If you’re a retailer, shifting to or integrating an online business model such as setting up an e-commerce website is a smart move. Consumers are increasingly becoming more dependent on mobile technology to fulfill their everyday needs. 

From US $2.3 Trillion to US $3.5 Trillion global sales, e-commerce is projected to hit US $6.5 Trillion in 2023. In the United States, e-commerce accounts for 10% of total sales in retail. 

What this means is that e-commerce is still a growing industry!  

It must seem that an entrepreneur can just close his eyes, open an e-commerce site, and wait for the cash to start rolling in. Unfortunately, that is not the case. For all the hits your website is getting, many visitors end up abandoning their carts at the checkout counter. 

According to data compiled by Baymard Institute from 41 cases on e-commerce websites, 69.5% of consumers abandon their purchase at the checkout counter. 

Therefore, if 100 people visit your e-commerce site, close to 70 people do not complete their purchase. That’s a lot of dollars left at the checkout counter! Instead of the cash register ringing, your alarm bells are sounding off.

We’re here to tell you that it’s not a lost cause. You can still turn things around and convert interest into income. First, let’s find out why consumers are abandoning the items at the checkout counter.

6 Reasons Why Shoppers Are Abandoning Carts At The Checkout Counter

If you’re at the local grocery store, you would probably abandon your shopping cart if the queue was too long, an emergency came up, or if you realize that you don’t really need the items.

The situation is not as simple when it comes to e-commerce websites. 

Shoppers have different personalities. When they’re online, their behavior changes somewhat because they are not seen. In a grocery store, psychological factors can come into play that prevents a shopper from foregoing a purchase. 

For example, abandoning the sale means moving the cart out of the queue which may become an inconvenience for other shoppers within the vicinity. It’s easier to click out of an e-commerce store. 

So what are the common reasons shoppers abandon their purchase? Here is a list of 6 reasons that were compiled by Statista:

  1. Unexpected costs in buying the item such as shipping and delivery – 56% of respondents.
  2. Site visitor had no intention to actually buy as he was merely “browsing” – 37% of respondents.
  3. The shopper found another e-commerce site that offered him a better deal – 36% of respondents.
  4. The shopper found the navigation process of the e-commerce site “difficult” – 25% of respondents.
  5. The process from selection to purchase took too long – 21% of respondents.
  6. The shopper was concerned about the security and protection of his personal information – 17% of respondents.

Now, there could be other reasons that made a shopper change his mind. But having knowledge about the major factors that resulted in the abandonment of the cart will help you come up with the necessary improvements to address the problem.

8 Ways To Fix Cart Abandonment Problems

You might be surprised to learn that the solutions to address the cart abandonment problem are not complicated. Yes, these 8 simple solutions can turn foregone sales into actual cash if done correctly.

1. Be Transparent with Your Shopping Costs

Have you ever gotten excited about finding the product you’ve been looking for in an e-commerce store only to have shipping costs – to borrow the title of a popular TV show – curb your enthusiasm? 

Market analysts refer to the condition as “Pricing Shock” and the same thing will happen to your customers if you aren’t transparent about your hidden charges. Pricing Shock is one of the leading causes of cart abandonment but can be easily fixed with these 2 adjustments at your checkout counter.

  • Include a shipping calculator so the shopper can have an idea of the total cost of purchase before adding the item on his cart.
  • Provide attractive discounts based on the volume of purchases.

2. Make Site Security a Priority

According to a 2016 study conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, 45% of Americans cut back on online shopping because of fears their personal information would be stolen by cybercriminals.

Even though the U.S. government has stepped up its drive versus online theft, the truth is that you cannot stop cybercriminals. You can only hope to slow them down by constantly improving your site’s defenses. 

As evidenced by the continued growth of e-commerce, consumers will continue to shop online. However, consumers will be more cautious about the sites they visit. 

  • Secure your e-commerce site with SSL or Secure Socket Layer certificates. Google has included SSL certificates as a ranking factor in its search algorithm. 

If your website does not have SSL, you will see the words “Not Secure” before your URL. 

You can learn more about SSL certificates in our blog “SSL Basics: Why You Need It To Protect Your Website From Hackers”.  

  • Include a Guest Checkout Option so that the visitor won’t be required to open an account. Likewise, a Guest Checkout Option will shorten the buying process.

3. Send an Email to the Shopper

When a visitor is serious about buying products from your e-commerce store, chances are he will provide his email address as part of the purchase process. 

You can set up an autoresponder that sends out an email to the shopper notifying him that he has items left in the cart. 

The email must have the following details:

  • Description of items left in the cart including quantity and price.
  • Date when the items in the cart will be completely removed. 
  • Instructions on how to resume the purchase.

If the shopper does not act on your email in 24 hours, send out another one.

computer graphic - curious about the website services we offer

4. Take the Personal Approach

Having an autoresponder system in place will help you keep track of the incidents of cart abandonment. However, by itself, an auto-generated email may not succeed in completing the sale.

An effective way of complimenting your autoresponder system is to incorporate a personal approach to your customers. 

Once you receive a notification that a shopper has abandoned the purchase, reach out, and send a personal email. Find out how you can help. 

The reason may not be any of the 6 described earlier. For example, there may have been a problem with the shopper’s credit or debit card. 

If you can find another way for the shopper to complete the purchase, he may just go back to your e-commerce site and finish the transaction.

5. Review Your Site Analytics

To get a more accurate picture of why shoppers are abandoning their purchase, review your site analytics. It will give you a data-based description of your shopper’s online behavior. 

Google Analytics has a Users Flow report that tells you the path your visitors took when exploring your website. The Users Flow report will give you information on where the bulk of your site visitors are coming from and data on the amount of traffic experienced by each page.

You will see if there are potential bottlenecks in site traffic and where volume is falling off before the visitor starts to click on items for his shopping cart. 

The information provided by your site analytics will help you and your webmaster find ways to improve the lagging pages so that the shopper will feel more encouraged to complete the purchase. 

6. Improve Site Navigation

Too many clicks spoil the experience.

If the process of completing the purchase takes longer than expected, you will find more items abandoned in the carts of shoppers. When it comes to online activity, consumers are not very patient. 

Improve user experience by implementing the following improvements:

  • Organize the products in a manner that makes it easier for the shopper to find them. 
  • Add a “Quick Preview” feature that allows the shopper to view the product in greater detail. Incorporate a “Zoom In” feature and give complete product descriptions.
  • Limit the number of clicks it takes to complete a purchase down to three: Choose Item – Add to Cart – Checkout

7. Use Better Product Images

As the old saying goes, “Customers shop with their eyes”.

A good product image can mean more than a thousand words. The shopper might base his decision to buy your product on the image that’s posted on your site. If the image is not of good quality, it will not entice the shopper to complete the purchase.

  • Use high-resolution images for your product shots. 
  • The images should show the shopper the best way to enjoy the product.
  • Take photos of the product from different angles.

Lastly, make sure the shopper gets what he sees on your website. 

8. Highlight Social Proof

Social proof includes positive product reviews, testimonials, and other forms of quantifiable evidence that prove the value of your product. 

Before making a purchase, many shoppers undertake research by browsing through product reviews and testimonials. 

For example, when you are looking for a specific product to buy at Amazon, most likely you will choose the brand that has the highest number of stars and the best reviews. 

  • Invite your customers to post product reviews.
  • Ask your loyal customers to give testimonials.
  • Highlight positive reviews that your products may have received from other sites such as Google Reviews or Yelp. 

Social proof will make the decision-making process easier for the consumer.

Conclusion

As you have read, a few simple adjustments can protect your e-commerce business from losing potential sales. 

Remember that consumers’ online behavioral patterns will always be in a constant state of change. The adjustments that you made today may have to undergo tweaking in the next few months or years. 

The bottom line is to keep your e-commerce website updated in design and function. Similar to the consumer’s tastes and preferences, your website design must remain current, relevant, and dynamic. 

If your site is experiencing cart abandonment problems, give us a call or an email and we will take a look at it right away. 

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

Extreme WordPress care - what types of plans we offer

At the time of this writing, businesses are preparing to come out of a government-imposed quarantine period. As you prepare for your business to reopen, one of your key strategies should be to invest in digital marketing because the “new normal” has created new opportunities that you can capitalize on. 

Business At The Time Of The New Normal

For more than a month, the world came to a standstill in an effort to contain the spread of the fast-moving strain of coronavirus, Covid-19.  

While necessary, the extended period of inactivity took its toll on several businesses. Many had to scale back operations and retrench but a number of small businesses could not survive and had to close down for good.

Several key industries have suffered massive losses due to Covid-19. Foremost of this is the travel industry which is projected to lose 820 billion dollars in revenues in 2020. 

In the United States, many companies started to layoff employees in an effort to streamline costs as soon as Covid-19 was declared a pandemic and the government implemented community quarantine regulations.

Even as the world prepares to open for business, one thing remains clear: There is no going back to normal. Until such time that a vaccine is discovered, the risk of Covid-19 spreading throughout the population remains high. 

On average, it takes scientists 2 years to develop a vaccine. Based on this, the New Normal – defined by quarantine periods, face masks, social distancing, frequent hand washing, and avoiding crowds – could continue for up to the next 2 years. 

