Our readers who were around when newsstands and bookstores were commonplace know what it was like looking for the best publication among a sea of titles. 

Books and magazines would fight for your attention by coming up with compelling and thought-provoking tags or catchphrases. Chances are you’ll choose the one that resonates with you the most. 

In this age of the Internet, title tags serve the same purpose. But first, your content has to be found by the search bots. Optimizing your title tags will help your content get noticed by the bots and indexed as relevant for Internet searches. 

What Is A Title Tag And Why Is It Important?

A title tag is an element of HTML that establishes the title of your web page. Title tags appear on the search results page as the headline that users click on after running a search inquiry. 

Title tags are important for the following reasons:

  • Help search engines understand what your webpage is about.
  • Create an immediate impression on the user about your webpage. 
  • Encourage the user to click on your URL.
  • Enhance the manner in which your URL is displayed when shared in social media and the web browser.

Optimizing your title tags is important because users want to find answers to their search queries as fast as possible. 

9 Best Practices To Optimize Your Title Tags 

If your title tags aren’t properly optimized to be found right away, the user won’t click on your URL even if it ranks high on the SERP. 

Here are 9 best practices that will help you optimize your title tags to get the desired results. 

1. Use the Right Title Tag Format

Consider using the following formats:

  • Primary Keyword|Secondary Keyword|Brand Name
  • Primary Keyword & Secondary Keyword|Brand Name
  • Primary Keyword, Secondary Keyword – Brand Name
  • Primary Keyword- Click-through Optimization Phrase|Brand Name

These formats allow you to present short and descriptive title tags that match the average length of search queries. Use hyphens (-), colons (:), or straight pipes (|) to separate phrases and words.  

You can also use characters like ampersand (&), comma (,), period (.), plus sign (+), exclamation point (!), and question mark (?).  Using separators, characters, and punctuation will improve the readability of your title tags.

2. Be Mindful of the Length of your Title Tags

Search engines cut off long title tags by inserting ellipsis (…). Your Titles will lose their impact if they get cut midway.  To avoid title tag truncation, limit the length to 50-60 characters. 

Google also takes into consideration the pixel width of your title tags. The maximum width allowed is 600 pixels. Take note that some characters occupy more space such as wide letters and all Caps.

If your title tag is too short, search engines such as Google will use one of your headings instead.  Your title tag should have at least 30 characters or 285 pixels.

Make sure to use online pixel width checking tools to test your title tag length. Remember, keep your title tags brief, descriptive, and in sync with your page content.

3. Place The Most Important Keywords at the Beginning of Your Title Tags

Users tend to scan only the first three words of title tags so your primary keywords should be placed in their first line of sight. 

This will generate better traffic and increase click-through rates (CTR) because your title tag will immediately gain users’ interest.

Also, the right placement of the most important keywords will prevent them from getting cut off in SERPs when your title tag exceeds the length limit.  

Website.Protection.CustomersSafe

4. Come Up With Unique Titles for Each Page 

Create a unique title tag for every page on your site. Your titles should give readers a clear idea of what the page content is all about. It can be a taxing process but it leaves a positive impact on search engines.

Unique title tags for each page help search engines identify your content as fresh and valuable. Duplicating title tags will only confuse users and search engines.

Do not use auto-generated or generic title tags because search engines will assume that you have duplicate content on your website.  It will also decrease the number of clicks because this kind of title tag does not elicit interest.  

Avoid repeating targeted keywords across multiple pages on your site because your pages will go up against each other for rankings. As a result, the CTR and conversion rates of the pages with similar or the same targeted keywords will drop.

5. Go Easy on The Keywords

One of the most common SEO missteps is keyword stuffing – placing multiple keywords and variations of keywords in the title tag.  People often think that this practice will result in higher search engine rankings.

However, search engines can quickly identify different versions of keywords so it is pointless to stuff them all in your title tag. If your title tags are too crammed, search engines will cut them off or rewrite them.

6. Feature Your Brand in Your Title Tags

Including your brand in your title tag can do wonders to your CTR especially if it is already well-known. Users will click if they see a familiar brand attached to the title tag.  

Whenever you can, fit your brand in your title tag whether it’s popular or not.  Featuring your brand in your title tags is a good opportunity to establish brand recognition.  

Besides, Google recommends the inclusion of the brand name in your website’s home page title.   

We suggest that you add your brand to the end of your title tag. Remember to keep your title within the 60 characters length limit so that your brand name will not get cut off.

7. Use Action Verbs

Using action verbs is an effective method of prompting searchers to take a desired action. If you go over the SERPs, the title tags that entice clicks are the ones with action verbs.

Choose action verbs that are relevant to your page content.  For example, use “Learn” if your content aims to inform or instruct.  Use “Buy” if a new product or service awaits users.

Here are some good examples of call-to-action words you can use in your titles:

  • Access
  • Buy
  • Download
  • Discover
  • Get
  • Learn
  • Listen
  • Read
  • Search
  • Take

Keep in mind that users will be turned off if they do not find what they expect to see on your page.  

For example, if you write “free download” in your title tag, make sure that the users will be able to get it when they read your page.  If they do not see what they clicked for, they will immediately leave your site.  

8. Keep Your Target Customers in Mind 

Write for your target consumers. Think of keywords and action verbs that will draw them in. Do not discount the importance of a well-written title tag. 

If you just jumbled words without thinking of how the searchers will react to it, your click-through rate will suffer.

Use your title tag to stir interest and to send a clear description of your content.  Take time to research keywords that can woo users to go to your site.

Keep in mind that the SERP is a very competitive platform. For your site to rank well you need to align your SEO strategies with the searcher’s intent. Give them click-worthy title tags, valuable page content, and a good user experience.  

9. Use Numbers

Title tags with numbers get higher click rates because they stand out more.  Numbers naturally trigger our brains to understand better because they are precise and quantifiable.  

Users are impatient and they want fast search results. When they see numbers they get the impression that they will find what they are looking for.

Marketers claim that title tags with odd numbers get clicked on more than even-numbered titles.  While this is just a claim, marketers have the experience to see the options that work best. Test the theory by using odd numbers on your title tags. 

Conclusion

With close to 2 billion websites on the Internet, you need every advantage to get found by your target audience. Your SEO strategy must be on point and tick off all the boxes. 

Title tags play an important role in getting your content noticed right away. Internet users are not patient and you only have a few seconds to get your audience’s attention. 

Follow the 9 best practices to optimize your title tags and you could be on your way to a higher search ranking.

Better still, give us a call or send an email and we’ll do it for you. We’re more than just professional web designers. Optimization is a service we’ve successfully provided to our clients for the past few years. 

Let’s schedule a quick call and get you started!

And if you enjoyed this article, please feel free to share it with your community.

SEO for Your Business

There is always a very good dynamic between good looking and functional websites. It is important that both are always considered when designing a website, especially if you want to have a successful website. A great looking and functional site can pull in more visitors and make them come back for more. Mountaintop Web Design helps businesses and companies to find the right balance for their site.

Since 2013, our team has always been on top of the latest trends when it comes to web design. We continue to deliver the best services in the market and strive to impact more businesses out there. Today, our team is very excited to share amazing news with all of you! 

Clutch’s 2021 research shows that our team is among the best and brightest web design companies in Colorado. Yes, our Mountaintop Web Design team has been named as a leading company in our industry and in our very own state.

This is such a great pleasure to be associated with Clutch and their amazing platform. In case you didn’t know, Clutch is a B2B ratings and reviews platform based in Washington, DC. They evaluate technology service and solutions companies based on the quality of work, thought leadership, and client reviews.

We would like to extend our gratitude to Clutch and their team for making this award happen. Again, we are truly grateful for this recognition and we are happy to be able to win a Clutch award this year.

Of course we wouldn’t forget about our clients — thank you so much for your support! We honestly couldn’t have done it without you. Your support has continued to buoy us to where we are today, and to that, we are truly grateful.

For more information about us and the services we offer, please visit our website or call us! Our team would love to hear from you.

E-commerce businesses are expected to continue on their uptrend over the next few years. The global pandemic triggered a massive shift in consumer behavior that resulted in a 27% increase in e-commerce sales from 2019 to 2020. According to a study by Statista, global e-commerce sales will hit US$6.4 trillion in 2024.

Of course, lucrative industries will attract opportunists who have malicious intent. Cybersecurity Ventures has run a study on cyber-criminal activity and estimates that losses due to cyber attacks will hit US$10.5 trillion in 2025. 

One type of attack that will become prevalent over the next few years is carding. 

What Is Carding?

Carding is a type of cyber-attack whereby the criminal launches multiple attempts to approve several stolen credit cards. The criminal does this by identifying a number of e-commerce sites and making small purchases to test the validity of the stolen credit card numbers.

How Can Carding Damage My E-Commerce Business?

A credit card holder who sees questionable purchases on his credit card statement will not waste time. He will immediately address the matter by contacting the credit card company and challenge the authenticity of the purchase. 

The questionable purchase is called a chargeback and can be damaging to the merchant. If the dispute is successful, the merchant will be forced to reverse the charges and issue refunds to the customer.

Chargebacks are not only financially damaging to your e-commerce business. They can tarnish the reputation of your website with customers, and credit card processing companies.

How Do You Know You’ve Been A Victim Of A Carding Attack?

A cyber-criminal sets out a carding attack by unleashing a bot that has been programmed to perform several small purchases on various e-commerce websites. 

The stolen credit card numbers that yield positive results will be summarized in a list that will be used either to make more purchases or to be sold to a larger cyber-criminal organization.

How do you know that your e-commerce site has been targeted for carding attacks?

Here are signs to watch out for:

  • A larger than usual number of cart abandonment incidents.
  • An abnormally high number of failed credit card transactions.
  • A significantly high number of attempts at the checkout counter.
  • A high volume of failed attempts originating from the same IP address.
  • An alarmingly high number of chargebacks.
  • Shopping cart sizes are unusually small.

When you see any one of these signs on your website, don’t ignore them. Act right away.

Website.Protection.CustomersSafe

How To Protect Your WooCommerce Platform Against Carding Attacks

WooCommerce is one of the most popular open-source e-commerce plugins for websites. In 2020, it was estimated that more than 3.9 million websites use WooCommerce.

