What Every Digital Marketer Should Know About Mobile Payment

The internet is vast and full of possibilities and one of those possibilities is online marketing for different businesses. Online marketing is a form of internet marketing that greatly affects the world of businesses with its versatility in promoting products. It can make a certain product popular in an instant.

On the other note, there is also a rise of mobile technology which enables online marketing to grow further and provide accessible product information to its target market. One feature of this technology is the mobile payment methods using smartphones. It’s faster, more convenient, and often linked to valuable rewards and discounts. Being that said, mobile payment is a versatile and safer method that every online marketer should be fully familiar with to take every advantage it has to offer for the business. And this article will be of great help to you.

What is Mobile Payment?

Mobile payment is an easy way to pay for performing it through a mobile device. These new applications use a type of wireless communication called Near Field Communication (NFC) rather than the magnet strip or chip on your credit card. This method provides a safer and more convenient alternative as compared to other payment methods available as this could be done anywhere, anytime. And this is predicted to continue to grow in the future.

What is a Mobile Wallet?

The mobile wallet is a mobile technology that stores payment card information on a mobile device, much like a real wallet would do. The mobile wallet can hold rewards cards, medical records, credit and debit cards, and personal items. So instead of using your physical credit or debit card to make purchases, you can pay via your mobile device. Add the fact that upon using a mobile wallet, you can be safe from stealing because your manual wallet can be stolen or lost. But the mobile wallet is a virtual concept so nobody can steal it or you can’t lose it.

 

Contactless Payments

 

Near Field Communication is the technology that allows two devices (such as your phone and a payment terminal) to communicate to each other when they’re close together. The process itself is very secure because your phone and the payment terminal are the only ones which are communicating. It is locked on your phone, unlike having multiple credit cards that might get lost. Examples of NFC payment apps are Apple pay, Android pay, which are included in certain mobile devices.

Apple Pay

Apple pay is the payment system available for iPhones. It uses NFC to only work for transactions and payments. Due to Apple’s security policy, it’s one of the safest forms of mobile payments out there. iPhones are famous throughout the world and companies adapt to trends set by Apple themselves since joining the Apple Pay system will increase the possibility of boosting their market and sales.

Android Pay

Android Pay was announced in 2015 and is one of the best mobile payments systems available due to the Android platform. It works by using NFC as well in order to create contactless payments by using credit/debit card information stored in the account. A randomly generated 16-digit number is sent, rather than your credit card and personal info. That means if that terminal, or the store that you used, is hacked, your personal financial info should be safe. Android Pay is supported in US, UK Canada and some handful of countries, and will continue to add support in the future. Retailers include McDonald's, KFC, Macy’s and other convenient services.

Samsung Pay

Samsung Pay is the counterpart of Apple Pay and Android Pay and works using the same way as the previous mobile payment systems mentioned above by using NFC. Samsung Pay works mostly for Galaxy S devices. It works with almost all point-of-sale systems. Using this is very simple – from the lock screen, swipe up from the small Samsung Pay bar just above the home button. Select the card you want to use, then place your finger on the home button to verify your fingerprint. Hold the back of the phone against the payment terminal.

       

How Mobile Payments Can Boost Your Business

 

People often underestimate mobile payments as insignificant and a mere technological evolution, but the mobile payment system is far from insignificant. It is actually the future of future payments for it is portable and adaptable. And using this trend equates to different gained advantages of mobile technology that can boost your business. Here are some of those:

Improve Productivity

Improving payment methods boosts eagerness for consumers to buy your product and it improves your business productivity. An example of which is Starbucks and their mobile order-and-pay app, which became a hit in the US. It also helps to process payments faster, and more convenient and lessens time consumed in lines for orders. It can also be used for determining promos and discounts.

Generate New Business

The ability to include mobile payments into existing operations can create synergies that generate new sales and streams of revenue for the business adapting it. An example of this is Kenya’s leading mobile network operator Safaricom which launched a mobile payment system called M-Pesa. Today, more than two-thirds of Kenyans use M-Pesa to make or receive payments.

Increase Stickiness of Core Business

Including mobile payments in a company or business portfolio makes sense, even when offered for free, payment system adds a touch of availability for the customers, therefore making them feel convenient due to the available choices of payment methods. Strong networks effects that increase customer retention are established because they might think that switching to another company is much most costly.

 

Benefits of Mobile Business on Your Business

 

Mobile business is not just a technological innovation. From a simple website design to mobile application, it is also a potential new way for people to make transactions. Jumping into this trend will maximize your profits with its benefits like promotion, and advertisement of products that you would provide for the online consumer, and throughout the growing industry. More benefits are available like:

Helps You Keep Your Information Safe

Mobile Wallets keep your information safe by using special applications that provide more convenient ways to pay. Brands like Starbucks and CVS are examples of those, they save information like favorite products, so ease of use and promos can be established, therefore boosting customer experience and sales.

Convenient

People are carrying less and less cash, for safety and for fewer worries or bulk in their wallets, they have their phones ready for payment and always available in their pockets, this combination provides portable and convenience for the customer, by just tapping on the phone in order to pay, with no hassles like going into an ATM.

Fast Transactions

With the rise of mobile payment, it is now the fastest way to pay a transaction and takes just about seconds, compared to EMV cards, which sometimes might fail. With this, mobile payments will be adopted thoroughly by companies and businesses for a better experience, and faster transactions mean more allowance of time for more customers in line.

Security

Mobile payments feature dynamic encryption making them extremely secure, while at the same time easily accessible whenever you need it, requiring just your thumbprint or any other forms of security methods to process transactions.

