Posts Tagged ‘Internet’


Work Your Biz Wednesday: Online is Where It Is At

Here are 6 tips that will make you look like a rockstar when promoting your small business online from the Small Biz Lady, Melinda Emerson.


Nextiva Tuesday Tip: The Truth About Negative Online Reviews

?????????????????????????????Are you in denial about negative online reviews of your business? I know plenty of small business owners who don’t list their companies on review sites like Yelp! Others are listed, but never bother to check their listing to see what kinds of reviews their businesses are getting.

While I can understand the impulse to hide your head in the sand when it comes to online reviews, here are four reasons why playing ostrich isn’t a good thing.

  1. Your potential customers are reading online reviews, so you should be, too. A whopping 79 percent of U.S. adult Internet users check online reviews sometimes or always before they buy something, a survey by YouGov reports. Just 7 percent never do. Online reviews have become essential to both online and offline shoppers, so if you aren’t checking them, you’re in the dark about how customers view your business.
  2. The reality probably isn’t as bad as you fear it is. Yes, we’ve all heard horror stories about bad reviews going viral. However, the YouGov survey says Internet users are far more likely to post good or mixed reviews than negative ones. Just 21 percent say they’ve ever left a bad review, compared to 54 percent who have left a good one and 59 percent who have left a mixed one.
  3. Even the negative reviewers aren’t out to get you. Tales of vengeful competitors posting bad reviews of small businesses get a lot of attention in the media. In reality, though, 88 percent of reviewers who write bad reviews do so to prevent other customers from having a bad experience, not out of vengeance. About one-fourth leave bad reviews to help get over their anger, while 21 percent do so hoping the business will take steps to remedy the problem they’re complaining about.
  4. Which leads to the fourth and most important reason not to ignore negative reviews: Bad reviews are a valuable tool for growing your business. Negative reviews show you what you’re doing wrong (or what the customer perceives as wrong, which is pretty much the same thing). They offer a chance to make it right and then share what you’ve done with the world. If you can convince an unsatisfied customer you care about their experience and you’ve got their best interests at heart, you just might earn a customer for life—one who will evangelize your business to their friends, family and online connections.

Did you ever think so many positive things could come out of one negative online review?


Work Your Biz Wednesday: How to Develop an App for your Small Business

Use the mobile web to develop your small business! Learn how with these 5 tips from The Small Biz Lady, Melinda Emerson.


Work Your Biz Wednesday: How to Have an Impact with Your Blog

Do you write a blog for your small business? In this week's Work Your Biz Wednesday video, Melinda Emerson, The Small Biz Lady, has some tips on how to ensure your blog is making a big impact.


The Hottest Technologies to Watch in 2014

sparkling_2014_lightsWhat are the hottest technologies your company should know about next year? Here is my watch list for 2014:

Rapporative: People buy from who they know, like and trust. Form a relationship with your prospects and customers by integrating their social media posts inside your email. How to use it: When you receive an email from a prospect, you now see their latest social media posts attached. This is a fantastic time to comment on them to further your relationship.

Bitcoin: This internet currency is getting a lot of press this year. It uses peer-to-peer computer technology to operate with no central banks. The managing of these transactions and the issuing of bitcoins is carried out by the an Internet network. How to use it: Is it time for your company to accept this currency to gain an advantage over your competitors?

Mobile wallet: Is this finally the year for the customer to leave their wallet at home? With solutions like Coin, it is sure to make an impact. This new product allows consumers to program all your credit cards into one payment size card. The device must be near your smartphone or it locks! How to use it: Ensure your company accepts mobile wallet solutions at all brick and mortar locations.

Geofencing: When customers are searching for something on their phone, how does the small business get them to buy from their company? One answer is geofencing that uses GPS to set a virtual perimeter for a given geographic area. How to use it: Generate a fence around your store or a particular location. When the consumer enters the "fenced-in" area, a text or email with a special offer is pushed to the customer's phone with their permission.

Mobile check out: Apple pioneered mobile checkout from a sales person’s smart phone. Gone are the days of waiting in a cash register line. How to use it: Equip your staff with these devices and sales will increase as a result of a closer bond with the customer.

3D printing: Instant delivery of physical products are becoming a reality. If consumer 3D printer sales continue to double over the next two years, the download market could reach 73M units for 2015. Based on research conducted by 3Dagogo, an online marketplace for 3D designs, 70% of all 3D designs found online actually cause failed prints due to design flaws. How to use it: Can your company deliver its products through 3D printing?

Connected cars: Google’s self-driving car is not yet a reality, but with the Internet everywhere, why not in your car?  Auto makers are starting to make cars their own hot spot so they can receive data and communicate with the driver’s hand held devices. Leading auto companies Audi, BMW, and Mercedes are starting to make it standard in their cars. How to use it: What solutions does your company offer that should be accessed from the car?

