lifetime payouts. With these affiliate campaigns, you make money if a visitor continues to purchase from the affiliate vendor even if they never come back to your site again!

2. Understand Your Audience

Studies show that people don’t hate ads—they hate bad ads. One aspect of a bad ad is irrelevance. Let’s say you run a fishing website. It wouldn’t make sense to run affiliate ads for a computer just because almost everyone probably has a computer at home. Your customers aren’t there for this type of content; it will confuse them, annoy them, make them think you’ve run out of content or, worst of all, make them think you’re trying to sell something shoddy to make a quick buck. 

Successful affiliate marketing means promoting only items that match the immediate needs and wants of your audience. The more relevant the product or service, the more likely they are to buy; in addition, educating them on relevant products or services can be considered value-added content, not weird or unexpected advertising. So, always think about why people are coming to your site, joining your email marketing list, or following you on social media.

 

3. Be Trustworthy

Some people use affiliate marketing only for profit, not to benefit their customers. Some will even mislead their audience with spammy, dishonest affiliate ads and promotions, or they try to hide the fact that it’s an affiliate link. Here’s a tip: most readers can smell them a mile away—and that’s okay, if you’re honest about the intent!

If the product or service you’re promoting is relevant to your audience, they won’t mind the content. However, if they feel you are trying to scam them or take advantage of their readership with too many irrelevant ads, they’re liable to leave and not come back. 

Remember, it is your repeat visitors who are most valuable to you; they are the ones who will give you linkbacks and recommend your site, growing your customer base—not the ones you lured in one time by misleading them. You need to be honest and ethical with your customers, building relationships with genuine content. If all they see is a profit motive—that you don’t ultimately have their best interests at heart—they won’t be back.

Pro Tip: One way to show your trustworthiness is to address any weaknesses of your affiliate product or service. Wait…what? It’s true! If you advertise something as too good to be true, they’ll never believe it.

Instead, highlight the strengths, then address a weakness to gain trust (but, always include a work-around to show how you make it work regardless of the weakness, or note that almost all similar products or services share this weakness, etc.).

4. Offer a Bonus

When you disclose an affiliate relationship—and you should, because as we already noted, building trust is a must—consumers will appreciate your honesty and won’t mind contributing to your bottom line by using your link (the opposite can be true; if they feel you’re not being honest about your affiliations, they may go directly to the vendor just to avoid giving you the referral credit!). 

Of course, by disclosing an affiliate, they still have the opportunity to go directly to the vendor (and they’ll know that other sites are probably hosting the affiliate link too). So, consider offering an incentive to use your affiliate link. This is a great way to give your affiliate sales a boost and differentiate yourself from the other competing affiliates out there! 

 

5. Create a Variety of Ads

Typically, a vendor will provide you with a variety of ads to use on your website, social channels, and through email. If they don’t, you’ll have to do all the work, so keep that in mind. However, even if they provide you with some assets, you’ll still want to create your own ads (if they allow it) so that you can stand apart from the affiliate competition. 

Once you have a good arsenal of ads, you’ll want to change them up frequently and test different versions to see which are most effective with your customers. It may take some time before you figure out the best formula, and you may also find that you need to continually rotate ads to attract more attention.

 

6. Keep Your Ad Strategy Relevant

Don’t be complacent when it comes to your affiliate ad strategy. Keep up to date on the latest product and service offerings of your affiliate programs and swap out ads as soon as they become available (or create one yourself if you’re allowed). 

Also, stay on top of the current trends and always be willing to explore new opportunities. For example, if those hot weight-loss pills have cooled off, or a particular clothing trend has died out, replace that content with something new and popular to reflect your timeliness. 

Finally, you should always be on the lookout for new products that are useful and relevant to your audience; the more you can promote, the more you can earn.

 

Hopefully these affiliate marketing tips and techniques will help you to earn more commissions with your vendors!

Content By: The Fulfillment Lab Read More Here

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5 Rules for Businesses Running Remotely During COVID-19

5 Rules for Businesses Running
Remotely During COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic has suddenly disrupted the way most companies work. We already live in an incredibly digital world, and some companies already have remote staff and offer digital products and services. Unfortunately, many other companies are having to play catch-up, fast. Some businesses are simply not set up to  operate remotely, yet countless have had no choice but to adapt during recent weeks. For small businesses who have never run remotely before, or who aren’t used to running operations entirely online, there are a lot of adjustments to make. Whether you’re used to operating remotely or this is all new to you, consider these five rules for running your business remotely during COVID-19. 

