Small Business Should Invest in Big Data and Analytics

Data

Big data refers to huge volumes of structured and unstructured information; however, processing such massive volumes of facts via traditional information management tools is inefficient and impossible. To understand big figures you have to realize the devices that are collecting it today e.g. bar code scanners, mobile cameras, CCTV cameras, motion sensors, smoke alarms, web analytical tools, CRMs, etc. From the examples, you can see that these devices collect a vast array of data types hence the structured and unstructured part in the definition. The sheer velocity at which the data is being produced cannot be controlled and processed using traditional methods and tools.

However, the use of big information and incorporation of big data analytical technology gives businesses the competitive edge over their competitors.

Big Data and Small Businesses

It is only a thing of the past when terms like big information and business intelligence were associated with large enterprises only. Today, small businesses have to leverage the facts they are collecting in order to remain a part of the competition. For years, cost has remained the main reason why small businesses did not adopt big data analytical technologies, but this has changed now. There are budget-friendly tools available for small businesses to take advantage of the data they are collecting today. According to some experts, small businesses can take better advantage of big information since they are able to make the necessary changes far more quickly than large enterprises i.e. real-time response to insights from available data.

According to an IDG study in 2016, 78% of the large enterprises agree that big data strategy has the power to change how businesses have always operated. This shows the acceptance of big data technology and strategies for large enterprises and strengthens the fact that small businesses could become irrelevant if they did not adopt the same strategies.

Benefits of Big Data Analytics

Big Data and Big Companies, a report by IIA Director of Research, Tom Davenport, reveals that businesses are benefitting greatly from big data analytics especially in improving their products, making business decisions faster and reducing costs. Here are some ways small businesses can benefit from big information.

·         Cost Savings

The upfront cost of implementing big information tools and strategies is high undoubtedly, but the long term benefits of doing so are matchless. The healthcare industry is a great example of how the use of big data can help businesses reduce their costs regardless of their size. Using predictive analytics, Medicare and Medicaid Services forestalled more than $210 million fraud in healthcare with just 2 years of utilizing the aforementioned technology.

In addition to preventing frauds, small businesses can also reduce their costs by steering clear of creating more inventory than needed, including better partners in the supply chain, etc.

·         Improved Decision Making

This is the biggest benefit of big data. It allows businesses to expedite decision making by processing the data fast and giving insights in timely manner. In the past, business decisions were reserved for future strategies in the light of available data and the trends that were observed in it. The amount of data that businesses are sitting on today is huge and thus more powerful insights are to be gained from it. This vast amount of information requires the use of modern big data hardware technologies. Once both the things are in place for a business, they can understand customers better, create products that are a closer reflection of what customers want and develop a brand based on most reverenced values.

·         Impenetrable Security

Businesses are more focused today on using big details to improve their core capabilities, but less attended to a more serious concerns i.e. cyber threats and security breaches. Almost every small, medium and large business is connected to the internet today. Moreover, the Internet of Things has broadened the attackable security surface for businesses making it easier for cyber criminals to attack networks and penetrate company databases.

The biggest concern for modern businesses is that they have to “respond” to cyber attacks that have already occurred rather than being able to prevent them from occurring. The use of big information and big data analytical tools can be a game changer in this area allowing businesses to prevent any security attacks way before they are executed.

Key Technologies Helping Businesses Make the Best of Big Data

As a small business, you will have to familiarize with various technologies that help you store, analyze and take action on big data. Here are some important ones:

·         Hadoop

It’s a framework supporting the storing of large amounts of information using an open-source approach. Once information is stored, Hadoop enables the use of a variety of applications using “clustered hardware” at its base. Due to the cluster of commodity hardware, it becomes possible and easy for businesses to process big data despite its increasing volume.

·         Data Mining

This is the technology that enables business owners to capture insights, patterns and trends from big information that otherwise cannot be obtained with a traditional approach. Data mining is what allows you to jump in a large sea of structured and unstructured data, make sense of it all and produce analytical insights that help businesses with real-time and future decisions.

·         Predictive Analytics

Predictive analytics walk side by side with data mining. Artificial is at the heart of predictive analytics, enabling business owners to adjust their present strategies by giving predictions about what will transpire for the business based on existing details.

·         Text Analysis and Mining

One huge concern for modern business is to analyze the noise on various web platforms such as forums, blogs, social networks, etc. to understand what customers expect from a particular brand. Finding out about brand mentions and understanding customer’s impression of your brand can help you readjust your marketing approach to gain customer loyalty. Text mining helps small to large sized businesses go through text data from emails, blog posts, social networks, etc. and hear customers “voice”.

With the rise of smartphones, artificial intelligence and IoT (internet of things) it has become clearly visible that businesses will now have to handle mountains and mountains of data, and make use of big data analytical and processing technologies to have the competitive edge.

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How to Build a Successful Online Business in 2021

Online

Have you decided to ditch your 9 to 5 job in favor of an online business, such as an e-commerce website or a blogging business? Or have you decided to take up an online business as a side hustle to complement your 9-5 job, and rake in extra cash? Whichever way, these are great intentions.

The Internet and smartphones have changed the way we do business, and in 2020 alone, E-commerce sales accounted for over 25% percent of all retail sales online, according to Statista.

A great number of people are taking a stab at starting their online businesses, so why shouldn’t you?

But, do you have a real understanding of what it takes to be successful in an online business? While it is good to dream big and have big goals of generating a million dollars, do you have a full grasp of what you need to get to that point and ensure that you don’t get lost in the tide?

According to several sources, including Forbes, over 90% of all online business start-ups fail. Fortunately, you are reading this guide, which contains tips that can place you in the 10% successful online businesses. Let’s do this!

With this in mind, here are few tested and trusted tips that you must follow to stand out and succeed with your online business goals:

Understand Your Niche

How do others perceive your brand? What do people know about what you stand for? People like to do business with brands that they know, like, and trust. In your chosen niche, you have to be authentic, doing what works for you and your target audience.

