Have you received a message through Facebook Messenger from an FB Business Page that you follow? And if so, how did you feel and react when you received the message? Chances are you read the message through. After all, why would you follow a Facebook Business page if you weren’t interested in what they were offering? 

Messaging has grown from a simple platform that allowed community members to directly contact one another to a significant factor in growing a business. Put yourself in the shoes of the Facebook Business page owner. 

Messaging gives you the opportunity to communicate directly with your customers and address concerns, comments, and inquiries which they have brought to your attention. 

One-on-One.

Facebook is the biggest social media platform on the Internet with more than 2 Billion monthly users. It is no surprise that its messaging platform, Facebook Messenger, has 1.3 Billion active users every month. 

Given its size and influence, using Facebook Messenger is an effective channel to build your brand and grow your business.

3 Benefits Of Using Facebook Messenger For Your Business

Messaging is not a new concept. In its early days, messaging used to be called “live chat”. The concept was still a work in progress. In many cases, the “live chat” service took several days to respond to a message from a customer. 

Technology companies have ironed out most of the kinks with the introduction of Artificial Intelligence (AI) bots that could generate automatic responses, analyze the context of the message and provide possible solutions. 

If you are not using Facebook Messenger, you are missing out on a number of benefits the platform has for your business. 

1. Messaging Has a Higher User Base Than Social Media

A 2016 study conducted by Business Insider Intelligence titled “The Messaging Apps Report” revealed that the user base of the 4 top messaging platforms was bigger than the user base of the top 4 social media networks by a staggering 500 million users.

Another study this time by Pew Research Center showed that messaging was by far the most dominant form of communication preferred by youths aged 13 to 17 years old:

  • Text Messaging – 55%
  • Instant Messaging – 27%
  • In-Person – 25%
  • Social Media Sites – 23%
  • Phone – 19%
  • Messaging Apps – 14%

Previously known as Facebook Chat in 2008, Facebook Messenger has grown in form and function over the last decade. Its platform can be used to book appointments, reservations, purchases, and donate to charities.

2. Messaging Helps Build More Personal Relationships With Customers

The Internet and the popularity of mobile apps have redefined customer service as relationship management. Social media has become the bridge that connects businesses directly with their customers.  

Messaging has taken it one step further – it has personalized relationships by allowing one-on-one interactions with the customer. As the business owner, you can have a direct conversation with your customer. 

Conversation is a powerful tool because it removes filters and reduces the risk of misunderstandings and miscommunication. It creates collaboration with the customer, especially when it comes to resolving disputes. The customer becomes an integral part of the value chain. 

With messaging, the customer will know right away if his message was seen and read. He will not be put on hold. Facebook Messenger is open 24/7. It is good practice to respond within 24 hours from receiving the message.

3. Better Managing of Your Messaging System

Facebook Messenger is a great way to centralize your messaging system. By having Facebook Messenger available on your Facebook Business Page, customers will have a direct channel to relay their concerns. 

They may realize that messaging their complaints directly will merit a faster response time compared to public posting whereby the issue would just get lost with the other messages. 

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How To Use Facebook Messenger To Grow Your Business

1. Give Customers Top-Level Customer Support Services

Customer service is a very important area of growing a business. In a competitive industry, how you manage your reputation could be the difference between achieving success and languishing in failure. 

Today’s consumers are not going to waste time calling your business number to voice out their complaints. They will not waste time writing a letter to send to you via fax, email, or regular mail. 

Instead, they will go to social media.

Social media has given consumers a platform to air their grievances against businesses. 

Whether the complaint has substance or not, there is nothing that will stop the consumer from posting negative messages on your Facebook page. Right or wrong, the business becomes a victim in the “court of social media opinion”.

Before you can address the complaint, the issue has gone viral and shared by other followers of your Facebook page. 

And that’s just one negative post. What if there are others?

Facebook Messenger will not guarantee that customers will not post negative comments on your Facebook page. However, it will give them an option to raise the complaint privately.

The consumer may realize that by posting directly on your Facebook Page, his complaint will get lost among other complaints. By sending his complaint via Facebook Messenger, it will be easier found, identified, and indexed by the business for immediate attention.

A displeased customer is almost always an irate one. He does not want to think he did not get what he paid for. The best way to mollify an irate customer is to attend to the complaint right away and have it resolved as soon as possible. 

Facebook Messenger gives you the opportunity to resolve the issue directly and immediately while building your reputation as a business that cares about its customers. 

2. Get Found Right Away – Share Your Location

A survey conducted by Deluxe revealed that 50% of consumers prioritize location when searching for information on a retailer from their smartphone. Similarly, 38% of consumers want accurate information on a retailer’s location when searching on their PCs. 

Facebook Messenger makes it easy for you to share your location to potential customers:

  • Select the conversation.
  • Click on the 3 dots located at the bottom of the screen.
  • Click “Location”
  • Use the pin to mark your current location or use Messenger’s search function.
  • Click “Send”

Facebook Messenger is a great complement to your online business listing. If the information in your online business listing has not been updated, Messenger will be an effective fall-back option. 

Also, you can send your location to potential clients that you have a scheduled meeting with. 

For example, you are in the real estate business and you asked a prospective buyer to meet at a coffee shop. If the prospective buyer is not aware of the coffee shop or wants to know the specific branch, use Facebook Messenger to send him the exact details of the location.

3. Create Another Medium For Delivering Content

Website opt-ins are an effective way of delivering content to qualified customers. Facebook Messenger provides customers an easy and practical medium for receiving content from your business. 

A study conducted by HubSpot showed that delivering content via Facebook Messenger resulted in an open rate of 80% and a click-through rate of 13%. The numbers represented an improvement of 242% in open rates and 616% in click-through rates over email.

The advantage of using Messenger to deliver content is that you can add a personal touch and further build on establishing a strong, trusting relationship with your customers.

Let’s assume you are in the business of selling succulent plants. A succulent plant grower might send you the following message regarding one of your articles:

“Hi. I am presently trying to grow Faucaria Tigrina. Can you please send me the article you posted on how to water Faucaria Tigrina? Also, I’d like to know what kind of pot I should buy for proper drainage.”

You can respond with a personalized message as follows:

“Here is the article on Faucaria Tigrina which you requested. Thank you for following us on Facebook and good luck growing Tiger’s Jaws! If you have any other concerns, please do not hesitate to message us.”

Customers love it when you give them personalized attention. It shows that you highly appreciate them as people and not just as contributors to your monthly sales quota. 

4. Increase Productivity By Using the Chatbots

Messaging platforms use chatbots – programs that are designed to respond automatically to messages. Chatbots have undergone their own evolution. 

Early in their inception, chatbots were limited to responding with default messages. While default messages was an assurance to customers that their message was received, they did little to improve relationships. 

Over time, chatbots were designed to send messages that were customized based on the keywords indexed from the message. Programmers were able to improve Machine Learning (ML) to a point that the chatbots were able to issue a response that fit the situation.

Today’s chatbots, including those of Facebook Messenger, can do a variety of tasks:

  • Deliver personalized content
  • Respond to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
  • Complete and confirm purchase orders from customers
  • Distribute marketing copy and advertising materials such as promos

By maximizing the use and functionality of chatbots, you can do more things with less time and improve business productivity.

Conclusion – Facebook Messenger Will Help You Build Your Brand

Social media, content, video – these are marketing channels that have been proven to increase awareness on your business, its products, and services. 

Integrating Facebook Messenger will take your digital marketing efforts to another level because nothing builds your brand better than having one-on-one interactions with your customers. 

Facebook Messenger makes your business more accessible to customers. You are literally within reach – at the palm of their hand. It cuts the number of steps needed to reach the customer. 

All you have to do is keep Messenger open and wait for notifications. For faster customer service, use the chatbots to respond immediately. 

If you want to learn more about Facebook Messenger and how to include it in your digital marketing strategy, feel free to give us a call or an email. We will be glad to take you through the in-depth process of using Facebook Messenger for the best results. 

And if you enjoyed this article, please share it with your community!

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In the last 60 years, the credit card has evolved from a status symbol to a mainstay in the wallets of people all over the world. Case in point, in 1970, only 16% of Americans owned a credit card. Today, 70.2 % of Americans own one. 

The number of credit card owners has increased by 4.1% since 2016 and on average, 35% of Americans own 1 to 2 types of plastic. 

The popularity of the use of credit cards grew alongside the development of technology and telecommunications. As innovations in electronic payment systems improved, so did the confidence of retailers to accept the credit card as a method of payment.

Thus, with more than 183 million card-carrying Americans looking around for the best deals in town, it only makes sense to allow credit card payments in your establishment.

However, does it make good business sense to charge customers extra for opting to use their credit card to pay for their purchases?

The Credit Card Conundrum – Boon Or Bane For Customers?

There are a number of good reasons why customers love to use their credit card to pay for goods and services.

  • Convenience – No need to carry around a bulky wallet stuffed with bills and coins or a checkbook. A credit card is valuable when traveling to another country.
  • Safe – If your credit card should get stolen, all you have to do is inform the issuing company about the incident. The card company will suspend your account and conduct a review of the transactions made since the time you reported the crime. After an investigation has been made, the charges can be reversed and a new card issued to you.
  • Cash Flow Management – Did your laptop send its final email before the motherboard kicked the circuit board for good? If your cash is tight but you expect some payments to come in by next month, use your credit card to buy a new laptop. You can pay for the laptop in affordable monthly installments until such time that you can settle the obligation in full.
  • Improve Credit Score – The credit card company will send a record of your transactions to the Credit Bureau. If you are a responsible credit card holder and pay your bills on time, your credit rating will improve.  

In addition to being a business owner, you are most likely a credit cardholder who has enjoyed first-hand the benefits of paying with a Mastercard or Visa instead of cash. 

However, as a business owner, you may have come to realize that the grass is not greener on the other side of the fence. 

While the use of a credit card gives the customer more convenience, it adds to the cost of business of the entrepreneur. There is a cost to the business owner for having these credit card payments processed. 

