Instagram introduces new tool to help prevent phishing attacks

Instagram has added a new feature to its app to help users work out if an email was sent by the Facebook company or if it’s an attempted phishing scam. Now, if you receive an email claiming to be from Instagram, you can check if it’s genuine by heading over to the “Emails from Instagram” option in the app’s Security settings, which lists every email the service has sent you over the last 14 days. The update is rolling out now and may take time to appear in your settings.

The new menu divides your Instagram emails into two categories; security emails and “other.” If you see an email in there then you can be sure it’s legitimate, and you can safely click any links it contains. If it’s not, then it could be a phishing scam, whereby someone impersonates a service to trick you into giving them your username and password. In this case, you should probably delete the offending email. If the worst happens and your account gets compromised, then Instagram says you should follow the instructions listed on its help page. GRID VIEW

1 of 3The new feature can be found in the app’s security menu.  Image: Instagram

It’s a welcome addition to the Instagram app, especially as phishing scams become more sophisticated. Some phishing scams can even break into accounts that use two-factor authentication using a fake site that asks for your six-digit code and immediately enters that into the real site on behalf of the scammer. Reply All did a great episode on this a couple of years ago if you’re interested in learning more. It’s still a good idea to enable two-factor authentication where possible, just know that you’ll still have to exercise caution with your online accounts.

7 Annoying Web Design Problems That Make People Hate Your Website [Infographic]

Is your website failing to support your business? Could your website design be turning visitors away?

Spencer Kinney share their web design mistakes to avoid in this infographic.

Here’s a quick summary:

  • Site isn’t optimised for mobile
  • Poor navigation
  • Slow load time
  • Overused stock images
  • Poor use of headers, sidebars and footers
  • Lack of top-quality content
  • Not keeping website updated

Check out the infographic for more detail.

12 Books That Jeff Bezos Thinks Everyone Should Read

Sure, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos devours bookstores. But he also devours books.

Brad Stone details as much in “The Everything Store,” his book about Amazon.

“Books have nurtured Amazon since its creation and shaped its culture and strategy,” Stone writes. “Here are a dozen books widely read by executives and employees that are integral to understanding the company.”

We’ve listed the books here, along with Stone’s explanation of why each made the list.

This is an update of an article written by Max Nisen.

‘The Remains of the Day’ by Kazuo Ishiguro

“Jeff Bezos’ favorite novel, about a butler who wistfully recalls his career in service during wartime Great Britain. Bezos has said he learns more from novels than nonfiction,” Stone writes.

Buy it here >>

‘Sam Walton: Made in America’ by Sam Walton

“In his autobiography, Walmart’s founder expounds on the principles of discount retailing and discusses his core values of frugality and a bias for action – a willingness to try a lot of things and make many mistakes. Bezos included both in Amazon’s corporate values,” Stone writes.

Buy it here >>

‘Memos from the Chairman’ by Alan Greenberg

“A collection of memos to employees by the chairman of the now defunct investment bank Bear Stearns. In his memos, Greenberg is constantly restating the bank’s core values, especially modesty and frugality. His repetition of wisdom from a fictional philosopher presages Amazon’s annual recycling of its original 1997 letter to shareholders,” Stone writes.

Buy it here >>

‘The Mythical Man-Month’ by Frederick P. Brooks, Jr.

Pearson

“An influential computer scientist makes the counterintuitive argument that small groups of engineers are more effective than larger ones at handling complex software projects. The book lays out the theory behind Amazon’s two pizza teams,” Stone writes.

Buy it here >>

‘Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies’ by Jim Collins

“The famous management book about why certain companies succeed over time. A core ideology guides these firms, and only those employees who embrace the central mission flourish; others are ‘expunged like a virus’ from the companies,” Stone writes.

Buy it here >>

‘Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t’ by Jim Collins

“Collins briefed Amazon executives on his seminal management book before its publication. Companies must confront the brutal facts of their business, find out what they are uniquely good at, and master their fly wheel, in which each part of the business reinforces and accelerates the other parts,” Stone writes.

Buy it here >>

‘Creation: Life and How to Make It’ by Steve Grand

“A video-game designer argues that intelligent systems can be created from the bottom up if one devises a set of primitive building blocks. The book was influential in the creation of Amazon Web Services, or AWS, the service that popularized the notion of the cloud,” Stone writes

Buy it here >>

‘The Innovator’s Dilemma’ by Clayton Christensen

“An enormously influential business book whose principles Amazon acted on and that facilitated the creation of the Kindle and AWS. Some companies are reluctant to embrace disruptive technology because it might alienate customers and undermine their core business, but Christensen argues that ignoring potential disruption is even costlier,” Stone writes.

Buy it here >>

‘The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement’ by Eliyahu Goldratt

“An exposition of the science of manufacturing written in the guise of the novel, the book encourages companies to identify the biggest constraints in their operations and then structure their organizations to get the most out of those constraints. The Goal was a bible for Jeff Wilke and the team that fixed Amazon’s fulfillment network,” Stone writes.

