The First 5 Things to Do After Getting Your Business Online

The First 5 Things to Do After Getting Your Business Online

Your business is online. Whether it’s your own website or a Facebook page, you have established your online presence.

Congratulations on your accomplishment!

With your digital presence there are five critical steps to consider to keep your business moving forward.
1. Branding: Use Your Domain Name to Help Promote Your Brand

Your domain name is your online identity where people can find you.

In some cases, your domain name may redirect to your social media business page on Facebook or LinkedIn, or it may go directly to your website.

Either way, as your Web address is your online brand, putting your domain name on everything related to your business — business cards, signs, email signatures, invoices, and packaging — will make it easier for people to find you.

And don’t forget to use your domain name as your company’s email address. A branded email address can help you appear more professional as you build your brand.

Ninety percent of consumers are more comfortable becoming a customer of a small business that uses a custom email address (e.g. info@GraphicArtsbyBen.com) than one that uses a generic email address (GraphicArtsbyBen@gmail.com).*

If you need help setting up branded email for your domain name, contact your registrar. Or if you are a user of Google Apps for Business or Office 365, you can also use your own domain name with your current email program.
2. Create Content, Content, Content

Now that you have an online presence, you also have a platform for communicating with customers and the world.

Content is what will attract people to pay attention to and remember your brand. A good content marketing strategy differentiates your brand so that you stand out from competitors.

Here are three tips on content marketing:

Stick to what you know and what you’re passionate about. Your content will have the ring of authenticity and be more compelling when you generate content about what you know and like.
Keep it simple. A blog makes it easy to put content onto your site and is adaptable to many styles. If you’re not a natural writer, keep posts short and manageable. Besides, a few shorter posts likely will bring just as much or more traffic as a longer one. On social media sites, upload images and videos whenever possible to add visual interest.
Measure the impact of your content marketing. Analytics are available for your website (try Google Analytics) and most social media platforms have built-in analytics. Or use a social media monitoring tool such as Hootsuite. See what’s working and what isn’t, and adjust your activities accordingly.

3. Seek Out Customers (Email and Social Outbound Marketing)

Ninety-one percent (91%) of consumers look for local goods or services online*. However, with billions of Web pages, getting noticed is the issue.

You have to get out there and actively connect with them.

Here are three effective ways to find new customers:

E-mail marketing — One of the most effective ways of marketing, you will need to start collecting email addresses of those who choose to receive communications from you. Start with a simple signup box on your website. Most email marketing software services have them.
Social media marketing — Many social media platforms have paid promotional programs specifically for small business owners that are easy to manage.
Search engine marketing — Pay-per-click ads, or paid search ads, can drive traffic almost immediately. You choose keywords relevant to your business and then put in your maximum bid and budget level.

4. Monetize

If you plan to sell directly online, you’ll need to enable some ecommerce capabilities that allow you to take orders, process payments, and communicate for support. See more in: Preparing to Sell Online.

Even if you don’t plan to sell products online through standard ecommerce functionality, you should at least capture leads. Websites can be embedded with links and forms meant to capture prospect information for further marketing and sales follow-up.

More social sites are enabling lead capture, too, including Twitter Cards and SlideShare’s lead gen features.
5. Be Open to Learning and Use it to Prepare

Whatever your efforts to date, most of us plan to build on our progress and improve.

Keep track of what you learn and don’t be afraid to make adjustments along the way. As your needs change, you may need a full-fledged ecommerce site or you may want to make your website mobile-friendly.

If you develop a plan, you’ll have experience to draw on for your business’s next phase.

4 Influencer Marketing Tools You Need to Manage Campaigns

4 Influencer Marketing Tools You Need to Manage Campaigns

 

streak

 

Influencers in just about every industry are shaking up the digital world with their access to big and highly engaged audiences. More than ever, brands, marketers, and PR pros are talking to their customers through these super-influencers. The reason for this is simple: customers don’t trust brands and marketers when it comes to making purchase decisions.

According to BlogHer, 47 percent of U.S. readers consult trusted peers or influencers to find new ideas, trends, and ultimately, to make their purchasing decisions. Customers are smart enough to read through a brand’s shiny marketing message, so consulting people with real opinions only makes sense.

As influencer marketing takes off, though, the people managing these campaigns are jumping in head first without any idea of how to organize the process from start to finish. While the very premise of influencer marketing is authenticity — and you can’t automate authenticity — there are a handful of tools that can certainly help you streamline the influencer marketing process.

From finding influencers and managing outreach to finding trending content and tracking success, below are influencer marketing tools for managing influencer marketing campaigns.

Streak

Once you’ve found the right influencers to reach out to, you’ll need a system for tracking all of your outreach efforts (otherwise the whole setup will go haywire). The beauty of Streak is that it integrates directly with Gmail. Unlike most CRMs, you aren’t limited to specific categories to organize your pipeline.