Similar to previous pandemic outbreaks such as the Influenza Pandemic of 1918 that affected St. Louis and Philadelphia, there will be intermittent periods of quarantine to contain the growth of new cases.

Thus, you should expect more work stoppages to occur. Businesses will be asked to close down during the quarantine period. 

If your business is located in a commercial establishment, expect less foot traffic as people will continue to practice social distancing or avoid places that attract large crowds. 

Why Your Small Business Needs Digital Marketing NOW

In view of the grim scenario facing businesses at the time of the new normal, why is embarking on an aggressive digital marketing strategy for your business a smart decision?

It depends on your view of chaos and uncertainty. As the saying goes, “In chaos, there is always opportunity.”

The global equities market took a sharp fall. Many investors were hit hard and absorbed massive financial losses. For others, primarily the speculators, they view the crash as an opportunity to “bargain hunt” and acquire blue-chip stocks at near-historical low prices. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has triggered a chain of events that shut down many businesses. 

It was unfortunate that these businesses had to close their operations but it’s possible they were in trouble before the pandemic started. The ensuing quarantine period merely exacerbated the situation.

By nature, the businesses that come out of the pandemic will be thinking of adopting short-term profitability strategies over long-term growth.  

For the reason that revenue-generating opportunities may be few and far between, most businesses will probably adopt cost-cutting measures. “Tighten the belt” until business is “back to normal”.

But things will not be “back to normal” – potentially not until after 2 years. 

Welcome to the New Normal. 

It’s understandable why businesses would want to streamline costs. It’s hard to pull the trigger on spending when your streams of revenues are drying up. You want to shore up capital and tighten up on spending to keep the business going.

Yes, the coronavirus pandemic dampened economic growth but opportunities remain in your industry – if you are looking – and there will be less competition. 

A study shared by digital marketing expert Neil Patel showed that several industries experienced massive drops in online traffic during the quarantine period. Conversion rates also showed a significant decline.

But people have remained online – searching for information that can be provided by the purveyors on the Internet. Information that could be provided by your business through a purposeful digital marketing strategy.

By investing in an aggressive digital marketing strategy, you will be capitalizing on opportunities for you to drive more traffic to your website, enhance your reputation as a valuable resource, and increase your online presence in the industry.

How To Run A Digital Marketing Campaign At The Time Of The New Normal

Now, time for some good news.

Businesses will recover. It will take some time – but make no mistake about it – despite the havoc created by the Covid-19 pandemic on the economy, businesses will see a brighter day at the time of the new normal.

In the same study, Patel shared the findings of a research conducted by Standard & Poor that revealed it takes 536 days for the equities market to recover if it suffers a loss of 20%.

536 days is more than a year but less than 2 years. That’s a good sign! We might be on the road to recovery before a Covid-19 vaccine is discovered.

Another study this time from Harvard Business Review showed that businesses overall performed 9% better after a recession but businesses that focused on cost-cutting strategies outperformed their competitors by 21%.

21% is amazing! But here is something even more impressive…

Businesses that focused their resources on progressive strategies – doubling down on spending – outperformed their competitors by  37%. 

A 16% difference in performance could translate to thousands – even millions of dollars worth of revenue. 

With your competitors experiencing less traffic to their websites, it’s an opportune time to re-align your finances and double down on your digital marketing strategy. Quarantine may have kept people out of the office but not the Internet. 

1. Reach Out to Your Customers on Social Media

It’s not a pleasant time for most people. Many lost their jobs when the quarantine was imposed and their employers quickly moved to streamline expenses. 

With their personal income compromised, these people are worried about how they can pay their bills, loans, rent, or afford their children’s schooling.

This is not the time to publish sales copy. People are not looking to spend on products and services that are not essential to their survival. 

And even if your products and services are essential, it’s better to show compassion and empathy instead of coming across as indifferent.

Reach out to your customers and followers via social media and show them you care and understand the situation:

  • Share Experiences – Write in the First Person Point-of-View and let your customers know that you are going through similar difficulties by sharing a few experiences with them. Post a short 1-minute video from your home. Give your followers an update of how your life has been since the pandemic broke out and your views of the future. Make sure your message remains positive and optimistic. 
  • Engage Your Followers – After posting your video, invite your followers to share their experiences in the comments section. If people do post comments, take the time to respond to as many followers as you can. Whether the comment is good or bad, remain positive. Do not be confrontational. Everyone is going through tough times but some people might be in worse situations than others.
Extreme WordPress care - what types of plans we offer

2. Be Generous – Give Your Customers Special Offers

When you are in a bad situation, you should always look for a silver lining. If anything good came out of the Covid-19 quarantine period, it’s that people came together to help one another.

Not being able to work and earn a living for over a month can put a serious dent on anyone’s cash flow. People are only going to spend for the bare necessities because money is very tight. Even if the quarantine is lifted, their future remains uncertain. 

This is an excellent time to show your customers you care by giving them special offers such as generous discounts on products and services. People will look for ways to maximize their funds so discount offers will definitely be welcome. 

At the same time, you don’t want people to misinterpret your act as a roundabout way of making money during a crisis. You want to capitalize on an opportunity but you don’t want to be seen as opportunistic. 

Here’s how you do it:

  • Come up with Call-To-Action (CTA) with a generous offer and place it on the home page of your website.
  • Write a short post on your social media pages as a lead-in to the special offer. Explain to your followers why you are doing this. Keep the post short – no longer than 100 words.  
  • Include the link to your home page in your social media post. 

Even if your product or service is not considered an “essential” item, the cost savings will entice the customer to take advantage of your offer. 

Best of all, they will appreciate your generosity at this time of great need. 

3. Get Found – Tighten Up on Your SEO Strategies

Just because there are fewer competitors in your industry, it doesn’t mean that you should get complacent with your SEO strategies. After all, even with the ones that are left in the industry, the business environment remains competitive.

Take the opportunity to tighten up your SEO strategies. 

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the process of improving the visibility of your website on the Internet by using a variety of techniques, tools, and processes. 

Whether your industry experienced a decline in organic traffic or not, this is the time to re-focus on your SEO strategy.  Remember, people are still online. They are searching for information that is relevant to their needs at this point in time. 

Keyword research is an essential part of SEO. Keywords are the words and phrases that people use to search for information on the Internet. If you can uncover these high search volume keywords, then you will know what people are looking for. 

The next step is to create content that uses these keywords. The main keyword should be in the title, the first paragraph, the body of the text, and the concluding paragraph. Mixed in a few secondary or low search volume keywords. 

Make sure the content is relevant to your business or industry! 

For example, if you are in the fitness industry, a good topic for a useful blog would be “10 Fat Burning Exercises You Can Do At Home” or “How To Stay Fit During The Quarantine”. 

Try to publish 3 to 4 blog posts per week. To improve your search rankings, the ideal word count is 2,000 to 2,400 words per blog.

4. Invest in PPC Advertising

PPC or Pay-Per-Click advertising is an effective way of immediately giving your website a quick boost up the search rankings. When someone clicks on your ad, he finds himself on your website’s landing page.

PPC is also a cost-effective form of advertising because you only pay the agency whenever someone clicks on your ad. 

In his study, Neil Patel shared that the cost of PPC advertising has gone down since the Covid-19 quarantine period started. Some marketers have estimated that the cost of PPC advertising has decreased by 6% across all verticals.

This is an opportunity for you to generate some good ROI on your PPC investment. The cost per click is much lower and there aren’t many competitors in the industry. 

5. Focus on Building Your Local Presence

Local area marketing is more important now because people are staying close to home. Community quarantine procedures have restricted travel to within the town or city. 

If you have a brick-and-mortar business, review your current local area marketing strategy:

  • Find out if the business information in your online search directory profile is updated.
  • Showcase the high rankings or scores that your business has received.
  • Publish positive reviews whenever possible.

You might also want to consider incorporating a delivery service to your business for greater ease and convenience for your customers. Check if the community quarantine guidelines in your area have indicated a specific time for deliveries. 

Conclusion

As difficult as the Covid-19 pandemic has become, in time, it shall also pass. Throughout our history, mankind has overcome worse afflictions such as the Bubonic Plague, influenza, measles, smallpox, the Ebola virus, and the earlier versions of the coronavirus – SARS and MERS.

Yes, we are in the new normal but believe it – business will go on as usual.

If you let your guard down, others will take advantage of the opportunities that are available in your industry. The quarantine is only a temporary cessation of activity but your drive to grow your business should never stop. 

Keep your foot on the Digital Marketing pedal. In this time of the new normal, Digital Marketing will drive your business to a better future. 

How are you dealing with the new normal? Please share your tips in the comments section. 

If you need help getting your Digital Marketing campaign off the ground – and from your home – give us a call or an email. We’ll get you started and on the right track.

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

the journey to success is similar to climbing a mountain

In the world of Software as a Service (SaaS), first impressions often matter more than you would think. With so many other companies out there working on solving the same problems, you usually have a limited window to impress your visitors. This is where the importance of clever and converting landing page design in SaaS comes in.

Here are our 7 tips to help you craft a page that works:

Include explainer videos

Understanding exactly what a tool does is often the challenge potential leads face when first coming across a product – and not many of them will take the time to read your copy to learn more.

However, if you manage to include a short but to-the-point explainer video on your landing pages, your chances of getting your value across will increase.