How to Attract Online Holiday Shoppers: Show Up On Top!

At this time of year, online holiday shoppers are buying gifts for their loved ones and gears for the new year. This is the perfect time to push marketing efforts and promotions for your products and offering. If you're a Verlocal host, we've got you covered through our newest marketing campaign. This will be something that you can utilize for the future as well.

Presenting the "Deals" section on Verlocal.com!

Verlocal.com Landing Page

Verlocal.com Landing Page

This section will be launched by the time of our annual holiday marketing campaign.The 7 Days Till Christmas Holiday Deals will be available for current and new members of Verlocal to book your class as it will be displayed on the top of the Verlocal landing page, search page, an actionable display on your listings and a dedicated ads expenditure.

Verlocal.com Search Page

Verlocal.com Search Page

How To Get Featured:

1. Simply sign on to your Verlocal host account. [Not a host? Sign Up Here

2. Go to your Verlocal Business Dashboard and go to Tools > Discounts

Business Dashboard > Tools > Discounts

Business Dashboard > Tools > Discounts

3. Create your discount code. i.e. enter code: xmasdiscounts

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4. Select the options according to the display below: 

  • Enter Fixed or Rate based discount amounts
  • Ensure discounts are applied Verlocal Marketplace to be featured.
  • Ensure to select "yes" under promote on marketplace
  • Then, select your specific listing
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That's it! Once discounts are created, allow us to take the rest of the work and promote your classes through our advertising channels, newsletters, and 3rd party promotional channels. 

How to Use Email Marketing to Encourage Word-of-Mouth Referrals

For centuries, businesses have depended on word-of-mouth marketing to attract new customers. With the advent of digital channels such as social networks, not much has changed.

Conventional marketing methods such as print and broadcast advertising, together with pay-per-click advertising can spread awareness of your brand. Still, regardless of how well you pitch your products and services, traditional advertising often fails to build trust.

For the most part, trust comes with experience. For this reason, shoppers have an intense interest in the experiences that other people have had with your brand. Even when a testimonial or product review comes from a complete stranger, it can have more influence than any branded messaging.

So, if you want people to believe that your brand is fantastic, you need to let other people tell that story. To make this happen, consider using email. The following tips will help you effectively use email to build word-of-mouth marketing campaigns.



IT ALMOST NEVER HURTS TO INCLUDE A HASHTAG

Adding a hashtag to your email messages is a subtle way to spark conversations. As a matter of fact, by clicking the hashtag, recipients can instantly transition from email to social media. Also, by connecting with a hashtag, you will have a chance to monitor what people are saying about your message and brand.

Make sure that you choose a hashtag that accurately reflects your brand, so it makes sense to your users. Meanwhile, you want to control your hashtag while also making it easy for users to remember and use.

Hashtags also give you a good way to encourage people to share photos of your products in use. Regardless of where you post these images, your hashtag can tie them all together. Moreover, you can organize contests and other incentives to encourage people to share their experiences.



OFFER EXCLUSIVE DEALS

Include special offers in every marketing email that you send. When you do, you encourage them to share the opportunities and thereby promote your brand. Such referrals can result in a surge of short-term sales and build long-term goodwill for your business.

To accelerate your word-of-mouth results, provide special referral incentives that specifically ask your recipients to act. You may even limit such an effort to your best customers to reward them for their loyalty.

When you ask people to refer customers, treat them courteously and make the process as effortless as possible. In other words, give people the VIP treatment. This includes rewarding referees with discounts and freebies.

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REACH OUT TO INFLUENCERS

Connect with influential people in your industry to expand your audience and build the authority of your brand. You can get started by sending emails to prominent bloggers who might give your brand a mention or recommendation.

Essentially, you want to build an entire network of influencers whose opinions rank almost as highly as those of a friend. To find people who can promote your brand, search pertinent hashtags on sites such as Twitter. You can also find influencers in private Facebook groups.

Sometimes incentives can boost the responsiveness of influencers. So, consider offering them free products or special deals that will help them justify spending time and effort on your brand.



HOW TO GET THE BEST RESULTS?

Getting messages opened and read presents a major challenge for many email marketers. Some simple practices can improve the performance of your email campaigns:

  • Wisely choose your email platform and a professional email address. Different providers may have different advantages. For example, Gmail offers high security while Outlook lets you recall messages.

  • Create short, personalized subject lines that both have pizazz and avoid spammy words such as “buy”, “discount” and “order.”

  • Carefully craft your content. Keep it focused on your message and avoid wordiness.

  • At the end, make sure you include a clear call-to-action and a button or link that is easily seen and clicked.

In summary, you can harness the power of email as part of an effective word-of-mouth campaign. By including hashtags and inspiring people to share, you can dramatically increase the number of referrals that you get. In the end, your efforts to include influencers and solid email practices will pay off in the form of steady sales growth.

 

Author bio: Ashley Wilson is a freelance writer interested in business, marketing, and tech topics. She has been known to reference Harry Potter quotes in casual conversation and enjoys baking homemade treats for her husband and their two felines, Lady and Gaga. Connect with Ashley via Twitter.

 

Big data and business growth: 7 best-kept secrets

Just a few years ago, most organizations were unsure about how to implement big data analytics into their business models. This is because the cost of analysis was huge and it was a lengthy process. But today, everything has become digitized and data is flooding in from every possible direction.  

Organizations can obtain terabytes and petabytes of data from various sources, like their operations and transactional systems, customer service points, landing pages, mobile and web media platforms etc.