Buy it here >>

‘Lean Thinking: Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation’ by James Womack and Daniel Jones

“The production philosophy pioneered by Toyota calls for a focus on those activities that create value for the customer and the systematic eradication of everything else,” Stone writes.

Buy it here >>

‘Data-Driven Marketing: The 15 Metrics Everyone in Marketing Should Know’ by Mark Jeffery

“A guide to using data to measure everything from customer satisfaction to the effectiveness of marketing. Amazon employees must support all assertions with data, and if the data has a weakness, they must point it out or their colleagues will do it for them,” Stone writes.

Buy it here >>

‘The Black Swan’ by Nassim Taleb

“The scholar argues that people are wired to see patterns in chaos while remaining blind to unpredictable events, with massive consequences. Experimentation and empiricism trumps the easy and obvious narrative,” Stone writes.

Buy it here >>

The Importance Of Using Google My Business For Small Business Owners

Google My Business has been around since 2014, yet many businesses haven’t claimed their business listing. Have you set yours up yet? Did you know that it can go a long way to increase your online visibility? In this post we will explore the reasons why setting up and managing your Google My Business page can help your business get noticed in search results.

Why is Google My Business Beneficial for Small Businesses?

Over the years Google has offered different listings, from Google + Local to Google Places, and most recently Google My Business and Google Maps. The latter two are increasingly important given Google’s focus on local results and the addition of map listings in search results.

What does this mean to you as a small business owner? If you don’t have a Google My Business profile set up, you are missing a huge opportunity to stand out in search results, which means less visibility and ultimately fewer customers.

What Does a Google My Business Account Look Like?

When you search Google for a business with a Google My Business account, it will show up in the search results this way…

Google My Business listing

Some of the major benefits of having a Google Business listing are:

  • It’s free to use and essentially gives you free advertising and exposure on Google. Why pay big bucks to have one of your ads show up on the front page of Google when you can have your listing show up in search results with no added expense?
  • You can show up in Google’s local results (the three-pack that appears above organic search results when you do a local search).
  • Your business will show in searches done using Google Maps
  • You will earn the trust of customers with the added legitimacy that goes with being a Google verified business.
  • Customers can see your reviews at a glance.
  • Your website will rank more highly in search results, leading to increased website traffic and quality leads.
  • You will stand out against your competitors who don’t have Google business listings.

Without a Google My Business listing, you are missing out on a critical step in your local SEO strategy. Why? GMB listings give Google key information about your business and provide searchers with important at-a-glance information, including your:

  • Phone number
  • Website address
  • Business address (with link to directions via Google Maps)
  • Business reviews
  • Business description
  • Featured posts
  • Specials or upcoming events
  • And more (depending on your business)

Searchers can also ask questions directly within your business listing. According to Google, around 40% of users who conduct a search don’t click on anything, which means they are likely getting the information they need directly from the search results page. This means that you’ll benefit from having a Google Business listing and that it is completely filled out and up to date.

How to Set Up Your Google My Business Listing

Setting up your Google Business listing is pretty simple. Before starting the process, do a search to make sure you don’t already have a business listing. This can cause problems down the road as Google frowns upon duplicate listings. And trust us, you don’t want to have to work with them to resolve discrepancies. It’s no fun.

1. Once you’ve determined that you don’t already have a business listing with Google, search “Google My Business” or click here https://www.google.com/business/ to get started.

2. Click the Manage Now button in the top right or middle of the page.

Setting up Google My Business account

3. Follow the prompts to complete your setup.

4. Once you are done filling in your information, you will need to verify your listing. This can either be done with a phone call from Google (to the number you have provided in your business listing) or a postcard, which will be sent to the address you provide. In both instances, you will receive a code, which you will then enter in your business listing. Once verified, you are good to go.

Managing Your Google Business Listing

Once you have verified your business listing, check back frequently to update information, add photos, answer questions, and respond to reviews. You can also create posts, which will show up on your business listing for seven days. This feature is especially helpful if you are running a special, promoting an event, or if you have blog posts you would like to promote.

Google My Business listing management

Google’s interface is very easy to use, so it’s easy to update your information, add photos, and more.

Hopefully, this information helps you get your Google My Business listing set up quickly so you can start reaping the SEO benefits! If you need help becoming more visible to potential customers in search results, we’re here to help. Delbimax Websolutions specializes in search engine optimization strategies to help you rank higher in search results, increase your website traffic, and grow your business. Contact us today or get a free online services quote.