1. Build your toolbox

You may not be needing as many paper clips as you did before, but you’ll still need to get your hands on some valuable office supplies. This time, they’ll be digital though. There are plenty of options out there for file sharing, hosting video meetings, and creating custom chat threads to help your team work efficiently. And the best part is, some of these platforms are free to use or are being offered for free during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype, WeChat, and Slack all offer text or video chat based communication programs that are currently free. While large corporations will likely need to pay for any project management software they use, smaller businesses with close knit teams can often use tools like Asana, Teamwork, and Project.co for free.

2. Master proper digital etiquette

A 2019 survey from Messenger found that 75% of respondents felt that a certain digital etiquette is generally expected when it comes to business. In personal circumstances, emails and texts can have a casual tone, but in a business setting it may be more acceptable for your communications to be professional and respectful at all times. The following etiquette rules are worth following if you don’t want to ruffle any feathers from afar. 

Don’t leave anyone hanging. The ease of digital communication can add unnecessary pressure to respond quickly, but you don’t have to respond as soon as you get a message. If you know it will take a while for you to respond to a message in full, sending a quick heads up to acknowledge that you received the message and will get back to the sender will go a long way. If you need a break from checking email, texts, or instant messages, let your colleagues know that you’ll be taking some heads down time and won’t be responding for a set period of time.  

Don’t be a multi-messenger. Cut your colleagues some slack during this hectic time and try not to message them repeatedly if you don’t hear back from them right away. Ideally, you should be messaging as little as possible to get your point across. 37% of the survey respondents deemed it bad etiquette to over-reply to digital messages. 

Read the room. In this case, you’ll need to read the chat room. Before you suggest a video chat meeting or keep things friendly with texts, make sure you carefully consider who you’re communicating with. While texting is suitable for reaching out to a teammate, most clients would probably prefer a call. Proceed with caution when using massive communication channels with messaging threads that all of your coworkers can view. Before adding a comment to a thread, double check that you’re chatting with the person you think you are. The same goes for large group threads. Confirm that the person you actually want to address is in the group and that your message is appropriate to be seen by multiple people.

3. Face tough talks head-on

In these challenging times, there is no shortage of difficult conversations to have, and business owners and managers have no choice but to face them. One of the most professional and respectful ways to have sensitive discussions (such as HR or client related matters) is through a phone call or a video chat when appropriate. While working remotely may not enable you to let an employee go or tell a longstanding client you’re canceling an important order face-to-face, you can call them. A call can feel more respectful than receiving an email or instant message. It will also give you a chance to have an interactive conversation and potentially come to an amicable solution. 

4. Set solid expectations

If you’re running a business remotely for the first time, it will be important to agree on clear expectations with both your employees and clients. First, what goals or key performance indicators  do you expect your team to meet while they are working from home? Are there set hours they need to be online? Are there certain tasks that must get done and others that they can pause right now? Do you need your employees to check in with you every day or once a week? On the flip side, you also need to help meet your employee’s expectations regarding work life balance, job security, and salary. Have open and honest conversations with your team about what they can expect from you as a business owner or a manager for the time being. 

Similarly, you should set some expectations for your customers or clients. If your customer support staff is fielding more calls than usual, let customers know they may experience longer wait times than usual. If their shipment of goods is going to experience a delay, let them know that at the time of ordering or as soon as you become aware of any imminent challenges. People mostly understand they cannot expect business as usual right now and the best way to keep everyone calm is by communicating clearly. 

5. Be compassionate

Ideally, you are always managing your team and running your business with compassion in mind, but during these times it is even more important to be flexible and thoughtful. If you know your workers have children at home right now, you may want to consider their surroundings and offer them scheduling options before asking them to hop on a video chat at a moment’s notice. If a colleague is caring for a sick relative, you may also offer to extend their deadlines. If a client can’t pay their bill in full right now, try to work out a payment plan. Everyone is feeling strained and stressed during this pandemic, but your business can run smoother if you take time to lead with compassion.

Hopefully these recommendations will make the transition to remote operations during COVID-19 precautions easier for your employees, you customers, and yourself.

 

Content By: Jacqueline DeMarco Read More Here

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Should I Start My Own Business During Retirement?​

Should I Start My Own Business During Retirement?