But instead of using all this data to their advantage, companies are overwhelmed by the concept of big data. According to a survey held by big data solutions provider, Talend, only 10% of the respondents implemented big data analysis on a large scale, despite seeing nearly 40% growth in interest in big data within their organization.

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But, if you want your business to survive in today's fast-paced technological environment, you need to stay on top of the game. Big data is the key to get valuable insights from customer behavior patterns that will enable you to make timely decisions and help your business grow.

You cannot expect your brand to develop further without knowing customer demands and market trends. This is when big data tools come to your rescue.

Big data analytics can help you examine gigantic amounts of data and uncover the important aspects that will help your business step forward in the right direction. In fact, it is an indispensable source that will help to design new products or services according to the needs of your clientele.

Here are 7 of our best-kept secrets that can improve sales, increase profits and guarantee customer satisfaction in your business. Just base your business model on the following words of Edward Demming, and watch the magic unfold- "In God we trust, everyone else bring data".

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1. Increased efficiency

In the last few years, especially after the arrival of the internet, enhanced connectivity has connected almost every individual to a social media platform. The footprint of e-commerce organizations has grown tremendously and now successful companies are using data analysis tools and data management systems to plan their next marketing initiative.

Big data analytics provide you an instant update on how well your organization is performing. Valuable customer insights help you point the strengths and weaknesses of your product and workforce. By implementing this analysis, you can increase your efficiency immediately and motivate your team to perform even better than before.

2- Improved pricing techniques

Pricing your products can be tricky. Price them too low and you will be facing a loss. Price them higher than average, and you will be pushing your customer away. This is why, you should be aware of the ongoing pricing trends in the market.

By using effective D3 data visualization in data analysis tools, you can check out the competitors' prices and also set your minimum. Big data makes it easy for you to understand market sentiments related to your brand as well as other competing brands in your area.

3- Minimize the risk factor

Entrepreneurs are scared of a loss, while planning to expand their business. One wrong decision can make an undesirable impact on the whole company. Big data can help mitigate the risk involved in expanding. With the reliable prediction tools big data has to offer, CFOs and auditors can monitor risk in advance and stay away from common project failure points.

4- Innovative approach

Big data analysis helps organizations identify the needs of their customers and understanding them in a much better way. Equipped with valuable customer insight, you can design a product or a service that is much more efficient and up to the mark.

You can choose to be as innovative as you want and pertain to the customer's point of view while brainstorming. This will help you to grow in the right direction.

5- Satisfied customers

Everyone knows that nothing can help a business grow more than its loyal customer following can. With the help of big data pattern analysis and opportunities, you can make sure that none of your customers return unsatisfied. Identify brand improvement opportunities through customer reviews, discover the pain points within your product, offer personalized shopping - the possibilities for improving customer service through big data analytics are endless.

6- Monitor your brand's reputation

Before planning to grow, it is essential to understand your organization's current standing. Big data analysis can help you by actively monitoring your social media presence. Big data has created a social scale and your company will be scored on excellent customer service, online reputation, corporate social responsibility etc. All these factors help in building a positive online reputation which is extremely important if you plan to expand within the next few years.

7- Effective advertising

Through big data analytics, you can test all your advertising materials for their effectiveness. All landing pages, pop-ups and images should be assessed and tweaked regularly to see if they are making the desired impact on your customers. This approach helps you identify the best sources of advertisement so that you can drive maximum engagement and sales towards your website.

Advertising is expensive and by using big data analysis, you can know which advertising technique resonates best with your customers and get immediate return on your investment.

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Conclusion

Without any doubt, the future of business growth depends on how intelligently you are applying the business analysis potential offered by big data. If you provide your enterprise with the understanding, techniques and tools to leverage big data insights effectively then nothing can stop you from succeeding.

So, take out the time to get into the nitty gritty of big data and apply it to all areas of your business operations. You will be surprised to see the instant improvements after using a good data analytic tool.

Which areas of your business are you analyzing through big data? Share your best-kept secrets related to big data analytics that can help other entrepreneurs grow their business.

 

ABOUT Alycia Gordan

Alycia Gordan is a freelance writer who loves to read and write articles on healthcare technology, fitness and lifestyle. She is a tech junkie and divides her time between travel and writing. You can find her on Twitter: @meetalycia

 

 

How to Broaden Your Audience

No business can hope to succeed without customers. Sure, you might think that the only thing you need to do is open up shop and wait for customers. Truthfully, it's much more complicated than that. Today's market is saturated with various businesses and they all struggle to attract the right customers. Also, you can't just start promoting your business to random people either, because it would only be a waste of time and resources.

If you want to reach success, you need to identify your target audience. Your target audience is essential for your business because they are the consumers that will show interest in your products or services. Moreover, they are the people you'll most likely convert into customers, and use relationships you've built with them to expand your reach and grow your business. Here are a few ways to broaden your audience.

 

Identify your audience

When your business is fresh on the market, its influence isn't developed enough to effectively reach everyone. More importantly, no one has the funds to appeal to everyone. It's better to identify a specific niche and focus your efforts there. For instance, you may target consumers that fit the criteria of "everyone who's interested in buying my products or services", but that is a bit too general. Instead, define the market further to identify consumers who are most likely to buy from you.

However, that doesn't mean you're excluding everyone that fits the previous criteria; instead, you're currently focusing your investment where it will generate the biggest ROI. Don't worry, as your ability to generate more income improves, so will your ability to reach a broader audience. Still, you'll need to conduct thorough market research in order to you identify your target audience first and make sure your efforts aren't in vain.