Business Blogging Services for Small Businesses

Want to get the attention of Google and other search engines without spending a ton of money on paid advertising? Look no further than your keyboard. Business blogging is one of the pillars of a good inbound marketing strategy. If you are wondering whether or not your small business should have a blog, here are some pretty compelling statistics from inbound marketing giant, HubSpot, for you to ponder:

  1. B2Bs with blogs get 67% more leads than their blogless counterparts.
  2. Marketers who have made blogging a priority experience 13x more positive return on investment (ROI) than those who don’t blog consistently (or don’t blog at all).
  3. Businesses with an active blog enjoy 97% more links to their website.

We know what you are thinking: “Sounds great, but I’m too busy to blog consistently,” or “I get it, but writing makes my brain hurt.” Understandable. That’s why we provide a variety of blogging services to help your business get more quality leads, better online visibility, and more linking opportunities.

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Blogging Services We Offer

Here are the blog writing services we offer:

  • Blog Editorial Calendar—Business blogging is most beneficial when it is done strategically. We work with you to understand two important factors: What your key buyer personas are interested in and what keywords are important for your niche. Based on this information, we can set up an editorial calendar with blog post topics that get results.
  • Blog Writing—Our blogging team can provide you with bi-weekly, weekly, or monthly blog posts based on approved topics. Note: The more frequently you update your blog, the more traffic you will receive.
  • Visual Content Creation / Image Selection—We can provide relevant, engaging images to accompany your blog posts or create visual content based on your objectives.
  • Writing for SEO—Our copywriters can craft blog posts and web content based on a list of priority keywords that are both reader and search engine friendly.
  • Content Marketing—In addition to writing engaging, professional blog posts, we can also blast your content through your social media marketing channels for expanded reach.

An active blog generating posts at least once a week lets would-be and current customers know that your business is engaged and thriving, and it keeps you fresh in their minds. In fact, the Custom Content Council states that 61% of customers say they feel better about a company that delivers custom content and are also more likely to buy from that company.

So contact us today to leverage the power of business blogging to significantly increase your website traffic and quality leads.

Benefits Of Blogging For Your Small Business

If you run a small business, chances are you are wondering if blogging is worth the time and effort. The short answer is a resounding YES! Blogging on a frequent basis is a relatively easy, inexpensive way to enhance your inbound marketing efforts, drive traffic to your site, and attract more perspective customers.

If you run a small business, you may be wondering if blogging lives up to the hype. Here are some statistics you should see:

  • 61% of US consumers have made a purchase based on a blog post. (Source)
  • 37% of marketers find that blogs are the most important method of content marketing. (Source)
  • Companies that blog enjoy 97% more inbound links than blogless competitors. (Source)
  • Websites with blogs have 434% more indexed pages than websites without blogs. (Source)
  • B2B businesses are more likely to blog than B2C businesses. (Source)
  • 94% of those who share posts do it because they think it will be helpful to others. (Source)
  • B2B companies with blogs get 67% more leads than those without. (Source)

The Case for Small Business Blogs

Here are some of the most important benefits of having a blog for your business:

Boost Search Engine Optimization

Search engines love to provide fresh, valuable content to searchers. What better way to provide frequent content than with blog posts. By blogging consistently, you give Google and other search engines new content to index and you create opportunities to plug in those all-important keywords to increase your visibility on search engine results pages (SERPS).

As an added bonus, you will benefit from backlinks as other websites begin to link to the articles on your website. This adds more fuel to the SEO fire because search engines consider backlinks as an endorsement of the authority of your website.

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Develop Relationships with Potential and Existing Customers

Blogging allows you to connect with your site visitors. This can be accomplished by asking your readers questions at the end of your posts to get the conversation going or by simply allowing comments and feedback. By reviewing and responding to readers’ comments, you can create a rapport with your audience, build trust, and gain valuable insight into what your customers are looking for.

Establish Your Business as an Industry Leader

No matter how small your business is, you can build trust and clout within your industry by providing valuable, expert information in your blog posts. Over time, you become a “go to” resource for helpful, informative content, which can ultimately lead to higher customer conversion rates. This is especially important for small businesses looking to gain credibility to compete with larger companies.

Connect People to Your Brand

Blog posting allows you to show a personal side of your business that perspective and current customers won’t see through outbound marketing techniques. Blogging gives others a sense of the corporate standards, vision, and personality of your company.

Provide Value for Your Readers

One of the biggest benefits of business blogging is the ability to provide value to visitors. Posts that help them solve problems or include tips to make something in their life easier or better are far more interesting to potential leads than in-your-face ads. Of course, your products or services will be part of the solutions you provide in your posts, but in a subtle, helpful way. By taking the time and energy to provide beneficial content for free, you are actually building loyalty among potential customers who will become more likely choose your company over your competitors when they are ready to make a purchase. You can even include testimonial-centered posts to nudge those considering a purchase to take that next step. If your blog posts are simply product promotions or service pitches, don’t bother blogging. Readers won’t be interested.

Generate Leads

You can leverage your blog to get emails from interested leads by asking them to subscribe to your blog posts. Those emails can then be used for marketing purposes to increase touch points. Not only will they regularly see your blog posts, the door is now open for email marketing opportunities to promote your business, send special promotions, and more. The more often you can connect with a lead, the better the chance of converting them into customers. 

