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Friday Small Business Roundup: Niche Markets and More

May 17th, 2013 ::

Did your small business have reason to celebrate on Mother’s Day? If you’re marketing to moms right, you did–check out Maria Valdez Haubrich’s post When It Comes to Social Media, Mom Just Can’t Get Enough, for tips on what moms want.

Wondering how to attract more restaurant customers? Read Karen Axelton’s tip in 1 Simple Step That Can Make More People Eat at Your Restaurant.

Do You Need to Hire an IT Expert? Rieva Lesonsky shares the reasons you might want to add an IT person to your team.

No matter who you’re hiring, read Rieva Lesonsky’s post on Secrets to Conducting a Successful Job Interview first.

What You Need to Know About Hispanic Consumers, by Rieva Lesonsky, will give you the scoop on an increasingly important market.

Speaking of niche markets, check out Monika Jansen’s post 7 Reasons Being Niche Will Improve Your Small Business’s Marketing Strategy.

Then improve your business blog by reading–and acting on — The Do’s and Don’ts of a Successful Guest Blogger Program, by Monika Jansen.

Last, but not least, get better results from your content marketing strategy. Monika Jansen shows you how in 7 Types of Content That Search Engines Love.

7 Types of Content That Search Engines Love

May 13th, 2013 ::

LoveOne of my favorite sources of marketing information is MarketingProfs – I learn so much from them. In a recent post, they wrote about the types of content that Google loves the most. I went through the list and pulled out the top 7 types that I thought were most relevant for small businesses – and that you are probably already doing.

Here are the 7 types of content that search engines like and you should be creating (if you’re not already):

1 – Interviews

Search engines like interviews for 4 main reasons: they get read, they get backlinks from the interviewee (bonus if the persons is an expert), backlinks are from trusted sites, and the content is unique.

You don’t need to conduct interviews in person unless you want to tape it and turn it into a video. I conduct most of my interviews via phone, but you can do them via email, too.

2 – Lists

Lists are usually fun, easy to scan, and easy to read – and readers love them. Search engines like them as long as the content is unique, and – bonus for you – they can be really easy to write.  You can do lists of your favorite industry books or blogs, best airports for business travelers, best pieces of advice you ever got, top industry best practices – you get the idea.

3 – Resource Centers

Creating a resource center on your website is a new content marketing trend for small businesses.  Think of it as a library of your content – ebooks, top blog posts by category, products, services, FAQs, etc. Because people share them, link to them, and spend time on them, search engines love them.

4 – Social

Did you know that Twitter, Facebook, and other social media networks are pulled up when you conduct a search? So, yes, the quality of the content you post on your social media accounts – and the amount of interaction it gets – helps boost your search rankings.

5 – Case Studies

Because case studies built around client success stories are interesting, people read them and share them. Your customers will link back to and share your blog posts, all of which is activity search engines really like – but you know that by now, don’t you?

6 – Predictions

You know the blog posts and articles that always come out around the new year that list industry predictions? People love them, read them, comment on them, and share them, so they tend to great search rankings.

7 – User-Generated Content

Search engines love user-generated content, whether it’s blog posts, images, or videos. Hold a contest that requires entrants to submit original content; if you allow others to comment on and vote for submissions, search engines will go crazy for all of the interaction.

Have you created content that showed up in the top of search results? What drove so much interaction?

Image courtesy of 123rf.com

Friday Small Business Roundup: Hiring Tips and More

May 10th, 2013 ::

Is your business seeking to hire female tech employees? Read Maria Valdez Haubrich’s post The Secret to Hiring Women Tech Employees: Get Virtual first.

Whatever type of worker you’re looking to hire, read The First Step to Finding the Perfect Employee by Rieva Lesonsky before you post that want ad.

Did you know radio can still be one of the most effective ad venues around? Read Karen Axelton’s Turn It Up: Why Radio Advertising Can Deliver for Small Business to learn why.

New to Twitter? Get the basics in Monika Jansen’s post Twitter 101: The Do’s and Don’ts When Getting Started.

Is your industry, well, kind of boring? No worries: Read 5 Marketing Tricks to Turn a Boring Business Into a Fun One, by Monika Jansen, and liven it up.

Web.com Small Business Tip of the Day: Women Breadwinners Call the Shots

May 6th, 2013 ::

Want to target your marketing efforts to the breadwinner in the family? According to The Luxury Institute’s recent survey, women are not only the CEOs of their families, but 41 percent of women included in the survey were also the family breadwinners, contributing more than 50 percent of the household income. However, despite the fact that these educated women are earning six-figure salaries, their top priority is still family. So how do you market to these highly educated, affluent women? Think about their busy schedules and high standards. Make sure your website is attractive, professional, easy to navigate and represented on social media. And finally, consider test marketing to this category to get some helpful feedback on what could be improved.

6 Top Myths of Social Media

May 6th, 2013 ::

mythsDespite the incredible amount of information out there on how to use social media for marketing, a few bad practices still linger. At best, following them makes you look like you’re new to social media, but at worst, you could get flagged for spam.

