Posts in Category: My Blog

48% Who Want to Sell Have No Exit Strategy

48% Who Want to Sell Have No Business Exit Strategy

Having an exit strategy when you start a business makes it that much easier to execute rational and informed decisions when you want to get out. But the UBS (NYSE: UBS) Q1 Investor Watch Report, “Who’s the boss?” reveals 48 percent of business owners don’t have a formal exit strategy.

This is the 22-second edition of the quarterly survey, and this time around it is looking at how investors feel about business ownership. The survey also explores the exit strategy of business owners, including selling their company and leaving it to their heirs.

In the report, UBS points out the majority of business owners don’t have a full understanding of what takes place in the selling of a business. It identifies a knowledge gap for the 75 percent of owners who believe they can sell their business in a year or less. This is on top of the 58 percent who have never had their business formally appraised, and the 48 percent without exit strategies.

Stewart Kesmodel, Head of Global Family Office, Americas for UBS Global Wealth Management, explained the challenge of selling a business this way in the press release. He said, “Selling a business successfully requires a great deal of planning, which owners often underestimate. Before pursuing a sale, it is important for business owners to not only have a view on the value of their business to potential buyers, but also an understanding of how that price applies to their personal needs post-transaction.”

In the survey, 1,085 of the 2,245 high net worth investor were identified as business owners (770 current/315 former). Their business had at least one employee and $250k in annual revenue.

Key Business Exit Strategy Findings

Selling the business is the preferred strategy of 52 percent of the respondents, which 41 percent plan to do within five years. Another 20 percent said they plan to leave it to family, 18 percent are going to close the business, and 10 percent don’t know.

As to the reason for leaving the business, 65 percent said it was a good time to sell and they are ready to retire, while 49 percent indicated they are looking to find a work-life balance.

So how do the heirs feel about inheriting a business?

More than 4 in 5 or 82 percent rather have the money from the sale of the business, and only 18 percent said they wanted the business. This is probably why 89 percent of owners said they won’t pass their business on because family members are not interested. Lack of qualification and wanting a family member to take another career path was sated by 21 and 9 percent of the respondents respectively.

48% Who Want to Sell Have No Business Exit Strategy

Takeaway from the UBS Survey

Plan early with different exit strategies in mind. This will allow you the flexibility you need to get the most out of your business, whether you sell it, pass it on to your family, or have someone else manage it for you.

You can take a look at the rest of the data here and the partial infographic below.

48% Who Want to Sell Have No Business Exit Strategy

Images: UBS

This article, “48% Who Want to Sell Have No Exit Strategy” was first published on Small Business Trends

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5 Ways Tax Reform is Helping Franchise Businesses

5 Ways Tax Reform is Helping Franchises

The recent passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act could have a major impact on franchise businesses. The tax reform will likely lead to changes ranging from increased deductions to a more financially stable customer base.

Ways Tax Reform Is Helping Franchises

Here are a few of the specific ways this new legislation could help franchises.

Increased Cash Flow

Because of the lower corporate tax rates and larger deductions for pass-through business structures, the new tax bill is expected to help businesses of all sizes save money on tax payments. According to President of Franchise Marketing Systems Christopher Conner, who has worked with franchise businesses ranging from Blimpie to UPS, this increase in cash flow and the ability to keep and reinvest that money into growth opportunities is the number one potential benefit of the new bill.

He said in an email to Small Business Trends, “Franchisors and Franchisees now have more cash flow and capital to put towards hiring, growth and investment into the people who support their business’ operations.”

Ability to Invest in Employees

Because of that potential increase in funds, franchise businesses should have more money available to hire new employees, invest in training and provide more competitive wages for existing employees to keep them happy. This can help you retain those team members for longer, decreasing turnover costs and strengthening your company culture, things that can have long-term benefits for your business.

