What Does Your Retail Business Need by the End of the Year?

The last six months of any year seem to pass at lightning speed. Once summer hits, there are marketing promotions to run, gearing up for back-to-school and then the holidays are right around the corner. Before you get caught up in the rush of Black Friday preparations, take a little time and evaluate your end-of-year needs.

There are more than 1 million retail establishments in the United States alone. That number ebbs and flows, of course, as businesses open and close each year. Part of outpacing the competition and ensuring your cash flow remains high throughout the last two quarters includes paying attention to the needs of retail businesses in general and assessing how your brand measures up.

Here are six things you should assess before the end of the year and see what adjustments you need to make before the new year arrives.

1. Prepare Your Holiday Marketing Campaign

Well before November arrives, you should already have a full marketing campaign in place. Once the busy season hits, you’ll have little time for planning social media posts, which items to get in stock and what to put on sale. Instead, use the summer months which are typically slower for most retailers, unless you’re in a tourist town and plan how you’ll reach your target audience.

Think about some of the better-known retailers. One example of a store that often prepares for the holidays well in advance is Macy’s, with their famous Thanksgiving Day Parade. In addition to the parade, they tell compelling stories through videos and print campaigns that tie into their message of “Believe.”

 

Macy’s also hosts an annual fundraising event for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, which ties in nicely with the other elements of their campaign. If you can find a purpose you believe in and tie into it with your marketing, those who support the same cause should respond positively.

2. Create a Retail Business Map

For retailers, foot traffic can make or break you. Choose the wrong location for your store, and you risk not making enough sales to afford the rent. A retail business map shows potential foot traffic in the area and even what times of year are busiest. For example, if your store is near a college campus, you might be busy when school is in session, but lose out during what should be the busiest time of year because everyone goes home for the holidays.

3. Beef up Your Content

If your retail business doesn’t yet have an online component, it should. Studies show people often begin searches online, even if they’re planning to visit a local store in person. One easy way of beefing up your content through the end of the year is adding a content marketing system and managing contributors to your site. Happy customers, employees and management can all contribute to your blog.

In a recent survey of marketers, 74% of business-to-consumer marketers felt their content marketing campaigns were successful. However, you must know your audience well, create unique content and market that content in the right places. Accomplishing that feat requires diligence toward internal data about your specific audience.

 

You’ve likely seen people post their dollar store craft ideas on Facebook and Pinterest. Did you know Dollar Tree maintains a blog with tons of DIY ideas for crafts, decorations and even recipes? Every suggestion on the blog uses items you’ll find in Dollar Tree stores. You don’t have to spend a fortune to have fun, and they prove that with their blog posts, which hit their target audience perfectly.

4. Revisit Quarterly Budgets

Now is an excellent time to revisit your budgets for Q3 and Q4. Is there enough money left in the coffers for advertising, ordering extra inventory and paying seasonal helpers? If not, you may need to revamp your budget. During your slow time, you should also begin mapping out your first-quarter budget for the next year. Remember, you’ll be crazy busy once the holidays hit, and the new year arrives right on the tail end of the most hectic shopping season. Preparing for your first quarter now saves you valuable time later. You can always adjust as needed.

Toward the latter part of each quarter is a smart time to look at the budget for the next quarter. Make sure everything is in order and still makes sense based on your goals and profits. If you feel overwhelmed with this task, hire an accountant to help you out. A financial professional may see opportunities to save money you would never spot. You can hire an accountant on a contract basis to come in occasionally, or employ one full-time.

5. Update Software Now

Do you need any major software upgrades? Perhaps you plan to implement a new point-of-sale system before the holidays hit. It makes much more sense to update your systems now when you aren’t as busy and work out any bugs. If updates won’t be available until just before the holidays, considering delaying the updates until after the first of the year. People will only wait in line for so long. If your POS system is down or having issues, you risk losing sales. Once customers leave your store, it’s unlikely they’ll return.

6. Order Inventory

Based on sales so far and what customers are saying, what will the hot products be for the holidays? Think about gift sets and items people can pick up quickly during last-minute shopping. Not only should you begin increasing stock within reason on those items, but think of ways you can make them easier for your customers, such as pre-wrapped gift sets and baskets aimed at specific audience segments, such as Dad, Mom, boyfriend and best friend. The easier you make shopping for your customers, the more they’re likely to buy from you.

A word of caution here: Many business owners have spent a small fortune stocking up on inventory for the holidays, only to find they’re stuck with stock they can’t sell. Make sure your sales for the last few years justify the inventory you’re ordering, or have a backup plan for how you’ll move the items if they don’t sell. Cash flow issues plague many small businesses, so be cautious about the inventory decisions you make.

The Secret to Success

Planning is the secret to ending your year on a successful note. The more planning you put into your last two quarters, the easier your marketing and sales will be when the time arrives. Spend a little time prepping now, and have the best year you’ve ever had in your retail store.

How to Be a Better B2M Business

A business to many (B2M) model sells goods and services to both consumers and other businesses, so is a mix of both business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C). Meeting the needs of such a diverse set of clients is challenging.

There are about 30.2 million small businesses in the United States. Some of those businesses are B2B, some are B2C and others take on many faces. Trying to serve many different markets in the same niche requires a bit of finesse and attention to detail. There are some specific things on which you can focus that will make your B2M better than you ever imagined.

1. Know All Your Target Audiences

As a business that serves a variety of audiences, you must take the time to dig deep into the analytics of the different audiences you serve. Develop buyer personas for each different demographic. Although marketing campaigns might hit on more than one audience at a time, you still need to ensure you speak to specific people. Look for areas of commonality among your different audience segments, so your marketing speaks to all your buyers.

 

Facebook’s model is an excellent example of how a business serves both other businesses and consumers at the same time. They offer services for business owners, such as advertising and business pages. However, they also serve consumers, offering features for them such as online groups, free profile pages and games.

2. Dig Into Your ROI Reports

What goods and services bring the best return on investment (ROI)? While you expand your customer base by becoming a B2M company, it doesn’t help your profits if you don’t make a decent ROI for one segment or the other. Knowing which audiences spend the most money and on what also allows you to predict what inventory you might need and ramp up marketing campaigns around specific seasons.

3. Segment Your Website

If you don’t want to have multiple landing pages, you can simply segment your site into sections that serve your different buyer personas. This works particularly well with service-based industries. You might even make the transition as simple as offering a section for consumers and one for business owners or adding details to listings about how to buy in bulk as online retailers such as Office Depot do.

Shipley Energy creates a sales funnel for both segments of its buying audience. They offer a section titled “For Your Home” with an invitation to enter your zip code and click on the type of information you’d like to purchase (heating oil, propane, natural gas, etc.) On the other side of their home page, the column reads “For your business” and offers different information geared toward business owners, such as fleet fueling and wholesale fuels, and offers a free quote. Although the two segments look similar, the information contained is quite different.

4. Cross-Train Employees

Make sure your customer service staff is cross-trained to handle questions and problems from both the B2B and B2C segment. Calls get routed to the wrong department, or some customers will have a personal need of your product as well as business needs. Your employees should all feel comfortable answering any questions that might come their way. The only way to ensure your employees are fully versed in B2M needs is through extensive training and asking them to work in different departments from time to time.

5. Meet Everyone’s Needs

Figuring out how to meet the needs of one audience without disrupting another is a balancing act. Think about some of the direct sales companies out there. If they sell their products online, their sales consultants may suffer. However, the ability to sell to the general public is a tempting proposition that’s difficult for many multi-level marketing (MLM) companies to resist. One way some companies get around this is by matching buyers with consultants. However, MLM isn’t the only industry which must balance the needs of many.

Think through each aspect of your services to B2Bs and make sure they don’t violate the needs of B2Cs and vice versa.

 

Sony Pictures discusses their product placement policies and are pretty well known for placing products in their films. At the same time, they must create entertaining films which aren’t too advertisement based. They’ve set some standards for the types of products they’ll place in order to protect their audience (consumers). For example, they won’t advertise tobacco products.

6. Adjust Your Marketing

While there are ways of reaching both audiences at the same time, marketing to B2B and B2C is quite different. Marketing to businesses requires educating your audience and showing them you’re an expert. On the other hand, consumers want to know you can meet their needs or solve a problem. The ROI is also skewed. With consumers, they typically buy one of an item, while business owners may buy in bulk and spend much more money. A more expensive advertising campaign aimed at B2B may have a higher ROI because of the average sale.

The only way to come out ahead with your marketing efforts as a B2M is with careful tracking of costs and results. When the ROI is significant, repeat those efforts. When the results fall flat, find something different.

Perspective Matters

When it comes to running a B2M business effectively, the way you view your audience segments makes a huge difference. Know your customers and all the little details about them so you can meet their needs and give them a positive experience with your brand. Serving multiple segments isn’t just possible but might be profitable. However, you must be highly organized and ready to adapt to any market changes.

14 Tips to Improve Your Video Marketing Campaign

Video Marketing Tips

Videos have consistently grown in popularity in recent years and are a big part of most marketing budgets. However, you can spend a lot of time and money creating ones that have little to no impact. There are some key features every successful video marketing campaign must have to reach your target audience and turn browsers into buyers.

