If you have a website, you have most likely heard the term SEO (search engine optimization). SEO is not just a buzzword. It is a relevant step in helping to increase the amount of traffic to your website. Proper SEO best practices should be followed at every stage of your website development – from the content of your web pages and blog articles to the insertion of images and other media.
Have you set your business goals for 2016 yet? Towards the end of the year, millions of people decide to set New Year’s resolutions, yet only a fraction of these people actually follow through with their plans. Once the new year begins, it is easy to get swept back into your busy schedule. Many people end up forgetting about their resolutions or giving up on them after a couple of weeks.
Time management is crucial to the productivity of any business – even when you are self-employed or starting your own business. One of the biggest complaints from managers and bosses is that their workforce is not as productive as they would like.
When you decide to take the leap and go into business for yourself, you will be faced with many challenges. There is no one around to say no to you or to force you to complete tasks on time. If you decide to become your own boss, you really need to act like a boss. Treat yourself the way that you would treat an employee.
What should you do when your online sales are stagnating? If you have been having difficulty attracting new customers or generating new sales leads, a web funnel could be the solution you are looking for. Funnels include a combination of landing pages, online offers, and email auto-responders to “funnel” your potential customers towards the purchase of a product or service.
Learn more about these funnels and how you can use them to increase your online sales.
The old phrase “the customer is always right” is a staple of quality customer service. Without customers, you would not have a business. Even when you know the customer is not completely in the right, you still need to maintain the mindset that they are. This is simply a part of quality customer service; though, there is more to customer relations than dealing with complaints.
Customers can also provide your business with praise, advice, or constructive criticism. You can use these comments to improve your product or service. In the past, consumers would have to send letters or call a 1-800 number. Thanks to the power of the internet, consumers can now connect directly with businesses using various social media platforms, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Google Plus. Has social media become the new face of quality customer service?
Social media can be a powerful resource for connecting and engaging with customers. You can provide them with additional details about your product services and other useful information. You just need to make sure that you understand how to interact with your customers using social media platforms.
Here are some of the best tips and suggestions for commenting and responding to your customers or clients on social media.
Social media offers a unique challenge. You have probably heard of at least one story where a business has provided a negative response to a customer – who in turn shares that response with everyone they know. Within minutes, anything that you say to a customer could be viewed by thousands of other people.
You should always use the mindset that anything you share is available to the public. Even when you send a customer a direct message, they could choose to share this with others or make it public.
Five to ten years ago, most entrepreneurs would tell you that a business without a website is not a modern business. Now, the same is being said about social media. You need to be active on social media. Not only to respond to customers and provide them with useful information but to increase your online presence and reach new potential customers.
There are almost a dozen different popular social media platforms to choose from. You do not need to setup an account with every platform, but you should remain active on least a couple of the most popular sites. If nothing else, create a Facebook page for your business. Earlier this year, Facebook finally surpassed 1 billion active users.
This does not mean that Facebook is your only option. If you want to engage with a younger audience, you may want to consider using Tumblr, Twitter, or Instagram. Especially if you share a lot of photos of projects, services, and products. For a business that is geared more towards technology, Google Plus has a user base that is predominately comprised of people interested in technology and gadgets.
Your social media activity is a major part of delivering quality customer service. Once you have your social media account setup, you need to treat your business profile as an extension of your customer service department. Even if your business is a one-person operation, keep your personal profile separate from your business profile. Anything that you share, from your business profile, could be viewed and re-shared by your customers.
Always take a pause before posting on social media to maintain quality customer service. Ask yourself some of the following questions before posting:
If you do not think that the post offers any benefit to your customers, then you have no reason to post it. The main takeaway here is that you need to be careful about what you post. Remember that your social media profile is part of quality customer service.
Most social media platforms allow you to receive email notifications. Double check the privacy and notification settings on your social media profile and ensure you are receiving notifications whenever a customer shares or comments on one of your posts.
Try to make the effort to check your social media account early in the day. Perhaps after checking your morning emails, take a few minutes to browse your social media profile and look for any new activity.
Whenever you respond to a message or comment on social media, use the right tone of voice. The way you construct your message can go a long way towards keeping your customer happy.
The first step, in determining the tone to use, is to look at the tone of the initial message. Decide on the tone that you should use by looking at the tone your customer uses. Here are a few general rules to deciding on the right style to use when responding to customers on social media:
If you create a social media profile for your business, then this profile is a reflection of your business. You should consider any messages or posts that you send as public information – even if you share a direct message with a customer. You need to think of your social media profile as part of your business and as a major component of quality customer service.
Hopefully, these tips will help. But if you need any further advice, I am always available to answer your questions or concerns. Feel free to leave a comment or take a look at some of my other useful posts for businesses.
Common sense is a funny phrase. If it is a sense that is supposedly common, then why do so many people lack this sense? Part of the problem is that many of us are simply too busy. We end up overlooking things that would otherwise be considered common sense. This is especially true when you are trying to run your own online business. Sometimes you need to take a pause and look at the big picture. This includes reviewing tips and suggestions that you may have known at one point but been too busy to consider.