This is why doing market research about the needs and wants of your target audience is important even before you start.

Are there particular demographics you want to attract? What qualities will they look out for in your product/service, and how can you meet those? This will help you with positioning your brand and creating the best marketing strategy for communicating your business with your target consumers.

For instance, if you want to start a blogging business in the fitness niche, you have to identify what aspect of fitness you are well versed in. In this vein, let’s say you decide to focus on workout routines and nutrition, your next step should be to identify the people you want to reach, and how best you can add value to their lives through your blog.

So, you have a niche now, what next?

Know Your Competition

Competition refers to brands that sell or market the same products/services as you. Except you are going into a niche with no existing businesses, which is almost impossible, then you need to evaluate your competition.

Why should customers choose you over others? This is even more crucial in the online business world.

Your strategy for Content Marketing, SEO optimization, and your User experience/interface (website/ mobile app) should position you ahead of your competition. You should be aware of the social media platforms your competitors are using. This will also arm you with knowledge on where best to engage with your potentials.

For instance, doing your analysis of your competition, you might discover that they focus more on Instagram because the majority of target consumers spend their time there. Needless to say, any social media marketing strategy you craft should then center more on Instagram.

Optimize your Web Assets

Web assets are what constitute your online business. They include everything from your website, social media profiles to your hosting accounts.

You need to organize these relevant assets and ensure that they are fully optimized for your brand.

For instance, your webpages and social media should always be completely updated with the latest information about your company.

Your website should be responsive with quick load time to improve the time consumers spend on it. A lightning-fast load speed increases visitor engagement and sales, and instant web response results in higher conversion rates.

According to a recent Aberdeen Group Research, every 1 second delay in page load decreases customer satisfaction by 16 percent, page views by 11 percent, and conversion rates by 7 percent.

Over Deliver

After examining your competitors, set benchmarks for your brand’s products and services, and try always to surpass them. Endeavor to meet consumers’ expectations on the value you communicated and even exceeded them.

The importance of delivering more value, especially for your initial offerings, cannot be over stressed. First impressions usually last longer, and a great one could mean several loyal customers.

Just imagine the glee on your consumers’ faces when they discover that they have gotten way more value from your brand than they expected. Priceless! This will keep them coming back for more.

Such a consumer will go ahead to tell friends, who will, in turn, tell friends, and your customer base will keep increasing till you become a leader in that niche, gaining the trust and attention of consumers.

Be Conscious of and Protect the Online Reputation of your Brand

Reputation is at the core and center of any online business. Even the slightest mistake can put your brand in a negative light and taint your brand for a long time. One way to remain conscious about mentions of your brand is to set a Google Alerts notification.

Have social media guidelines and strict branding rules. If anyone is posting about your brand, then you understand what you expect from them.

But even beyond brand mentions, how do you deal with and respond to complaints from your customers. It is highly recommended that you develop a serving, not selling mindset. Be interested in solving customers’ problems, and meeting them at their point of need.

Recent statistics show that 73% of consumers love a brand because of helpful customer service, and 89% of shoppers stay loyal to brands that share their values.

Focus on Serving

When you focus on serving your customers to the best of your capacity and providing great value, sales and profit will come naturally.

Learn how to identify the concerns and problems of your consumers, and educate them on how to solve these issues as a freebie.

As an online fitness coach, for instance, if you notice that your customers are having issues with balancing their carbs intake, you can create a detailed blog post or YouTube video to address that.

People love free things. So, helping your customers with that issue for free will endear you to them. But even beyond that, it will also go a long way to show that you are very knowledgeable, and stand you out among other fitness coaches.

What’s more, research shows that brands which blog generate 67% more leads. So, serving customers will eventually lead to more gains.

Conclusion

If you want to enter the business world, you have to learn how to be persistent. If you continue to do all the right things we’ve discussed above, staying consistent, you can realize your goals.

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Pros and Cons of Social Media Marketing for Business

Social Media

In the last decade, social media grew exponentially from being a digital channel for interacting with others into a powerful digital marketing tool for businesses.

With over 3.5 billion daily active social media users, there’s really no limit to how far you can go with it. Just imagine how many of them can eventually become your customers!

But, as you jump on the bandwagon of Social Media Marketing (SMM), you have to properly plan and assess the impact and effectiveness of SMM for your brand. This is because, just like with most things, there are two sides to the coin of social media marketing.

If done efficiently, one side promises success, while the other side can be detrimental to your business. While on the one hand, there are businesses who owe a great percentage of their success to social media, there have also been brand disasters, thanks (but, no thanks) to social media. So, in this post, we’ll be discussing some of the Pros and Cons of Social Media Marketing to enable you make informed decisions that will set the pace for profitable digital marketing. Let’s Dive in!

The Pros of Social Media Marketing

Business owners and marketers are going gaga over social media these days. Well, you can’t really blame them. Social Media Marketing comes with a lot of perks, and let’s talk about some of these:

Low-Cost Strategy

Compared to other marketing tactics, social media is significantly low cost, and this makes it very appealing. The most popular social media platforms are available to join for free, and all interaction tools are also free.

However, to get the most out of social media, some businesses are investing full time in SMM strategies such as content generation, digital design, page setups, influencers, and maintenance. On average, all these cost between $4000 to $7000 monthly.

But do you know what? This is relatively more cost-effective than the average of 11.1% of revenues spent on traditional marketing. SMM gives you excellent ROI for less financial investment!

Larger Audiences

Do you want to gain traction in your industry? If Yes, then social media is a powerful tool to use in achieving this. And this is one of the main benefits SMM has over traditional marketing.

While traditional media marketing only caters to fixed audiences (TV viewers, magazine readers, etc.), SMM allows you to reach out to a global audience that is unlimited in reach and scope.