 

Determine who isn't a part of your audience

In order to identify who isn’t a part of your audience, you must take a closer look at your existing audience. For example, who are your current customers and why did they decide to buy from you? What characteristics and interests do these consumers have in common? That will help you identify people who could also benefit from your products or services but are not a part of your audience for some reason.

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Then it's up to you to identify the problem - what is it that drives them away, and what can you do to mend the situation? Here's a good example, Universum, a Stockholm-based company, had difficulties reaching out and engaging with their non-academic audience. With the use of the right social media analytics, the company has managed to identify a problem and adapt their content to pique the audience's interest. Therefore, the problem could simply be in your approach.

 

Market to audiences, not people

Personalization allows you to target specific individuals with customized offers and lead them to make a purchasing decision. However, too much personalization can show consumers that you've gathered a bit too much information on them. Also, too little personalization, and your offer will feel the same as any other. But in truth, individual personalization isn't always as effective as entrepreneurs tend to believe.

First of all, it would cost too much to tailor personalized messages to each individual customer in your audience. Second, you need too much data and time to identify each individual's preferences and dislikes. That's why marketing to audiences is much more effective. The main reason is that once you identify common interests and preferences in your audience, you can leverage that to tailor messages and promotions to everyone in your focus group.

 

Collaborate

 

Broadening your audience doesn't mean you have to do it alone, especially if you don't have the right idea or you lack the funds to properly implement one. A good way to extend your reach would be to establish a partnership or simply team up with someone from similar niches and leverage each other's audiences to expand both of them. For instance, let's say you're in the business of selling nail polish, while your partner from a similar niche sells makeup. Both niches have women as their target audience in general, but aren't competitors in any way.

You can collaborate and organize a beauty event which would bring both audiences into a shared event space. That way, you'll be helping each other out by recommending a similar business to your audiences, who share the common interest in beauty products. If you recommend to customers that like your nail polish a business that sells makeup, and vice versa, you're basically expanding each other's consumer base.

 

Content, content, content

Content is king in the marketing world because it offers something of value to the customers, such as education, entertainment or simply information. A familiar cliché when establishing relationships with customers is:  "You get what you give". Simply put, you must provide value to customers to get engagement and loyalty in return, and content is the best way to achieve that. However, the content you provide must be relevant to your audience to produce the best results.

Let's go back to the Universum example. In order to reach their non-academic audience, the company launched a "Millennial project" that consisted of six-part eBook series accompanied by other content. The research addressed the issue of millennial concerns about career, retirement, work-life balance and so on. By addressing an important issue, Universum managed to get the uncooperative part of their audience aboard. The point being that, by adapting your content to different needs, you’ll be able to reach a broader audience and expand your consumer base.

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Broadening your audience doesn’t happen overnight. However, if you nurture and cherish your relationship with your customers, both your business and your audience will grow over time.

 

 

 

About Jolene Rutherford

Jolene Rutheford is a marketing specialist-turned blogger. Interested in media and social media, digital marketing, and psychology. Loves coffee, jazz, dystopian and fantasy movies.
 

4 Reasons To Use Instagram To Market Your Business

Have you been looking for a fun way to market your business? If you haven’t considered Instagram, then it’s time you did. With half a billion users, 300 million of whom are active every month, the potential locked up in that social media platform is enormous. So why should you use Instagram to create brand awareness and drive traffic to your site? Here are a few reasons!

Stay at the forefront of your audience’s mind – Even though you want to make sure that you offer fascinating and even mind-blowing content, you will be surprised to know that if you publish average content consistently, you will be able to engage your clients and gain followers with ease.  By creating your Instagram business profile and sharing useful information, fun facts and more, you will engage the audience and appear at the top of their news feed.  

  1. Marketing strategy – Before you dive right in, you need to create a content strategy that targets your potential clientele. You want something that will grab their attention and also cater to the various preferences represented by your audience. Not only should you post great pictures, you also need to make sure that you use the right filters to show off your pictures to their best advantage. In addition, make use of the Instagram stories feature that allows you to showcase live videos for twenty-four hours. Be sure to diversify the content as well so that people expect more than the same old stuff day in day out.

  2. Market real-time – Today people are going live on social media all the time and Instagram is not being left behind. You can do some real-time marketing that allows you to reach the audience you are targeting right in the nick of time. You can use a company like Gramista to help you come up with your Instagram marketing plan and action it so that you keep up with all the changes that happen. If you are having a sale, a promotion or some other event, you can post live and encourage your audience to come by. This makes people feel connected to what you are doing and gives it a personal touch.

  3. Have a great time with marketing – Even though marketing your products and services is serious business, there is no reason why you shouldn’t have fun with it!  Instagram makes it easy to post your photos and go live, which will save you lots of time. You don’t have to worry about having perfect pictures, or content that is extraordinary; you just need to make sure that you showcase your pictures to their best advantage and post regularly too. With the videos, you can let loose and have a little more fun as you show your audience what happens behind the scenes as well.  Make marketing fun and you will make more sales.

Make sure that your business profile is high-quality, stay visible, direct traffic to your website and create an unforgettable brand. Be sure to engage your target audience and by so doing, leverage their networks as well.  

Bio: Harris is a leading blog writer and content marketing professional with thousands of real Instagram followers for his postings.

How to Create a Results-Oriented Marketing Campaign

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Marketers often struggle with getting the results needed to justify their budget. For this reason, you should design every campaign to maximize your return on investment. Of course, to do this, you need to know how.