If you’re using WooCommerce, you could be one of the many e-commerce websites that’s being targeted for carding attacks. 

We created a shortlist of techniques and processes that you can implement to protect your WooCommerce platform against carding attacks by cyber-criminals.

1. Multi-factor Authentication

Since cyber-criminals need multiple attempts to validate the stolen credit card numbers, multi-factor authentication will make the bots or the user exert more effort and potentially reduce the number of verified credit cards on the list.

With Multi-factor authentication, the user goes through multiple tests to prove his credentials in order to access the website. The credentials used by MFA are usually a combination of what he knows such as a password, a security test, and/or a biometric verification test. 

2. Fingerprinting

Fingerprinting is a process that seeks to identify who or what is trying to log in to the website by tracking down the browser of the user and linking it to the device that’s being used to make the connection.

When launching a carding attack, a bot will go through several attempts. By doing so, he will not be able to switch devices every time. The cyber-criminal will have to go through the process of clearing the cache of the device, switching to incognito mode, and changing browsers. 

3. User Challenges

If you use PayPal, you’ve probably had to deal with a user challenge designed to check if you’re human or a bot.

This user challenge is a type of Captcha program that seeks to verify you’re human by asking you to check on a box. 

Simple enough, but then the program shifts to another type of Captcha. One that asks you to identify a specific object – such as a bike or stairs – from a series of images. 

In some cases, the images are misleading. You will be forced to stop, analyze, and rely on intuition to choose the right answers. 

Certainly, this process can throw off a carding attack bot. 

4. API Security Technology

Popular e-commerce sites and payment platforms include credit card facilities in their API to improve user experience by making payments faster and more convenient. 

But these credit card facilities are frequent targets of carding attack bots. For this reason, these websites have integrated API security technology that’s specially designed to protect against carding attacks. 

Stripe is a good example of an API security program that can protect your e-commerce website from being infiltrated by carding bots. 

Stripe is a payment gateway that’s used to process credit card payments. To thwart carding attacks, Stripe uses a combination of automatic and manual processes that will diffuse the effectiveness of these bots. 

Examples of these anti-carding processes are:

  • Machine Learning
  • Rate Limiters
  • Alerts 
  • System Reviews

Likewise, Stripe wants to make it easy for their customers to access customer service by providing 24/7 support via email, inbound phone calling systems, and chat.

The best thing about Stripe is that you can integrate it with WooCommerce without incurring expenses. 

5. Bot Pattern Analysis

We mentioned Machine Learning in the previous section as one of the safeguards used by Stripe to detect carding activity.

Machine Learning analyzes carding bot behavior and attack patterns so it can determine the type of bot program and arrive at the most effective course of action to extinguish all verification attempts on the website.

Machine Learning programs review a large number of data to pinpoint the originating URL, the patterns of mouse, keypad, and swiping behavior of the carding attack bot as well as analyze site metrics in real-time. 

Conclusion

Setting up an e-commerce site for your business is a great way to capitalize on the shift in the purchasing behavior of consumers. More people are going online to find products and services that meet their needs.

And unfortunately, you’re not the only one who recognized this. Cyber-criminals are going to find ways to exploit opportunities and launching carding attacks are just one of the many schemes they will bank on to tear down what you’re building up. 

Installing SSL Certificates is a step in the right direction but it might not discourage criminals from undertaking carding attacks. 

We recommend adding other layers of security such as those discussed in this article to protect your e-commerce website from the threat of carding attack bots and stop them in their tracks.

We hope you found our article helpful and that it gave you valuable insights on the importance of fortifying site security. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us or drop us an email. 

Let’s schedule a meeting so we can discuss how we can transform your website into an impenetrable fortress against cyber attacks.

And if you enjoyed this article, please feel free to share it with your friends who are planning to set up an e-commerce site for their businesses.

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Are you managing an e-commerce business and struggling with cart abandonment? 

Do you frequently receive messages, emails, or comments that your response time is so slow?

Is your e-commerce business having a hard time converting interest to revenues? 

Are you having problems encouraging repeat purchases? 

Are you dissatisfied with the results of your digital marketing campaign? 

If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, then maybe it’s time to add a chat plugin to your website.

What Is A Chat Plugin?

A chat plugin is a program that can be built into your website as an added feature for the purpose of enhancing the customer experience. These plugins are more popularly referred to as chat support services or Live Chat. 

No doubt, you’ve come across or have experienced what it’s like dealing with chat plugins. 

For example, Facebook Messenger has its own chat plugin.

If you have a Facebook Business Page, you can install the Facebook chat plugin on your website. With the plugin installed, customers who land on your website can chat with you simply by clicking on the Messenger logo. 

Having a chat plugin installed on your website can help enhance User Experience or UX by extending personalized customer service. 

Some of you might be shaking your heads in disagreement because of your individual experiences with a website’s chat support. 

You might be referring to A.I. technology or chatbots that offer default responses based on a set of frequently asked questions. 

Yes, chatbot technology can be an inconvenience especially if the program isn’t designed with features that allow the customer to provide more detailed information.

The chat plugins we’re referring to provide Live Chat services where the customer is in direct contact with a human, not A.I. 

And it’s not just Facebook and large-scale companies that use chat plugins.

Likewise, many small and medium-sized businesses that have websites and are active on social media use chat plugins.

The question is: “Why?”

Does your business website need a chat plugin?

What Are The Benefits Of A Chat Plugin?

As the old saying goes, “If Google sneezes, everyone on the Internet catches a cold.”

The search engine giant is big on UX. The ranking factors of its search algorithm widely consider features that enhance UX such as site speed, site security, and mobile responsiveness. 

To move up the search results page, you must find ways to make your site visitors happier and more satisfied with the experience.

Chat plugins might do the trick. Here are 5 benefits of having a chat plugin for your website.

1. Build Strong, Long-lasting, and Sustainable Relationships 

Better than nothing, right? 

Not when it comes to chat support.

For businesses, chatbots are convenient because they can provide 24/7 customer support. It might not be the same case with customers who want to get more answers but can’t provide the needed information. 

Live chat services through chat plugins have the advantage of the human touch. Customers are transacting with a live person and are actively interacting via a feedback-response cycle. 

Frustrated customers will appreciate live chat because they feel like things are moving along. They’ll have a better idea of what courses of action the business will take and a timeline to resolve the issue. 

Once the issue is resolved, the confidence in your business will be renewed. Your customers know they can depend on your company for assistance if they need help with your products or services.

2. Attend to and Try to Resolve Issues in Real-time

An irate customer does not want to wait for answers. Chatbots might not have the right answers to the customer’s questions. Or if they do, the answers aren’t satisfactory. 

With a human attending to the customer, there will be a more proactive approach to problem-solving. The live chat agent can get more information about the issue and attend to it in real-time. 

In some cases, such as in tech support, the live agent will take the customer to a step-by-step troubleshooting procedure to fix the problem at their end. The sooner the issue is resolved, the happier the customer. 

3. Enhance Your Brand and Reputation

In this age of social media where everyone has a platform to share an opinion, the last thing you want is to have a bad reputation for your customer service. 

A bad customer service experience will almost certainly trigger a customer to go on his/her social media account and post about the experience to the community. 

Having live chat support on your website will make the experience easier and more convenient for your customer. It’s more accessible. All the customer has to do is click on the chat support box and he’ll be attended to by an agent. 

Chat plugins will show your customers that you care about their happiness and satisfaction. Live chat support is a sign that you’re 100% confident about your product and will go the extra mile to make sure customers get 110% of their money’s worth.

4. Improve Sales Conversion Rate

When it comes to chat plugins, it’s not all about resolving customer disputes. You can use chat plugins to send out information on special promotions, discount packages, and new products available to your customers. 

Your customer will appreciate that you want to give them first-hand information that could make them save more money and have a chance to buy new items before the rest of the market does. 

The customer might feel more encouraged and motivated to buy your products or avail of your latest promotions because you made him/her feel more special. 

5. Create a More Accurate Customer Profile

Chat plugins can provide you detailed information about your customers through the recorded transcripts or the chat logs. You can create a more accurate profile for your customer. 

Review the logs and find out how each customer reacts and expresses his/her complaint, what the most common issues are with your products, where they come from, why they chose your product over the competitors and other valuable information that can help you get a better understanding of customer behavior. 

Having a more accurate customer profile can help fine-tune your marketing strategy, enhance your customer service, and identify ways to improve your products.

SEO for Your Business

The Best Chat Plugins For Your Website

Now that you know why your website needs a chat plugin, the next question is: “What’s the best chat plugin for my business website?”

There are many good chat plugins that you can consider for your business website. We’ve taken away some of the guesswork by sharing what we believe are the best chat plugins on the market today. 

1. Live Chat

When it comes to choosing your chat plugin, start with the program that’s widely recognized as the market leader – LiveChat. 

What makes LiveChat a good choice for your website?

  • Easy to set up and loads quite quickly.
  • The app can be used on mobile devices – smartphones, laptops, and tablets.
  • Personalize your chat support service by providing survey forms before and after a chat session. 
  • Create a workflow so that during off-hours your users can send out a trouble ticket.
  • The app can be integrated with other programs including MailChimp, Hubspot, ZenDesk, and Google Analytics. 

Unlike the other chat plugins featured in this article, Live Chat isn’t free. 

The app can be availed of under different pricing packages that range from US$16/month for a small, home-based business to US$50/month for a large-sized business that has a full-time customer service department. 

However, the monthly subscription cost is made worthwhile by the chat plugin’s sheer number of features:

  • Connect multiple websites to your app.
  • Integrate with Facebook Messenger.
  • Personalize service by emailing customers a link to a scheduled direct chat session.
  • Include default answers to FAQs.
  • Customize the appearance of the chat plugin widget.
  • Resolve disputes or issues faster by sending and receiving files via chat.
  • Grade the performance of your chat support agents by asking your customers to rate them.
  • Review conversations via the chat log and chat transcripts.
  • Assign chats to specific agents.
  • LiveChat provides its customers with analytics tools to keep track of and improve their performance. 

And there’s more! 

If you want to know for sure that LiveChat is for your business, the company gives a 14-day free trial. 

