Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

10 Ways to Advertise Your Business for Under $50

Wednesday, June 19th, 2019

10 Cheap Advertising Ideas for Your Small Business

A number of small businesses still aren’t spending enough advertising cash to get good results although they know they should. One of the reasons is a limited budget, but did you know that there are some solid cheap advertising ideas out there that are more effective than you’d think?

Cheap Advertising Ideas

Here are 10 cheap advertising ideas to get the word out about your business for under $50.

Service Apps

Ben Taylor is the founder of the HomeWorking Club. He points to several apps as cheap ways to advertise.

“If your business provides services, apps like TaskRabbit and Thumbtack help you to get into contact with customers who need them,” he writes.

TaskRabbit charges a $25 registration fee.

Notice Boards

He also suggests going old school by taking advantage of noticeboards in places like supermarkets. A package of markers and speech cards are cheap.

Business Cards

More old school suggestions that work and come in under budget. Vistaprint can supply 100 business cards for well under $50.

As far as the design goes, you can use a template or create your own. If you’re designing your own business card remember to keep it simple. Remember to include taglines and contact info.

You can also pay a small fee to local restaurants/businesses to leave your cards at the counter. Business cards fit nicely in the corners of bulletin boards at public locations.

Determining the ROI on these can be a little tricky because you’re handing them out in physical spaces . Ask new customers how they found your business.  You’ll get some indication of how effective these are.

Facebook Groups

“There are lots of options for advertising on Facebook,” Taylor writes. “At a basic level you may even be able to promote your business on local groups. With a budget of $50 and some good targeting, you could reach plenty of target customers.”

You can also make your own Facebook group. As a small business you have the option of putting one in a buy and sell category.

Another quick tip to make your advertising dollars go further. Having theme days for your Facebook group will attract people. One good example revolves around asking people to share their gripes on a Monday.

HARO

Sign up as a source . Reporters and writers look for experts at HARO to comment on pieces they write. There’s a standard subscription that’s under a $50 monthly budget. You’ll get lots of good exposure through links and position yourself as an expert.

Email Marketing

Jared Weitz CEO/Founder United Capital Source Inc thinks emails work.

“Conduct an email marketing campaign,” he writes. “There are many great low-cost tools, like MailChimp, that will allow you to send professionally crafted emails. You can even track open rates, clicks on links and visibility to those who unsubscribe.”

Email marketing works best when it’s regular and consistent. If you’ve got first names on your list, those are great to add to personalize the emails you send.

Infographics

Visual like infographics are effective ways to advertise. There are a variety of options here. Lots of free choices and paid ones that come in under $50 a month.

Small businesses should really give these a close look. Consider almost all of the info our brains receive is visual according to HubSpot. It’s a good idea to start by introducing your message with a brief summary.

Social Media Ads

For $30, you can reach thousands of prospects. However, you need to outline a goal before you start. Facebook and Instagram are two of the best places to get going.

You’ll find that each social media platform has a metric you can use to gauge its effectiveness. Google AdWords uses a Quality Score. Facebook uses a Relevance Score. The Facebook version is pretty simple to use. A score of one tells you your ad isn’t doing well. The higher numbers tell you the opposite.

There are a few ways to make these more effective. First is narrowing down your target audience to get more engagement. Making sure your ads have an attention grabbing image is good no matter what social media you’re using.

Webinars

These are effective but not always cheap. If you can handle the monthly subscription, there’s a few possibilities to look through here. ClickMeeting is a good one.

Here’s a few good tips to make these work. Visuals are important. Even though you can do these on the cheap digitally, you want to have some nice slides to capture attention. Having a handout is another good idea. A screenshot of all your slides gives prospects something to look at after.

Affiliate Marketing

You should be able to find a good service here that comes in under budget monthly. GoAffpro offers a connection to Instagram influencers for $19 a month.

There are a few things that a small business needs to look for to get the most from any service. First, it’s important to look for an option  that has some kind of real-time tracking.

You want to be able to have real-time data on things like clicks and impressions. It’s a good way to make sure your marketing efforts are on the right track.

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, “10 Ways to Advertise Your Business for Under $50” was first published on Small Business Trends

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In the Spotlight: Two Blind Brothers Brand Fights Retinal Disease with Retail

Wednesday, June 19th, 2019

In the Spotlight: Charitable Clothing Brand, Two Blind Brothers, Lets You See What It's Like to Shop Blind

Would you ever consider shopping blind? That’s what Two Blind Brothers asks of its customers. The company sells clothing. But its main mission is to raise money and awareness for retinal eye disease, a cause that’s close to the heart for both of the company’s co-founders. Read more about their journey in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.

What the Business Does

Sells clothing and raises money for a good cause.