Retirement doesn’t always mean not working. Sometimes, it means pursuing entrepreneurship

  • Retirement provides the opportunity to pursue entrepreneurship. Starting a business after retirement gives you a chance to pursue your passions.
  • Evaluate your skills and your willingness to commit time and energy to a new business. Create a business plan to shape what you want your business to look like.
  • Remember to have an exit strategy in place. If you’ve already worked in a profession for years, you don’t want to become stuck in a new business venture indefinitely.

When you think about retirement, you might picture weekdays on the beach with a tall drink, thriving off your 401(k) savings. But today, for many, retirement doesn’t promise much-rewarded time off. In fact, it often means more free time to pursue other types of employment, from freelance work to part-time gigs. Some workers even choose to follow entrepreneurial dreams.

“Starting a business in retirement is becoming a popular next chapter as many pre-retirees or retirees reexamine what they want to do with their lives,” said Kristen Edens, content and brand developer.

Jane Emery of the Business.com community asked: “Is starting a new business a good plan during retirement?” We outlined some ways to determine if you’re in the right position to do so, and how to approach the endeavor.

 

Ask yourself the right questions

Starting a business at any time in your life requires hard work, time, and resources. To ensure you’re ready for that type of responsibility, Edens recommended asking yourself these questions, and answering them honestly:

What skills, knowledge, and interests do you have to build a business?

Who would your intended audience be?

How do your talents fit with what’s needed for your audience?

How much time, money and energy do you have to dedicate to this business?

What resources are available to help you build your business?

“Following the introspective questions, determine what’s needed to move your plan forward,” said Edens.

Reasons to start a business in retirement

One of the main reasons to start a business in retirement is to curb boredom. Many people don’t look forward to staying home. In addition, you may not feel ready to retire if you’re in a profession with young average retirement age, such as police officers or firefighters. Plus, if you’re collecting retirement funds and don’t need to rely on any business revenue, you’re at reduced financial risk when starting a new company. Retirement businesses are also the perfect opportunity to pursue any passion projects. Maybe you worked in finance for years and are looking forward to launching a business related to a hobby, such as cooking or photography.

According to the legal advice website Nolo, prospective business owners who are looking to launch post-retirement should create a chart to evaluate potential business ideas. The chart should demonstrate that your business idea matches your goals, work style, and current skill set.

Know the risks

There’s always a risk when creating a business from the ground up, and some might seem too severe to follow through with your plan. Weigh the possibilities to determine the best course of action.

“Starting a business in retirement is not a risk-free endeavor,” said Wendy Ann Payne, CSA, CEP, founding partner of Centurion Wealth Management LLC. “Be certain that your business structure protects your personal assets. If your business venture does not work out the way you intended, you certainly don’t want to lose your personal savings and assets.”

You don’t necessarily have to go all-in for your business. If you aren’t sure your idea will take off, proceed with caution and go part-time until you’re more confident in your plan.

“Possible risks are based on an individual’s time, money, and energy,” said Eden. “There is give-and-take at all levels, and the risk is how much is one willing to dedicate to their business.”

Consider your finances

According to Payne, you should be mindful of startup costs and ongoing expenses. Will your business require a physical location? Will you need a substantial amount to launch your brand, or can you do so without breaking the bank? Calculate all possible costs, then map out your financial plan from there.

If you’re in good shape to retire, then you likely have hefty retirement savings. And while you might be tempted to dig into your 401(k) to fund your business, you shouldn’t blow it all in one place.

“Many people will cover their business expenses with distributions from their 401(k) or IRA,” said Nathan Garcia, CFP(r) and retirement planning specialist at Strategic Wealth Partners. “Most of the time, these distributions are taxable as ordinary income. Large distributions can cause higher tax bills, thus reducing your capital base.”

Garcia advised outlining your personal expenses before withdrawing money to limit taxes and extend your savings.

“Most businesses will require 18 to 36 months to develop positive cash flow,” he added. “During this time, you should understand how much expenses will be and how they will be paid. It’s critical to know your personal expenses first than to layer your business expenses on top.”

“Be careful when borrowing funds for business purposes,” added Payne. “If you obtain personal loans, use your personal line of credit, and/or personally guarantee business debt, it is vital to know that you are personally on the hook for repayment of that business debt. If you voluntarily close the business, or things don’t go as planned and the business fails, you are still personally liable.”

Have an exit strategy

Payne stated that you should plan your business down to the exit strategy. Figure out what would happen when you want to stop working for good, i.e., selling the business, passing it along to someone else, shutting it down permanently, etc.