2. Tawk To

Tawk.To is a live chat plugin app that allows you to interact with your customers on your website without having to deal with annoying ads and spam content. 

No wonder that more than 3.8 million businesses have Tawk.To installed on their websites.

Why should you have Tawk.To on YOUR website?

  • It’s FREE!
  • Accessible via smartphone, laptop, and tablet.
  • Get valuable data about your customers every time they access chat support.
  • The app can be used on multiple websites.
  • Tawk.To’s interface can accommodate multiple agents at one time.
  • Compatible with various browsers. 
  • Versions available for iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac.

With Tawk.To installed on your website, you can provide real-time support to your customers and potentially increase your sales conversion rate. 

At the same time, you’ll get valuable information about your customers so you can fine-tune your digital marketing strategy and customer support service. 

3. HubSpot

Hubspot’s live chat plugin app was designed to make customer service more effective AND efficient for any type of business. It was developed to provide solutions to common customer service pain points experienced by businesses that have websites. 

First, let’s start off with how the chat plugin will appear on your site. Hubspot allows you to customize the look and feel of the widget so it can best represent your brand and complement the design of your website. 

Second, all of your agents’ interactions will be saved and stored automatically in a file and organized according to the customer. This way, it will be easier for your agents to retrieve customer cases and re-orient themselves about the particulars of the situation. 

What other reasons are there for you to choose Hubspot live chat plugin for your website?

  • Manage your leads and contacts easily.
  • User-friendly and highly navigable CRM feature.
  • Retrieve and analyze insights about your customers/clients.
  • Track the status of the emails that you send out.
  • Can be integrated with Gmail, GSuite, Outlook, and Windows Office 365.
  • Create forms, pop-up ads, and slide-ins that are mobile-friendly.

And yes, this live chat plugin is free!

4. Pipedrive

Pipedrive is marketed as a web-based solution that helps businesses track and improve sales by effectively managing the relationships with their customers. 

Pipedrive offers a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform with features designed to allow you to stay on top of the status of every prospective sale that moves along the pipeline. 

It’s more than just a chat plugin! Check out Pipedrive’s features:

  • Customize your chat support system to secure leads and then organize them into the CRM.
  • Visual sales pipeline enables you to see how and where leads are moving along in the sales conversion process.
  • Accessible by mobile devices; allows you to schedule tasks and identify the clients that are within proximity.
  • Integrate Pipedrive with Google Contacts; manage leads and send out emails to your contacts.
  • Pipedrive’s reporting system gives you valuable insights on the activities with the highest conversion rates, the tasks that have been completed and identify factors on why some deals were lost.

The company claims that Pipedrive is used by more than 95,000 companies in 179 countries and that on average, their clients have increased sales by 28%.

5. LiveAgent

LiveAgent started in 2004 as a tool designed to help improve customer service by offering live chat, ticketing capabilities, and other standard HelpDesk features. Today, LiveAgent is used by more than 150 million users and 40,000 companies all over the world.

Here some of the defining features of LiveAgent:

  • Your customer service agents can manage all inquiries and concerns from the HelpDesk.
  • Customize and organize your leads into categories such as companies. 
  • Customize your tickets by adding new fields so you can get more information about your customers.
  • You can add notes to the tickets that will only be visible to you.
  • Track and monitor the time your agents spend per ticket.
  • Assign tickets to specific agents or departments. 
  • Review email communication and chat information from the Universal Inbox. 
  • Respond to your customers from various social media networks.

The free version of LiveAgent doesn’t have many features but might be ideal for a solopreneur running a small business from home. The paid versions range from US$15/agent/month to US$39/agent/month.

Conclusion

What’s your reaction when you visit a website and a chatbox opens up in the lower right-hand corner? 

Chances are, you’re made to feel important, much like when you walk into a department store and a salesperson asks you if you need any help. 

Even if you’re just browsing through, you’re confident knowing there’s a person who can attend to your needs at any time. 

That’s why a business website with a built-in chat plugin will more than likely outperform competitors without chat support. Prospective customers will feel more confident and comfortable at your website because you have an agent who’s ready to help at any time. 

All the customer has to do is click on the chatbox. 

According to a study made by J.D. Power, live chat services is the preferred support channel by 42% of customers. Likewise, 73% of customers are happy with their experience engaging with live chat. 

If your business website doesn’t have a chat plugin, give us a call and let us do it for you. Integrating live chat services will help increase sales, build better customer relationships, and improve the performance of your sales team.

And if you enjoyed this article, feel free to share it with your community.

If you look up the definition of the word “trend”, you’ll find resources that consider it synonymous with the words “fad’ and “craze”. 

While you can create a relationship based on how the words are used, in the context of business, trends refer to long-term changes in the direction of consumer demands and preferences. 

A fad or a craze is symptomatic of collective behavior; fuelled by emotion rather than a rational thought process. 

For example, whenever Nike drops the latest Air Jordan or Apple announces the launch date of the latest iPhone, many followers of these brands don’t give much thought to why they have to have these products. 

They just have to.

Business trends represent a shift in direction that was necessitated by prevailing circumstances. Creating these shifts is no small feat as you’re talking about changes that affect industries and livelihoods.

The event or events that cause these shifts in demand must be “seismic” in strength and magnitude to drive the change in direction. 

And the global pandemic is definitely more seismic than the latest Air Jordan or iPhone. 

Here are the 5 remaining small business trends that we see continuing in 2021 and beyond 2022.

1. Greater Demand for Mobile Responsive Websites

The businesses that survived the prolonged lockdown period were the ones with mobile responsive websites. They were able to continue selling products because their online stores were in place and running. 

The businesses that didn’t have mobile responsive websites should have learned the lessons of the “Retail Armageddon” – where even the biggest, longest-tenured, and most iconic retailers closed down because they couldn’t survive the onslaught of e-commerce. 

You can say that the global pandemic is Retail Armageddon II. 

The truth is, whether the global pandemic happened or not, your business needs a mobile responsive website to accommodate the growing influence of mobile technology. 

The global pandemic just made the need for a mobile business website more urgent. 

Learn your lessons from the first lockdown and don’t take any more chances. Give us a call or drop us an email and we can set up your business presence on the internet right away.

2. Digital Marketing Will Be the Difference-Maker

Another consequence of the global pandemic is that more people are on the internet now more than ever. 

A May 2020 study by Statista showed a marked increase in online shopping because of the coronavirus. The study covered the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany. 

The results of the study proved that the battleground for customers has shifted to the Internet. 

If you want to remain competitive, you must invest in Digital Marketing. 

Here are 10 benefits of Digital Marketing for your business:

  • Increase the visibility of your business on the internet.
  • Remain top-of-mind with your target audience.
  • Enhance your reputation as an expert in the industry or as a provider of quality products and services.
  • Generate high-quality leads that you can convert into paying customers. 
  • Reduce the cost of marketing your products and services.
  • Increase the ROI on marketing activities. 
  • Access real-time data about your business that you can use to develop profitable strategies. 
  • Improve customer relationships; existing customers and prospects will appreciate having your business accessible on the internet. 
  • Streamline costs and improve efficiency because Internet-based content can be updated and reused. 
  • Create new streams of revenue for your business; sell your products on your e-commerce site, social media, and other retailers such as Amazon and Walmart.

Keep in mind that most, if not all, of your competitors have invested in a Digital Marketing strategy for their business. If you don’t have one in place for your business, you will be left behind. 

3. Strong Shift in Demand for Home Improvement Products and Services

Because people are spending more time at home, it’s no surprise that the demand for home improvement products and services will grow. 

Sales of home improvement products are expected to grow to US$337 billion by year-end 2021. Some analysts have forecasted that sales in this industry will remain on an upward trend until 2027. 

Included in the list of top 10 selling home improvement products are the following:

  • Closed Circuit TV and Surveillance Equipment.
  • Repair Kits/Toolboxes
  • Refrigerator Parts
  • Robot Cleaners
  • Touch-up Pens
  • Air Purifiers
  • Bathroom Vanities, Shelves, and Cabinets
  • Lighting Products
  • Appliances

And it’s not just home improvement products that will see a boom in 2021. USChamber.com has identified the following types of home services that will be popular even during the post-pandemic years:

  • Online Personal Training
  • Cybersecurity
  • Fast-food Delivery Services
  • Telemedicine or Online Medical Consultancy Services
  • Virtual Events


We’d also like to add pest control and home disinfection services, grocery deliveries, online education/tutorial services, and mobile salon and beauty treatments.

4. Greater Focus on Market/Customer Retention Strategies

According to research conducted by Bain & Company, if you can retain 5% of your customers, you can improve revenues by 25% to 95%. 

You also spend five times more when acquiring a new customer than retaining an existing one. 

Here are 5 strategies that you might want to consider for your business:

  • Offer loyalty programs such as memberships and discount cards.
  • Offer home services. This strategy is ideal for PC resellers and repair businesses, car repair shops, and tutorial services.
  • Book time to talk to the client over the phone and get his/her inputs. The human touch is more effective in reaching into the soul than an A.I. 
  • Invite the customer to special events such as virtual launches, concerts, and even movie screenings. 
  • Send free samples of new products to the customer. 

At a time when businesses are focusing on streamlining their expenses, greater focus should be placed on strategies that retain customers instead of finding new ones. 

5. More Consumers Will Support Small Businesses

According to JP Morgan, 99% or 26.7 million businesses in the United States are categorized as small businesses. 

Thus, small business is the engine of growth in America. The more small businesses succeed, the greater the country’s chances of recovering from the pandemic. 

A 2020 survey conducted by Salesforce.com showed that 59% of respondents reported that they would rather buy from a small business than a big business to support struggling entrepreneurs. 

The survey further supports our recommendation to invest in a mobile responsive website in part 1 of this article and to implement digital marketing strategies for your business. 

You have to compete with the other small businesses in your industry. Consumers are ready to pay for your products and services. Before you can prove that you’re the best in the industry, the customers have to find you first. 

Conclusion

It’s never too late to start a new business. There will always be opportunities every day. The important thing is to get started. 

Keep in mind that the world is on the road to recovery. To succeed, it would be a good idea to get an early start on that journey.

Do you have other small business trends in mind that we didn’t cover? Please share them in the comments section.