Create Opportunities for Sharing

Every time you blog, you create an opportunity for your audience to share your blog with others. Whether they link to your blog post, tweet it, or email it to others, it’s free marketing and it further validates you as a credible business.

From a practical standpoint, blogging just makes sense. With minimal effort and expense, you can build credibility, boost search engine rankings, increase website traffic, and foster relationships with potential and current customers. This is an opportunity no small business should pass up.

Are you interested in creating a blog for your organization? We can help. OpenVine offers a variety of web design solutions to meet your needs. No time to blog? No problem. Our copywriting and content creation team can work with you to create thoughtful, informative posts for your business blog

9 proven strategies to improve your small business’ sales on a tight budget

It’s a simple truth every startup has to face sooner or later: to grow your business, you need to maximize your sales. The thing is, improving your sales efforts can cost quite a bit of money — and this isn’t easy to do when you’re a young company operating on a tight budget.

So what can you do to improve sales results when your own financial resources are limited? Here are some key strategies that will help you achieve your desired outcomes without breaking the bank.

1) Start blogging

You don’t need to hire an ad agency to start producing your own blog content. A blog is a great way to share news about your product and company, industry insights and more.

When you produce content that engages your target audience, you’ll be able to generate SEO backlinks and keep users coming back to your website. Don’t be afraid to reach out as a guest blogger, either — this can be a great way to showcase your knowledge and expertise, while simultaneously generating positive press for your company.

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2) Join networking groups

Joining professional organizations and networking groups is a great way to make valuable contacts and spread the word about your company. The people you meet in these organizations could help you forge valuable partnerships, provide services your business needs to succeed or even become clients.

The Netherlands is home to many of these groups, including organizations for women and groups that help Dutch entrepreneurs build relationships with international businesses.

3) Give good gifts

One of the best ways to increase interest for your product or service is to give something away for free. Whether it’s an e-book sharing valuable industry information or a 30-day free trial of your software, these types of giveaways are a great way to generate sales leads and collect valuable contact information. Getting potential customers into the sales funnel will make it that much easier to learn more about their buying habits.

4) Incentivize referrals

As valuable as your own marketing efforts may be, nothing is more persuasive than word of mouth. Your current customers can be your greatest advocates, but sometimes, they need a little extra motivation. Creating a referral program is a great way to get your customers to do your marketing for you.

Best of all, you can ensure that you only provide your “reward” when a new customer is brought onboard, keeping your marketing budget from going to waste. Whether it’s a discount on future purchases, a free month of service or a special gift, you’ll be surprised what your customers will do with a little extra incentive.

5) Join social media groups

You can’t talk about low-cost methods for improving your sales without mentioning social media. However, the most successful entrepreneurs don’t just set up Facebook and Twitter profiles for their business.

Joining industry-related groups on Facebook and LinkedIn offers many of the same benefits of an in-person networking organization. As you share genuine insights, others in your niche will become more interested in what you have to offer. If you’re feeling extra bold, you could even create your own industry-targeted group.

6) Build your email list

Regardless of whether you run a B2B or B2C business, a quality email list can play a big role in driving sales and retaining current customers — in one survey, 80% of marketers said email played a direct role in customer retention.

The good news is that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to build your email list. For example, MailChimp is completely free for users with less than 2,000 email subscribers. Many email services offer tiered pricing that only increases in relation to your business’ subscriber list, making it easy to stay on budget.

7) Automate

Sales and marketing tasks can take up a lot of time — and unfortunately, many of these necessary responsibilities can prove quite redundant. While not all automation tools are free, they will help you save time with tasks like social media scheduling, analytics reporting, lead nurturing and more.

With better data and less time spent on mundane or complicated tasks, you will be better positioned to make smarter business decisions that will grow your sales numbers.

8) Create public relations (PR) opportunities

Any kind of media coverage — even from local outlets — can help increase awareness for your brand. To do this, you need to create “event” opportunities that will get journalists and bloggers talking about your company.

This could include providing free community seminars, hosting or sponsoring a charity event or simply highlighting how your company creates local opportunities for economic growth. While this does require you to be bold in reaching out to reporters, the results can be well worth it.

Low-cost resources like Help a Reporter Out can also serve as a great way to connect with journalists and get your insights published in major media stories.

9) Fine-tune your sales pitch

All the previously mentioned strategies won’t do your company much good if you haven’t mastered your sales pitch. This is especially true of B2B professionals, who often need to make in-person presentations.

Learn how to make your presentation relevant to each sales lead so you can better connect your offer to their needs. Focus on benefits rather than features, and don’t be afraid to use enthusiasm and showmanship in your pitch. As you perfect your elevator pitch, you’ll be better equipped to sell your product or service anytime, anywhere and using any available method.