“Once you become a business owner, it is extremely important to have a written succession plan,” she said. “This is especially true for aging business owners.”

You can settle this from the start by choosing an ownership structure that compliments your intentions. Because you’re starting your business later in life, you might want to choose a structure that allows you to involve family, like your children, Garcia said. That way, if you plan to eventually pass down ownership, you can consider co-owning with that person to ease the process.

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5 key elements for managing your after-sales service

5 key elements for managing your after-sales service

The service you provide to your customers reflects on your company. As the central pillar for ensuring a productive future, the after-sales service also has a great deal of impact on customer loyalty, whose expectations are becoming increasingly high. 

It is a major part of business, and will allow you to build close relationships with your customers, who will then be more inclined to trust you. A customer who has a satisfactory after-sales service experience is more likely to come back, to relive their positive buying experience.

Because quality customer service is a source of income, referrals and continuous improvement, this article contains 5 key elements to help you effectively manage your after-sales service!

1. Get to know your customers and listen to them

Customers can be a great cause for concern. It is your duty to get to know them, in order to be able to fully satisfy their needs. In other words, your strategy, and your after-sales service, must be customer-centric.

In order to get acquainted with your customers, there should be no secrets: get in direct contact with your customers using satisfaction surveys. Your customers are a valuable resource for relevant and interesting feedback. They will provide you with valuable indicators for enhancing those services with which they are most satisfied, and highlight those that need to be reviewed. 

Also, pay close attention to customer reviews. Showcase the most positive reviews, and respond pro-actively to the negative ones. They allow you to keep track of customers’ changing needs, and to improve the results of your after-sales service. Another significant advantage: they can have a positive impact on your ranking on search engines! You can turn to SEO experts to help you optimize your SEO strategy.

Knowing your customers also means listening to them and paying particular attention to any problems they encounter. After-purchase difficulties vary greatly from one customer to another. Nevertheless, the aim remains the same, regardless of the type of problem. 

Generally speaking, if your customers contact your after-sales service, it is to report a possible problem-or to obtain further information about a product. Pinpoint it quickly and process it as soon as possible. Make sure you fully understand your client’s problem by reiterating it to avoid any misunderstanding. 

2. Expand your communication channels to benefit your customers

You cannot simply offer your customers a single means of contact. You must expand the communication media for your customer service. It is essential to allow the customer to choose the channel which seems the fastest and most appropriate for their request. Your level of responsiveness ought to be the same for each channel of communication.

Don’t limit your means of contact to the phone; many customers are becoming more and more reluctant to call (waiting times, potential call cost, hotline opening times, etc.).

It is important to ensure that your advisers proficient in these different communication media. The codes on these platforms differ: a customer is not addressed in the same way when making a phone call or an e-mail, for example. 

3. Facilitate the internal flow of information and establish a CRM solution

The effectiveness of a quality after-sales service also depends on impeccable internal communication. It is important to internally manage the flow of information and listen to your advisers’ suggestions, as they are in direct contact with clients. Adopt a transversal way of working to facilitate communication, enabling your after-sales service staff to quickly share the feedback received from customer interactions. 

Facilitating the internal circulation of information also means implementing an effective CRM (Customer Relationship Management) solution. It will allow you to centralize customer requests and allocate resources according to priorities. Task automation frees up valuable time for your advisers: no longer will they have to deal with time-consuming or repetitive tasks, and will be able to focus on important, strategic tasks. A CRM solution promotes better collaboration between different departments and increases responsiveness!

4. Be able to anticipate and know how to deal with conflicts

Handling delicate and conflictual situations during an interaction is not easy. Knowing how to manage these situations in the best possible way is a real asset for your after-sales service.

Your advisers have to deal with numerous problems which can be more or less urgent, and very stressful. You have to be able to control your emotions and keep your cool. 

Clients should be encouraged to express their views, and then you can try to find a quick solution. Never get into an argument with your customer; this could seriously damage your reputation and insult the customer.

This will lead to customer dissatisfaction. An attentive and empathetic approach will help to calm your customers and find a suitable solution.

5. Set up FAQs

Most consumers wish to solve their problems on their own. Contacting an after-sales service by telephone or any other communication medium is a constraint for your customers. This could put customers and potential customers off.

Setting up an FAQ section proves that you are professionally managing your business and that you pay particular attention to your customers’ questions. The answers must be clear, detailed, and satisfy your customers. The advantage of FAQs is that they are available 24 hours a day and your advisers are left to focus on requests which require more time and involvement. 