Decide today that you will not be one of the many marketers who fail to define their audiences and choose the wrong tactics. Instead, create results-oriented marketing campaigns by investing time and effort in market research and planning.

Additionally, after knowing what you want to achieve and whom you want to reach, you can improve your results by adjusting your tactics. The following tips will help you learn how to create a results-oriented marketing campaign that delivers the results that you deserve.

SET OBJECTIVES

Your marketing plan defines what activities you will use to connect your brand with prospective customers. In that sense, you can think of your plan as being a master strategy that will help you stay focused as you work.

Every campaign functions within the scope of your marketing plan and should, therefore, contribute to your overarching goals. Every time you create a campaign, you attempt to achieve a specific goal that contributes to the overarching goals of your firm.

With this in mind, your campaigns should directly address your target market and acknowledge their communication preferences while working towards precisely defined objectives. Also, make sure you define the duration of your campaign and how you will measure success.

FOCUS ON YOUR AUDIENCE

Your results-oriented marketing campaign should be designed to meet the particular needs and interests of your audience. Such targeting can supply you with desirable results more quickly than if you used a one-size-fits-all approach.

Although creating a custom message for each one of your prospects is impractical, you can improve your focus by segmenting your audience. This involves defining the characteristics of your ideal customers and creating custom messages for each one. When you do this, your message will more closely resonate with a larger percent of the people that comprise your audience.

Additionally, you should define every step of your marketing funnel and publish content that addresses the questions and concerns that shoppers will have at each step. Finally, improve your focus by reviewing the performance of past campaigns. Afterward, you can emphasize effective tactics and avoid wasting time on those that failed to get results.

CHOOSE YOUR COMMUNICATION CHANNELS

You can increase the efficiency of your marketing campaigns by learning how people in your target market communicate and choosing their preferred channels. After all, what good do you accomplish by sending messages via channels that will never reach your audience?

You need to know where audience members live, work, play and travel. You also need to know whether they prefer printed materials such as magazines and newspapers or if they depend on their smartphones. Again, the quality of your market research will affect your choice of communication channels.

In the end, you will get better results by targeting a few effective channels than you could ever get by attempting to use all available communication methods. Additionally, by narrowing your focus you save time, effort and money.

ESTABLISH THE TIMELINE


A haphazard approach to marketing can easily lead to failure. Planning can help you get better marketing results. After all, when you know what you need to do at any given time, you will stay focused on your goals and avoid wasting time.

You can include as many details as you want in your plan. Just remember that simply writing things down will do a lot to keep your campaign on track. You can further improve the performance of your campaign by coordinating your activities with the availability of financial and human resources.

Include basic information such as the start and stop dates of your campaign in your timeline. Additionally, schedule incremental activities on your calendar, so you can don’t forget about anything.

TRACK YOUR RESULTS

Based on the preferences of your audience, certain types of content such as video and infographics may perform differently than text or static images. By using digital tools to monitor interactions between your brand and prospects, you will find more opportunities to engage with your audience. 

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In addition, you and your team will have centralized access to essential information that can help facilitate the automation of routine tasks and optimize your campaign in real time.

For example, if your goal is building your mailing list, monitor the number of new email subscribers generated by your campaign. Similarly, if your goal is website conversion, you might want to keep an eye on click-through rates.

FINAL THOUGHTS

By following the above tips, you can create a results-oriented marketing campaign that contributes to your overarching strategy and helps you achieve your business goals. From the moment you set your objectives through real-time optimization you are in control, so get started now. 

 

Author bio: Ashley Wilson is a freelance writer interested in business, marketing, and tech topics. She has been known to reference Harry Potter quotes in casual conversation and enjoys baking homemade treats for her husband and their two felines, Lady and Gaga. Connect with Ashley via Twitter.

 

Essential Tips For Starting And Growing An Online Business

Starting out a business is no laughing matter and setting up a palpable online presence is nigh-impossible when faced with the obstacles that come with the turf. Although seemingly-insurmountable, most of these hurdles can be overcome with just a bit of forward thinking and preparation. The truth of the matter is that there is a tried and tested formula that is guaranteed to give a business the right footing to venture out into larger circles and try its luck. Think of it as a trial by fire, pushing fledgling companies into the thick of it to see whether they have what it takes to survive in the harsh world of online marketing.

Lock onto your target

First and foremost, take special care to figure out who your product is for and what your best method of attack is. Many new companies mistakenly believe that broader strokes help rack in more people, but actually cause more harm than good. Without an established brand and presence, the only way to get noticed is to cater to a specific group by offering it something they do not have. When a focus group has been established, the majority of the company’s focus should be on the perfected delivery of said product/service. This will both establish your brand, strengthen your position in the area of your choosing and build an online following.

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Dish out quality content regularly

When talking about quality content, the point is not to spam our site with throwaway content that is neither informative nor entertaining to the average reader. Dishing out content needs to be regular, but not at the cost of quality. Anything posted should incentivize users to come back for more, whether it be advice articles or cooking recipes. It doesn’t really matter what is getting posted as long as it is achieving the desired effect, a blog is a perfect hub for various writers to put in their two cents and answer any possible questions or concerns in regards to our site, service or anything in-between.

Apart from users, the content should also cater to our autonomous overlord over at Google’s HQ. However much visibility we might muster up will be for naught if Google’s very own Hummingbird decides that our site isn’t compliant with its search parameters. This is why any site management should be done with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) in mind. This will guarantee that that content provided suits everyone visiting the site, human or artificial. Keep the site fast, neatly organized and you’re sure to see results from our real life Skynet in no time.