A small budget isn’t a bad thing

While a limited budget certainly adds its fair share of challenges to your growth efforts, working within a set of constraints and limitations can ultimately be highly beneficial for your company.

As you learn to achieve more with less, your team will be able to continue budgeting and selling effectively as your business starts to grow.

How to Increase Online Sales Fast this October (Guide)

In just the final quarter of 2018, consumers spent nearly $100 billion dollars in the retail e-commerce market alone. No wonder you want to learn how to increase online sales.

You want a chunk of that $100 billion pie.

U.S. e-commerce sales aren’t stagnant, either. They continue to grow year over year.

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Writing for Digital Commerce 360 about U.S. e-commerce retail growth, director of research and consumer insights Stefany Zaroban reveals that “e-commerce represented roughly 49.4% of all retail sales growth in 2017 (versus 41.6% in 2016).” 

Clearly, there are customers who want to spend money online. So, how do you increase online sales for your own business?

How to Increase Online Sales Fast – The Best Ways

I’ve worked with all kinds of companies — major retail, SaaS, service businesses, and more — and I’ve learned a few things about how to increase online sales fast.

You need an effective strategy that evolves over time as your business and your customers change.

Growth is not always consistent. Even if consumers are spending more money online, they’re not necessarily spending more money with your business. Even an industry giant like Target sees huge peaks and valleys.

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If you want more peaks than valleys, you have to pay attention to research and data. You also have to focus on the needs of your customers over the needs of your business.

That’s why I give away tons of free content. It’s not because I have nothing else to do with my time. I give away content to establish my brand, spread brand awareness, gain trust, and build relationships with potential customers.

Plus, I’m encouraging reciprocity. If I’m generous with my time and knowledge, customers often become generous with their cash. They want me to help them achieve the same results I’ve gotten from my strategies.

Seth Godin, a remarkable contributor to marketing worldwide, famously said, “Selling to people who actually want to hear from you is more effective than interrupting strangers who don’t.”

When I give away free content, I’m connecting with people who really want to hear what I’m saying.

You can do the same with your own content. It’s just one way to get more online sales fast. I’ve also gathered a list of other techniques you can try.

Reap trust

If you don’t believe that trust matters in business, consider the number of companies that have experienced huge financial losses subsequent to data breaches. The average data breach costs a company about $3.6 million.

CSO contributor Michelle Drolet notes, “Breaches will happen, but how you act to mitigate them has a very real impact on the bottom line.” If you can rebuild trust after it’s broken, you won’t suffer the same financial loss.

The same goes for any breach of trust. When you break promises to your customers, provide false information, or fail to publish credible content, you lose trust.

How do you build trust? There are a few best practices to follow.

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  • Keep your word: Don’t make promises you can’t keep.
  • Post trust badges: Use SSL certificate badges and similar signs of trust.
  • Remain transparent: Provide insights into your company’s inner workings.
  • Respond to customers: Answer help requests and customer support questions.
  • Admit mistakes: Don’t try to cover things up. Tell people how you’ll fix it.
  • Publish case studies: Show how you’ve achieved great things.
  • Cite sources in content: Give credit where it’s due.

Focus on these best practices to forge trust between you and your customers. You might see your revenue climb as a result.

Focus on your target audience

Figuring out how to make more sales online requires understanding exactly what your target market needs and wants.

Have you created a buyer persona yet? If not, it’s time to start. A buyer persona identifies a target consumer based on demographics, income, likes, dislikes, and other personal details.

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The more information you include in a buyer persona, the better, because you can target your audience more accurately. For instance, if you know that your target customer is a single mother with between one and three children, you can speak directly to her through marketing and advertising.

The content begins to feel more personal.

Let’s say that you sell cooking utensils. A single mom might have many pain points in the kitchen, such as a lack of room for storage. If you have smaller tools built for smaller kitchens, or combination tools that take up less space, you could easily market to that buyer persona.

Incorporate product videos

Product photos are great, especially if they’re professionally shot. However, product videos can encourage customers to put even more merchandise in their virtual baskets.

According to one case study, incorporating product videos increased the likelihood of a purchase by 144 percent. The company, Stacksandstacks.com, reveals that it’s close to a 10-to-1 ROI.

You don’t have to create a video for every product you sell. You could focus on your one or two bestsellers.

Additionally, depending on whether you’re a product- or service-oriented business, you could create explainer, demo, how-to, or testimonial videos.

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According to Switch Video, you shouldn’t just confine your videos to your website or YouTube.

In fact, incorporating video in emails can drive click-through rates up by as much as 300 percent, and 70 percent of marketers who responded to one survey cited video as the number-one factor attributed to increased conversions.

You don’t need movie-production-quality equipment. In fact, you can create a product video using nothing more than a white sheet as a backdrop and your smartphone’s camera.

However, if you want better quality, you can find a local studio in which to record. You can also find video editors on sites like Fiverr who can perfect your video at a low price.