Furthermore, the business owner has to pay for the software and hardware that supports the credit card payment system.

All in all, these costs add up to around 4% of the purchase price for the account of the business owner. 

In 2013, new rules were set in place that allowed businesses which accepted credit card payments to apply a surcharge on all card transactions. 

Under the new rules, a retailer could present a specific price for an item but charge higher to customers who opt to pay for the same item via credit card. 

In effect, the additional cost of processing the credit card payment would be passed on to the customer. 

For the business owner, if he priced the item at $50, he is assured of getting paid $50 whether cash or credit card was used to make the purchase. 

The Credit Card Surcharge – Is It A Tax On Convenience?

To be clear, the surcharge is not intended for the business owner to make more money from customers who prefer to pay with a credit card. 

Rather, the purpose of the surcharge is to help the business owner to recover the cost of processing the credit card payment.

And this is where we have a moral dilemma:

Should the customer who chooses to pay for the item with a credit card be made accountable for the business owner’s cost of doing business?

The surcharge creates a conundrum for the use of the credit card: It protects the business interests of the entrepreneur but penalizes the customer for choosing the convenience of paying via credit card. 

The conundrum has triggered multiple discussions on whether applying surcharges is a legalized way of infringing upon the right of the consumer to choose the method of payment. 

Depending on the capability of the retailer, a consumer has the following options to pay for his purchase:

  • Cash
  • Check
  • Credit Card
  • Debit Card

The reasons behind the decision to prefer the credit card as the method of payment over cash, check or debit card will vary from one customer to another. 

  • The ATM could be offline; Customer A had no choice but to use his credit card.
  • Customer B has cash flow problems because his clients had not yet paid for his company’s services. 
  • Customer C had his wallet stolen including his ATM card and has asked his wife to pay for the item with her credit card. 
  • Customer D wants to avail of the convenience of paying with a credit card and accumulate reward points from the card issuer. 

In the first 3 examples, the customers’ decisions were influenced by factors beyond their control. It was possible that if they had the opportunity to pay with cash, they would have. However, circumstances dictated otherwise. 

Why should these customers be penalized for the inconveniences that were the fault of others? 

If the surcharge is meant to get consumers to understand the plight of the business owner, should the business owner be made to understand the plight of the consumer?

Obviously, the customer should not be “interrogated” on why he decided to pay for the purchase with his credit card – that is his right to choose as a customer. 

Besides, the obligation of the business owner is to offer products and services. He cannot arbitrarily decide who gets to pay with a credit card and who doesn’t. 

In view of this, the surcharge acts as a tax on the consumer’s right to favor convenience. 

The surcharge is not a sustainable pricing strategy because it protects only the seller but penalizes the buyer for exercising his right to choose the credit card as the method of payment.

From the perspective of the customer, the surcharge negatively impacts consumerism – the protection of the rights and interests of the consumer. 

Sustainable Pricing Strategies – Do They Exist?

Countries such as the United Kingdom and the Philippines have banned the practice of imposing surcharges on credit card transactions. 

Should other countries like the United States – the most powerful economy in the world – follow suit and terminate the practice of surcharging on purchases made with a credit card?

The best solutions are sustainable solutions. This means the proposed solution should benefit all parties – the consumer, the business owner, and the credit card processor. 

Is it possible to come up with sustainable pricing strategies that will protect the interests of the consumer, the business owner, and the credit card processing company?

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1. Single Pricing System 

Since the credit card company has to cover its expenses in processing the credit card transactions, it will pass on the added cost to the business owner. 

As such, the business owner should consider the processing charges as a cost of doing business and factor it in his overall pricing strategy.

By factoring the cost of credit card processing into his pricing matrix, the business owner will be able to come up with a single pricing system that will not discriminate versus the consumer. 

The processing charges can simply be added as part of the pricing matrix’s “Contingency Expenses” – those items which may contribute to the cost of sales such as an increase in the price of materials, foreign exchange rate, and wastage to name a few. 

Under a single-pricing system, there will only be one price posted per item. There will be no distinction if the purchase will be made via cash, check, debit card or credit card. 

A single-pricing system is sustainable because it protects the interests of the parties involved. 

The consumer is not penalized for using his credit card, the credit card processing company covers the added cost and the business owner gets paid in full.

2. Convenience Fees

Convenience Fees are often mistakenly interchanged with surcharge fees. The difference between the 2 fees is that the cost of the surcharge is determined by the credit card company. 

In contrast, the amount of the Convenience Fee is determined by the business owner. However, the purpose is the same – to tax the consumer the convenience of using a credit card so that the business owner can recover his expenses.

The best way to implement the convenience fee is to introduce a different avenue for making a purchase – an avenue whereby the use of the credit card becomes a necessity.

A good example would be to provide online delivery services. When a customer visits the business owner’s website to make a purchase, the only way to facilitate the transaction would be to use a credit card. 

Under this pricing strategy, the business owner can also factor in other expenses in addition to the processing fees. These add-on expenses may include delivery or shipping charges, labor, and warehousing costs.

3. Discounting Policies

Another objective of surcharging is to discourage the customer from using his credit card and instead opt for cash or check payments which do not carry transaction fees.

“To discourage” has a negative connotation. A better approach would be to encourage customers to pay via cash by offering attractive discounts on cash purchases. 

For example, a product may have a single price of $100. However, if a buyer decides to pay cash, he would be given a 4% discount. 

A savvy business owner would already factor in the 4% discount in his pricing matrix. Therefore, he does not lose anything and may gain more customers because of the discount.

The discounting pricing strategy would increase the number of cash sales and any credit card transaction would just pad the business owner’s margins a bit more. 

Conclusion

The credit card was borne out of convenience. In the 1800s, charge plates were extended to farmers which afforded them the time to pay for their bills once their crops were harvested and sold. 

In 1946, the Charg-It card was created to help merchants get paid while the banks – the “middlemen” – collected payment from the customer. By 1950, the first incarnation of the modern-day credit card – the American Express Card – was introduced worldwide.

Today, the credit card has taken new forms to provide more convenience and greater ease of use. The prime example would be Apple Pay, a digital wallet service from Apple, that allows users to pay via the iOS mobile platform or via the Internet. 

Given its history of providing both consumers and business owners convenience, the credit card should be celebrated not chastised. 

The idea of penalizing consumers who exercise their right to use credit as a means of payment is tantamount to imposing a tax on convenience.

At the same time, we should also understand the plight of small business owners who may have tight funds or limited access to capital. 

4% may not sound like much but over time, the numbers will add up and eventually compromise his limited profit margin. 

Instead of a surcharge, businesses are best advised to implement sustainable pricing strategies that provide a win-win-win proposition for all the parties involved.

What is your opinion on the practice of surcharging on credit cards? Do you have other sustainable pricing strategies in mind? Please feel free to share your ideas in our comment section.

If you enjoyed this article and would like similar content for your website, give us a call or an email. Let’s find time to discuss your content marketing strategy!

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Whenever you read the news, you will come across reports about the economy – how the stock market is performing and data on jobs, unemployment, and currency exchange. You will read terms such as “Gross Domestic Product”, “recession”, and “trade balance”. 

For the past few months, the news has given massive coverage on the trade war launched by the United States against China and how it has impacted the bottom line of many U.S. companies in the manufacturing and agricultural sector.

Certainly, these types of news are disconcerting because when companies are in trouble, jobs and consequently, the livelihood and well-being of many families are on the line. 

Thus, in a world that has become increasingly concerned about profit, the idea of a non-profit organization must leave some people scratching their heads. 

What Is A Non-Profit Organization?

By definition, a non-profit organization is an entity that does not funnel its earnings to stockholders or investors. The majority of non-profit organizations are not connected with the government and are private entities. 

However, instead of paying out dividends to its stockholders, a non-profit organization appropriates its income to help the group achieve its goals which are usually philanthropic in nature. 

A non-profit organization can support a variety of causes. Some of the most popular ones include endangered species, preserving the arts, social reform programs, protecting the environment, education, and literacy. 

What Are The Challenges Facing Non-Profit Organizations?

Spearheading a non-profit organization can be a daunting task. With information flowing freely – thanks to the Internet and the advances in digital technology – decisions are more easily influenced by data that is available on the web.

Similar to profit organizations, non-profit organizations face several challenges that may obstruct their efforts to achieve their goals and objectives.

We have identified 3 challenges that non-profit organizations have to contend with in the coming years:

  1. Government Regulations – Changes in government regulations and tax reform laws may affect the decisions of individuals to contribute as well as hinder the ability of non-profit organizations to invoice for their services and generate more funding.
  2. Hiring Volunteers and Recruiting Staff – An increase in the number of jobs available in the market in combination with an upward adjustment in the wage rate has made it more difficult for non-profit organizations to hire and recruit volunteers needed to attend to its various duties and responsibilities. 
  3. Lack of Technological Support – With the decline in available funding, non-profit organizations are finding it increasingly difficult to avail of and utilize technology needed to further its growth and open new avenues for financial support. 

Mountaintop Web Design is not an interest group and neither are we in the recruitment business.

However, we are in the technology business. We understand how digital innovations and the Internet can be utilized to help non-profit organizations meet their goals. 

How Can Non-Profit Organizations Benefit From Digital Marketing?

If you want to know how digital marketing benefits small businesses, please read our blog, “5 Reasons Why Small Businesses Need To Invest In A Digital Marketing Strategy”.

The truth is, a non-profit organization also reaps the same benefits from incorporating a digital marketing strategy as a profit organization. 

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1. Low-Cost Method Of Promoting the Organization’s Objectives

Digital marketing is the process of utilizing digital technology – various online tools and platforms – to market and promote a business, it’s products and services. The process is run via online channels foremost of which is the website. 

For the reason that the world is becoming more technology-dependent, all businesses, whether profit or non-profit, should have a website. Here’s a statistic that you should keep in mind:

Of the 7.7 Billion people on our planet, 4.3 Billion are on the Internet every single day. That number accounts for 55.6% of the world’s total population.