Better Options for Structuring Your Business

One of the tax reform changes that’s most pertinent to the small business community is the new 20 percent deduction for pass-through entities. This is any type of business where the income passes through to the owner’s individual tax returns, including sole proprietorships, partnerships and S-Corps. For some franchise businesses, this could offer some opportunity to reap even more financial benefits by adjusting the structure of the business, though the actual impact will vary for each individual business.

Conner says, “We always recommend speaking to a CPA, but it has been recommended by several to transition your business to an S-Corp. The new tax regulations offer a larger degree of benefits to corporations than other business entity structures.”

More Write-Off Opportunities

Owning a franchise business requires some investment in equipment and supplies, some of which you can write off as deductions on your tax returns. And the new bill raises the limit on how much of those expenses you can deduct, potentially making it more financially beneficial for you to grow your business by making those investments.

Conner says, “The write off for capital investments has increased substantially where businesses are incentivized to now invest in equipment, real estate and other capital investments where with the new tax reform, business owners can write off up to $1 million in asset investments in the first year of ownership which is incredible and extremely advantageous for business owners.”

Potential for Economic Growth

Of course, the most general goal of tax reform is to support a healthy economy. Since many franchise businesses, like fast casual restaurants and automotive service providers, tend to target middle class consumers, a tax bill that puts more money in the pockets of those customers is likely to be a benefit for franchise owners as well.

The new tax bill adjusts the some of the tax rates for middle class families, lowering rates by a few percentage points in many cases. There’s also a larger standard deduction and child tax credit that could lead to more deductions for average families. These benefits might not have direct applications to franchise businesses right away. But over time if they have the desired effects on the economy as a whole, it could lead to a customer base with more money to spend.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “5 Ways Tax Reform is Helping Franchise Businesses” was first published on Small Business Trends

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How to Use Technology to Take Charge of Your Business Meetings

Using Technology to Improve Meetings

Meetings pose an ongoing challenge for business leaders. The goal is to lead meetings more efficiently. However, that’s easier said then done.

Although they’re a necessary part of effective communication and collaboration, meetings can easily become a drudgery for attendees. For years, interoffice meetings meant handing out a paper-based agenda. Participants would take notes on pads of paper. Once the meeting was over, leaders found it difficult to gauge how things had gone. This made it difficult to get the information they needed to improve.

Once technology entered the workplace, meetings naturally evolved. Instead of relying on flat verbal presentations, PowerPoint made it easy to convey concepts.

Using Technology to Improve Meetings

Now, meeting leaders are so busy, they may not realize that there are now many tools that can take their gatherings to the next level. Here are a few top ways technology is providing ways to lead meetings more efficiently.

Idea Capture

One of the biggest failures in business meetings is that participants are expected to serve as little more than audience members. Tools like GoWall are changing that, giving attendees the resources they need to contribute to a meeting without being disruptive. As concepts are communicated, participants can add their own thoughts to an “idea wall” in real time. Since others can see these notes, they’ll naturally feel inspired to contribute.

The result is a more engaged audience. There is also valuable documentation that leaders can use to move forward and lead meetings more efficiently. Employees feel like contributors in this situation. Therefore, they get excited about future meetings. This technology can be used for on-site get-togethers and meetings with remote staff.

Attendee Feedback

When you think of meeting feedback, you likely think of the “How was our presentation?” surveys found at many conferences and seminars. However, solutions like ParticiPoll bring a poll tool to meetings of all sizes This includes standard staff meetings. The poll can be incorporated into aPowerPoint presentation. That way, you can invite attendees to rate each presentation and provide feedback at its conclusion. You can also include polls within the presentation, having participants rate various things in real time.

This type of tool is perfect for businesses that regularly host presentations for remote participants. You’ll be able to gather votes from your entire team and use that information after the meeting concludes. Not only will you see the results of your polls live, but you’ll also be able to access all of your polls after the fact. This will allow you to identify trends so you can lead meetings more efficiently.

