You’ve built it … but they haven’t come.
Getting traffic to your website is an ongoing challenge for many small businesses, entrepreneurs, startups and nonprofits.
The good news is, it doesn’t take a huge budget to attract traffic. Nor do you have to be a search engine whiz or spend all day on social media.
All it takes is the right knowledge to make the right moves at the right times. In other words, you need a traffic building plan -- from someone who knows what it takes to grow traffic on a budget.
Join website publisher Anita Campbell, share her secrets and tips for getting more traffic to your website in a free webinar hosted by Verizon.
Campbell started a website from scratch with just one visitor -- herself -- and almost no money. Today she has several online properties, the largest of which attracts over 2 million visitors each month.
In this one-hour webinar she illustrates the techniques she used and continues to use to continually grow traffic, month after month, including:
- Inexpensive and sometimes overlooked sources of traffic.
- Why content is the foundation of a good traffic plan; and why you need an easy-to-update section of your website or a blog to add content.
- How to create awesome content of your own, and curate content from other sources, to attract visitors and keep them coming back.
- Simple techniques to set up a social media calendar and publishing calendar, because consistency is key to traffic growth.
- 5 easy ways to optimize your website to get more search engine traffic.
- The role of an email list, and how to use your list to lure visitors back to your site.
- Top 7 mistakes businesses make with their websites that let traffic slip away -- and how to fix them.
This webinar session will be packed with practical ideas and inexpensive tips you can put into practice today. Whether you are a do-it-yourselfer, or you want to be able to interact with your website developer as a more effective resource, there’s something for everyone in this session.
Please join this webinar on July 19, 2017, at 2 p.m. Eastern time. It’s free, but be sure to register in advance to save your place.
In 1978, Digital Equipment Corporation’s Gary Thuerk, a Marketing Manager, sent an email promoting DEC’s machines to a few hundred recipients. This became the first documented case of email advertising in the world, and earned Thuerk the nickname of “the father of SPAM.”
Thuerk prefers to be known as the “father of e-marketing,” and he’s got a case, because that simple act of sending one single email to 397 people resulted in around $13 million dollars in sales for DEC!
Since that fateful day 40 years ago, many other forms of digital marketing have sprung up. Banner ads, PPC, video ads, affiliate marketing, content marketing, and now social media marketing have all become important parts of the digital marketing landscape. Some businesses have even abandoned email as “old-fashioned.”
Neglecting email as a marketing channel is a huge mistake, however. Year after year, surveys prove that email continues to be the most effective form of online marketing, as well as one of the easiest to execute.
Here are some of the main reasons why email remains the bread and butter of online marketers:
• Email is cheap. For small businesses, there is hardly any other marketing channel which offers such great returns with such little investment. Many can do it for free.
• Actions are trackable. You can tell exactly who opens your emails, who ignores them, and who clicks through to your website or landing page. Try that with Google display ads—not going to happen.
• It is easy to gauge results. You can tell whether your emails are working to put money in your pocket in a very direct way: subscribers either click through to your website and buy something, or they don’t. It is much harder to gauge sales from social media posts, generic blogging efforts, or even viral videos, as these are more branding tools rather than direct response mechanisms.
• You own your audience. As Facebook has demonstrated, third party platforms can reduce your visibility with your “fans” at any time. And while it is hard to imagine it going out of business, it could still happen one day. What if the only way to contact your audience is through that platform? Believe it or not, many businesses operate this way, and it is foolish. With email, you retain ownership of your audience, and do not rely on a third-party to communicate with them.
• Avoid ad blockers and display ad fraud. Consumers are increasingly using ad blockers to stop intrusive marketers from interrupting their content consumption. And display ad fraud is an increasing problem, with many firms paying for invalid clicks and impressions with little transparency or recourse from agencies. With email, your customers have opted in to receive your marketing messages, so ad blockers and fraud are a non-issue.
I hope you are convinced of the value of email marketing. If so, please read on for a special free invitation.
Learn the secrets and get BIG results with your email campaigns
Small business owners who fail to leverage email advertising are losing out on many sales opportunities. Fortunately, it takes very little time to set up an email campaign and start generating leads and revenue. The problem is that many do not know where to start – or are afraid of sending something out which falls flat with customers.
In my upcoming webinar, How to Develop a World-Class Email Advertising Program Without Spending a Fortune, I will show you the power of email marketing and provide actionable, real-world tips which will allow any business to dramatically increase leads and revenue using email. I will also show you how to use many of the same tools and tactics used by Fortune 500 companies with huge marketing budgets – for FREE or very low cost.
After attending this information-packed session, you will be able to:
• Choose the right email platform for your business
• Earn new subscribers and retain your old ones
• Properly segment your list into distinct audiences
• Produce compelling offers which generate sales
• Track opens and see EXACTLY what people do when they visit your website
• Automate tasks to save time
• Keep content fresh month after month
• Perform A/B testing to increase opens and engagement
• and much more
Expect to get fired up about your email marketing program and start getting more leads. Tell everyone involved in generating revenue for your business to join you in watching this special webinar, happening June 21st! Register here.
Speaker bio: Willie Pena is a content marketing expert and blogger with over a decade’s experience in digital advertising and content production. He currently runs Pena Media Group, a Los Angeles based marketing, social media and content production agency whose clients include Colgate, IBM, TransUnion, Webroot and many notable business blogs across the web. Connect with Willie at email@example.com, on LinkedIn, or on Twitter @willie_pena.