Here is an example from Forms on Fire – they provide mobile data collection software – where a minute and a half is all it takes to get to know the product and determine whether you are interested or not.

Invest a lot of creativity in your header

You are often told how important headers are in content writing – the same is true for landing page copy, as the impact your header will have on a visitor is crucial.

You want to represent your brand, you want to get your main point across, you want to showcase your value, explain what you are really about and get people to convert: in no more than a sentence or two.

Which is where the challenge lies.

Take the example of Crazyegg, who provide an unspecified website improvement service – and have a very attractive header to show for it.

Since they offer a 30-day free trial and promise to instantly improve your website, there isn’t much a visitor could lose. So their header works like a charm.

Your calls-to-action are also key

However, you don’t need to be as creative with them as with your headers: a simple “get started”, “start your trial”, or a “sign up now” will work – but what’s important here is how you preempt the CTA.

Most international, huge, famous companies have simple CTAs – Netflix, Hulu, Dropbox, Evernote, etc. – they don’t have a catchphrase or a funny saying slapped onto their pages.

What they do have is a clear list of benefits (what it is you are getting from the service) and a straightforward way of signing up for the service.

Extreme WordPress care - what types of plans we offer

Make it easy to access

Which leads right to our next tip: don’t make signing up very complicated.

You may want to make credit card data compulsory, but even if you do, make it as easy as possible to fill in your form and move on to the next step.

Whether or not you are offering a free trial, or have something like the Ahrefs 7 days for $7 trial period, you still want your leads to be able to accomplish their goal (sign up), in as little time as digitally and humanly possible.

If you are seeing a lot of uncompleted sign-up forms, try making the form simpler, and eliminate some of your required fields: we understand you want to gather as much data as possible about your leads, but maybe spread data collecting out over a longer period of time.

Show the process

If you don’t feel the use of your tool requires an entire video, still try to explain how to make it work, especially if the tool in question does something essentially simple, but very useful.

TimeTackle, a software designed to pull your calendar off of the cloud, has a great four-step explanation of the process users will need to run through once they have the tool, making it very easy for users to decide whether they want to give it a go or not.

Always remember that while some of your users will be very tech-savvy, others might have more of a hard time understanding even the more basic concepts. That’s why you need to try to figure out a language that will speak to your target audience, as well as all its variations and levels of understanding.

Offer social proof where it makes sense

A lot of landing pages incorporate social proof – which is essentially a great move, but does not always make sense.

You don’t have to repeat the same testimonials on every page, nor do you have to showcase different satisfied customers on every corner.

When talking about the benefits of your product, or when showcasing use cases and success stories, social proof is more than welcome.

Here is the example of Gusto, who make payroll, insurance, and a whole host of other tasks easier– who have added in plenty of social proof, yet have not made it sound like they are bragging, or like they have solicited recommendations from their users.

The basics: webpage design

Of course, there is another important element you should never forget: webpage design.

And we are not just talking about the colors and font you choose (although it is in itself very important). You should also think about the emotions you want to elicit, the value you want to portray, and the target audience you are aiming for.

Naturally, navigation, user experience and user-friendliness, responsiveness, and a whole host of other webpage optimization tactics should also all play their part. If you have elements that don’t load properly, don’t work on certain screen sizes, or if your pages are cluttered and crowded, all the other good work you may have done won’t be worth a dime.

Final thoughts

Hopefully, these tips will help you design better SaaS landing pages in the future – but remember, there is no bulletproof design formula that will work for every website. You need to keep your own target market and product in mind when designing sales pages, rather than just considering what has worked for others in the past.

In fact, a lot of these tips were once novelties that have since been proven to work by countless websites. So why not come up with the next one?

learn more about website design with orange banner

Before we dive into ecommerce landing pages in more detail, I would like us to do a brief experiment.

I’d like you to try and think about all the websites you’ve seen today. Or in the past seven days. How many newsletters did you receive? How many did you open, and how many did you click on?

Can’t remember them all?

Given the sheer volume of pages we are all exposed to every day, it’s no wonder we can only remember a tiny percent of them. This fact should drive my point home nicely – if you want your landing page to stand out and be memorable, you need to make it, well – what is it that you need to do?

Let’s explore!

Divulge the benefits

As ecommerce pages are clearly meant to convince a visitor to make a purchase, finding the right balance between sales and value can sometimes be a bit of a nightmare.

Let’s look at this page by Herbal Dynamics Beauty:

Source: herbaldynamicsbeauty.com

The hero part of the page clearly lists the most important feature: that the product is free of all sorts of harmful materials. Then, when you scroll just a bit down, you are greeted with a whole lot of information about the benefits of each ingredient, and the page ends by going into even more detail, explaining what you, as a consumer might get by choosing this product.

Customers don’t want to feel like they are being sold a product – they want to be offered a solution. By explaining the benefits and actual value of a product, you will be doing a great job at just that.

The power of design

Your pages need to be easy on the eyes and structured in a way that not only attracts attention, but is also very clear about what is what.

Here is an example by Ultimate Meal Plans:

Souce: ultimatemealplans.com

While their landing pages stick to the minimalistic use of plenty of white space, they have also integrated plenty of imagery, along with all kinds of informational boxes that detail things like pricing and benefits. 

And while they were at it, they’ve managed to stick to a clever color story, too. The fact that they have also made green their main pop of color is evocative of the actual product, providing a clear association between it and the page.

No matter how good your product or message is, if your page is cluttered and hard to navigate, you won’t be making all that many conversions. 

The power of a story

Storytelling is an incredibly powerful tool you should be reaching for when writing copy for your landing pages.

Let’s take a look at the landing page of an actual story, Danielle, a novel by Ray Kurzweil.

Source: danielleworld.com

The hero is catchy, gives you plenty of information without actually giving anything away, and the rest of the page provides all you need to know: enough to get you interested. This kind of hook is not reserved for literary ecommerce pages alone – you can tell a story about your product regardless of what it is.

Make sure you take your target audience and their preferences into account when writing out your story. And write for them, not for yourself.

Provide plenty of detail

Home pages can be hard to design. Not only are they often the first thing people see, but they also need to provide plenty of information, yet not overlap too much with other pages.

Pergola Kits USA have done a good job here:

Source: pergolakitsusa.com

Their hero showcases the product they sell and will instantly draw the attention of those looking to buy a pergola. Scrolling further down, a visitor can find all the information they need in one place, without having to navigate between several different pages.

This is an all-in-one page that is easy to read, provides enough imagery to keep you interested, and provides real value. You won’t need to read another one to understand what kind of product you need for yourself.

Sometimes it’s best to give your visitors what they are looking for in one place – and make sure they have clearly got the message you’re trying to convey.

Social and other proof and why it matters

People like to be a part of a group, and they like to explore products others have tested and approved. That’s why you’ll want to display all the proof you can find: social proof in the form of testimonials, big companies you have worked with, as well as award buttons, and any other achievements you may have under your belt.

Real Thread does that right in the middle of their homepage:

Source: realthread.com

They have incorporated a section that includes some of the major companies they have worked with. This instantly gives their product a boost and makes them stand out. Even though you may not have heard of the brand, you might be more tempted to give their shirts a try, now that you know which other companies they have worked with.

Be careful what kinds of awards and badges you list, though. Too many of them can cause an adverse effect, leading people to perceive you as bragging or to wonder what you’re trying to hide by listing all of these positive reviews so prominently.

The power of the hero

Your hero image is incredibly important. It should explain in one glance what the product is about, yet do it in a way that’s not boring or too showy.

The Farmer’s Dog does a good job with this image:

Source: thefarmersdog.com

It shows the product, as well as a satisfied customer enjoying it, and you’ll understand right away what the food they’re selling looks like and whether it might be something that your pet would enjoy.

The image is of a high quality, but more importantly, it is also optimized well, so as not to slow the page down and take up unnecessary space – a very important feature to bear in mind when thinking about the imagery you want to use.

When choosing your hero, make sure it is not only an accurate representation of your product, but also catchy and unique.

Final thoughts

When designing a landing page, make sure you have your target audience in mind, and stay in line with the product the page is trying to sell. Add to that a bit of creativity, and you should have a standout page on your hands. 

Digital technology and the Internet have given consumers the advantage of learning everything they can about a product or service before making a purchase. 

Looking for the best Wi-Fi router in 2020? All you have to do is run a search for “best Wi-Fi router 2020”. Within a few seconds, a list of the websites with the information you need will appear on the search results page. 

If your content marketing strategy is on point, your start-up technology retail business might just be on the list. 

Why Your Start-Up Needs Content Marketing

The objective of a content marketing strategy is to compel the reader to answer your call to action. 

What do you want your readers to do? 

  • Do you want them to follow your brand? 
  • Do you want them to acknowledge you as an expert or a valuable resource? 
  • Do you want them to buy your product or patronize your service?

According to a study conducted by Quoracreative, 75% of Internet users read blogs on a regular basis. Meanwhile, 64% of consumers who watch an advertising video will buy the product. 

And if you’ve read a social media post about the amazing Cappucino served at the new coffee shop that opened – chances are you would follow the 81% who were convinced by the review and try out the product yourself. 

Blogs, videos, and social media posts are all examples of content. They are created to trigger a response from the reader. The same can be said about other forms of content such as web copy, product reviews, e-books, and podcasts.