Social Media is an open marketplace. With SMM, you are reaching out to a market space filled with both your existing and potential buyers who need a little push from you to decide whether or not to buy from you.

No Demographic Restriction

What’s more, social media marketing is not restricted by demographics such as sex, social status, and age. Current statistics show that 90.4% of millennials, 77.5% Gen-Z, and 48.2 baby boomers are active social media users.

So, you can have a big market for the age group you are targeting for your products and services. It’s even more impressive that SMM can pass your targeted demographic market and pave new channels for leads generation and sales.

Go International

Before we move on to the next advantage, we should also mention that SMM helps businesses that are struggling to get into the international market.

Thanks to the vast worldwide reach of social media, it becomes effortless for you to reach new potentials outside your suburb, city, or country. Facebook, in particular, has over 89% monthly active users who live outside the US. The audience potential of SMM is huge!

Brand Loyalty

It’s one thing to have customers, and it’s another thing to have a group of returning customers who are fans of your brand. This should be your goal, and social media can help you achieve this.

How?

Well, with social media, you can demonstrate your personality to customers and also tell your brand story. It helps you interact with customers, build relationships, show them that you care, and boost your reputation. This will, in turn, foster long-term loyalty.

Reports from Social Media Today show that;

  • Almost 70% of consumers have used social media for customer service-related issues at least once
  • Customers spend 20% to 40% more with companies that respond through social media

Market place Insights

Another plus of listening and engaging with customers in online conversations is that it will help you find out more about their problems, preferences, needs, likes, and dislikes.

These insights are crucial to the success of any business. They give you information on areas to improve turnouts and get ahead of your competitors.

The Cons of Social Media Marketing

For all the advantages of social media, it is not 100% perfect. There are some cons to Marketing that can lead to undesirable impacts on your brand.

Time Consuming

If you’re already into SMM, then you’d agree how much time it consumes. According to industry reports, 64% of digital marketers spend a minimum of 6 hours on Social Media Marketing.

And that’s not even the worse of it. The other 37% spend an average of 11 hours on SMM. Most business owners who want to get tangible results from their SMM efforts find this time-consuming.

Even more frustrating, if your time spent on SMM isn’t done correctly, it will lead to zero results or traffic that don’t convert into leads or sales.

Hard to Measure ROI

It is hard to define the ROI from social network marketing. A recent study indicates that 89% of digital marketers would want to know the exact ROI of their efforts on social network platforms.

Only 37% have a handle on defining the results of their SMM efforts; 35% say they aren’t sure they are correctly measuring ROI; 28% say they don’t know how to measure at all.

What’s more, it can take a long time – months, or even years before your SMM efforts start yielding sales and customer loyalty.

Loss of Control

The worldwide reach of social network means it attracts all kinds of users, including negative and malicious persons. Anything you post online is subject to comments and criticism. Providing a medium for people to publish damaging comments about your brand is literally the stuff of nightmares.

We should also mention that these negative people include scammers, spammers, trolls, hackers, and all other sorts who want to harm your online credibility.

Bottomline

From all the salient points we have discussed above, we can see that marketing really does deliver favorable results for your business.

In fact, consumers expect all brands to have a social network presence – as much as 63% of them. And 90% of social network users communicate with a brand using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.

So, it is crucial for you to up your game and remain conscious of sticking to the best practices. This will allow you to get the most out of Social Media Marketing.

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How to Calculate Free Cash Flow for your Business Health

free

Free cash flow is one of the key indicators used to show the health of the business, particularly its profitability. Typically, it demonstrates the amount of money any business for other purposes after all the capital expenditures that may include equipment, buildings and various other necessary expenses that help businesses sustain their operations.

Although calculating cash flow is a complicated process, there are many ways you can do it. According to experts, it is always better to use all methods correctly. If they all generate the same result, it provides you a reliable way to cross-check your operations.

It is worth noting here that cash flow doesn’t relate to all businesses. It is precisely a measuring tool that non-financial firms use rather than professional associations and investment firms.  If you own a non-financial enterprise, you can calculate the cash flow for free with these three equations.

Equations to Calculate Free Cash Flow

1.       Free Cash flow:  Subtract operation taxes and costs from Sales revenues then subtract required investments for operation capital

The equation is one of the easiest ways to calculate free cash flow. Business owners take sales revenues, including taxes and operating costs from their income statement. The fixed assets show an increase when you invest in new operating capita. The balance sheet shows everything from investments and revenue details.

For example, if your business has earned revenues of $500,000, the amount is reduced to $300,000 because of taxes due and operating costs. If your business requires an investment of $150, 000, it will have the free cash flow of $30,000 to $50, 000.

2.      Free Cash flow:  Subtract net investments in operating capital from net operating profits NOPAT (after taxes)

 NOPAT refers to the same figure we used in the previous equation: subtract operating taxes and costs from sales revenues. Net investment of operating capital uses the same figure that is used in the third term of first calculations. For calculating free cash flow through this equation, it is better to use the increased fixed assets on your balance sheet.

That means, your NOPAT will remain at the same amount of $30,000. You just need to exchange the required investment of your business in operating capital for your net investments in operating capital.  If you assume the same figures, your free cash flow will remain the same.

3.      Free Cash flow:  Subtract capital expenditure from the net cash flow of operations

 You can also calculate free cash flow by subtracting the capital expenditure from the net cash flow that comes from operations.  Net cash flow in this equation comes from the cash flow statement, while capital expenditure is taken from the increase in the business’s fixed assets.  For instance, if your operation’s net cash flow is around $200,000, the figure might be reduced by your capital expenditures.

Interestingly, all these free cash flow calculation methods will give you the same answers when you work with these equations. You might feel like approaching the same information and data from three different angles.

How does Free Cash Flow Calculation Affect Your Business?