This week is the time we officially recognize Small Businesses and their contributions. This celebration was started in 1963 by a proclamation by the President of the United States. Small businesses and entrepreneurs take center stage this week, as the Small Business Administration highlights the innovation, job creation and accomplishments of these individuals who move our economy forward.
The SBA will have a host of activities this week that showcase small business owners and an opportunity for you to gather information from their experiences and successes.
Take a look at the events they have planned:
Nominees from each state and territory will be in the running for the National Small Business Week, Person of the Year. The honoree will be named at the NSBW Awards Luncheon. Other winners will be named in the following categories:
- Exporter of the Year
- Small Business Prime Contractor of the Year
- Small Business Subcontractor of the Year
- 8(a) Graduate of the Year
- Dwight D. Eisenhower Awards for Excellence (for large prime contractors who use small businesses as suppliers and contractors)
- Services winner
- Manufacturing winner
- Research and Development winner
If you are not in the DC area, you can watch it live at www.sba.gov/nsbw and join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #SmallBusinessWeek.
Join SBA administrator Linda McMahon as she has a conversation with Facebook’s VP and Chief Privacy Officer for Policy Erin Egan, as they discuss starting a business in today’s environment and success tips to keep your business going.
Be a part of the conversation by visiting www.facebook.com/SBAgov.
May 3 – May 5
The SBA is hitting the road and you can join them on Facebook (www.facebook.com/SBAgov) as they make stops throughout the country over the course of several days.
First stop on the journey will be, Indianapolis to the Speedway to celebrate the Indy Car racing industry and all of the entrepreneurs that make the business community run.
Next stop will be Texas to speak with business owners and highlight women entrepreneurs that have chosen non-traditional industries.
The final stop will be the Fresno area of California, where the SBA Administrator will be engaging with agricultural industry to discuss their successes and the fruits of their labor.
On this National Small Business Week, celebrate yourself, the courage it takes to go a different path and make an impact on your community and the economy at large.
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- National Small Business Week
It’s our anniversary, but the gifts are for you. Besides more point giveaways and freebies than ever - like double points all year for attending our live webinars, or surprise 500-point surveys (usually 250 points) - we’re also running a sweepstakes like no other. Small Biz Rewards members can enter for their chance to win 100,000 points ($1,000 value), 500,000 points ($5,000 value) or even 1-million points ($10,000 value).* There’s never been a better time to be a member (or become one).
With prize amounts provided on a reloadable Verizon Small Biz Rewards Prepaid MasterCard®, accepted anywhere MasterCard is, there’s no telling what upgrade you could make for your business (or what well-deserved vacation you could take yourself or your staff on), if you won. And with so many winners from now until our grand prize million-point giveaway in November, the odds are incredible.
These new back-to-back sweepstakes are part of our 5-year anniversary celebration. Beyond chances to win, every entry also comes with Small Biz Rewards points just for trying. So, be sure to take advantage of the earning possibilities and come back each week to up your odds of winning $1,000, $5,000, or the chance to be one of five to win 1-million points. Ready to give it a shot? Enter now.
Not yet a member of Small Biz Rewards? No problem, it’s free (and easy) to join. With this sweeps and even more 5th anniversary fun planned throughout the year, now’s the time. As a member, you'll also receive 1 point per $1 spent on the qualified Verizon services you’re already using. Points can be redeemed for name-brand gift cards to your favorite retailers.** In fact, if you join today, we'll start you off with 250 welcome points. Join for free.
Already a member? Surprise! Here’s a hidden gift for you. Click here, log in and we’ll add 50 points to your account. Seriously. Just like that. We told you this year would be full of fun. After that, head over and enter our sweeps for even more points.
*NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Visit https://smallbizrewards.verizon.com/culturesweeps/ for official rules by which entrants are bound. Prize value will be awarded in the form of a Verizon Small Biz Rewards Prepaid MasterCard®.
**Members in the Small Biz Rewards program earn 1 point per $1 spent on their qualified monthly Verizon charges, up to 500 points per month. Qualified charges are Landline Phone, Long Distance, High Speed Internet, Fios® by Verizon Internet or Fios TV. Reward program is only available to Verizon Small Business customers that subscribe to 1-20 phone lines (wireline only), High Speed Internet, Fios Internet service(s) and/or Fios TV in select states. Program terms apply.
Technology can make you faster and more efficient in every aspect of your small business. While the array of options may be intimidating, if you focus on bringing technological solutions to one area at a time, you can easily revolutionize your business in one year.
To help you, here are 12 common business areas where technology can play a vital part in contributing to streamlining your efficiency and overall operation. Tackle one per month and watch your productivity and sales soar!
Analytics and Insights
Understanding how your business is performing at any given moment will allow you to make better decisions…but data can be confusing. Fortunately, business intelligence dashboards can simplify the process and enable you to gather analytics in one location and visualize it with charts and graphs. There are many useful tools available; compare features to find which is right for you.
Building a Team
The majority of small businesses are operated by a solopreneur or a small group of workers. When you do add a team member, you can use HR software to keep track of applications and interviews, online background check services to vet new hires, and training software to teach about job basics.
If you are not big enough to hire employees, then outsourcing is a great option. You can use online freelancer platforms like Upwork and 99Designs to find virtual workers for everything from writing blog posts and marketing copy to designing logos and graphics.