If your business is not on the Internet, how would potential customers – or donors – find you? The website is your business address on the Internet. 

The cost of putting up a website will depend on the type, functionality, and design features. At Mountaintop, we can customize a fully-functional, mobile responsive website that will meet your needs and budget.

And if you wish, you can build your own website by using a free design template from WordPress. We have written about it in our blog, “How To Build Your Own Website In 4 Easy Steps”.

Another effective channel for digital marketing is social media. According to a study by Sprout Social, 74% of consumers’ buying decisions are influenced by social media content. 

Of the 4.3 billion people on the Internet on a daily basis, more than 3 billion are on social media. Facebook accounts for 2.2 billion of social media’s daily traffic

Setting up a social media account for your non-profit organization will not cost you a cent. There are many social media platforms to choose from – Facebook,  Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube – are the popular ones and have large communities. 

You can choose 2 to 3 social media platforms to post content on a regular basis. With time and by creating useful, engaging, and compelling content, you should see more traffic driven to your website.

2. The Non-Profit Group Becomes Available 24/7

Unlike a shopping mall or a commercial building, the Internet does not close down or take holiday breaks. It is open 24/7.

When you have a website and social media accounts on the Internet, your non-profit organization becomes available 24/7.

  • Potential donors can read about your charitable cause; its purpose, vision, and organizational goals.
  • The use of compelling content delivered through regular blogs and video links are strong influencers which can immediately convert interest into donations.
  • If the site visitor wants to make a contribution, we can integrate a donation system that will easily facilitate the payment.

3. Measure Performance In Real-Time

One of the great advantages of using digital marketing is that you can track its performance in real-time by accessing data known as analytics.

Analytics will provide you key information on your current digital marketing strategy. You will have empirical evidence that will identify the processes which are delivering good ROI. 

Likewise, Analytics will point out the processes that are not delivering results. By determining the processes which result in ROI and those which are not, you can fine-tune the strategy. 

Thus, you can adjust the budget and allocate more resources to high-return processes. By using analytics as a reference tool to manage your budget, your overall digital marketing strategy should deliver higher ROI. 

4. Adapt to Changes In Consumer Behavior

Blogging and social media marketing are platforms that allow your followers to directly engage with you. Some will post comments related to the content you posted. 

Our advice is to respond to these commenters right away – within 24 hours if possible. The reason is these comments are valuable data. They provide keen insights on how your audience thinks, behaves, and processes information. 

When you respond, you create a feedback system between your non-profit organization and the commenter. 

The feedback system will establish communication which can eventually lead to an important component of business development: Relationship building. 

Building a solid market base of end-users and regular patrons will come down to expert relationship management. 

Digital marketing will provide you with the platform, tools, and channels to build a strong following and an enhanced presence on the Internet. 

In the following section, we will discuss 2 case studies of non-profit organizations which greatly benefited from having a website designed and managed by our company.

Case Study No.1 – Severe Weather Shelter Network

Severe Weather Shelter Network is a non-profit organization which partners up with various groups and agencies to provide immediate shelter to people who are living on the streets during harsh weather conditions.

The non-profit group already had an existing website but it was not delivering the expected results. SWSN approached us to redesign the site with the objectives of increasing awareness and improving the process of making donations.

Old website

For the website redesign, we put more focus on the homepage which is the primary landing page on a website. 

You will see the group’s Brand Value Proposition (BVP) right away – “Help Us Make A Difference. Helping the homeless build a community of supporters and providing a place of refuge on freezing nights.”

The BVP is short, direct, and easy to understand. Below the BVP is the Call-to-Action (CTA) which is asking the site visitor to make a contribution through the donation system that we built into the website.

Severe Weather Shelter Network is happy with the site and have seen a large increase in the number of their donations. They have also subscribed to our Extreme WordPress Care Plans to keep their website safe from potential cyber-attacks.  

Case Study No.2: Love In The Name Of Christ

Love In The Name Of Christ is a non-profit organization that works with local churches to help transform the lives of people who were lost and had no direction or purpose through the teachings of Christ.

Similar to Severe Weather Shelter Network, Love In The Name Of Christ had an existing website. However, it had an outdated design and was not functioning very well. 

We gave it a fresher look that was aesthetically beautiful and fully-functional. The BVP on the homepage was effective; it was easy to remember and direct to the point. 

We also included a donation system to facilitate contributions faster and more convenient for donors. 

Love In The Name Of Christ also signed up with our Extreme WordPress Care Plans.

Conclusion

Digital marketing has been proven to be an effective way of helping non-profits achieve their goals. 

Whether you are a profit or non-profit organization, you need to have a strong presence on the Internet. 

Having a website in combination with the right digital marketing tools and processes will help spread the message of non-profit organizations while effectively addressing the challenges they face.

If you are a non-profit organization that is thinking of putting up a website or having your existing one redesigned, please give us a call or drop us an email. 

You can consult with us for free. 

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Investing in a website is a smart first step to building a profitable business. In fact, you are already several steps ahead of the 45% of businesses that still don’t have a website. 

Now that you have taken the first step, what is the next step?

If you are not sure how to use a website to make your business profitable, you are not alone. 

One reason why 45% of small businesses still don’t have a website is that the owners are not sure what it does and how it works to contribute to profitability. 

The truth is, running a small business website is not that difficult or complicated. Yes, there is a learning curve to overcome and it will take some time before you can see the fruits of your labor. 

However, with patience and diligence, your website can become a profit-generating machine for your business. 

So what is the next step? Read the article and find out how to use your website to make your business profitable.

Why Your Website Is The Most Powerful Marketing Tool For Your Business

Unlike a brick-and-mortar business, your website is open 24/7. It can be accessed by millions – even by billions – of people who are on the Internet every day. 

Can you imagine owning a retail store that is open 24/7? You can have sales transactions every hour! People will be buying after close-of-business hours and keep your cash registers ringing. 

This is possible with an online retail or e-commerce store. Your customers will simply click on your URL or website address, land on your homepage, read through your product list, then pay for the transaction at the checkout counter. 

Through it all, you could be playing catch with your son, watching your daughter’s piano recital, having a glass of red wine with the spouse, or in the REM stage of a good night’s sleep. 

Sounds too good to be true?

Well, it’s not! 

There are many online entrepreneurs who are reaping the success of running a profitable Internet-based business.  

These online entrepreneurs are not exceptions to the rule. Anyone can have a dynamic website that helps the business earn considerable income and become highly profitable. 

The key is to learn how to harness the power of your website so you can maximize the opportunities that can be found on the Internet.

1. Make Sure Your Website Is Mobile Responsive

We have written a good number of articles on the importance of having a mobile responsive website. 

We did not stop there. 

In our other articles on digital marketing and website design, mobile responsive is always mentioned.

Here are 4 statistics-backed reasons why your website should be mobile responsive:

Having a website is a start but complete the project by making sure it is highly mobile responsive. By this, we mean that your website should have no problem setting up on the screen of a mobile device regardless of screen size. 

If your website is not mobile responsive, you will lose business. Worse, not having a mobile responsive website can even prove to be damaging to your business. 

Imagine clicking on a website from your smartphone and having to zoom-in and manually adjust the position of the page on your screen just to be able to read the content. 

You will probably click out of the website.

Coincidentally, that is what your prospective customer will do if your website is not mobile responsive.

2. Optimize Your Website

We have come across websites that are beautiful. They look elegant and the content on the site is very well-written.

Unfortunately, according to the websites’ analytics, very few people have seen them. 

The website cannot be seen because they cannot be found. They cannot be found because the websites are not optimized.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of using techniques and processes that will increase the search visibility of your website on the Internet. 

Without SEO, it does not matter if your website homepage looks like it should be on the Louvre Museum in Paris, France or if the content reads like it was written by Leo Tolstoy.

Hardly anyone will find it unless you have it optimized.

Here are 4 areas that you should look into to have your website optimized for easy search.

  • Keyword Research – Keywords are the most-often used words or phrases when someone launches a search query. Having your website content embedded with the right keywords will make it easier for the search engine crawlers to index your page.
  • Site Navigability – The navigability of a page plays an important factor in User Experience of which Google is big on. If you want your website to convert, you must make it easy for the visitor to use. If the visitor feels like he is trapped in a labyrinth, he will just click out.
  • Meta and Title Tags – Meta and Title tags are the responsibility of the web developer. These are descriptions of your website that are included in its code. Title tags describe what your website is all about and can be seen on the results page. Meta tags are hidden within the code but are used to validate the type of website that you have. 
  • Site Speed – Although it takes 8.66 seconds to download the top ranking websites in Google, Internet searchers still expect a website to download in 3 seconds or less. 53% of users will leave a website if it does not download in under 3 seconds. 

3. Focus On Your Website Homepage

An argument can be made that the Homepage is the most important page on your website. This is because is the page where a visitor will land after he clicks on your URL. 

Having an effective website homepage means having one that is efficient – it should get the job done in no more than 6 seconds. 

If the site visitor does not see anything useful, relevant, and compelling on your website within 6 seconds, he will click out.

What then makes an efficient website homepage?

  • Less Is More – Have you come across a website that has so many things happening on the homepage? There is so much text. The homepage copy feels like reading a long-form blog. 

Likewise, there are too many images and it seems that the color choices were made without thought or purpose. 

When designing a homepage, the rule is less is more. Too much activity on the homepage will only serve to distract the site user not help him find what he is looking for.

  • What Is Your Brand Value Proposition (BVP)? – The Brand Value Proposition or BVP is a statement that tells site visitors what your business can do for them. The BVP is the most important statement on your homepage and perhaps on your entire website. As mentioned, you only have fewer than 6 seconds to catch the interest of the site visitor. This is where the BVP comes in. It must be short, direct-to-the-point, and easily understood. 
  • How Compelling Is Your Call-To-Action (CTA)? – The Call-To-Action (CTA) tells the site visitor what you want him to do. To be effective the CTA must be direct-to-the-point. It should state urgency and the importance of acquiring your products and services right now.

You can make your homepage more compelling by adding testimonies or explainer videos. However, from both a design and functional perspective, less is more. 