Through campaigns, things like the blogger’s name, email address, contact date, notes, and publishing dates are tracked. Streak is so simple, no matter what you need to track, you can do it in there. Plus, you can also associate an email thread with a contact in Streak so you can keep track of every single conversation with an influencer.

Sidekick by Hubspot

If you’re planning an influencer campaign you will likely be doing a lot of outreach until you narrow down to the perfect bloggers. With that in mind, tracking email opens is incredibly helpful. While Streak does this as well, Sidekick by Hubspot gives you live notifications when someone opens your email.

This transparency means you can see who is interacting with your emails – if at all – and how many times. It allows you to make timely follow ups in hopes of getting a response from the influencer. You can even schedule emails for later so the influencer receives a follow up at the appropriate time.

Topsy

Once you start building partnerships with influencers, you’ll need to know what content is trending in your industry. Ultimately, you’ll want influencers to create content that resonates with their readers and your target customers.

Topsy is a brilliant tool for finding top performing content in your industry and even analyzing the sentiment of the content. Simply type in a keyword and Topsy will pull up the top trending content for it – including links, tweets, photos, videos, and influencers.  You can even pull up mentions to see how customers are interacting with that content. Topsy is a great starting point for rolling out any kind of content campaign.

Mixpanel

Okay, so you’ve had some influencer articles go live and you want to see if readers are actually clicking over to your site and what exactly they’re doing once they get there. Measuring your ROI is essential, and let’s face it, Google Analytics just doesn’t cut it. Sure, you can track visits to your website, social shares, and engagement but what about tracking actions from individual visitors?

As Mixpanel says, “Actions speak louder than pageviews” and we couldn’t have said it better ourselves. With Mixpanel, you can see how customers move through your funnel, whether they convert, or where you might lose them along the way. You can see live updates from individual users so you can follow along as they experience your site. All of these amazing tools help you fix issues in your funnel and tweak them to improve your conversion rate.

So there you have it – five influencer marketing tools for setting up influencer marketing campaigns, keeping outreach organized, finding top performing content in your industry, and tracking the success of each campaign.

Start Small to Build a Press Strategy That Works for Your Business

Start Small to Build a Press Strategy That Works for Your Business

 

press

The press can be one of the most valuable tools for a business to gain attention and credibility among consumers. But it can also help you attract investors.

In the case of Wahooly, a now defunct crowdfunding company, a solid press strategy was a main part of the company’s funding plan.

Dana Severson, founder of Wahooly recently wrote for Inc. about his experience of using the press to raise a round of funding. Though the company itself ultimately didn’t survive, its press strategy was successful. It allowed the company to appear in more than a hundred different news stories in various publications and raise more than $750,000 before even releasing a product.

The company’s press strategy was so successful in part because they didn’t try to get too big, too quickly. Instead of jumping right into pitching to major publications, the company started small. This allowed them to gain some attention along with the type of credibility it takes to get featured by larger news outlets. He wrote:

“Rather than starting with the Wall Street Journal, who we knew would ignore us, we started locally. But, even in every local market, there is a hierarchy to media. You have the big newspapers, local business magazines/news, local television news, radio and niche blogs.”

For an unknown startup, even a small mention in a major publication like the New York Times or Wall Street Journal can be a huge boost. And that type of attention can be very attractive. But since those publications are so large, it’s likely that they receive so many similar pitches and requests. So, the chances they choose yours is pretty slim.

You need to find a way to set yourself apart.

Being featured in smaller publications can help you do just that. Those press mentions can help you gain attention. But they can also help you build up some credibility. When you go to pitch your new startup to the New York Times or Wall Street Journal, they have a little something to go on.

A good press strategy can’t make your company’s product appealing to customers. It won’t necessarily be the difference between success and failure. But if you have a solid offering and business plan, it could help you get the attention you need to get off the ground.

10 Ways to Improve Your Online Marketing Efforts

10 Ways to Improve Your Online Marketing Efforts

There are so many different ways to market your business online. You need to have your own website, a social presence, and maybe even a video strategy.

Members of our small business community have plenty of experience with these methods. Read on for some of their tips in this week’s Small Business Trends community news and information roundup.

Make a Lasting First Impression

(nancyrubin)

Your landing page is often the first thing people see when they get to your website. So its job is to create a positive first impression and a clear call to action. If your brand is having trouble converting online customers, consider these tips for creating an effective landing page from Adam Groff.

Create Social Media Graphics That Spread Like Wildfire

(Rebekah Radice)

Visual marketing has become incredibly important in recent years thanks to social platforms like Pinterest and Instagram. If you want to be successful on those platforms, you need to know what kinds of images are likely to gain attention. Rebekah Radice shares some tips for creating shareable social images. You can also see conversation about the post in the BizSugar community.