The quantified self: Consumers are checking their own blood pressure, pulse and steps on mobile devices. Forty percent of smartphone users want their phone to log all of their physical activities and 56 percent would like to monitor their blood pressure and pulse using a ring. Popular wearables are currently available from Nike and Fitbit. How to use it: What solutions does your company offer should be monitored from smartphones?

Faster Wi-Fi: The average consumer household today has 6 devices that connect to the Internet. As more devices become connected, the burden on the existing Wi-Fi networks will begin to show strain. The next generation of the wireless networking standard called 5G WiFi, or 802.11ac will offer faster speeds making it more capable of handling the spiking demand for connectivity. How to use it: What solutions become more beneficial at higher Wi-Fi speeds? What else do you sell that can be connected to the Internet?

What would you add?


How to Get to the Top of the Search Rankings

Every small business owner wants to be number one. This remains the same when it comes to being listed in organic search engine rankings. They not only want to be on the first page, but they want to be listed in the #1 position. Most search engine experts believe that being listed first is important. Studies from online ad network Chitika show that the top listing in Google's organic search results receives 33% of the traffic. Number 2 gets 18%. The top 5 spots get 75% of all the traffic. In fact, according to this study, 91% of Google’s traffic is on page one of the search results.

For every business, search rankings are all about relevant content and strong authority on a given subject area for targeted visitors. Here is how to come out on top when it comes to organic search results:

  1. Use lists. People and search engines love lists. For example, “7 Ways To…” should list relevant content that ties to the company’s brand and has many links to relevant sources. Sharing the “link love” to highly respected sites will give the company’s web site a boost.
  2. Interview industry experts. This will get their well searched name in a ranked result from the company’s site. As a result, this will make the site more findable.
  3. Make it easy to share. Include a share widget on each page of the website. It’s an ideal way to increase traffic and relevant links. Share content from the company’s website through all active social media platforms.
  4. Check web analytics. Through Google Analytics, find out how unique visitors find the company’s site and where they come from. Test new content and recheck.
  5. Ask for links. Email reputable industry sources and ask to exchange links. Focus on the company’s competition. This can easily be found by searching for link: http://theirwebsite.com within the search box.
  6. Write a guest post. Select sites that have relevant content and similar visitors to what the company needs. Alltop.com is an excellent resource to get started. Write an expert piece and link back to the company’s site.
  7. Tag the content.  Use standard tags such a meta description, title, and header. Grant Simmons, Director of SEO & Social Product at The Search Agency also recommends adding “new and necessary tags, OG for Facebook, Twitter Cards, and schema.org microdata formats…” 

How did your company get to the top?

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15 Social Media Mistakes You Are Making

Every small business knows that they need to utilize social media as part of their marketing plan. But in the process, they are making a lot of mistakes. Here are the most common ones and what to do about them:

  1. You are only selling your “stuff”. You communicate only your product offers on social media. You are constantly asking people to buy instead of establishing a relationship with them first.
  2. You are talking at people, not with them. You are not having two way conversations with people, but only broadcasting your message. A good indication that this is happening is no one ever responds to what you post.
  3. You are talking to the wrong people. You have no strategy for your social media. You talk to anyone that will talk to you. This is because you may have outsourced it to any GenY-er you can find instead of someone with specific experience.
  4. You ask others to retweet or share your content, but never talk to them any other times. The only time you communicate with potential partners is to ask them to share your stuff. You should always ask how you can help them before asking for favor.
  5. You broadcast the same message across all the channels. You need to tailor your message for each specific social media channel. For example, the form of any marketing message needs to be different on Facebook vs. Twitter.
  6. You focus on numbers not quality. You are obsessed with the number of followers instead of the quality of their interaction with your company.
  7. Posting infrequently or irregularly. No one knows when you will show up on social media. You need to have a regular schedule to show dependability and consistency of your message.
  8. Not posting the same things multiple times during the day or week. Most social media posts have a short shelf life (Twitter -15 minutes, Facebook- 60 minutes). Everyone is not always on social media so things need to be posted multiple times.
  9. Not monitoring what people are saying about your company. Reputation is your biggest marketing weapon. Customers now place more trust in online reviews than advertisements. You need to know what everyone is saying about you!
  10. You have no company social media policy.  Can employees check their social media accounts at work? Can they post on behalf of the company? There is no right or wrong answer, but there should be a specific policy.
  11. A photo that does not reflect your brand. Many companies just use there logo, but what could be a better representation of your brand?
  12. You delete negative comments. On social media, this is a big mistake. Instead, respond with empathy and provide a solution.
  13. You send automated direct messages to followers. Another big mistake since most social media users consider this spam. Only send direct messages that are customized for the person you are connecting with.
  14. Using too many hashtags. This is a good tool to become part of a conversation, but not every tweet or Facebook post needs to have a #newhashtag on it! #OMGsocialmediamistakes
  15. Not leaving enough space for other people to retweet you. Make it easy for people to retweet you by leaving room for their Twitter handle and the letters RT. Don’t use the full 140 characters in your original tweet since this will force them to delete some of your message.