We recommend prioritizing the BVO and coming up with an effective CTA. From there, you could consider a slide featuring testimonies from actual clients or customers. 

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4. Blog Actively

People spend 23% of their time online reading blogs. 

That statement should be enough to emphasize our point on the importance of blogging actively for your business. 

However, before you blog actively, it would be best to understand what makes a blog effective.

Blogging is not as simple as writing about a topic you like or specialize in. We have clients who are experts in their field. They create blogs that are packed with information acquired from the years invested in the industry.

Yet, hardly anyone reads them. So, they get discouraged from blogging. By doing so, they fail to realize the benefits of blogging. 

There are 2 reasons why their blogs do not gain traction and fail to deliver the desired results:

  • The blogs are not optimized for search.
  • The blogs are not written for the audience.

Blogging is not the same as writing a college term paper or a piece on a broadsheet. It combines the creativity of writing and the precision of digital technology. 

Yes, you need a good writer who can create compelling pieces that are free of spelling and grammatical errors. However, these must be optimized so that the blogs can be searched and found on the Internet. 

Optimizing a blog involves a number of processes, some of which we will discuss here:

  • Keywords – We mentioned the importance of keywords in optimizing a website. The same can be said for your blogs. In order to be found your blog should contain the most-searched keywords in your industry. Therefore, in addition to topic research, your content creation strategy should include keyword research.
  • Structure – Do you find reading a thickly-worded paragraph a pleasant experience? Not many people do. Too many sentences in a paragraph can turn reading into a tedious experience. To improve readability, the paragraphs should only contain 3-4 sentences. Consequently, each sentence should have no more than 40 words. Ideally, 20-25 words per sentence are best for optimization purposes. 
  • Content – An effective blog should have content that is fresh or unique, relevant, useful, informative, and compelling. It doesn’t matter if you have the best keywords in the right density. If your content does not meet the criteria, it will not be read.

We cannot overemphasize the importance of blogging. However, you need to have blogging done right.

We have published several blogs that have been recognized as among the best in the digital marketing industry. If you need help in blogging, we are the agency to go to!

5. Stay Active Online

The best way to stay top-of-mind on the Internet is to stay active online. 

Let us go back to blogging. 

According to research, you should blog at least 11 times per month in order to achieve the best results in sales conversions and website traffic.

What is the ideal length of a blog post for SEO purposes? According to a study by Search Engine Journal, your blogs should average 1,900 words. 

That is a lot of writing per week!

Then, you have to publish the blogs on various online channels such as social media, blogging communities, and of course, your own website. 

That is a lot of work!

However, you have the option of outsourcing these tasks to third-party agencies such as Mountaintop Web Design. This way, you can free up your time to focus on activities that are directly involved with your business. 

The bottom line is that in order to stay relevant, you have to maintain an active presence online through blogging and frequent posting of content.

6. Fortify Site Security

Last July 2018, search engine giant Google started flagging websites without SSL certificates as “Not Secure”. 

Having your website labeled as “Not Secure” by the Internet’s biggest search engine is enough to drive away interest from your business. 

Google decided to impose SSL certificates to all websites because of the growing threat of cyber-security. As you well know, Google is big on User Experience. 

You can learn more about SSL certificates and their importance for maintaining security for your website in our article “SSL Basics: Why You Need It To Protect Your Website From Hackers”.

Encourage site visitors to enter your website by securing it with SSL certificates. It is very easy to get SSL certificates and they will help protect your data from being stolen by cyber-criminals. 

Conclusion

The website is more than just a business address on the Internet. It is your digital hub online where all transactions take place. Because of your website, your products and services can be accessed by a wider audience. It will give you the platform to build your reputation as a reliable resource in the industry.

Once your website goes live, it allows you to capitalize on the opportunities on the Internet that can make your business profitable. 

However, a website will not run on its own.

You have to institute processes and techniques that are designed to drive traffic to your website. If done properly, these processes and techniques – such as the ones discussed in this article – will deliver results and make your business very profitable.

If you like this article, please feel free to share it in your community. And if you want to learn more about our services, let’s discuss it over your favorite brew!

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Email remains the most important medium of communication. It is fast, easy, and very convenient especially in this day and age of mobile technology. You can check your email anywhere and in any place. All you need is an Internet connection. 

If you own a business, you must have an email address. However, should you get a generic email – one that has an address such as @yahoo.com – or should you create an email has your own domain as its address? 

The answer is actually quite easy. You should definitely opt for an email with your own domain name as its address. 

It will not matter that Google is the biggest search engine on the Internet. Having a @gmail.com address will not have the same impact as having a @yourcompanyname.com email address. 

Why? It all comes down to establishing an identity for your own business! 

Here are 5 reasons why you need – and should have – a professional email address.

1. Creates a Strong, Professional Impression

Purchasing a domain name shows that you are deeply invested in your company. You take a professional approach to running your business. 

You want your company to be unique; to stand out from the rest of the competition that still uses common email addresses. 

Put yourself in the position of the recipient of an email. Which one would impress you more? 

  1. [email protected]
  2. [email protected]

There is nothing unique about [email protected]. Once you sign up for a webmail account with an email provider, you automatically get a free address with the provider’s domain name. 

Scammers, cyber-criminals who like to go on phishing expeditions can easily get an email account from Yahoo or Gmail.

However, [email protected] is exclusively only to John Smith as the proprietor of his own company. No one else can have an email address with the domain name @johnscompany unless it is authorized by John Smith. 

2. Enhances the Value of Your Brand

Let us assume that after 6 months of persistent follow-ups, you were finally able to land a meeting with a big-time investor in property development. 

When you get inside the reception area, you see your competitor and he is practicing for his sales presentation. 

You notice that his email is prominently featured in the final PowerPoint slide. His email address reads [email protected]

Meanwhile, your email address reads [email protected]

Given these circumstances, which email would generate the faster recall and longer-lasting impression? Your @gmail.com address or Michael Thorpe’s own professional email address? 

Establishing your brand is very important because it creates recall with your customers, clients, and followers. Your business is your brand. Your brand is your business. You carry your brand wherever you go and in whatever you do. 

A professional email address pushes your branding strategy deeper into the consciousness of your target market. It will make it easier to remember your domain name and to find your website. 

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3. Builds Trust and Confidence in Your Business

Your own car.

Your own house.

Your own business.

What better says that “You’ve Arrived” than ownership?

Ownership implies that you have independence. In order to achieve independence, you should have attained a status that other people have not. Independence makes you different from those who still depend on others.

For prospects, clients, and customers they would feel more confident dealing with someone who has embraced independence in business. An email address that has a common domain name is not unique. 

Let us assume that you decided to run an email campaign. How would prospects respond to an email that had a generic address such as @gmail.com? Chances are it would be ignored or left unopened. 

As we mentioned earlier, scammers and phishers are more prone to use a generic address than their own domain address. 

By using the domain name of your business as your professional email address, you lessen the chances of your communication being ignored as it fosters greater trust and confidence with the recipient.

4. Improves the Level of Communication 

The benefits of having your own domain extend beyond getting a professional email address. Likewise, it will make it easier to manage or organize the different functions of your business. 

For example, if your business has departments for accounting, customer service, IT support, and recruitment, you can assign the following professional email addresses:

By simply designating a specific departmental email address, it will be easier for you to find communication that is related to a function of your company. 

Thus, if you need to find the email thread regarding the latest invoice that was sent to a client, you can simply go to [email protected]

If you want to find out if your team members have any comments or suggestions about the company or the business itself, you can check out [email protected]

5. Encourages Unity and Teamwork

How did you feel when your employer assigned you a company email? We are sure you felt flattered and important. The same can be said about your team members.

Having a common email address encourages unity and teamwork. It makes everyone feel like they are part of your company because the address is unique and specific only to your company. 

Assigning professional email addresses to your team members also makes it easier and more convenient to manage communication within the organization. 

We should note that having your own domain as an email address is one thing. Having a professional local part of your email address is another. 

The local part is the portion of the email that refers to its designated user or the name on the mailbox. 

For example, in the email [email protected], “ted” is the local part. 

When coming up with the local part of your email, choose one that exudes professionalism. The usual practice is to simply use your name – either the full version or just the first name. 

Do not attempt to be cute and funny by coming up with a local part that may be inappropriate. You might end up offending the recipient and giving your company a bad name. 

Conclusion

Working from home or telecommuting is fast becoming the way of employment nowadays. It is not uncommon to meet an entrepreneur working from his home office, his favorite coffee shop, or at the public park. 

If you don’t have your own office space and instead, work from your neighborhood coffee shop, would you give out your business address as The Neighborhood Coffee Shop at XYZ Avenue along 123 Main Street? 

Of course not! In the first place, the coffee shop is not your business address. Secondly, The Neighborhood Coffee Shop is not your business name. 

Therefore, it is important to have your own business name. If you don’t plan on having an office, it is even more important that you should put up a website for your business. This way, the domain name will function as your business address. 

Thus, you can issue calling cards or prepare business collaterals with your domain as the online address of your company. It will greatly enhance your branding strategy as a business that is committed, trustworthy, and legitimate.

Likewise, you can send and receive communication from third parties to and from an email address that has your own domain name on it. This makes you appear more professional to everyone who comes across your communication. 

Before you can have an email address, you need to have your own domain name. We can help you set this up and build a fully-optimized and 100% mobile-responsive website for your business. 

If you want to learn more about our services, give us a call or drop us an email. And if you are in the area, let us discuss your website and digital marketing needs over coffee!

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Wake up and smell the coffee. 

One of the perks of working from home is that you don’t have to rush through your morning coffee. You can take the time to savor it and relax while you let the caffeine do its job and wake you up.

When you’re working from home, dealing with the early morning traffic is a thing of the past. 

You no longer have to fight for a parking space or patiently line up at the building elevator. 

Say goodbye to office politics and the 9- to- 5 grind. For many home-based workers, they are their own boss and they own their time. 