The average person watches about 90 minutes of video a day. Video gives you a chance to reach people you might not reach any other way. Since you want your videos to be the absolute best reflection of your brand possible, here are 14 ways of improving your marketing videos:

1. Set a Goal

Before creating a video, set a goal for the marketing endeavor. Do you want to inform your audience, reach new customers or use the video to convert site visitors into fans? Once you know your goal, it’s much easier to decide on what kind of content gets the job done and where to share your video. Make sure your goal meats SMART standards and is specific and measurable, so you know if you hit the mark or not.

2. Develop a Brand Personality

Every company has a personality it presents to the outside world. Think about what impression you want to leave with people. Is your brand strong and reliable? Perhaps your business is youthful and fun. Your personality is about how others see you as well as how you see your brand. Think about the story behind who you are and use your videos to introduce your company to others.

 

Six Flags has used a little old man for years who dances to fun music and motions people to follow him to the theme park. Because it’s an entertainment venue, it wants people to associate it with fun. This video marketing campaign with catchy music and bright colors screams a good time.

3. Be Consistent

If you start off as a fun, hip company, stick with that theme. Don’t switch between a serious, studious image and a fun one. If you aren’t consistent in your branding, in both video and other mediums, then the consumer may not feel you’re very reliable. When you start a video series, stick with the theme all the way through. However, also be cautious of changing the tone of your videos from campaign to campaign.

4. Study the Competition

You can learn a lot about creating successful videos by studying your competition. Spend time on their websites and social media channels. Do they offer videos? If so, watch the entire video once and then go back and watch it while taking notes about what you feel is particularly successful. Do you notice any themes? While you never want to copy what a competitor does, you can certainly learn about the best ways to reach a target audience and discover areas they haven’t yet covered.

5. Show Off Your Expertise

Images get the point across much more quickly than words, so video is a great way of showing off your knowledge of the industry without tooting your own horn or sounding conceited. Show your best workers in action, discuss big projects you completed and highlight the unique value your company brings to the consumer.

 

H.O. Penn runs a video in the background of its landing page that highlights its machinery in action. This shows what the equipment does and how many types of machines the company offers.

6. Tell a Story

Around 92 percent of consumers state they want brands to create ads that feel like a story. They stay with people far longer than information or a sales pitch. You can utilize them in your video branding by discussing your founding, sharing customer testimonials or creating a story around your product. Think about some of the storylines from big-name companies, such as Geico and its cavemen ads or Subaru with its stories about how the car grows with and protects the family, featuring different scenarios.

7. Consider Mobile

Make sure your videos adapt to mobile. If you upload to a site such as Facebook or YouTube, the video will automatically be optimized for smaller screen sizes and adjust for whatever device the viewer is on. However, if you place it on your website, this becomes an important consideration. Around 85 percent of U.S. internet users watch video each month on their mobile devices. If they aren’t mobile ready, you’re missing a lot of potential traffic.

8. Think of a Unique Twist

Try to think of a unique way to highlight your product or service. If you want to stand out from the crowd, you must present your business in a new, fresh style that also highlights the value of your offerings. You may even want to hire a professional advertising firm to come up with a campaign theme for you. While you might not have the funds to pay them for every aspect of production, just having a plan in place helps you stand out as unique and creative.

 

Blendtec’s “Will It Blend?” video campaign series shows the resilience of its product by mixing things you normally wouldn’t place in a blender, such as glow sticks or an iPhone. The videos are entertaining and unique but also highlight the power behind the technology.

9. Include a Call to Action (CTA)

Make sure you add a strong CTA to the end of your video. When users finish watching it, they should know what action they need to take to move forward. A CTA can be as simple as “visit our website” or as specific as “order the XS500 by calling 1-800-XS500.”

10. Keep It Short

Although it’s tempting to record long videos, the shorter it is, the more impact it’s likely to have. People are busy today and have short attention spans. If you can get your message across in a minute or two, then you have a better chance of the consumer sticking with you through the end of the footage.

11. Create a Thumbnail for Your Video

If you plan to upload your video to YouTube or some of the other social channels, you’ll want a thumbnail that clearly defines what it is about. You may even need a headline to grab user attention. Spend some time on YouTube looking at the thumbnails and take note of the attention-grabbing ones. Watch a few seconds of the video and see how well the thumbnail reflects what is highlighted.

 

My Little Bakery highlights different creations you can grab in the shop. Note how the thumbnails highlight a still image of the finished product. However, if you click on any of them, you get a video that shows the process of creating the treat.

12. Add Tags

Use your description and any areas for tags to define your audience — this is particularly helpful for social media posts. One simple way of finding popular hashtags is searching on Twitter, Instagram or YouTube and seeing what people search for and are talking about. You may even be able to tie your video marketing campaign into a particular event or holiday.

13. Consider Foreign Visitors

Do you have a large number of site visitors from another country? You can always add translation text so both native speakers and foreign visitors understand the video. Your site stats will show how many visitors you get from each area of the world and help you make an informed decision about whether it’s worth the investment to reach out to a particular market segment.

14. Educate and Entertain, but Don’t Spam

Have you ever watched part of a video that was such a strong sales pitch you clicked away? No one likes advertising that seems spammy. Instead, educate the public or entertain them, but don’t shove your product at them and demand they buy it. It’s a big turnoff for most people, and they’re much more likely to just bounce away from your offering rather than taking action and buying from you.

Video Marketing Is on the Rise

Whether you like video marketing or not, it’s becoming more popular. Now is the time to perfect your video advertising skills and learn what your audience responds to. Hone in on the finer details of video, and you’ll have much greater success than you imagined.

Marketing Strategy for Ecommerce

How to Plan an Inbound Marketing Strategy for Ecommerce?

Inbound marketing is a set of marketing tactics and techniques concentrated on utilizing content relevant strategies to current and prospective purchasers and then pulling them toward a business and its products.

A dominant characteristic of it is that inbound marketing isn’t just one tool, one technique or even a single campaign. Rather, it is a group of on-going activities that, when completed successfully, create highly visible scalable revenue driver.

In recent years, there was a big shift in consumer behavior. Almost 80% of Americans shop online, and the rest of the world will soon follow. People purchase things through their smartphones more and more. Such trends mean that the eCommerce world is becoming more accessible, faster, and takes place over a broader variety of platforms and devices. The final conclusion is that inbound marketing is the one marketing approach that empowers eCommerce businesses to scale engagement with prospective and current consumers. The goals of inbound marketing include:

  • Increased number of visitors.
  • Bigger lifetime value.
  • Increased average order value.
  • Increased conversion rates.

Want to know how to plan your inbound marketing strategy? Read on and find out!

Set up your website

Selling anything online start with a place to sell it – your eCommerce website. If you are going with bare essentials, you can sell from marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, or Etsy. Here, all that you will need is to create a profile.  Their only disadvantage is that you won’t be able to accurately track conversions and build your own brand.

For high-quality hosted eCommerce platforms, you can use Shopify, Wix, Weebly or Squarespace. Other than that, you can set up your own eCommerce website with WooCommerce or WordPress.

All aforementioned options can give you a nice technical foundation with quick, easy setup. They will also enable you to incorporate a customized design – “theme”. Themes enable you to have a website that looks good and acts fast, while you don’t have to spend months of effort and large sums of money on building them.

Developing a store on an already established platform allows you to implement a unique and easy-to-build design.

Organic search and search engine optimization

While there is a broad range of paid traffic, a successful SEO strategy is always a pure win. Yet, most website owners fail to realize the sheer amount of traffic that Google organic search can create. It just needs to execute in the right context.

Google processes over 63 thousand searches per second on a daily basis. For the majority of queries, most of the clicks go to organic results. Everyone knows that AdWords campaigns for commercial keywords are quite costly. That’s a price you don’t have to pay when you rank in the organic results.

SEO consists of three parts.

Part one – Technical SEO. This one is all about ensuring that search engine bots/web crawlers crawl through and index your website appropriately. About not having numerous duplicate contents. If you choose a platform like Shopify or a self-hosted store with WordPress, these problems will be already solved for you. Different platforms may still need an SEO technical audit.

Part two – Optimization and on-page content. Here, it all about targeting the right keywords and making sure that your website is created in a coherent way that search engines and users visiting your website understand. Its crucial components are keyword research, keyword mapping, title tags, and meta descriptions. For an eCommerce website, you can create different pieces of content that will bring visitors, like purchasing guides, How To’s, Product comparison or Category pages.

Part three- Off-page factors. In this part, we need to get a link, while understanding that not all links are equal. Black-hat tactics, like purchasing links will actually harm your SEO efforts. High-quality links placed on websites with authority or that are popular are a dominant factor for increased visibility in search results.

Social aspect

If SEO has its place in inbound marketing for eCommerce, social media platforms stand in its close proximity. These platforms are a part of the initial phase where you’re attracting people to your website and convert them into leads.  You get to talk to millions of people, without needing to pay a dime, and even if you want to work with affiliate sites you can find the best Affiliate marketing strategies 2020 in this site online.

Besides attracting new people, social media are an excellent way of promoting your brand, interacting with any potential customers online, and most importantly, building your brand’s authority. Another way of building a brand’s credibility is through using phone systems for small businesses.

Almost every human on this planet has a habit of calling a company whenever they have an issue or a question for it. A big part of your inbound marketing strategy is creating an image of your business that says – I’m reliable, I have credible information you can trust.

Although social media experts try to make it all sound like rocket science, it actually isn’t that hard. Know where your audience is. You don’t have to omnipresent on just about every social media platform. Concise and direct interactions are where the magic happens and you build relationships with your audience.

Choose a single or two that will impact your audience, sales, links and brand awareness. Automate other profiles to save time and set up alerts to “listen” when not actively participating.