The luxury charitable clothing brand sells tees, Henley’s, hoodies and a variety of other clothes. But customers get the opportunity to simply pick a price point and then receive a selection of items.

Business Niche

Contributing to a cause.

100 percent of the company’s profits go toward developing a cure for retinal eye disease.

How the Business Got Started

Due to a personal connection.

Founders Bradford and Bryan Manning were both diagnosed at a young age with an eye disease that destroys central vision over time. So they left their careers in finance to create a charitable clothing company.

In the Spotlight: Charitable Clothing Brand, Two Blind Brothers, Lets You See What It's Like to Shop Blind

Biggest Win

Being endorsed by Ellen Degeneres.

Bradford and Bryan Manning told Small Business Trends, “When we started this project, it was meant to be a fun charitable passion project. We never expected that it would resonate with a national audience. Within 8 months of launching, Ellen Degeneres invited us on her show and bought $30k of shirts. It changed the trajectory of the project and the way we approached it. After that moment, we had the momentum and courage to invest in growing the charitable clothing brand.”

Biggest Risk

Launching their “Shop Blind” campaign.

The founders explained, “We had a creative marketing idea….we would challenge people to buy our products with no information and no images. We asked the question, “Will you trust us and shop blind?” We have to buy our inventory months in advance which puts financial stress on a fast-growing business.

They had to order inventory to cover more than 30 times the previous year’s holiday sales, since they didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity of the holiday season.

They added, “It all worked out. We actually sold out.”

Lesson Learned

Build your business for the next big inflection point, not today’s problem.

They said, “Every time our business grew by 50% something breaks down because the former system couldn’t keep up. First, it was our production facility. Then, it was our fulfillment center. Then, it was our customer service system. Make sure you are investing in your infrastructure so that you aren’t constantly plugging holes. You want to continue to work on big opportunities.”

In the Spotlight: Charitable Clothing Brand, Two Blind Brothers, Lets You See What It's Like to Shop Blind

How They’d Spend an Extra $100,000

Launching a new creative marketing campaign.

They explained, “As a clothing brand, it’s competitive. Not only do we need great products, but we need to capture people’s attention. It’s so important to offer a unique story and experience. We are lucky to have a great core story, but nothing is better than a completely fresh idea that people want to participate in and share. We had so much success with “Shop Blind” that we want to continue finding great branded experiences.”

* * * * *

Find out more about the Small Biz Spotlight program

Images: Two Blind Brothers Facebook

This article, “In the Spotlight: Two Blind Brothers Brand Fights Retinal Disease with Retail” was first published on Small Business Trends

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71% of Customers Use Ecommerce Apps for Price Checking

Wednesday, June 19th, 2019

These Ecommerce Mobile App Features Will Keep Your Customers Hooked

The overall ecommerce sales are increasingly coming from mobile devices. In 2018 it was 40% of the total sales, and by 2021 it is expected to jump to 54%. For businesses that develop ecommerce apps, it means they are better positioned to address this growth.

However, it is going to take more than coupons and discounts to keep your customers hooked on your app.

According to a new survey and report from Clutch, businesses must design ecommerce apps with the goal of delivering the best possible overall experience. This means addressing everything from browsing to checking out without any difficulty.

Seamus Roddy, who wrote the report further explained the need to deliver on all points when creating an app. Roddy said, “Businesses must consider customers’ motivations for using e-commerce apps: how likely they are to engage with particular brands’ apps and how they use the apps to interact with products.”

Clutch carried out the survey to determine the types of ecommerce apps people use most, the activities they carry out in the apps, and why they use certain apps. The goal of the report is to give businesses an understanding of how people use ecommerce apps.

The survey was carried out by Clutch with the participation of 501 consumers with retailer/shopping apps on their phones. The respondents were made up of 69% female and 31% male who used ecommerce apps anywhere from 1 to 3 times per month to multiple times daily.

What Ecommerce Mobile App Features Do Customers Want?

Almost two thirds (65%) of the respondents use mobile apps to get deals and offers available only in the app. But according to Clutch, businesses should go beyond just offering products with high discounts. It is best to create apps which cultivate community and browsability.

This, however, is not the primary reason people use shopping apps. For example, 71% of the respondents use the apps to check prices. And they check prices (22%) even when they are in brick and mortar outlets, undoubtedly for comparison. For this reason, Clutch recommends for stores with a physical presence to integrate the in-app and in-store experiences.

When it comes to purchases, overall 62% say they use apps to buy something. But people who use pure online retail apps are more likely to make a purchase. For this group, the number goes up to 90%, while 88% of them also use it to check prices. Additionally, 34% use the apps to get product recommendations on similar items.