As mentioned earlier, free cash flow is useful for the health of your business. Firms with healthy free cash flow are financially stable to meet the bills and investments every month. Plus, they also have leftover funds that they usually distribute among dividends and shareholders. Man firms use this extra fund to seize opportunities to help them generate more revenues through acquisitions of innovative products.

That is to say, if your business is booming and has high free cash flow, it is an indication that it is doing well and you should consider expanding it. Conversely, if it fails to generate good free cash flow, you might need to consider restructuring it as there are remaining funds after the basic expenses.

However, it is important to understand that poor free cash flow doesn’t always indicate a failing business. It might be expected even when your business is pursuing growth. Development and acquisition of new products are temporarily subtracted from the main capital. That is the reason why most of the investors tend to work with the businesses that have high free cash flow. These businesses are generally considered healthy with bright prospects. If an investor finds a business that has rising free cash flow with an undervalued share cost, it may be a great investment bet.

How can you Benefit from the Free Cash Flow

Since you understand how positive free cash flow may benefit you by indicating the healthy financial status of your business, it is better to use this understanding to your advantage. It is always better to look beyond the figures. Know that established firms have relatively consistent and healthy free cash flow. New businesses, on the other hand, are in a state where they need to pour money into growth and stabilization.

Although it depends on the business owners how they use the free cash flow, using the funds to expand the operations, pay shareholders and dividends, invest in new products, research or to reduce debt is beneficial for the business.

Always remember that companies that have surging free cash flow due to debt elimination, dividend distributions, cost reductions, efficiency improvements, or revenue growth can reward their investors in the future.

In other scenarios, when free cash flow is shrinking, businesses fail to sustain their growth earnings. Not only this, insufficient free cash flow for growth forces a business to boost debt levels. In a worse scenario, a business without enough free cash flow may not even have the liquidity to sustain.

Final Thoughts

All in all, it is important to find an all-purpose tool that can help you test the fundamentals of your business that seem elusive. Free cash flow calculation is like a performance metric they provide entrepreneurs an opportunity to guard up if their business is not generating enough revenues.

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Common Spending Mistakes in Small Businesses

easy way

There is no denying that running a business is not always easy. There are plenty of challenges that reverse growth or halt progress. Precisely, if these challenges have a direct impact on business finances, it may cause several other risks that your business needs to face. In other words, managing finances is pivotal to stay on top. And if you’re a startup, finance management becomes as important as serving existing customers or finding new leads.

But, if you are like business owners who find managing money or bookkeeping a daunting task, you must know your common spending mistakes to stay ahead in the business domain. This is one way you can mitigate not only financial risks but also monitor the cash flow of your business. In other words, by controlling your spending and cash flows, you improve success chances and your profitability also.

We have enumerated a few common spending mistakes to help you steer clear of the financial management of your business.

Common Spending Mistakes in Small Business

1.     Failure in Keeping Personal and Business Expenses Separate

This might sound trivial to you, but many business owners when entering the business world make this mistake. Remember that you are in the early phases of your business, it is vital to keep the expenses separate. Although sometimes you need to rely on the personal finances to support business expenditures, you need to ensure that you h have a separate budget for your business.  Also, relying on the personal expense to fund business may cause problems in the long-term.

Once your business is operational and starts serving the customers, separate finances by making a separate business credit card. Make sure you have a separate bank account for your business. Doing so can be extremely helpful in managing tax problems and avoiding bookkeeping confusion subsequently.   It will also empower you to evaluate potential or existing cash flow issues and overall business finances before they turn into a major problem.

2.     Not Creating a Budget

You might find easy budgeting, but you cannot deny its long-term value that outweighs all initial stress and effort.

Creating a budget means analyzing how much have you earned and how much you can invest. An organized budget helps you make informed decisions about all business matters that include everything from supplies purchasing, staffing, and training to inventory. Conversely, when you work without a budget, all these tasks become challenging and may cause you significant cash flow problems. This particularly affects your business if it works with seasonal shifts, and you need this cash flow to maintain business operations during the slow months.

Fortunately, there is a wide variety of apps such as Scoro, Centage, and Adaptive insights that can help entrepreneurs not only create but also maintain a budget. Not to mention how these budgeting apps keep track of your business expenses and send you a handy report at the end of the month or year. This allows you to do preparations for tax seasons and review performance.

3.     Failure to do Financing at the Right Time

All business owners know that working capital is an essential thing to operate the business and increase its growth. If working capital runs low, your business might face a lot of issues that not easy to resolve it right away, and that may vary from unpaid bills, mounting fees to lower credit scores.  Not only that but making payrolls also become a challenge while tackling such issues. The situation may create problems when it comes to retaining your potential employees. The problems like staff shortage, inventory, and supply management lead to decreased revenues and unsatisfactory customer services.

Ultimately, the failure to meet your business financial obligations can impact different areas of business. That is why it is important not only to identify but also address the cash flow issues and to prevent poor working capital in a easy way. It is better if you seek assistance about taking control of financial matters before they become problematic for your business.

4.     Ignoring Poor Credit Scores

Recognizing the right time to consider alternative financing options like a line of credit or loan is important. However, your due diligence will not benefit you if you fail to qualify as a borrower. That means, it is essential to be vigilant about both your personal and business credit scores.

It is also important because your credit scores impact your ability to use financing solutions with suppliers or vendors. The arrangements often help business owners easy fill the gaps in their cash flow.  Moreover, with a good business score, you can reduce the insurance premium and interest rate on your loan.

Sometimes, your credit scores contribute to secure many affordable financing terms; particularly when you opt for loans, credit cards, and line of credit.  The phenomenon is confusing for many people since they are advised to keep their personal and business financing separate as an ideal practice.  

However, it is important to understand that when you sign a lending agreement as a primary applicant,  banks use your credits to determine your eligibility, repayment terms, and interest rates.  Customers are sent an annual credit report, and it is good to use it for your advantage.  Although the business credit report is hard to obtain, you can get them through various platforms.