Meeting Intelligence

Popular solutions like Google Hangouts have revolutionized videoconferencing, making it easy to launch virtual meetings where everyone participates. Google’s tool has itself evolved over the years, adapting to the always-changing demands of the businesses that use it. Like similar collaboration tools, Google Hangouts let employees move from text-based chat to file-sharing to video chat with ease.

Among the many benefits of Google’s tool is that many people already have an account, which means they can join without signing up. They’ll also be able to access other tools within the platform, including Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Docs. This makes it easy to initiate calls not only with your existing employees, but with outside sources such as clients and contract workers. Cisco’s WebEx has also expanded its offerings over the years to help participants move easily between chatting, making phone calls, and video chatting.

Whiteboarding

Brainstorming is a great way to lead meetings more efficiently. It can call upon the expertise of an entire team, since one idea can easily feed another. But standing in front of a whiteboard with a dry-erase marker is not an option for many businesses, now that some workers and clients attend by phone. A whiteboarding app can resolve that, starting with the meeting leader’s ability to demonstrate concepts using a finger on a smart screen.

Today’s popular solutions include apps like Cisco Spark Board, which incorporates screen sharing to let multiple team members participate in whiteboarding. This can be essential for brainstorming with remote workers, as well as with clients who might want to talk through concepts. All information is saved for later, which means your team will be able to use the data to inform the project that was the topic of the meeting.

Lead Meetings More Efficiently

Whether you choose one of these tools or a combination of multiple solutions, it’s important to create an environment that helps you lead meetings more efficiently. Make sure that you’re regularly gaining the input you need to improve your future meetings. Eventually, you’ll find that employees are not only excited about upcoming business meetings, but they’re scheduling their own video chats with the easy-to-use suite of solutions you’ve put in place.

Image via Due.com

This article, “How to Use Technology to Take Charge of Your Business Meetings” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Facebook Giving Businesses the Ability to Post to Crisis Response

Facebook Community Help for Businesses Now Available in Crisis Response Center

Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) has announced businesses and organizations can now post on its Community Help feature, designed to make it easier to ask for and give help during a crisis.

Facebook Community Help for Businesses

By enabling businesses to post on Community Help will assist firms in providing critical information and services for people when they need it the most. Facebook has started to roll out the feature for certain organizations and plans to make it more widely available in forthcoming weeks.

In times of crisis, interactivity and connecting people is more important than ever. By posting on Facebook in response to a crisis, the Community Help feature will enable businesses and organizations to provide people with urgent help, such as food, shelter and transportation.

This will help businesses meet aims of providing help and assistance during times of crisis and ultimately shape stronger, more interactive communities.

As Asha Sharma, Head of Social Good at Facebook, commented in a statement on Facebook about the Community Help development:

“Our priority is to build tools that help keep people safe and provide them with ways to get the help they need to recover and rebuild after a crisis. We hope this update makes it even easier for people to get the help they need in times of crisis and will give businesses and organizations and opportunity to build stronger communities around them.”

Since it was launched in 2017, Community Help has seen people engage more than 750,000 times via posts, messages and comments. People have turned to the Community Help feature for information and assistance during more than 500 different crises around the world.

By allowing organizations and businesses to post vital information and messages will help people get the crucial assistance they need during times of crisis.

Image: Facebook

This article, “Facebook Giving Businesses the Ability to Post to Crisis Response” was first published on Small Business Trends

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2 out of 3 Service Contractors Won’t Get Hired if They’re Not Tech Savvy

Service Professionals Are Expected to Be Tech-Savvy: 2 of 3 Service Pros Won't Get Rehired if They're Not Tech Savvy

Being tech-savvy is fundamental to functioning in today’s highly connected world. A new survey commissioned by Verizon Telematics and carried out by KRC Research highlights the extent of this example as it reveals 2 out of 3 customers said they would not hire a service contractor who is not tech-savvy.