Even though the numbers are impressive for large online retail apps, Clutch recommends for small businesses to avoid measuring up. Instead, it is best for small businesses to target their specific market and achieve success there.

Restaurants and Ecommerce Apps

The purchase rate for frequent restaurant app users is high, coming in at 79%. And almost the same amount (75%) use the apps to view menus. But when it comes to using the apps for recommending similar products it is only 9%.

When creating restaurant apps, Clutch suggests providing features which match the user behavior.

Creating the Best Possible Ecommerce Mobile App Features

Using all the Data, Clutch came up with six steps for creating shopping apps matching the e-commerce app users’ prefer.

The Six Steps

  1. Make shopping apps easy to use to save app users’ time and improve their buying experience
  2. Integrate shopping app users’ in-app and in-person experiences
  3. Compare metrics to competitors’, not to large pure online retailers
  4. Match your shopping app to your business product
  5. Avoid using discounts only to attract shopping app users
  6. Develop browsable apps

You can read the full report here.

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, “71% of Customers Use Ecommerce Apps for Price Checking” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Secrets of Building a 6 Figure Marketing Agency Revealed

Wednesday, June 19th, 2019

7 Marketing Agency Growth Strategies to Get to 6+ Figures in Revenue a Month
Agency marketers face a unique challenge.

Not only are they on the hook for creating and executing monster marketing campaigns for clients.

They also have to run and grow their agency business.

My first company, WordStream, was a digital advertising agency that grew to +300 employees and tens of thousands of customers.

The company manages over a billion dollars of ad spend. I sold that company last year for over $150 million.

Marketing agencies might want to know my top takeaways from analyzing hundreds of different agency growth strategies and the hundreds of different pricing experiments I did at WordStream.

So I’m sharing my best marketing agency growth strategies, along with the top tips from six other agency growth coaches and strategists from the fastest-growing brands in digital.

Marketing Agency Growth Strategies

Read them and then go see what’s going on at the full-day free online conference just for growing marketing agencies.

Larry Kim, CEO and Founder of MobileMonkey

WordStream is one of the world’s largest online advertising agencies and one key way we were able to do this was by offering something new and differentiated.

We were really early to offer support for Google Ads, and this was back when nobody was doing this.

Then we jumped on the Facebook ad train early on.

If you’re selling Google Ads or Facebook Ads in 2019, chances are your prospective new clients already have an agency handling this, and you’re probably not going to get the client.

What you can do is offer something new and differentiated such as chat marketing in your services mix.

Do a really great job at killing it in that little opportunity that they’ve afforded you, and then land and expand.

You can take over the rest of the client’s agency marketing business because you’ve done such a killer job at optimizing the chat campaigns.

They’ll think you’re a magician with the kind of results you can drive with Messenger marketing compared to conventional Facebook advertising.

Mandy McEwen, Founder of Mod Girl Marketing and Digital Agency Growth Coach

My No. 1 tip for an agency looking to accelerate business growth is to specialize!

Specialize in a type of client (such as a specific industry) and a core service offering.

By doing this you can position yourself as THE expert to that particular subset of prospects, making you stand out from the majority of the competition. In addition, you can scale much faster by replicating the same strategies that have proven to work for each client.

You also attract more qualified prospects when you specialize. Optimizing your LinkedIn profile around this type of client and how you help them, as well as including this on your website, will help you appear in search results for targeted keywords and will catch the attention of your dream prospects.

Eugene Levin, Chief Strategy and Corporate Development Officer at SEMrush

Diversify. While temptation to focus on one thing you know best might be hard to resist, marketing evolves every day.

And evolution might be very unforgiving. In marketing you always have to learn and try new channels and strategies.

When Facebook changed algorithm in 2018 many businesses were hit. Many pure SMM agencies lost customers.

But agencies that also offer SEO and Content Marketing services usually didn’t have such issues.

SEMrush has over 10,000 agency customers and we see that the most successful agencies provide multiple different services to their clients.

It helps to increase ACVs, better retain customers and in general help to build more sustainable business.

Ty Lingley, Head of Partnerships at Unbounce

My advice before you get tactical is to really understand your agency’s positioning in the marketplace and the customer segments you’re going after.

With these set, it’s so much easier to go-to-market and gain traction with your growth initiatives, building the word-of-mouth referrals vital to any agency’s success.

Zachary Rego, Director of Agency Business at WordStream

One of the most important tactics for a marketing agency to grow is to identify a vertical in which they have been successful and tailor their marketing strategy to emphasize that success.

Creating a recipe to continually deliver positive results to clients within a new vertical is crucial.

Virginia Nussey, Director of Marketing at MobileMonkey

It’s easy to fall into the old “cobbler’s child” mentality as a marketing agency, so have concrete goals, accountability and the team in place to run and manage your own marketing and advertising.