And if you need digital marketing services, give us a call and we’ll create a customized package for you.

If you have received great insights from this article, feel free to share it with your community. 

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We’re turning the corner in 2021 – the year after the global pandemic changed everything. 2021 was greeted with relief and hope by struggling businesses that looked to clean the slate and thrive after having to survive 2020. 

How has your 2021 been so far? According to a mid-year World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP) report, after contracting by 3.6% in 2020, the global economy is expected to grow by 5.4% in 2021. 

A big factor that has contributed to the growth of the global economy is the availability of vaccines. According to Reuters, all 195 countries have started their respective vaccination programs. 

In the United States, a country of 332 million people, more than 288 million doses have been administered representing 69% of the population. 

Still, we believe that the coronavirus will continue to play a significant factor in the growth of the economy in 2021 and beyond. Always keep in mind that vaccines are developed for the virus they were designed for. 

2019-nCoV has mutated into different variants the latest being the Indian variant which is reportedly the most transmissible mutation. The current line of vaccines are being tested for their effectiveness against the Indian variant. 

And the reality is – the virus will continue to mutate.

While it’s certainly great news that the global economy is recovering, we shouldn’t let our guard down even if we are vaccinated. We’re confident that the economies of the world will continue to grow but the engines driving them forward run through the Internet. 

Here’s a list of the small business trends we see developing in 2021 and continuing in 2022. 

1. E-Commerce Will Continue to Grow

The e-commerce industry proved to be immune to the global pandemic. According to a report published by the United Nations Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the e-commerce industry generated US$26.7 trillion in sales in 2020.

The sales figure represented a 19% increase from 2019 numbers and was clearly fuelled by the pandemic as lockdowns were implemented worldwide.  

We believe the e-commerce trend will continue to grow in 2021 and beyond. Yes, the threat of the virus remains but more consumers appear to have developed a greater appreciation for the ease and convenience of online shopping. 

Not only will online shopping keep them protected from the virus but consumers don’t have to deal with the inconvenience of traffic and looking for open parking spaces. 

It will cost less to shop online because you save up on gas/transportation expenses, parking tickets, and other incidental expenses that you typically incur when you’re at a commercial center.

For business owners, managing online retail will be more affordable than running a brick-and-mortar store. They can rent a smaller commercial space and keep their manpower complement lean.

2. Business Strategies Will Prioritize Profitability Over Expansion

While the global economy is growing, we tend to view it more as a recovery phase. Many businesses are still trying to recoup their losses from revenue declines and accumulated expenses. 

Business owners will be more cautious about defining their goals for 2021 and take more conservative approaches to manage their finances. 

This means expansion plans that were set into motion pre-pandemic will most likely be shelved for the time being.

Instead, business owners would prefer to focus on strategies that will keep them profitable by maintaining positive cash flow. 

They might implement strategies that could streamline costs while improving productivity such as integrating automated technology, digitizing processes, and outsourcing.

3. Availability of Pandemic-related Financing Programs

The pandemic was unprecedented in that it necessitated the shutdown of the global economy. Not even the world’s most powerful economies were spared. The first step to recovery would be to open the world for business. 

Considering the losses incurred by businesses, the majority of which would be categorized as small and medium-sized, governments need to step up and provide much-needed financial assistance to help the enterprises get back on their feet.

A good example would be the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) a business-stimulus package that falls under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act)

The PPP is a type of loan that incentivizes business owners to keep their employees on the payroll. The features of the PPP are as follows:

  • Available to all small businesses.
  • Low-interest rate of only 1%.
  • A maturity period of 2 years and 5 years for those issued after June 5, 2020.
  • No collateral required.
  • No personal guarantees needed.
  • No fees charged on the loan.
  • Loan payments can start 10 months after the expiration of the 24-week loan coverage period. 

Across the ocean, Singapore has introduced 7 types of small business-friendly loans including the Temporary Bridging Loan Program (TBLP), which is backed by the Singaporean government and by 19 participating financial institutions. 

The TBLP is the government’s Circuit Breaker measure that was designed to help jump-start small and medium-sized businesses in Singapore that were affected by the pandemic.

Governments are encouraging their entrepreneurs to avail of the stimulus packages and take part in rebuilding the economy of their respective countries.

4. More Telecommuters in the Workplace

Even with the increased number of vaccinations, many businesses are not operating in full capacity. 

There are companies that continue to maintain a workforce of only 30% at their physical location and 70% working at home through a telecommuting arrangement.

We believe more businesses will integrate more telecommuters in the workplace but not just for health and safety concerns. 

Telecommuting has the following benefits for businesses:

  • Reduces Costs – Businesses can opt for smaller office spaces, reduced Internet bandwidth, and lower overhead expenses.
  • Increases Productivity – Telecommuters don’t have to worry about the inconvenience of the daily commute. They can work right after having their first cup of coffee.
  • Lowers Attrition Rate – Employees who work from home are generally happier because they experience better work-life balance. 

The growth of telecommuting is nothing new. A 2014 article by Fast Company projected that 50% of the global workforces will be composed of telecommuters in 2020.

The pandemic merely accelerated the inevitability of having telecommuters in the workplace.

5. The Freelance Economy Will Boom

As part of their effort to streamline overhead costs, more businesses will opt to outsource work to freelancers. 

Freelancers are skilled individuals who provide services to businesses from remote locations. Many freelancers came from the 9-to-5 grind and have the necessary experience to manage a project expertly. 

Businesses can greatly reduce their payroll costs by hiring freelancers for the following reasons:

  • You pay only for total productive hours rendered.
  • You have the option to pay per completed project. 
  • No need to pay government-mandated benefits as freelancers are generally contracted, not employed.

In comparison, the cost of hiring a Full-Time Employee is equivalent to paying 1.4-times his/her salary. 

Businesses can also opt to hire virtual assistants who are adept at managing administrative functions such as phone handling, calendar management, appointment setting, email filtering, social media management, and managing/organizing documents. 

Virtual assistants are not limited to providing administrative assistant services. You can find many VA’s who are proficient in highly technical skills such as graphic design, legal transcription, and market research.

Conclusion

In part 2 of this article, we will discuss the remaining 5 small business trends that will continue to define the business landscape in 2021 and beyond. 

Stay tuned for that one!

The bottom line is that while it’s fine to be fearful of the virus, you shouldn’t let it stop you from pursuing your business goals or dreams of becoming an entrepreneur. 

There’s a popular quote that says opportunity and chaos are on the opposite sides of the same coin. The pandemic might have changed the way we do business but make no mistake about it – there will always be opportunities!

Do you have other ideas for business trends in 2021? Please let us know in the comments section. 

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

WebsiteStandOut

Businesses started transitioning to the remote environment in 2014 when smartphones, mobile devices, and Internet services became more reliable. Fast-forward to 2020 and the global pandemic has made going remote the new normal for businesses. 

It’s been more than a year since we went into lockdown. For your business to thrive in a world where going remote is a matter of necessity, you need a few tools in your belt to keep it growing and adapting. 

The tools you need must cover the following areas of business:

  • Meetings
  • Project Management
  • File Sharing/Organization
  • Communication
  • Accounting/Finance
  • Marketing
  • Outsourcing/Talent Acquisition
  • Email

Based on our experience, here are some of the best tools you need in your belt to tackle 2021.

1. Meetings

Virtual meetings have been growing in importance as businesses continued to seek strategic partnerships with other companies across the globe. The global pandemic accelerated the need for more businesses to incorporate virtual meetings as part of their process. 

Zoom 

Zoom Video Communications made it on the map when the San Jose-based company offered its 45-minute package free of charge for K-12 schools and small businesses.

What are the features of Zoom?

  • HD audio and video for up to 1,000 participants.
  • Collaboration tools such as share-screen.
  • Record meetings and create transcripts.
  • Sync meetings with Gmail, Outlook, and iCal.
  • Chat messaging system.
  • The webinar platform is expandable to 50,000 participants and can be streamed via FB Live, YouTube Live, and other streaming services.

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft launched Microsoft Teams in 2017. In 2019, Microsoft reported that its web-based app had more than 20 million active users. Because of the pandemic, Microsoft disclosed that there were now over 44 million active users of MS Teams. 

What are the features of Microsoft Teams?

  • Teams use Channels to converse with other teammates or invite others. 
  • Chat messaging system.
  • Access to SharePoint Online, a platform where teams can share documents.
  • Video conferencing with share-screen. 
  • Online meetings can host up to 10,000 users.
  • Audio-conferencing allows anyone to join via phone.

Google Meet

Google Meet was introduced in 2017 as a replacement for Google Hangouts. Google reported that because of the pandemic, Google Meet experienced 100 million active users daily compared to 200 million active users for Zoom. 

What are the key features of Google Meet?

  • An unlimited number of meetings for up to 100 participants.
  • Closed captioning during meetings.
  • Compatible with many devices from desktop to mobile platforms.
  • Preview for audio and video.
  • Change screen layout.
  • Exclusive control for meeting host.
  • Share screen and messaging.
  • Sync with MS and Google apps.

2. Project Management

Before project management apps became available, close collaboration was difficult when working with remote teams. There were a few platforms you could use but the features were limited. 

The project management apps that we selected make it possible for teams to collaborate on tasks as if they were sharing space. 

Asana

“Asana” is the term used to describe the act of practicing Yoga poses. Similar to Yoga, the objective of the project management app Asana is to help businesses achieve balance in managing remote work.

Asana was founded by former Facebook engineer Justin Rosenstein in 2012 as a mobile productivity app that helps teams manage, track, and organize their tasks. 

Forbes magazine reported in 2020 that there are more than 1.3 million paid users of Asana around the world.  

What are the key features of Asana?

  • Create customized forms for projects.
  • Create customized templates for workflows.
  • Create customized drop-down menus and fields.
  • Track the progress of a task as “Completed” or “Waiting”.
  • Put timelines on specific tasks.
  • Motivate your team by establishing milestones.
  • Option to make projects private or public.

Monday

Monday started out as an internal productivity tool for Wix.com from 2010 to 2012 when the app was bought out and became daPulse. It was rebranded to Monday.com in 2017 and to date is used by more than 100,000 organizations.

Monday.com won the 2020 Webby Award for Productivity in Apps, Mobile, and Voice.