Service Professionals Are Expected to Be Tech-Savvy

The study surveyed service contractors and small businesses in heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC); construction; landscaping; plumbing and trucking/delivery. And in all cases being tech savvy did affect the bottom line across all the industries.

Service contractors are in most cases small businesses, whether they are a sole operator or part of a company that is slightly larger. For these organizations, technology is essential in optimizing operations and delivering the best possible service for their customers.

Jay Jaffin, chief marketing officer at Verizon Telematics, pointed out the importance of being technologically proficient across the entire workforce of a business. In a press release announcing the survey, he said, “In an age where nearly everyone has a smartphone, customers expect that mobility, connectivity and tech savviness will extend to the home service vendors they choose to work with,” said. “By simply connecting their vehicles and technicians, businesses can anticipate changes to schedules, handle more last-minute jobs, send a different technician to the next job if one is running late and most importantly, drive huge gains in customer satisfaction.”

The data was collected using an online survey with 506 participating service contractors working in the five service industries. It was carried out by KRC Research from Sept. 28 to Oct. 9, 2017, with a minimum of 100 professionals from each industry taking part. After the conclusion, the consumer side of the survey was completed seperately. A total of 1,026 individuals 18 years of age and older took part in the study online between Nov. 2 and Nov. 6, 2017.

Some of the Results Of the Survey

Another important data point from the consumer side of the survey was, 79 percent of U.S. consumers expect tech-savvy home service contractors.

On the service provider side, 70 percent of contractors have recognized ensuring future business success will require adopting new technologies. And contractors who have started using work applications on their mobile, tablet or laptops have noticed higher rates of customer satisfaction.

Mobile technology is especially important for this group as they are always on the move. The productivity levels of HVAC workers increased by 92 percent because of mobile technology. And 63 percent of construction workers experienced increased customer satisfaction, while another 53 percent said they saw higher sales.

The infographic below has additional information about the survey.

Service Professionals Are Expected to Be Tech-Savvy: 2 of 3 Service Pros Won't Get Rehired if They're Not Tech Savvy

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “2 out of 3 Service Contractors Won’t Get Hired if They’re Not Tech Savvy” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Want to Step Up to Your Biggest Small Business Challenge? Read This First

Small Business Revolution-Main Street: Ty Pennington Says This is the Biggest Challenge Facing a Small Business -- And How to Overcome It

As a philanthropist and award winning television host of shows like “Trading Spaces and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” Ty Pennington has a proven track record of motivating people. That’s why Small Business Trends was happy to interview him and learn what he thought was the biggest challenge facing a small business.

“People who have small businesses are focused on what their passion is. They don’t always know what it’s like to try and market or the best way to accomplish that goal with their brand,” he said. Pennington will be co hosting the third season of the web series Small Business Revolution — Main Street.  He says finding a team that can focus on branding for you can revolutionize the way you look at your business and help to revitalize a small town that’s struggling at the same time.

Small Business Revolution-Main Street

Business Services

“Small Business Revolution — Main Street” is sponsored by Deluxe, a company that offers a variety of small business services. The show brings small town community leaders, experts and business professionals together to help small towns and smaller enterprises there. Over the first two seasons, small businesses in Indiana and Pennsylvania got help with business and marketing advice as well as physical improvements totaling $500,000.

Voting for the third season’s winner in underway here

Amanda Brinkman stars in “Small Business Revolution — Main Street” and she’s also the executive producer of the show. She told Small Business Trends she’s seen a few areas that challenge small businesses’ success.

 Know Your Numbers

“We’ve seen two things. First is their finances. Knowing their numbers and what their numbers are telling them is important,” she says adding the second big challenge is staying on top of and understanding the technology curves that help small business owners get the most from digital innovations.

“A lot of people didn’t start a business because they couldn’t wait to build a website or use email marketing to stay in front of their customers,” she says.