Make it personal

As the focus group starts forming and you start to build a steady readership coming back for your offers, articles and so on, it’s time to hit it home. Unique online experiences are far from unreachable and most people have come to expect it. This can easily be achieved by monitoring where certain users end up when on the site, what their interests were and what they previously decided to purchase. This will help your underlying system pitch offers and other options closely relevant to their search patterns, making them feel special while also boosting the odds of making another sale.

Keep mobile in mind

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Although this doesn’t necessarily make every company’s priority list, it still is a very important factor for both SEO and real users alike. AMP capabilities aside, doing our best to optimize site load times for various Android and iOS devices will show a great increase in traffic both from Google’s organic funnel and people staying for the quick load times. Nowadays, everyone expects a site to load in a second or two, anything longer and they start to lose interest and more than often just back out. With so many people in a rush and the market itself shifting towards mobile, investing might not be such a bad idea after all.

Keep it sleek and simple

There’s no easy way around it, you are going to need good web design. The majority of the reasons listed above pretty much spell it out for us and there is a reason why. Simply put, anything that looks “stock” is considered a huge turnoff for a great many people as they do not wish to spend money on a site that looks like it came out of a box. Thankfully, premium web design is more than affordable and helps small businesses get exactly what they need without having to blow the entirety of their budget.

Subs are worth looking into

Among several payment methods, a newer one that has been gathering steam has been the subscription business model. Although it has been present for decades, its resurgence came with the rise of gaming culture around the world. As the marketplace migrated more and more into the digital landscape, people started getting used to the notion of certain services being automated. A good example of a subscription model doing it right is Loot Crate, their business model is completely based on monthly subscriptions and is mutually beneficial for both parties involved.

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Feel around

Despite covering all of the bases mentioned above, the online world is sure to throw a curveball or two our way during our first few runs – stay vigilant. There is no telling what obstacles we’re bound to find on our way to the top, but we can certainly make the most of what we have and do our homework. As the customers start to rack up and business starts to flourish, we will be faced with a new set of challenges and it is imperative that we face them with the same calm approach we tackled anything that came before – turning obstacles into nothing more than stepping stones.

Author: 

Helen Bradford

The Guide to Advertising Your Business and Beating the Competition

The movement you go out for a walk or some other purpose, you find many advertising boards which draw your attention and makes you wait for a second at least to read what is mentioned on the signboard.  This sort of reaction is widespread in public places.  Either the advertisement will force/tempt you to purchase the product, or the information is stored in your brain, even though you actually won't go and buy the product. A business with a good advertisement campaign will always succeed.

 

What is a business?

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A business can be termed as an activity which is done by provision of goods and services to consumers to earn some profits.  Business can also be called as an enterprise, a firm or a company. In previous days, marketing was known to be a part of any business. Every firm had a separate team of marketing professionals working in favor of the enterprise.  Even now, the same concept is continued. But some companies are approaching the professional services, who deal with marketing activities only.  Today, the concept of advertising for marketing various products is becoming popular.  It has come to such a position that it has become a business for itself.  The business agencies which deal will professional marketing services charge a nominal amount for the professional services rendered by them.

 

Social media – Developing quickly

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The social media is growing so fast that the usage of marketing tools is changing very drastically.  The technology used today may become outdated tomorrow.  Today, the usage of digital media players is seen everywhere.  Digital signage has become a modern approach to business advertising and a challenge to the marketing team to keep the interest of the viewers in favor of the company or the brand.  At any cost the brand image of the product has to be maintained- this is the central principle on which any marketing team works.

 

What is branding?

Branding can be defined as a name of a product or a slogan which describes the product. The signs, symbols, or particular design used to identify any product can also be termed as branding.  By using signs, symbols or specific designs, no two products of same nature will remain the same.  Each one will be having their own identity.  However nothing can be promised in case of duplication of the original brand, not only image of the brand is lost, but even the profits earned also decreases.  The management of any brand should be so high that it can face any competition.  The brand image of any product can be maintained by the latest technique “Digital signage” which not improves the business both volume-wise and profit-wise but also creates a special place in the hearts of the customers.  A good brand will always have a loyal customer who is emotionally attached to that particular branded product.

 

Signage

Signage refers to the usage of specific signs, symbols, images or written text to deliver a message.  The usage of signage technique to promote a brand of a product is one of the marketing strategies used by the businessman today. A good digital signage makes or at least creates a temptation to buy the product. Following are some of the tips which have to be considered before placing a digital media player:

 

  • Both the digital signage and branding can work out successfully only if placed in suitable position.  The needs of the ultimate consumer are to be identified, and then the digital signboard of the branded product has to be placed accordingly in public areas.  For instance, digital sign boards related to liquors should not be kept in a place where people go for worship.  People just look at the signboard and move.  Judging the probability of any business in such situation is hard.

  • The digital signboards should be clear and at the same time to the point. No extra details should be mentioned. In the case of any promotional discounts, appropriate images are to be used so that the message reaches the target audience.

  • Digital signage is not a one-time project.  It had to be frequently changed and kept up-to-date to retain the interest of the people.

  • No false commitments should be mentioned on the digital signage.

  • Proper usage of LED lights on the display screens will attract the customers more efficiently.

This is indeed the world of Digitalism.  A digital media player is the type of consumer electronics which was created to connect the home network with digital media like digital videos, digital photos, and digital music. The technology of digital media player is so good that one can access files from storage of network, server or personal computer and the same can be viewed on the Television screen or projector used for home theatre. Use of a remote can control the digital media player.