That might mean creating a parallel structure for project managers and dedicated channel managers that work on your own business’s marketing campaigns.

Devote the same committed resources to marketing and advertising your business as you do for your clients.

Treat your own business like your most valuable client.

Isaac Rudansky, AdVenture Media Group CEO & Founder of Agency Overdrive

So a lot of our best clients now come through referrals and as you start getting a little bit of a good track record.

When you have a good handful of clients, you should be forthright in asking for a referral because you’ll never get a referral unless you ask.

Really be forthright with asking for a referral and potentially asking multiple times.

And also content (is how you can attract new clients). I publish courses, webinars, blog posts — content works.

People will be exposed to your content, they’ll develop a sense that you know what you’re talking about, and you’ve got to specialize in a niche.

This is advice that most people probably have heard already, but most people haven’t done it because it’s so unbelievably difficult to create good content and it takes long, it takes a long time.

Creating content itself is difficult but you have to do it consistently with no results for a year. Who wants to do that? But when you’re very content heavy, it really drives a huge amount of emotional validity when a customer calls you.

Think about it like this, if you call a business say, “Hey, can I manage your Facebook Messenger marketing for you?” like goodbye.

Or you write a really good insightful post about five Facebook messenger techniques with specific results with case studies with a financial analysis and some people see that, that will go so far for you in terms of getting people to think about who you are, who your company is, they’ll want to follow your posts, they’ll want to follow your information.

More Marketing Agency Growth Strategies

If you’re a marketing agency owner, manager or practitioner, it’s not easy to find trusted resources on:

  • How to create your first six-figure or seven-figure revenue month.
  • How to sign clients with the budget and project scope for $5k/mo retainer fees.
  • The pricing and packaging models that marketing agencies are using to build in bonuses and upsell opportunities.

So I’m hosting a one-day free online summit dedicated to the strategies, tips and tools for scaling a marketing agency.
We’ve packed the agenda full of agency growth coaches, agency founders, and business strategists from the marketing world’s fastest-growing brands.

And we’ve partnered with many of the biggest names in marketing to bring this free, virtual summit to life, including SEMrush, WordStream, Unbounce, Agorapulse, and Growth Marketing Conference.

Make your marketing agency’s growth your priority this year with the actionable tactics shared at the MobileMonkey Marketing Agency Growth Accelerator Virtual Summit — check out the agenda now!

Republished by permission. Original here.

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, “Secrets of Building a 6 Figure Marketing Agency Revealed” was first published on Small Business Trends

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15 Best Niche Industries for Startups

Tuesday, June 18th, 2019

15 Best Niche Industries for Startups

Statistics tell us thousands of entrepreneurs start businesses every year.  After four years, more than 50 percent are gone. Getting a good start is important to success, and one way to do so is by selecting from among the right niche industries.

Best Niche Industries

Here are the 15 best niche industries for startups.

1. Bottled Water

This is a money-making niche. However, there’s more to it than just finding a source and bottling the water.  Steps you need to take include sanitizing the bottles and filtering the product. Sell directly to customers or look for grocery store contracts.

2. Organic Skincare

Natural products that don’t harm the environment are on the rise. That includes skincare products for women. These products are so popular now, there’s even a best of list for 2019. A lot of the niche products here are corralled into lines including facial masks and cleansers.

3. Self Improvement

There’s a product for most everything you want to improve about yourself. Courses for everything from improving self esteem to building up your career. There are some obvious ones to start in like how to make money and personal finance.

4. SaaS Software

Selling software as a service to small businesses is big.

One of the most profitable niches right now is SaaS software products targeted towards legal and medical professionals,” writes Nishank Khanna, VP, Growth Utility NYC. “Both niche segments have plenty of cash to spend on products that can streamline their workflows and save them time.”

5. Inbound Leads from SaaS Software

This is a subcategory of the SaaS software niche. Start ups can make a decent living supplying the software and generating leads for clients. Khanna explains.

“Lawyers and doctors spend a lot of money on getting more inbound customers and often spend thousands each year on existing platforms for growth.”

6. Travel Writer

You can monetize your vacations and maybe even turn travelling into a full time gig. Here’s a tip to start selling blogs. Write personal descriptions/ accounts backed up with facts.

7. Wellness

This one has lots of room to branch out.

“Wellness is one of the biggest industries in North America right now.  Entrepreneurs can branch off into any and all directions that are relevant to what they want to do. You may start up as a personal trainer, open up a yoga studio, or create a nutrition product.”– Deborah Sweeney, CEO, MyCorporation.com

8. Online Dating

What better way is there to get people together than use the Internet to setup an online dating company? There’s good money in this niche. If you live in a big city, you might want to target local singles at first.