Technology can come to the rescue for team collaboration and communication. Instant messaging programs like Skype and Slack are much quicker than calling, emailing or stopping by someone’s office. More sophisticated tools like Asana and Basecamp also allow you to organize projects, assign tasks and due dates, and keep all conversations and files within a common thread.
Credit and Money Management
Technology can help you manage your credit and finances, including:
- Credit monitoring sites that will tell you your credit score and monitor it for fraudulent activity.
- Budgeting tools like Mint that give you an overall view of your finances, and also help you create a budget to reach your financial goals.
- Debt repayment calculators and apps that help you manage credit cards and make a plan to pay them down.
Customer service is more complicated today because inquiries are coming at you from all angles: phone, email, and even social media. Platforms like Zendesk can help you funnel all of these messages into one place and create a ticketing system, so everything is answered promptly. This tool and other customer service technologies can also help you set up a live chat feature on your website, and develop a knowledge database for answering frequently asked questions.
Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to reach your customers. Tools like MailChimp and Aweber are user-friendly and great beginner-level tools for small business owners who want to build their list and start sending regular newsletters. For the more advanced, consider a full CRM system like Insightly, Infusionsoft or Ontraport.
Digital file systems reduce the clutter in your office and improve organization, allowing you to find the exact file you need in lighting speed. Microsoft, Apple, and Google all offer cloud storage solutions, and there are other options like Dropbox and IDrive. The latest scanners have tie-ins with these cloud storage systems, so paper files can get a digital home immediately after they come into the office.
Invoicing and Payments
With the right technology, you can have an invoicing system that is not only organized but also conveys your professionalism. Although QuickBooks is perhaps the most popular software available, there are many other billing and invoicing platforms to consider to find the one right for your business.
You can also explore other methods of accepting payments besides the traditional cash, check or credit card. While PayPal is a good option for receiving payment from clients, there are several impressive alternatives. The latest technology can also improve your in-store POS system.
Whether you are a local or online business, your customers will be using the internet to find you. You can put technology to good use by:
- Setting up your business page on Google, so people who search for you quickly find valuable information like address, phone number and hours.
- Using Google Adwords to create pay-per-click ads to generate more business (including using their Keyword Planner tool to target the right keywords).
- Adding your listing to the many online business directories, so people can find you regardless of where they are searching.
No small business owner can afford to take security lightly. When it comes to your website, website security tools can help keep you protected from SQL injection and other threats and attacks. Meanwhile, the technology in your office should be protected by keeping your anti-virus and malware software up to date or even investing in a full security suite.
Social media is a must for today’s businesses, but you can let technology simplify your work. Social media scheduling programs like Hootsuite and Buffer allow you to set up social media posts for days or even weeks in advance. With tools like CoSchedule, you can even schedule social media when you are setting up your company blog posts.
There is no reason for your business not to have a website! Using today’s technology, you can build your own website; Wix even allows you to create one for free. You can also get more visitors by setting up a regular blog. Tools like WordPress make it simple, and with the all the various plugins, you can get help with everything from design to SEO.
When it comes to business technology, there is no shortage of options. Choose the most important area of your small business and work for one month to explore and implement technological solutions that will make you faster and more efficient. Proceed from one area to the next, and in just one year you will become a master of technology!
In the final part of our discussion with three of Verizon’s channel leaders, we talk about how you can get the most out of your talent and promote diversity.
We talked previously about how today’s channel leaders need a broad set of skills—they can’t just be sales-driven. Is that true of your people too?
Joe: The channel still needs people with great sales skills, but what we’re looking for has moved on from the days of door-to-door selling. It’s not about one-off sales; we want people who can help us build lasting relationships.
Janet: Absolutely. And, for me, that means they need to be able to engage customers on a human level. What really matters is being able to hold meaningful conversations with people about their needs—not just delivering sound bites about products.
Lori: It comes back to what we discussed before about putting the customer at the heart of your business. We need people that put the effort into understanding what’s important to each customer because every one of them is different. It’s not enough just to be a talented sales person, we need to be all-rounders.
How can small firms compete for the people who have these skills?
Joe: Not everyone wants to work in corporate America. We’re getting to a point where it’s become less about who you work for and more about what you can accomplish, the experience and skills you can gain.
Janet: And that’s why the channel is a great place to be. Think about the best innovations of the last few years and many have come from partnerships—and were informed by customers. If you want to be involved in the most innovative and exciting new technologies, get into the channel.
So why isn’t the channel attracting more great talent?
Lori: My real worry isn’t about sourcing talent, it’s about diversity. I’d go as far as to say that that’s a crisis in the channel right now.
Janet: This is a topic that’s just so close to my heart. My grandfather was Lenape Indian. He grew up on the reservation. My family felt that we needed to hide that part of our history and that makes me so sad. That’s part of why I’m so set on promoting diversity and helping more diverse talent make it into leadership roles.
Why is diversity so important for the future of the channel?
Lori: A diverse team gives you a different perspective on a problem—and that breeds innovation. If everyone’s got the same life experience, you’re much more likely to stick with the same old methods.
Joe: I was having this exact conversation with my daughter the other night. She’s studying engineering at one of the best colleges in the country and she’s the only woman in her class. This is a systemic issue that we’ve got to tackle by nurturing upcoming talent.
How can channel leaders make a difference and help drive diversity?
