The Best Ad Strategies for a Local Small Business

Many small businesses are struggling in the era of COVID-19, and site or cart abandonment doesn’t help your bottom line. If you’re getting lots of looks but nobody is clicking that “confirm purchase” button, it may be time to reach out in a new way.

Turn a Browse Into a Sale

The world of online shopping has a few behemoths and many more small players. If your small business is struggling to build a healthy online presence, you may have to get information out to shoppers in a different format. For example, you can turn a site abandonment into a Completed Purchase by targeting prospects with a direct-mail coupon, free shipping offer, or another promo.

If your online store sells apparel and accessories, consider sending out a direct mailer that offers a free scarf or pocket square with the purchase of a cardigan or shirt. For those who sell kitchen tools, offer a free tablet stand with a minimum purchase. Free shipping has become something of a given, but perhaps you could offer a standard shipping upgrade with an overnight upgrade for a minimum purchase amount.

What Stops Shoppers

Many shoppers are on pretty tight budgets these days, and the uncertainty of our collective future has many people sealing up their wallets pretty tight. To avoid this crunch, make the checkout process as easy as possible. If a shopper has items in their cart, offer them a discount via pop-up for completing their account set-up. Such a discount would not only make sure that you capture their information regardless of sale at this point, but their next check-in and purchase will be simpler.

The act of having to go and get their wallet or credit card information can be the point at which a shopper abandons their cart. By taking away this need to act on that step, you make buying easier.

Be Upfront About Fees

If you’re offering free shipping over a particular dollar amount, place that on every email and banner on your site. Be honest about your handling charges and the reason for them, such as a packaging charge. Hidden fees that show up on the last screen before checkout are the fastest way to sour a potential deal and damage a relationship with a potential customer. Not only won’t they buy this time, but they may not come back.

Promote Your Size

If there are fees that you must include for your bottom line, such as a crating charge for a piece of handcrafted art, explain why. If you do blown-glass Christmas ornaments and need to package them in spray foam, let people know that there is an unavoidable shipping charge. Invite them into your brick and mortar store with a promotional mailer.

While you’re promoting your size, don’t scrimp on photography or your website design. Getting someone in to take world-class photos of your one of a kind pieces will make your packaging fees or whatever extra charges you have to add to your selling process completely worth it. You’re not just promoting a small business; you’re promoting the sale of a one of a kind item that can be enjoyed only in their home.

Do Video Very Well

Unless you’re offering classes to the general public, be careful with DIY video promotions or how-to tutorials on YouTube. First of all, videos can go viral for all the wrong reasons, and unless you’ve got the help of a skilled videographer, rough video promotion can actually work against you. Even a video commercial can draw the wrong attention in our “gotcha” culture.

Put your focus on the tasks you can most easily manage that take little time and are easily repeatable. One video will take a lot of time, and even then the results may not be as good as you want. A single photoshoot of your product, your store, and your people can give you promotional material that can be used over and over again. If you really want video, put in the time and hire an expert to help.

The pandemic has forced many of us to change how we work and do business. Current indicators are that a return to “normal” is unlikely. To get your products in front of the public and complete the sale will take creativity and focus. Be ready to share your story as a small business owner.

 

Guest Post by Amy Sloane, freelance writer. Reach her at AmySloaneWriter@gmail.com

 

4 Quick Small Business Marketing Tips to Boost Your Business

marketing concepts written inside gears

As a small business owner you have lots of responsibility. I get it. I own a small business myself. If you are like me, there is a good chance you wear more than one hat – from Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Chief Operating Officer (COO) to Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). That’s a lot of hats for just one head. Naturally, as the CEO and CFO budget and profitability top the list of your business concerns. But trust me, to truly achieve success, you can’t neglect your CMO responsibilities.

Here are a few small business marketing tips I’ve implemented that have helped me and my clients focus on promoting our businesses in a way that is budget-friendly, productive and profitable. And by the way, this applies to Nonprofit Agencies just the same.