Conclusion

The after-sales service, which reflects your image and professionalism, demonstrates your ability to handle your customers’ problems and to solve them. It is your duty to do everything possible to satisfy your customers, regardless of the situation. Therefore, the management of your after-sales service must be fluid, organized, and optimal!

 

Content By: Yves Attias Read More Here

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Small Business Finance Tips

Small Business Finance Tips

Managing your company’s finances can be challenging, especially when you have so many other core business processes and activities to deal with. However, poor finance management can have serious consequences on your business and lead to overspending and issues with cash flow. For that reason, all business owners must develop the skills needed to manage their finances efficiently. Here are some useful small business finance tips to help you run a successful business.

Invest in accounting software

If you want to manage your business finances efficiently, then you must monitor your spending regularly and keep on top of your monthly cash flow. One of the simplest ways to manage your business finances is by installing accounting software. According to financeonline.com, some of the major benefits of accounting software include fast and efficient data entry, detailed financial reports, increased accuracy, and automatic record-keeping. 

Having your accounting processes automated will give you additional time to focus on key business activities that will aid growth and profits. There is a great selection of free accounting software available to download online, or you can opt for paid systems that offer premium services and extras. 

Reduce business costs 

Reducing business costs is one of the easiest ways to increase profits within your company. You should review your spending regularly and try to identify any ways to cut business expenses. Here are some ideas to help you minimize spending in the workplace: 

  • Negotiate lower rates with suppliers and vendors. 
  • Move to a smaller, less expensive business site. 
  • Search for a cheaper energy provider on business utilities comparison websites. 
  • Advertise your products using free or low-cost marketing techniques such as social media. 
  • Carry out energy-saving improvements to lower your monthly utility bills. This may involve adding extra insulation, installing eco-friendly appliances, or adding double glazing.

Create a cash flow budget 

Every business owner should have a cash flow budget in place to help them manage their finances efficiently. To create a realistic cash flow budget, you need to consider all expenses and financial obligations within your business, such as salaries, office rental fees, and loan repayments. You can then calculate your projected cash inflow and outflow to determine your ending cash balance. You must try to stick with your cash flow budget to avoid overspending or getting into debt. You can easily create a cash flow budget for your business by using a cash flow management tool online. 

Adopt good financial habits 

All business owners should make an effort to adopt good financial habits in the workplace. It may take some time to develop these skills, but it is well worth taking the time to learn how to become responsible with your spending, especially when it comes to your business. Some of the most important financial habits to adopt include creating clear financial goals for your business, monitoring expenses accurately, and avoiding overspending on your monthly budget. You can develop your financial management skills by completing online courses, reading financial blogs and websites, or seeking advice and guidance from a finance expert. 

Content By: Samuel Bavor Read More Here

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3 Tips for Converting Sales Online

3 Tips for Converting Sales Online

The traditional sales funnel was built to anticipate the customer’s purchase journey, from initial brand contact to the moment a sale is made. But marketing funnels aren’t simple, linear paths any longer.

As marketing expert Andrew Davis perfectly illustrates In a talk about meatloaf — both the entrée and the artist — the Internet makes it impossible to devise a one-size-fits-all customer journey. Struck with a craving for the dish, Davis Googled meatloaf recipes. Twenty minutes later, he was on Ticketmaster buying passes to a Meatloaf concert. Everyone who uses the Internet has a similar story of searching for one thing and ending up diving deep into a completely different topic.

Prospects don’t necessarily follow a linear purchase path, which is why brands need to reach them at multiple inspiration points. A solid content strategy is the most effective way to accomplish this goal. Publishing articles on a diverse range of topics enables companies to be there when customers need answers.

Advertising for today, not yesterday.

Although radio and TV once dominated the advertising space, companies that cling to these old strategies will suffer if they don’t provide younger consumers with valuable content online.

In the nearly five years since my company launched, we’ve grown to a substantial revenue point with only eight team members and zero paid media or outbound sales. We’ve focused on content since Day One, and that’s helped us build the industry and client relationships that have enabled our success.

Here are the three key practices we’ve discovered during this period of growth:

1. Offer a product that’s up to scratch.
All the great content in the world won’t mask a crappy platform or service. Insightful blog posts and articles intrigue people enough to give you a chance, so don’t break their trust with a lackluster product or nonexistent customer support. 