Focused pages

Now you need to create high-quality concentrated pages to receive sales. In addition to your About page, Home page, and Privacy page, you will need landing pages.

Landing pages aren’t complex – they are just places where visitors can land and make a purchase. Nobody cares about or even looks at your homepage. A homepage is for people who already know your business and are just navigating around.

Landing pages are for potential or returning visitors to land on and convert. Before creating all other website pages, you will need to develop focused landing pages that sell a single or all of these things:

  • Offer specific – Such pages are about the product info. They might be just a product page, but also a category or specific landing page for a bundle. The end-goal here is selling to people at the very bottom of the marketing funnel – where customers are most likely to convert.
  • Persona specific – That is all about the product benefits to those that you sell them to. Again, they might be a product page, a category page or a specific landing page for a bundle.

In conclusion. Remember that every part of this strategy needs to be measured, interpreted and analyzed in order to increase its effectiveness. There are numerous ways to gather reports and filter your visitor data. Google analytics is one of the ways, that lets you combine data into a single-screen layout that show the varying degrees of visitor marketing data and depth of the sales funnel.

Omnichannel Marketing Strategy for Small Businesses

How to Build an Omnichannel Marketing Strategy for Your Small Business

Omnichannel Marketing Strategy for Small Businesses

As technology keeps evolving, the line between the online and offline world is beginning to blur. Namely, with the rise of social media, automation tools, and AI, your customers have become more demanding and tech-savvy. They now expect you to provide them with real-time feedback and services.

Still, just building your brand presence across a plentitude of channels won’t help you increase user experience. Namely, Google’s statistics claim that 85% of online buyers begin their purchase on one device or channel and finish it on another.

That is why you need to focus on integrating your marketing and customer support channels into a seamless, omnichannel experience people can rely on whenever they want.

The Importance of Collaboration between Marketing and Sales Teams

Just like it was mentioned above, omnichannel marketing integrates multiple channels (both online and offline) you use to communicate with your consumers. By uniting the strengths of each marketing platform and channel, you will increase the consistency of your brand messaging.

Now, building the omnichannel marketing strategy is a complex procedure that requires the collaboration between your organization’s different departments, including marketing, sales, product, and customer support teams.

Your first goal is to ensure that everyone knows the goals of an omnichannel approach to marketing. Speak with employees, from project managers to junior customer satisfaction representatives to help them understand the purpose of this customer-centric approach. They need to know how their actions impact customers and what they should do to collaborate more proactively.

Build your Strategy on Accurate Data

A solid omnichannel marketing strategy is based on understanding a customer. Collect customer information and feedback from multiple resources to learn more about your customers’ needs, demands, and problems. Observe their behaviors – their purchasing habits, social media discussions, user profiles, interactions with a customer support team, chatbots, and CRM software.

Based on the data you collect, you should segment your audiences into groups. This is the only way to understand their buyer journeys and be able to personalize them. For example, if someone is at the top of the sales funnel, you shouldn’t send them bottom-funnel messages. Instead, you need to familiarize them with your brand and gradually guide them towards making a purchase.

Create a Cohesive Online-to-Offline Marketing Tactic

You need to centralize your branding, marketing, and customer support channels to provide a consistent omnichannel experience. It’s good that businesses are starting to see the importance of omnichannel customer experiences. According to the Target Marketing report, over 75% of them claim that this is an important, fairly important, or very important part of their online presence.

First, Provide a Cohesive Multi-Channel Customer Experience Online

For starters, prioritize the importance of customer experience. Make it easier for them to find you online, learn more about you, and buy from you.

Build a visually-appealing and highly responsive website that provides seamless customer experiences, irrespective of the device they use.

Then, leverage the power of social networks. Use social media monitoring tools to stay on top of your customers’ conversations and take part in them actively.

Implement AI technologies like chatbots. Chatbots are becoming the nerve center of any successful on-demand marketing strategy. They let your customers ask questions, stay on top of your brand news, browse products, and make purchases all from a single platform.

At the heart of any solid omnichannel marketing technology stack is CRM that helps you record each buyer journey, track your customers’ purchasing habits, and personalize your services in the future.

Then, Integrate Online Marketing Tactics with Offline Ones

Traditional marketing still matters. Statistics show that 40% of consumers are still influenced by offline ads when making online purchases.

Sure, when I say “offline,” I don’t necessarily mean TV ads, magazine ads, business cards, or billboards. For example, using promotional printing is one of the oldest and yet most effective brand promotion tactics. According to the Advertising Specialty Institute, 86% of consumers memorize brands that gift them a shirt or a cap. This is a great way to increase your brand awareness and turn your prospect audiences into paying customers.

Directly mailed catalogs are one of the most effective offline marketing effort with a high open and response rate. Research shows that 54% of customers want to get printed catalogs in their mail, while 56% of consumers that responded to direct mail also visited the brand’s offline or online store.

So, how to integrate online and offline marketing?

There are numerous ways to do so and here are some of them:

  • Use QR codes

Quick Response codes are a kind of barcodes, containing details about your business that can be read on mobile devices. Namely, you can use them on different offline marketing materials, such as business cards, flyers, direct mail, product packaging, storefronts – any type of printed materials you use to promote your brand.

A while ago, JC Penney launched ‘Santa Tags.’ Namely, a customer could wrap their present into a wrapping paper that has a QR code on it. Once they scanned the code, recipients could hear a personalized message a gift giver recorded.

  • Launch ‘to be continued’ campaigns

In other words, your goal is to spark your audience’s interest in your brand. For example, you could create a strong narrative in a form of a TV ad, radio ad, magazine article, or billboard to inspire users to visit your website to learn more about you. Always include QR codes and links to make it easier to find you online.

  • Digitize customers’ offline experiences

Why not create an app and let them reload their card both in-store and online? That is exactly what Starbucks does. When you’re in line waiting to get your pumpkin spice latte and you see you don’t have enough money, you can simply reload your balance through your app instantly.

Disney also takes the omnichannel approach very seriously. They’ve created a tool that can serve as a hotel room key, food ordering software, and a photo storage platform.

  • Implement near-field technologies

Just like their mere name says, near-field technologies provide contactless communication between a mobile device and another compatible device. You could use it to increase in-store customer experiences.

This is what Timberland does. Namely, they provide each shopper with a tablet they can press against the chip to find all product details they need. Moreover, as consumers keep searching for different kinds of items, the personalization tool on the tablet will recognize their needs and offer personalized product recommendations.

Over to You

Omnichannel marketing gives you the opportunity to provide seamless user experiences, regardless of the channel your customer use. You just need to implement it according to the needs of your brand and audiences.

Hope these tips will help!

How to Create a B2B and B2C Ecommerce Website

How to Create a Unified B2B and B2C E-commerce Website

Selling to both consumers and businesses is one way to gain an edge on the competition and increase your market share. However, figuring out the best method of selling to two very different audiences isn’t as easy.

Around 74 percent of small business owners indicate scalability is one of the most important factors for growing their businesses. Unifying your B2B and B2C business saves your company money and effort and allows you to scale up more easily than having two separate sites.

However, there are a few challenges with unifying both sides of your online business. Keep these eight elements in mind as you pull together both types of e-commerce into one platform.

1. Make a List of What’s the Same

Whether you sell to other businesses or directly to consumers, there are some similar elements of the process. Look at the journey each type of buyer takes through your site and list out what the similarities. Can you vary the number of items, such as through a wholesale discount, but the actual checkout process is the same? What elements differ between B2B and B2C orders? For example, you may need to add a line for B2B clients for tax exemption information.

 

ServiceMaster Restore offers home services for residential and commercial properties. They have one home page with the option to also navigate to “Residential Services” and “Commercial Services.” Users go one way or the other, depending upon their needs. However, combining both types of services creates an opportunity for increased profits. Business owners are often homeowners and vice versa.

2. Unify Your Inventory

Even though you might sell products to both B2B and B2C, your inventory systems can be consolidated, so you have a handle on what is in your warehouse at all times. Unifying your inventory allows you to see patterns in sales and ensures you always have the items on hand for both consumers and businesses. Integrating your online shopping cart with your database also keeps information in real time. If you have an offline sales department or store, your sales force will know what items are in short supply and what needs moved.

3. Highlight Varied Uses

When you serve different buyer personas, your product typically has multiple uses to different segments of society. One way of ensuring your site speaks to each of your different personas is by listing the industries you serve. While this might seem limiting at first glance, it doesn’t mean you won’t sell to others. Your goal is simply focusing on the main uses for your product or service.

 

EZ Dock offers dock solutions for a number of different types of clients. They highlight the various uses of their product with categories such as those looking for PWC ports, kayak launches, boat ports and swimming docks. Further down their landing page, they list some of the different types of industries using their docks including residential, commercial, government and industrial.

4. Hire Better Design People

A unified site keeps costs lower. This means you can invest more in your website design and hire the absolute best designers and marketers within your budget. With only one main site to maintain, you’ll try different methods and test them thoroughly to see what converts best with your target audience. Skilled UX designers will help you plan the best ways of reaching leads.

5. Enhance Customer Experience

The experience your customers have on your site (UX) impacts the reputation of your brand and whether users return to your site for future orders. With a unified site, you can focus on creating an amazing customer service experience. Look at elements users appreciate, such as live chat staffed with knowledgeable agents. Although there are many factors which improve CX, excellent customer support is a big indicator of how happy people will be when they leave your site.

