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Five Internet Strategies that could save your Small Business

Let’s be clear from the very beginning – using the internet for small business is NOT the guaranteed golden bullet solution to all your problems. The addition of an online presence will not automatically turn your fortunes around. Running your own website, engaging customers on social media and selling products online takes effort and hard-work – as will all the strategies outlined in this post.

The internet definitely offers you more avenues to market your business than ever before. You can generate followers and advocates that will purchase from (and market) your business 24/7, sometimes without any one-on-one interaction from you.

Below, there are five online strategies outlined that your business can employ to help raise awareness of your business and its offerings and, most importantly, boost that bottom line.


#1. Boost your Facebook Posts

Facebook BOOSTEver seen the big BOOST button on your Facebook page?

This is the button you will see next to any posts you have made. With the power of a BOOST (and a minimum spend of $7/day), you can actually display your posts in the Facebook feeds of a very specific audience. These people are the prime candidates to which you want to market your products and services.

For example, our local dance shop is selling Fascinators for the upcoming races in town. With Facebook BOOST advertising, they can target:

Women, who like Fashion, and live within 50 miles* of the town, in the 18-50 age group

With targeted boosts, you get your message sent out exactly where you want it to go – much better than casting a broad net and hoping you catch something.

* Not a typo – Facebook, an American company, measures in miles regardless of your location.


#2. Build an eCommerce Store

eCommerce online storeCoupled with the low overheads associated in running an online store alongside your “bricks and mortar” business, there are two major advantages for building your own online store

Firstly, an eCommerce store can sell your products and services 24/7– your customers don’t have to wait for the doors to open or for you to even be available. A good online store is set up to run automatically with payment options and shipping processes integrated.

Secondly – your online store is capable of selling anywhere in the world. Your customer base is dramatically widened beyond the immediate geography of your shopfront. If someone on the other side of Australia (or the world) wants to buy your goods, they can access your online store and make the purchase whenever they want.


#3. Provide 24/7 Customer Service

Customer ServiceGood customer service can be time intensive, and sometimes very repetitive with no immediate remuneration for your time.

With a website, you can off-set some of the repetitive parts of your customer service through the use of frequently asked questions (FAQs), video tutorials and downloadable help sheets (Bunnings are the masters of this) to name just a few. 

Setting up your website’s customer service area properly would be time well spent as the support you provide online can save you hours either on the phone or answering emails.

 

 


#4. Plan and maintain a Content Marketing strategy

Content MarketingContent marketing is a must have on any small business website. To clarify, Content marketing is a strategic approach focused on creating and producing valuable, relevant, and consistent content that attracts and retains your target audience. It is also a key element of the Google search algorithm, helping to determine your website’s placement in search results.

How do you create an effective Content Management Strategy?

  • Decide on your content mediums according to your strengths and your target audience (Blog, videos, podcasts, newsletters….)
  • Generate a plan in calendar format which includes the dates, topics and mediums for the creation of your content. This includes social media updates and blog posts.
  • Stick to the plan – consistency is the key to success!
  • Monitor your traffic to gauge the success of each item. This will give you valuable information in relation to what is working and what isn’t.

#5. Give Email Marketing a try

Email MarketingIf you are thinking of employing an email marketing approach to broadcast your small business, you can’t look past MailChimp (no affiliation with Rusty Mango). It has almost everything built-in to help you create great looking emails, distribute them and, most importantly, keep you within the law regarding SPAM.

Note: You cannot send emails from a business in Australia to anyone you like. You must have the recipient’s permission or an existing customer relationship with that person.  For more information, take a look at the Spam Act 2003.

Using MailChimp (and common sense), you can create an email campaign that drives business to your website and your physical store:

  • Use a pop-up plugin on your website to acquire email addresses from your site visitors. Some of these can be set up to send collected addresses directly to MailChimp.
  • Create list of your existing customer’s emails. Excel is a good way to do this as you can import spreadsheets to MailChimp.
  • Using one of the many templates, create your first email newsletter. Re-purpose some of the content that you have created for your site – blog entries are perfect for this!

MailChimp has a built-in unsubscribe option. Recipients of the email simply have click Unsubscribe in the footer of the email and MailChimp will automatically remove them from the list, satisfying another condition of the Spam Act.


Conclusion

The real secret to a successful and productive online presence for your small business is summed in one word – consistency. Your website cannot be a stagnant brochure for your business, it needs to be dynamic, helpful and must reinforce your position as an expert in your field with quality service and/or products. Make an effort to set aside 15 minutes a day and develop each of the strategies into a workable system for you – the rewards for your business will become clear in no time at all.