As a start-up, content marketing can help your business gain traction. In a competitive industry, you need maximum visibility to get the attention of potential customers. 

If people love your content, they will follow you willingly and become followers of your business. In time – and with consistency – some of your followers may become customers.

7 Steps To Create The Ultimate Content Marketing Strategy For Your Start-Up

To be clear, content is anything you post or publish. It does not mean that you should just post anything on the Internet and expect results. 

If you were compelled to act by the content you read, then you know what effective content looks like. 

For your content marketing campaign to deliver results, you need to have a strategy. 

1. Define Your Content Marketing Goal

The direction of your content marketing strategy will depend on what you want to accomplish. 

What is the goal of your content marketing campaign?

  • Are you looking to gain immediate traction?
  • Do you want to give more information about the products you carry?
  • Do you want people to learn more about you and the people behind the company?
  • Are you using content marketing to share your knowledge with your target audience so they can have immediate solutions to questions?
  • Are you hoping to generate more leads for your sales funnel?

Regardless of your goal, a well-planned and properly implemented content marketing campaign will deliver results for your business. You just need to stay focused on that goal. 

If you layout multiple goals for your content marketing campaign, your efforts will have no direction. Your resources will be spread out too thinly and the message of your campaign will be lost. 

2. Create an Audience Profile

An Audience Profile is similar to a Buyer’s Profile which many realtors create to fine-tune their marketing strategy. 

To make an Audience Profile, you list down the characteristics of the person who would be interested in your content:

  • What is the age group?
  • Are they mostly men or women?
  • Are they working or still studying?
  • If employed, do the majority of the audience hold managerial positions in the company?
  • How much do they earn?
  • Where do they reside?
  • How will they access my content?
  • What are their interests?
  • What issues concern them?
  • What are their present needs? 
  • What types of content do they like to read?
  • Do they prefer text or video content?

The questions can cover more areas – as many as you want to get a better idea of the kind of audience that would appreciate the content. 

Having a solid Audience Profile will set the process of creating content much easier. You will have an idea of the content your target audience wants to read and how to reach them.

3. Set Up Your Content Marketing Toolbox

Blogging is one of the most popular forms of content. Many marketers consider blogging as the cornerstone of content marketing. It is just one of many tools that you can include in your content marketing toolbox. 

You can use videos, podcasts, live streaming, forums, newsletters, e-books, infographics, listicles, case studies, how-to articles,  white papers, checklists, interviews, product reviews, GIFs and memes as your content marketing process. 

Your choice of process would depend on your:

  • Marketing Goal
  • Type of Business
  • Target Audience
  • Budget

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to content marketing. 

For example, if you are in the business of selling dress watches, you will find greater success using video content that is distributed through social media channels such as YouTube and Instagram than blogging via LinkedIn. 

Review your Audience Profile and draw up a budget for your marketing campaign. A big-budget will give you more flexibility but unless your strategy is on point, the investment will not yield a significant return. 

You can have a successful content marketing strategy without breaking your bank account.

Curious about websites - learn more about the website services we offer

4. Assemble Your Content Marketing Team

Are you a gifted writer? Do you know how to do keyword research? Do you have experience in content optimization? 

If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, then bravo! You are capable of creating engaging content with the potential of driving traffic to your website. 

But you shouldn’t.

Content writing takes time. A 1,600 to 2,000-word blog will take 3 hours to write. That does not include keyword research, topic research, and quality control. 

Rather than writing content, you should outsource the work to a remote team of content experts. 

What skills should comprise your content writing team?

  • Content Writers
  • Keyword Researchers
  • Graphic Designer
  • Videographers
  • Content Editors

To be clear, you don’t have to hire these skills for your content writing team. Again, it would depend on your goals and budget. Add to that, your business experience. 

As a start-up, start out small. 

Get 1 content writer preferably a person who can also do keyword research and quality control. Hire a graphic designer only when your content calls for it. 

You may not need a videographer right away. Some of the best videos were shot using an iPhone. 

The takeaway in this section is: Don’t create your content. Outsource content writing to an experienced person so you will have more time to attend to the main activities of your business. 

5. Create the Content Marketing Process

If you pass by a newsstand, your eyes will search for the publications that you are used to reading. You love the content; style of writing, tone, and the topics are of great interest to you. 

Writing for the Internet goes through a different process. Think of the Internet as a gigantic virtual newsstand that has billions of publications to choose from. 

Once posted, your content will be added to the sea of publications that are already flooding the Internet. 

Thus, when writing online content, your primary objective is to get found by your target audience. To get found, your content has to be optimized for the search engines. 

An effective optimization technique is to embed your content with keywords that are popularly searched by your target audience. There are various tools that you can use to conduct your keyword research:

  • Google Keyword Planner
  • Ubersuggest
  • Answer the Public
  • Keyword Surfer
  • Keywordit
  • Google Trends

These are free keyword tools that can get the job done for your content optimization plan. 

When you have the keyword spreadsheet ready, here are a few basic rules on how to use them effectively on your content:

  • For a blog post that ranges from 1,600 to 2,400 words, choose 5 to 6 high search volume keywords. 
  • Identify the main keyword which is usually the keyword that best describes your topic. 
  • The main keyword should appear once in the title, the first paragraph, the body of the content, and the conclusion.
  • The ratio of keywords to total word count should not exceed 2%. 

With keywords ready for use, let’s come up with a simple but effective content marketing process for your start-up:

  • Review your Audience Profile and make a spreadsheet of topics your followers would like you to write about. Use your keyword list to come up with titles.
  • When you have zeroed in on the topic and title, it’s time to conduct topic research. Choose 3 to 4 reliable references for your topic.
  • Create an outline for your blog. We recommend dividing the body of your blog into smaller sections under different headings. These sub-headers should include minor or secondary keywords – a keyword that is relevant to the main topic.
  • Begin writing! For list-type articles, you may want to start with the body first to get a better grasp of the content. We find this approach makes it easier to write the introduction and conclusion to the blog.
  • After completing the blog, run it through a spelling and grammar-checking software such as Grammarly. Then, read the article and look for other errors. The software can make a mistake because it may not understand the context of a sentence.
  • Review the structure of the blog. If it looks cramped, open it up. Our blogs are a good example. Keep the paragraphs and sentences short. Space the paragraphs properly. Readers don’t like to read blogs that look cramped up.

6. Identify Your Content Distribution Channels

Where will you publish your optimized content?

The first distribution channel on your list should be your website. If possible, use original images. Stock images are always an option but Google prefers images that are unique to your website.

For a start-up, it would be best to keep your distribution channel strategy simple. Thus, social media would be the next logical choice. After all, people spend on average two hours and 22 minutes of their Internet time on social media. 

As mentioned earlier, not all social media networks function in the same way. Choose a social media network that caters to a community interested in your type of content. 

For example, business-related content would gain more traction in LinkedIn than Facebook. Visual-heavy content would generate more interest in networks such as YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest or Snapchat.  

Finally, create a distribution schedule.

There are several recommendations on how often you should post content. Some say you should post a minimum of 5 times on Facebook to get results. Others say twice-a-day is enough. 

Our recommendation is to keep your strategy simple. The objective is to stay top-of-mind. Posting content once-a-day should be fine. 

If you don’t have original blogs to post, share curated content, post inspirational messages or simply post status updates. 

Another strategy would be to call on friends or associates who have websites that cater to your target audience. Propose a guest blogging arrangement whereby you can post original blogs on each other’s websites. 

7. Measure the Performance of Your Content Marketing Strategy

The great thing about digital marketing is that you can measure the performance of your campaign. Find out how your content marketing strategy is performing. 

  • Which blogs or articles account for the longest time spent on your website?
  • Which types of content are generating the highest levels of engagement and sharing?
  • Which types of content have the highest number of “likes”?
  • Where do your followers come from?
  • How do they access your content?

Website analytics will give you all the data you need to assess the performance of your content marketing strategy. Social media networks have analytics that you can use to get data on the types of content you have shared. 

By reviewing the numbers on your content marketing campaign, you can pinpoint the flaws, correct them, and strengthen your strategy to get the desired results.

Conclusion

If we got you excited about starting a content marketing campaign, it’s time to slow down a bit and understand one thing:

Content marketing takes time to get results. 

A person who reads your blog may enjoy what he has read but it doesn’t mean he will automatically follow you or sign up for your newsletter. 

Consistency is the key. 

Content is king – but you have to produce consistently great blogs, articles, videos, and other forms of content to get people to become your regular audience. 

As an entrepreneur, your time is best spent on your business. Leave your content marketing needs to us! Give us a call or drop an email. We will get you started on a content marketing strategy that will get you the results you want.

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

Extreme WordPress care - what types of plans we offer

To grow your business, you must invest in marketing. No matter how awesome your products and services are, no one will know about it if you don’t actively promote your business. 

There are many marketing strategies to choose from. However, not all of them are effective. Choosing the wrong ones can do more harm than good for your business. Some may blow up your budget without generating significant returns. 

In our previous blog, we discussed the 5 marketing strategies your business can’t live without. To help you avoid the costly mistakes made by many entrepreneurs, here are 5 marketing strategies your businesses can live without. 

1. Random Distribution of Flyers

In this day and age of the Internet and targeted marketing, it’s surprising to see flyers still being distributed inside malls and parking areas. 