As well as working on the upcoming season of “Small Business Revolution — Main Street,” Pennington’s flagship show, Trading Spaces, is set to come back on air on the TLC network in April.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Want to Step Up to Your Biggest Small Business Challenge? Read This First” was first published on Small Business Trends

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7 Ways A Cloud Based Virtual Assistant Will Make You a Better Entrepreneur

Sponsored Post

Cloud Based Virtual Assistant Benefits

Did you know that more than half of Americans want their own personal AI assistant, and why not? Having a cloud-based virtual assistant to hand your tasks off to is like a dream; your own guy or girl Friday that can handle everything from scheduling to research, project management, and even sales.

Happily, with the rise of cloud based virtual assistants, this dream is coming true. And, for entrepreneurs, there are many benefits to using one.

What is a Cloud Based Virtual Assistant?

Before we jump into the benefits however, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page as to what a cloud based virtual assistant is.

A cloud based virtual assistant is an app that understands “natural” language text or voice commands and can complete tasks on your behalf. In other words, you can talk to the app using real, everyday words. In addition, the app can live online or on a device like your smartphone.

What we’re not talking about here is a human virtual assistant. While those folks can provide many benefits of their own, they’re not part of this conversation.

Whether online or on a device, one critical feature of a cloud based virtual assistant is its ability to connect to multiple systems and sources of data. For this reason, they are “cloud-based” because they can reach into the cloud to access what they need. As you’ll see below, this is how they get work done for you.

Cloud Based Virtual Assistant Benefits

Cloud based virtual assistants help you be a better entrepreneur by taking on the tasks that can fill your time so you can focus on higher-value work like delighting your customers and finding more of them.

Here’s a look at some of the ways you can use a virtual assistant.

Onboarding Sales Leads

You can waste a lot of time with tire-kickers, folks who download your sales materials but aren’t really interested in buying anything.

Tools like Conversica help you discover your most promising sales leads by starting a conversation that eventually leads to contact with a human. Once you’ve got them on the phone, the business is yours to win.

Meeting Scheduler

One of the most time-consuming tasks is setting up a meeting. You send the invite, they say they can’t make it and off you go with that lovely game we call “let’s see if we can find a time and place to meet in under 10 emails.”

Wouldn’t it be great to hand off that whole process to someone else? Well, thanks to the rise of virtual assistants like x.ai, you can. This tool handles all the back and forth to set up meetings and all you have to do is provide some basic input at the beginning.

Now you can spend more time actually meeting rather than trying to set the meeting up.

Meeting Facilitator

Once your meeting is set up, a virtual assistant can help you make the most of your time together. This technology is still evolving, but we get an interesting peek into the future of virtual meeting assistants in the infographic below from Cisco; a future that is starting to arrive today. The future looks pretty sweet from here.

Cloud Based Virtual Assistant Benefits

Project Management Assistant

Project management is a key element of a well run business. Using project management helps assure that work gets done and delivered on time and as promised.

However, finding out what’s going on at any one moment can mean a lot of time spent running down updates and statuses.

Now you can get around that problem by using a virtual assistant like the one created by integrating Redbooth and Cisco Spark. This “virtual project management assistant” can run down questions like, “Where’s everyone with their tasks,” “How much time is left before this part of the project is done?”, and “How many hours should I bill my client this month?”

It’s nice to be able to spend your time working in your business rather than on your business, right?

On-Demand Info

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to get critical information on the fly just by asking a question? That’s exactly what Dickey’s Barbecue is starting to roll-out to their chain of franchise restaurants.

Laura Rea Dickey, CEO of the Dallas-based company, says franchisees can use an Amazon Echo to ask Alexa for “up-to-date data on daily sales, inventory levels, scheduled deliveries by suppliers, customer ratings, and even optimal smoking times.” And that’s all without leaving the kitchen.

Outside of the work area, folks can still access visual data as well.