5.     Overspending on Startup

When starting a startup, you are naturally optimistic that your business will produce good revenues if you invest a large amount in it. This optimism sometimes leads to overspending, which is another common spending mistake. To avoid overspending, research carefully about how much inventory or staff you need to take a good start.

Final Thoughts

When running a business, you may face many financial issues, and to plan for all potential scenarios is not easy. However, when it comes to cash flow, various things can be done to avoid cash flow issues. The most important thing is to be proactive in whatever approach you use to manage your business finance.  Besides this, budgeting and healthy credit scores play an important role in keeping business finance issues at bay.

Thus, the given spending mistakes are very common when a business is in establishing phase. However, you can avoid them by planning and evaluating everything in advance.

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A Successful Online Business – How to Start One

Online Business

When it comes to the topic of starting a new online business, most entrepreneurs think that trial and error is the way to go but this isn’t so.  A number of experienced business people can give you details as to what went right during their venture into the world of startups, and what went horribly wrong. Based on these assessments, there are certain combinations of practices that, if done right, can result in starting a successful business. Here’s what most online business owners swear by.

Analyzing the Market

Nowadays, the market is somewhat similar across the world so it doesn’t take much time for a certain need to go global. That’s why you’ll need to look into your market for shortages before you can think of a product and assess whether it has an unfulfilled demand in the market. Scour the internet to find answers to your questions.

Have a look at common online forums like Quora and Reddit for people’s questions about the availability of a certain service and product to solve a particular problem. Look for keywords that have a high number of queries but much fewer valuable results. This will be an indication of a market that doesn’t have enough solutions.

Of course, you will have a few competitors in the field so it’s best to examine their marketing strategies and products before you start working on your own versions. This will help you create something innovative that adds more value for the consumer.

Post Good Content

Are you worried about how you’ll convince customers through an online sales call? Here’s what you need to explain so they go through with the entire process, up until the final purchase.

  • Give headings that pique consumer interest
  • Address the problem that your brand can solve
  • Ensure your reliability by giving details of your experience and the people on your team
  • Provide testimonials of happy customers
  • Make a good offer
  • Provide them with a guarantee so they feel reassured
  • Make it a matter of urgency so they can’t refuse
  • Make the sale

While walking your customer through the website, make sure that you’re focusing on their need and how you’re helping them.

Deliver a Proper Website

For a business that operates solely online, a website serves as a headquarters and you sure as heck can’t compromise on the quality of yours. Take it from online selling pros, most retail brands keep their websites fairly simple; they know that they have less than 15 seconds to capture consumer attention, which means a smaller business like your has less than 10. So remember:

  • No funky colors or fonts; clear, dark fonts on white works well enough
  • Make it simple to navigate to and from pages
  • Grasp consumer attention on every page with interesting images and videos
  • Collect e-mail addresses from visiting traffic to give updates on sales
  • Shorten the number of clicks it takes to confirm a transaction; one to add card details and one to confirm
  • Optimize it for mobile devices

Search Engine Help

Operating a business online requires that you be on good terms with the search engines, especially reigning power, Google. Using a PPC (pay per click) scheme to advertise your new business is effective at drawing more traffic towards your website. This will work much quicker than waiting for organic traffic to trickle in.

Advertising through Google AdWords’ Network Display strategies gives the benefit of your brand’s banners being up within a matter of hours. Moreover, utilizing such a system offers the benefit of letting you test how effective other keywords are for driving more traffic.

Once you’ve determined which keywords work best, you can then incorporate them into your advertisements, social media posts and most importantly, your website. This will boost your rankings on SERPs.

Be a Leading Authority in Your Niche

Aside from being your source of income, the internet serves as the population’s largest source of authentic information in a hundred different forms. If you appeal to the people looking for information, and not just those who set out to make a purchase, you end up building traction among a larger group of people.

Hence, lure in information-seekers by giving your expertise-based articles on different websites. You can create other forms of content, such as videos, info graphics, and images that are sure to make an impact on readers who might end up making a purchase later on. On every informative piece, add the option for them to share it with their friends.

Be active on the very platforms where your target audience asks questions relating to your field, and answer them. After all, what’s more, appealing than a CEO who actively answers questions on the internet?

Leverage Email Marketing

When you give visiting traffic the option to submit their email addresses, you get a valuable list of potential customers who have opened the doors to their inboxes for you. Essentially, it indicates that they have developed an interest in your brand, are willing to form a long-term relationship with your brand.

Individuals who visit your website and leave their email address are basically giving you permission to contact them. They are potential customers and email marketing is the best way to follow up with leads.

Enhance Customer Loyalty

Customers look for value wherever they go and that’s what you need to offer. It’s quite possible that over a quarter of people who made a purchase from your website would be willing to do it again if you contact them again with a good deal.

The first sale you make is the most crucial but it’s also expensive. Hence, you’ll need to offer them related items that go well with their purchase and send redeemable coupons to ensure that they return. If you reward them with incentives to buy again, your customers are sure to be loyal to your brand.

Even though the online-world is faced paced and dynamic, it isn’t the case for markets and businesses that are operating through the internet. The basic aspects of starting a profitable online business are still the same as before.

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What does it take to run an Online Business?

OnlineOwning an online business allows you to work from anywhere you want.  All you need is to set flexible work hours and establish your presence. Not only this, online businesses have significantly low startup costs and that is what makes it ideal, especially for new entrepreneurs. This is one of the main reasons why traditional brick-and-mortar businesses are gradually declining. They are now more focused on being globalized and ubiquitous.

To put it simply, running an online business has a plethora of benefits if you are an experienced entrepreneur. However, if you are a startup and facing troubles in creating a presence, you need to understand that starting an online business is easy, but running it requires your attention. Whether your digital set up is in its initial phase or has achieved some milestones, knowing key details of the mainstream market and understanding it is of paramount importance.

