Posts Tagged ‘Online tips’


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.


Nextiva Tuesday Tip: How to Encourage Online Reviews

Have you ever been in the mood for a certain type of food and hopped on Yelp to look for a new restaurant to try? Then you know that online ratings and reviews from customers are key to driving new customers to your business and growing your sales. The more reviews you have, the more trustworthy your business will appear to be. But too many small business owners aren’t doing all they can to get customers to post online reviews. As a result, they have few or no reviews and get passed over in favor of businesses with more feedback.

How can you encourage customers to leave reviews? Encourage is the key word here, because actively soliciting or requesting reviews is frowned on by review sites, and providing incentives such as discounts or freebies in exchange for reviews can get you in trouble. Try these steps instead:

  1. Give them a sign. Posting signage in your store, restaurant or office is a simple and subtle way to remind customers that your business is on review sites and that you’d love a review. For example, Yelp has downloadable “Find us on Yelp” banners you can print out as signage for your store window or point-of-sale counter.
  2. Provide postsale reminders. Your store receipts or restaurant checks could say: “Like us? Review us on [list the review sites where you have a presence].” An ecommerce company can send follow-up emails after the sale to make sure the customer was satisfied and include a reminder that your business is on review sites.
  3. Spread the word. Put icons for the review sites where you have a presence in your print marketing materials, on your website (you can use the downloadable Yelp banners there), in your email signature and anywhere else you can think of.
  4. Make it easy. Everyone’s more inclined to write a review if it’s not a big hassle, so if your site says, “Like us? Review us on Yelp,” make sure there’s a clickable link so they can do so in a minute.

Whatever you do about online reviews, there’s one big “don’t:” Don’t fake them or have friends and family write them because you’re worried you don’t have enough. Use the tips above to grow your online review status organically. 

onlinereview_849x399_21600


10 Actions to Avoid in 2014

This is the time of year that a lot of articles are written about what to do to get ready for 2014. Instead, this is a guide to the 10 actions to strictly avoid for next year:

  1. Avoid changing your strategy too quickly. All small business owners want to take action, but many times they make too many actions. It is critical not to change target customers, product release dates and employee compensation plans too often. It produces organizational whiplash!
  2. Avoid canceling your employee health insurance. With the delays in the Affordable Care Act, you have another year to make the decision. Check your renewal rates as well ask your broker to use the Healthcare.gov website to check those additional options.
  3. Avoid bad mouthing your competition. While this may seem like a viable marketing strategy, it almost never is. Customers want to hear what is right about your solution, not how the other guy stinks. A business culture that takes “the high road” is always more sustainable.
  4. Avoid buying more phones without a plan. Stop adding to the telecommunications chaos for your company. Ensure that all your devices are connected through a central voice over IP systems (VoIP) to have one seamless system that never loses customers.
  5. Avoid posting on social media when getting angry. While this may feel good at the time, remember those posts take on a life of their own once they are online. Write it out if you have to, but then never press the send button.
  6. Avoid growing yourself broke. Contrary to popular wisdom, growing a company too fast can actually put you out of business. Ensure you have enough cash flow to support any expansion strategy. While bigger may feel better, it is not always more profitable.
  7. Avoid bragging about your company’s achievements. In a social media world, customers really do not like people that brag. A better strategy is to highlight your customers’ many achievements!
  8. Avoid using business funds for personal use. Even during difficult times, this is a red line that should never be crossed. Keep a strict separation between funds for business expenses and your own personal needs.
  9. Avoid extending credit to customers that don’t pay their bills. Cash flow is the critical life line for your business. As a result, extend credit as a privilege, not a right. Remember, customers that do not pay on time are not valuable customers,
  10. Avoid borrowing more money when sales are shrinking. Never borrow capital when revenue is going down since you are then using that cash to only cover losses. This is also the best time to stay away from borrowing with family and friends, since the chance of successfully paying them back is very low.

What do you vow to stay away from in 2014?

2014-business-technology-predictions


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?

top-search-ranking-300x270


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


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.


Work Your Biz Wednesday: Getting Your Business Found Online

Melinda Emerson, the Small Biz Lady, shares several steps that you can take to ensure your business is easily accessible online.




 
Nextiva Logo

phone-icon(800) 799-0600 Sales phone-icon(800) 285-7995 Support
Nextiva is the leader in Business VoIP Services. Copyright 2014 Nextiva, All Rights Reserved,
Terms and Conditions, Privacy Policy, Sitemap