What are the key features of Monday?

  • Centralized management with the use of an easy-to-use, color-coded, multi-functional board.
  • Comments and notifications to team members are sent by “pulses”.
  • A well-organized board helps managers track the progress of every task.
  • Allows companies to invite clients and collaborate on projects.
  • Advanced search features that enable users to locate projects, images, assignments, and updates without restrictions on dates. 
  • The timeline feature gives users the look and feel of Gannt charts so they can monitor and update progress.

Basecamp

37Signals developed and launched Basecamp in 2004. Owing to the success of the project management app, 37Signals changed the company’s name to Basecamp in 2014. 

Today, Basecamp is valued at US$100 Billion and has millions of users across the globe.

What are the key features of Basecamp?

  • Create and assign to-do lists.
  • Chat system for group and private messaging.
  • Generate reports to follow progress on tasks and to track the performance of individual team members.
  • Hill Charts feature allows you to monitor progress on tasks in real-time.
  • Schedule hourly back-ups of files.
  • A keyword search function allows you to find what you’re looking for right away.

3. File Sharing/Organization

Yes, digital technology and advances on the Internet made it faster and more convenient to manage tasks. However, it also means you have to attend to and accomplish more tasks often within the same number of work hours. 

If you don’t have an efficient and easy-to-manage file sharing and organization tool to manage your tasks and projects, you might as well break out the lock and key for that heavy filing cabinet in the corner of your office.

Google Drive

Google launched its synchronization and file storage platform in 2012. Work with other Google services such as Google Sheets, Google Docs, and Google Slides then share files with team members using various devices. 

According to Google, Google Drive had more than 2 billion active users in 2018, and in excess of 2 trillion files were stored in the platform in 2017. 

What are the key features of Google Drive?

  • Sharing of files is under the control of the owner.
  • Compatible with a large number of 3rd party apps.
  • Google Drive viewer is compatible with a multitude of formats.
  • The Android version features QuickApp that “predicts” the files you need even before you can tap on the keyboard.
  • With built-in programs that make the platform accessible to the visually impaired.
  • Includes encryption capability. 

Dropbox

Dropbox was launched in 2007 by a pair of MIT students and seed funding from Y Combinator. Today, the company is valued at over US$10 Billion. 

According to Statista, Dropbox had 15 million paying active users in 2020. Other statistics show that there are more than 600 million users of Dropbox worldwide. 

What are the key features of Dropbox?

  • Store and access files from anywhere and from any device.
  • Synchronize work from other platforms and services.
  • Instant notifications on updated to-do lists and project timelines.
  • Collaborate with everyone on your team by using Dropbox Paper.
  • High-level security keeps your files safe.
  • Designate work and limit access to files only to authorized people.
  • Restore damaged or hacked files within 30 days.

Microsoft 365 – OneDrive

OneDrive is a Microsoft file-sharing and synchronization service that was launched in 2007. It’s part of the Microsoft 365 suite of products and services. 

There are millions of users of Microsoft 365 worldwide. In the United States alone, Microsoft 365 has more than 650,000 active users.

What are the key features of OneDrive?

  • Access your files from anywhere using any device.
  • Share your files with teams or individuals.
  • Integrate with other Microsoft 365 products.
  • Free up storage space.
  • Personal Vault gives you high-level security to keep your files safe.
  • Supports different forms of multimedia.
  • Scan documents with your mobile phone.

Evernote

Evernote was introduced in 2000 as a marketing software then evolved into a productivity app that helped businesses manage and organize their tasks in 2008. 

Evernote has become a go-to tool of businesses that despite increasing its prices in 2016, has amassed more than 220 million paid subscribers. 

What are the key features of Evernote? Take note the key features outlined below are for Evernote’s Premium Subscription.

  • 10GB of new uploads every month.
  • Synchronize with various devices.
  • Capable of searching for text inside images.
  • Share files and notes to teams or individuals.
  • Passcode lock feature for the mobile app version.
  • Forward your emails to Evernote.
  • Annotate, search for images in PDF format.
  • One-click feature for presenting notes.
  • Scanning feature to create business cards.

Pocket

Pocket was launched in 2007 as Read It Later, an app developed to help you manage a list of reading materials and videos curated from the Internet. The service can be accessed by multiple devices and browsers. 

The company reported that as of 2018, Pocket has more than 30 million users. 

What are the key features of Pocket?

  • Save an unlimited amount of articles, web pages, and videos.
  • Synchronize with a wide range of devices.
  • Use tags to organize your saved items.
  • Accessible from various platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Flipboard to name a few.
  • Listen to your articles by converting text into high-quality audio.
  • The intelligent tag suggestion feature helps you organize your content for easier and faster search.
  • Customize layouts and font styles. 
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4. Communication

Having excellent communication systems in place can replicate the advantages of shared space collaboration for your remote setup. 

The communication tools we selected will allow you to keep track of your team’s work without hovering over them as you might do in a physical office. These apps function like central hubs where you can get everything done in one place.

Slack

Slack started out as an internal communication tool for gaming company Tiny Speck when they were developing Glitch. It was formally launched as Slack, a communication platform for businesses, in 2013.

As of 2019, Slack has an estimated 12 million daily active users. 

What are the key features of Slack?

  • The use of Channels allows you to organize and manage teams handling different projects or tasks.
  • The “Narrow search” function makes searching easier.
  • Mentions feature lets you find messages that were specifically for you.
  • A flexible messaging system enables you to quickly find a specific user and send a DM, mark a message as “unread” for future reference, and restrict access to threads.
  • Keep track of important discussions by using the Highlight Word function to advise you if a keyword shows up in a thread.
  • Create auto-replies for faster response time.

Microsoft Teams

We discussed MS Teams earlier but the service is worth mentioning again as an effective platform for communication. 

After deciding against bidding for Slack in 2016, Microsoft developed MS Teams as a direct competitor of the communication platform. As you will read below, MS Teams has communication features that aren’t available in Slack.

A 2021 survey showed that MS Teams has 75 million Daily Active Users (DAUs) compared to “only” 12 million DAUs for Slack.

What are the key features of MS Teams?

  • Channels function like conversation boards and make it easier for team members to communicate.
  • Compared to Slack, MS Teams invites more open communication by getting teams to view other communication and provide inputs. 
  • Files are automatically filed and organized in a SharePoint document.
  • Quick and easy access online calling and conferencing system with top-level audio and video quality.

Blink

Blink is a communication app that was developed to improve employee productivity by providing them with a platform to collaborate effectively and avoid incidents of miscommunication. 

Companies that have used Blink were reportedly able to reduce employee turnover rate by 26% and improve employee satisfaction by 30%.

In 2018, Blink received 2 awards from Finances Online – the Great User Experience Award and the Rising Star Award.

What are the key features of Blink?

  • Fully customizable; companies can add their logos and colors.
  • Accessible to multiple devices and browsers.
  • Availability of team calendar to help team members keep track of deadlines.
  • Workplace analytics enables managers and top officers to evaluate employee engagement and performance.
  • The one-on-one chat messaging feature lets you communicate directly with frontline employees and give them valuable feedback.

5. Accounting/Finance

The absence of proper money management systems is the number one reason why many small businesses fail within the first 5 years of operation. 

One of the first things you have to do when starting a business is to fortify its foundation. These are the support activities that help your business run smoothly. 

Accounting is considered a back-office function but it plays a significant role in ensuring the success of your business. 

Having your financial transactions covered and organized by a reliable accounting app will help you monitor your liquidity, cash flow, and if you’re on track to meet your profitability objectives.

Quickbooks

Quickbooks feels like it’s been around forever and to some degree, it has. First introduced in 1983 as Quicken by Intuit, Quickbooks was developed with the small and medium-scale business owner in mind. 

According to Intuit, Quickbooks garnered 74% market share in the US in 2005. The NPD Group reported that in 2008, 94.2% of retail units in the US used Quickbooks. 

What are the key features of Quickbooks?

  • Create and send customized invoices and quotations.
  • The software can be accessed from a remote location.
  • Offers remote payroll assistance and outsourced accounting services.
  • Availability of electronic payment options.
  • Online banking and reconciliation options.
  • Mapping integration feature with Google Maps.
  • Email functionality feature through MS Outlook and Outlook Express.
  • Integration with Excel.

Freshbooks

Freshbooks was developed by 2ndSite, a company based in Canada and was launched in 2004. Initially, Freshbooks was intended as an invoicing program for IT professionals. 

In 2015, 2ndSite set up a second company, BillSpring, that handled product development. Freshbooks evolved into an accounting program that can manage the accounting needs of small and medium-scale businesses.

What are the key features of Freshbooks?

  • Customizable invoices.
  • Automatic payment reminders for clients.
  • Automatic late fee penalties for invoices that are past due.
  • Incorporate credit card payments into your system.
  • Automatically schedule invoices for recurring payments.
  • Organize invoices and confirmed payments per client.
  • Multi-currency and multi-lingual billing options.

Xero

Xero was developed in New Zealand and introduced as a cloud-based accounting software program for small and medium scale businesses in 2006. The company has gone global with offices in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Asia.

According to Xero, in 2018, there were more than 1 million subscribers to its app in Australia and New Zealand plus another 1 million users worldwide.

What are the key features of Xero?

  • The software program is compatible with Windows and Mac.
  • Versions for Android and iOS are available.
  • Customizable dashboard for convenience and ease of use.
  • Generate multiple reports at one time.
  • View and share financial reports with your partners or investors.
  • Option to invoice clients using different currencies.
  • Customizable invoices.
  • ISO/IEC 27001-2013 compliant; this is the gold standard for high-level online security.

6. Marketing

Marketing has grown in prominence over the last few decades. It used to be the case that companies would only allocate 1% of their revenues for marketing activities. 

According to a 2017 study by Deloitte, companies have steadily increased the budget allocation for marketing. Consumer goods retailers are the biggest spenders at 24% while those in the Energy sector spend the least at only 4%.

Thanks to Marketing apps, small and medium-scale businesses have the means to run marketing campaigns without spending too much time and money.

HubSpot Marketing

HubSpot is a wonderful resource for everything marketing-related. It’s no surprise that the HubSpot Marketing app which was released in 2006 is actively used by more than 30,000 companies in 90 countries.