Tell your own UNIQUE brand story:

Telling a brand story is like telling your life story. It should be emotional, relatable, and authentic reflecting what your brand represents.  This is your chance to share why you are a small business owner, what your business can do for your customer and what your business stands for. Your story should engage your customers and draw them in making them feel part of your brand.

Create the right content:

You have heard it before . . . content is king. Well, it’s true. Once you have created your brand story, content is the conduit to sharing your story via your website and social media platforms. There are a few things I always consider when creating content.

Know what type of content your audience wants. This is can be guided by what your product/service offers. In general, customers want to understand the benefits of your product/service. But just listing the benefits isn’t enough.

Remember that brand story? Make sure the tone and type of your content aligns with your story. Everyone is inundated with information (and choices) these days. Make sure your content is relevant, reliable, educational, and even entertaining. Having the right content differentiates your business making it stand out.

Focus on the most powerful marketing channels:

As a small business owner, you know that you can’t be everywhere at once. The same goes for marketing your small business or nonprofit. Rather being on every social media platform, go where the majority of your customers are.

If your product/service is focused on business owners (in other words, you are a B2B company), LinkedIn is a good bet. If you have a bakery, Instagram could be the perfect channel to showcase images of your delicious creations. Or, if you have a Food Truck or provide a service, Facebook might be the best way to actively and frequently update your customers on special offers. When planning my social media strategy, I allow audience, content and budget drive the social media channels I use to market my business. 

Bring your brand to life via video:

Video content is a great way to bring your brand to life. By nature, we are visual creatures – why else do we spend so much time entertaining ourselves by watching videos of animals, life hacks, and people doing generally ridiculous things?

Video allows you to connect with your audience in a very direct way allowing your customers to get to know your product/service and you! This brings us back to content. While it is important for your video to be engaging and entertaining, the content should also relay specific information such as product/service information or educational information to help your customers.

Marketing isn’t difficult, but it is multifaceted. Building the right marketing mix means that all of these elements must come together; they don’t work well independently. If you are reading this and thinking, “What do I do with this information?” email me or give me a call at  904.524.0170. Together, we can determine the smart move for your small business.

5 Ways to Get Your Business to Thrive During Hard Times

No matter if you’re dealing with the coronavirus or some other hardship, many people’s businesses are suffering. If your business is struggling to stay afloat, you may be wondering what to do next. Don’t let hard times and uncertainty ruin the start of your amazing business, there are quite a few things you can do to help your business thrive during these hard economic times. In fact, this list below highlights five specific actions you can take.

1. Assess Your Situation

Take time now to determine any shortfalls that are hurting your business. You might already have those weaknesses identified. If you’ve already done this, have you really looked at every moving part? Have you analyzed your own potential shortcomings? Even more during hard times, you must pay attention to all the specifics.

Without a real assessment of your situation, you might be tossing plans to the wind. Because if you aren’t honest about your company’s areas for improvements, then mistakes are likely to creep up again. Also, don’t forget to seek honest and open feedback from your employees. They likely want your business to excel, too, and they might have some really good ideas for you.

2. Focus on Communications

Be sure to remember that communications are a very important moving part of your business. You have both external and internal communications that must be solid. Prioritize your company’s communication strategies being in sync with your business’s needs.

You might want to look into software that can streamline your communications processes. Certain workplace communication products come with technologies you can find to be very user friendly. You also should be able to lock in a service agreement.

3. Utilize Social Media

Speaking of communications, be certain that you use social media to your advantage. Why wouldn’t you? Many of your social media platforms have free marketing tools you can use. Also, if you are dealing with something like COVI

group of business people celebrating

D-19, for example, you need to pay even more attention to getting the most out of your social media accounts.

If you don’t have a strong social media presence, yet, here are your basics. Make sure you at least have accounts established on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. Tiktok and YouTube could help you out, too. Use high-res photos and videos and with every post. Be certain your posts include a call to action and don’t ever ignore user comments and messages.