Janet: First, you’ve got to understand what diversity is. It’s not about women having to think they need to act tougher than men to be successful. It’s about supporting people in being who they are and recognizing that doing that will make your business stronger.
Lori: That’s exactly what we’re looking to do here at Verizon. We’ve set up a range of mentoring and leadership schemes that are helping us promote diversity.
Joe: Verizon is also well aware of its responsibility to go out there and encourage people to get involved with technology.
Janet: That’s so important Joe. We’ve got to put ourselves out there and engage with high schools, colleges and even at the elementary level. There’s a long way to go. But if we can build a foundation of channel champions for diversity, we’ll get there. And remember, for diversity to win, no-one has to lose.
It’s been great talking to you. Is there one message each of you would like to emphasize to everybody out there in the channel?
Joe: The channel is a really exciting place to be. But don’t underestimate the change that’s happening right now. Companies that do could find themselves in trouble pretty quickly.
Lori: This is a team game. Whether it’s finding and developing the best staff or choosing the right partners, you’re only as strong as the team you build.
Janet: Both great points, that’s why I love working with these guys. But if there’s one thing I’d like everybody to take away from this it’s that we’ve all got a responsibility to leave the channel in a better state than we found it. For me that’s better trained, more diverse and more customer-centric. There are lots of challenges ahead, but I’m passionate about the channel’s ability to tackle those and come out stronger than ever.
Vote for Janet Schijns to win her bracket in CRN Channel Madness: Tournament of Chiefs!
News headlines blare “Pokemon craze takes over Houston park” and “Pokemon Go Is Influencing Baby Names” and “Bride stunned to discover her wedding venue was a Pokemon Go gym.”
With headlines like that daily on your local news, it’s clear that the Pokemon Go mobile game has burrowed its way into American culture.
Those little digital Pokemon creatures are just too cute to ignore!
Pokemon Go started as a kid’s card game two decades ago and then became a mobile game. As a mobile game it quickly grew to 20 million daily active game players as of July 2016.
As it turns out, Pokemon Go isn’t just for kids. Teenagers, young adults, parents supervising their Pokemon-playing kids, and anyone “addicted” to the mobile game, have all gotten into the action. As of October 2016, Pokemon players had taken 144 billion steps - steps that could lead them right near your place of business.
Whether the Pokemon craze will continue with the same intensity during 2017 is anyone’s guess.
Regardless, there are some great marketing lessons to be learned. In fact those lessons can be especially applicable to small businesses because we’re nimble enough to take advantage of trends quickly. As independent business owners, we have a distinct advantage when it comes to pivoting our marketing quickly.
If you want to learn about how to leverage the virtual world and the consumer’s enthusiasm for mobile devices, into real paying customers in the physical world, then Pokemon Go is a great case study.
Join Anita Campbell, renowned small business expert and founder of the Small Business Trends community serving over 2 million small business people per month, in a FREE WEBINAR hosted by Verizon. We will explore these marketing lessons, including:
- How to leverage the world of local “check in” apps and games to lure in foot traffic.
- What Pokemon Go can tell us about being found in mobile devices.
- How to make your business appear attractive online and on mobile devices -- attractive enough to get people into your shop, restaurant or other place of business.
- Strategies such as hosting Pokemon events, joining teams, buying Pokemon lures, and other activities to participate in the trend.
- What you MUST know about the 5 ways people interact with their phones today, that impact what local places they visit and how they purchase.
We’ll also discuss techniques for how to manage the downsides of Pokemon Go traffic, including security issues and disruption to your business from non-paying customers. And how to turn these issues into positives.
There is much to be learned from the Pokemon craze -- and we’ll explore it all and answer your questions with concrete examples and marketing tips.
So join us for this webinar on March 22, 2017 at 2 pm Eastern time. It’s free, but be sure to register in advance to save your place. Go here to register.
The world is too cluttered for most of us to use traditional marketing. We're all bombarded with emails, advertisements, phone calls and even people flipping signs on the street corner.
We've been taught for the last century that marketing is all about blasting a message through a bullhorn and, as more people have started blasting their messages, most of us have simply tried to find a louder bullhorn. Or we make our message more annoying so people remember it (we all have a fond place in our hearts for those local appliance store ads, right?). But what happens when we can't find a louder bullhorn? Or we can't afford one? And even if we do find a louder bullhorn, the people we're shouting at are tired of all the shouting and self-promotion.
The market is jaded to our eye-catching headings and sensational subject lines. They're sick of us talking about us all the time. So, they shut down. They don't ever answer their phone unless they recognize the number. They buy program after program to make sure that no spam messages get through. They're subscribed to so many blogs and newsletters now that many have purchased programs that will make it so they don't have to see the newsletters and blog emails they've subscribed to.
So, what do most businesses do? Nothing. Or close to nothing. Marketing isn't fun. It's horrible actually, at least in its old-school form. Constantly talking about how great we are, trying to pry a few bucks out of someone's wallet with a clever twist of words or a sexed-up advertisement that promises the good life in exchange for $39.95.
So many companies with great products and services have given up on marketing altogether. They're frustrated with how hard it is to get anyone's attention so they get by on their own momentum, a bit of word of mouth and client referrals. Nonprofits have it even worse, barely scraping by on a few big events each year that increasingly feel like déjà vu to those who attend.
Many businesses, nonprofits and individuals are in this together. They could grow so much and help so many people. Companies with great products and services, nonprofits capable of enormous impact, individuals with something big to offer the world, or at least their next employer, shouldn't have to struggle to get their message out there and attract new customers, donors and opportunities.