Another major aspect that is essential to consider when it comes to running an online business successfully is familiarity with technology. If anentrepreneur lacks knowledge of digital marketing or other tech-based strategies, reaching the target audience becomes a daunting task.

If you can relate to this, then the provided details might be useful for your online business. All you need is to consider the following steps while running your online business.

How to Run an Online Business?

Establish Your Business Market

There is no doubt that without understanding the target market you want to focus on, you cannot increase your sales. However, if you know where you will find your target audience online, developing marketing strategies become a breeze.

According to expert marketers, when an entrepreneur understands their core audience, it will help them find the right ways to offer the products that interest the audience. The point is, researching the market position and analyzing the needs and interest of customers is substantially important before launching your product.

 Register Your Domain Name

Your online business requires a domain name. Without registering it you cannot run your business as it is your online address, spot or place where people will find you on the internet. The good news is that there is a myriad of companies that sell a domain name.  Google Domains, in this regard, is one of the common choices you can opt for.

Your domain name plays a critical role when it is comes to branding an online company. Here is when you need to come up with a domain name that truly reflects your company and its goals. While choosing a name, make sure you use the name checker tool to help you see what is available.

Host Your Business Domain

Hosting a business domain is an integral part of running a business online. Through a web host, your online business gets space on various servers. Sometimes both registering a domain and finding a host for it can be achieved with the help of one company. Following are the key features you need to consider when you choose a web host.

  • Uptime percentage
  • Available marketing tools
  • Storage capacity
  • Email features that are based on domain
  • How it offers customer response forms
  • Hosting capability for blogging
  • Accessibility for customer support

Focus on Your Business Website Design

The first impression is the last impression’ -whether you believe it or not it is undeniably true when it is about your website design. Your customer doesn’t have a place to visit or judge your market credibility; however, it’s your e-commerce platform/website that enables customers to understand your marketing skills.

That is to say, the more attractive and informative your website design is, the more customers your online business will attract. This is where both your marketing expertise and technology create a storefront for you.  If your brand is failing to grab the attention of potential customers, it is the right time to consider alternative options.

Hiring a professional web designer with sound web skills can make a huge difference to your websites’ layout.  We recommend you choose a quality e-commerce platform to not only help you customize the website, but also run an online business.

Add an Online Payment Option

The concept of online shopping encapsulates customer’s easiness whether it is about purchasing online or paying online. That is what adding online payment feature to online business makes extremely important. It gives customers satisfaction that they can process transactions without having to go through a long and arduous payment process.

Besides that, giving your customers multiple gateways for shopping can also have a significant impact on your business success. Allow upgrades and provide different packages for purchase options to make shopping fun and convenient from your online store.

Increase Website Traffic

Providing quality products and excellent user experience to your customers is your foremost responsibility if you are an online entrepreneur. It is the only way you can retain your customers while driving more traffic to your website.

For running an online business successfully, you need to make extra efforts to stand out from your competitors, which is not possible until you leverage the right strategies to attract the right customers.  Always focus on the target group to generate more sales and create more traffic online. Here are few tips o drive traffic:

  • Register with popular search engines, like Bing and Google
  • Use persuasive online advertising on social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram
  • Focus on quality content marketing

Gradually incorporate advanced digital marketing strategies to increase quality traffic on your website. Remember that, driving massive traffic involves a number of technicalities and requires you to consult with digital marketing experts.  In addition to that, never compromise on the quality of e-commerce software as it will help you keep a tab on financial information, customer data and other analytics for your future business decisions.

Final Thoughts

All in all, an online business is undeniably a decent way to earn money, but requires proper strategies and planning to run it efficiently. It takes your hard work, time and most importantly market understanding to run an online business.

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Why is Quality Content Important for Your Business Growth?

Quality

Business strategies have changed in the recent past and so have marketing strategies. Marketers are now more vigilant when it comes to applying quality content and innovative ideas in order to persuade potential customers. Similarly, analytical marketers are more inclined toward tracking metrics.

Many companies in the industry are excelling in product manufacturing; however, when it is comes to subjective elements related to content marketing, they lack the expertise. Creating high-quality content has become crucial in order to keep business flourishing and to avoid the risks that can damage brand image.

If you are an entrepreneur, you probably have experience of dealing with directives given by SEO experts, sometimes from Google itself.  But have you ever wondered what this SEO thing really has to do with the success and failure of content market strategy have you used them for your business growth? How does it affect the reputation of your business if the quality of the content is not good enough? Most importantly, what is the way to know if you have really produced great content?

If these questions seem relatable, we can help you find out the answers. We can help you walk through all the important aspects that Google considers when its assess content quality. Plus, you will find some crucial information about how quality content influences your business growth that eventually helps you improve your digital marketing strategies. The information will also help you generate relevant and quality content to grab the attention of your potential customers.

These are the key reasons that explain why creating high quality content is important for business growth?

Importance of Quality Content for Business Growth

There is no denying that powerful digital marketing can make or break your business.  According to expert marketers, a successful business greatly relies on its digital marketing strategies. From search engines to social media, it is high quality content that promotes your business effectively while maintaining your online presence.

Quality content creation is undeniably one of the most important parts of your digital marketing strategy. It does not only connect you with your target audience, but also builds trust between you and your customers.

To put it simply, high-quality content fuels your various marketing techniques. It acts as a base that promotes and endorses your business online. That is why giving attention to the content that it deserves is of paramount importance.

Let us take a look at some key reasons that make producing high quality content important for not only digital marketing purposes, but also business growth.

1.)  High-quality Content Educates Audience

Educating your audience is the very first step to reaching potential customers, especially when they are deciding whether a service or product is worth buying or not. In other words, before making a decision, having the full understanding of the options available is extremely important. That means as a seller it is your responsibility to provide the content that educates your customers properly.

