30 Jan Moving Offline Business Into The Online World
Here we’re discussing various elements associated with bringing offline businesses online, starting with very important considerations when building a website, then moving on through the value of social media/networking, why hiring a VA or Insourcer could be the best decision you’ve ever made, the rundown on online appointments and finally, ClickBank or Paypal – what’s best for you?
1. Two Simple Ways To Create A Great Website
Companies that seem to believe they can get by with just a Facebook page are doing themselves a great disservice. Having a business website allows proprietors greater engagement with their customer base, more visibility among competitors, and even the ability to make sales and appointments online.
This sort of engagement is critical in building a brand, and will only grow more important as time goes on. Mobile Web use, in particular, is growing, meaning that all businesses will need a responsive, well-designed site in the near future.
These kinds of websites can cost thousands of dollars and be tough for owners to manage. Luckily, recent advances have given us Content Management Systems, which allow business owners to take the creation and maintenance of their website into their own hands.
Adobe Business Catalyst sets the gold standard for CMS software. Many people won’t use it for anything but setting up a quick website via a template and occasionally updating said website’s content or blog. This is a fine way to do the minimum, however, Adobe Business Catalyst provides features that go far beyond simple website set-up and hosting.
One of the most appealing components for merchants is its built-in eCommerce feature, which makes cataloging and payment gateways extremely easy to both setup and use. The email marketing system is underrated as well, and allows business owners to target untapped pools of customers with a few simple clicks. Moreover, while there are a wide variety of templates (free and paid) to choose from, users can edit the site’s layout and design through HTML and CSS editing. And of course, social media integration means nothing is lost when owners finally make the switch from solely having a Facebook page.
The only real drawback to Adobe Business Catalyst is its price. While modest, it is a monthly investment that has to be paid in order to keep up this high-level of service. Still, if price is a concern, there are other options for business owners of all levels to consider.
WordPress is perhaps the most famous and certainly the most widely used Content Management System. A large part of this is its longevity; WordPress has been in use since 2003, although regular updates have kept it at the forefront of technology. There’s also the fact that it has a variety of themes to choose from. More importantly, it can replicate most, if not all, of the functionality of Adobe Business Catalyst through the use of plug-ins.
Hosting for WordPress sites can be a hassle though, particularly with all the backups, updates and security concerns, so using a hosting provider like WP Engine is a fantastic option for this platform, which makes setting up the site and choosing the right plug-ins a breeze. Once again, the major potential issue with WordPress is security; most owners don’t take precautions with their sites seriously, and run into issues down the road. While the solution can be (in some situations) as simple as having a strong password and username, Sucuri CloudProxy will provide firewall and DDOS protection on any WordPress site for a very reasonable monthly fee – eliminating virtually any concern of hacking issues, and comes highly recommended from small business and enterprise operations alike.
There’s no longer any reason to overlook having a website. With a few days on your hands, a reasonable investment and an eye on design, any business owner can set up a profitable and beautiful website without undue delay, assuring them continued success in the years to come.
2. Top Five Social Media Networks For Business Owners
When the first businesses came to Facebook many years ago when it was first gaining momentum, hoping to set up pages similar to the ones individuals had, it was considered a grand experiment. Now, over 5 years onward, we’ve seen the results, and they’re very promising indeed.
Interacting with one’s customers through social networks is an easy way to build a brand or customer base. Here are the top social networks to use in order to establish your presence in the new media era.
The most famous of all social networks is also the most widely used. Facebook has pursued an aggressive growth strategy that welcomes business owners with open arms. They also provide several useful services, like the ability to buy likes and advertisements that cater only to users most likely to use one’s services. What’s more, a higher number of Facebook likes has been shown as a factor relating to improving a website’s ranking on Google searches.
LinkedIn is, first and foremost, a place for professionals to connect and network with one another. It’s advisable to have a profile of one’s own, and profiles of most employees, before starting a business page. From there, the amount of interaction a business can have with potential customers, clients, associates, and anyone else is near limitless. There’s valuable information to be mined in groups as well, making LinkedIn more than just a means of gaining new customers. It’s quite effective for planning business strategy and even finding new hires.
The key to doing well on Twitter is to constantly be providing content. It’s tricky to know which tweet will be the one to bring in a bevy of new customers, or to figure out what sort of content one’s followers like. As such, it’s much more effective to tweet while using a tool like Buffer or HootSuite. These services allow Tweeters to track metrics related to interaction, views, and retweets, and even automate tweets as well. Because of their short length and ephemeral nature, tweets are very much a numbers game. Keep trying and eventually you’ll reap the rewards!