There is good news for these businesses. In our upcoming webinar, we will be discussing how to make marketing work for small businesses. Sign up now for the free webinar.
Holiday shopping season has begun, and it is going to get busier by the day, especially online. According to Statistics Brain, 90% of holiday shoppers buy some portion of their purchases from web-based storefronts.
Whether your business resides entirely in cyberspace or whether online sales are a subset of overall sales, it is important to make sure your virtual storefront is ready to appeal to buyers and make their shopping experience productive and enjoyable. Here are suggestions that could help you improve revenue this holiday season.
Be prepared for heavy online traffic. Expect to see more site activity starting with Black Friday on the 25th with a ramp-up on Cyber-Monday on November 28th and continued high activity through the rest of the season. Make sure that you have adequate bandwidth to accommodate this traffic without any slowdowns. Test your site speed and call us at (888)611-8090 if you need to increase bandwidth.
Review your site navigation and shopping cart set up. Make sure that the shopping and buying experience is easy and clear no matter what type of device is being used. Run tests on different screens that span the entire buying process to make every interface with the customer the best it can be.
Create or update your digital marketing plan. Review your online advertising and social media marketing activity. Make your promotions easy to share. Consider taking advantage of Black Friday and Cyber-Monday by offering special deals on those days and promoting them online.
Make a special effort to reach out to people who have already interacted with you. Consider sending unique offers or discounts to current customers or email subscribers.
Keep track of results and adjust if needed. Track metrics from your digital marketing and make modifications to it if you are not seeing the results you expected.
Finally, bring the holidays to your site with festive and fun design features. Your visitors will want to stay and buy!
Creating an effortless and satisfying online shopping experience for the holidays will not only benefit your business during the busiest buying months of the year, but will also generate goodwill for the future. Online buyers who have had a good engagement with you will come back for more, and may very well bring friends. So think of these strategies as an investment in your company and the holiday buying season as a stepping stone to growth.
The holiday season is upon us, and many small businesses must supplement their regular staff in order to meet customer needs and continue to provide excellent service.
Where should you look for qualified seasonal employees? Running an ad in the newspaper or other logical places is an option, as is connecting with a temporary staffing agency. In addition to these “mainstream” sources, here are five sources that you may not have thought of:
Contact your local high school or college. Many students have a long break during the holidays and would welcome the opportunity to make some extra money with seasonal employment. Depending on what type of help you need, a local college or high school could be an excellent source. Contact their main administration office and let them know what you need; they can steer you to the right person or department.
Bring out retirees. At the other end of the age spectrum, people who have retired from full time employment could be excellent seasonal staff. Put the word out in retirement communities or contact local senior centers to find candidates.
Check with your employees. Your employees know your business almost as well as you do, and they are likely to know people who can fit in to operations as seasonal help. They may also be more motivated to mentor and help temporary staff when acquaintances are involved.
Talk to your customers. Your customers may be as familiar with your business as your employees. Let your most frequent patrons know that you are hiring for the holidays and they may step forward or bring in family members or friends to fill out applications.
Look to similar businesses. A catering company may find seasonal help among the wait staff of a restaurant. A computer store might appeal to freelance programmers or tech support experts as employment during a usually slow period. Check out businesses in your community that are complementary to yours and you may find a pool of qualified and motivated seasonal candidates.
Wherever you source your seasonal staff, now is the time to act. Figure out the openings you need to fill, decide how they will be selected and trained, and put the word out in the right places so that you generate interest and action from the right candidates.
Join hundreds of other small business owners to celebrate Small Business Saturday® in a really special way and you could receive $200 worth of AMEX® gift cards*.
Saturday, November 26, on the weekend after Thanksgiving, is the day that shoppers are encouraged to shop local. Small Business Saturdays have taken place across the country since 2010, and each year sees more communities getting involved in attracting buyers to their neighborhood businesses with special events and deals.
Verizon is an enthusiastic supporter of Small Business Saturday and we are getting involved, too. We invite you to tell us and the other members of our small business community about yourself and your business, while having some fun. Using your smartphone, tablet, or webcam, answer six questions in 60 seconds. Then upload your video to our special site and check out what other small businesses have shared.
Here is another good reason to fire up your camera and capture the moment. If you upload an approved video, you will receive a $200 worth of AMEX gift cards (while supplies last). Get the word out about you and your business and get $200 in the process.
Go to this page to get started and we’ll walk you through all the steps to make and upload your video.
Turn 60 seconds into $200. Do it now.
*Offer ends 11:59 p.m. ET 11/30/16 or when supplies of gift cards have been exhausted, whichever is sooner. Open only to legal U.S. residents, 18 or older, who own a business located in a Verizon service area in one of the following states: CT, DC, DE, MA, MD, NJ, NY, PA, RI, and VA. Void outside area listed and where prohibited. Limit one (1) gift card award per company. See Terms at smallbizrewards.verizon.com/amexvideo for complete details. Terms and conditions apply to gift card use. This offer is not sponsored or administered by American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.
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- small business saturday
Is saying goodbye to summer, which is never long enough, bringing your spirits down? Are you missing the dog days of summer already? Do you need a refuge from the craziness of increased traffic and the disappointment caused by shorter days? Don’t despair—we have something that will place a smile on your face and put you in a better mood, regardless of the changing seasons.