Feeling a little overwhelmed? If your business needs help developing any of the strategies above, please get in touch with Rusty Mango Design – we love to help small business!

Make Twitter work for your business

Make Twitter work for your businessA huge chunk of the Social Media focus, especially in business terms, is given to either Facebook or LinkedIn. Poor little Twitter is often seen as the outsider. However, if you are looking to build your credibility and influence in the online world, there can be quite a bit of power in those 140 characters. The trick is to wield that power in such a way that you can build a following that works for you.

Below are a selection of tips that the small business owner can use with (and around) Twitter to create a following that will drive customers inbound to your website and ultimately, your business.

Tip #1 – Become a Tweeter worth following:

  • Whenever you are tweeting, be sure to post a variety of information that is relevant to your target audience. Create a mix of links, quotes, latest news, blog titles and retweets so that your followers can expect something a little different each time.
  • If someone follows you on Twitter, repeat the favour. As soon as they hook with up your Twitter, check out their profile and click their FOLLOW button. You may need to jettison them sometime in the future but, who knows, they might have an audience that you can reach into.
  • Always use hashtags to help your followers and potential audience find what they are looking for. With over 6000 tweets being sent out every second, hashtags allow followers to keep their Twitter viewing relevant.

Tip #2 – Get Visible

  • As detailed in the previous tip, searching is a great way to find other Twitter users in your industry’s area. Use this to seek out KPI’s (Key People of Influence) and industry commentators that you can follow. Two upsides for this trick: you’ll often find great content to retweet or repurpose for your own followers and, you may just score a “celebrity” follower – giving your own tweets more exposure (“Hey, guess who follows me now?”).
  • Don’t pretend to be the only source of information on Twitter – retweet the posts from others that you have found useful. The original poster will notice this action and may follow.  Plus your audience will benefit from someone else’s experience that you share.
  • For maximum exposure of your Twitter efforts, be sure to publish your Twitter tag everywhere (@RustyMango). Put it on your business cards, banners, signage, web sites and any traditional advertising so that you can get the Twitter conversation started.

Tip #3 – Act Strategically

  • Make sure your site has a Twitter FOLLOW button. If your site is built on WordPress, there are many excellent plugins that can help (https://wordpress.org/plugins/twitter-tweets-button/) or, alternatively, manually code the button into your site https://about.twitter.com/resources/buttons ). Your site designer can help with this.
  • Offer value to your Twitter followers with the occasional voucher or coupon – exclusive just to them. Roscoes Piazza in Innisfail does this on some slow nights (“Guess how many boxes are stacked in the store tonight. Closest number wins a free family pizza!”)
  • Twitter only allows a maximum of 2000 people that you can follow at any one time. That is quite a hefty number however, if you find yourself going close, make sure that you unfollow anyone who doesn’t follow you in return. Of course, make an exception for those on Twitter who provide you with worthwhile industry-specific tweets that you can pass on.

To keep a handle on all this Twitter action, use browser add-ons like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite. These two “programs” will allow you to tweet, monitor your account, view retweets of your content and provide an easy way to regularly work on your Twitter campaign.

Make it a habit to tweet/retweet every day – it will keep you abreast of worthwhile content and information from around the web and help to establish yourself as an industry leader in the eyes of your followers.  

Five reasons to evolve your business and get it online

Evolve your Business with Rusty Mango Web DesignIn small towns, such as my hometown of Innisfail, small business owners have relied for years purely on local customers for their income. And this has worked just fine for the most part as these businesses have built up loyal trade and trust with good service.

But times have changed. Businesses right through to the early 90’s never had to compete against anything like the internet and the changes it has brought. Nowadays, a huge amount of business is conducted online and, as a small business owner, you are no longer just competing against other local businesses. In fact, for most professional services and especially those selling products, there is no concept of a local business anymore.

Whether you like it or not, you are a state-wide, national or even an international business. Your customers are very aware that if they don’t receive the service they expect to get along with the product they want AND at a price that they like, they are going online to get it somewhere else!

So if your business is unwilling to get online to be competitive in 2015, then you are going to lose a huge chunk of your potential market.

Here’s five good reasons why getting a website is essential to the evolution of a modern small business.

Evolve your Business with Rusty Mango Web Design#1 – A website is available to your customers 24/7

With online trading, a customer can choose when they are going to visit you. They are no longer dependant on when you open your physical store. A website allows a business owner to keep products and services moving all day, every day. A mobile-responsive site takes this to the next level with customers accessing businesses on-the-go with tablets and smartphones.