HubSpot Marketing is a one-stop-shop for all your marketing needs. A free service is available for first-time users to try and test the products and other offerings. 

What are the key features of HubSpot Marketing?

  • Build and design your own website.
  • Create and publish content from a built-in blogging platform.
  • Perform keyword research to optimize your content.
  • Customizable CTA buttons and Landing pages.
  • Organize all information including leads into one database.
  • Easy-to-use and highly customizable email templates and campaigns.
  • Marketing automation software allows you to customize and develop marketing campaigns to help accomplish specific business goals. 

OptinMonster

Lead generation is a very important part of digital marketing. The ability to generate leads will help you pre-qualify potential clients and allow you to better maximize your marketing budget as well as optimize your marketing efforts.

OptinMonster is a lead generation software that was developed to help businesses build their email list by improving engagement levels. According to OptinMonster, the program is used by more than 1,213,437 websites.

What are the key features of OptinMonster?

  • Drag ‘n; Drop Builder lets you create customized forms.
  • Campaigns can be optimized for mobile devices.
  • Use MonsterEffects feature to create more eye-catching visuals.
  • Customize messages to increase engagement levels.
  • Choose from a wide variety of campaign types including the very popular Lightbox PopUp, Slide-screen Scroll Box, and Floating Bar.
  • Built-in technology designed to study visitor behavior.

Mailchimp

Mailchimp is an email marketing and marketing automation service that was launched in 2001 by its developer, Rocket Science. It started out as a paid service before introducing a freemium service package in 2009. 

According to Rocket Science, Mailchimp was generating 14,000 new subscribers every day in 2017 and was sending out an average of 10 billion emails per day. 

What are the key features of Mailchimp?

  • Organize your leads with its built-in Marketing CRM.
  • Learn more about your customers with the Audience Dashboard.
  • Improve the efficiency of your marketing campaigns with the segmentation feature.
  • Find out where your visitors and customers are coming from by accessing data on demographics. 
  • Availability of content creation tools to help develop optimized content. 
  • Access reports that give you empirical evidence of audience behavior.

7. Outsourcing/Talent Acquisition

Small business owners know that to scale operations they need help. The challenge is to pay for talent without compromising their cash flow. 

The cost of hiring Full-Time Employees (FTEs) can be calculated by multiplying their salary by 1.4. For many small business owners, hiring FTEs can be too expensive. 

A more affordable option would be to outsource work to remote employees or professionals who provide technical services through the Internet. Examples of remote workers are virtual assistants, freelancers, and telecommuters.

With remote workers, you have different payment options. You can pay only for the hours worked or on a per-project basis. You have more flexibility and can stay within your budget. 

Here are some of the best sites to hire remote workers:

UpWork

UpWork started out as Elance in 1999. Then, in 2003, Elance merged with another online freelancer platform called O-desk and was rebranded as Elance-oDesk. The company settled with its current name in 2015.

The UpWork head office is based in Santa Clara, California, USA.

What are the benefits of using UpWork?

  • Choose from more than 18 million freelancers from different countries.
  • Trusted by more than 5 million businesses.
  • 3 million jobs posted every year; UpWork is the biggest freelancer platform in the world.
  • Freelancer profiles contain valuable information such as client reviews, total earnings, and a summary of skills and certifications.
  • Work Diary feature allows you to check and verify the total productive hours worked by your freelancer.
  • The Payment Protection feature gives you the option of choosing between pay-per-hour and pay-per-project arrangements. 
  • UpWork is the only freelancer platform that offers a dispute resolution service.

Freelancer

Freelancer has staked its claim as the world’s biggest freelancer platform with a reported user base of more than 51 million clients and freelancers from over 247 countries. 

The company has acquired other freelancer sites such as GetAFreelancer.com, EUFreelancer.com, and ScriptLance.com. 

What are the benefits of using Freelancer?

  • Wide range of freelancers to choose from; you can find freelancers who can handle large-scale as well as small-scale projects.
  • Option to pay freelancers per hour or with a fixed price.
  • The chat feature allows you to communicate directly with freelancers.
  • Milestone Payment system gives you the protection of paying the freelancer only when you’re 100% satisfied with the result.

Guru

Guru.com was founded in 1998 and is headquartered in Pittsburgh. It started out as eMoonlighter.com. In 1999, it was rebranded as Guru.com and was used to hire high-tech freelancers for an online clearinghouse. 

Presently, Guru has 1.8 million freelancers offering more than 4.4 million freelancing services to businesses around the world.

What are the benefits of using Guru?

  • A streamlined dashboard makes it easier to keep track of projects and the work of freelancers.
  • Communicate directly with the freelancers or “gurus” that you have contracted for the job.
  • Pay a minimum fee of US$29.95 to have your job or project posted for 30 days to attract more freelancers.
  • Multiple payment options such as electronic payment systems, credit cards, checks, e-checks, wire transfers, and direct payments to the website.
  • SafePay system lets you review and approve the work before paying the freelancer. 

8. Email

Email remains a critical part of communication. Despite the availability of various media and platforms, people still depend on email and regard it as the primary channel of communication.

The tech giants recognize this and have expanded their offerings to include apps that can turn your email into a central hub with all the apps you need to manage your business. 

The email service providers have also upped the ante on security and data protection. 

Office 365

Microsoft launched Office 365 in 2010 in response to growing competition from Google’s Gmail service. Office 365 was designed to provide subscribers with a wide range of Microsoft services that cover all of the key areas of a business. 

With the addition of MS Teams, the user base of Office 365 grew by 53% from 75 million users in April 2020 to 115 million users to date. 

What are the key features of Office 365?

  • Availability of apps for spreadsheet, word processing, slide presentation, online conferencing, and file sharing to name just a few.
  • A cloud-based platform means you can access Office 365 anywhere in the world with an Internet connection.
  • Real-time collaboration with team members on any document or project.
  • Yammer is Office 365’s communication app that allows you to set up specific channels with different departments or individuals. 
  • Files are shareable with people who are not part of your company.
  • Workflows app keeps your team updated on deadlines and lets you monitor their progress. 
  • Top-level 128-bit SSL/TSL encryption. 
  • Built-in proprietary antivirus software.

Gmail

Gmail is Google’s game-changing, free email service that was launched in 2004. According to Google, as of 2019, there are 1.5 Billion users of Gmail worldwide. 

Once you open a Gmail account, you can access its other business apps such as Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, Google Calendar, Google Maps, and Google Meet.

What are the key features of Gmail?

  • 15 gigabytes of storage; the largest among email service providers.
  • Email capacity for receiving emails can go up to 50 megabytes.
  • Send out emails that are as big as 25 megabytes.
  • Google’s mail servers immediately scan mail for spam, malware, and context-sensitive ads. 
  • Access to other services such as Google Drive and Google Photos.

ProtonMail

ProtonMail is literally the stuff of science. It was developed by scientists from Switzerland who spent time at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). 

Introduced in 2016, ProtonMail uses a proprietary client-side encryption program to safeguard email content before they are transmitted to the ProtonMail servers.

From only 2 million users in 2016, ProtonMail has over 50 million users as of 2021. 

What are the key benefits of ProtonMail?

  • High-level combination of encryption programs to fortify email protection and integrity of services.
  • Availability of Two-Factor Authentication process to prevent unauthorized access to email.
  • The addition of the Archive folder lets you store important communication while keeping your Inbox clean.
  • Label feature helps you organize your emails based on sender or by category.
  • Customizable themes to create a distinct look and feel for your Inbox.

Conclusion

You don’t have to include all of these apps in your digital toolbox. Give them a try and find out which products fit the needs of your business. 

Times may have changed and it might be a while before we develop a sense or feel of normalcy. The last thing we should do is to wait because the old normal as we knew it might take some time to come back – if at all. 

What we need to focus on is finding ways to adapt, survive, and ultimately, thrive in this new environment. Having the right apps in your belt will certainly help you tackle the challenge in 2021 and beyond. 

If you have questions about these apps and if you want to build a website for your online business, give us a call and we’ll schedule a meeting to discuss your concerns. We can use Zoom or MS Teams to get the ball rolling!

And if you enjoyed this article, please feel free to share it with your community.

SEO for Your Business

For more than a decade, UpCity’s mission has been—and continues to be—to help businesses find B2B service providers they can trust. The UpCity Recommendability Rating was developed to determine a service provider’s credibility and recommendability, giving UpCity the confidence to recommend them to the more than 1.5 million businesses that visit their site. 

Each year, UpCity analyzes and scores more than 70,000 service providers based on their UpCity Recommendability Rating and acknowledges the top national and local providers with an UpCity Excellence Award. The results are in, and we won!

We are ecstatic to announce that the Mountaintop Web Design team has been recognized as one of the top B2B service providers of 2021 in the Denver area by UpCity! 

Mountaintop Web Design offers a full suite of digital marketing services to our clients around the globe. Many small businesses lack the time and expertise to build marketing that works. We have developed solutions that get your business found so that you can quit worrying and start growing your business. 

Mark Tepper, SVP of Sales & Customer Success at UpCity, had this to say about Mountaintop Web Design:

“Mountaintop Web Design loves when their customers succeed and accomplish a new goal; they thrive on it. This drive to do more and be more is how Mountaintop Web Design was able to achieve the UpCity Excellence Award.”

– Mark Tepper, SVP of Sales & Customer Success

This recognition has been driven in large part by our 5-star review rating on UpCity. Here are a few of our favorite pieces of feedback we’ve received from our incredible customers:

“I have been very pleased with Josiah and his team. He was very responsive – actually impressed me how quickly he responded every time! His team worked well with us every step of the way to pretty much redo our entire website. Offered great suggestions when needed. They made the little tweaks I wanted until I got it just how I wanted it. I’d highly recommend them and will continue to do business with them in the future!”

-Rayna McGill, Mountaintop Web Design customer

“Josiah and his team did fantastic work in helping my company with a website overhaul. From my initial meeting with MWD, I was confident they were going to be able to help me achieve exactly what I was looking to accomplish. Josiah was able to answer all my questions and was also able to ask the appropriate questions to help me craft and create exactly what my company needed from a website. We’ve maintained their service package and they’ve been able to help us keep everything updated on our site and running without any major disruptions. I would highly recommend MWD for your website needs!”