4. Address Any Tech Issues

Without a strong information technology (IT) network in place, you can jeopardize your success. Your tech products have to work, and you also need to be sure your bandwidth is strong. Should you already have a tech staff, you might want to hire them additional help.

IT consultants could do a lot for your business. Even from remote locations, they can stay on top of your IT. You limit your chances of cyberattacks happening, and your productivity could go up, too. If you have staff working from home or on the road, this could pay off for you even more.

5. Regularly Look at Your Data

How often do you dig deep into your data? It can tell you so much about your business. Your company can better pinpoint common mistakes. You also can more quickly remedy issues that are keeping you and your team in the weeds. Get away from preventable errors impacting the workflow of your company and look at your data every day.

In addition to seeing immediate benefits, your company can be positioned for success well into the future. Forecasting is more accurate for your staff, and you also can protect yourself from potential legal actions against your business. It’s wise to have as much proof as possible. Get a grasp of your data every day to stay ahead of the curve and survive difficult times impacting your efforts.

Your Business Can Make It During Hard Times

Don’t be discouraged. You can take the necessary actions to ensure your company makes it. Hard times do not have to disrupt your success.

With the aforementioned suggestions, you can see immediate and long-term benefits. Keep this information handy and give these tips a shot. Best wishes with your efforts.

 Guest post by Samantha Higgins. Samantha is a professional writer with a passion for research, observation, and innovation. She is nurturing a growing family of twin boys in Portland, Oregon with her husband. She loves kayaking and reading creative non-fiction.   

How to Make Your Business Stand Out from the Competition

business men and women sitting and readingLearning how to set yourself apart from your competitors can help your business reach new heights and establish itself as a leader in your industry. Some simple changes to how you conduct your business can garner more positive attention from potential new customers and keep you operating longer. Here are some of the best ways to make your business stand out from the competition.

Study Your Competition

Knowing what your competitors are doing to run their businesses and market themselves can help you find ways to differentiate your business from theirs. You might find ways to improve on solving problems that these businesses try to solve. You may also be able to target a different demographic that’s often overlooked by competing companies. Other ways to learn about your competition so that you can make your business unique from theirs is to run analytics tests of their websites and speak to former employees who might be willing to give you additional information.

Keep Your Premises Tidy

Whether you run a store, a restaurant, or another type of business where customers frequently visit, you’ll want to keep your premises tidy at all times. Some businesses overlook this, and you can help your business earn a more positive reputation by making sure that no trash pileups or other filth buildups are anywhere on your property. Professional cleanings should be done regularly to keep your business looking its best. C and D Services a company that provides parking lot sweeping Dallas TX tells us that power sweeping keeps dust and dirt and trash from piling up on the property – keeping it more sanitary, improving the aesthetics, removing trip hazards, and ultimately increasing the value of the property.

Improve Your Customer Service

Customer service can make or break a business, and making the extra effort to ensure that each customer receives the best service possible can help set you apart from other companies. People who are dissatisfied with the service that they received from your competitors may also be more inclined to become new customers if your business has built a reputation for delivering outstanding service. You’ll want to make sure that all staff members who deal with the public receive thorough customer service training that includes how to deal with customer complaints effectively.  couple in flower shop

Feature Regular Promotions

Deals, free giveaways, and other promotions can get more people interested in your business. Promotions that save people money can be especially good for many of your customers who are likely on tight budgets. Another promotional idea is to start a customer loyalty program that offers freebies or other perks to your most loyal customers. You’ll definitely want to run promotions around holiday seasons when many of your competitors are likely doing the same to try to attract more customers.

Practice Corporate Social Responsibility

One of the best ways that your business can show corporate social responsibility is by supporting various charities, and this can also help differentiate your business from others. As Forbes.com explains, there are many corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs that can help give customers better mental impressions of your business and can also promote better goodwill and increase your profits. You might choose to support charities that feed the homeless, provide medical care to underprivileged people, or rescue animals.