Here are the top 6 worst practices, or myths, in social media:

1 – You MUST be active on every social media network.

Well, sure, if you want to waste your time, go for it! But it’s highly doubtful your customers are active on every social network. Beyond Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, you really have to do your research to see if your audience uses Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, Vine, etc. Some popular social media listening tools include Google Alerts and Social Mention.

2 – Automate all updates to save time.

The first rule of thumb when it comes to social media is to be social. Do you automate texts, emails, and phone calls to your friends? Of course not! You can’t have a conversation that way. You can automate certain things, like blog posts and major news releases to go out, but otherwise, treat social media like a cocktail party and be present.

3 – Auto-DM new Twitter followers.

Automatically sending your new Twitter followers a direct message (DM) is such an impersonal, spammy practice that it will leave a negative impression on your followers and make you look like you have no clue what you’re doing. Instead, send them a short, public note around your area of interest: “@newfollower Thanks for the follow! What aspect of social media are you most frustrated by?”

4 – Auto-publish the same content on every social network.

Again, this will make you look like you don’t know what you’re doing, because every social network is different. It’s OK to tweet and pin a few times a day, but it’s not OK to post on Facebook or LinkedIn a few times a day.

5 – Respond to all negative comments.

While it is generally a good idea to respond to negative comments in order to fix a situation, remember that some people are just mean. Instead of getting into a virtual shouting match, do what you can to address the complaint, and then leave it. That person will only look worse, while you’ll look better for taking the high ground.

6 – Just wing it.

If you want to actually generate results, you can’t “wing” social media. You need to have a plan. For starters, you need to know what content you will post where and how often. If you want to learn more, check out one of my recent blog posts, The Online Marketing Project, Part 2.

What other social media practices make businesses look like they don’t know what they’re doing?

Image courtesy of lifehappens.org

Showrooming, Meet Webrooming

May 6th, 2013 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

What do customers want from their retail experiences today? Well, if your business includes both an ecommerce site and a physical location, then you’re one step ahead of the game. A new study from Accenture found what customers want most is the ability to shop anytime, any way and anywhere they want to—so the more options you can offer, the better.

Some 89 percent of consumers in The Accenture Seamless Retail Study say it’s important for retailers to let them shop for products however is most convenient for them. But retailers still have a way to go to accomplish this goal. While 94 percent say shopping in-store is easy, and 74 percent say online shopping is easy, just 26 percent say it’s easy to shop on a mobile phone.

While online shopping is growing, and 43 percent of respondents say they plan to shop more online in the future, it’s not necessarily growing at the expense of in-store shopping. In fact, although 73 percent of shoppers engage in showrooming (examining products in a retail store and then buying them online), a whopping 88 percent participate in “webrooming”—looking at products online and then heading to a physical store to make the purchase.

Regardless of their original shopping touchpoint – in-store, online or mobile – consumers expect their interaction with retailers to be a customized, uncomplicated and instantaneous experience, according to the survey. The research also indicates that consistency weighs heavily on the consumer experience. For example, 73 percent of consumers expect a retailer’s online pricing to be the same as its in-store pricing, and 61 percent expect a retailer’s online promotions to be the same as its in-store promotions.

The biggest takeaway from the survey: Consumers expect the same pricing, promotions and products in your physical store and your ecommerce site. They also expect the same level of service and ease of use in both places.

How important is speed to online and offline shoppers? Well, that depends:

  • 25 percent would wait up to 2 weeks to get the product if it means they get free shipping.
  • 24 percent say a same-day delivery option is important.
  • Of those, 30 percent will pay $5 to $10, and 19 percent will pay $11 to $20, for same-day delivery.

Asked what they would do if a store had a product they wanted but it was after business hours, 39 percent would wait for the store to open and buy it there; 36 percent would buy it online from the same retailer; and 22 percent would buy it elsewhere online.

What type of advertising influences retail shoppers? Physical and email coupons and offers ranked number-one, cited by 56 percent of respondents. Almost half (49 percent) were influenced by in-store offers. The least effective ads were online popup or banner ads, with 69 and 62 percent respectively saying these ads “never” influence what they buy.

What’s the lesson from this research? Far from being a drain on an ecommerce business, a physical store is still a “crucial asset” in differentiating your business from purely online retailers, the report contends. If you have both online and physical locations, the key is to make sure your brand and your shopping experience are consistent at every stage of the purchase process, and every place the customer might encounter it.

Image by Flickr user lululemon athletica (Creative Commons)

 

 

Web.com Small Business Tip of the Day: What Are Your Customers Doing Online?

May 3rd, 2013 ::

What are your customers doing online? The answer is most likely social media, according to a new survey from Experian Marketing Services, which also showed five minutes of every hour is spent on shopping. A great deal of this social networking and shopping is happening on consumers’ mobile devices, which brings up the question, how are your online marketing efforts doing? Is your business well-represented on local search sites? How does your website look on a smartphone? Are you using social media to announce new products, promote daily specials and communicate with your customer? The truth is there’s probably more you could be doing, so make it a point to find out what you don’t know about online marketing and get your business on the right track.