 

Digital signage technique

This concept of digital media player can be used as a digital signage method to promote the branding of any product.  The display screens have to be installed in appropriate places.  The required content will be affixed to the screen through the use of remote control situated at a common point from where various display screens can be monitored and managed.  As it is not internet based, there is 100% chance of display screens working even without internet connectivity.  The cost of installation of digital media players is comparatively less than other sorts of marketing media.  The content can be programmed in such a way that it keeps scrolling on the display screens.

 

Proper strategy

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An approach can be said as effective one only when it gives the required output at the right time.  Not only at public places, but the digital media players can also be installed in the premises of a restaurant, hospitals, corporate offices, schools and college’s campus, etc.  The usage of digital media players is not only for advertising purposes.  In Restaurants, it can be used to give menu and price details, in Hospitals, it can provide details of doctors, in Corporate Office, Schools and Colleges it can give required information regarding the organization.  A digital media player is multifunctional, only a right person is required to operate its system.

 

Author Bio: 

Karen: A Business Tech Analyst. She is very responsible towards her job. She loves to share her knowledge and experience with her friends and colleagues.


 

5 Great Software Solutions for Marketing

In today’s business world where knowledge is readily available, the marketing terrain for businesses has drastically changed. For you to effectively spread information about your products and services, attract, engage and retain customers, you need to incorporate these changes in your pitching strategies. Failure to adopt these changes puts your business at risk of losing market to competitors or being wiped out altogether. The various software can be used together with your conventional marketing campaigns like ads, customer care and Infor support for businesses. The following are some of the leading marketing software that you can use to effectively pitch your marketing in the current digital era:

Marketo

Marketo is one of the largest and well-established marketing programs that you can choose from. Being one of the biggest with well-established systems, it is easy to initiate and manage marketing campaigns. The software is equipped with everything that you may need to generate and manage leads, automating inbound marketing, social media, marketing, analytics and sales management dashboards.

It is a multifunctional platform through which you can access a variety of marketing functions and options. Some of its features include tracking of website visitors, landing pages and forms, search, marketing, mobile and web personalization and campaign management and email marketing

Vocus

This is one of the leading marketing software that is based in the cloud and can help you attract and retain customers by connecting them to your business using social media tools. Vocus offers you a comprehensive package of tools that help you to integrate your business with email marketing and social media marketing, plus effective PR.

HubSpot

HubSpot has a very powerful and effective inbound marketing as a personalized and more effective option to the traditional and age-old marketing methods which sometimes tend to harass customers. The company has developed several marketing apps that include tools for social media, blogging, management of leads and analytics of marketing. You can use HubSpot to manage content, monitor landing pages, and leads and get marketing experience using real-time data.

Yesware

This is an email platform that you can use to initiate and track your email campaigns hence allowing you to close more deals. The software mainly deals with tracking of emails that have been opened and read; offers email analytics plus data on user management. The software works seamlessly with CRMs like Microsoft, Salesforce, Oracle, and Dynamics. This highly saves times and increases efficiency.

Verlocal Pro

Though others may see Verlocal Pro as a booking software. The one that thing that are often missed is the powerful retargeting ad system that's installed within the software. The booking software captures your visitors from your business page and retargets them on their social media platforms. This software eliminates ad costs to small businesses. 

Depending on the nature of your businesses, the software you settle for should be able to offer a package of functions that best addresses the interest of your business. The software should offer a variety of functions while being cost-effective and integrating well into your business.

 

AUTHOR

Dixie Somers / Freelance Writer
dixiesomers@gmail.com

5 Tips on making sure you and your guests have the best experience at your cooking class

1. Be prepared

Prepare all required ingredients and have everything in its place before your guests arrive. This is so that you can greet guests as they come in, with a warm smile.  Other nice touches that help guests feel taken care of is giving each guest an apron to use during the class, as well as a possible snack and water. You can also let them know where the restroom is, and provide a place to put their bags. Make them feel welcome as if they are a special guest in your home.

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Also, if you have all ingredients prepared, you will not have to scramble to get what is needed during class, when all eyes are on you. For example, if I am teaching a class, like the mochi class, that involves 4 different dishes, I put all the ingredients for each dish on 4 separate baking sheets. This way I can grab each baking sheet as I teach each dish, and I don’t have to run around the kitchen getting each component I need to teach the next recipe.

 

2. Be an expert

 

Guests want to feel that they are getting the most value for their money during their cooking experience. Be prepared not only with expert advice on the specific cooking techniques you will be teaching, but also study up on the origin and background of the foods you are creating. Find unique bits of information about the dish you are teaching about and share it with your guests; they will appreciate the extra information and will feel that they are learning intellectually as well as through hands-on experience.

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They will be more well-versed and knowledgeable about the food they are making, and this provides added value to your cooking class. For example, for my homemade Pho class, I give guests background information on the origin of pho, the regional varieties, and the recommended way of eating pho. I have noticed guests love to know about the information surrounding the dish, in addition to learning how to cook it.

 

3. Create the atmosphere

Create an atmosphere that is relaxed and fun. It’s completely normal to feel a little nervous before every class, or excited. Maybe you feel a little underprepared, and that’s ok too. The important thing is to take a deep breath and to have a fun time teaching your class.  Remain calm and speak at a good pace; if you are calm, then guests will also feel calm. Speak slowly and not too fast; guests will have a hard time understanding you if you talk too fast.