Communicate on a More Personal Level

Some of your competitors may be treating their customers more like numbers than people, and you can garner more positive attention by finding ways to communicate with people on a more personal level. One of the best ways to go about this is to answer customer emails with customized replies instead of standard messages. Starting a newsletter and delivering new editions to customers’ email inboxes on a regular basis can also make your business seem more personable. Social media can additionally be used to communicate with customers directly so that they can feel as though they’re being treated more as respected individuals.

Go Green

Many people nowadays are more conscious about the environment, and taking measures to reduce your business’s negative impact on the planet can help increase your company’s profile. Using recyclable materials and finding ways to reduce your business’s output of harmful emissions can help you run a greener business that’s more environmentally responsible than your competition. Switching to solar power or another alternative energy source is another option to consider if you want to outdo your rivals.

Standing out from the competition doesn’t always have to be a difficult task. By implementing these methods for your business, you may yield great results along with bigger profits than your competitors.

Guest post by Samantha HigginsSamantha is a professional writer with a passion for research, observation, and innovation. She is nurturing a growing family of twin boys in Portland, Oregon with her husband. She loves kayaking and reading creative non-fiction.             

 

An Easy Facebook Hack To Add New Followers

It is getting more and more difficult to add followers on your Facebook business page without purchasing boosts or advertising. But there is one simple way that you can reach out to people who have already engaged with your company, but are not yet following you. As you look at your Facebook posts, you’ll see the number of Likes show up under each post. Like this:

If you hover over that, you’ll see a drop down list of everyone who liked the post, like this

Click on that list to open it up and you’ll see something like this:

Wherever you see the Invite box, that is someone who has not yet followed you, so click the box and the individual will receive an invitation from your page to follow you. It is a free and easy way for you to increase your followers, and keep an eye on the engagements for your posts as well.

How to Run Your Business From Anywhere

Working Virtually Can Be An Advantage

More and more people are opting to work away from the office. And since the Coronavirus has caused the need for businesses to be able to still run while everyone is working from home it’s more important than ever. Thanks to new technology and changing corporate culture, working from anywhere is easier from ever. Let’s look at some of the reasons why you would want to be location independent with your work. laptop on desk with someone typing

You can see the world

While you may be quarantined for now, in the future if you want to travel you will be able to still have effective business communication even if you’re out of the country. When you can work from anywhere, you can explore the world to enjoy better experiences. For instance, you can work from an exotic island, make money while camping in Maine, and acquire new income from an exotic city in Asia. This type of location independence may lower your stress level and free you from living inside of a cubicle a third of your life.

You can network better

When you are location independent, you can network better which can increase your income. For instance, let’s say you live in a small city in the middle of the United States. You can make a month-long trip to New York, Los Angeles or Silicon Valley and talk to new people and gain new connections. These new connections can lead to big business opportunities.

You can optimize your spending

The great thing about being location independent is that you can work in cheaper places and really save your money. For instance, you can find a fun little place in Costa Rica, Mexico and South America to base your operations for a few months. At these locations, you can cut your living expenses by up to 75%! This can really save you money while affording you exciting new experiences.

You can spend more time with your family

Hopefully, you are getting the chance to currently spend some time with your family during this quarantine. But when this is over, if you miss your family because you are always in the office, being location independent can allow you to work from home. By working from home, you don’t have to spend time commuting to and from work. Also, you can enjoy working in a relaxing and familiar environment.

How to run your business from anywhere

Now that you understand the benefits of being location independent, we will show you the top five tips you need to know on how to run your business from anywhere. These proven tips will allow you to seamlessly move your business to any part of the world.