Deploy live chat

Live chat allows your customers to converse directly with you or a chat bot. Either way, they can ask pressing questions about your products or services and get answers in real time.

Most live chat boxes look just like the instant messenger interfaces of old. They allow back-and-forth conversations, but between brands and consumers rather than friends.

When it comes to customer preference, live chat leads the field. A J.D. Power survey revealed that consumers overwhelmingly prefer live chat over email and social media communication.

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According to a study by FurstPerson, nearly 80 percent of customers won’t buy products from a company online if the brand doesn’t have live chat.

If you offer live chat with trained professionals behind the screens, your business can nurture customers as if they were talking over the phone. Each interaction becomes an opportunity to convert the customer.

Offer a guarantee

Satisfaction guaranteed — it’s not just a power ballad. Many online businesses use guarantees to help generate more sales.

Land’s End, a major online retailer, names its satisfaction guarantee as one of its core values. That’s how important the guarantee is to how the company does business.

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There’s a reason for this.

When you guarantee your product or service, you eliminate at least part of the risk in purchasing the item. Your customer doesn’t have to worry about common objections, such as whether or not they’ll like it or if it will hold up.

However, it goes further than than.

First, a guarantee sends the strong message that you stand behind your product or service. You’re willing to guarantee it because you believe in its efficacy.

Second, customers often don’t return products even if they’re dissatisfied. It takes time and effort to box up a product, buy a shipping label, arrange for the return, and check the Visa bill for the chargeback.

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Even if someone does return the product, you’ve created goodwill. And besides, nearly 70 percent of consumers won’t buy a product before looking at the returns page. If you have a guarantee, you’ll generate immediate trust.

In the video below, I share three insider tips to help you offer a money-back guarantee without having to process tons of returns.

Improve your website’s user experience

The way a potential customer understands and navigates your website can be influenced by many aspects like page layout, mobile responsiveness, and form design.

If you can’t afford a good UX developer, you can improve your website’s user experience on your own.

Start by running heat maps and scroll maps through Crazy Egg. They’ll identify the parts of your website where people are most likely to engage.

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You can make decisions about call-to-action placement, content length, sidebar inclusion, and navigation placement, among many other things. When you understand how people interpret and interact with your site, you can make more informed decisions.

Start using Crazy Egg tools!

Remove friction-creating elements on checkout pages

When a customer gets to the checkout page, you don’t want anything to get in his or her way. If the customer gets distracted, irritated, or confused, you might lose a sale.

For instance, many sites force you to create an account before you can purchase a product. For an e-commerce store, this might result in cart abandonment.

Writing for Shopify, Paul Boag succinctly states that:

“Users didn’t come to your site to create an account. They came to buy something.”

He suggests picking a better time to suggest creating an account, using Module as an example.

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Wait until after the sale, then invite the customer to create an account.

Other elements of friction can include navigation menus, sidebars, and extraneous calls to action.

If you require too many form fields, your customers might click away because they simply don’t have time to fill out every one of them. According to e-commerce research giant Baymard Institute, the average form-field total for checkout pages is 14.88, which is two times more than necessary.

Author Christian Holst says, “a fully optimized checkout flow can be as short as 7 form fields.” See if you can’t eliminate a few fields on your checkout form.

Streamline your checkout pages to reduce friction and distraction. If the page works without a particular element, remove it so the user stays focused on buying what he or she wants.

Nurture your email list with unique content

Marketers often stuff their emails full of advertising-type content, links to blog posts, and information about upcoming sales. That’s all fine and good, but adding unique content and value to your email marketing strategy might be better.

I recently received a marketing email from The Mission. It included a section with entirely new content that many subscribers would find valuable.

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There’s a link to a longer article on the topic, but the content here is almost entirely original. It stands alone as valuable information.

Consider writing unique content for your email marketing campaign instead of regurgitating old content. You can mix it up, but if you occasionally share something that’s meant only for your subscribers, you might drum up more sales.

Educational content isn’t the only way to provide value. According to the most recent research I could find, about 23 percent of consumers subscribe to email newsletters so they can get deals.

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Don’t be stingy with discounts, free trials, coupon codes, and offers of free shipping. Even if you only offer them once a month, you’ll likely see an uptick in sales.

Respond to your followers on all channels

Engagement is one of the most important metrics to track when it comes to online marketing. Your engagement is the amount of interaction you get from your subscribers, followers, and fans.

Examples of engagement could include the following:

  • Facebook likes
  • Retweets
  • Blog comments
  • Responses to social media posts
  • Email replies
  • Answers to polls and surveys

It’s easy to track engagement on social media channels. Facebook Insights, for instance, will let you track engagement by post.

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While tracking your followers’ engagement with you matters, so does your engagement with others. How often do you comment on blogs in your industry? When people leave comments on your Facebook posts, do you respond?