There’s great value in writing. A company blog keeps customers updated on new developments and makes one’s site more appealing to Google’s search engine. Still, the newest trend is toward video and as we can see from YouTube’s incredible success, a very significant percentage of the population is opting for video these days.
Company YouTube videos can take many forms, from informative ‘how-tos’ to roundtables about industry trends. Some owners consistently try to go for the humorous viral video strategy. Whatever path you follow, YouTube can bring in more viewers to your website while giving your audience what they want – informative entertainment.
Quora is definitely a social network, although the emphasis isn’t on likes, tweets, or views for that matter. Quora users answer each other’s questions, standing by their real names and expertise. On Quora, users can even link their websites to their answers. This is a fantastic way to build credibility and assist potential customers. Moreover, Google tracks Quora links, meaning that the more questions someone answers, the more traffic they’ll be driving to their website.
It’s best to use a good mixture of social media websites for maximum exposure. Business owners also need to remember that any website offering shortcuts to success is most likely a scam, or at the very least ineffective. Taking hold of one’s own social media accounts builds customer bases much more effectively and provides owners with information they never would have found elsewhere.
3. Hiring A VA – 5 Reasons Why You Should
When Tim Ferriss’s “The Four Hour Workweek” hit store shelves back in 2007, the discussion often centred around several topics. One of the most popular chapters of this best-selling novel discussed hiring a VA, or virtual assistant.
While some of his advice regarding work was controversial, critics and readers alike universally agreed that hiring a VA was a great decision overall. Unfortunately, many people are still hesitant to take the decision and actually find one. Here are the top 3 reasons any business owner should consider working with a VA.
You Have Options In Hiring.
Many business owners choose to hire VAs living in Southeast Asia or South America for economic reasons. While it’s true that these assistants work cheaper than their US counterparts, some individuals are put off by the idea, or are concerned about English ability and/or time zones.
The truth is that there are VAs working all over the world, and each one carries a different skill-set. If you need someone working on the East coast with expert-level skills in Salesforce, or someone working in Europe who knows their way around MS Office, you can easily find them. In fact, business owners today have more choice over their hiring than ever before. For instance they can go all out and hire an amazing Insourcer, go through an agency and try their luck, or simply take care of the hiring on their own via sites like Upwork. However they go about it, individuals looking to engage the services of virtual assistants can find the perfect fit for a reasonable investment.
You’re Doing Too Much Already.
VAs are capable of taking on more and more tasks as the world moves online. A good rule of thumb is that a VA can do virtually (no pun intended) anything you can do that doesn’t require your actual presence.
Again, as long as the VA has the appropriate skills, which can range from writing expense reports, making calls, SEO, graphic design, website updates, social media management and even to crafting business plans, and the list goes on and on – they can get the job done. Chances are, you can take back a good portion of your day through hiring the right virtual assistant, allowing you to focus on the creative, personal and business-growing strategies only you can do.
It’s A Standard In The Business World.
VA expenses are, in most cases, among the smallest investments for any particular business operation. As far as return on investment goes, they’re at the highest level of return. This is what makes them such a popular hire for anything from a one-man operation to a massive Fortune 100 company.
The business owner with a VA is simply more effective than one without. They’re able to immediately hand off work that’s beneath their expertise or not worth their time, yet remains essential. If competitors aren’t working with this significant advantage, they’re crippling themselves in their own businesses.
Hiring a VA is simply one of the easiest and most effective ways to get more work done in less time. If you’re still not convinced, spend some time browsing for virtual assistants on a site like Upwork to look at the possibility of hiring somebody to take care of at least some of your work for you.
4. The Top 3 Applications To Master Appointments
Long gone are the days when an assistant pencils in appointments on a ledger. Today’s businesses rely on a variety of technological innovations, not only for appointment setting, but for keeping meetings as well.
Whether you field a great deal of calls, meetings, conferences, or other person-to-person interactions, there are a variety of free or low-cost tools available to facilitate these occurrences. To streamline your appointments and overall communications, definitely consider the following 3 options:
Like most products under the Google umbrella, Google Calendar is simple to use, effective at what it does, and best of all, free. It provides users with a place to set and track appointments, and can be synced with smartphones, tablets, and laptops or desktops.
As far as online calendars go, it’s not the most feature-rich, but it does what’s needed for most small businesses. Ongoing events can be tracked long-term, and one-off meetings or appointments can be filled in with reminders. Potential users should check it out as a part of the Google account they most likely use every day. There’s no harm in at least seeing if it’s a good fit for your business.