9. Home Organizing

Melisa Celikel is the CEO of Let’s Get You Organized! She supplied a quick run down of how she got her business started.

“I created a Wix website, a FB business page, IG business account, and Pinterest business account,” she writes. “Accepting payments through Venmo, Square, and PayPal since there’s no barrier to entry with these free apps was easy.”

Celikel formed an LLC on LegalZoom and got business licensing and insurance within a week.

10. Natural Dog Food

Fido’s health is important to everyone who owns a dog. This is a great twist on the health market that’s worth $21 billion. You’ll need to be familiar with some Food and Drug Administration regulations to start.

11. Animal Rescue

You’ll need to have the proper permits and licences to start this business. You’ll also need to hire a staff right away to make an animal rescue work.

12. Private Label Products

“Find a product that is in high demand on Amazon or eBay. One where the top sellers are currently lacking in some area,” writes Patricia Russel from FinanceMarvel. “Drop shipping a similar product with your own private label can set you up for serious long-term success when done properly.”

13. Monthly Gift Basket Subscriptions

“These have been popularized on Reddit by the Dollar Shave Club,” Russel says.  “The monthly subscription business is incredible because it has a low cost of entry.”

She suggests a collection as-is items from Alibaba, AliExpress, or JD.com to start. Then add your own private label items.

14. Personal Finance

If you’ve got some education and training in this area, this is a great niche business. You can start building up a client base through public speaking engagements.

15. App Development

Almost anything that has to do with IT is startup gold. App development is no exception. Give away one version for free and then charge for more features.

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, “15 Best Niche Industries for Startups” was first published on Small Business Trends

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61% of Ecommerce Sites Have Product Images That Disappoint Customers

Tuesday, June 18th, 2019

Top 10 Ecommerce Mistakes to Avoid on Your Website

Consumers base their decision to make an online purchase on many different factors. And according to a survey by Marketingsignals.com, images play a big role. Close to two thirds or 61% said insufficient or poor-quality product imagery is a deterrent.

Considering a product image may be the first time a consumer sees the item; the survey result is not surprising. Even if they are familiar with the product, consumers go online to get more information. And this means getting a better view. If the image is of poor quality or there aren’t enough of them, they’ll go to a site which does.

The Latest Data Reveals the Problems Ecommerce Businesses Face

For small businesses, the data in this survey has some great insights, especially for first time ecommerce site owners. It goes on to report, simple errors is costing 58% of ecommerce businesses potential customers. If you address the top 10 reason which deter customers from making a purchase online, you are on your way to a solid start.

In an emailed press release, Gareth Hoyle, managing director at Marketingsignals.com addressed a similar issue. Hoyle goes on to say potential customers don’t make a purchase for a host of reasons. This includes not being familiar with the site.

Online Shoppers Can be Put Off

Hoyle says online shoppers can be, “… put off by over complicated or seemingly untrustworthy websites when attempting to make a purchase, instead opting to buy from a site they already know and trust.” Adding, “So what this research demonstrates is that it’s clear that there are simple steps e-commerce businesses can take.”

Before you take those steps, you need to identify the reasons which deter customers from making a purchase. To that end, here are the top ecommerce mistakes to avoid on your website.

Top Ecommerce Mistakes to Avoid

The number one reason people don’t make a purchase online is the issues related to images. With 61% of the respondents in the survey saying images carry so much weight, businesses have to do more to post high quality images.

In addition to the quality, you also have to take more pictures. No matter how good the image is, a single picture will not tell the whole story. Make sure you have multiple images to highlight the product.

The second reason goes hand-in-hand with the image, which is a good description. Almost the same amount of people or 57% say inadequate product description is also a deterrent. Even the simplest of products can benefit from a well written description.

Always Focus on the Details

The details you provide about the product in the description may be enough to persuade them to make a purchase. If you provide this detail, you most likely also care about the customer service, which is the third reason.

A little more than half or 52% say the lack of customer service by ecommerce businesses is a clear deterrent. Quality customer service is important in the physical and digital world. How you treat your customers will dictate the long-term success of your business.

For companies who have a digital and physical presence, there seems to be more of an effort to provide better customer service for their brick and mortar outlets. But as more people shop online, the effort needs to be the same.

Reason number four is distracting/intrusive pop ups (47%)  and over complicated check-out process (43%) at number five.

At number six 41% of the respondents say they are deterred by a site with little or no social media presence. For young consumers, the social media page is where they go to when they want to connect with a brand. If your business doesn’t have a social media presence, you can lose a large percentage of this demographic.