Personal Assistant

Aside from scheduling, cloud based virtual assistants can make it feel like secretaries have come back in style. Some examples include:

  • Providing reminders so you never miss a meeting,.
  • Adding items to your to-do list,
  • Reading your email to you and even replying,
  • Making conference calls for you so you don’t have to remember to bring the number,
  • Finding flights, lodging and restaurants for you locally or when you travel,
  • Finding out the weather forecast and reporting news you’re interested in hearing.

Housekeeper

After a hard day at work, wouldn’t it be nice to come back to a comfortable home? Using cloud based connections with smart devices, a virtual assistant can make sure that the lights are on, soothing music is playing and the temperature is just right.

A well-rested and relaxed entrepreneur is an effective entrepreneur and a cloud based virtual assistant can help you enjoy your time out of the office.

Additional Resources

The links below lead to handy posts that can help you learn more and get started with a cloud based personal assistant today.

  • 12 Voice Assistants Available Today to Help Organize Your Business
  • 24 Ways Amazon Alexa Skills Can Help Your Small Business Today
  • Onboarding Microsoft’s Cortana to Your Small Business Team

For more on how to offer AI virtual assistance as part of a larger cloud based business service, contact Meylah today.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “7 Ways A Cloud Based Virtual Assistant Will Make You a Better Entrepreneur” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Sick and Tired of Doing Content Marketing Without a Plan? Read This

Which Types of Marketing Content Are Actually Worth Your Time to Create?

Case studies. Whitepapers. Blog posts. Social content. Videos. Newsletters.

Your content obligations never end. In fact, B2B marketers employ an average of 13 different content marketing tactics.

And it’s no wonder — content marketing has incredible potential for those who can master the craft. According to this year’s B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report for North America from CMI, the most effective content marketers allocate 42 percent of their total marketing budget to content.

Companies are increasingly spending more on content, yet just 30 percent say their organizations are effective at content marketing. Incredibly, 55 percent aren’t even sure what content marketing effectiveness would look like.

Where’s the disconnect?

For starters, the mere thought of content marketing can be overwhelming, particularly for SMBs and mid-sized brands. Developing a strategy is key, yet so many miss this critical first step and instead jump head first into content creation, just to say they’re creating something.

That’s just not sustainable. You can’t throw your resources at creating different content types without having systems in place to measure its efficacy and adjust for better marketing ROI over the life of your campaigns.

A key consideration is deciding which content type or types are most worth your time, effort and resources. Which pieces of content resonate best with users? Which are best for each stage of your funnel? Which content types generate not only the most, but the best quality leads for your business?

This awesome and comprehensive infographic explores 11 popular content types, with an analysis of each that includes:

  • What it is
  • The benefits of doing it
  • “Sweet spots”–where this content type works best
  • How much it costs to outsource
  • How difficult it is to start and maintain
  • Power tips to help you master this content type

Selecting the Right Types of Marketing Content

If you’re struggling to keep up with your content obligations and not sure the various pieces of your content marketing strategy are really working together, check this out and keep it handy. The key to the best content marketing ROI lies in focusing your efforts where they have the potential for greatest impact.

Check it out:

Which Types of Marketing Content Are Actually Worth Your Time to Create?

Image: Venngage

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Sick and Tired of Doing Content Marketing Without a Plan? Read This” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Apply These 4 Secret Techniques to Turn Your Blog Visitors into Customers

4 Tips to Help Turn Blog Visitors into Customers

To blog or not to blog? I get this question from our eCommerce clients all the time. Many of them have tried blogging, but are discouraged because “it hasn’t worked for them.” They publish several articles per week or per month and give up when they don’t see the sales coming in right way.

One of the many reasons why they don’t see results is because of low website traffic. Unfortunately, if a website has low traffic, blogging won’t increase that traffic overnight. To have articles or blogs rank organically, it takes months and requires the execution of several search engine optimization practices.