1. Have the right computer and wi-fi connection

Your entire business is going to run off of two things: your devices and your wi-fi connection. Therefore, you will want to make sure that you have a high-quality smartphone and computer. Before you go off to an exotic location, make sure that your equipment is in top working shape. It may be hard to have your device serviced if you are at an exotic location. Second, make sure there is a strong wi-fi connection at the location before you go. Investing in a wi-fi hotspot can help you have a great connection almost anywhere. It will be hard to run your business if you have a slow connection or if the wi-fi is unreliable.

2. Make sure you properly schedule your working time

When you move across time zones, you will want to make sure you can still stay in contact with your clients, vendors, and employees. For instance, if you move from the United States to Asia, you may have to change your working schedule so you can stay connected with your clients in North America.

3. Ensure your credit card and business accounts don’t get suspended

Chances are, you need to keep your ad accounts, credit cards and vendor accounts active while traveling. Many of these accounts will flag activity that jumps from country to country. Make sure you contact all of your vital accounts of your travels before your accounts get suspended. Once your accounts are suspended, it could take days or weeks to get your credit card or ad account back online.

4. Watch your cash flow

While you are traveling, you will want to watch your cash flow. Sometimes, your travels may take your eye off the financial ball. You don’t want to be stuck half-way around the world with cash flow problems. Make sure you have enough money and cash flow to stay in business during your travels.

Summing things up

Thanks to today’s technology and many small business services, it is easier than ever to work anywhere in the world. Remember to be well organized before your travels and your location independent business will thrive.

Guest post by Samantha Higgins. Samantha is a professional writer with a passion for research, observation, and innovation. She is nurturing a growing family of twin boys in Portland, Oregon with her husband. She loves kayaking and reading creative non-fiction.   

Branding 101: 5 Great Ways to Promote Your Business

You may have the best products or services in the world, but if no one is aware that your business exists, then you will have a hard time finding customers. It is vital to promote and market your business to ensure that you build a loyal following. With many competitors out there who are waiting to steal your clients, you cannot afford to be complacent. Consider these five great ways to promote your business to improve your brand’s reach and to increase your company’s profitability.

Leverage Social Media

Statistics indicate that almost four billion people in the world own a mobile device. Within these devices, there are at least two or more social media apps installed. If you want to promote your business effectively, you have to go where your clients are. Make sure you are present in all the popular social media apps like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. You can engage directly with your clients in these apps, allowing you to reach out easily to send updates or special deals. At the same time, you can ask them for feedback on what you can improve. With every like, share, reaction, or comment they provide, you can expand your audience reach.  In this day and age, social media is going to promote your business much more than any standard marketing tactic that might have worked in the past.  People don’t need billboards, they need a nice image on their phone to see to help them click on your business. 

Attend Trade Shows

Attending a trade show is seen as a traditional tool, but it is still an effective one that you need to incorporate into your marketing strategies. Trade shows help boost the career of your employees, and they are also great for your business because it helps you promote your products to a specialized audience. Apart from this, you are able to network with other investors and suppliers. You also gain industry knowledge which you can use for further product development.

Use Outdoor Flags

There are many flags out there for your outdoor signage options. There is a broad range of flag banners and air inflatable dancers that you can use to showcase your brand. There are standard flags, teardrop flags, feather flags, rectangle flags, tube man, retractable banners, vinyl banners, garden flags, avenue banners, flutter flags, and more. All you have to do is to pick a design that suits your business concept, include the appropriate wordings, and then hang this outside to attract attention. Since these are weather-proof, you can rest assured that they are durable. With numerous flag designs, there is a flag out there to suit every budget.  Having an eye-catching sign for your business will certainly help get people in the door. 

Employ SEO Strategies on Your Website

image of paint brush and SEOBusinesses must have an online presence to look legitimate in this tech-savvy world. Make sure that you have the best website to attract your potential clients. In a world where everyone is continually Googling, you have to make sure that your business employs SEO or search engine optimization. This means when people search for something related to your business, your listing or website ranks high in the search results. You want to be at the top ten of the ranking list. The best thing about SEO is that it is free. Having good SEO brings more traffic to your website and helps to improve your profits dramatically. If you are unsure, there are many online how-to SEO guides for free. In order to secure your target audience, your site must be primed for ultimate performance on all the search engines.