It’s easy to get lost with all of the comforts and convenience of working at home. In fact, if you do not get moving soon, you might find yourself crawling back to bed! 

10 Tips On How To Be More Productive When Working From Home

There are a few drawbacks when working from home. All of the comforts – the bed, the sofa, the T.V, the kitchen, and even your cat – can be serious distractions from work. 

Then, there is “The Great Unknown” – the unforeseen or unexpected occurrences that take place without warning such as:

  • Your next-door-neighbor mowing his lawn.
  • The incessant ringing of the telephone or the doorbell. 
  • Your neighbor’s dog barking at your cat.

The truth is, there is no perfect place to work. Your office is what you make of it. Just like your brick-and-mortar office, you have to make sure the conditions are set to guarantee a productive workday.

Here are 10 tips on how to be more productive when working at home:

1. Get the Workday Started the Night Before

Effective time management is a crucial component to achieving productivity on a daily basis. By planning your workday the night before, you eliminate the “guesswork” which wastes precious time. 

Plan out the following day’s tasks and activities before ending the night. It only takes a few minutes and this simple tip gives you the following benefits:

  • Reduces stress because you already know what you are going to do the next day.
  • Improves your focus; knowing the tasks that have to be addressed gives you the opportunity to manage your energy levels and prepare yourself mentally for what needs to get done.    

You can write down the tasks on a whiteboard on your home office wall. When you wake up in the morning, you will feel more inspired to hit the ground running because there is no more guesswork. 

You will know exactly what you need to do!

2. Set Realistic Targets

Goal-setting is a proven technique to improve productivity. It improves motivation; gives direction and clarity which help you drive your energies toward accomplishing specific tasks. 

However, it is important to remain realistic when setting goals. It is easy to get carried away by the idea of accomplishing many tasks. When you have too much on your plate, you will end up not finishing most of the items. 

Worse, what if most of the unfinished tasks were the essential ones – the tasks that contribute directly to your business’ bottom-line? 

Productivity expert Chris Bailey suggests picking out only 3 goals to accomplish per day. According to Bailey, the “Rule of 3” allows you to focus more energy on accomplishing these goals even when things are not doing so well. 

3. Use Focus Blocks

Another proven productivity technique is the use of focus blocks. This is a process where you group your work hours into clusters or “blocks”. Each block consists of 90 minutes of uninterrupted work followed by 30 minutes of rest. 

The science exists to back up the effectiveness of the focus block. 

A study by sleep research expert, Nathan Kleitman showed that we can maintain maximum mental alertness for only 90 minutes. Some people can extend their mental focus for up to 120 minutes. 

There are also studies that show getting in some sleep after work can improve memory, cognition, and overall performance.

The use of the focus block can also support the “Rule of 3”.

  • Identify the 3 goals that you want to accomplish.
  • Allocate 90 minutes per goal.
  • Set aside 30 minutes of rest after each goal. 

By integrating focus blocks with the Rule of 3, you may end up accomplishing 3 tasks in only 320 minutes or fewer than 6 hours of work per day.  

4. Start the Day with Your Most Dreaded Task

At this point, you may be asking yourself, “Which task should I work on first?”

We will give you 2 ways to approach task-making. The first one is to start with your most dreaded task. 

This is the task that lets out all the air when you wake up in the morning. It makes you want to nurse that mug of coffee even longer. However, just like an infected tooth, if you do not see the dentist, it will only get worse. 

Get it done right away. The sooner you can accomplish this dreaded task, the better. You will be less stressed. Consequently, you will have a clearer frame of mind and have a more positive disposition to work on the other remaining tasks. 

5. Prioritize Tasks Based on ROI

The second approach is to prioritize tasks based on ROI or Return on Investment. Which tasks offer the highest return for your effort? 

For example, you can prioritize the tasks that generate the most income for your business. How much do you want to earn per month? Determine your preferred income level then list your tasks based on which ones can help you achieve your targeted financial goal.

Another way is to prioritize the tasks that can contribute the most to advancing your career. 

For example, you may have a client who does not pay you the most but has been with you the longest. Therefore, you should prioritize this client because the work is more consistent and sustainable compared to the others. 

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6. Organize Your Work Area

“If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another.

  • Naval Admiral William McRaven, Commander of U.S. Special Operations

That was a quote from the unforgettable commencement speech given by Admiral McRaven at the University of Texas. 

A clean and organized bedroom gives you a more relaxed environment to rest and therefore, better quality sleep.

The same can be said about your workplace. 

A cluttered workplace is a stressful workplace. You will waste precious minutes looking for things that you need right away. Having stuff cluttered all over your workstation creates distractions. 

Take some time to clean up your workplace before retiring for the evening. Organize your workstation. Put key documents in their proper filing category. Throw trash in the appropriate receptacle. 

By organizing your workplace the night before, you set the conditions for productivity the following day. 

7. Dress Up for Work

Sure it is a nice feeling to work in your pajamas and bunny slippers. However, working in your sleepwear may also entice you to go back to bed. 

If you put on sleepwear for bedtime, why not put on office wear for work time?

It may sound strange to wear a tie and slacks at home, but doing so triggers emotional cues that remind you, “Hey! It’s time to work!” 

Likewise, wearing office clothes while working at home professionalizes your approach toward a home-based career. You might be surprised that wearing office clothes will help you stay more focused and motivated at work. 

8. Go Someplace Else to Work

There are days that you won’t have the energy to be more productive when working from home. For some, the distinction between home and the office has become vague. 

The home has become associated with work and they find it increasingly difficult to relax and unwind under their own roof. 

If this happens to you, simply go someplace else to work. 

“Home-based” means you are not conducting work in a traditional work environment such as a commercial office space. Home-based workers are also called telecommuters and remote employees. 

You don’t have to work at home. As a telecommuter or remote employee, you can work wherever you want – the coffee shop, the public park, a hotel lobby, or at the beach fronting the ocean waters. 

Some home-based entrepreneurs pack up their bags and travel to another country to resume their work! This is one of the biggest attractions of the home-based lifestyle. 

Find a place that gives you motivation and inspiration as sources of energy. Sometimes all it takes is a change in environment to get your engines revving again.  

9. Detach Yourself From All Forms of Distraction

When you are working from home, distractions lurk in every corner. You can easily be tempted by the T.V or by the couch. While working, you might think you are hearing the Pastrami sandwich in the refrigerator calling out your name.

In your own computer, you have many downloaded distractions from social media to your favorite entertainment websites. Unmitigated, submitting to these forms of distractions can cost you precious productive hours. 

Before commencing on your work for the day, detach yourself from all forms of distraction:

  • Use a different computer for work. Make sure the settings will not grant you access to social media platforms and irrelevant websites. 
  • Keep your mobile phone locked away in another room. You can check your messages during your 30-minute break.
  • Put your landline on silent mode and leave a message on the recording machine. 
  • If you are living with other people, give them strict instructions not to disturb you during work hours. Ask them to attend to anyone who rings the doorbell. 
  • If you drink coffee while working, have your mug of java hot, ready, and on the table before starting a task. 

As for bathroom breaks, if you can hold it, have them during your 30-minute rest period. 

If you think this is unreasonable, WaterSaver, a company from Chicago restricted bathroom breaks to only 6 minutes per day. According to WaterSaver’s CEO, the company lost 120 productive hours due to extended bathroom breaks!

 10. Outsource Non-Essential Tasks

Does your to-do list include the following tasks?

  • Filter email
  • Set appointments
  • Set calendar
  • Finish payroll
  • Pay bills
  • Do follow-up calls

If so, you are working for your business, not on your business. 

These types of tasks are called non-essential tasks because they are administrative in nature and do not directly contribute to your business’ bottom-line. Non-essential tasks are best outsourced to third-party service providers that can handle the job.

For example, if you own a website, outsource web development and management to Mountaintop Web Design. 

We can monitor your website to make sure all the plug-ins and security features are updated and running well. 

At the same time, if you want to implement a digital marketing campaign for your business, we can do that for you as well. 

We have a team of experienced SEO professionals, content writers, and social media managers that can develop a campaign to give your online presence a massive boost on the Internet. 

If you want to learn more about outsourcing, read our article “How Outsourcing Tasks Can Save You Tons Of Money – And Build Your Business”.

Conclusion

Working from home is a wonderful, life-changing decision. You have taken more control over your career and have a great opportunity to attain financial independence. 

However, working from home only means a change in the environment. You still have to put in the time and the effort to achieve your goals in order to become successful. 

Just like your days living the 9-to-5 grind in the concrete jungle, you should find ways to stay productive even when working from home. 

The 10 tips we discussed will certainly help you achieve productivity. If you have other tips that you want to share with our readers, please feel free to discuss them in the comments section. 

And if you enjoyed this article, go ahead and share them with your friends and family!

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Once considered an “outdated” form of marketing, email continues to prove itself time and time again as an effective and reliable channel. Email marketing can help businesses acquire 40 times more customers than social media. A B2B audience, in particular, ranks email as the third most influential resource of information after thought leaders and colleague word-of-mouth.

This is why consistent investment into email content should be standard for a well-rounded digital marketing strategy. Newsletters are one of the simplest ways to keep your brand on subscribers’ radars and continuously build stronger engagement.

What constitutes a newsletter? A newsletter is an email sent (most likely at a regular schedule) informing subscribers of relevant business updates. Content varies from customer-focused information such as activity reminders or new product releases to business-focused brand news.

Here are five elements to pay attention to when constructing a perfect newsletter.

1. First Impressions

Due to the importance of high open rates, first impressions are extremely important in email marketing. Open rates are the percentage of emails opened in comparison to the total volume you’ve sent. It’s a standard benchmark to measure and it affects campaign performance—after all, subscribers who don’t open what you send can’t engage with the content in your newsletters.

This is why to hit or move beyond the average email open rate of 17.92%, you need to pay attention to:

  • The email address you send campaigns from

Misrepresenting who you are by listing a vague email address risks having your mail sorted into the spam folder by email providers. This may be a violation of the FTC’s CAN-SPAM Act, which requires you to clearly state who you are in your emails. 