We had such a great response to our Small Biz Rewards Pet Pic sweepstakes and we just can’t keep all the cuteness to ourselves. Thanks to everyone who shared their cuddly loved ones with us! We especially want to congratulate our 3 grand prize winners, each of whom won 50,000 Small Biz Rewards points (a $500 value):
Linda Van Dye and Roscoe, Elk Garden Aluminum
Tracie Bechtel and Amber & Chloe, Trefoil Properties, LP
Sharon Popillo and Enzo, Advanced Auto Body, Inc.
So why not take a moment and brighten your day by viewing the pets of our Small Biz Rewards members? Dogs and cats are just the start of what you can find in the pet gallery. Brace yourself—farm animals and the occasional reptile can be just as cute and relaxing when you gaze at their photo op. Take a peek.
Not yet a Small Biz Rewards member? Finish enjoying those great pet photos, then join—it’s free and rewarding. You’ll receive 1 point per $1 spent on qualified Verizon services, which can be redeemed for awesome name-brand gift cards to your favorite retailers.* Plus, Small Biz Rewards runs sweepstakes frequently, so keep an eye out for more great opportunities to earn points. Join today and we’ll start you off with 250 points!
*Members in the Small Biz Rewards program earn 1 point per $1 spent on their qualified monthly Verizon charges, up to 500 points per month. Qualified charges are Landline Phone, Long Distance, High Speed Internet, Fios® by Verizon Internet or Fios TV. Reward program is only available to Verizon Small Business customers that subscribe to 1-20 phone lines (wireline only), High Speed Internet, Fios Internet service(s) and/or Fios TV in select states. Program terms apply.
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A Guest Article by Suzanne Delzio
Anyone who caught my recent webinar, “How Shrewd Small Businesses Catch Customers via Social Media,” knows I am a firm believer that small businesses must use social media in conjunction with other digital or internet marketing tools to maximize ROI.
As Social Media Examiner’s 2016 Social Media Marketing Industry Report illuminates, the majority of small business owners aren’t connecting sales or ROI with social media spend and effort. While, conceivably, small businesses could use Google Analytics and even paid tools like Simply Measured, the likelihood owners go that direction is low. First, as simple as they try to make it, Google Analytics can be intimidating. Then, Simply Measured prices start at $500 per month . . . what the majority of small businesses can spend on their entire marketing program, offline and online.
Which brings us to the question: what to put up on social media channels, how often and when?
Many social media gurus stress that businesses must share articles, images and infographics that exist solely to enrich the life of followers. Traditionally, these consultants encourage business owners to use an 80/20 or 4/1 mix of four posts that only serve, educate or entertain to one post that drives prospects back to the website.
Sure, Coca Cola, Starbucks and the NFL with dedicated social media budgets of millions can use social just for brand awareness. But small business with an average $500 monthly marketing budget must get something concrete from social posts. The something they get should be visits to the website and email newsletter sign ups.
I advise small business clients to stick more to a 50/50 mix, utilizing just one to two channels, say Facebook and LinkedIn or Facebook and YouTube, depending on the client base. (With 1.71 billion users on Facebook several times each day, every business should have a presence there, particularly B2C businesses. B2B businesses do the best on LinkedIn.)
A total of 10 weekly posts breaks down into five entertaining, fun or helpful posts, typically related but non-competing articles, memes, videos, infographics using outside links. The other five are business related with links back to the company’s website product, service, testimonial, contact or other landing pages.
Sharing Others’ Social Content . . . A.K.A. Content Curation
Unlike global brands, small business owners and principals tend to be much closer to their customers and even prospects. The general populace even prefers to work with small businesses because of the ease in getting to the lead decision maker and creating a personal connection with him or her.
Year after year, surveys like this from Princeton and published in the Washington Post reveal that Americans perceive small business owners as more ethical and honest than corporate CEOs. Two-thirds report preferring to shop at small businesses than large companies. The survey found:
“Nearly half of Americans (47 percent) said small business owners have high ethical standards, compared with only six percent of those who say the same about CEOs of major companies,” the survey found. “Only seven percent say that small business owners have low ethics, compared with 48 percent who think the same of corporate CEOs.”
Small businesses can leverage this positive view by continuing to deliver to their customer base without expectation of anything in return. Followers view (even unconsciously) the helpful or entertaining post that doesn’t sell or promote the business in any way as a gift. The ensuing gratitude creates a bond that boosts customer loyalty.
Therefore, as mentioned in the webinar, small businesses need to put up content with the sole aim of enriching, easing or entertaining a follower’s life. It even helps to keep one follower/client in mind when choosing the content to re-post. You can find great sharable articles that have already proven their ability to win eyeballs on BuzzSumo, UpWorthy and your own industry publications.
Another key is to go for emotional resonance. Before re-posting, ask yourself, “will this information, image or video make him or her [the envisioned client] gasp, laugh, tear-up, clutch his or her heart?”
Finally, when you repost, make sure to add value by including your perspective and personality. For instance,
- a veterinarian would say, “Parrot parents need to pay close attention to tip number 6 in this article.”
- an owner of a senior in-home care agency would say, “This article has all details on this weekend’s San Diego Walk for Alzheimer’s research. It’s this Saturday. Meet at 8:00 a.m. at the Embarcadero. Call if you want to walk with us. The more the merrier!”