Business owners with more advanced needs in appointment setting would do well to use Setster. Although it comes at a monthly fee, the utility of the online application makes it well worth the price.
Setster is built around a calendar, although, unlike Google’s version, Setster provides more utility with regards to appointment setting. Users can black out periods of time when they’re unavailable, set notifications and preparation time, and even integrate the app with Facebook or Twitter, meaning appointments can be set through these social networking sites. Best of all, it integrates easily with Paypal and Freshbooks, meaning users can take care of finances directly through the app.
As long as business owners make a concerted effort to utilise the service, Setster can provide utility that far outweighs its cost, and is definitely at least worth the free trial.
Appointment setting is an art within itself, but what about the actual meetings and calls? How can business owners ensure they’re getting everything possible out of their valuable time?
Ecamm is an invaluable service for owners who use Skype or FaceTime on Mac. It provides users with a simple and elegant way to record both audio and video calls for later review. Whether users are simply re-watching meetings to master the conversation, or they’re detailing important information that needs to be reviewed later, Ecamm can certainly save time and money on notes and meeting minutes.
An added feature of Ecamm is its ability to adjust colour and lighting during calls, which adds an edge during negotiations or any call that requires owners to look their best. Recently, the company has also gained popularity for its PhoneView app, which allows for seamless integration between iPhone messaging and messaging on one’s Mac.
There’s definitely something to be said about doing things “the old fashioned way” – dialling clients by phone, writing down important notes on paper, and generally eschewing 21st century technology. Once the nostalgia goggles are off, however, business owners can see how these innovations save time and money almost immediately, and can bring their business to the next level.
5. ClickBank Vs. Paypal – Which To Use
There’s always a honeymoon period when it comes to eCommerce. Business owners see their website paying for itself several times over as the orders start piling in and are authorised with ease. After a while, however, most sellers decide to take a greater hand in the ordering process. This allows them to ensure a great customer experience throughout, higher customer retention and a superior sales volume in the months and years ahead.
One of the biggest decisions to make is about which payment processing service to use in an eCommerce store. The two most popular services – Paypal and ClickBank – each have their strengths, weaknesses and requirements, so it can be tough to decide. As such, there are generally two simple rules to follow when deciding on these popular platforms.
Use Paypal First.
Paypal has been in business for over 15 years, and became the number 1 platform due to its ease of use, its ubiquity on websites like eBay, and its cunning marketing strategies. The service itself has had problems in the past, but remains a stable means of money transfer in almost every country, and for virtually every business.
Because of its utility (particularly for service based businesses) and ubiquity, Paypal remains the go-to option for most business owners, and should be the first service to try. There are, however, instances in which Paypal might not be the best choice.
Use ClickBank For Digital Product Sales.
There are many product/service businesses that only deal with domestic clients. If this is the case, then said business owners might be able to stick with Paypal.
If selling digital products to an international audience makes up a large portion of one’s business, then it might be wise to use ClickBank for these transactions. Established the same year as Paypal, ClickBank has mostly flown under the radar in the press. They haven’t had the issues that Paypal has, but they also don’t carry the same amount of clout and widespread use that Paypal has.
This isn’t a major concern for eCommerce users, however. Time and again, ClickBank has proven itself to be a stable and extremely useful platform for connecting salespeople with buyers for digital products.
Its main utility to the savvy seller is in International transactions. Paypal can be finicky about taking orders with an international credit card or bank account. This can lead to headaches for eCommerce owners or even lost sales. ClickBank takes a huge variety of payment methods, ensuring that sales can go through without a hitch. They also take care of the taxes at the payment level, and charge very reasonable fees for transactions.
Certain owners may also be interested in ClickBank’s affiliate marketing programme. The details of this programme are outside the scope of this article, but owners looking to get into this money-making business can do so with little hassle through ClickBank. Lastly, they have critically-acclaimed customer support via phone and email, and can handle virtually any issue that may pop up.
ClickBank’s versatility with digital products makes it the top choice in this area, but really, Paypal is such a stalwart in the online payment transaction ecosystem that it’s basically unavoidable. So, in the final analysis, it’s not necessarily about which one is better, but about your intended purpose and the best payment processor for the task at hand. Don’t forget, you can use both ClickBank and Paypal if you like – simply processing digital products and affiliate programmes through ClickBank and payments for your physical products and/or services through Paypal!