Use These Best Practices for Design and Conversion

(Marketing Land)

Great web design doesn’t always lead to the best conversion numbers. But designing specifically to increase conversion doesn’t always lead to great design. However, there are a few things that Web designers and conversion optimizers can agree on, as Jeremy Smith shares.

Avoid These Writing Mistakes

(Kapow Content)

Whether you’re creating content for your blog, social media channel or other outlets, great writing is key. You don’t need professional training to write great content for your business. But tips from Wendy Johnson can help you avoid some common writing mistakes.

Don’t Automatically Write Off Pop Ups

(Spin Sucks)

Most people hate pop ups on websites. However, when used in the right situations and for the right customers, they can actually be pretty effective. Laura Petrolino shares some tips for implementing pop ups. And BizSugar members shared some feedback as well.

Understand Your Video Presentation Options

(The SEM Post)

Video presentations can be some of the most effective ways to get the attention of your customers and teach them about what you have to offer. But there has been quite a bit of change in the online video presentation market lately, as Greg Jarboe explains. So it can help to know your options before getting started.

Understand These Realities of Blogging for Business

(Busy Blogs Plus)

Pretty much anyone can start a business blog. But it takes practice and hard work to actually keep it going and make it successful. Amanda Lynch shares these and other realities of business blogging. The BizSugar community also discussed the post.

Connect with Your Employees Online

(Biz Epic)

Virtual businesses are becoming more and more prominent. That also means that there are a lot of online tools available for business owners to communicate with their employees who work remotely. Ivan Widjaya shares some tools and tips for virtual businesses to connect with their employees.

Learn These Lessons from Successful Entrepreneurs

(CorpNet)

You don’t get to be a successful entrepreneur without learning a few lessons along the way. So less experienced business owners could do well to listen to some of that wisdom that their more experienced counterparts have to share. Nellie Akalp shares some of those business lessons from successful entrepreneurs.

Find Marketing and Additional Resources Online

(SMB Stash)

There are so many different resources available online, it can actually be difficult to keep track of them all. But this new online directory is now available to give small and medium sized businesses a place to find a huge variety of resources that can help them with marketing and more.

Help improve these community roundup posts in the future by suggesting your favorite content. Send posts to sbtips@gmail.com or just submit your content to the BizSugar community. You could see it appear in an upcoming post!

10 Ways to Improve Your Online Marketing Efforts

10 Ways to Improve Your Online Marketing Efforts

marketing team

There are so many different ways to market your business online. You need to have your own website, a social presence, and maybe even a video strategy.

Members of our small business community have plenty of experience with these methods. Read on for some of their tips in this week’s Small Business Trends community news and information roundup.

Make a Lasting First Impression

(nancyrubin)

Your landing page is often the first thing people see when they get to your website. So its job is to create a positive first impression and a clear call to action. If your brand is having trouble converting online customers, consider these tips for creating an effective landing page from Adam Groff.

Create Social Media Graphics That Spread Like Wildfire

(Rebekah Radice)

Visual marketing has become incredibly important in recent years thanks to social platforms like Pinterest and Instagram. If you want to be successful on those platforms, you need to know what kinds of images are likely to gain attention. Rebekah Radice shares some tips for creating shareable social images. You can also see conversation about the post in the BizSugar community.

Use These Best Practices for Design and Conversion

(Marketing Land)

Great web design doesn’t always lead to the best conversion numbers. But designing specifically to increase conversion doesn’t always lead to great design. However, there are a few things that Web designers and conversion optimizers can agree on, as Jeremy Smith shares.

Avoid These Writing Mistakes

(Kapow Content)

Whether you’re creating content for your blog, social media channel or other outlets, great writing is key. You don’t need professional training to write great content for your business. But tips from Wendy Johnson can help you avoid some common writing mistakes.

Don’t Automatically Write Off Pop Ups

(Spin Sucks)

Most people hate pop ups on websites. However, when used in the right situations and for the right customers, they can actually be pretty effective. Laura Petrolino shares some tips for implementing pop ups. And BizSugar members shared some feedback as well.

Understand Your Video Presentation Options

(The SEM Post)

Video presentations can be some of the most effective ways to get the attention of your customers and teach them about what you have to offer. But there has been quite a bit of change in the online video presentation market lately, as Greg Jarboe explains. So it can help to know your options before getting started.

Understand These Realities of Blogging for Business

(Busy Blogs Plus)

Pretty much anyone can start a business blog. But it takes practice and hard work to actually keep it going and make it successful. Amanda Lynch shares these and other realities of business blogging. The BizSugar community also discussed the post.