#2 – Your website opens you up to the international marketplace.

A website means that you don’t have to just sell your products and services to locals in your immediate area. If you have a great product and it is easily found online (with search engine optimisation), you are able to sell to anyone, anywhere in the world. You are no longer geographically locked in.
If someone two thousand kilometres away wants your products – with a website, they can get them.

#3 – Window Shopping has evolved too

Walking down the main street in your town or city is no longer the only way to go window shopping (though some may disagree). Online, your potential customers are always looking and planning where they are going to make their next purchases. They are comparing prices, checking out services and calculating delivery costs. Even if they may not be making an immediate purchase, when they do, those online businesses who have made an impact on their searches will definitely come to the forefront.

#4. Online, you can build your position as a Key Person of Influence in your industry.

Your website and your online presence have become key factors when customers are searching for a new business to deal with. A strong presence is a great way to demonstrate that you are a modern business with its finger on the pulse of your industry. Customers testimonials are also a great way of showing your prospects that you are capable of delivering the products and services that your offer. Social Media interaction (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) will help to build a community of loyal followers that your business can use to develop, research and sell new products. Each one of these components is essential to build your authority as a KPI (Key Person of Influence).

Evolve your Business with Rusty Mango Web Design#5 – On the internet, size does not matter.

A website is a great leveller. Whether you’re a one-man show or a 20,000-employee corporate giant; if you offer prompt and friendly service backed up by a quality product, you can compete head-to-head with the “big guys”. On the other hand, if you don’t have a website, you’ll be losing business to other companies that do.

Despite all the reasons that are spruiked daily about the benefits of an online business, it is estimated that more than half (52%) of Australian small business owners do not have a website. This is astounding considering that 82% of small business owners get new business through referrals. If you don’t have a website, how do these referrals find out more about you?

If you want to evolve your small business and access a greater share of your industry’s market, get in touch with Rusty Mango Design today and we will examine an online strategy that will work for you.

Website Imagery – More important than ever!

Imagery can make or break your siteWeb design has come a long way since 1991 when a man called Tim Berners-Lee created the first text-only pages of the World Wide Web. In those days, web pages were drab and boring as the technology and slow download speeds didn’t allow for anything else.

There is no such excuse in 2015. A majority of the world has access to high-speed broadband and with that, multimedia websites with video, images and sound are common place. Browsing the web has become a total sensory experience in many ways and text is taking a back seat. The imagery that we see on a website can often determines the success or failure of our interactions with that site. “A picture is worth a 1000 words” has never been a truer statement.

Why are images so powerful for a website?

  • Hot spot analysis shows that images are the very first thing a visitor sees on a website. Text is a distant second!
  • One solitary image can determine the emotion and tone of the website, even before the visitor reads a single word.
  • Visitors like to click on image links more than simple text links. For example, a user will more likely click on a product image to make a purchase rather than the words underneath.
  • Visitors like to share what they find on the web with their friends and it is much more likely that they will LIKE an image to share on Facebook or PIN onto Pinterest.

Pointing with images drives attention to the textUsing images has distinct benefit to a website:

  • Site analysis has shown that images increase the average number of pages visited within a site, reducing bounce time and keep visitors longer.
  • 60% of consumers are more willing to consider local businesses that include images on their websites.
  • ALT tags (the labels that pop-up when you float your mouse over an image) help to improve the general SEO on your site. Google scans these each time it visits your website.
  • Online store products with effective imagery have a much improved chance of product sale than those without.

Message: Don’t Skimp on the Imagery

It’s always evident when a business skimps on images for its website. Even if the text content is compelling and the “call to action” actually works, the whole site can be let down by poor quality imagery. Conveying an emotion is one of the most important parts of a business web design – you want the site visitor to “feel” something towards your brand. You may want to generate excitement through action shots, warmth through family images or compassion for emotional situations around the world.

Creating this emotion is the hardest part. Only well-framed and purposeful imagery has the strength to convey emotion which will affect nearly everything else on the page.

Now to get on my soapbox: Only a professional photographer (or at the very least an experienced amateur) has the experience to capture these images. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that a couple of shots taken on a smart phone will have the same effect. Shots taken by your employees often won’t meet the bill either.

If you have contracted a web designer to build your small business site, than you have made a serious dollar investment that will ultimately benefit your business. Don’t hamper that investment by reverting to using poor quality images on your site. Outlay a few extra dollars (do a little research, it’s often cheaper than you think) and hire a professional photographer to create the emotions that your site needs for its success.

Your site will be better for it!

Tropical Coast Web Design