However, many of those clients do have website traffic but still have no eCommerce conversions … so, what’s going on in those cases? I’ve found that most experience poor results because they don’t optimize their articles for conversions and don’t implement other efforts to stay in front of their readers. As you’ll see in the tips below, the key is to think of content as the initial point of contact, or an introduction. Once you grab the attention of your readers, you can then nurture them until they convert into paying customers.

How to Turn Blog Visitors into Customers

1. Create Relevant Content

No matter how much content you produce, if it doesn’t speak to your ideal target customer, you’ll be wasting your time engaging the wrong type of readers. Thus, take time to develop a content calendar that speaks to your audience and addresses their specific interests or concerns.

Think of your content as a helping guide for your ideal customers in different stages of the buying cycle: awareness, consideration and purchase. For instance, let’s say you have an eCommerce store that sells boating shoes and you’re trying to get new customers that are in two different stages of the buying process:  awareness and consideration.

As you can imagine, the content produced for ideal customers in the awareness stage will be totally different from the content generated for ideal customers in the consideration stage. The ones in the awareness stage are not familiar with your brand, so they’ll need a “softer” introduction to your products.

For example, you can create a fashion guide about how to pair boating shoes with clothing. In that guide, you can introduce your shoe brand to users who were just looking to learn fashion tips online and were not specifically searching for your shoe brand.

On the other hand, the content targeting ideal customers in the consideration stage can be more focused on your brand and benefits because this target already knows your brand. For example, that can be the case of a user who already joined your newsletter but hasn’t made a purchase yet. If so, that user can get an article like this one:

4 Tips to Help Turn Blog Visitors into Customers

In such articles, you’ll want to emphasize things like your unique value proposition, company story, and/or testimonials. In other words, convince users that your store is better than your competitor’s.

2. Capture Your Readers’ Email Address

This tip is essential to make other key efforts work successfully. The idea is to capture your reader’s information while they are reading your blogs, so you can build your email list, retarget those contacts on other platforms, and email them to convert them into paying customers.

One of the best ways to do this is by using email lightboxes. They are pop-ups that capture email information, usually by providing an incentive such as a discount offer. See below how Banana Republic encourages visitors to join its newsletter using pop-ups:4 Tips to Help Turn Blog Visitors into Customers

They may seem like a small addition to your website, but I’ve seen a great increase in email subscriptions thanks to this little tool. And the more targeted you can make it to the user, the better. You can customize them with many online tools or apps that will allow you to take care of the whole design and customization process.

Sumo is one of those tools, and it will allow you to get super targeted with your pop-ups. For instance, you can use this tool to customize your pop-up copy based on specific URLs. So, you would be able to show different messages according to the website your reader is on.

Let’s say your visitor is reading about how to choose the perfect engagement ring. Then you can show a message that says something like: “Looking for the perfect ring? We’ll help you decide. Add your email below.” This message would be very different from the one another visitor can get reading about necklaces. Targeted messages like those will increase your conversion rate.

3. Retarget Your Readers on Social Media

Not all your blog visitors will be ready to make a purchase at a moment they read one of your articles, and that’s okay. As long as you remind them about your brand and products, they will come back to your store if they are interested. The low conversions arise when you don’t stay in front of those blog readers, and they end up forgetting about your brand in the long run.

In other words, what you need to do is remarketing. There are many platforms that can be used for remarketing, but, in this tip, we’ll talk about social media.

There are two ways you can retarget your previous blog readers using social media:

  1. Using their email addresses
  2. Based on your website’s tracking pixel

The first option, using an email list, will help you retarget the users that subscribed to your newsletters while reading one of your blogs. This segment will be “warmer” than the “all visitors” segment because they decided to engage with your brand.

To retarget an email list, you’ll have to create a custom audience on Facebook. Just go to “Audiences” located in the drop-down menu of your Ads Manager, and select the first option: Customer File.

4 Tips to Help Turn Blog Visitors into Customers

Then you’ll have the option to import your contacts directly from Mailchimp or upload a CSV file. Choose whichever option works best for you.