2. Staff up appropriately.
A content-driven marketing funnel requires a team of writers, social media and SEO experts, designers, and technologists. Not all of these roles must be filled in-house, and there are agencies that can fill in the gaps. But companies that are serious about content marketing must constantly answer questions about whether an article provides value, which topics resonate with the target audience, and how best to capture email addresses and nurture leads. It takes a top-notch team to execute all of the above consistently.

3. Partner with passionate thought leaders.
There’s a difference between customers and advocates, and you want to cultivate the latter. My company’s best leads are referred from top clients who rave on social media or write their own blog posts about their experiences with our product. They share their success stories and link their contacts to us, and suddenly we have a new crop of qualified prospects. Our high-profile clients are hugely important in driving referral traffic because when they say a company is good, a lot of people listen.

There’s no magic number for how many blog posts convert a customer, so companies need to look at what questions their prospects want to be answered. River Pools, a fiberglass pool company based in Virginia, rebounded from a difficult quarter by blogging around every question the company ever received. Nothing was off-limits, and co-owner Marcus Sheridan said he tracked $1.7 million in sales to a single popular article. That’s not to say every brand needs to adopt the same strategy, but it goes to show that anticipating customers’ needs impacts your sales.

Articles that respond to customers’ needs and questions humanize the brand, developing trust between prospects and companies. Although the customer journey changes with the technology of the day, good content should always be a cornerstone of the marketing funnel.

Content By: Brody Dorland Read More Here

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4 Effective Ways to Generate Leads with Social Media

4 Effective Ways to Generate Leads with Social Media

These four strategies will help you overcome the challenge of generating quality leads.

Now that you have established your business, the next step is to expand it. And for that, you need to generate leads. However, you don’t want to generate just any leads. You want to attract people who are relevant and likely to convert. But that’s easier said than done. Generating leads is the top marketing challenge, according to 61 percent of marketers.

That said, channels like social media can help you overcome that challenge. There is a tremendous increase in the number of people using social media. By 2021, you can expect to see 3.02 billion people using it.

With those kinds of numbers, brands have realized the potential of social media. It is one of the most powerful ways to reach and engage with your target audience.

This post will talk about four of the most effective ways to generate quality leads with social media.

1. Use custom hashtags.
Use personalized and brand-specific hashtags in your posts to stand out from your competitors. This will help you increase brand awareness and generate high-quality leads.

However, you need to make sure that you add hashtags only when it’s relevant and applicable. And try not to add too many hashtags to your posts just for the sake of adding them. Hashtags need to be precise and targeted.

You should create a mix of unique yet simple hashtags for your brand. Make sure that it’s not too long or too simple. This will help your potential customers discover you and your posts easily. And don’t forget to encourage your existing customers to use those hashtags for even better visibility.

For instance, Coca-Cola’s hashtag campaign to generate quality leads was one of the most successful campaigns. In 2017, the brand wanted to promote its personalized Coke bottles and boost sales. So, they came up with the #ShareACoke hashtag on their social media posts.

The hashtag campaign went viral, and it resulted in increased sales of personalized Coke bottles. The brand even launched a website just to take orders for personalized Coke bottles from consumers. Like Coca-Cola, perhaps you can create and run unique hashtag campaigns for your brand on social media to generate leads.

2. Organize contests.
Organizing contests on social media platforms is another effective way of generating leads for your brand. When done correctly, it will help you get the attention of your target audience. Contests are one of the best ways to excite your audience since you’re giving them a chance to win prizes.

If the prize includes your products, it’s a great way to give them a taste of what you’re offering so they will come back for more. You can either organize a contest related to your brand or collaborate with influencers and ask them to run contests on your behalf. Influencers can help you expand your reach and engage with a highly relevant audience.

However, there are a few important things to consider when organizing contests on social media. Always use simple and clear language to write the rules and instructions, and don’t forget to mention the criteria to win the contest. If you’re going to randomly select a winner using software or an app, mention that beforehand. This will avoid any confusion among your contest participants.

3. Host live videos.
Live videos are a fairly new feature on social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram. But regardless of their age, they have made it much easier for brands to engage their audience and generate leads. This is mainly because videos are simple and fun to watch, and everyone can understand them easily.

In fact, 80 percent of people on social media prefer to watch a video instead of reading a post. Using videos, you can easily establish a connection with your target audience and get their attention. If your live video was compelling and engaging enough, your target audience will remember you for a longer time. This means you’ll be generating leads.

You can use live videos to communicate your brand’s value and emotions so your target audience can relate to you. And it will give them the chance to communicate with you by commenting.