‚ÄčCommon-Social-Media-Mistakes-Businessses-Make


How to Respond to a Negative Online Review

Imagine this scenario: You own a small ice cream shop in the middle of a downtown district. You’ve been in business for about a year and things are going well, until one day you notice a negative online review of your store. Immediately your heart sinks, your palms start to sweat and your heartbeat soars. You are livid and want to respond in the most negative way possible.

“This is a normal way to feel,” says Jason McDonald, director of JM Internet Group, a social media and SEO consulting company in Fremont, Calif. “You put your heart and soul into your business; when someone says something negative about your business, it can feel as bad as someone telling you that you have an ugly baby. It is very personal.”

Before reaching for your keyboard, take note of McDonald’s tips on how to respond to a negative online review.

Take the emotion out of it

It doesn’t pay to show a public display of anger when you receive negative press online, because, as McDonald points out, your comments are on display for the world to see.

“Remember that you aren’t only talking to the person who gave you the bad review, you are talking to the dozens of other people who are reading your response,” he says. “You always want to take the high ground.”

Can’t calm down? Take some time. You don’t need to respond right away. Talk to a friend about how you are feeling, go for a walk or engage in another work task to take your mind off of the review. Go back and respond when you feel calm and collected.

Create a proactive review plan

Now that you’ve responded to the negative review, it’s time to try to prevent future bad reviews from happening at all. McDonald recommends small business owners establish a proactive review strategy that includes following up with happy customers a few days (or hours) after their purchase.

“Ask every one of your happy customers to write a positive review of your business online,” he suggests. “Some of them will and those comments will help bolster your status online with potential customers.” 

negative review


7 Tips for Protecting Your Online Business Assets

typingSome of the most valuable assets that any business has are their customer base and business content.  And now, businesses utilize technology for virtually every aspect of running their business, including everything from how they interact with their customers to how they present information regarding their products and service offerings.

For example, businesses utilize technology to send out their newsletters and mailing lists from companies like Constant Contact.  They share their data in “the cloud” via technology from companies like Dropbox or Hightail. They manage their websites from other companies’ servers like GoDaddy.  They run their blogs from websites like WordPress. They communicate with their customer bases via all kinds of social media websites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

So, as you can see, technologies are used to manage all facets of business. This is great in terms of convenience, efficiency and even for overhead. But, on the flip side, the issue is that businesses are entrusting their most important business assets, their customer base and business content, to other businesses. And as such, they are reliant upon these technologies and companies to work in the way that they are supposed to.

But, this isn’t always the case.  I have seen companies work for years to build up their social media presence or email lists, only to have accounts get hacked or completely wiped out. And since they had to deal with another company’s technology and policies, they had no way to retrieve their content and connections.  I have seen tons of companies go out of business or have technological malfunctions that have cost those that had some aspect of their business handled by that company dearly.

Since it’s not practical to manage every single aspect of your business on your own with your own technology, here are some tips to help you protect your online business assets:

  1. Frequently download your email lists to your own computer or external hard drive (or both!), so that you have a backup in case anything happens to the site or technology that you use to manage your lists. I recommend doing this once a month at minimum, but if you get a lot of new additions to your list, this can be done at the end of each week, or two weeks, etc. as needed.  Schedule this on your calendar, so that you will never lose too many of your important contacts.
  2. Compile a complete listing of all of your social media connections and make sure to store this on your own computer or external hard drive, as well. Update it regularly, as you acquire new fans, friends and followers.
  3. Routinely back up your websites and blogs to your own computer or external hard drive.  I recommend doing this once a month too, but if you post more or less frequently, you can adjust your schedule as appropriate for your business. If you don’t know how to do a manual backup, there are great online resources that explain how to do this. Or you can hire someone to help, but the key here is to make sure that you own the computer or hard drive that contains the content.
  4. Write out a non-digital hard copy listing of all of your accounts, user names, passwords and the email addresses associated with each account.  Keep this in a secure location and try to write it out in a way that only you understand, so that if it is stolen, no one else can figure out what it is.  Questions that only you know the answer to work great, for example. Make sure to update this listing often, whenever you change passwords, email addresses, etc.
  5. For any important files that you have uploaded to data-sharing websites or “the cloud”, make sure that you download copies to your own computer or external hard drive too.  Schedule this at least once a month, but as often as necessary if you update your files a lot.
  6. Schedule regular downloads from your online financial accounts, like PayPal, depending on how frequently transactions are made. With so much fraud, you can’t do this too frequently and it can really help prevent any issues.
  7. Keep your own back up compilation lists of every article that you have written for your own sites, as well as those that you have written for others, in case you need to reference them, send them to other websites, the press, etc. Websites can remove old articles or move them around, so the web links that you have may not work anymore.

You put so much time and effort into building up your business, so don’t let a technology mishap or another company’s failures put your valuable business assets in jeopardy. Follow these tips and protect your business!

Do you have another tip for protecting your online business assets?  Please share it below.




 
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