4 Tips to Help Turn Blog Visitors into Customers

If you choose the CSV option, you’ll see a popup like the one below:

4 Tips to Help Turn Blog Visitors into Customers

Just upload your file, follow the instructions and you’ll be able to create a new custom audience for your remarketing ads.

Another option available is to target previous blog readers based on your Facebook Pixel. To do this, just go back to the Audiences tab, but this time select the second option: Website Traffic.

4 Tips to Help Turn Blog Visitors into Customers

On the next screen, select “People who visited specific web pages” to only target people who have visited your blog. Then, to “URL contains” add “blog.” This will work if you use the word “blog” for all your article URLs. If you’d like to target specific blogs, add the content there.

4 Tips to Help Turn Blog Visitors into Customers

Once your custom audience is populated by Facebook, you’ll be able to use it in your campaigns. 

4. Set Up an Email Drip Campaign

 At this point, you have a strategy set up for email capture and retargeting; now it’s time to nurture your leads. You can do this with an email drip campaign. Don’t get scared by that term. They are just email campaigns set up with automated rules, optimized for conversions.

For instance, you can set up an email drip campaign for anyone who signs up for your newsletters so they automatically get a welcome email. According to the recipient’s behavior (opens it vs. doesn’t open it), you will then set up another email accordingly. So, if a user opens it, you can send another piece of content to keep nurturing that lead, and so on.

Email drip campaigns increase conversions because they are automatic (you don’t have to follow up manually) which reduces human error — and they are sent in a timely manner. The users will get the emails you’ve set up as soon as they fulfill any rules in the drip campaign.

Conclusion

Armed with these tips, it’s time to start turning those blog visitors into lifelong customers of your brand. What other tricks or tactics have you used in the past that have worked in this instance? I’d love to discuss new ideas in the comments below.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Apply These 4 Secret Techniques to Turn Your Blog Visitors into Customers” was first published on Small Business Trends

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20% of All Searches are Made with Voice (INFOGRAPHIC)

Online Advertising Trends: 20% of All Searches are Voice Searches

A new and very interactive infographic by Adzooma takes a look at how online advertising will be trending in 2018. And one of the data points is the growth of voice search, which now makes up 20 percent of inquiries on Google’s mobile app and Android devices.

Online Advertising Trends

In addition to the upcoming trends in 2018, the infographic also provides tips to stay abreast of changing technologies, new SEO requirements, and the way we communicate digitally. Adzooma also looks at audience targeting, Google, PPC, images and videos along with voice search.

The reason your small business needs to keep up with the information in this infographic is that online and mobile advertising is taking over traditional advertising around the world. And if you don’t know where your customers are, buying ads in a medium they don’t use will yield a low return on your investment.

The data for the infographic comes from Adzooma, which specializes in Small business online advertising, and from Search Engine Land, Google, and other sources.

Integrating Voice Technology into Your Small Business

Voice search is growing, and according to the data below, it will account for 50 percent of all searches by 2020. So making your website, ads and other digital assets voice friendly is key to ensuring you won’t be left out now and in the near future.

Online Advertising Trends: 20% of All Searches are Voice Searches

Another benefit of using voice technology is it conveys a more clear intent of what users are searching for. This gives marketers, SEO specialists and your small business a much better way to make your ads and marketing campaigns easier to find.

Location-based optimization or GPS-based SEO is growing along with video ads. And mobile will continue to be the key technology driving online advertising, which now stands at 43 percent of all digital ad spend.

According to Adzooma, the glue holding it all together is still Google. Not only does it deliver around $2 for every cent spent on Google Adwords, but it now has 32.4 percent of mobile spend advertising too.

You can take a look at the interactive infographic below to find out more about audience targeting, PPC and more.

Photo via Shutterstock, Other images: Adzooma

This article, “20% of All Searches are Made with Voice (INFOGRAPHIC)” was first published on Small Business Trends

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