Typically, educational content refers to well -maintained product pages, blog posts, and company homepage, etc.  Moreover, it may include reviews, tutorials, and any other content that can educate customers about your product or service.  It may also incorporate resources customers require to make informed purchasing decisions.

This content is only considered high quality if it is focused on educating the target audience about your business services and offerings.

In order to create valuable content to educate your customers, you need to take the concerns and questions of your customers into account. Your content needs to address the issues a customer faces.  Plus, it should reflect on how your product or service can resolve or relieve those specific issues and how it can make your customers’ life easier.

2.)  Fuel for SEO

Search engines have become the go to solution for anyone looking for an answer to his or her concern or question.  That makes optimizing the content that you create even more important if you want it to stay relevant for the customers.

It is the only way you can attract multiple new leads to your business portal.  However, it is only high-quality content that can help you fuel your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategies.

SEO is all about back links, website visitor and most importantly keyword placement. Your content allows you to build webpages that can fuel all these components. If there is no content, there will be no place for keywords, and for your visitors to get the information.

On the contrary, if you are producing excellent content that your customer is looking for and can relate to, reaching the top of search engines will not be difficult. The more customer flow you have, the more opportunities you will get for your business to grow.

3.)  Content is Important for Social Media Strategies

Social media platforms have completely revolutionized marketing strategies in the past few years.    They have become the easiest way to connect with potential customers. You can use it as a powerful tool to establish genuine relationships with your target audience to make a strong customer base.

Social media is not less than a direct way to approach your customers, maintain conversations, get customer feedback and drive new leads to your site.

However, all of this is fueled by high-quality content that basically enables you to retain your target audience. You can direct customers through your powerful Facebook post or Tweet to your website and encourage them to learn more about your services and products. This helps in establishing a better connection with the target audience. In addition to that, this is one of the ways you can make more visitors to go to your website and collect more information about your products. In other words, it can bring you more profit.

Final Thoughts

In a nutshell, there is no way an entrepreneur can deny the significance of digital marketing strategies as well as high quality content when it comes to business growth.  Keep in mind that quality content is crucial for developing connections with your target audience and driving them to your website.

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How Micro-influencers can Enhance Your Digital Marketing Strategy

InfluencersYou do not need a million followers to become influential when it comes to promoting your business or brand. The concept of micro-influencers seems to have grown in popularity in the past few years. Micro-influencer marketing is gradually turning the idea that a marketer has to be well- known in order to have influence or make a lasting impression.

But what does the term micro-influencer refers to and how does it help entrepreneurs in their bending moments or in improving their marketing strategy?

What are Micro-influencers?

It might sound bizarre, but micro-influencers are considered ‘everyday people’. The strategy is incorporated to promote specific brands or products on social media. This product can be anything from cosmetics, cleanser to assortments and clothing.

That is to say, if your brand  has been trying its best to leverage influencer marketing with the help of established influencers who have significant number of followers (100,000  fans) on various social media platforms, such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, but still struggling to achieve the desired results,  micro-influencer marketing is worth trying.

However, there is no fixed definition of the term micro-influence, but it is explained as someone who’s small, but has a significantly higher following. For example, they have more than 20,000 followers on Twitter, and a few thousand on Instagram and Facebook. That means a micro-influencer makes up a large portion of digital marketers or influencers. It is possible that a micro-influencer has a modest audience, but his influence is certainly great.

The Transition from Social Media Marketing to Micro-Influencer Marketing

In the past two years, the popularity of micro-influencer marketing has grown exponentially. A survey highlighted that approximately 1.5 million people search for ‘influencer marketing’. This was used to be the case for only social media marketing in the past. That doesn’t only indicate how swiftly influencer marketing is replacing other marketing strategies, but also the rise of micro-influencer marketing in the mainstream.

Another apparent reason for this transition is that customers rely on the recommendations and advice of people they trust. Nielsen 2015 Global Trust found in its study that publicity that comes from other people is one of the credible forms of advertising. 80% of the respondents in the study contended that they rely on the recommendations and opinions of their friends and family.

Not only this, two third of the respondents of the study admitted that they trust the information they found in online opinions. Part of the drive toward adopting such strategies is really turning people’s heads and they are accessing micro influencers, depending on their target audiences. Entrepreneurs have started leveraging micro-influencers to improve digital marketing strategies. It has become a reliable way to reach potential customers.

The rise of Micro-Influencers to Rescue Digital Marketing

You must have an idea of how quickly micro-influencer marketing is moving and replacing traditional marketing strategies. While the components of social media marketing and search engine marketing are still performing well, conventional online displays have suffered an inevitable decline in their effectiveness. The two major reasons for that are:

  • People don’t pay much attention to banner ads due to banner blindness. Even if it’s in front of them, they cannot effectively see them.
  • The rise of Adblocker software usage is another reason that has adversely affected display ads. According to a survey, 30% of devices have Adblockers installed on them that removes ads from the screens.

In addition to that, the survey found another digital marketing problem. According to it, most of the social networks lack the quality of controlling ads positions on the platforms. For instance, a high-profile brand, like Coca- Cola, would not be happy to find its YouTube ad positioned next an undesirable video.

With that in mind, it is important for marketers and businesses to know why and how micro-influencers can leverage their digital marketing strategy. If you are a startup and don’t know that, we have you covered here.

How Micro-Influencers Leverage Digital Marketing Strategy?

Micro-influencers – Your Groundswell Approach

There is no denying that micro-influencers use the perfect groundswell approach to influence market when it’s about reaching a large audience. They provide you multiple avenues while channeling digital marketing strategies for exposure and brand awareness.

Besides this, micro-influencers make businesses able to saturate the current market with their product and brand.

Moreover, micro-influencers are aware of the functional significance of repetition, regardless of what kind of marketing you are engaging in.  That is why their campaigns ensure that your brand is exposed to the target audience through different channels and outlets.