It’s common for brands to host a Q&A session through live videos so their target audience can ask important questions about the brand and products. This is a highly effective way to generate more leads, as the audience will have their doubts answered and get more assurance to buy the product.

You could also leverage live videos to talk about your new product and pitch it to your target audience.

4. Offer flash sales and discount codes.
No one can resist a discount or flash sale on their favorite products or services. So you can leverage them to generate high-quality leads. This also helps you raise brand awareness, as people are likely to share the news with their friends.

Create a sense of urgency when you organize flash sales by clearly mentioning the deadline and using a timer to count down to the hour. Don’t forget to use attractive templates to write a strong call to action to make it even more effective.

Promoting your discounts on social media platforms is a cost-effective tactic to get the attention of your audience. This will help you generate more quality leads through the channel.

You can also collaborate with bloggers and micro-influencers on social media who are looking for affiliate marketing opportunities. This strategy can also help you boost engagement with your target audience on social media. This will likely result in building a strong community of people who are followers and fans of your brand.

Final thoughts
Regardless of the size of your business, it’s important to generate quality leads, but this is a challenge for most marketers. These four tactics can help you generate quality leads using social media channels. Organize contests or promote attractive discounts to get the attention of your target audience and generate leads. You can also use hashtags specific to your brand and host live videos to engage with your audience.

Content By: Shane Barker Read More Here

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How To Handle Your Business Finances When You’re Not Profitable Yet

How To Handle Your Business Finances When You’re Not Profitable Yet

Despite all the hype online, according to SmallBusinessTrends.com, only 40% of small businesses today are profitable (i.e., they have money left over after they’ve paid expenses).  When you add gender to the mix, the numbers get even more real. Only 25% of women entrepreneurs earn more than $50,000/year.  Of that number, only 12% make $100,000 or more. These stats are enough to make any entrepreneur wonder why they keep showing up to run their business every day.

There are many, many benefits to running your own business besides money. (I talk about a few of those reasons here.)  But the truth is that most entrepreneurs continue to move forward despite their lack of revenue on the hope that they will turn a profit in the future. 

Even though we (entrepreneurs) may not be generating profits in our businesses today, we wholeheartedly that we will make the money of our dreams in the future if we just keep going.   I mean, isn’t that what this Instagram photo tells us?

Entrepreneurs aren’t completely mad for having the belief that their hard work will lead to revenue, profits, and debt-free living in the future. In the past 11 years, the number of women-led businesses generating $1 million or more increased by 46%.  That’s a lot of women making a lot more money than they used to. Moreover, every How I Built This podcast episode starts with an entrepreneur explaining how they either started without any money or figured out a way to stay afloat when they ran out of money.  The bottom line is they kept going and built something great.  

So what do you do when you are in between being totally out of money and making the money of your dreams like the majority of entrepreneurs?  If this is where you are, here are some tips that can help. 

1. Realize You Are Not Alone
Even though every FB ad talks about how a business owner made 6 figures in 6 months, what they don’t talk about is the years of failure, unprofitability, and debt that came before that big revenue breakthrough. If you look hard enough, you’ll see that most of those entrepreneurs had businesses or platforms that didn’t work before they found something that did. So if that’s where you are, you are in good company. Remember, only 40% of small businesses are profitable. That means the other 60% is right in the trenches with you.

2. Simplify + Automate = Saving Money On Expenses
Sometimes it makes sense to outsource to a freelancer or to hire someone to get things done quickly. However, if you are strapped for cash, automation can do a lot for you at a much lower price.

Use Gmail for Business’ ($5-$10/month) filters and canned response features to archive message that aren’t important and quickly reply to those that are. Use IFTTT (free) or Zapier (free to $20)) to automate communication between your apps and software. And if you must bring in help, hire a virtual assistant on Fiverr for 5 bucks. Bottom line, if a task in your business can be automated, do it. Most of the time, these automation tools will give you the most bang for your buck.

3. Choose Business or Personal Loans over Credit Cards
If you need an injection of cash, choose a business or personal loan over credit cards. Most loans have better interest rates and terms than any credit card out there.

4. Be Profitable First
Run, don’t walk, and read Profit First by Mike Michalowicz. I know you’re thinking, “But Toya, I don’t have any profits yet.” That doesn’t matter. The Profit First system will ensure that you have profits even when you think you don’t.