 

Office Max caters to both consumer and business clientele. Throughout the site, they indicate you can take advantage of bulk pricing on things such as paper and printer ink. However, their customer service is integrated and includes multiple ways to get in touch with them. Because they integrate both types of audiences, they can create strong customer service that gives them a good reputation among both individuals and businesses.

6. Invest in Better Logistics

No matter what type of customer you serve, good logistics are one of the keys to keeping that customer with your brand and developing a sense of loyalty. Think about how Amazon does this as an example. They offer Prime shipping so their members get packages within a couple of days. Utilizing warehouses, they get packages out within minutes of the order being placed and then team up with the USPS and other shipping providers (including some of their own employees) to get packages delivered on time.

Your company may not be as big as Amazon, but that doesn’t you mean you can’t combine the logistics of both branches of your company to improve your shipping speeds. The first key involves your website design and combining shipping options into your shopping cart.

7. Narrow Your B2B Focus

The very nature of B2B sales means you target a narrow niche of customers, whereas B2C has a much wider base of potential buyers. Keep this in mind as you revamp your site for both B2B and B2C customers. What is the narrow niche for B2B and how can you define your value to potential clients?

 

Flexfire LEDs sells to both individuals and businesses. They use a grid system and list out some of the advantages of using their products and provide details for each use. For example, they have a section titled “Control Your Lights” and another titled “Freedom of Color.” Relevant images of their product in various locations, such as a bar or a living room show the various uses of each item. They further invite site visitors to contact them for project design support.

8. Find Your Brand Voice

One challenge of speaking to both types of customers at once is getting the tone right. However, if you have a specific voice for your brand, this becomes easier. While the topics that interest your B2B customers may differ from those that interest your B2C customers, your brand’s focus shouldn’t change. If your goal is to solve a specific problem, then your messaging should still reflect your goals and personality. You’ll offer content from two perspectives rather than one. Your storytelling should be more brand driven so all buyer personas relate to your content.

Simplify Operations

Look for ways of combining operations between B2B and B2C so you can reduce costs and improve results. Communicate between different departments to ensure you fully understand the best ways of marketing to each client base. Make notes about what meshes well and what must be kept separate — such as wholesale prices. Although there are challenges in combining B2B and B2C operations on one website, the benefits outweigh the risks.

Lean Business Planning for Small Business Owners

Fundamentals of Lean Business Planning for Small Business Owners

It’s not a matter of opinion, but rather, a simple fact that a business needs to have a business plan. In order to function properly, to break even, and to improve, you need a business plan. Without one, you will be rudderless, you will move in whatever direction the wind blows. However, today we suggest you take a different approach towards business plans themselves. Instead of going with old-school, detailed systems, we advise small business (no matter how long you’ve been online) to look at start-ups for ideas. This is where lean business planning comes in.

Lean business planning is a flexible and clear system of planning how your work and your business will go. Because of its flexibility and simplicity, we believe it is superior to a regular business plan. You can find an elaboration on this issue below.

Strategy vs. tactics

There is a large difference between strategy and tactics. This same difference reflects the disparity between lean business planning and regular planning. Namely, lean planning is much more focused on tactics, than on strategy (even though strategy is important). Strategy means looking at the big picture, planning long-term, focus on the future. With a focus on strategy you set your goals, tasks, milestones and you move towards them. Strategy can be rigid, and even suffocating. Tactics, on the other hand, are all about flexibility, thinking in the moment, being on the move. This is what lean business plans focus on.

Now, strategy is important for any business plan – you need to know where you are going, you need to have a sense of direction. However, tactics (i.e. business plans) have more freedom attached to them. With tactics, you know where you should go, what direction to move towards, but the way you’re gonna do this can change greatly.

Fluidity and change

Lean business plans are not hindered by overcomplicated plans, laid out months in advance. What they do focus on are the tactics (see above) that are needed to get through the day. Lean business plans not only allows you to make frequent changes and shifts, they somewhat expect you to do so.

Namely, things change, the market changes, the entire economy can shift at a drop of the hat (as far as you’re concerned). But, with a lean business plan, you can adapt with more ease. This is especially useful for small business. It’s much easier for a smaller business to change course, than it is for a larger one. Also, lean plans are much easier to make when compared to old-school ones. However, most often the best option is to get some help from professional software, like the one MAUS Business Systems offers for example.

Now, in practice, this is how it could look like. You set some clear goals, more like reminders in the form of bullet points, not actual elaborate descriptions. You set out your pricing structure, your marketing, product financing, and all the core functions of your business in as few words as possible. This allows you to know what to focus on and what you simply mustn’t change, allowing you to have as much fluidity as possible, without compromising your core values and goals.

Safety nets and focus

In a way, this amount of flexibility and room to change gives you a unique safety net, unlike any other. The ability and possibility to change may be the only stability that actually exists in the business world. However, there are other factors, not just your goals that need to be taken into account if you want to reap the full benefits of a lean business plan.  Namely, you need to stay on track.

A real danger of lean business plan is meandering too much, going in the wrong direction at many different instances. This can be mitigated by making a monthly review, and setting clear milestones and achievements that you need to make for certain periods of time. So, not much detail, just a calculable, actionable number or goals. This will help improve both motivation and focus for your team, since you will have clear goals to strive towards.

For example, instead of lining out months’ worth of information, drama, and work that you need to achieve, all in great detail, with hundreds of pages of instruction for the entire year, you just need to set one long term goal (make x amount of sales in a year) and a short term goals that leads to the long term goal (make y amount of sales in a month. It’s clear, concise, and can serve as a clear motivator that can be hung up on any wall or board.

Conclusion

Lena business plans are an excellent choice for small businesses. Direct, concise, clear, these can help you achieve much greater results than a regular business plan, while at the same time being easier to make, and easier to adhere too. However, above all, what makes them stand out is the flexibility they offer. So, no need to obsess with old-school plans. Look up towards start-ups, and do your best to draft a good lean business plan.

Marketing-Budget-2019-Hero

How Much Should You Budget for Marketing in 2019?

Determining Your Marketing Budget

Every business, no matter if it’s a startup, a small business or a large enterprise, has difficulties setting aside a budget for anything, let alone marketing. The main reason is that you can never truly predict the exact amount of funds you’ll need to invest in something important.

Costs may vary and unexpected expenses may arise practically anywhere. Therefore, you can estimate a best-case-scenario budget and set aside a bit more than you’ve planned just in case. But what about the digital marketing landscape today?

In 2019, digital marketing is as dynamic as it ever was. Technological and market trends still shape consumer behavior, which in turn influences how marketers develop their strategies, as well as their campaigns.

All of these activities can have an impact on your marketing budget. So figuring out how much and where to invest when it comes to marketing in 2019 may be a daunting task. With that in mind, here are a few ways you can determine how much should you budget for marketing this year.

How much do companies spend on marketing?

If you’re trying to answer the question of how much to spend on marketing, the answer is always “It depends”. Your goals may differ from other companies on the market, which means you may need to budget more or less on marketing efforts alone.

You can compare how much other companies spend on marketing, on average, in order to gain an approximate estimation of how much you should budget. As an example, here’s average spending of companies on marketing in 2018.

Marketing budget as a percentage of a company’s budget:

  • B2B product – 9.2%
  • B2B service – 8.9%
  • B2C product – 16.0%
  • B2C service – 14.9%

Marketing spending as a percentage of a company’s revenue:

  • B2B product – 6.3%
  • B2B service – 6.9%
  • B2C product – 9.6%
  • B2C service – 11.8%

Invest in marketing research

Marketing research should be one of the most vital factors in your budgeting efforts. Research can help you determine the audience’s preference, needs and expectations, as well as the trends they’re currently following.

In addition, you can determine which marketing channels are best suited to your campaigns, as well as decide whether to consider both digital and traditional marketing in your campaign. Aside from all that, you can conduct a competitive analysis to determine which marketing efforts your competitors opt for and how much they’re investing in their strategies.

Your marketing budget depends on the approach you’ll implement, and research can help you develop such an approach. Even research requires investment, so it may be a good idea to keep the research budget separate from the marketing budget. That way you can clear out any confusion regarding spending and allow research to guide you in developing a budget for your marketing efforts.

Keep the cash flow positive

As mentioned before, digital marketing is quite a dynamic landscape. Things may change sooner than you think and they may change quite often. In such cases, additional and unexpected costs are quite common.

You may have to pour funds out of other business operations to make up for marketing costs that exceed your budget. That being said, it’s very important to maintain a positive cash flow in order to avoid a negative impact on your bottom line. There are various ways you can maintain a positive cash flow, such as by reducing operational or overhead expenses.

Moreover, you can consider various debtor finance options, they can help you manage your accounts receivable and thus help you maintain a positive cash flow. The fact of the matter is that it’s always better to have good financial health when unexpected expenses arise than it is to go into unnecessary debt to cover such expenses.

Consider return on investment (ROI)

Marketing efforts will eventually yield some kind of a return on investment. How much and how long that will take depends on the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. That begs the question of where to invest, in the first place. Again, that depends on your goals and what you want to achieve with your marketing efforts.

As an example, you should consider both digital and traditional marketing methods. In 2018, the majority of companies invested 42% of their marketing budget to online efforts. Digital marketing is oversaturated these days which leaves traditional marketing with untapped potential for ROI. In addition, consider both inbound and outbound marketing.