What Kind of Hire Is Right for Your Business?

May 3rd, 2013 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

Do you need more help in your growing small business? That’s a nice problem to have. If you’re considering hiring someone to handle some of your workload, the first step is considering what kind of hire will fit best with your needs. Your options aren’t limited to full-time, permanent employees. Here are some possibilities and the pros and cons of each.

Permanent, full-time workers

Pros: Permanent employees tend to be more loyal because they typically receive benefits and perceive their jobs as having more opportunities for advancement. Time and money spent in training this type of employee in your processes and systems is typically well spent since they’ll be around for the long haul.

Cons: If you want to compete with bigger companies for permanent, full-time workers, you will need to offer benefits such as health insurance, 401(k) plans and paid time off. The cost of benefits can add as much as 20 to 30 percent to a worker’s salary, making full-time employees expensive.

Part-time workers

Pros: Part-time workers can be a great solution if you don’t need or can’t afford a full-time employee. Because many part-time workers only want to work nights or weekend hours, they can enable you to fill time slots that traditional 9-to-5 employees don’t want. You typically won’t need to offer benefits, either, further saving on costs.

Cons: Because they often have busy schedules outside work (that’s why they want to work part-time), some part-time workers can be unreliable. They may lack the dedication and skills you need.

Temporary workers

Pros: Temporary workers are a good option to handle busy seasons in your company without having to staff up or down. You can get temporary workers on board quickly, and you don’t have to deal with payroll or legal issues—the temporary agency handles all that.

Cons: It still takes time to get temporary workers up to speed on your company’s systems and procedures, and they typically won’t be as committed as actual employees.

Outsourced contractors

Pros: By using outside contractors to handle projects in your business, you can gain access to very skilled workers without having to pay benefits or invest in training. As with temporary workers, you can use contractors to staff up or down as needed quickly.

Cons: “Independent” contractors means just that—you can’t control how the contractors work, and if they get a bigger project, they may put yours on the back burner. An unreliable or unresponsive contractor can leave you in the lurch.

None of these options is inherently better or worse than the other—it’s simply a matter of weighing the pros and cons for your specific situation and needs.

Image by Flickr user StockMonkeys.com (Creative Commons)

 

 

Web.com Small Business Tip of the Day: Are Big Trade Show Events Worth It?

May 2nd, 2013 ::

Times are definitely changing. Remember the days of setting up a booth at a big trade show to market your business and find vendors?  A new study by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council and Exhibit & Event Marketers Association (E2MA) says marketers find it more and more challenging to measure ROI from big events. While marketers still find value in events, 40 percent of respondents are cutting back on big trade shows in favor of more targeted events, while 44 percent are choosing to host their own events. If you’re not sure whether a trade show or event is worth it, ask the event organizers for any analytics available and talk to previous attendees and exhibitors for their feedback.

 

Who Is Using Social Media, and Where Are They?

May 2nd, 2013 ::

Social media based on demographicsPew Internet released a short but incredibly useful report earlier this year called The Demographics of Social Media Users – 2012. While it’s imperative to do your own research to uncover where your customers are, use these stats as a general guideline as you plan and refine your social media marketing strategy.

Who is using social media?

By gender, race, and geography

Women tend to use social media a bit more than men – 71% vs. 62% – and Hispanics use social media slightly more than blacks and whites, clocking in at 72% (68% of blacks and 65% of whites use social media). Urbanites and suburbanites are on social media in almost equal numbers (70% vs. 67%), while 61% of those who reside in rural areas use social media.

By age

It comes as absolutely no surprise that the younger you are, the more likely you are to use social media. A full 83% of those between 18 and 29 use social media, while only 32% of those over 65 use it.

By education and income

When you look at social media usage based on education and household income, there is very little difference in usage rates. In fact, the biggest users had some college and the lowest household incomes. I am curious: Do those two stats taken together represent college and university students? Are they the biggest social media users overall? Unfortunately, the study doesn’t say.

What social media sites do they use?

In sum, this study confirms what we already pretty much know: Facebook is king, and young adults are on social media a lot.

  • Facebook: 67% use Facebook; the biggest users are young women, ages 18-29.
  • Twitter: 16% use Twitter; the biggest users are also ages 18-29, live in an urban area and tend to be African-American.
  • Pinterest: 15% use Pinterest; users tend to be white adult women under 50 with some college education.
  • Instagram: 13% use Instagram; again, it’s popular with young adults ages 18-29, but Instagram tends to be used the most by African-Americans, Latinos, and women who live in an urban area.
  • Tumblr: The smallest user base (with 6%) is used mostly by those ages 18-29.

Will these statistics change the way you use social media?

Image courtesy of 123rf.com



 
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