Join an Online Community

Every niche out there has a corresponding online community that you can get involved in. Signing up on this forum will allow you to see what your clients need, which will help you craft better products and marketing strategies. To be fully effective, you must also be an active poster in this forum and not just a lurker. As an active participant who comments on people’s posts, you build connections. When people are familiar with you, you can post about your business offerings without annoying the other members. Doing this allows you to create a rapport with your community of clients. You can also passively promote by putting your website link beneath your signature.  

Final Word

There are numerous ways to get your brand out there. Promoting your products and services is an essential component to your company’s success. This is not a one-shot deal that will get you results overnight. You must continuously work hard on marketing to ensure that you will always have your clients’ attention. Remember that with any of these tactics it takes time, so be patient. You will reap the benefits if you stay consistent with your marketing.

 Guest post by Samantha Higgins. Samantha is a professional writer with a passion for research, observation, and innovation. She is nurturing a growing family of twin boys in Portland, Oregon with her husband. She loves kayaking and reading creative non-fiction.   

Simple Tips to Jump-Start Your Influencer Marketing Campaign

Building credibility as a brand is essential for any business – large or small. And collaborating with influencers is one of the most effective strategies to establish a good online reputation and gain consumer trust. 

In fact, almost 50% of consumers rely on influencer recommendations or reviews before buying anything.

Even small businesses with limited resources can benefit from influencer marketing by using tactics that will not go above the allocated budget. The key is to find an influencer who trusts your products and genuinely likes what your business represents as a whole. 

Here are a few tips to get you started:

Set Your Influencer Marketing Campaign Goals

Are you planning on running a seasonal or long-term influencer campaign? How much is your allocated budget for the campaign? Are you after improving brand awareness or targeting a new audience? These are just a few of the questions that should have concise answers before you begin searching for an influencer. Identifying what you want your small business to achieve is the first crucial step before launching a marketing campaign.

Do Your Research

Monitor the online activities of your target demographic before diving in headfirst. Before you reach out to an influencer, make sure they are suitable for your small business. Determine which platform your potential customers use, what content they consume, and what type of influencers they follow. Being aware of these factors will also help you narrow down your list of potential influencers to collaborate with.

Find the Right Influencer

You don’t need to spend a fortune to collaborate with influencers. But given that you are working on a limited budget, partnering with a local influencer or micro-influencer is your safest bet. A quick Google search to find reliable tools that you can use to look for influencers in your niche would be a great help.

Ideally, you should look for someone who is already interested in your product or service. Check the potential influencer’s previous posts to see if he or she has already published anything about your brand or anything related to your product or service. Keep in mind, though, that the goal is to find an influencer with the ideal balance of reach and engagement to help your business increase online visibility.

Establish a Genuine Connection

It’s not enough to send a simple email to the influencer and hope they accept the proposal for a potential collaboration. Follow them first before reaching out. Make it a point to engage with their current posts by sharing or leaving comments.

When crafting an email, make sure that you personalize the content and let the influencer know you’re willing to meet their needs. Set expectations and let them know your value as a small business and that you’re open to brainstorm and collaborate. You can also include a promotional gift to give them a chance to try out your products.

If it’s taking too long for them to answer, try again and use a different, more genuine approach. It’s always better to build a partnership based on mutual trust and respect.