Simply answering, “Thanks, glad you enjoyed it,” to a comment that praises your latest blog post can spawn conversions. People know you appreciate them, so they become fans. Eventually, they might become customers.

Referring to a Salesforce report, Jon Suarez-Davis writes in AdWeek:

“Nearly 80 percent of consumers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services”

If you provide a positive experience, you’ll boost the online sales.

Try Crazy Egg Testing Tools to Increase Your Online Sales

I know that you’d love to learn how to increase online sales overnight, but although you can hasten the process with some of these tips, you also have to look at the long-haul view. When you collect accurate data, you can make better decisions for your business’s future.

With Crazy Egg, you can analyze many aspects of your website, including UX. Heat maps, for instance, will tell you where a customer clicked on a link, such as a CTA. You’ll also see where visitors stopped scrolling.

Using this information, you can deduce the reasoning behind specific visitor behaviors. If most users only scroll down half the page, maybe they’re bored by the content, or perhaps they prefer shorter content.

Once you’ve come to conclusions about user behavior, conduct A/B tests. Create two versions of a landing page, for instance, and change one element. It might be the positioning or the content of the CTA.

When the A/B test is finished, set up another test. You’re testing just one variable at a time so you can perfect every aspect of the page.

Conclusion

Figuring out how to increase online sales is simply a matter of getting to know your audience and building rapport with them. If you have a great product or service and you provide commendable customer service, you can boost your sales.

I’ve provided you with several great techniques with which to grow your sales.

Create and post product videos, use live chat, offer a guarantee, and make sure your website’s user experience is as smooth and frictionless as possible.

It also helps to nurture your email list by providing unique incentives. Test popups to see how they impact your conversion levels, and respond to your followers any time they reach out to you.

Most importantly, collect and analyze as much data as possible.

Create heatmaps, scroll maps, and confetti maps with Crazy Egg. Figure out how website visitors behave on your site so you know where to put the most important information, such as calls to action.

After you’ve run your tests and compiled the data, make changes based on what you’ve learned. You can then create two versions of each page and A/B test their elements one by one. A/B testing only works when you have data to back up your decisions in the first place.

If you’re consistent with these techniques, you can increase online sales consistently.

A Quick Guide to Developing a Social Media Strategy

The internet has opened up multiple opportunities for business to reach millions of potential followers to buy/use their specific product or service. Social Media has changed the way we interact, with it not only being a great way to keep in touch with friends and family but to view and purchase a multitude of different things. If you are a small business that cannot afford a full social media team, then here are a few quick steps to get you effectively sharing content that will keep your users engaged and ultimately grow your brand.

Define Your Goals

It doesn’t matter what type of business you are – Builder, Dentists, Restaurant Owner or a small eCommerce store – you need to have defined achievable goals that reflect your brand. If you are a new business, increasing brand awareness and attracting new customers may be in your 0-3 month checklist. For those more established brands, generating X amount of sales per week through ads generated on social platforms converting through highly targeted landing pages may be the specific goal. Whatever it is for your channel, make sure you determine the right one. Do your research and figure out how you should be promoting your brand along each stage of the sales funnel

Do Your Research

There are so many aspects here that will help you strategise appropriately for each channel;

  1. Who are your competitors?
  2. What channels are they using?
  3. What messaging is interacting well with their audience?
  4. Demographics of your audience – age, income, gender, interests, hobbies.
  5. Geographics of your audience – location, state, country. 
  6. Your audience’s pain points/goals
  7. Why your target audience would desire your services/goods in order to solve their problem.

Select Appropriate Channels

There is no point setting goals, creating amazing content and then posting it to the wrong channel. Figure out where your ideal audience is spending most of its time instead of posting across the main platforms just because of their popularity. For example, although you may favour Facebook over Instagram, your audience may spend an extra 4 hours on Instagram a week. Try specialising in your most active platform, build, nurture and sustain your online community before testing and wasting your time on another one that your community may not even be on. 

Understand Your Audience

This step is crucial! If you are sending the wrong message to your audience, then this can cause people to unfollow and lose complete trust in your brand. Have you created your audience personas – their demographics, wants, needs and pain points? You need to get into their head to figure out why they want your product or service and focus your messaging around that. If you have figured out your audience and are targeting them the right way, expand on their pain points by getting them to interact with specific brand/consumer surveys. This will help guide you on how to improve your product and service.

Define Your Brand

Following your brand guidelines could never be more important. Have you ever spent time trying to find a brand on one social platform but they have changed their name or tag line? This can be extremely frustrating for those that are at the purchasing stage of the funnel and are wanting to instantly buy something – but cannot actually find you. Keeping your colours, tone, voice and brand consistent across all your channels is a must. Your followers will engage, trust and be loyal to you. Take Nike and McDonalds for an example – their branding is extremely recognisable and not much has changed over the many years of being in the market. People understand who they are, what they do and their logo can be instantly recognised. Once you have established a strong and recognisable brand, then your audience is more likely to feel comfortable with you, that you are providing a great reliable and consistent product or service. 