To help you out here are 5 common sense tips for growing your online business.
Social media can be one of the biggest tools for promoting your brand, attracting new customers or clients, and keeping your existing customers. Whether you use Facebook, Google Plus, or Twitter, listen to what your customers are saying on social media. People are not afraid to give you their honest opinion about your online business.
Do not just listen to the praise or the thanks that customers give. You should also pay attention to negative comments and any questions that your customers post. Really listen to what your customers have to say because without these customers you will not have a business.
As a side note, be careful when responding to customers on social media. Never take a defensive stance towards a comment. If you disagree with a comment the best response you can give is no response at all.
Everyone knows that networking is a key part of running a business. This is true whether you are running an online business or a brick and mortar shop, yet not enough business owners place a focus on networking. Using social media and the traditional go-to networking platform – LinkedIn, you can connect with other like-minded individuals. This could include other online businesses within your niche or people that operate within the same sphere as your business. For example, if you run a self-help website, it could be useful to connect with people that work in the self-help business.
Networking is about more than creating potential sales leads. It is also about meeting people with knowledge that could be beneficial to you. The connections you make could be the difference that helps you truly grow your online business. Whether you need to outsource work to keep customers, seek advice from other business owners, or possibly gain a few sales leads, networking is able to help your online business in many different ways.
This next common sense tip for growing your online business is something that you have probably heard thousands of time – time is money. The reason you hear this so often is because it is true. When you work for yourself, it is easy to get distracted or not prioritize your time efficiently.
Not only should you pay attention the amount of time you spend on a project or task, it is also important to avoid spending too much time on your business. If you devote too much of your time to your online business, you run the risk of stretching yourself too thin. You may end up making mistakes or unsound business decisions. Instead of working from sun-up to sundown, create a work schedule. Set your own hours and try to stick to them.
You can attempt to make a better product than your competition, but this may not really help you stand out from the competition. The chances are that if your product is better it may also cost more. Sometimes customers will simply choose the most affordable option. Instead of focusing on making a product or service, try to make something different from the products or services offered by your competition.
Whenever you are developing a product or service, instead of asking yourself, “how can I make this better?”, ask yourself, “how can I make this different?”. Offering something different from your competition is one of the greatest ways to stand out and attract new customers. This becomes more important when your online business is focused on a large market with high competition.
The final common sense tip that many people forget – do not be afraid to ask for help. This tip goes back to the networking suggestion. If you have a group of people that understand your online business, you have resources available to help you out. You should never be afraid to ask someone for help. Whether you need help determining if you are making the right decisions or you need help overcoming a complicated task, you will never be able to take care of absolutely everything on your own.
If you are interested in growing your online business and you would like some help, you are already in the right spot. In addition to asking for help from people that you connect with through social media or LinkedIn, feel free to ask me anything related to running and operating an online business. I would love to answer your questions. For further assistance, take a moment to learn more about my online webinars. Through these webinars, I offer business owners the opportunity to learn more about setting up a website for their online business and using online marketing to reach a larger audience.
Thanks for reading and remember to send me any questions that you have about running an online business.
As you begin setting up your business website, whether you are designing the website on your own or hiring a professional to handle the task, one of the decisions you need to make is what web pages to include on your site. You also need to think about the content that will go on those pages. These steps are among the most important parts of setting up your website.
Obviously, every website is going to have a homepage. This is where visitors will go when they first type in the URL of your website. This is the online “front door” of your business. First impressions go a long way, especially with a business website. You should make an effort to ensure your homepage represents your business. As soon as a visitor arrives on your homepage, they should have a good sense of what products or services you are offering.
Most websites will have more than just a homepage; though, there is a growing trend of building business websites that use a single page. This is often called an online business card. While this may provide an easy way to quickly throw a website together, it lacks the ability to include good search engine optimization. The size of your website is one of the factors used by search engines when determining search rankings.
Basically, you need more than just a homepage. Visitors will not want to have to scroll through an endless amount of content, in order to find what they are looking for. Here are some of the webpages that you will commonly find on business websites:
That is just a quick overview of some of the webpages that you may include on your website, but it is not necessarily your exact guideline. Before deciding on your final layout and website structure, you should brainstorm a list, which starts with a look at your competition.
Before you start creating webpages using WordPress or build a list to pass on to a website developer, you should take a look at your competition. Find three of your competitor’s websites. Explore their webpages and see what pages and functionality they use. See how their website is setup and the type of content that they prominently display. You should never to try imitate or copy your competition, but it is a good place to start – to gain a better understanding of the type of webpages and content to display.
After examining your competition, start building your list of webpages. You will need a homepage, a contact page, and probably an about page, but the rest of the layout is up to you. As mentioned, your homepage is the first thing that most visitors will see.
The contact and about pages are also standard for most business websites. Even if you display your contact information along your header or footer, you should still include a contact page. In fact, many search engines lower the ranking of a website if the contact information of a business is not within one or two clicks of the landing page. Your contact page may include a contact form, so that visitors can easily send you message, along with the rest of your contact information.