The person distributing the flyer doesn’t profile every patron who enters the mall. He will just stick out the flyer in his hand and keep it out there until someone grabs it. 

The question is: What will the patron do once he reads your flyer? 

Will he:

  • Visit your establishment
  • Enter your establishment and walkout
  • Become a paying customer
  • Throw the flyer in a trashcan

Four options and only one of the possibilities results in the desired outcome. 

In reality, unless the person has a need for what your business offers, the flyer will end up in the trash can. 

Distributing flyers at random is a strategy your business can live without because it is not sustainable.

There is a cost to producing flyers and the return on your efforts will be quite low. Flyers are used to promote events or one-time specials. Therefore, you cannot re-use them.

Flyers are printed on paper. With most of your flyers ending up inside the trash can, the strategy is not environment-friendly. 

And while we’re discussing the pitfalls of flyers, let’s include other traditional Point-of-Purchase materials such as posters, streamers, and standees. 

All of them are expensive, result in poor ROI, and unsustainable. 

They could also serve to annoy your customers. 

How do you feel when flyers are jam-packed inside your mailbox? Do you get frustrated when flyers fall out of your Sunday paper? How about getting inside your car then finding a flyer inserted in your wiper?

If the marketing strategy is not targeted for a specific customer, the negative reactions will reflect on your business brand and do you more harm than good. 

Forget random and focus on targeted marketing strategies. 

2. Over-reliance on Print Ads

Print ads used to be the signature play of marketers. They will tell you that spending on a print ad for a publication with high circulation is an investment, not an expense. 

One time, big time. Like a home run with bases loaded. 

Print ads are not just expensive. They can be very expensive. And given the growing popularity of digital channels, the return on print advertising will not be impressive enough to justify the expense. 

It will become an expense, not an investment. 

Similar to flyers and other traditional POP’s, print advertising is not a sustainable strategy. 

You can only run the print ad once. If the ad is in a newspaper, by the following day, your ad will be just like the paper itself – yesterday’s news. 

Print ads are a form of random marketing. Are you sure the person who comes across your ad is interested in what your business offers? That is if he comes across your ad at all or pays it any attention.

In the days before broadband, putting out print ads were thought of to be the best option for marketing and promoting businesses. There is truth to this as during the pre-broadband days, consumers still relied on broadsheet publications and newspapers as sources of information.

Today, with more than 4.4 billion people having access to over 1 billion websites, using Internet-based channels are the most effective and efficient ways to market and promote your business. 

Extreme WordPress care - what types of plans we offer

3. Overemphasizing Social Media Marketing

To be clear, social media is a wonderful and proven platform for marketing your business; its products and services. After all, more than 3 billion are on social media every day. 

An overlooked benefit of social media marketing is that it humanizes your business by giving you a medium to freely interact with your customers and followers. 

For these reasons – and they are quite significant – entrepreneurs tend to overemphasize social media marketing in the digital marketing strategy.

Are you one of them? Here are a few signs that show you might be overemphasizing social media marketing:

  • You don’t have a website for your business because you think social media marketing is enough to build a visible online presence.
  • You have more than 2 social media accounts.
  • You spend most of your working days posting content on social media. 

Every business should have a website. Without one, you can’t build your brand, provide a showroom for your products, and your customers will not be able to find you much less transact with you. 

Social media is a great platform to distribute content for the purpose of driving traffic to your website. It cannot enhance your brand, reputation, and assist potential customers who want to patronize your business.

Further, you don’t have to open a Business Page on every social media platform.

In the first place,  having more than 2 social media accounts might be difficult to manage. Second, not all social media platforms function in the same way. Keep in mind that as a “social” platform, each network has its own community. 

For example, a Facebook user will post a different type of content on LinkedIn. 

Social media is also not a search ranking factor. Spending too much time on social media and posting multiple pieces of content will not guarantee higher search rankings for your website. 

The best approach is to invest in a mobile-responsive and fully-optimized website then, incorporate social media as a distribution channel for your content.

4. Focusing on the Quantity of Content

Content marketing should be a mainstay in your digital marketing strategy. Despite the growing popularity of video-based content, “old school” blogging remains a solid cornerstone of an effective content marketing campaign.

Here are a few statistics that validate the importance of business blogging:

  • Businesses that blog get 97% more links to their website than businesses that don’t blog.
  • 77% of Internet-users read blogs.
  • Americans spend 3x more time reading blogs than email.
  • Businesses that blog experience double the email signups than businesses that don’t blog. 
  • Blogs give your ROI efforts a boost – by an estimated 13x.

With such amazing numbers, it should never be a question of “If you should blog” rather, “When and how often should you blog?”

According to an updated study by HubSpot, if your goal is to increase brand awareness or organic traffic to your website, you should be blogging 12 to 16 times a month.

Considering that 2,000-word blogs generate the best results and that it takes 3 to 4 hours to write a blog of such length – 12 to 16 blogs per month means one thing:

A lot of writing!

The urgency to write three to four 2,000-word blogs per week creates incredible pressure on the quality of content. 

Keep in mind that writing for the Internet is a different skill set. If you scored A’s in Creative Writing, it won’t mean anything if your blog can’t be found.

To be found, your blog must be optimized. 

How do you optimize a blog?

  • The title and content should have the right keywords
  • Content must be fresh and unique
  • There must be at least one link to a reliable resource
  • The structure of the blog must make it an easy read.
  • Your information must be accurate, updated, and useful.

One of your best options is to outsource blog writing. At Mountaintop, we’ve written blogs for our clients. In fact, some of our blogs have been cited by UpCity as among the best-recommended readings for those interested in digital marketing.

However, if you want to experience blogging, start out slow and focus on the quality of the blogs instead of the quantity.

You can start out with only four 2,000-word blogs per month. Once your business gains traction, ramp up the blogging schedule by 50% of 6 blogs per month. 

If you can’t allocate more time to blogging, outsource the task to Mountaintop Web Design. You won’t miss a beat and we’ll make sure the quality is kept intact even as the frequency of blogging continues to increase.

5. Telemarketing to Prospective Customers

Whether you agree that telemarketing is dead or not, just don’t include it among your marketing strategies. You will only serve to annoy most of your prospective customers. 

Sure, you can outsource telemarketing and save money. However, telemarketing can damage your brand and tarnish your reputation beyond repair. 

Put it this way, how would you feel when you’re chilling at home – feet up an ottoman, ice-cold beer in one hand while watching the replay of Superbowl – when your phone rings and it’s a telemarketer offering you timeshares?

Despite the insistence of some quarters in marketing that you need telemarketing for your business, the risks to your brand and reputation will not be worth it.

After all, there is a good reason why the “Do Not Call” registry was created by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and why penalties for telemarketing companies violating the Telemarketing and Telephone Consumer Protection Act are quite severe. 

Instead of telemarketing, generate leads through a strategic content marketing distribution plan. Once you have an impressive list of newsletter sign-ups, embark on an email marketing campaign.

Conclusion

To better appreciate the value of marketing, you must understand that the process will not produce positive results overnight. It takes time to build a brand because consumers want to be convinced and assured before they make final decisions.

Marketing budgets blow up because entrepreneurs are sold on the idea to “Go Big or Go Home”. Spending a ton of money on expensive strategies such as print ads will not take your business above red 24 hours after the ad was published. 

When it comes to marketing, take a strategic and judicious approach. Identify your budget and figure out the most effective way to allocate your resources. 

As we shared in our article, “How To Launch A $100 Digital Marketing Campaign”, you don’t need to shell out the big bucks to get big returns on your marketing efforts. 

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

And if you need help with digital marketing, give us a call or drop an email. We will get you started the right way without breaking your marketing budget. 

desktop with coffee cup - learn more about website design

Marketing has grown to become an important component of building a business. Especially in this age of digital technology, you can’t harness the power of the Internet for your business if you don’t have an online presence. 

Digital marketers have kept pace with the development of the Internet. It has changed the way consumers make their decisions to purchase a product or to patronize a business. 

The growing influence of the Internet and its various channels have given rise to a number of marketing processes each designed to drive more online traffic to websites. 

But which ones are worth your time and money? 

To avoid guesswork, we’ve created a list of the 5 best marketing processes for your business – the ones you can’t live without.

1. SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of using various techniques and tools to increase your website’s organic search ranking in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). The search rankings play a key role in driving online traffic to your website. 

According to a study by Chitika, the first 3 positions in the SERP draw 61.5% of all search traffic. The website that lands in the pole position gets 32.5% of the traffic. There is a huge drop-off after the top 3 with the 10th position only getting 2.4%. 

Can you imagine the volume of traffic – or the lack thereof, of the websites that end up on the second page of the SERP?

When we describe SEO as a process of driving “organic traffic” to your website – we mean free traffic. 

SEO practitioners use techniques and strategies that entice, encourage, and compel people to visit your website because they are convinced it is a valuable resource. 

You cannot put out content on the Internet and expect them to be read by the market you are targeting. Your potential customers will run a search query using keywords that best define the information they are looking for. 

The search engine’s web crawlers track and index content that has the best ranking keywords and includes them on the SERP. Without these keywords, it will be difficult for your content to get found. 

The strategic use of keywords is just one technique used by SEO practitioners to optimize content. 