Inbound marketing, such as SEO (Search Engine Optimization), PPC (Pay-Per-Click) and social media may be more efficient at tracking ROI because you can use metrics to measure results from owned and earned media. On the other hand, outbound marketing, such as called call, trade shows and email promotions may be high-cost-low-gain efforts in some cases, but they may prove effective if your goals align with such methods.

Determining how much to budget for your marketing efforts can be a daunting task. However, if you make an effort to research relevant information, as well as leverage data from your previous marketing budgets, you’ll be able to set aside enough funds for your marketing efforts in 2019.

Is It Too Soon to Invest in the Internet of Robotic Things?

New technologies come and go, regardless of whether people consider them innovative or exciting. Some of them have staying power, while others disappear into the abyss as if they were nothing more than an afterthought. Because the marketplace is so fast-moving, it’s difficult to determine what to invest in and when.

That’s precisely the case with IoRT, or the Internet of Robotic Things. The niche derives its name from the Internet of Things and the Industrial Internet of Things, both of which involve smart, connected devices and sensors. Like anything internet-connected, robotic “things” can do more of the same. They continuously collect, process and transmit data, as well as offer a variety of connected functionalities — such as remote access. The technology also paves the way for further augmenting systems through compatible tools like AI, machine learning, big data systems and more.

Markets and Markets predicts the IoRT market will be worth nearly $21.44 billion by 2022. We’re not that far off, which means we should start seeing its adoption ramp up. Just because a market is on the rise, however, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best time to invest, particularly for an enterprise operation.

We are becoming increasingly dependent on robotics, especially in manufacturing. But the question remains: What role do smart, “connected” robots play? Who’s already using them, and how? What’s the outlook of that rollout? Is it promising, or is it something everyone should wait to implement?

IoRT in Manufacturing

In many factories and plants, robotic systems aren’t just about automation — they’re also essential for eliminating dangerous environments and situations. For example, tasks that involve human workers repetitively lifting heavy supplies or components and putting them onto a conveyor belt or feeding them into a machine have a prolonged impact on their bodies. Even with proper support, the stress of the job can cause short-term injuries, as well as deteriorate parts of their body in the long term. Many are familiar with what happens to your knees or back when you’re lifting heavy objects day after day.

More than a million Americans work in a warehouse facility, and roughly 51,550 workers get injured or killed on the job every year. Implementing advanced robotics can prevent many of those injuries — even deaths. The risk is higher in facilities or operations that do not use such robotics.

IoT allows them to interface with other nearby equipment and machines, but also to interact with their human counterparts. Think collaborative or cooperative robots that work alongside human laborers, as opposed to replacing them altogether. Many high-profile manufacturers are already doing this, improving working conditions and boosting efficiency for their operations.

IoRT in Logistics

Outside of manufacturing, yet still related to the supply chain, is the logistics and order fulfillment section of the market. Internet robotics come into play here not just in terms of boosting efficiency and capability, but also improving the working conditions for the human workers. Much like in manufacturing, smarter robots work alongside their human counterparts. An automated storage tool might follow one worker around the warehouse floor, carrying heavy goods and shipments. Another might operate as a computerized forklift, pulling pallets or items from on high.

Amazon is the best-known proponent of this kind of technology, and they actively use devices like collaborative robots and smart shelving systems. These devices help in the order picking and retrieval process, primarily because Amazon’s warehouses are so extensive. Manual, human-only fulfillment would take an incredibly long time, as workers would need to traverse the space to find goods and then move them to the appropriate areas. The company is even taking all this a step further, dabbling in drone-based delivery in certain local markets.

IoRT in Consumer Electronics

It seems a tad silly at first to consider the consumer electronics side of things. That’s especially true when it comes to talking about highly capable, internet-ready robotics. What can consumer tech do that’s so great? When you look at the kinds of devices that are hitting the market, it becomes immediately apparent there is plenty of innovation.

Consider smart or robotic vacuums, for example. On the surface, something so simple seems almost ridiculous. But these devices incorporate a wide variety of sensors, impact-measuring tools and advanced software to navigate the home, sans human command. They can move about a residence cleaning up various spills and debris, then roll back into a charging dock when their battery is low. It’s almost exactly the kind of technology in use for Amazon’s warehouse robots — though Amazon’s tech is slightly more advanced.

Imagine if smart voice assistants like Alexa or Google Assistant had access to a robotic arm. They could easily do something like preparing and cooking food for a modern family. Indeed, they could take over many household chores, like laundry, mowing the lawn or even working on the family car.

What’s the Takeaway?

These are just three, fairly early examples of real-world IoRT applications. As with the IoT in general, it’s easy to see how promising and beneficial the technology can be. In only a few years, Amazon has amassed a robot army of 45,000 strong, and that number is still growing. They wouldn’t be doing that if they didn’t see efficiency and output gains.

Ultimately, the takeaway is that now is the perfect time to invest in the Internet of Robotic Things. There is still some time before it grows to dominate the marketplace and it certainly warrants more research and training in the next few years. That doesn’t change the fact that it’s skyrocketing in popularity. Surely, the competition will be considering adopting IoRT if they haven’t already incorporated the technology.

Is It Too Late to Invest in Virtual Reality?

Although the capability for virtual reality (VR) was invented in 1957, it’s only in recent years that VR pops up in nearly every industry. Better screen resolutions, as well as the Internet of Things (IoT), create a world where VR is more realistic than ever before.

By 2020, experts predict virtual reality and augmented reality tech will hit $15.6 billion. VR capability and frequency is growing at a rapid pace. Nearly every type of business imaginable now implements the technology.

If your business hasn’t yet invested in VR, it isn’t too late. Looking at some of the industries that use VR may inspire you to figure out where best to invest in VR for your own endeavors. While some places simply make sense for VR usage, others are less obvious.

1. Treating Phobias in Psychology

Virtual reality is utilized to treat severe phobias and fears, such as when soldiers have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Also, 50 percent of adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) battle anxiety and phobias, which VR can improve through graded exposure therapy.

VR addresses the challenges in overcoming fear by recreating real-life experiences and forcing reliance on abstract thinking skills. The process is taken step-by-step in a safe, monitored environment. The most typical use is in a blue screen type room with a VR headset. The fear is introduced in a slow series of encounters until the person begins overcoming the fear.

2. Training Manufacturing and Retail Employees

Virtual reality is a safe way of training employees in the intricate use of machinery. Particularly in some manufacturing industries, training means the difference between safety and potential injury. However, the technology also has benefits for nearly any type of exercise that requires real-world scenarios.

Simulations run the gamut from an encounter with a difficult customer to working on a dangerous machine that might kill a person if not used correctly.

3. Practicing for Surgeries

Another area where VR is making strides is in medicine. In the past, surgeons tried to plan out intricate surgeries, but much of the process was experimental. With VR, surgeons can now map out delicate brain surgery and practice before the actual surgery or come up with new ways of completing medical procedures and trying them out in a virtual world first.

Doctors practiced separating conjoined twins at the Masonic Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis. VR is also utilized for review of surgeries after the fact so surgeons can improve with each procedure. No longer are people used as guinea pigs for new methods, but doctors thoroughly test the procedure before attempting the operation.

4. Marketing With an Edge

Another area where VR and AR appear frequently is marketing. New advances in the capability of smartphones allow advertisers to implement features which come to life when the user hovers their mobile device over a particular image. Print advertising comes to life with a combination of unique codes and mobile devices.

Expect to see AR utilized on social media, websites and in more print advertising than ever before. For example, M&Ms recently integrated AR with a campaign to sell their new caramel filled candies by turning billboards into games when people pointed their smartphones at a particular billboard.

5. Creating Cars for the Automotive Industry

Vehicle designers have a pretty good idea about aerodynamics and what goes into the design of a new car. However, there is still a costly process of creating prototypes and testing everything for safety and endurance. One way to speed up this process is through the use of VR technology. In the past, designers started on paper, but today they draw with the help of computer-aided design (CAD).

When Ford’s design team created the 2000X, they used virtual reality to get a jump start on the design process. They used a virtual lab space, and the designers moved around and made alterations to see how they’d work. The use of a virtual image also allowed designers to look at the vehicle through the eyes of the consumer and see what might need improving.

6. Enhancing Real Estate Listings

Imagine a world where potential home buyers walk through a house from a distant location rather than driving to a home in another city. A virtual tour of a home allows buyers to rule out listings which don’t meet their needs and narrow down their search, saving both them and the listing agent time and money.

Another advantage of using VR for real estate listings is that the person can plug their own furniture into the home and see if everything fits or looks the way they’d like. No more imagining if your sofa might look okay in the space. You’ll know immediately if it fits and how it looks.

7. Advancing the Troops

The military has used VR for a while to show soldiers potential real-life scenarios they might encounter while overseas. A highly trained military force is possible as well as helping specialize training for higher order forces, such as the Navy Seals. All three branches of the United States military utilize VR — Army, Navy and Air Force.

Some of the ways the military uses VR is for flight simulation, battlefield medic training, battlefield simulation, vehicle over rough terrain simulations and virtual boot camps. The Army has a fully immersive VR system at Fort Bragg. Such a system allows an entire squadron of soldiers to practice together in simulations of possible scenarios they’ll encounter while out in the field.

Adding VR to Your Industry

No matter what industry you serve, VR and AR enhance some of what you do. Whether you invest in a VR system for training or simulate situations, VR creates a highly trained and adaptable workforce.