The number seven reason is extremely important for an ecommerce site, which is delivery. Thirty four percent of consumers say the lack of delivery options can deter them from buying something. Since the item is going to be delivered, you should offer more ways to get it to them.

Rounding out the 10 ecommerce mistakes to avoid, desktop-only site design (27%), insufficient or lack of company information (16%), and not accepting alternative payment methods including PayPal and Apple Pay (11%) came in at number 8, 9, and 10 respectively.

The Survey

Marketing Signals carried out the survey with the participation of 1,213 UK adults.

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, “61% of Ecommerce Sites Have Product Images That Disappoint Customers” was first published on Small Business Trends

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The Hidden Mystery Behind Optimizing Your Small Business Site for Voice Search

Tuesday, June 18th, 2019

Voice Search Optimization for Small Businesses

Predictions suggest voice search will change the marketing strategy forever. Even now many searches happen by voice. But digital marketers are still at a loss: “So if you read your search query and then hear your answers, where will the clicks be coming from?”

This point is very valid: Voice search makes buying process more fragmented: Customers talk their query to a device, hear the answer and get the top (or chosen) result link on their device or further interaction. But that interaction may never come… Or it may happen later in the day, or even a week.

Voice searching often happens on the go or in the middle of the task. It becomes a norm to ask for the best way to season a turkey while in the middle of cooking. Your searching device is right there next to you, ready to help.

With searching and subsequent on-page interaction getting so fragmented, how can you optimize your site for this behavior? Is this the end of marketing as we know it?

Voice Search Optimization Tips

1. Focus on User Engagement

Whether your customer uses voice or not, search results are still being ranked the same way. This means basic SEO is still there to stay: You need to be in top #5 to be found. Nothing changes there.

What is different is how quickly customers move on. Since voice searching tends to happen on the go, getting a user to pause and engage with your site is becoming even more difficult.

Voice search is going to get people onto your site. Your efforts are going to keep them there.

Voice search optimization for search intent is the fundamental step to keeping your voice search referrals. Basically, what it means is that you need to give them exactly what they were searching for. This will prompt them to remain on your page and maybe even interact (tap other links, check out your special offers, etc.)

Text Optimizer is the tool designed to help you optimize for search intent. It analyzes Google search result pages, extracts related concepts and helps you include those in your content to better meet those searchers’ needs:

Voice Search Optimization for Small Businesses: Text Optimizer search intent

[Optimize your on-page copy to meet Google’s and customers’ expectations better]

2. Keep a Closer Eye on Your Local Listings

Local searches are a big part of voice search. People want convenient, in-the-moment results while they are on the go. So if you have a local business or operate within a specific community, make that the focus of your SEO.

According to SEW, mobile voice searches are three times more likely to be based on location, rather than generic topic. This makes local presence even more important than it was in the past.

Make sure to keep your local listing active and updated. Respond to reviews promptly, upload images and create Google local posts. The more complete your local listing is, the higher you will show on local results based on Google’s dedication to offering the best first.

Bright Local is a great tool to keep an on your local rankings and get alerted on anything that needs your attention. It also creates higher-level reports allowing to keep an eye on your progress:

Bright Local

[Monitor your local rankings and reviews using Bright Local]

3. Focus on Featured Snippets for Voice Search Optimization

A featured snippet is a selected search result that appears on top of organic search results. Both Google and Bing are now showing featured snippets in an effort to give their users the best possible answer in the fastest possible way.

In many ways featured snippets are search engines’ effort to get ready for the screenless search, where people don’t interact with the screen directly to perform a search. Instead, they talk to a device and expect to hear an answer.

To give them those instant answers, search engines implemented featured snippets which are being read by a mobile phone or a smart assistant in response to a voice search query.

Consequently you want your content to give those quick answer too. Clear concise answers for a multitude of possible questions. Likewise your product pages should also give answers (think Amazon Q&A) and your landing pages should feature some sort of a FAQ section too.

Re-build your content strategy in the question-and- answer format.

Google People Also Ask

4. When it Comes to Voice Search Optimization, Think Speed, Think Mobile First

Several years ago it was estimated that a user will wait maximum 5 seconds for a page to load before giving up on it. Nowadays when people are getting used to faster Internet connection and when they can browse the web while on the go, this number is likely to be much lower.

In fact, Google says that their own load time is under half a second and the threshold for ecommerce website acceptability is 2 seconds.

When we deal with mobile and voice searchers, website speed is becoming an even more important issue because it is so easy to find a page and as easy to swipe back to search results. Mobile and voice searches tend to be in a hurry (asking for directions, being already deep into a task, etc.)

You need to serve them fast.