There are other techniques in the SEO toolbox such as link building, focusing on User Experience, improving website speed, the use of featured snippets, and mobile-first indexing. 

The bottom line is without SEO, your website and its contents will have a very difficult time getting discovered on the Internet.

2. Video Marketing

To be clear, video marketing is considered a component of content marketing. However, we decided to give video marketing its own section in this article because of its value to the overall digital marketing strategy.

Second, content marketing is popularly associated with text-based content, the blog being its cornerstone. In that regard, video-based content marketing is often viewed as separate and distinct with its own allocation in the digital marketing budget.

While blogging remains a mainstay in the content marketing process, more businesses are investing in video-based marketing.

A 2020 survey conducted by Wyzowl revealed that 85% of businesses are using video as a marketing tool. In comparison, the 2016 survey by Wyzowl disclosed that only 61% utilized video-based marketing in their digital marketing strategy.

Digital marketers are more optimistic about video marketing with 92% of respondents stating the process results in positive ROI. 

Here are a few key statistics that support the use of video marketing:

  • Video-based content is shared 1,200% more than text-based content or links.
  • 25% of the most searched websites have video-based content.
  • Embedded videos such as an explainer video on the home page can increase sales conversions by 55%.
  • 44% of consumers prefer using the medium of video to learn more about a product or service.
  • Businesses that incorporated video marketing in their digital marketing strategy outgrew businesses that didn’t by 49%.

Contrary to popular opinion, it does not cost a lot of money to produce high-ranking, high-performing videos. With today’s smartphones, built-in cameras can capture high-resolution videos that look like they were professionally made. 

learn more about website design

3. Content Marketing

Every day, more than 4 billion people are searching the Internet for content that is useful, relevant, and informative. After all, when you search, you are looking for the best solutions or answers to your pressing questions. 

Content that is frequently accessed, shared, linked to, and referenced is regarded as great content. 

Your business could offer the best solutions in the industry. But first – your business, its products and services – must first be found. 

This is where content marketing comes in – the strategic and purposeful creation of optimized content that provides useful, valuable, and informative information to a specific target market. 

The keywords in the definition are “optimized” and “target”.

Content writing is a skill. Just because you have a degree in Creative Writing does not mean you can write online content. 

The rule is: Your content must be found before it can serve its purpose. 

To be found on the Internet, content must be optimized with the right keywords. Content writers know how to find the right keywords for your industry and how to use them for maximum searchability.

Without the right keywords, the search engine’s web crawlers will not be able to find and index your content. The next steps for the search engine are to determine if the keywords in your content are used in the proper ratios and linked to reliable sources. 

The search engine will determine the quality of your content by assessing its length, structure, and backlinks. 

Lastly, for best results, content writing needs to follow a schedule:

Writing online is writing on a different level. For this reason, we recommend hiring content writers to create content for your website and social media campaigns. 

Mountaintop Web Design can provide you with top quality, high-ranking content. A few of our articles have been included among the top blogs for digital marketing by UpCity.

4. Email Marketing

Why is email marketing so effective? In a nutshell, it’s like having the door opened for you by the business owner. You can walk in, make a sales presentation, and hope your pitch is good enough to register a sale. 

Despite the popularity of social media, email remains the most utilized form of communication. 

To make a comparison, social media attracts 2.96 billion users every day. Meanwhile, there are 3.9 billion users of email on a daily basis. According to Statista, by 2023, the number of email users will hit 4.3 billion

Digital marketers love email marketing because the ROI is high – $38 for every $1 spent – or an ROI of 3,800%!

But don’t let these amazing numbers blind you into thinking that email marketing is easy. The biggest challenge to email marketing is creating a solid list of email subscribers. 

This is where having great content comes in. If people love your blogs and other forms of content, they will visit your website to learn more about you. Once on your website, the visitor might want to click on the subscribe button and sign up for your email newsletter. 

Building a loyal following takes time. A reader may enjoy reading your first blog – but what about the second or third? Creating top-quality blogs on a consistent basis will help you build a strong email list. 

You might be tempted to buy a list. If you are – don’t! Buying a list is one of the most dangerous things you can do for your business for a number of reasons:

  • The emails may belong to people who did not agree to sign up for newsletters. Your email will be flagged as spam and this is a violation that could lead to penalties upwards of $16,000!
  • Your email distribution service will get shut down.
  • Many of the emails featured in the list are called “Spam Traps” and will damage your reputation.

Go the slow and steady route and be patient with your content marketing strategy. It may take time but the results will be worth the wait.

5. Social Media Marketing

The age of digital technology has emphasized the social aspect of a business. Because the Internet has made information very accessible, it is easy for consumers to learn more about the business and at the same, find platforms to air their complaints and grievances about a company, its products, and services. 

Companies can no longer just hide behind a logo. To stay ahead of the competition, there must be a face and a personality behind the brand. Customers want to know more about you and not just your business. The best platform to use is social media marketing.

What are the benefits of social media marketing for business?

  • Improve Brand Awareness – Would you believe more people follow brands on social media than celebrities? 80% of respondents who participated in a survey by Sherpa Marketing revealed they followed at least one business brand on social media. 
  • Establish a Strong Connection with Your Customers – Social media allows customers to reach out and voice their ideas and opinions to your company. This level of engagement -whether positive or negative – creates an opportunity for you to establish a strong, human connection with your customer. 
  • Enhance Your Reputation – Another benefit of consistently producing great content is that you enhance your reputation as a valuable resource. Now, strategically distribute your content through social media channels and in time,  more people will follow your page and visit your website. 

Similar to content writing, social media marketing requires experience and expertise. 

You have to know the types of content to post, the most opportune times of the day, the ideal days of the week, as well as the frequency of posting. 

Keep in mind the “social” aspect of social media – these are communities onto itself. The online behavior patterns and profiles of Facebook users are different from those of LinkedIn.

Conclusion

Digital marketing isn’t just the present – it is the future. The world will continue to evolve as digital technology continues to innovate. Work and life decisions will be influenced by the Internet for the years to come. 

If your business has not adopted a digital-based marketing strategy, you are undermining its opportunities for future growth. Learn from the lesson of the retail giants who became casualties of the Retail Apocalypse.

Evolve or become extinct.

Did we convince you to go digital? Give us a call and we’ll put your business on a digital marketing campaign that will get you growing over the next few years.

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

Extreme WordPress care - what types of plans we offer

After years of research, building models, testing, and improvements your fuel-saving carburetor is ready to be introduced to the market. 

The question is, which market will you target for your carburetor? 

Blindly marketing your product to a massive audience of consumers is like using a shotgun to hit a bullseye on the broadside of a barn. For sure you will hit something but most of your pellets will hit the wall and not the target. 

Identifying your target market is the most efficient way of promoting your business. The time and resources spent on your marketing campaign will deliver better ROI than just distributing content without intent or purpose.

In the following section, we discuss in great detail 4 effective ways to identify your target market.

1. Create a Buyer’s Persona

The first step to identifying your target market is to create a Buyer’s Persona. Essentially, a Buyer’s Persona is a list of the characteristics or qualities that best describe the prospective end-user of your product.

The Buyer’s Persona will give you a profile of the type of person who understands the purpose of your product and believes it will fulfill his need. 

To come up with an effective Buyer’s Persona, you should define its demographics:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Marital Status
  • Number of Dependents
  • Level of Education
  • Occupation
  • Designation/Position 
  • Income Range

Add more factors that will help tighten up the demographics of your target market as you see fit.

It is more important now than ever, to identify the key demographics of your target market because tastes, demand preferences, and influences are changing more rapidly than ever before.

Thanks to the Internet and the growing popularity of mobile devices, consumers have immediate access to information.

Consumers can easily be influenced by what they come across on the Internet and social media.

If your business sells affordable fitness trackers that cater to mostly male runners in their mid-20s who are starting their professional careers, in a few years your key demographic may be males in their 50s who prefer low-cost fitness trackers because running is more of a hobby than a sport.

It’s not because your fitness tracker is a poor product. 

The mid-20 males who used to buy your products may already be in the late-20s, financially successful, and have the money to spend on higher-end, branded fitness trackers.

It’s not enough to define your Buyer’s Persona, you must routinely update the information. 

Keeping updated and informed on the changing characteristics of your demographic is a great way of staying relevant; think of it as an exercise for protecting your future.

A 2010 study “2010 America” revealed that updating the key demographics was a low-priority for many small businesses. Underestimating the importance of demographics left these businesses vulnerable to the changing wave of the future.

2. Run Your Buyer’s Persona Through Multiple Filters

Once you’ve created a Buyer’s Persona, the next step is to run them through multiple filters. 

Filters are more specific qualifiers. Let’s go back to our example regarding the fitness tracker and assume your product caters to the male population.

The possible filters could be as follows:

Filter 1 – Years running

Filter 2 – Frequency: number of running days per week, hours per session

Filter 3 – Competitive or recreational runner

The use of filters will help you tighten up your Buyer’s Persona and sharpen the focus of your digital marketing campaign.