As headsets go down in price and become easier to use, expect more small businesses to jump onto the VR train. They’ll be utilizing the latest technology for exploration and transformation. Think about how VR might help grow your business today. Then consider what type of return on investment you might see.

SEO Mistakes

Overlooked SEO Mistakes Ecommerce Websites Make

Ecommerce keeps flourishing. Research predicts that it will reach $4.88 trillion by 2021.

This sounds impressive, but what does this mean for you as an online retailer?

Well, the growth of ecommerce means greater competition. So, to stay relevant in the fierce SERPs, you need to invest in a solid SEO strategy and keep revising it to see what works or doesn’t work. To increase your rankings and gain users’ trust, you cannot afford to make any mistakes.

Here are a few common SEO oversights you should avoid.

Building a Website with Difficult Navigation

As an ecommerce website, you have thousands of pages to manage.

For instance, google site:amazon.com and you will see that there are 167,000,000 results. Even though Amazon is not an example of the most beautiful website in the world, you must admit that it’s easy to navigate.

Once you visit their site, the first thing you will notice is the intuitive search bar that even lets you browse products by different departments. A search bar is an inevitable element on any user-friendly ecommerce website, as it gives customers an opportunity to find the desired product faster and finalize the purchase.

Each product category has lots of filters, helping you refine your search by featured brands, packaging options, average product review, price, seller, availability, and so forth.

Their menu bar is also divided into sections that are further branching into more specific categories. The majority of your customers (especially those that haven’t made the buying decision) will use your menu to familiarize themselves with different products and compare them. Precisely because of that, you first need to write informative and descriptive menu labels that will help visitors find a product faster.

You should also simplify your menu and reduce the number of menu items to improve user experiences. Too many options can be overwhelming, distracting a customer from what they’re looking for. Simpler menus are also important for your SEO efforts.

Namely, those pages you link to are passing some SEO value. Therefore, if you’re linking to less relevant pages instead of focusing on the most significant ones, you won’t be able to maximize your traffic. Logically, your goal is to increase the exposure of those pages relevant to your customers.

Not Targeting the Right Keywords

Many online retailers forget what their priorities are when conducting keyword research. Namely, they spend too much time looking for popular search phrases relevant to their products that they forget to focus on search intent. Namely, your goal is to understand your searchers’ needs and know what kind of result they expect to see when they google a certain keyword.

This is particularly important now that voice search is exploding. Statistics say that 41% of adults perform at least one voice search each day, while this number is expected to jump to 50% by 2020. This is one of the numerous trends impacting the way we optimize our ecommerce sites.

First, voice search triggers the growth of local SEO. For example, 22% of customers perform voice search to find locally-relevant businesses. So, let’s say you’re targeting the Gold Coast market. In this case, including local keywords containing “Gold Coast,” creating local content around these keywords, and building links on local sites will increase your rankings and help you generate more qualified leads.

With the rise of voice search, you don’t have to spam your content with exact-match keywords anymore. Voice searchers use natural language and conversational phrases when interacting with search engines. For example, instead of typing “gold coast shoes online” into the search box, they will ask something like “What is the best online shoe store in Gold Coast?” You get how this works.

This is why you should start combining traditional keyword research tools with some additional resources like Q&A sites, social networks, or forums to understand your customers’ needs and expectations. Consulting SEO agency from Gold Coast may also be a wise move. As they understand your local market, they will help you align your keyword optimization and off-page SEO tactics with search intent.

Not Creating Authentic Content for Product Pages

One of the most common mistakes online retailers make is simply copying product descriptions from the manufacturer’s site to their product pages. This is bad for your online presence for a few reasons.

First, by simply copying content instead of creating your own, you’re missing out on an opportunity to stand out and emphasize the benefits of buying from you. Original product descriptions are highly engaging and persuasive, building trust with your customers and having them complete the purchase faster.

Second, search engines won’t be able to differentiate your content from the one on similar sites, which may impact your rankings and overall page visibility. Google won’t have a reason to index your content if it already exists on similar sites.  

Finally, you may even get penalized. If your product descriptions are the same or similar to the content that already appears on another website, Google will observe it as duplicate content. Assuming that you’re trying to play the algorithm, it will penalize you.

Not Using Schema Markup on your Product Pages

Google is getting smarter each day, but it’s still unable to understand non-textual pieces of content. This is where schema markup steps in. We can define it as a language Google crawlers understand and use to get the information about your content. With its help, you will be able to explain the purpose of your content, including your email, phone numbers, price data, product types, ratings, descriptions, reviews, and so forth.

In other words, schema markup is a great way to get your content indexed and ranked higher in the SERPs. Above all, it gives you the opportunity to appear in featured snippets and put your products in front of the right customers. As such, it can have a massive influence on your organic rankings, clicks, and even conversions.

Not Increasing User Experience

You cannot expect to have a poorly-performing website and yet boost conversions. Only by making your visitors happy and building trust with them will you be able to turn them into paying customers. And, here are a few steps to take:

  • Make your website responsive. We’re living in the mobile-first era, when providing outstanding, cross-channel user experiences should be your priority. Simplify your checkout forms and ensure all links work from mobile devices. Also, pay attention to how your content looks and feels on mobile devices.
  • Invest in an SSL certificate. Google has started marking sites with HTTP as “not secure.” No matter how sophisticated your encryption tactics are, if you don’t have an SSL certificate to back you up, your customers will still see this warning. Unsurprisingly, this may make your ecommerce site less professional, impacting the time people spend on your website, as well as their engagement and conversions.
  • Add security badges. Apart from HTTPS and mobile-friendly forms, security badges are an important element of the checkout process. They prove that your customers’ data is safe with you, inspiring them to choose you over competitors.
  • Boost your website speed. If your site doesn’t load in less than 3 seconds, most of your customers will kick it without taking the desired action. So, to speed things up, compress your images, invest in the right CDN, minimize overly complex animations, minify the website code, and find a reliable host to ensure your site loads fast.

Not Inspiring User-Generated Content

Awesome website performance, gorgeous product photos, and high-quality descriptions are important, but they’re not enough to convert a visitor into a customer.

Did you know that most of your customers don’t trust branded content? Instead, 84% of them rely on online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

This is exactly why you should allow customer reviews and ratings on your site. You shouldn’t be worried about negative user reviews hurting your brad reputation. Namely, some recent statistics say that product pages with diverse ratings drive more sales than those with stellar ratings only. This is also an amazing opportunity for you to provide exceptional customer support, help them fix specific problems, and turn them into satisfied users.

Asking loyal customers to write testimonials and publishing them strategically on your homepage or product pages is also an amazing way to demonstrate your trustworthiness. To make these testimonials even more relatable, include a customer’s photo, as well as their full name and even a job title.

Sure, just like with the content you create for your product pages or blog, you also ensure that these reviews are accurate and helpful. For example, you could let users rate peer comments according to their relevance. Amazon has introduced the amazing option that allows users to sort reviews by “the most helpful” ratings.

Over to You

If you’re making some of the abovementioned mistakes, don’t be desperate. I’m sure I’ve never landed on an ecommerce site that has no SEO issues. Your goal is to identify the main problems in your SEO strategy and stop wasting money on them. This is how you will improve your online presence gradually and I hope these tips will help you.

Improve Your Online Reputation

5 Ways SEO Can Help You Manage Your Online Reputation

Using SEO to Improve Your Online Reputation

The search engine optimization game is constantly evolving and changing with the algorithms. While this powerful digital marketing method has been used for years as a way to rank websites higher in the SERPs and boost the visibility of websites in the eyes of the online audience, in recent years it has become an integral part of online reputation management. Quite simply, SEO helps your website rank higher, but more importantly in the modern business world, it can help your brand stand out as a powerful authority figure.

There is no denying that websites that rank higher have the potential to score a 20% CTR average, but imagine click-through rates on a website that not only ranks high in the SERPs but also holds a coveted position as one of the leading and most recognizable brands in the field. With all of this in mind, here are the five ways you can use SEO to manage and improve your online reputation.

Brand dissemination and community engagement

The modern consumer is a peculiar being. Highly inquisitive and curious, with a smartphone in their hand and an account on every relevant platform on the web, they will stop at nothing to find out who you are and where your true intentions may lie. In other words, the modern consumer does their research before deciding on a brand, and this research will mostly take place on social media.

Keep in mind that not only are potential customers researching your entire online presence, but that Google’s spiders are doing the same thing. This means that you need to disseminate your brand across the online world and provide all of the necessary information on every relevant platform that could help your rank higher and score positive reviews.

The better the reviews and the higher the engagement with your followers, the better your online reputation will become. With it comes better ranking and a prominent position in your industry. To initiate this snowball effect, make sure you’re:

  • Present on every relevant platform.
  • Providing detailed information about the company.
  • Listing your products and services.
  • Posting quality content regularly.
  • Engaging with your audience in meaningful conversations and discussions.
  • Answering questions and resolving community problems efficiently and effectively.
  • Commenting on relevant topics other than your own to associate your brand with the solution.

Creating stellar content across the board

If digital marketers can agree on one thing, it’s that quality content has a significant impact on rankings, and that there is no excuse for posting subpar pieces with poor keyword integration on the web. If you want to make it big in the online world, you need to go above and beyond with your content creation, and it all begins with elevating the proverbial bar. Remember, only stellar content will make it into the top three listings on Google.