- a vintage clothes shop owner may say, “Use this catalog for guidance on matching clothes and accessories to achieve the overall “Retro” style. I don’t agree with stripes and florals on p. 7 though.”
Most of all, don’t be afraid to show a little personality!
The era of formal, jargon-filled promotional copy has passed, especially on social media where customers want to connect on a one-to-one basis. Because users go to Facebook to connect with friends and feel social, the more a business owner can come across as a friend, the further he or she gets. While LinkedIn and Twitter are slightly more professional, those expressing some personality win more engagement on those channels as well.
It’s these primarily helpful posts that keep followers looking at and engaging in a business’s more promotional posts.
5 Social Post Types that Link to Landing Pages
This chart from eMarketer repeats what hundreds of studies and surveys have found: email and search engine optimization fuel the highest return on investment (ROI). That means getting prospects and current clients onto the email list and to the blog posts must be job one for social media (which doesn’t pull very well on its own.)
A couple of statistics will make this point clear.
You’ve probably heard that content is now a huge part of effective search engine optimization. Google tells us that today’s shopper reviews 10.4 pieces of content before making a call to a store or service. To sell today, you must have content out there vying with competitors’ helpful information. Businesses get the most from their internet marketing efforts when they use the same content on their website (blog), email newsletter and social.
The email newsletter has a click through rate 50 times higher than the Facebook click-through rate and 100 times higher than the Twitter click-through rate. And yet, for credibility and customer service, every business today must have at least one active social media presence.
Use your remaining five social posts to funnel people to your content (SEO) and the email list.
Create posts that link to (in order of importance):
- The Lead Magnet Landing Page The FREE trial, video, webinar, checklist, kit, ebook or infographic that offers so much valuable knowledge, prospects can’t help but turn over their email address to get it. It solves their biggest problem as related to your product, service or publication. With your email newsletter list building, you have a wider audience to market to regularly. The email newsletter gives you an excellent opportunity to convince prospects of your authority, value and indispensability. It also carries your seasonal offers.
In this example, Twitter analytics company SocialQuant offers a guide to getting more Twitter followers:
Here’s one from Instagram. Foundr magazine offers an Instagram Marketing 101 Issue in exchange for the email address:
Did you notice that both examples are pushing digital marketing services? Believe it or not, it’s still early in the internet marketing game. The companies most prevalent and successful on social media at this time are digital marketing agencies themselves. Still enterprise and even small business can follow their lead. Create your lead magnet, a post that promotes it and then pay to reach an audience beyond your current followers.
To understand more how a lead magnet works, read Digital Marketer’s “9 Lead Magnet Ideas and Examples.”
- To the Reviews / Testimonial Page OR Products or Services Pages
Why do promotions for blockbuster movies print mostly reviews with all the stars beside them from the reviewer? They could describe their film themselves, right?
Studios learned early that third parties have far more credibility than they do themselves. Similarly, companies can display to prospects just what their current customers have to say about them. Check out this one from HotSpringSpas:
While this post creates a link back to the company’s reviews page, it could just as easily say, “Read more about the XYZ spa here:” In other words, the company could send interested people to the product or service page or the reviews page.
Using reviews is a form of User Generated Content or UGC. Big companies with big budget sometimes run sweepstakes that encourage people to submit a review or photo of themselves using the product. Participants win the chance to win a gift basket, free product or hours of service. Another way to do this is sponsor an essay contest with rules stipulating that the business retains the right to use all or part of it. Of course, the essay topic should be, “Why I love my _____________________ (your product or service).”
- To Both New and Old Blog Posts As mentioned above, shoring up customer loyalty and goodwill can take giving them something of value while expecting nothing in return. The blog post fulfills this task. Today, life is complicated, and when a business owner blogs about recent changes in his or her industry or even how to use a product in a new way, the consumer is relieved for the value received. He or she also begins to offload the responsibility of managing this aspect of life to you.
In this social post or update, a lender entices a targeted audience to read a blog post that will help them avoid losing money. Always have a call to action when you broadcast your latest blog post on your social media channels. The call to action here is, “Know what you risk here:”
Remember, too, that there’s a good chance your old blog posts will become relevant again. You can always link to a blog post from the previous year or season when the same issues come up again.
- Event, Award or Other Success Public Relations Page From time to time, you can invite social media users to take a look at something you’ve done that you’re proud of, particularly if an awesome image or video is involved. Here, San Diego advertising agency Mirum invites its LinkedIn followers to take a look at their win for a Communication Arts WebPick.
Social media is ideal for public relations, but please, light-handed only, although more bragging occurs on LinkedIn that probably all of the other channels combined.
- The Contact Page All kinds of industries make the news from time to time. Remember when the dog food from China was contaminated? Anyone in the pet industry (veterinarians, groomers, walkers) could entice followers to ask questions on their contact page where (hopefully) a form lives. A CPA could go to town on the Hollywood stars that get in trouble with the IRS. “Hear about Wesley Snipes? Feel free to ask about what constitutes tax evasion on our contact page here!”
This eyebrow threading salon often puts up posts about different stars eyebrow shapes with the text, “Want Beyonce’s eyebrows but worried about pain or cost involved in regular threading? Ask your question here!” or “Do men get their eyebrows shaped? You bet! Ask us your question here!” The link leads to their contact page with plenty of space to ask a question. Fast answers turn leads into paying customers.
Make sure you have a robust contact form like this on your website. Put it to work when you watch the news headlines as pertains to your industry. “Newsjack” or springboard from a popular topic to win customers. This strategy can boost your traffic and rankings as well!