Never Stop Learning

By understanding all of the above steps, you will determine what is the best way to reach, engage and convert your target consumers. Although all this research will see you through the short term, never stop researching and following your users around to see how, what, when and why they are purchasing. Set quarterly goals to revisit your strategy to see if it’s still relevant and timely. If you need to change a few things up, then go for it. Don’t be afraid to try new things, but just make sure you are watching the reactions of those you are testing on. If they are not engaging, try something different and if they are, see how deep or far you can take it – you may have opened up a window of opportunity that you never thought possible. 

Content: digitaldoughnut.com

7 Reasons why social media will boost your business and increase sales

Social media is quickly becoming one of the most important aspects of digital marketing, which provides incredible benefits that help reach millions of customers worldwide. And if you are not applying this profitable source, you are missing out an incredible marketing opportunity, as it makes it easy to spread the word about your product and mission.

Improved brand awareness

Social media is one of the most stress-free and profitable digital marketing platforms that can be used to increase your business visibility. To get started, create social media profiles for your business and start networking with others. By applying a social media strategy, it will help you significantly increase your brand recognition. By spending only a few hours per week, over 91% marketers claimed that their social marketing efforts greatly increased their brand visibility and heightened user experience. Undoubtedly, having a social media page for your brand will benefit your business and with a regular use, it can also produce a wide audience for your business in no time.

Cost-effective

For an advertising strategy, social media marketing is possibly the most cost-effective way. Creating an account and signing up is free for almost all social networking platforms. But if you decide to use paid advertising on social media, always start small to see what you should expect. Being cost-effective is important as it helps you attain a greater return on investment and hold a bigger budget for other marketing and business payments. Just by investing a little money and time, you can significantly increase your conversion rates and ultimately get a return on investment on the money that you primarily invested.

Engage with your customers

Social media is a good way for engaging and interacting customers. The more you communicate with the audience, the more chances you have of conversion. Set up a two-way communication with your target audience so that their wishes are known and their interest is catered with ease. Moreover, communication and engagement with customers is one the ways to win their attention and convey them your brand message. Thus, your brand will reach more audience in real terms and gets itself established without any hassle.

Improved brand loyalty

When you have a social media presence, you make it easier for your customers to find you and connect with you. By connecting with your customers through social media, you are more probable to upsurge customer retention and customer loyalty. Since developing a loyal customer base is one of the main goals of almost any business. Customer satisfaction and brand loyalty typically go hand in hand. It is essential to often engage with your customers and start developing a bond with them. Social media is not just limited to introducing your product, it is also a leading platform for promotional campaigns. A customer sees these platforms as service channels where they can directly communicate with the business. 

Healthier customer satisfaction

Social media plays a vital role in networking and communication platform. With the help of these platforms, creating a voice for your company is important in improving the overall brand image. Customers appreciate the fact that when they post comments on your page, they receive a modified reply rather than a computerized message. A brand that values its customers, takes the time to compose a personal message, which is perceived naturally in a positive light.

Marketplace awareness

One of the best ways to find the needs and wants of your customers instead of directly communicating with them is Marketplace awareness. It is also considered as the most valuable advantage of social media. By observing the activities on your profile, you can see customers’ interest and opinions that you might not know otherwise if you didn’t have a social media presence. As a complementary research tool, social media can help you get information and a better understanding of your industry. Once you get a large following, you can then use additional tools to examine other demographics of your consumers.

More brand authority

For making your business more powerful, brand loyalty and customer satisfaction both play a major role, but it all comes down to communication. When customers see your company posting on social media, especially replying to their queries and posting original content, it helps them build a positive image in their minds. Regularly interacting with your customers proves that you and your business care about them. Once you get a few satisfied customers, who are vocal about their positive purchase experience, you can let the advertising be done for you by genuine customers who appreciated your product or service.

Increased traffic

One of the other benefits of Social Media is that it also helps increase your website traffic. By sharing your content on social media, you are giving users a reason to click-through to your website. On your social account, the more quality content you share, the more inbound traffic you will generate while making conversion opportunities.

Enhanced SEO rankings

Social media presence is becoming a vital factor in calculating rankings. These days, to secure a successful ranking, SEO requirements are continuously varying. Therefore, it is no longer enough to simply optimize your website and regularly update your blog. Businesses sharing their content on social media are sending out a brand signal to search engine that speaks to your brand validity, integrity, and constancy.

Final words

There is no denying that Social media marketing has many advantages for startups and established brands. By regular updating the right social media marketing strategy, it will lead to increased traffic, better SEO, improved brand loyalty, healthier customer satisfaction and much more. Your competition is already increasing on social media day by day, so don’t let your competitors take your probable customers. The earlier you start, the faster you see the growth in your business.