However, content creation is not just about answering a problem or integrating keywords – nowadays it’s also about organic brand implementation and storytelling. You need to immerse your readers into the topic in order to boost engagement, shareability, mentions, and of course, minimize your bounce rate. Combining stellar content with careful keyword and brand name integration will deem you worthy in the eyes of Google, and secure a top spot in the SERPs.

Building local authority with market-specific SEO

Another crucial element of authority and a stellar reputation in the digital realm is market-specific SEO. Focusing on local SEO can help your business stand out in your specific marketplace. This is an effective strategy for individual franchise outlets, local businesses catering to a single market, and even global brands who want to ensure brand consistency across the board. New York City is a prime example of the effectiveness of local SEO, as standing out in this bustling beehive has been a pain point for entrepreneurs and business leaders for years.

New York is a highly-competitive area, so it only stands to reason that an agency offering New York SEO services includes comprehensive strategies that use localized keywords to rank the brand higher in its niche and the local marketplace. This will allow the brand to rank higher in the local SERPs, boost brand awareness in the community, and build a more trustworthy relationship with the local demographic.

Emphasizing the video content form

Search engine optimization in its latest form ventures beyond written content and into the realm of video creation. With Google putting emphasis on brands that produce quality videos and integrate relevant keywords into video titles and descriptions, it only stands to reason that you should step up your videography game. Producing content in video form is an excellent way to improve audience engagement and disseminate your content on video platforms such as YouTube and the likes.

As the number of views rises over time, so will the video’s ranking in the SERPs. In turn, you will raise brand awareness and thus your online reputation – provided that your videos are as good as your blogs. Another factor you should take into consideration is how brand-audience communication can impact your rankings. Make it a priority to answer comments on your videos and inspire conversations for Google to take notice.

Mentioning your brand name with relevant keywords

On a last note, it’s important to acknowledge the power of positive association and repetition. Your brand name should appear in every post you publish, no matter the form, no matter the topic. This builds awareness and solidifies your brand in the minds of the consumers.

Combine your brand name with your most relevant keywords, and you have yourself a recipe for success when it comes to getting on Google’s good side. Associating the content with your brand will tell the algorithm that there is a relevant connection between the two, which will in turn improve your ranking and portray you as the authority brand in your niche.

In conclusion

SEO is the name of the digital marketing game, and it’s not likely that its importance for your long-term success will diminish any time in the foreseeable future. That said, SEO is also an ever-evolving science and art form, so it’s important to stay on top of the latest trends and utilize the best practices to build your online reputation.

Which Franchise Business is Best

How to Determine Which Franchise Business is Best for You

There is a certain draw, a certain magnetism towards being an entrepreneur. Sure, the potential profits can be amazing, there is barely a ceiling on how much money you can make, but there must be something else that makes a person work the insane hours required. It’s the freedom, the control. It’s the fact that all the profits you make, all the success you have, and it’s all yours. However, the risk is very high, as is the starting investment. This is where franchise businesses come in.

Instead of starting everything from scratch, you get the opportunity to run a local branch of a franchise you concluded a contract with. You, for a fee, obtain the right to a franchise, to run a branch with their products, brands, trademarks… With a franchise, you get to essentially be your own boss, all your achievements (and failures) will be yours and yours alone. However, the stating capital needed is much lower than what you need to get for your own business. Furthermore, you get a completely developed plan and marketing strategy pretty much handed to you.  

Know that while franchising isn’t for everyone, for some it is the perfect opportunity to achieve their entrepreneurial dreams.  However, giving it a shot requires some forethought (obviously). Below are some tips on how to figure out what kind of franchise is right for you.

Which Franchise Business is Best?

What is your initial budget?

The first thing you need to ask yourself is – what is your budget like? Franchise prices vary greatly, they can range from anything between ten thousand dollars, to a cool million. Weight in what your initial investment can be, as well as your expected profits, how soon you will break even, what’s your lifestyle like, and what your goals are.

Understand that the initial investment will depend on the line of work you have chosen. A restaurant will be much more expensive when compared to a B2B company. The equipment can be substantial, refrigerators, coolers, ovens, grills, all the cutlery. You will also need to set up the right décor. Utilities can be quite high, as can the cost of rent if you’re anywhere near a high-traffic location. On the other hand, a B2B consulting company that does all its work online can have its location set-up essentially wherever you want. The initial equipment, besides a few costly computers and software licences, is pretty minimal.

What role do you want to play?

Now, depending on how you want to spend your workday, you can choose to work as an operator, or an absentee owner. If you’re interested in getting right into it, going on the frontlines, then being an operator is an excellent choice. You will have direct insight into what’s going on at the company, will be able to control everything. It is the perfect choice for anybody who gravitates towards a hands-on approach.

On the other hand, absentee owners are more like pure investors. They hire the right staff, and are involved with some of the day-to-day grind, but they are mostly behind the scenes. They let the staff they hired to actually manage the whole enterprise. Now, of course, these choices depend on the franchise. Some places expect one type of work, others the other. Most often you will have free reign, but the actual type of business may require you to be at the office every day.

Do you have any experience (and in which area)?

Finally, you need to figure out where your interests are, in which area have you accumulated experience. There is no point in running a company branch whose line of work you despise. Go with your passion. Are you obsessed with cars? Maybe get the number from some car selling franchise.  Do you love artisanal teas? Then calling up Chatime for franchise options is your best bet. How about fashion? Then contact a clothing brand. What you need is passion, and some kind of (formal or informal) education in that area. A couple of years in the business can come in handy as well.

And this isn’t just about passion, or pure knowledge, but about connections as well. If you want to get a franchise focused on the fast food industry, having some ties in that world will serve you well. Knowing the right distributors, maintenance workers, wholesalers and retailers will make your life much easier than just starting from scratch.

Conclusion

A franchise can be just as exciting and lucrative, if not more so, than regularly starting your own business. You still get a serious amount of control, and will have very high potential profits. Furthermore, a big chunk of the work, regarding marketing and planning, will be laid out in front of you. Just remember to figure out what you’re passionate about, and how much experience do you have. Be honest with how big your initial budget can be, and what kind of leadership role can you take on.

Why Your Business Should Consider Investing in Influencer Marketing

Where should you invest your online marketing dollars? Tracking online marketing efforts isn’t an easy task. Results aren’t immediately noticeable for some campaigns, and building a brand name adds value to your company in ways other than strictly monetary.

Influencer marketing utilizes people online with an established fan base and voice to get the word out about your products and company. However, influencer campaigns tend to offer a slow build toward name recognition rather than fast results. Ongoing investment and working with multiple influencers works best for most businesses.

There are eight key reasons your business should invest in influencer marketing.

1. Reach More Millennials

The millennial generation is one of the largest generations since the baby boomers, and they are now a vast buying block. About 70 percent of millennials tell surveyors the recommendations of their peers influence their purchase decisions. In a sea of businesses and online advertising, standing out to a marketing-savvy demographic isn’t easy, but your brand can still reach millennials where they live via social media influencers.

2. Keep up With Competitors

As more marketers realize the value of influencer marketing, your competitors get on the bandwagon. Remaining competitive requires embracing the same types of marketing but also thinking outside the box.

Work with influencers your competitors aren’t already working with. Think about who has similar audiences to yours, develop relationships with them and reach out for partnerships. The idea behind influencer marketing is creating a mutually beneficial relationship. Your audience should be a gain for the influencer and vice versa.

 

Lululemon Athletica teamed up with well-known names and micro-influencers to get the word out about its brand. In the screenshot above, professional surfer Malia Manuel shows off her Lululemon gear as she holds a yoga pose. Posts such as this give customers a reason to visit Lululemon’s website or Instagram page.

3. Grow Your Social Following

When an influencer mentions your brand, you gain access to their followers. While not all will respond to a campaign, some will. You’ll gain likes, followers and shares each time you work with an influencer on a campaign, and try out this auto likes instagram free trial to increase your brand.

Another way of engaging with influencers on social media is by commenting on their posts and sharing their content with your followers. Make sure your comments aren’t spammy but are related to the post at hand and add value to the conversation. Folks interested in the topic may find your comment interesting and click on your profile to learn more about you.

4. Create Instant Trust

New brands sometimes have a difficult time building trust with new customers. You don’t have a proven track record and users have no real reason to trust you and your customer service. However, they may already trust the influencer, who does have a proven record of only recommending the best products and services in the industry. Getting a recommendation from an influencer people already trust lends credibility to your brand.

 

50 Floor utilizes the help of a well-known influencer on the landing page of its website. Richard Karn is famous for his role as the handyman Al on “Home Improvement.” When site visitors see his smiling face, they immediately think of high-quality work ethic and home improvement. Finding a recognized and trusted influencer lends credibility to your brand name.

5. Find Influencers Easily

Figuring out who to contact at a print magazine and how to create the right resolution and size ad is a grueling task for someone new to the advertising game. However, finding an influencer is as simple as researching a topic and seeing who is talking about that trend on social media. You can see at a glance which accounts have a decent following.

Pay attention to how many people interact on their profile pages and not just how many followers they have, as some people have a lot of bot followers. Are their users engaging when they post content? Pay particular attention to any branded posts they put up and how their followers react. Getting attention from 3,000 highly targeted and engaged users is preferable to little attention from a million followers.

6. Gain Sells

A powerful influencer mentions your product and the orders roll in. While influencer marketing isn’t always fast, there are times when it is. A recommendation to take advantage of a special offer works well, especially if the audience trusts the influencer has their best interests at heart. Working with such an influencer increases your sales.