Connect with Your Employees Online

(Biz Epic)

Virtual businesses are becoming more and more prominent. That also means that there are a lot of online tools available for business owners to communicate with their employees who work remotely. Ivan Widjaya shares some tools and tips for virtual businesses to connect with their employees.

Learn These Lessons from Successful Entrepreneurs

(CorpNet)

You don’t get to be a successful entrepreneur without learning a few lessons along the way. So less experienced business owners could do well to listen to some of that wisdom that their more experienced counterparts have to share. Nellie Akalp shares some of those business lessons from successful entrepreneurs.

Find Marketing and Additional Resources Online

(SMB Stash)

There are so many different resources available online, it can actually be difficult to keep track of them all. But this new online directory is now available to give small and medium sized businesses a place to find a huge variety of resources that can help them with marketing and more.

Help improve these community roundup posts in the future by suggesting your favorite content. Send posts to sbtips@gmail.com or just submit your content to the BizSugar community. You could see it appear in an upcoming post!

Authority Marketing: How To Measure Up In Front of Customers

Authority Marketing: How To Measure Up In Front of Customers

Measure UpEdit

You’re a liar. At least, that’s what you’re afraid people will find out about you.

The smaller your business, the more likely you are to have had this thought at one point: My product/service is just the latest form of snake oil and everyone is about to find out.

First off, take a deep breath.

Dealing with this thought (often referred to as ‘impostor syndrome’) is completely normal. Some of the most talented people in the world have suffered from it. (Tina Fey and Maya Angelou are just a few of the celebrities that have admitted to suffering from impostor syndrome.)

Generally speaking, the harder you’ve had to work in life to succeed, the more likely you are to feel that fear of being exposed as a fraud.

On a personal level, impostor syndrome can be pretty challenging. But on a professional level? Your business (quite literally) can’t afford to suffer from that fear. While it may sound a bit strange at first, understand that if you expect your business to keep growing, you’ll need to have unshakable faith in its validity.

This is about more than just growth within your business, by the way. Your audience respects authorities in your respective field. But your business will never truly be seen as an authority until it embraces one simple fact: it deserves to be here. Hell, it deserves to win!

Once you shake that doubt off, you’ll be one step closer to claiming the throne and turning your business into the online authority it was always meant to be.

Of course, getting over that imposter syndrome issue is just the first hurdle with which you’ll have to deal. If you’re serious about actually becoming the authority in your field, there are a few other authority marketing boxes you’re going to have to check on the list first.

Here’s What it Takes to Really Stand Out

Being an authority is about more than just being popular. Earning the respect of the industry means creating a certain kind of content. Keep in mind that, contrary to popular belief, more data isn’t always better. In reality, you’ll need to provide as much knowledge as your audience can handle.

Back-up all your beliefs with reputable data and make sure that your arguments are airtight. But, realize that when it comes to engaging/educating your audience, there is a point of diminishing returns where data becomes numbing.

Your content starts to feel more like an entry out of a scientific journal than a blog post. Now, figuring out where that point of diminishing returns lies is all about determining your audience’s tolerance for that kind of ‘meta-analysis’.

Go as deep as you have to, but learn to balance that depth with language that your readers can actually understand. You wouldn’t write for the Wall Street Journal the same way you’d write for BuzzFeed, would you?

Keep it niche: your first instinct, when creating content, is going to be to run off in a million directions and tackle every topic under the sun. For whatever reason, people seem to think that this is an effective way of producing content. Newsflash: it isn’t.

Remember: authority marketing is not about getting everyone to care a little. It’s about getting a few people very invested.

Develop a meaningful content marketing machine that your core audience resonates with and, once your audience starts to grow, then you can expand your horizons.

In regard to appealing to your core audience, take the time to explore complex topics. Videos and infographics are great places to start, but they’re far from your only options.

Create something truly useful (an ebook, for example). By showing your audience how much you value in-depth analyses, your company will be one step closer to establishing itself as one of the most knowledgeable voices in the industry.

When it comes to content that establishes authority, there’s nothing quite like a well written ‘how-to’ blog post. When done improperly, it’s a boring, generic waste of time. When done properly (properly researched, engaging language and actionable steps for the reader), a how-to blog post can make your business stand out in ways you never would’ve imagined.

Your content should be a unique/fun experience, not a tedious one. Keep in mind that the content should be purely for your audience. If you try to self-promote throughout your content, your audience will pick up on it right away and you’ll compromise the integrity of your argument.

If you’re having a tough time developing consumer trust, take the time to encourage your audience to be skeptical.

Seriously.

Remember: the goal of authority marketing isn’t to develop a cult following. You’re looking to attract an engaged, social audience that would celebrate your discoveries as quickly as it would call you out on your inaccuracies.