Under the Influence – 80+ Influencer Marketing Statistics

10 Ways To Market Your Small Business For Free

photo of a florist shop with a man and a woman in aprons smiling

Marketing your nonprofit agency or small business does not require a large financial investment, especially at the beginning. For many start-ups and nonprofits, a marketing budget is not much more than a wish. But that doesn’t mean that a small business cannot market successfully. For purposes of this article, I’ll refer to small business marketing, but these ideas are just as good for small nonprofit agencies as well. Since Deppe Communications works with both, these are tried-and-true steps we recommend. I’m also assuming you already have a website, but if you don’t it is definitely something we highly recommend. Many customers will search for a website to learn about your business and make sure you are legitimate before doing business with yo

Here are a few ideas you can use to get started marketing your small business for free.

  1. List your business website in online directories. Start with Google My Business and expand that listing as much as possible. Add photos and a good description along with all your contact information. Do the same at Bing and Yahoo, then move on to some other sites including Manta, Merchant Circle, Yelp, etc. Some of these sites will ask you to advertise or pay for expanded listings, but you aren’t required to do that.
  2. Set up and use social media pages – especially Facebook. You will need to have a personal Facebook page to set up a business page. These are free to use and you can add a great deal of information on the business page. Depending on your target audience, you may want to add Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, and others. It’s a good idea to have a LinkedIn page and if you have videos, set up a YouTube channel for them. Once you have these set up, add links to them on your website. Be sure to post regularly – even several times a day is fine. Remember that only a small percentage of followers will see any particular post, so it is OK to post daily. Try to create posts that will appeal to your followers and what they are interested in. Don’t sell all the time, mix it up with different types of posts.
  3. Create a blog on your website. This helps your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and also can draw in visitors to the website. Whether you blog weekly or monthly, try to write at least 300 words (the longer the better) on a topic of interest to your customers. New trends in your business, how-to articles and similar topics will draw readers. After you post your article, promote it with a link on your social media pages. 
  4. Research your customers and learn about what they want or need. Marketing, by definition, is understanding the wants and needs of your customers, and then providing those products and services. The best way to find out if you are offering customers what they need or want is to ask them. You can do this with paper surveys at your location, with email or social media surveys, or just by asking them when you see them.
  5. Teach a seminar, workshop or host a webinar related to your business. Sharing information with customers is a great way to create a personal relationship with them. Free classes appeal to many age groups and can be a way to invite customers into your location, too.
  6. Use press releases to share information with the local media. The media is a connection between you and your customers. Media can reach many more people at once than you can, so it reduces the workload on your end. Plus, it legitimizes your message when published or broadcast by the media. Use press releases to announce upcoming free classes, an anniversary or celebration, a new location. Press releases should not be used for sales or things that are not “newsworthy.” man standing behind a chalkboard sign with the words Grand Opening written on it
  7. Hold an open house or grand opening celebration and invite the community to attend. If you include a ceremony with remarks, try to keep it under 15 minutes. Promote the event on social media and with a press release and blog post.
  8. Offer to speak at local civic clubs and organizations like the Chamber, Rotary, or other business networking groups. Keep your target audience in mind so you are not promoting your company to the wrong group. Networking opportunities are a great way to spread the word about your company.
  9. Cross market to existing customers. There’s an old saying in marketing circles that it is cheaper to market to your current customers than to go out and find new ones. Remember that customers may be interested in your other products or services, and be sure they know about those. You can do this in social media, with email and newsletters, or signage at your location.

These 10 ideas are certainly not the only ways to market your small business for free, but they are a good way to get started. For more help with marketing your nonprofit or small business, contact Deppe Communications at 904.524.0170 or Email me at kim@DeppeCommunications.com

You Have Less Than 3 Seconds To Get That Customer Online

It’s true. Research now shows that 53% of website visitors will click away if it takes more than 3 seconds for your website to load. Google actually prefers it be less than 2 seconds – and for an E-commerce site, Google wants to see it load in less than half a second.

Those are pretty high standards for most non-profit organizations and small businesses to reach, but it isn’t impossible. Bringing more users to your website is important, but so is keeping them there. Since the website business is changing all the time, I wanted to update my readers with the most current best practices.