Monitor your site speed through Google Analytics on a regular basis, and use SEO crawlers at least quarterly to identify what slows your site down. I use Netpeak Spider that checks response time, content download time, image sizes, etc. for every single page of your site:

Voice Search Optimization for Small Businesses: Netpeak Spider

5. Follow Google’s Projects

Finally, if there’s a screenless searching, there’s a screenless buying!

Maybe voice search is stealing your clicks. But maybe you also don’t need clicks to sell your products online.

Google has been working hard to help retailers adjust to the new searching behavior. Some of their products are still in beta, others are limited to the United States but they are all there, and already being implemented by your competitors.

Google has developed the whole set of structured markup to help your pages better interact with voice search users. You can also implement Google Speakable to let your search results “speak back” to the user, another form of voice search optimization.

Finally, there’s Google Shopping Actions platform allowing retailers to show their products across various Google channels including Google Assistant (US-only).

Voice Search Optimization for Small Businesses: Google Shopping Actions

Conclusion

Whether voice search is going to become the major searching behavior remains unknown. There’s also visual search picking up. And typing search queries and reading the answers the old school way is likely not going away completely too.

But it’s not really a question of whether voice search is going to dominate the market or not. It’s already here and you already may be losing customers to your competitors whose sites are served through voice search because they are better prepared.

On the other hand, keeping yourself up-to-date with the latest marketing trends gives you competitive advantage and allows you to quickly gain visibility before your competitors realize the gap. I hope the above steps will help you make your site search-voice-friendlier!

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, “The Hidden Mystery Behind Optimizing Your Small Business Site for Voice Search” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Apply These 4 Techniques to Improve Project Management in Your Small Business

Tuesday, June 18th, 2019

4 Ways to Improve Project Management In Your Small Business

Growing a small enterprise into a larger company requires takes a lot of work. Avoid wasting precious time. And actually turn the corner. But to do this business owners need drive, discipline, and a structured approach. All this points to having good project management.

Project management remains the smart, efficient and effective way for small businesses to get things done. But it requires following a process. And you must apply knowledge, skills and experience to achieve a clearly defined goal.

You need a proper plan in place. Or projects get derailed. And team members lose sight of the end goal. They waste valuable time. And your business incurs additional, unnecessary costs. Don’t lose site of your objective. Or you run the risk of leaving your team floundering and disgruntled. Done effectively, project management helps your small business stay on schedule. It helps you keep an eye on financial resources. And it enables effective evaluation of successes and failures.

How to Improve Project Management

Keep your team on the right track for successfully launching and executing a project. Follow these four tips to improve project management at your company.

Establish a Project’s Purpose, Scope, and Goal

First, don’t make the mistake of attempting to tackle every issue in one swoop. Try to take on everything at once and very little gets accomplished.

Successful project management involves identifying a specific issue to tackle. And then you determine how that individual issue will be addressed. Gathering the team and resources to work on it. And then put that plan into action.

If completing one particular project happens to trigger an idea for another project, be sure not to fall into the trap of adding the new project to your existing one. Instead, keep each project narrowed and focused. For example, a logo update may inspire the update or creation of new collateral materials. Move forward in completing the logo update project and then reserve the collateral materials update for a completely different project.

Set Firm Time Frames and Budgets for Each Project Step

Creating a clear focus for a project helps tremendously with determining how much time a project will take to accomplish and how much of an investment will be required for it. There should be an overall budget and schedule for the entire project itself in addition to a detailed accounting of what materials, labor hours and equipment will be needed for individual tasks within the project.

Knowing and understanding such details will keep spending in check. It will also allow your team to understand which tasks will need to be accomplished chronologically, simultaneously or at any time within the project timeline.

To make sure everyone is on the same page regarding time frames, budgets and other project details, be sure to put the next step into action.

Keep Your Team Connected and Informed

Once you set your project in motion, the most integral aspect of project management is keeping your team members abreast of all information, task assignments, status updates, and scheduling. Making sure every team member is on the same page will prevent progression bottlenecks, task redundancy, confusion, and disorganization.

A great way to keep your team coordinated is to use a cloud-based collaborative project management tool such as  MeisterTask. As MeisterTask updates in real time, this tool enables team members to share up-to-the-minute ideas and plans and convert those ideas and plans into specific tasks. In this way, each team member will know who is accountable for what action step.

Other useful tools are Idea Drop, which is a mobile app that allows teams to share concepts, and CodePen, which empowers front-end developers to give and receive feedback during a website design.

Perform a Post-Project Assessment

Once your project is said and done, review the end results to determine whether or not your goal was indeed accomplished. While reviewing project outcomes, take a look at whether or not the project progressed according to plan or if any deviations were necessary. Go over your budget outcomes and note whether or not your costs matched your planned expenditures. Assess whether or not you were able to work within your scheduling boundaries.