  • The text preview, or header and first few lines

Some browser extensions provide a snapshot preview of the contents of an email when they arrive. Take extra care in writing the first few lines or choosing the first image.

  • The short phrase in your subject line

Subject lines are best kept short, clear, and inviting. The average recommended length is 35-50 characters—any more than this and email providers clip them short.

2. Copy

Which would you rather read from start to finish? A message that looks like it was copied and pasted and mass sent to everyone or something that uses your first name and looks crafted to appeal to your interests?

Personalization is the name of the game when it comes to the written content of your emails. 60% of marketers say data that provides contextual signals like location or weather is highly effective. Plus, personalization can improve conversion rates by 6%. Create different options for different customers, with newsletter content that varies according to the interests of each list segment.

In addition to the types of content you send, mind your writing style. Using online communication means you have to write for the web. That means:

  • Shorter paragraphs and sentences
  • Minimal jargon
  • Focus on a single audience per newsletter
  • Aim for a single goal to minimize distractions.

3. Layout

More than half of all emails are now opened on a mobile device, so the first thing to consider when laying out content is whether it’ll look good when read via smartphone. After that, you want to structure emails to present a natural flow of information, with images and text complementing each other to eventually lead towards a call-to-action.

Here are three email design layouts you can use.

  • One column – A simple layout designed to work on both desktop and mobile, only coded to be mobile-first. They usually adapt and scale, and contain bite-sized information to help users navigate easier.
  • Inverted pyramid – Begin with a large, engaging image. Follow it up with a value proposition that clearly communicates the benefits of reading, insert the rest of your content, and end with your CTA.
  • Zigzag – An angular design grid using color-blocking and tilted imagery acts as a guide pushing the reader towards the end of the email.

Source: Campaign Monitor

4. Images

Go big or go home? It isn’t that simple. With changes in screen width, diversification of devices and resolutions, and consumer browsing habits, finding the ideal image size isn’t as straightforward as before. While desktop and laptop resolutions have become larger and sharper, more emails are being opened on smaller mobile devices. Responsiveness is key.

A safe size for your larger images, though? The best width for your newsletter images is still 600px wide, making the legacy of Microsoft Outlook live on. However, you can go wider if you keep central visual elements in the middle and use the rest of the space for the background instead.

When choosing content to accompany each part of your newsletter content, such as company updates or product recommendations, think of social proof and lifestyle. You want your audience to see themselves in your content, not alienate them. For example, if subscribers are older, you won’t want to use images with teenagers or a different age demographic.

5. Calls to Action

A good call to action button improves click-through rates and assists in conversions. And yes, they aren’t just links included within your email body, they’re individual buttons positioned right where your reader can see them.

Call to action buttons normally don’t have much variation, but there’s a good reason for that. These buttons are already an established bit of web design and automatically register in viewers’ minds as clickable, so deviating from that consistency will cause confusion. What you need to do is make sure the text on them is clear and actionable, that they’re visible on the page, and that they look inviting.

You can place them near the end of your newsletter or beside each segment of content referring to it, such as in the case of news collections and product catalogs. You need at least one—or else, why are you sending newsletters at all?

Final Thoughts

Newsletters are simpler in scope than emails built to support a special campaign. However, invest the right amount of thought into their design and you can build lasting relationships with your subscribers—eventually converting them into fully paying customers.

Author Bio

Ash Salleh is the Director of SEO at Campaign Monitor, where he works closely with content, copy, and analytics teams to improve site-wide optimization. Prior to his time at Campaign Monitor, he also provided SEO and digital marketing expertise at Zappos and Axiata Digital.

Although not quite as ancient as the typewriter, the Yellow Pages was a mainstay publication in every home. If someone needed to get plumbing service nearest to his house, he would flip through the Yellow Pages to find out the business’ telephone number. For many families, YP was a valuable resource for much-needed information. For many businesses, it was an effective way to get noticed. Today, the same can be said for GoogleMyBusiness.

What Is GoogleMyBusiness?

GoogleMyBusiness is an online search directory from Google which publishes valuable information of a business that has subscribed to its service. 

Among the information included in a typical GoogleMyBusiness profile are as follows:

  • Name of Establishment
  • Business URL
  • Hours of Operation
  • Business Address
  • Contact Numbers
  • Days of Operation
  • Directions via Google Maps
  • Category

For consumers, GoogleMyBusiness is a fast and easy way to find the products and services that they need. They no longer have to thumb through the thick and heavy Yellow Pages. Instead, they can simply scroll through GoogleMyBusiness on their mobile phones.

For businesses, GoogleMyBusiness is a wonderful channel to promote their services and a proven way to make a quick sale!

Why You Should List Your Business In GoogleMyBusiness

It’s the hottest time of the year. You could fry an egg on the driveway. You sweat buckets seconds after stepping out of the shower. 

Then, the worst case scenario happens. 

Your air-conditioner does not get cold. 

If you can’t find an air-conditioner repair service,  you might as well chalk up tonight under “Sleepless Night”. 

Good thing you know all about GoogleMyBusiness!

After doing a Google search “aircon repair services near me”, you are able to locate an air-conditioner repair service company that is nearest your home.

From the information on GoogleMyBusiness, you found out that:

  • The company has received mostly positive reviews and excellent ratings.
  • Customers generally had a pleasant experience with the company.
  • The company is still open for business and can attend to your faulty air-conditioner. 

You are happy and hopeful that the problem can be resolved and you will have restful sleep tonight.

If the consumer is happy and hopeful, so will be the business owner especially if the repair crew does a great job.

“Thank you for fixing our air-conditioner! We can sleep soundly tonight!” says the customer.

Your well-trained repair man responds with the following:

“No problem, ma’am! Just doing our job. And if you have the time, please give us a positive review or a good rating at GoogleMyBusiness. It will really help us out a lot!” 

“Sure! I will get on it right away!”

Now, let’s put the shoe on the other foot: What if you were the owner of the air-conditioner repair service business? 

By listing your business in GoogleMyBusiness, you were able to land a customer and ring up the register. 

Because you made it easier for the customer to find your business and fix the air conditioner – and did a great job at that – you may have secured a customer for life!

As a business owner, you should list your establishment in GoogleMyBusiness because nearly 50% of consumers use online search directories to find businesses to service their needs. 

And 88% of the search queries will result in the consumer visiting the store on the same day!

Therefore, listing your business in GoogleMyBusiness is a smart local SEO strategy. 

Did we mention that GoogleMyBusiness is a free online tool?

It will not cost you a cent to list your business in GoogleMyBusiness. Your only investment is time. And if time is golden, then creating an effective GoogleMyBusiness profile is time well spent.

How To Set Up Your GoogleMyBusiness Account

It is not surprising a company like Google which puts a premium on User Experience would make it easy for customers to sign up for its service. 

First, if you don’t have a Google account yet, you should open one. This is the Google account which you will use to access the GoogleMyBusiness service.

Gmail usually positions the box to access all the Google apps on the upper right-hand corner. All you have to do is click on it and look for the “My Business” icon. Click on the icon to open GoogleMyBusiness and sign-in.

From there, simply fill in the details:

  • Name of Business
  • Do you want to add a location for your business?
  • Where do you serve your customers? (Indicate area coverage of your business)
  • What region is your business based in?
  • Choose the best category for your business.
  • Provide your website URL and contact number.
  • Advise GoogleMyBusiness if you want the service to provide you tips on how to improve your business’ online presence.

Finally, finish the account set-up process by verifying your business listing information.

We just want to stress the importance of choosing the category that best describes the products or services offered by your business. 

Once you type in the category but if you cannot find it on the list, choose the one which most closely describes your business. 

For example, if you are in the outsourcing business, “Outsourcing” will not be found in Google’s list of business categories. 

You can choose either “Business Development Service” or “Business Management Consultant”.

If you are not sure, GoogleMyBusiness will give you a few tips that will help you make your selection. 

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Create A GoogleMyBusiness Profile

After you have verified your business listing information, you will be taken by GoogleMyBusiness to your dashboard, You will see several options on the left-hand side. 

The first option you should click is “Info”. In this page, you will see various types of information about your business such as:

  • Hours of operation
  • Services
  • Products
  • Attributes
  • Business description
  • Opening date

According to a survey conducted by Localeze, the most important information on your business listing is “Hours of Operation”. Providing out-dated or erroneous information could have a negative impact on your business. 

Take your time when providing crucial information about your business. Make sure the data published in your GoogleMyBusiness profile is updated and accurate. 

You can always edit the information on your GoogleMyBusiness profile. All you need to do is to log in, go to your dashboard, click “Info”, then perform the edit by clicking on the pencil icon. 

Note: Anyone can “suggest an edit” on your GoogleMyBusiness information. Make sure that everything is correct and all the information is on point by constantly reviewing your listing.

How To Write An Effective Business Description 

The business description is another key section in your GoogleMyBusiness profile. It will give potential customers an idea of what your business is about; its products and services.

Here are 3 tips that you should consider when writing the business description section:

  1. Keep it Short but Direct-to-the-Point – You are allotted 750 words for your business description. It is not important to maximize the entire 750 words. Remember, people have a short attention span. Therefore, the shorter the better. Stay at 300 to 350 words but make sure all the key selling points of your business are in the description.
  2. Use Keywords – Keywords are the most frequently used words or phrases in a search query. Include them in your business description.For example, if you are in the restaurant business, the best keywords to use are “restaurants”, “best restaurants”, “diner”, and “places to eat”.
  3. Avoid Using Technical Jargon – Do not try to impress the consumer by using technical jargon. Write your business description in a simple, conversational manner. It is also good advice to keep your sentences short. 

Are Images And Videos Important For GoogleMyBusiness?

Yes.

According to Google, business listings that contain high-resolution images receive 35% more clicks on their website. 

Likewise, images on your GoogleMyBusiness profile encourage people to ask for directions via Google Maps.