Ideas To Improve Your Business Website

Mobile, mobile, mobile. Worldwide, more than  52% of all website traffic in 2018 was generated on mobile devices like phones and tablets, according to statistic.com. That number was a mere 0.7% back in 2009, just 10 years ago. Google’s search index is evolving so that mobile versions of a website will be returned first, before your desktop version.

two hands holding a mobile phone with a website showing

To be sure that your website is mobile friendly, there are a few things you can do. First, keep in mind that the screen size is much smaller and narrower. That will affect your design. If you are using themes, be sure it is a responsive theme. That means it will show up properly on mobile devices.

Google offers a free tool that will let you check how fast your page is loading. If it takes 10 seconds or more to load, it will negatively affect your search ranking factor on Google, so this is an important item to measure.

If the website is loading too slowly, you can improve it by reducing the size of your photos, using fewer widgets on a page, and minimizing “bells and whistles” on the page that slow it down. 

Engage The Website User And Keep Them Around

Once you have the user on your website, you want to keep them around. Making it easy for them to navigate the website is the first step you can take to encourage them to visit other pages. One of the first things to do when designing a site is to determine what the structure – or architecture – will be. Map it out on paper or a white board. Be sure to group pages together that are similar in content and importance. Each of your top-level pages, like Services, Products, Contact Us, etc., will likely have a page or two underneath it. For example, About Us might have pages for the board of directors, the executive staff, or the company history that all fall under that category.

Be sure to have Call To Action (CTA) somewhere on every page. It can be a different CTA depending on the page, anything from downloading a free E-book to signing up for a newsletter. 

Add internal links from one page to others on your site will also encourage users to move around and spend a longer time on your website. Minimize the amount of clutter on a page and make sure you have lots of white space. Add subheads with tags (H1, H2, etc.) to break up the copy, and add multiple photos – with alt tags – to each page.

Pay Attention to SEO phrases illustrating the search engine optimization concept written on a napkin under a coffee cup

Search engine optimization (SEO) is important for getting your website noticed by Google. With more than 93% of all searches being done on Google worldwide, you want it to find and be able to crawl your site to help you show up on the search. Without being an expert in SEO, there are a few things you can do to help your SEO.

When you are naming your pages, the name you choose will show up as part of the URL so be sure it reflects what’s on the page. This is not the time to get creative! If it is an About Us page, then use that phrase. Users know what that means and they know what to expect. 

Think through what your keywords are, and use them. What words or phrases will people be using to look for companies like yours? Those keywords and phrases should be spread throughout the site, using a particular word/phrase for each page. Don’t overdo that, or you could be penalized by Google. 

Plan to post at least 250 to 300 words per page, except on the home page, which should have 2 or 3 times that much. Add meta titles and descriptions for each page and be sure they are unique. Add header tags to headlines and alt tags to every photo. That helps visually impaired people, as well as Google, know what is on the page.

With the increasing attention to privacy online, it is important to have a privacy policy on your site. If you do business in the EU, be sure that it is compliant with GDPR.

Your site will rank better in searches if it is a secure site – one that starts with https, not http. In fact, Google could even penalize you at some point if your site is not secure.

Lastly, routinely check your website and update it. Change out copy and photos on the home page, add blog posts, delete old articles that are no longer relevant, and make sure all of your links are still working. Google rewards sites that keep their content fresh and interesting.

Content is King

a man placing a luminous crown on his head signifying the concept of content is kingOf course you know this. What you write and post on the website needs to be of interest to users, or they won’t have any reason to visit. You also want to draw them in and encourage them to purchase your product or service, or make a donation, or whatever it is you want them to do. Great copy can do that, especially when it is paired with an interesting headline and related photos.

For many companies and non-profits, the website is a front door to the business. Visitors will see your online footprint long before they ever visit your brick-and-mortar location. Making sure they can find you through search is an important first step to converting them into leads and customers or donors.

Need help sprucing up your website? Contact me.

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