One example of a company utilizing an influencer to sell a product is Glossybox working with YouTube influencers. It created videos of the influencers opening its monthly subscription boxes and then using those products. The conversions from a Revfluence campaign were phenomenal, with 150,000 views and $3,000 in monthly sales — for far more than a single month.

7. Create Unique Content

One of the biggest challenges for small businesses is creating content regularly. However, working with influencers gives you content to share on your social media sites and even on your website. Influencers create reviews, videos, short posts, photos and more.

The cost of hiring a professional writer and photographer is far more than the cost of bringing on an influencer who also creates this type of content. A smart marketing mix is splitting your budget between influencers and unique content.

8. Add a Fresh Perspective

Figuring out ways of marketing your products isn’t easy. Over time, ideas grow stale, and you need something fresh and cutting-edge. Influencers brainstorm ideas with you because they know what their audience responds best to. The way they see your brand may be slightly different than the way you see it. Their unique viewpoint allows them to showcase you in a new light with a fresh audience.

Cost-Effective Tool

Influencer marketing is one of the most effective tools you have for increasing brand awareness. Approach it as you would any other type of marketing endeavor. Do your research, study the competition and create a plan. Keep in mind that the best results often take time, but don’t rule out immediate benefits, either. Look for ongoing partnership opportunities that expand the reach of your brand and add fresh ideas to your business.

Creative Social Media Marketing Ideas You Can Implement Today

Creative Social Media Marketing Ideas You Can Implement Today

Due to the information revolution, marketing strategies are rapidly changing. What was in trend a couple of months ago, now is passé. With that along, ways of using the same marketing tools are constantly changing. Just a couple of years ago financial investment in commercials was at its peak – millions were invested in advertisement videos. Nobody could predict that social media would become so crucial in the marketing world.  

it is not easy to keep up with all the trends that are going viral. Here are the most creative ways in which you should use social media if you want your business to keep up with hot trends.

Creative Social Media Marketing Ideas

1. Collaborate With Another Brand

This is a great way of gaining new followers and exposing yourself to a different audience. The only point of partnering with another brand is to choose not a competitor, but a brand with only a slightly different target audience. That way both parties will widen the audience and benefit from the collab.

2. Use The User-Generated Content (UGC)

The pressure of constantly creating good quality content for your social media and website can be a nightmare. Why on earth then you would not use and share the content your followers and fans are literally providing you with. You can make different Instagram campaigns asking your audience to engage and post a photo with certain hashtags. It can be anything from asking a simple question, to selfie with your brand’s product. Also, keep in mind that people will always believe more in your brand’s service if they see other people besides you enjoying it as well.  

3. Giveaway Time!

Did anyone ever say no to free stuff? People love getting things for free. Giveaways and contests are a great way of getting new followers and UGC that you then share on your social media. Conditions of contests and giveaways are usually consisted of liking or following your account, and maybe posting a picture or writing a comment on a certain subject. Either way. it is a fun way of engaging your audience with your brand.  

4. Hop on Hot Trends Wagon

Unlike before, when you only had to think about selling the product, now you have to think about sharing ideas, lifestyles, and humor with your audience. That is why it is super important to stay on track about trending topics and state your opinion here and there. Before you do that, you should be aware of a couple of things. First is that you have to completely understand the trend, and why people are buzzing about it. And second, make sure that it is relevant to your service/product in some, at least vague way. Adding something valuable to the topic will bring you more integrity, and respect from your audience. Plus you will earn some new ones as well. Keep in mind that keeping up with all the different trends and topics is a full-time job. If you want to do it right. It was never a better time to outsource this task to professional managers of social media, than today. Having an advantage of being a remote job, you can even choose experienced social media agency based in Sydney. Location does not matter.  

5. Include Behind The Scenes

There is no better way of your audience getting to know your brand in depth, than by letting them see who is behind your products and posts. It is a more intimate strategy that builds trust and creates deeper, more personal relationships with your users. It helps them see your team and working environment in the right spotlight. You can share photos of your team working, having a break, team building… Or even short videos including funny moments with your coworkers.  

6. Create Educational Videos

Good How-to video has never been left unshared. These videos are very eye-catchy, as they are visually appealing and the audience can learn something new from them. Most shareable contents are usually regarding crafts, hacks, and cooking. Try to find a topic that is in some connection to your product or service and that will at the same time be attractive to the audience. It will help you grow your followers and build trust in the knowledge that stands behind your brand.

7. Let Influencer Borrow Your Social Media

This is another creative strategy of using your social media. Basically, you are collaborating with a relevant influencer and letting them post on your behalf on social media for a certain period of time. This creative strategy brings your brand a fresh perspective and adds new faces to your followers. People are identifying with other people much easier than they do with brands. Allowing this takeover, influencer’s audience will be exposed to your brand, and vice-versa.

If you have not already, start implementing these social media marketing strategies. Invest your time in searching for the most effective marketing strategies, and make sure to keep up with the newest social media marketing trends.

Marketing Strategies for Freelance Designers

7 Marketing Strategies to Promote Your Freelance Graphic Design Business

Marketing Strategies for Freelance Designers

If your success as a freelance designer only depended on your talent and work ethic, you’d have an endless stream of clients. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Instead, you have to master the combined arts of marketing and promotion. You have two overarching goals. Establish name recognition. Connect with the clients that you want to work with. Here are seven strategies that you can employ.

Start with Your Business Plan

Many people see a business plan as a tool for launching a small business, or something they must create to attract investors. It’s also very useful for setting the foundation of your marketing strategy. In your business plan, you will identify:

  • Your Target Audience
  • The Specific Products and Services You Offer
  • Your Market
  • The Factors That Differentiate You from Other Graphic Designers

Create a Portfolio

Your next step will be to create a portfolio of the design work you’ve done. Refer back to your business plan. You should certainly share a wide variety of work samples, but focus on the kind of work that sets you apart, and that appeals to your target customer.

Don’t worry if you haven’t done a significant amount of paid work. It’s more important that you showcase quality work that clearly demonstrates your skill set. There’s nothing wrong with including student or personal projects in your portfolio.

Establish an Online Presence

Once you’ve selected the items you’re going to include in your portfolio, it’s time to begin building an online presence. This includes creating a website and getting active on social media.

https://www.instagram.com/welovewebdesign/

All of your other marketing efforts will focus mostly on getting people to your website, landing pages, and social pages. These are the places where you’ll make sells, introduce the details of your products and services, and develop relationships with customers and potential clients.

Keep in mind that your profession is going to lead to very high standards when it comes to your website. Other freelancers may be able to get away with a website they build from a free template. Your website is going to reflect on your professional capabilities. Everything from your choice of font, layouts, color schemes, and images really needs to be on point.

Your web content also needs to be extraordinarily professional. If you’re more artist than writer, you might want to source some professional services and tools such as:

  • White Smoke – A helpful spelling and grammar checking utility
  • Rewarded Essays – A copywriting and editing service with an excellent reputation
  • Grammarly – A grammar checking utility that works as an app or plugin
  • Google Docs – Keep your web content documents organized in one place you can access anywhere.
  • GrabMyEssay – Another reputable source of professional content writing services

Reach out via Email

You can begin working on a solid email marketing campaign right from the start. In fact, you should. For every dollar spent on email marketing there’s an average ROI of 32 dollars.

It’s easy enough to get started. You can begin collecting email addresses with a simple form on your website. Later, you can adopt a more comprehensive email marketing solution that includes email templates, an autoresponder, and other advanced features.

Share your Work and Your Insights

Used correctly, your social media sites can become a goldmine of customer engagement and promotional opportunities. Some of this can include direct promotional content. Just keep in mind that the key to successful social media marketing is in building relationships and establishing thought leadership. The best way to do this is by creating and sharing relevant content.

If you haven’t started blogging, now is a good time. Share your expertise and insights about graphic design techniques, industry trends, even your experiences as a freelancer. Anticipate questions your target audience may have, and challenges they face that relate to your profession. Then create and share content that addresses their needs. To keep your writing at a professional level, try Hemingway, Hot Essay Service, and Power Thesaurus.

Target Long Tail Keywords

SEO is the process of making your website, social media, and content easy to find on Google and other search engines. Keywords are an important part of this. When your content contains the words and phrases that people who need your services enter into search engines, your website and other content will filter to the top of search results.

The problem is that two or three-word keywords tend to lead to very generic search results. That’s no way to get found by members of your target audience. Instead, focus on long tail keywords. These are longer, more detailed phrases that make it more likely that you’ll get the attention of people who are interested in the specific services that you have to offer.

For example, the phrase ‘Graphic Design’ is likely to return a very large, very generic list of search results. As a freelancer, you’re not likely to make the front page. Now, imagine that the search keywords are, ‘Graphic Design in Cook County’ or ‘Graphic Design for WordPress’. That narrows down the field significantly.

Use Client Testimonials and Referrals

Neightan White, a content marketing expert at Supreme Dissertations says, “Anything you say about your own talents and capabilities will always pale in comparison to the word of a satisfied client. This is why it’s imperative to identify clients that you’ve really impressed and ask them for a testimonial or recommendation.”

When you get positive feedback, use it to your advantage. Share testimonials on social media, your landing pages, and your website. This is a great way to build trust and thought leadership. Referrals are extremely valuable in building up your business through word of mouth.

Final Thoughts

If you can master the art of marketing and promotion, and combine that with your superb graphic design skills, you have an excellent chance of establishing a solid client base. This will lead to your ongoing success as a freelancer.