With Profit First, the equation isn’t revenue – expenses = profit, it’s revenue – profit = expenses. You pay yourself first and then use anything left over to pay your bills. This seems like a small shift, but it’s a complete game changer. Paying yourself first now, even when it feels like you don’t have any money, will go a long way toward making you the profitable entrepreneur you always wanted to be down the road.

Content By: Legally Bold |  Read More Here

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6 Tips To Finding And Hiring Freelancers For Your Small Business

6 Tips To Finding And Hiring Freelancers For Your Small Business

6 Tips To Finding And Hiring Freelancers For Your Small Business

If you’re a micropreneur like me, you might have stumbled upon a little secret that helps you do more in your business: freelancers. When you run a business, you may not need (or be able to afford) a full-time staff, and that’s where hiring outside help is such a boon. You only pay the freelancer for the services they offer or the time they work, and it’s usually an affordable way to service more customers and offer more to them.

I’ve been working with freelance writers, editors, and designers for about 10 years, and, as a result, I’ve been able to grow my content marketing firm much faster than I could have if I had handled all projects on my own. I’ve worked with highly skilled freelancers—and some not-so-professional ones—so I want to share some tips to help you ensure that you hire the best ones for your needs.

 

1. Determine what you need
For me, this starts with identifying projects I’m less than excited to work on. Maybe I don’t have knowledge in the client’s field or I’d rather spend time writing other types of content. Doing this helps me to identify the skills I will need from a freelancer. I’ll make a list of attributes I want this person to have and then put my feelers out.

2. Assess what you can pay
One of my pet peeves is people who try to hire freelancers for pennies. Yes, you can hire writers overseas who will write $5 articles, but we all know you get what you pay for. Sure, I like to save as much money as I can when hiring freelancers, but I have found there’s a balance between getting a reasonable price for a project and also getting professional results. You will need to find your own balance.

Even if you have a number in mind, if you find a writer who charges a little more, give them a test project to see how they do. It might be worth it to increase your budget if they do a great job. And don’t be shy about negotiating. If you have lots of work, a freelancer may be willing to reduce their rate for the assurance of steady work.

3. Sniff around your network
Before you post a job online, see what your network turns up. Start with people you know in your industry and see if they have recommendations for freelancers they’ve done business with. You can also ask around at business networking groups you participate in or even ask your clients. If you already work with freelancers, you can ask them if they know people they can refer.

If doing this doesn’t net results, go to social media. Tweet or post a brief description of what you’re looking for and ask people to direct message you if they have a referral or are interested in the work themselves. You’d be surprised how well this can help you find talent.


4. Post on job boards
Post on freelance job boards like Freelance Writing Jobs, ProBlogger, and Craigslist Gigs section. Freelancers don’t look on Monster and CareerBuilder for projects, so you need to go where they do.

Specify in the description how many hours a week or month you expect the project to take. You can either list what you’re willing to pay or ask people to include their rate in their cover letters. (The former may help you weed out people who charge more than you’re willing to pay.) Include any specific industry or creative experience you’re looking for and what the work will entail. The more detailed you are in the job description, the quicker you’ll find the right person.

5. Weed through the applicants
Fair warning: you’re going to get inundated with applications. You should be able to easily weed out those that are unqualified (yes, people who have none of the experience you require will still apply) to get to the applicants you want to consider.

There are a few ways you can proceed from here. Some people will conduct phone or video interviews to get to know freelancers—I’m not a big fan of that. I prefer hiring someone based on their work, so I will ask people to do a paid test assignment. I provide detailed instructions of what I’m looking for and give them a firm deadline. If a person misses the deadline (without a really good excuse) or doesn’t follow instructions, I probably won’t want to work with them.

And having a test assignment is great. You get something you need to be done completed without the commitment of having to work with this person long-term. If they are not a good fit, you simply pay them and move on to the next candidate.

6. Be picky
Sometimes you may feel like settling on a less-than-100% freelancer. If a project needs to get done by yesterday, it may seem easier to just deal with a freelancer’s quirks rather than to continue searching for a better person.

I’ll tell you from personal experience: those quirks tend to be magnified over time, and often at the worst possible moments. A freelancer who consistently turns work in late will do so when you are on a deadline with a client. A person who needs hand-holding will require extra attention when you have none to give.

Hold out for the perfect freelancer, even though it may take time. And you may need to hire more than one person to ensure you have different skillsets covered, but know that there are amazing freelancers out there if you’re willing to put in the time to look for them.

Content By: Susan Guillory |  Read More Here