Now that you have 10 posts to put up this week, try to get the types into a social calendar. Linking to your testimonials page on Monday, a product/service page on Tuesday, a blog post on Wednesday, a lead magnet on Thursday helps keep your content, social media and email newsletter from overwhelming you. As for timing, remember that most people go to their social channels during the week during working hours as a distraction.
Get the Most from Your Social Channels by Integrating SEO and Email
Small business owners may want to believe that they really CAN “Get 100X ROI with Simple Social Strategies!” or “Quadruple Traffic with Smart Facebook Tips that Take 5 Minutes.” In my experience, small businesses that have managed to stay in business know hyperbole when they see it. They’re cautious and wisely so.
Most of the super successful examples out there focus on companies with huge marketing budgets like Red Bull, National Geographic and the digital marketing companies where the expertise is home-grown.
In reality, the average small business has just $500 to spend on marketing each month, and just 16% spend over $1,000 per month. The vast majority depend on word of mouth and networking, both effective strategies. Still, social media marketing, when implemented properly, can act as word of mouth, just online.
A Guest Article by Evan Bailyn
I remember it clearly: It was 2010 and Google was aggressively laying the groundwork for its famous Panda and Penguin penalties, which penalize sites that paint a falsely trustworthy picture of themselves in Google’s eyes. Typically, what these sites did was either a) publish lots of disingenuous content to make Google think they were a valuable resource when in truth they weren’t or b) quietly pay for links so that Google thought the site was more well-regarded in its industry than it actually was. This was the period when years of cheating Google’s algorithm were meeting a harsh ending for the hundreds of thousands of websites that engaged in such practices. In truth, cheating Google’s algorithm was synonymous with the word “SEO” up until this point.
That was the year content marketing became truly popular. Sure, it had been popular in certain circles since 2007, but in 2010 you began to see an explosion of blogs on business websites. How far the concept of a blog had come from its origins as an online journal that only moody nerds kept; now it was a must-have feature of nearly every company’s website.
It took another year or two for the average marketing manager to know that “content is good for SEO.” And for a time, it was. But as we all know, the moment when something becomes common knowledge to everyone, it loses its specialness. And in the world of Google, where there can only be one #1 result for a search query, specialness is important. The #1 result is the web page that has the best content and perhaps, the best links as well. But what happens when everyone starts creating good content? Well for one, those early content marketers who were doing it right before everyone got into the content marketing game faced higher competition than ever. A new standard was born. That standard is thought leadership.
Thought leadership marketing is the art of creating truly interesting, insightful, story-driven content. Stuff people actually want to read. Stuff people actually learn from. And, in today’s day and age when most of us do our own research on companies before deciding to buy from them, stuff that makes people want to buy.
To read the full article, please click here.
Take Your Dog to Work Day has come and gone but the dog days of summer are still here.
Did you know Take Your Dog to Work Day was started by Pet Sitters International in 1999? Take Your Dog to Work Day allows employers and employees the opportunity to appreciate the companionship pets provide and promote pet adoption. Although, the day is over, we encourage you to keep the spirit and the celebration of our furry friends going. The Small Biz Rewards Pet Pic Sweepstakes is still accepting your pooches’ pictures.
One of our entrants is Chewy, the friendly rescue dog, who not only goes to work but has a big role as the official office greeter at Morrison Builders in Titusville, PA . Chewy’s owner, Lora, a Verizon Small Biz Rewards member, entered Chewy‘s photo in the Show Us Your Pet sweeps for the chance to win 50,000 points (a $500 value). There will be three grand prize winners. Each winner receives 50,000 points which will be automatically redeemed for a $500 reloadable Verizon Small Biz Rewards Prepaid MasterCard®.
There are multiple ways to earn points and receive entries in the Small Biz Rewards Pet Pic Sweepstakes. All members will receive the following points and entries:
- 100 points and 1 entry for clicking to enter the sweepstakes
- 100 points and 5 entries for taking a survey
- 300 points and 10 entries for uploading a photo of your pet
Do all three and you will earn up to 500 points and 16 entries!
There are so many chances to win. Just one click will put you in the running for the 50,000-point grand prize, just enter before July 31, 2016.* Click here to enter: vz.to/1hMKF2Z
Not yet a Small Biz Rewards member? It’s free to join. And rewarding. You’ll receive 1 point per $1 spent on qualified Verizon services, which can be redeemed for awesome name-brand gift cards to your favorite retailers.** Plus, Small Biz Rewards runs sweepstakes frequently, so keep an eye out for those, too. Join Small Biz Rewards: vz.to/1E5ZUOu
Don’t miss out. Enter today. 50,000 points, that could add up to a lot of dog food.
*NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Sweepstakes begins 6/24/16 and ends 7/31/16. Open to Verizon Small Business customers as of 6/23/16. Click here for Official Rules by which entrants are bound. Void where prohibited.
**Members in the Small Biz Rewards program earn 1 point per $1 spent on their qualified monthly Verizon charges, up to 500 points per month. Qualified charges are Landline Phone, Long Distance, High Speed Internet, Fios® by Verizon Internet or Fios TV. Reward program is only available to Verizon Small Business customers that subscribe to 1-20 phone lines (wireline only), High Speed Internet, Fios Internet service(s) and/or Fios TV in select states. Program terms apply.