If your fitness tracker appeals to competitive runners who train 5 days a week and have been running for more than 2 years, you should market your product to the following segments:

  • Running clubs
  • Gyms and fitness centers
  • Running community websites and social media pages
  • Running event organizers
  • Retail stores that sell running products

The content of your blogs, curated articles, and social media copy could touch on the following topics:

  • Benefits of using a fitness tracker
  • Why a fitness tracker is important for competitive runners
  • Improving running time
  • Injury prevention
  • Balancing time for work and training
  • How to stay on schedule
  • Maximizing the value of the fitness tracker

Thus, fine-tuning the Buyer’s Persona saves you time and reduces the risk of creating, implementing, and managing marketing campaigns that don’t resonate with your target market.

the journey to success is similar to climbing a mountain

3. Define Your Product’s Value Proposition

The qualities and features that differentiate your product is the proposition that gives it value. By defining your product’s value proposition, you can pinpoint the market segment who will greatly benefit from it.

For example, if you are selling lightweight running shoes that are waterproof and durable enough to handle the pounding of rough terrain, who do you think would find value in it?

It could be the serious trail runner – a person who hits the terrain at least 3 days a week and possibly competes in a road race every few months.  

To identify your product’s value proposition, create a list of its features. Under each feature, write down the demographic or type of consumer who would recognize the value. 

4. Use a Data-Driven Approach

A decision can result in only 1 out of 2 possible outcomes: success or failure. To improve your chances of success, remove the guesswork by using a data-driven approach. 

Data provides you with hard evidence – actual figures, statistics – that you can use as the basis for your decisions. 

The numbers will give you an idea of the consumption behavior of your market – are they still patronizing your business or have they switched to a competitor? Which products are selling fast and which ones are slow-moving? You can identify trends and developments that are unfolding in your industry. 

Keep in mind that data is not irrefutable. People analyze numbers differently. Your interpretation could be influenced by biases and obscure the real picture. 

Thus, with a data-driven approach, you remove guesswork but take calculated risks. As such, you can prepare alternative courses of action in case your analysis of the data is proven incorrect.              

There are 3 valuable sources of data:

a.     Surveys

Conducting surveys on your demographic can help identify changes in behavior, trends, tastes, and preferences. You can gather data from consumers who are potential end-users of your product.

You can conduct surveys through a variety of channels.

  • Email Marketing – Send newsletters to your subscribers that include a CTA asking them to participate in a short survey about your business. In exchange for their participation, give them something of value such as a free e-book, limited access to premium content, or a limited-time-only discount.
  • Social Media Marketing – Invite your followers to participate in a survey on Facebook or Twitter. Let them know the survey is to help improve the quality of service and products.
  • Outsource to a Service Provider – To save you time, hedge on the expertise of a digital marketing agency and ask them to run the survey for you. There will be a cost to the service but the agency’s resources can gather more pertinent data. Likewise, you can ask them to interpret the data for you.

b.     Current Data

You may not be aware of it, but your business may have amassed valuable data over the years.

Review your sales and inventory records and find out which products have been selling fast and which ones are lagging. Who are the primary buyers of these products? Which area or location do they come from? How often do they buy from you?

Go over your social media accounts and take note of the level of activity. Which posts have the highest engagement levels? What topics are frequently shared, commented on, and received the most likes?

You can do the same on your website. Find out which blogs have generated the most views, shares, and comments.

Visit the business of your competitor and observe customer behavior. For example, if you own a bakeshop, take note of your competitor’s customer’s orders.

Which cakes are frequently ordered? What beverage is commonly paired with the cake? If the beverage is coffee, how do the majority of customers order their coffee?

c.      Your Current Network of Contacts

Family, friends, and business associates are valuable sources of information. They will not be afraid to tell you like it is. If you want a sincere and honest opinion, dig deep into your current network of contacts.

For example, if you are launching new menu items in your restaurant, invite them to a taste test or sampling dinner.

If you are preparing to introduce a new app to the market, consult with a trusted colleague in the I.T industry or perhaps reach out to a former professor from the university.

Collect data as meticulously as possible. Make sure the participants can convey their responses in black and white or in a file that can be stored. 

Conclusion

Identifying your target market is not a one-time thing. You must find ways to stay updated on your market because the key demographics can change abruptly and without warning. 

If you ignore the “warning signs” and maintain your current practices and policies, the content you produce will be rendered ineffective and obsolete. 

The reason for the decline in sales may have nothing to do with the quality of your product. It is possible that your current market of end-users see less value in it because their needs have changed. 

To be sure, follow the 4 tips outlined in this article. The remedy to your sales woes may not necessarily require you to introduce a new item, product improvements or discount pricing. 

Perhaps all you need is a change or shift in marketing strategy.

Did you enjoy this article and find value in its content? If so, please feel free to share it with your community.

And if you want to learn more about target marketing, give us a call or send an email. We’ll gladly discuss strategy over coffee!

learn about web design - desktop, tablet & smart phone on desk - in blue - larger

If you have made it to 2019 without ever doing a PPC campaign, and have been thriving as well, you can consider yourself very lucky.

PPC is considered one of the best ways to drive all sorts of things: traffic, sales, revenues, engagement, brand awareness, and so on.

The only catch (and there’s always a catch) is that you can’t always afford your own in-house PPC specialist, and need to outsource this task.

Here is what you need to know about the process in order to make it work to your advantage. 

What are your goals?

Before your campaign is launched, you need to define the goals you wish to achieve with it. This will determine the way your campaign will be crafted, the audience it targets, and ultimately the money you spend on it.

These goals can include:

  • Raising brand awareness: great for small or up-and-coming brands that have yet to establish a reputation with their audience
  • Generating more leads: great for established businesses looking for new clients
  • Driving conversions: great when you want to increase sales

Depending on these goals, your campaign will need to be set up, managed, tested, and optimized in a different way. When talking to your prospective PPC expert, make sure you communicate your goals so they can know where to start plotting.

While we are on the subject of goals, all of them need to come with a certain set of KPIs that will measure their success. According to Search Scientists, the four best ones you can choose to track are phone calls, impression share, conversion volume, and CPA. They will depend on your set of goals though.

What will this service cost?

The price of PPC campaign management will depend on a lot of different factors:

  • Length of campaign
  • Business niche
  • Competitors in your niche and what they are bidding 
  • Keywords you are targeting, etc. 

Ultimately, if you are running a small to mid-sized campaign, outsourcing this task will cost you less than hiring, training, and having an in-house PPC manager coming to work every day. Also, outsourced experts often have more experience and expertise than someone you could hire full-time.

You will not have any additional charges either: no tools, no study materials, etc. The expert will already have everything they need to succeed. 

How to choose an expert? 

If you want the best for your campaign, look for a Google Premier Partner, as only about 3-5% of PPC Google Partner companies achieve this status. However, you will most likely pay more for these Partner companies.

You are also advised to hire a specialist rather than a generalist. Just because someone has experience with SEO, email marketing, copywriting, design, and PPC, doesn’t mean they will actually have the expertise to make your campaign a successful one. 

Learn more about the website services we off

What is your bid budget?

Determining your bid budget can be tricky, especially if you don’t know who you are bidding against (and you won’t know this until the campaign is running). An outsourced expert who does nothing but PPC for a living can help you come to a figure you are comfortable with, which can also bring in the best ROI.

Then there are also the strategies you may not know how to use to your advantage, like Geo Targeting, Dynamic Search Ads, or Ad Scheduling, which can affect the cost of your bid, but can also bring in a lot more clicks and impressions. Leave this part of the strategy to your expert, rather than trying to force a decision on them. 

What sort of time constraints are you working with? 

This is another point that should be communicated clearly, and something you need to know the answer to before you outsource your PPC management to someone. 

Do you have a specific deadline by which you need to reach a certain goal? Are your ads time-sensitive, i.e. are you promoting a holiday sale? How fast do you need to get things off the ground?

All of these things will determine what sort of specialist you need – someone who can get things done asap, or someone who has a couple of hours a week to monitor your campaign. 

Bear in mind that when working with PPC campaigns that run on a tight schedule, you need to be available to your specialist, and answer any questions they may have about your company or products.

How to manage your own business while someone else is managing PPC 

While we’re on the subject of availability, another very important aspect of outsourcing PPC campaign management is what you do with your own time and business while the campaign is running.

If it goes according to plan, you will need to be ready to handle the increase in calls and sales. Is your customer support team ready for this? Does your sales team have everything they need to close deals? Is your storage ready to handle more orders over a short period of time?

Before you launch the campaign into the world wide web, make sure you, as a business, are ready for it. If you offer next day delivery, don’t go back on this promise due to the unexpected influx of orders. If you offer customization options, don’t allow your customers to wait for ages to get their products, just because you were not ready. 

Once all this is in place, try to stay focused on the work and the business side of things. While it is important to be aware of the analytics of your PPC campaign, don’t micromanage or try to assert yourself with your PPC manager. Give them the space they need to do their job well and be available for answering questions if need be. 

Be aware that there are plenty of PPC companies out there that are not exactly experts – so come prepared to your meetings, ask the right questions, and be ready to make a switch if you need to.

learn about web design - desktop, tablet & smart phone on desk - in yellow

For your business to grow, you must market and promote it. There are no ifs and buts. How will people know about your business if you stay silent or remain invisible? Especially in highly competitive industries – think logistics, retail, automotive, and technology – you have to be seen or heard to remain top-of-mind of your target market. 

Marketing consultants will recommend that you should set aside 2% to 3% of your annual gross revenues for marketing and promotional activities. 