-Brad Schoenthaler, Mountaintop Web Design customer

At Mountaintop, we take pride in giving our clients the best value for their money. We don’t just craft digital marketing strategies and websites, but we help clients save money along the way. Thank you to the UpCity team and our Mountaintop Web Design customers for this tremendous award and honor. 

Whether you have a stable job or are looking for work, having a new stream of income will always be welcome. One of the best ways to make money is to work as a freelancer. 

For many 9-to-5 employees, freelance work not only augmented their income, it was also the first step to a rewarding career as an entrepreneur.

What Is A Freelancer?

A freelancer is a person who works independently and offers services to businesses that are interested in his specific skill set. 

Essentially, a freelancer is self-employed. He can be considered an entrepreneur because he manages the needs of his business. Similar to an entrepreneur, he is responsible for the success or accountable for the failure of his freelance business.

What Are The Benefits Of Becoming A Freelancer?

The benefits presented to a freelancer are the same benefits presented to an entrepreneur.

  • You have your own time.
  • You have a chance at achieving financial independence.
  • You have control over your financial growth.
  • You are the main decision-maker.
  • You choose who you work with.
  • You choose the clients you want to manage.

In other words, a freelancer is his own boss!

How To Make Money As A Freelancer

However, being the boss isn’t easy. 

If the decisions you made resulted in losses to your business, there’s no one else to blame. It becomes your sole responsibility to find solutions to situations before they become full-blown problems. 

Likewise, achieving financial independence is never guaranteed.

Having control over your financial growth entails making the right decisions.

  • How many clients can I handle without affecting the quality of work?
  • Am I charging the right fees?
  • Should I keep networking for more clients?
  • Do I need to hire people now to expand my business?
  • What tasks should I outsource?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed right now – don’t worry!

We’ve created this guide to help you get started as a freelancer and make good money along the way.

1. Identify Your Skill Set

There are thousands of jobs available on every freelancing site. Businesses from all over the world are looking for freelancers who can help them get work done at the least cost. 

Unless you identify your skill set, you’ll get lost – not knowing which jobs you should apply to. 

Do you consider yourself an expert in a particular skill? If so, are you 100% confident that you can offer this skill to a client and assure him of high-quality work and top-level performance? 

For example, you have experience as a Graphic Designer. You’ve done graphic design for friends and for your department at the company. How qualified are you as a Graphic Artist?

You should be proficient in a few software programs for graphic design such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, and CorelDraw Graphics Suite. Some of the job ads will specifically require proficiency and experience in conducting graphic design work using the software. 

It would also be to your advantage if you are proficient with a particular style of art such as Art Deco, Art Nouveau, Cubism, Pop Art, or Impressionism. The client will have an idea of your approach to design.

2. Define Your UVP

UVP stands for Unique Value Proposition. Put simply, it’s the answer to the question in the minds of potential clients who come across your profile:

“Why should I hire you as my freelancer?”

You’re not the only freelancer applying for that job. HR Officers and business owners will be browsing through proposals and online profiles to hire the freelancer who can do the job according to their expectations.

What makes you different – and the best candidate over everyone else?

List down your hard and soft skills. 

Hard skills are the technical skills or the ones acquired through formal education, training, and experience. Soft skills refer to the personality or behavioral attributes that best define your approach to work. 

Review your hard and soft skills carefully. Then, come up with a phrase that best sums up your value to the potential client. This phrase is your UVP and it should appear in your online profiles and applications. 

3. Establish Your Service Offerings

What services can you offer potential clients? 

For example, if you’re a Digital Marketer, you might be able to offer the following services:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
  • Social Media Marketing/Management (SMM)
  • Content Writing
  • Keyword Research

You can also include a list of your core competencies:

  • Project Management
  • Hiring and Recruitment of Remote Employees
  • Quality Assurance
  • Planning and Strategy Design
  • Analytics and Process Improvement

Be as detailed as possible but don’t offer more than what you can provide. If you offer services that you’re not capable of doing and then fail to deliver results, you might compromise your career as a freelancer.

4. Set Up a Business Website

Having a website will professionalize your freelancing business. There are many benefits to having a website as a freelancer:

  • The About Me page will give potential clients an idea of who you are as a person. The client will know if he can work with you.
  • The Home page will highlight your UVP and inform the client what you can do for him.
  • The Portfolio page will shine the spotlight on your past work or examples of hard skills. 
  • The Services page will summarize the list of services that you can offer to interested clients.
  • The Contact Me page will inform interested parties how to get in touch with you. 
  • Add a Blog page so you can share your expertise and knowledge to potential clients.

With a website, you can be reached by potential clients through search. You won’t be limited by social media or by freelancing websites. 

5. Create an Online Profile

An online profile is your resume on the Internet. You have to create an online profile in social media networks and freelancing platforms. 

Here are important things to keep in mind when creating an online profile:

  • Write a short and concise introduction that’s easy to read. 
  • Make sure your information is updated regularly.
  • Use a professional email address.
  • If required, upload a professionally done headshot. 
  • Summarize your work experience, educational attainment, and career achievements in bullet point format.

Lastly, make sure your online profiles are consistent on all platforms. You don’t want a social media profile that reads differently from your profile at UpWork.

6. Network for Clients

Successful networking is a numbers game. The more often you network, the higher the probability of getting noticed. That said, landing a client comes down to finding qualified prospects or those who are genuinely interested in hiring your services as a freelancer. 

How do you find qualified prospects?

First, you have to create a Client or Buyer Profile. 

  • Who do you think will most likely hire your services? 
  • Where do they come from? 
  • What is the size of their business?
  • What is their industry?
  • What is their budget for remote employees?
  • What type of services or skills do they need?
  • How much work will they require per freelancer?

Second, you have to be selective about where to look for open positions or available projects. 

Similar to social media sites, there are many freelancer platforms on the Internet. Some platforms cater to specific skills. 

For example:

  • UpWork – Content writers, web designers, software developers, and virtual assistants
  • Fiverr – Graphic designers, content writers, and social media marketers.
  • Guru – Website designers, software developers, and virtual assistants.
  • Odesk – Content writers, customer service specialists, and virtual assistants.
  • PeoplePerHour – Graphic designers, web developers, software developers, research specialists, and video editors.

Once you’ve identified the best platform to market and promote your skills, then it’s time to go networking!

  • Be conservative with your goals. To land your first client, assume a success rate of only 2%. Therefore, to get your first sign-up, you must apply to at least 50 job openings or projects.
  • Set a time for networking activity. In order to apply to 50 job openings or projects in one month, you only have to target 1-2 prospective clients per day. Two hours per day will be more than enough time to be selective about your choices.
  • Go Old School. Who says online is the only way to go? You can attend networking events or conferences for small businesses. There are local businesses that are constantly on the lookout for freelancers. 

Even if you’ve signed up a client – don’t stop networking. Continue to look for good opportunities on select freelancer platforms and stay active in social media. 

7. Focus on Quality of Work

It’s great to be in demand. However, freelancers are not immune to the Law of Diminishing Quality of Work. 

Sure, you can make more money by accepting more freelance work. The downside is the more projects you accept, the more deadlines you have to meet, and thus, the higher the probability of work quality getting compromised. 

You might think otherwise, but no one is Superman. You have to rest and relax your mind. Also, ask yourself why you became a freelancer in the first place. Is it because you want to have more time for yourself and your family? 

As a freelancer, always focus on maintaining – or exceeding – the quality of work. If clients are happy with your service, they will stay with you. More so, they might even recommend you to their associates and friends. 

8. Get Testimonials From Clients

Testimonials from happy clients are more powerful than paying for micro or macro influencers for their endorsements. Why? For the reason that testimonials are organic, natural, and appear more sincere than paid endorsements. 

If a potential client wants to know if the testimonial is genuine, all he has to do is to contact the person who gave the testimony. 

Having multiple testimonials can be greatly capitalized if you have a website. Place them on your homepage so that website visitors can see them right away.

9. Build Up Your Online Presence

The key to be seen and noticed by potential clients is to stay active on the Internet:

  • Join interest/focus groups on social media and actively participate in the discussions.
  • Post at least once a day on social media. If you don’t have a blog, curate relevant content or post regular status updates. 
  • Share your opinions but be mindful – and respectful – of those who don’t share your views. 
  • Another option you can consider if you don’t have a blog page is to blog from your LinkedIn account. 

Don’t hesitate to give advice on the Internet even if you won’t get paid for it. The important thing is to let potential clients know that you are competent and highly knowledgeable about your profession and industry.

Conclusion


We saved the best for last! 

“As a freelancer, how much should I charge clients for my services?”

When you’re starting your career as a freelancer, don’t charge potential clients what you believe you’re worth. Let your success eventually determine your fees.

If you have no experience as a freelancer and your online profile shows that you haven’t landed many clients, if any at all, don’t charge a rate that’s much higher than what other freelancers are charging. 

Your first objective as a freelancer is to get the ball rolling by signing up your first client. Contrary to popular belief, many companies that are looking for freelancers are less concerned about costs than the quality of work. 

Hiring freelancers carry other cost-saving benefits for companies such as paying only for productive hours and setting the work schedule according to a fixed budget. These companies want to be sure they get what they pay for.  

Sign up a client first and then prove your worth by performing well and above expectations.

If you’ve been consistent with the quality of your work, garnered great feedback from your clients, and have built a steady reputation as an amazing freelancer who can deliver results – then, by all means, raise your fees!

Your skills shouldn’t be commoditized. If you’re really good at what you do, then clients won’t mind paying a premium. 

If you’re thinking about setting up a personal website for your freelance business, give us a call and we’ll build one for you. 

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

Website.Protection.CustomersSafe

While many people welcomed 2021 as the year to start over fresh and recover from the difficulties of 2021, there are those who believe that the new year is just a continuation of the events of the previous year. 

To an extent these people are correct. We should anticipate a residual effect from the damage the lockdowns wrought on economies worldwide. It will take time for industries to recover and get back on track to profitability. 

And that’s the question you must ask yourself: 

“How long will it take for things to go back to normal so I can earn a regular income again?”