Doing an end-of-project review will help you better understand what elements contributed to your success or hindered achievement in any way. You’ll also know what adjustments you should make to improve upon your processes for future projects.

Benefit When You Improve Project Management

Employing proper project management skills is all about making sure your goals and objectives come to fruition without risking excess time and money to achieve them. When you take the time to formulate a project plan, and then work that plan, you’re setting yourself up to operate at an improved capacity for bigger, better projects—and that’s a huge part of how a small outfit can grow into a bigger and better company.

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, “Apply These 4 Techniques to Improve Project Management in Your Small Business” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Sick and Tired Of Being Held Back in Your Business? Read This

Tuesday, June 18th, 2019

What Holds You Back?

Last week I upgraded to the Samsung S-10 Galaxy phone after having the S-7 phone for many years. It got me thinking, “what else am I holding onto that is keeping me back?”.

For months I resisted spending the $1,000 (give or take) on the S-10. However, the S-7 had such terrible battery life, I had to charge it every few hours. It was not only annoying but hindering my work. My phone is essential to my content creation and education of the Smart Hustle community.

Finally, I went to the store and bought an S-10. Within hours I knew I made the right choice.

The S-10 has much longer battery life (all day), the camera is immensely better, the speed is faster, the usability is easier, the security is better and I could go on.

Think about it…all this time I was holding on to something, afraid to invest in something better. Think of the months I’ve spent wasting time and being unproductive.

What Holds You Back?

Back to my original question? What else am I holding on to that I should let go of and get something better? What about you?

I’d love your comments on this article and please share it with others.

Republished by permission. Original here.

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, “Sick and Tired Of Being Held Back in Your Business? Read This” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Huh? Caterpillar Battling Small Coffee Shop Over Use of the Word “Cat”

Monday, June 17th, 2019

Caterpillar Battling Small Coffee Shop Over Use of Cat in Trademark Infringement Example

When a multi-national corporation generating $54 billion (2018) goes after small business owners scratching out $150,000 for trademark infringement, it makes you wonder.

This is the case being played out between Caterpillar (the multi-national) and Cat & Cloud (the small business). The reason it is getting so much attention is because Caterpillar is the world’s largest construction equipment manufacturer. And Cat & Cloud is a coffee shop in Santa Cruz, CA.

So what is the infringement and what do coffee shops and construction equipment have in common? According to the owners of Cat & Cloud, Caterpillar has, “… embarked on a concentrated effort to cancel the registered trademarks of several small businesses that use the word “cat” in their names.”

It is important to note Caterpillar is also known as CAT and it is a registered trademark. Considering the U.S. is currently battling China on intellectual property infringement, the issue is no laughing matter.

However, when you see the logo for Cat & Cloud, the last thing on most anyone’s mind is heavy construction equipment or the Caterpillar’s CAT logo. But this is a moot point, because this small business has to respond to the allegations. And as a small business, it is an expense they can ill afford. So far Cat & Cloud has spent $10,000 on legal fees.

To that end, the owners of the coffee shop have started a GoFundMe campaign to raise the money they need.

The Specifics of this Trademark Infringement Example

Caterpillar is looking to cancel the trademark registration of the CAT & CLOUD brand based on “likelihood of confusion.” This is an actual term for the basis for trademark infringement.

Caterpillar is alleging the Cat & Cloud logo on clothing and footwear is confusingly similar in the market place.

According to a statement posted on FastCompany, Caterpillar said, “We are not suing Cat & Cloud, not targeting a small business and not focused on Cat & Cloud’s primary interest: coffee. We’ve simply asked the U.S. Trademark Office to remove Cat & Cloud’s trademark registration on footwear and apparel only, products for which Caterpillar has longstanding trademarks and a considerable business. We hope to resolve this issue quickly.”

To be fair, Caterpillar has been using this trademark for decades, so it has the right to defend itself. The company is standing firm, insisting customers are likely to confuse the Caterpillar brand with the source of Cat & Cloud’s coffee-centric merchandise.

Beyond the letters C-A-T, there doesn’t appear to be any similarity. But that is for the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to decide.

Lesson for Small Businesses

When you are ready to trademark your brand, make sure to conduct a thorough search to ensure no one else is using it. This is a lengthy process, but one which requires due diligence so you won’t get sued later on.

But as the case with the Caterpillar and Cat & Cloud trademark infringement example illustrates, the perceived similarity can be subjective. And it can lead to a costly legal proceeding, which can put a small business out of business.

Image: Cat & Cloud

This article, “Huh? Caterpillar Battling Small Coffee Shop Over Use of the Word “Cat”” was first published on Small Business Trends

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