Professionals at Content Creation

If your digital marketing strategy emphasizes content creation then micro- influencers are undeniably the Holy Grail! What we mean here is that even if they don’t have the huge following, they can help you produce great content to help you promote your brand.

Whether it is multi-media content, written content or imagery that you are seeking, micro-influencers get this job done keeping everything within your budget. Most importantly, you don’t have to worry about the quality of content.

 Drive Loyal and Highly Engaged customers to Your Brand

There is no doubt that micro-influencers have a loyal and highly-engaged audience. It is growing and mostly made up of people they’ve met who like the content, and who have been following them for a long time; it also includes their family and friends network. On the flip side, most of the macro-influencers have comparatively lower engagement rate.

Target Audience Related to Your Niche

One of the benefits of working with micro-influencers is that they use the right digital strategy to target the audience in your niche. It typically helps businesses align with the audience whose interests and passions match with the product that is manufactured.

It is because influencer marketing is based on the relevance of an influencer to the product, service or brand.  If there is no match, your campaign will not accomplish its goals.

Final Thoughts

All in all, digital consumers have become tech-savvy and smart and micro- influencers focus on the value and power of engagement that is of paramount importance for businesses to grow. The given reasons, in this regard, emphasize the significance of having micro-influencers to enhance your digital marketing strategies.

 

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Things that can Damage Your Business Credit

Business Credit

Many of us have this dream of becoming self-employed. One way to turn this dream into reality is to use your savings as investments to run a successful business. Part of accomplishing this goal is making your financial standing-worthy. No doubt, stable credit scores play a vital role in building this creditworthiness.

That is to stay; good business status scores come with a slew of benefits that mostly include supplier financing, lines of credit, easily available business loans, and business credit cards. In addition to these advantages, good credit scores help you with lower insurance premiums and higher credit limits. It attracts plenty of financial opportunities for entrepreneurs from existing suppliers and lenders.

However, not all entrepreneurs can reap these benefits due to poor financial status scores. This often happens when business owners commit small mistakes while using their business credit cards. Although these mistakes are petty and committed unknowingly, they may damage financial standing when reported to financial agencies.

If your business also faces this issue, you might be making the following mistakes.

Mistakes That Damage Business Credit

Co-signing Loan with Someone Else

You might know that co-signing a loan for anyone, including your friend or relative can bring disastrous results to your financial standing. It happens when the borrower fails to meet the terms and conditions of loan repayment. It is important to remember that, when you co-sign a loan for a relative or a friend, you share a partial responsibility of the borrower. That means when the borrower fails to make the repayments, it automatically affects your commercial loan scores if you also do not make the payment. Being a co-signer of a loan can be potentially disastrous for your business.

How to avoid that?

The easy way to avoid that is to become selective for the people you decide to co-sign a loan for. Plus, don’t forget to investigate the borrower’s history that includes his/her financial stability to repay the loan amount. Go through the options that the borrower will use to make the payments. Determine whether or not these options are viable and will not cause you problems in the future.

Ignoring Credit Problems

How many times have you tried to cross-examine your financial reports? No wonder if the answer to this question is “never.” Most small business owners rely on the yearly report for all the details. And this one of the mistakes that you do when it comes to maintaining good financial standing. Taking out time to check monthly financial reports is always beneficial to ensure its impeccability. If you wait long, checking out the errors will become hard. Remember that, even the minor errors in your report can be damaging and will lead to poor financial status rating. The other warning signs include missing payments, zero-rated business credit cards, and not allowed to make big payments.

How to avoid them?

You can prevent this by taking prompt actions or keeping your standing scores in check.

Closing non-functional Accounts

You might feel disposing of your old-fashioned sneaker is the right way to get rid of old things. It is because you will not be using them in the future. However, this is not the case when it is about your credit cards. That means, if you cancel your old credit cards, you might lower your financial standing scores. It is because those cards might have a good financial standing history. But when you decide to do away with those credit cards, all good financial standing history that contributed to your existing scores is automatically removed.

How to avoid it?

Retaining your old credit cards or keeping those accounts open, you can save your good payment history. Even if you are not using a credit card, don’t close it as it could affect your business financial standing scores.

Late Payments

Keep in mind that your timely payments are one of the major factors used to determine your financial standing scores. If you are a late payer or delay paying your bills, it affects your standing scores. Every time you make a late payment, it negatively impacts your standing scores. Even a single late payment denies your good financial status ratings and classifies you as a late payer.

How to avoid it?

It is obvious that how could you avoid this problem. You have to ensure that you make all your necessary business payments by either vendors or creditors on time. In case you miss out on a payment to the supplier for any reason, you may settle it through an agreement. Request the supplier to not report to the business financial agency and make up for the payment.

Max out Credit Cards

Maxing out a credit card is another vital mistake that many business owners do. Doing so raises the ratio of financial utilization. With a high credit ratio, you are always at a high risk of losing your credit rating. Many entrepreneurs believe that as long as they are paying off, the maxed-out amount on their business credit card will not affect the credit rating; which is not the case. No matter if you pay off the credit amount, it will have an impact on your credit scores. Credit bureaus interpret high utilization of ratio differently.

How to avoid it?

Financial agencies generally expect users to use only 30% of their credit limit. When this credit limit is surpassed, it indicates that your business is facing financial trouble. One way to avoid this is to use your debit card occasionally to make payments. This will keep your financial standing utilization ratio low.

Final Thoughts

In a nutshell, using business credit smartly is essential to improve your credit scores. And good credit scores translate into several financial benefits that may help you strengthen both your business investments and revenues. It presents you as a reliable candidate in front of banks and lenders.

Thus, avoiding the mistakes mentioned above is of paramount importance if you don’t want your business credit scores to be damaged. Think of alternative ways and solutions that can help you avoid these costly mistakes.

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