There are 3 types of photos that you should upload onto your GoogleMyBusiness profile:

  1. Cover Photo – Appears dead center on your business profile. Your choice of the cover photo should best represent the brand or identity of your business.
  2. Profile Photo – This is the image that appears whenever you post content or respond to a customer’s review.
  3. Images of Products and Services – People buy with their eyes. Upload professional quality photos of your products. Google recommends a resolution of 720 pixels wide x 720 pixels high in either a .jpg or .png format.

Videos are also a good addition to your GoogleMyBusiness profile. They can make your page more interesting and appear unique to visitors. However, they are not a “must-have”. The use of high-resolution images is enough to encourage consumers to patronize your business. 

If you are still thinking of adding videos on your GoogleMyBusiness listing, take note of the requirements:

  • Minimum resolution of 720 pixels
  • Not longer than 30 seconds
  • The file size should not exceed 100MB

How To Handle GoogleMyBusiness Reviews

For sure you have heard of the saying, “Any publicity is good publicity” because this means people are talking about you. 

And when people are talking about you, this creates “buzz” or interest in your business. 

Can you imagine if no one talked about you?

It is easy to handle good reviews Obviously, it is trickier to handle bad reviews. Think about a bad review of your business in this manner: It gives you the opportunity to engage the person who created a negative buzz about you or your business. 

Engagement is the starting point of the most essential component of market creation – a relationship. 

If you receive a good review, take the time to write a note of appreciation to the reviewer:

“Thank you (name of the reviewer) for taking the time to review our product. We’re glad you enjoyed our Pecan Cheesecake! It is one of our top sellers and your review inspired us to keep doing a great job in our kitchen. We hope to see you soon at our coffee shop!”

Now, how should you handle a bad review?

“Hi (name of the reviewer)! We appreciate the time you took in making the review. We are sorry you did not enjoy the Pecan Cheesecake. I wish to inform you that we took note of your suggestions and will review them accordingly. Hopefully, you can give us another chance to show you why our Pecan Cheesecake is one of the most popular items on our menu.”

Conclusion

GoogleMyBusiness is a proven way to market and promote your products and services in the local scene. The most important thing to remember is to make sure the information published on your business listing and GoogleMyBusiness profile is accurate and updated. 

If you need assistance in creating your GoogleMyBusiness profile, please drop us an email or give us a call. 

And if you enjoyed this article, feel free to share it with your friends!

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2018 was a big year for PPC or Pay-Per-Click Marketing. Google Adwords was re-branded as Google Ads. The change was not all cosmetic. Google Ads was improved with new features, tools, campaign types, and targeting options.

Since branching out to the world of advertising in 2000, Google has leveraged its Internet dominance to generate a staggering US$116.3 Billion in ad revenues in 2018.

The number accounted for 85% of Google’s total revenues in the same year.

Not surprising, other companies saw the success Google had in advertising and followed suit:

  • Bing Ads revamped its offering to include new targeting capabilities, the availability of more reports plus other interesting new features.
  • Bing Ads collaborated with social media platform LinkedIn to introduce LinkedIn Profile Targeting.
  • Amazon’s aggressive push into PPC Marketing as more consumers continue to use its platform to search for more products.

Despite the challenges posed by Bing, Amazon, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other PPC Marketing platforms. Google Ads remains the gold standard in the industry.

What Is PPC Marketing?

PPC Marketing is a process where the advertiser – you – pays the agency every time someone clicks on your ad.

The great thing about PPC Marketing is that your ad is placed in the sponsored results section of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).

For example, you are in the business of selling remote control drones. You decided to use PPC Marketing to post ads on your latest product – remote control drones with high-resolution cameras.

Whenever someone launches a Google search query “remote control drones with high-resolution cameras”, your PPC will appear in the SERP that has all the URLs on the topic.

Thus, with PPC Marketing, the probability is high that your ad will attract a buyer who is genuinely interested in your product.

With PPC Marketing, you can be assured that your ad will be published in full view of targeted customers – those who have a strong intent to purchase your products or services.

Consequently, PPC Marketing can give your website a search ranking boost!

You can read more about PPC Marketing in our article, “SEO vs PPC: Which One Is Better For Your Business?”

The question you must be asking is “Should I invest in PPC Marketing? Will the investment be worth it?”

If you ask the good people at Google, they will tell you, “Yes! By all means, you should invest in PPC Marketing!”

Google has every reason to take a strong stand in favor of PPC Marketing. According to the search engine giant’s 2016 report, advertisers earned an average of $8 for every $1 spent on PPC Marketing.

4 Reasons Why Your PPC Marketing Campaign Is Not Delivering Results

That number should be enough to get your eyes and mouth wide open and give us a call here at Mountaintop Web Design.

However, we would like to emphasize that Google’s reported ROI on PPC Marketing is just an average. There are advertisers who fell short of their goals.

Why is your PPC Marketing campaign falling short of its targets? There are 4 factors that can have a dampening effect on your PPC Marketing campaign.

1. Choice of Keywords Is Too Broad

Similar to online content, your PPC ads have to be optimized. Thus, it is very important to have tightly-focused and precise keyword research.

The keywords that you are using in your PPC ads must match the intent of the target consumer as closely as possible. If your choice of keywords is too broad, your ad will be displayed to a wider or diverse audience many of whom may not be interested in what you are selling.

For example, you are in the business of selling specialized diesel engine pumps. If you used the keywords “Diesel Engine Pump” or “Diesel Fuel Injector Pump” in your ad, it will be placed in SERPs where prospective customers could be looking for just ordinary diesel engine pumps.

However, if you chose “Distributor Fuel Injector Pump” or “Common Rail Fuel Injector Pump”, you would be streamlining the search to consumers who have a need for these specific types of fuel injector pumps.

Thus, the chances of a prospective customer clicking onto your PPC ad will be much higher than if you opted for more generalized keywords.

2. The Message of Your PPC Ad is Disjointed

When creating a PPC ad, your copy must be aligned with the headline and the intent of your target market. Otherwise, the message of your ad will be disjointed and will not resonate with your target market.

Conceptualizing an effective PPC ad is a two-step process. First, the headline you plan to use and the content of the ad copy itself should match or correspond to the keywords you are bidding on.

Second, the message your PPC ad is conveying should provide answers or a clear-cut solution to the needs of your intended market. When a consumer runs an Internet search, he is looking for solutions that can help address a particular problem.

In order to be clicked on, your PPC ad must present itself as a potential solution to the problem or issue that is presently confounding the consumer.

3. Google Gives Your PPC Ad a Low-Quality Score

Google will review your PPC ad and determine your Quality Score or QS. Your score will depend on 2 factors: overall quality and relevance of your ad. Google measures these factors by keeping track of how many people actually click on the ad after it has been displayed on the SERPs.

Essentially, a lower QS means fewer people are clicking on your ad. While Google will measure your QS, it will be up to you if want to implement changes and improve the ad so that more people will click on it.

4. Poorly Designed Website Landing Page

Getting an Internet searcher to click on your ad is one thing. Giving him the best User Experience when he gets to your website landing page is another.

What will the site visitor see when he lands on your page? Will he readily find solutions to his pain points? Will your landing page content provide the answers to his questions?

Your efforts to find a customer do not begin and end with the PPC ad. Likewise, your landing page must be optimized to help increase conversions.

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How Much Will It Cost To Run A PPC Marketing Campaign?

In our article, “How To Setup A Low Cost But Effective Digital Marketing Campaign”, we discussed the ways in which you can run a digital marketing campaign that can deliver results without breaking the bank.

PPC Marketing was not included among the best low cost strategies in the article. However, we mentioned PPC Marketing as an option that you can consider especially if you have a larger budget for marketing.

If you are thinking of including PPC Marketing as part of your digital marketing strategy, for the reasons stated at the beginning of this article, Google Ads would be the best platform to launch your ads.

Google Ads uses a bid system whereby you, the advertiser, will put in a maximum bid that you are willing to pay for every click or cost-per-click (CPC) your ad receives.

The rule is simple: the higher your bid the more advantageous the ad placement will be.

According to Google, the average CPC for advertisers in its platform is $1 to $2 on its Search network.

While this reported average CPC may seem attractive, the true cost of your PPC Marketing campaign will depend on 5 factors:

  • The competitiveness of your industry.
  • The competitiveness of the keywords.
  • Your Quality Score (QS).
  • The bid of your competitors for the keywords.
  • The quality of your competitors’ ads.

Google estimates that small and medium-scale businesses spend an average of $9,000 to $10,000 per month or $108,000 to $120,000 per year on PPC.

According to a study conducted by WebFX, the most expensive keywords come from the following industries:

  • Legal
  • Financial Services
  • Insurance
  • Retail

The financial services and insurance industry combined to spend an average of $1.2Billion in PPC ads every year. Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, averages $50 Million for PPC ads per year.

The WebEx study identified the following keywords as the most expensive:

  • San Antonio Car Wreck Attorney – $670.44
  • Accident Attorney Riverside CA – $626.90
  • Personal Injury Attorney Colorado – $553.08
  • Structure Settlements – $539.82
  • Austin Drug Rehab – $463.05

78% of the most expensive keywords pertain to the legal industry. A far second is about Water Damage at 8% and coming in third at 6% is insurance. Business Services account for only 1% of the most expensive keywords.

However, putting in the highest bid is just one part of the PPC equation if you want to get the best placement. As previously mentioned, Google will consider your QS to determine the placement position of your ad.

Your QS is calculated based on 3 factors:

  • Relevance of your ad to the keywords.
  • Click-Through-Rate or CTR which is the number of clicks your ad generates as a proportion of the number of views it gets.
  • The quality of your landing page.

Using these 3 variables, Google has come up with is Ad Rank formula:

Ad Rank Formula = (Max CPC bid) x (Your Ad’s QS)

For example, if your maximum CPC bid for a keyword is $1.00 and Google gives your ad a QS of 10, your Ad Rank will be 10.

In an auction, the advertiser who ends up with the highest Ad Rank will be awarded the top advertising spot.