The about page provides a good spot for giving your visitors a little more information about your business. Explain why you started your business, what your goals are, what you bring to the table that your competition ignores, and any other details that help flesh out your brand.
The homepage, about page, and contact page are part of your core business website; however, you should not stop there. If you are selling a product or service, you should probably build a product or service page – whether or not you are selling your products and services online. Provide an overview of your products and services, offering details and preferably including images of your products or services. You should also try to include a “call to action” after every product or service listing. This could be a “buy now” button, if you are selling online, or a link to a contact form where potential customers can request additional information.
Gallery or portfolio page can also be useful, especially if you have a physical product or want to showcase the benefits of a service. For example, your landscaping business could include a portfolio page which includes pictures of your well-groomed lawns. An interior designer may showcase some of their past projects. Think about how you can use images to represent the benefits of using your product or service.
Another page that you may want to include on your business website is a testimonial page. Customer testimonials show potential customers that you are a bona fide business. Do not have any testimonials? One method of acquiring testimonials is to send customers a questionnaire, after they have made a purchase. This questionnaire could include basic input, including comments about the product or service purchased, as well as a checkbox that customers can mark to give you permission to use their input in a testimonial.
You could also reach out to customers and ask for a quote about why they were happy using your products or services. While these are both good options for gathering testimonials, never harass your customers or demand that they provide you with input that you can use on your website.
These are just a few steps that you may want to consider as you build your business website. Remember, your website needs to represent your business. A growing number of people rely on the internet for learning more about a business. Even if you operate a local business with walk-in customers, they may stop to look at your website before walking through your front door. Take the time to carefully plan out your online storefront, to match the brand you are creating for your business.
Building your own business website is not an overly complicated process, when you have the right tools and resources available to you. If at any time you feel overwhelmed with the process of setting up your website, there are many ways to seek help or find additional tips. Browse some of my other blog articles for further insight into managing an online business website or learn more about community webinars – as part of the Web Presence Institute. Receive in-depth training, tips, and suggestions, from an experienced website designer and online marketing expert.
Even if you do not realize it, technology is a major part of any modern business. The use of office automation software and technology has completely changed the way many tasks are handled.
The most commonly used office automation technology is financial software for automating payroll, invoicing, and other finances. Though, there are many other ways that you can use technology to automate tasks. With the right software, you can improve productivity and streamline your daily business operations.
To explore the many ways that technology can free up time and save you money, you will need to evaluate your current business operations. Consider each department within your company and ask yourself, “which repetitive tasks eat up the most time?”
Look for ways that you can incorporate office automation software to handle common tasks. This could include automating targeted email campaigns or even inventory management.
Almost any task that you complete on the computer on a regular basis can be automated using special software or web-based applications. These applications can free up manpower, save costs, and eliminate the risk of human error. Here are a few examples of tasks that can easily be outsourced to your computer:
CRM, or customer relationship management, refers to tasks and procedures for keeping track of customers. This includes contact information, sending out newsletters or updates to customers, responding to customer inquiries, and automated responders. These are tasks that you may commonly perform in order to keep up with your customers and meet their demands. Using a CRM office automation application, you can automate the majority of your customer relationship tasks.
Record keeping is another area where office automation is useful. From inventory management to payroll, all of your bookkeeping should be handled electronically. You can save time handling payroll, quarterly taxes, and all of your business finances.
Along with office automation software for record keeping, with an automated backup service, you can ensure you always have duplicates of any invoices or other records. You will never have to worry about losing an important document, receipt, or other file.
While streamlining finances and customer relations are great reasons to use office automation technology to improve your business, one of the greatest examples of office automation in action is using software for your marketing strategies.
Targeted email campaigns, social media posting, and other marketing tasks can be automated with easy-to-use office automation software. When you are dealing with hundreds of emails, in a targeted email campaign, you need some type of software to manage contact lists, subscribers, and the sending of mass emails. Set an automated schedule to send out newsletters, sales information, and social media posts.
Using office automation for marketing also provides you with analytics. Track the success of your marketing efforts, examine the statistics about your email campaigns or the number of people that have interacted with your social media postings.
Technology is everywhere, there is no getting around it. If you want to cut down on marketing costs, consider using some form of office automation software. Examine your current business practices and evaluate which tasks could be completed, or at least streamlined, by using available technology. Consider the amount of time that you or your employees spend on different tasks and then find the right office automation software.
Look into different software that is designed to provide specific office automation services, including marketing solutions, bookkeeping, and any other business operations.
Many of these office automation services or applications have a monthly fee or a larger one-time fee. When you consider the number of hours that you can free up, office automation is almost always a good idea.
Using technology for business office automation is not a new concept. With every new development in technology, businesses look for ways to cut costs, free up manpower, and reduce the risk of human error. We may even get to the point where 99% percent of your business is automated using computers, but for now – make an effort to find office automation software for your most time-consuming tasks.