There’s no clear answer to that question because the new normal has made the business environment more uncertain and ambiguous. And for that reason, you should not wait and assume the new normal is just “normal”.

It’s business as usual in 2021!

Take control of your financial independence and make money this year by setting up a home-based business.

Step 1 – Come Up with a Business Idea

Here’s a question that always stirs debate – or an argument:

“Should you follow your passion or should you find a business that makes money?”

And here’s a diplomatic way to answer this question:

Find a business that makes you happy and motivated every day and has the POTENTIAL to make money in the future. 

Sometimes your passions can limit you. At the same time, becoming an entrepreneur isn’t like winning a lottery. You’re not guaranteed financial success. 

The guiding rule when starting a business is to find a product or service that creates value or gives benefits to a target market. 

Conduct preliminary research and identify products and services that are in high demand in your area. The product or service must be relevant, useful, and practical given today’s conditions. 

For example, according to Criteo, these products have been selling well since 2020:

  • Exercise Bands
  • Outdoor Furniture
  • Pet Products
  • Gaming Equipment
  • Baking Items
  • Sleep/Lounge Wear
  • Shaving/Grooming Kit
  • Webcams

Should you sell these products as well? 

You could – or use the list as a basis for selling other products that are similar but cater to a specialized niche. A case in point would be to capitalize on the home gym trend and sell adjustable dumbbells or kettlebells instead of resistance bands.

Step 2 – Prepare a Business Plan

Once you’ve identified a product or service to sell, prepare a business plan. A standard business plan consists of 5 sections:

  1. The Executive Summary – Summarizes details about the ownership and the products and services to be offered.
  1. Business Overview – Discloses information about your company such as business type, office address, and contact details plus your mission statement.
  1. Products and Services – Discusses the types of products and services you’re selling and identifies factors that prove there’s market demand. 
  1. Market Analysis and Strategy – Presents an empirical, data-based analysis of market demand, a breakdown of market demographics, and outlines the strategy for attracting potential customers/end-users.
  1. Financial Projections – Includes sales projections, projected cash flow, and loss/income statements, and cash disbursement schedules.

Don’t put this off! A business plan acts as your blueprint for building your business. It keeps you on-course if you find yourself veering away because things aren’t going as planned. 

Step 3 – Register Your Business

Registering your business legitimizes your enterprise. Clients and customers prefer to deal with entities that are registered with the state and local government and have acquired the necessary permits to operate. 

Find out if your home-based business should be registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or a government agency such as the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). 

From there, you’ll have to acquire licenses to allow you to operate a business from home. There are 5 types of licenses that you might need for your home-based business:

  1. General Business License – Authorization to conduct business within your local jurisdiction.
  1. Professional License – Some states require certain types of home-based businesses such as a daycare center, hairstyling salon, and financial services to secure a professional license. Check with your local government office if the type of business you plan to set up at home needs a professional license. 
  1. Health and Safety Permits – If your business sells products that are flammable or if you receive clients and customers to your home, then you have to secure health and safety permits.
  1. Sign Permit – If you plan to advertise your home-based business by posting signs, you’ll first have to get the requirements from your local government. There will be guidelines on the size, location, and whether the use of lights will be allowed.
  1. Sales Tax License – The sales tax license may be part of your General Business License. If it’s not, you’ll have to secure one for your business from your local government.

Step 4 – Put up a Website

Now that your business is registered and authorized to operate – let’s get to work!

And the first order of the day is to put up a website. 

Your business license will state your residence as the address for your business. But your business address is the URL that potential clients and customers will click on when they run a search on the Internet. 

If the URL is the business address then your website is your office or retail store on the Internet. The website is where people go to:

  • Learn more about your business
  • Find out the products and services you sell
  • Read valuable content for personal information or research purposes. 
  • Field a question or address a concern
  • Buy products and services

According to a survey made by the National Retail Federation (NRF), while brick-and-mortar stores enjoyed a higher-than-expected 8.3% increase in holiday sales, online sales grew faster at 45.3% on a year-to-year basis.  

Research firm Digital Commerce 360 believes that the comparatively higher increase in sales for online retailers confirms the change in consumers’ buying behavior because of continued fears about contracting the virus. 

Therefore, to improve your chances of becoming successful, you must have a website for your home-based business.

We’ve helped many home-based businesses get started with their website. Give us a call and we’ll show you how Mountaintop Web Design can develop a website for your business that’s mobile-responsive, fast, functional, optimized for search, and very easy to use. 

Website.Protection.CustomersSafe

Step 5 – Organize Your Business

Even though your business runs from home, it still needs different departments to function properly.

Here are the 6 essential functions of a business:

  1. Accounting 
  2. Sales
  3. Marketing
  4. Human Resources
  5. Information Technology
  6. Customer Service

When you’re starting out, it might be possible to oversee these functions yourself. However, if the business starts to pick up, you’ll have less time handling these tasks in favor of running the core functions of the enterprise. 

You might want to consider outsourcing the functions to a qualified third party such as an outsourcing company, specialized freelancers, and virtual assistants. 

Outsourcing saves you money because you only pay for productive hours or actual hours worked. If you outsource to a remote location outside the United States, you can reduce costs further because the labor cost is much lower. 

Thus, by outsourcing services, you can reduce costs and increase productivity at the same time because you can allocate more hours to handling the tasks that add more dollars and cents to your business’ bank account. 

Step 6 – Build an Online Presence

To drive more traffic to your website, you have to build an online presence. Some home-based businesses open a Facebook business page plus another social media platform to widen their reach. 

A more effective way to build an online presence is to invest in Digital Marketing by hiring an experienced Digital Marketer or an agency.

Digital marketing is the process of using digital technology – Internet-based platforms and apps – to accomplish a specific goal such as to drive traffic to a website, build the brand, establish the reputation of the business as a valuable resource, or generate sales. 

The digital marketing toolbox consists of the following:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
  • Content Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Email Marketing
  • Video Marketing
  • Paid Ads

An experienced Digital Marketer can send up a team to run the DM campaign. The team may consist of the following skills:

  • Digital Marketer (Project Manager)
  • Content Writer
  • Social Media Marketer
  • Graphic Designer/Artist

The Digital Marketing team can put together a campaign strategy that can help you meet your business goals. To run a successful campaign takes consistency. 

For example, you must post content on social media from Monday to Friday:

  • What type of content should you post? Will it be a blog, an infographic, curated content, or a video? 
  • Who will create the content? A 1,600-word, optimized, and well-researched blog will take approximately 4 hours to complete.
  • Who will engage with your followers?
  • Who will answer the inquiries posted on your chat support platform?

As you will see, managing a Digital Marketing campaign can take up a lot of time. We recommend outsourcing it to a qualified agency. At Mountaintop, we’ve done Digital Marketing for clients with great results. 

If you’re interested, give us a call, and let’s discuss how we can package web design services with digital marketing.

Step 7 – Set Up Your Home Office

While your website and Digital Marketing are being set up, let’s shift our focus to setting up your home office. 

Your home may be your castle – but it’s now your place of work. Similar to a castle, the home office must be fortified against distractions and enhanced for maximum productivity. 

  • Buy a new PC or laptop – Yes, you can always upgrade your computer but consider a new one an investment in your business. The PC or laptop must be dedicated to your business and not be used for anything else. 
  • Secure your Internet speed. Your bandwidth would depend on the type of business you plan to run. To give you an idea, it will take 2 minutes to download large files with 1.5mbps and only 10 seconds with 20mbps. 

If you’ll be downloading large files or regularly accessing videos, you need at least 3mbps. It would be great if you can strike a deal with your Internet Service Provider (ISP) where you can get 10-20mbps without added cost.

  • Download all the necessary software. To run a home-based business efficiently, you’ll have to download software to carry out different functions. For example, you can use Asana as a project management tool and Slack to communicate with your team. 
  • Buy ergonomic furniture. You’ll be spending most of your time in the office. You might as well make yourself comfortable. 

Ergonomic furniture is designed to reduce stress on your lower back, shoulders, neck, and joints. It can be considered an investment to keep you healthy so you can stay productive.

  • Remove all distractions. Put your mobile phone away while working. You can keep it inside a safe or locked drawer. Inform your family about your working hours so that they’ll know when they can’t disturb you. 

As much as possible, have everything you need in the office before you start working on the day’s agenda. That includes coffee, water, and healthy snacks.

You can always check up on your phone messages and your family’s needs during your intermittent breaks.

Step 8 – Network!

Regardless of the type of home-based business you’re running, networking should be a constant activity. 

Networking has many benefits that can grow your business:

  • Find clients
  • Establish connections with people who can help with different areas of your business
  • Build strategic partnerships
  • Generate important leads
  • Gain valuable knowledge from experts in various fields
  • Get first-hand information on trends, developments, and upcoming events
  • Be referred to other people or companies that need your products or services

Even if your home-based business has become successful, keep networking. You can network via social media channels such as LinkedIn and more industry-specific platforms or do it the old-fashioned way by attending trade shows, networking events, and business forums.

Step 9 – Track Your Business Performance

Last but not least, and perhaps most importantly, keep track of your performance. 

  • How is your digital marketing campaign performing?
  • Has your website received significantly more traffic?
  • Are you generating a lot of leads?
  • What is your sales conversion rate?
  • Where is the bulk of your traffic coming from?
  • What types of content are generating the highest amount of engagement? 

The advantage of managing a home-based business in the age of digital is that you can easily track performance simply by accessing data analytics from your website and social media pages. 

With analytics, you can pinpoint which strategies and processes are working or yielding the highest ROI and which ones are not. Using these numbers, you can review your budget with more certainty and determine how you should allocate your resources. 

Conclusion

Why wait for things to go back to normal when it can be business as usual? You can start earning good money in 2021 by setting up a home-based business right now.

Not only will you do yourself a favor by creating new streams of revenue but you’ll be helping other people who cannot access your products and services. 

It’s never too late to start. All you have to do is take the first step. In time and with persistence, you can have a financially rewarding career as an online entrepreneur.

Before taking that all-important first step, let your fingers do the tapping and give us a call. We can help you set up a website for your home business and get your digital marketing campaign started.

And if you enjoyed this article, feel free to share it with your community.

SEO for Your Business