For example, if your business generates $500,000 in gross sales per year, you should set aside $10,000 to $15,000 to fund marketing expenses for 12 months. That will come out to an average of $833 to $1,250 per month to cover marketing-related expenses. 

Is that a lot of money to spend on marketing?

According to a study conducted by Gartner CMO, businesses in the United States allocated 11.2% of their annual gross revenue for marketing. 

That means a small business in the U.S. which earned $500,000 in gross sales in 2018 will set aside $56,000 to cover all marketing-related expenses for 2019. 

$56,000 per year distributed throughout the year rounds out to $4,666.67 per month for marketing activities. 

If you’re thinking “Wow! That’s a lot of money!” we’re here to inform you that you don’t have to set aside 11.2% of your annual gross revenue to run an effective marketing campaign. 

12 Ways To Market Your Business At Least Cost – Or No Cost At All!

In this section, we will discuss 12 ways you can market your business without breaking the bank and still get high returns on your marketing efforts. 

Most of the strategies that we discuss are Internet-based. There are a few that will require you to roll up your sleeves or to dust off the loafers for a bit of leg work.

1. Blog

Content marketing is one of the fastest-growing strategies for promoting a business. 

A study by the Content Marketing Institute (CMS) showed that businesses allocated 26% of the budget for content marketing. The same study revealed that 90% of B2B marketers have done content marketing in one form or another.

Blogging remains a cornerstone process in a content marketing campaign. 65% of B2B marketers surveyed by the CMI reported that blogging is a mainstay in their content marketing toolbox.

Blogging is a great way to communicate with your audience. It gives you a platform to share your knowledge and hopefully, help readers find solutions to their problems or concerns.

Your only cost in blogging is time -time to do research, write and review your content before posting it on the Internet. 

However, if time is a rare commodity, consider outsourcing blogging to qualified writers. The CMI study indicated that 62% of businesses in the US outsource content writing. 

Blogging is not an expensive strategy but it delivers great results in terms of acquiring followers, building your brand, and moving up in the search results.

2. Stay Active on Social Media

Social media is a proven marketing platform for staying top-of-mind. People spend 136 minutes per day on social media – and there are 3.4 Billion of them!

The social media community is so wide and vast that it presents wonderful opportunities for your marketing and advertising content to be seen by a targeted audience. 

All you have to do is to stay active on social media and you can do this in a number of ways:

  • Post Content Regularly – Keep in mind that not all social media networks function in the same manner. Choose 2 to 3 social media platforms, learn what you can about the network, and create a posting schedule for each one of them.
  • Engage Your Followers – Social media activity is not just about posting blogs and curated content. Engage your followers by “speaking” to them directly. For example, if you are in the business of selling supplements, you can post a daily question such as “How many of you get a good night’s sleep with Melatonin?”
  • Participate In Group Discussions – Networks such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, and Facebook have interest groups. Join a group that is relevant to your industry. 

Participate in group discussions and share your expertise. On some occasions, initiate the discussion yourself. 

3. Go Live

Sharing “live” content is a great way to humanize your business. It lets people know – and assures them – that your business is real and authentic. Most importantly, it will encourage your followers to engage with you. 

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Virgin Group’s Sir Richard Branson, and Tesla’s Elon Musk are just a few of the big names who do live feed on their social media networks.

If you are in the real estate business, you can stream the launch of a new property development that is pre-selling lots or you can showcase the homes you are selling to your followers. 

4. Grow Your Network Via LinkedIn

LinkedIn is popular among professionals and job-seekers. The content that you find on LinkedIn is much different than those in networks such as Facebook or Google+. 

It is easy to grow your professional network on LinkedIn. Blogging, posting curated content, and engaging in group discussions will get you noticed by other people in your community.

If your posts and types of engagement are consistently relevant and compelling, people will reach out to you and request you to connect with them. 

5. Get Your Followers Involved

Your customers and followers are part of the value chain. Social media not only gives you the platform to stay on top of their minds. It also gives you the medium to keep track of what your customers and followers want and need. 

Why is this important? By knowing the concerns and interests of your customers, you will have a better idea of how to improve your products and service, what to add in your product mix or suite of services, and the types of content to publish.

Invite your customers to post reviews and suggestions on your Facebook Business Page. This shows you value their opinions and your commitment to improving the experience.

Don’t be afraid of getting negative feedback. It is not realistic to expect everyone to love your product. 

You should welcome negative feedback because it can pinpoint a flaw in your product and at the same time give you the opportunity to interact directly with your customer. 

learn about web design when you click here

6. Register Your Business at an Online Directory

Registering your business at an online directory can help you increase sales. This is a proven tactic for businesses that own a brick-and-mortar location.

Consumers are always searching the Internet for businesses that can help them address a particular need. If your business is registered in a popular online directory like GoogleMyBusiness, it will show up in the consumer’s search query. 

Here are 3 key statistics that will encourage you to sign your business up with an online directory:

You can learn about the importance of registering your business at an online directory in our article “Why Should Retail Locations Be Listed In Search Engines?”

7. Start a Podcast

One of the best ways to pass time while stuck in traffic or on a long drive is to listen to podcasts. Statistics show that 22% of Americans listen to podcasts on a weekly basis. 

Podcasts feature high-energy discussions because the format is more informal. Feedback is more extemporaneous; even with guidelines, there is less filter and therefore, more authenticity in the content. 

How much will it cost to start a podcast? A good quality microphone will probably cost you $100. To improve audio quality, use free editing software such as Audacity or GarageBand. 

8. Allow Your Followers to Go Behind-the-Scenes

Are you about to launch a new menu item in your restaurant? Take your followers behind-the-scenes and show them how the dish is created – just don’t show them the secret ingredient!

Allowing your followers’ backstage access to what goes on in the making of a product or in the day-to-day operation of your business fosters transparency which eventually, builds trust. 

9. Sign Up Right-Fit Brand Ambassadors

When you sign up an expensive influencer, are you certain of brand loyalty? What will prevent the influencer from patronizing a competitor when you’re not looking? 

You don’t need big-name endorsers to generate more interest in the product you are selling. A better option would be to sign up actual users of your product whose loyalty to your brand is irrefutable. 

These people are called right-fit ambassadors. Not only did they choose your product over the competition; they are consistently promoting it on their social media pages. 

Right-fit ambassadors believe in the value of your product. The power of their belief clearly resonates in how they speak or write about your product –  they come across as authentic, sincere, and honest.

Right-fit ambassadors will not ask for the moon and the stars. The idea of being chosen as an ambassador for your product will be an honor. 

Of course, you can reward them by giving free products, offering affiliate marketing arrangements, and special discounts for loyal patrons. 

 10. Collaborate With Other Businesses

Now, for some old-fashioned legwork! 

Mark an area with a circumference that is 5 kilometers from your business. Put on a pair of comfortable loafers and sneakers. Take a walk around the marked area and note the down other businesses with products or services that are complementary to yours.

Prepare a formal proposal letter and personally deliver it to the shop owner on your next visit. With any luck, the shop owner may be willing to sit down and talk to you about your proposal. 

By collaborating with other businesses, you open up your products to a different market and a new audience. Reciprocate by offering the products of the other business in your store. 

 11. Reach Out to Your Community

You may not have to go further than your own community to market your business. 

If your neighborhood or district has a local association that caters to its residents, schedule a visit and talk to the person-in-charge of community affairs. Find out if you can promote your business through the association.

For example, if you own a gym or a Personal Training business, ask if you can offer free classes at the community center on weekends. In exchange, the local association may allow you to sell memberships on the premises. 

 12. Attend Networking Events

Networking events present wonderful opportunities to build your network and promote your business. 

Find out if there are networking events in your area, how to sign up, and if it’s possible to be given a few minutes to present your business. Trade shows and expositions are also good venues to promote your products. 

You should also consider joining associations or organizations that cater to your particular industry.

Conclusion

Because of the innovations in digital technology and improved accessibility of the Internet, marketing and promoting your business has become more convenient, measurable, and cost-effective.  

Traditional forms of marketing such as print and TV advertising, radio commercial spots, and distribution of Point-of-Purchase materials are not extinct. Within a well-planned and organized marketing campaign, these traditional methods still have value. 

However, the cost of making print, TV, and radio ads is very expensive. These types of ads are not evergreen; within a few months or days, consumers will find them obsolete. 

Likewise, it’s difficult to target your key demographics with traditional marketing methods. How can you be sure that the majority of the people who saw, heard, and read your ad meets your Buyer’s Profile? 

The answer is you can’t. There is no way to find out with 100% surety that your ad hit the target market. 

If you spend more and get underwhelming results, your ROI on the marketing campaign will be very disappointing. 

Your best option would be to go digital. 

There is no cost to using the Internet. Likewise, there is no signup fee for opening a social media account. The costs for blogging, graphic design, and paid ads can be negotiated and customized to fit your budget.

You can monitor the progress and keep track of the results. Digital marketing has the tools to access information in real-time so you can fine-tune your campaign and make data-backed improvements.

Do you have other suggestions on how to lower the cost of marketing a business? Please share in the comments section. We would love to hear from you!

And if some of our ideas got you thinking – don’t hesitate to give us a call or an email. We can help you plan a low-cost marketing campaign for your business.

desktop with coffee cup - learn more about website design