Google calculates the amount the advertiser pays per click with this simple formula:

(Ad rank of the ad below yours) / (Your QS) + $0.01

From the above formula, we can see that your QS will have a big impact on the cost of your PPC Marketing campaign. You can actually spend less and still acquire the top advertising position if Google gives you a high QS.

Conclusion

Google Ads is a good PPC Marketing platform to begin with. One of the biggest advantages of using Google Ads is that it gives you 4 ways to stretch your PPC Marketing budget.

First, Google Ads has a feature that allows you to create daily budgets whereby you can allocate more money to campaigns that are focused on promoting your top selling products.

Second, you can set the time and date that you want your PPC Ad to appear. Thus, you can increase your bids only for specific hours of the week.

Third, Google Ads has an interesting feature called geotargeting which lets you set aside more funding to reach target customers in a specific geographic area such as a neighbourhood or city.

Finally, if you believe most of your customers are living the mobile lifestyle, Google Ads has a device targeting feature which lets you use some of your funding to deliver your PPC ad directly to people using a particular type of mobile device.

Is PPC Marketing worth it? The answer is “Yes” provided the following conditions are met:

  • Keyword research is highly-focused and targeted on specific, not broad or generalized keywords.
  • The message of the PPC ad copy must be clear; it must resonate with the intent of the Internet searcher and provide solutions to his concerns.
  • Likewise, the landing page of your website must be optimized and aligned with the message of your PPC ad copy. It should provide the answers the Internet searcher is looking for.

Your focus should be to come up with a PPC ad that will elicit a high QS from Google. The better your QS, the higher the probability of landing the top advertising spot. You can lower the CTC even if your max bid is not the highest.

Are you ready to add PPC Marketing to your digital marketing toolbox? Give us a call and we can set you on the right track to PPC success!

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Spreadsheet programs come and go. One that has stood the test of time and remains an invaluable tool for any business owner is Microsoft Excel.

Introduced in 1987, MS Excel has grown in popularity over the years especially with the release of Version5 in 1993. Version5 was compatible with Windows which made the software easier to use.

Likewise, Version5 provided the user with faster calculations, more advanced features for creating graphs, pivot tables, and the use of a programming language called Visual Basic for Applications.

Today, many regard MS Excel as the gold standard among spreadsheet programs. The fact that MS Excel accounts for 85% of the office market further strengthens this argument.

For many business owners, the use of a spreadsheet program offers many benefits:

  • Organize and store data
  • Tools to analyze data
  • Prepare charts and graphs for presentation
  • Preset formulas for quick and easy calculations
  • Ability to synchronize with other software programs

And MS Excel makes all of these – and more – easier to do! In business, getting organized, tracking your expenses, and analyzing performance are keys to staying profitable.

MS Excel is an indispensable tool that can be literally accessed at the palm of your hand.

Top 10 Microsoft Excel Tricks That Will Help Any Business Owner

Learning its basic functions will go a long way in helping you manage your business. However, here are 10 Microsoft Excel tricks that you should learn so you can take your business to the next level.

1. Conditional Formatting

Storing data in MS Excel is an easy way to organize information that is key to the success of your business. However, as data begins to accumulate, it may be difficult to make sense of all of those numbers.

Conditional Formatting is a feature in Excel that helps you set the parameters of your data. This Excel trick will make it easier for you to find what you are looking for.

Let us assume you are a foreign currency trader who wants to keep track of currencies that are depreciating by 5% every week.

Simply click on “Conditional Formatting” highlight the column where the relevant data has been entered and set the parameter at “less than 5%”. Once you scroll down the data, all the currencies that conform to your search parameter of “less than 5%” will be highlighted in color.

By learning how to use Conditional Formatting, it will be easier for you to evaluate all of the data that you have been collecting.

2. Removing Duplicate Data

When you are constantly uploading massive amounts of data, duplication is always a very real possibility. We will share with you our experience during the content creation process.

Optimization is an important part of content writing. If the blogs are not optimized, it will not be found on the Internet. One of the most important processes in content optimization is keyword research.

A particular topic can yield thousands of keywords. Most of these are duplicates and if the content writer does not clean out the keyword spreadsheet, he may be misled by the discrepancies in search volume between the same keywords.

In order to remove the duplicates, all you have to do is go to “Data”, highlight the columns where there are duplicate data, then click “Remove Duplicates”.

Once the spreadsheet has been cleaned of duplicates, it will be easier to work through the data.

3. Recover Lost Files

For sure this has happened to you before.

You have been uploading and analyzing data for the past hour. Then, without warning, the power goes out. Fortunately, MS Excel has an Auto-Save feature.

Unfortunately, your current MS Excel Auto-Save feature is set at every 20 minutes. You have lost data that you have been uploading the last 20 minutes! Once power is restored, you will have to re-upload all of the data that has been lost.

We will teach you an important MS Excel trick that will help you relax and breath a sigh of relief whenever there is a power outage.

First, go to the “File” menu. Go to “Info”, then click on “Manage Versions”. You will see 2 options. Click on “Recover Unsaved Workbooks”.

This simple tip will help you save productive minutes. When you have power back on, all you have to do is to start where you left off.

4. Paste Special

One of the most common activities you do in MS Excel is to copy and paste. However, you may want to view the data in a different way. For example, you may want to have the data presented in a percentage format.

Paste Special will enable you to change the look of your data with a few easy clicks.

Going back to our example, let us assume you want a column of data converted into percentage format. Highlight the data that you want to convert, click copy, then paste it on another file.

Here is the step-by-step process on how to convert the numbers into percentages:

  • On a separate column, write down “100” since, in order to convert numbers into percentages, these numbers have to be divided by 100.
  • Copy the value of “100”.
  • Highlight the entire column that you want to be converted into percentages.
  • Right click, then choose “Paste Special”.
  • Under “Operation”, choose “Divide”.
  • All of the numbers in the highlighted column will be automatically divided by 100.
  • Click the “%” icon to insert the percentage symbol in all the numbers in the column.
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5. Freeze Panes

After years spent building a solid reputation in the real estate industry, you are finally invited to present your services to one of the state’s biggest and most successful property development companies.

This is an opportunity you cannot pass up! The Vice-President of Business Development wants to know how you target potential buyers for the properties in your list.

You present to the VP your Buyer’s Profile spreadsheet which is a result of years of hard work and consistent data collection.

However, by the time you get to column AA and below row 50, the VP cannot see the header cells. It is hard to appreciate the effectiveness of your system if the main decision maker will not be able to follow its movement.        

The solution is to freeze panes to keep the headers in place while you continue to scroll through the data.

All you have to do is to click to the cell below the header you want to freeze. You can also click to the left of the column you want to be frozen. Go to the “View” tab and choose “Freeze Panes”.

6. Extend Formula Across/Down

Before MS Excel, you had to be familiar with the M+ key on your calculator. This is the key which allows you to store a number that you can use to multiply or divide another value.

With MS Excel, all you need to do is to write down the formula on a cell and copy it across or down in order to repeat the same calculation.

Clicking “Copy” then dragging the formula down or across highlighted cells would be one way of extending the calculation. However, if you have a large amount of data to calculate, simply double click the formula on the cell where you want it to run.

7. Filters

Filters allow you to explore data faster by hiding information that is not relevant to your search.

For example, the value “Fruits and Vegetables” are no longer relevant to your data analysis. MS Excel can filter this value out whenever the program comes across it.

The newer versions of Excel allow you to run filters on numerical values such as percentages or parameters as “is greater than”. Likewise, the current versions of Excel can also filter out cell colors.

8. Print Optimization

Perhaps one of the knocks on MS Excel is that having documents printed out is not always easy. For sure, you know what we mean!  Sometimes you do not get exactly what you wanted to print out. It may take a few tries before you finally get the copy that you want.

The key to optimizing MS Excel’s printing capabilities is to follow a set of steps:

  • Print Preview
  • Fit to One Page
  • Adjust Margins
  • Print Selection
  • Printing Headers
  • Choose Portrait vs. Landscape
  • Spreadsheet Design

It will take some practice to get the hang of printing. However, this will be a task that you should expect to perform several times during the course of your business.

9. Flash Fill

Flash Fill is a feature that was added to the 2013 version of MS Excel. It is a wonderful tool to use for cleaning up and organizing data.

Some users have remarked that the Flash Fill feature is MS Excel thinking on its own. It anticipates your intended action and by simply clicking on the “Flash Fill” button, MS Excel will execute the task.

For example, you have a column of customers’ names that are presented as follows:

Last Name, First Name

Let us say you want to extract only the first names of the customers and copy them on the column beside it.

All you have to do is to write the first name of the first entry on the cell where you want to print the data. Next, go to “Fill” and click on “Flash Fill”.

Just like magic, MS Excel will copy all of the first names on the list to the column and run the data in order of their appearance.

10. Index-Match

Users of MS Excel who have used its VLOOKUP function to sort out data will share a common opinion – INDEX-MATCH is a better feature!

With VLOOKUP, the data will get affected whenever changes in column positions are made. This will not happen with INDEX-MATCH.

INDEX-MATCH is a great feature to use if you want to sort out specific data from your spreadsheet. Simply choose the location where you want the sorted information to appear. Then, set the parameters or conditions of your search in the INDEX-MATCH formula.

Within seconds, MS Excel will retrieve the data you want and present them in the location you chose.

Conclusion

There are other spreadsheet programs that you can consider for your business. For example, Google Sheets is also becoming popular with entrepreneurs. Other noteworthy spreadsheet programs include Numbers by Apple, Open Office Calc by Apache, and Zoho Sheet by Zoho.

However, MS Excel remains the gold standard to which these software programs are measured against and with many good reasons. MS Excel is easy to use, highly-navigable and includes key features that are very important to running a business.

Like all skills, becoming proficient in MS Excel will take time and practice. Working with MS Excel will be time well spent. Do not be intimidated by the commands and features. Keep practicing until MS Excel becomes second nature.

Did you find this article helpful? If so, please feel free to share it with people who may want to learn more about MS Excel.

And if you have other MS Excel tips and tricks that you wish to share with our readers, please feel free to write them down in our comments section.

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