To break the ice, I like to have students, in a circle, introduce themselves and why they chose to come to the class. This usually generates some laughter, especially if someone was dragged to the class by their partner. A lot of times guests may not know each other, so breaking the ice helps them to relax, loosen up, and enjoy the process of cooking together.

 

4. Focus 100% on the experience, and not on what you will get in return

It’s easy to start fixating on how guests are doing, or to read too much into their expressions. It’s easy to start worrying about if guests are enjoying your cooking class or not, or if they will leave you a positive review. Instead of focusing on what you can’t control, focus on what you can. During a cooking class you can control the quality of ingredients, the amount of ingredients, the venue, how prepared your ingredients and the venue are, and how prepared you are, both physically and mentally. All you can give is your best. So, give in-depth explanations of the dishes, be accommodating, warm, welcoming, and maybe a bit light-hearted or humorous.

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Being present allows your guests to be present and open so that they have a fun time while they cook and enjoy their food. This was a learning process for me, but I realized (through both being a high school teacher and a culinary teacher) that people’s expressions don’t necessarily translate to what they are feeling, and that I can sometimes impose my own worries onto people’s expressions. A lot of times they are just enjoying your experience and the process of cooking. Some people are loud and engaging, some are quiet and observant. It doesn’t mean that you are doing a good or bad job depending on their personality, or how they react during class. Over time I learned to just enjoy the time I have with guests as I teach and to just be myself. Your guests want your true unique self and not some expectation of what you think you should be.

 

5. Most importantly, have fun!

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Most of the hard work of teaching cooking classes goes into the preparation for the class, and the clean up afterwards. As long as you prepare well for the class, you shouldn’t have any problems. While you’re teaching a cooking class, it’s important that you are having fun, and you are excited about teaching people what you are passionate about. Express your innate excitement and appreciation of the dishes you are cooking, and your guests will start to feel excited too. Ultimately, your guests will have a good time if you are also having a good time!

 

Host Article: Chef Kaori

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Originally from the Bay Area, Kaori Becker is a cooking instructor and owner of Kaori's Kitchen cooking school and catering. Drawing from her Japanese roots, Kaori has taught culinary classes and demonstrations in Columbus, Ohio at the Franklin Park Conservatory and The Seasoned Farmhouse, as well as Kitchen on Fire in Berkeley, Draeger's School in San Francisco, and at other Oakland locations.

How to Freelance Online and Off

Freelancing is fast becoming a full-time vocation for many workers. From writers to designers, ditching the office in favor of the spare room or even a cafe is becoming more and more viable. This is, largely, as a result of the online world. Job boards are the typical beginning for many freelancers, as well as selling yourself on social networks. But, there is also a surprising amount of work to be found in the offline world as well.

For the modern freelancer, it may feel counterproductive to go through slower offline avenues to find work. However, if you want to grow your client base then doing so through online and offline methods is a must!

Here are few ways to freelance both online and off:

Create a Website

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The first and potentially most important aspect of freelancing successfully is the creation of a quality website promoting your work. This can be writing samples, design concepts or pictures of your products. It is also important, however, to make sure that something of your personality also comes across in your site content. As a freelancer, you don’t have to adopt the stuffy tones that many businesses do and can add a little extra to your profile to get yourself noticed!

In the long run, having an online resource that holds examples of your work and brings you to your client’s attention is an essential tool for freelancers. It can bring you online work, but it is also something which will most likely be assessed prior to your offline endeavors - all of your offline and online efforts are two sides of the same coin, after all. So, make sure your website is up to scratch!

Market Yourself

Many freelancers either rise to the top or fall behind on the merit of their marketing efforts. And yes, this involves creating both an online and offline presence for yourself. It’s all well and good to have a website, social media profiles and other web ways of advertising your services. But, failing to market yourself offline can be a mistake which costs you a large percentage of your audience!

Newspaper advertisements are a classic way to grow your audience offline. Starting small, seeking out local publications can also be very budget friendly for the beginner freelancer. If your product or service is particularly niche then you may be able to buy advertising space in industry publications for a reduced rate - or even contribute guest articles for added exposure!

Moving on from the print world, you should also invest in a high-quality business card. These are perfect to leave in various relevant businesses and to hand out when you meet any potential clients or create a lead. Business cards aren’t necessarily instant conversions, but they are the perfect way to leave yourself as a lasting impression in someone’s memory and create a conversion down the road.

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Online, you can also go beyond the simple social media promotion. Email marketing can be a great way to directly deliver your service to an established or potential customer base. Personalisation, offers and exclusive content can be a great way to reward your current client-base as well as reach out to a new one. This approach can also be taken offline with leaflets and door to door posting, slightly more expensive but effective if your target market is local to you. You will know each leaflet is falling through the letterbox of a potential client.

Network

For many, freelancing is a way to avoid the drama and secret language of the office. However, that doesn’t mean you should avoid human interaction outside of emails altogether! Networking events aren’t just a great way to meet other professionals in your industry and talk shop, but it can be a great place to find work.

The same can be said for artisanal fairs or workshops if you are selling more of a product than a service. Attend a few of these events to get a feel for the market, look what your competitors are selling and see how your product compares. Once you feel you have an understanding of the events, then you can start to investigate the costs of showcasing yourself there.

Or, if you have a particular expertise in your freelancing niche then you could even set yourself the task of holding an educational workshop. This could present something of value not only to customers but also to your professional peers. Such an event is a great way to demonstrate your capabilities and even your product if you’re feeling cheeky, so don’t forget to take your portfolio or product along.

Also, don’t forget to hand out your business card at these events!

Friends and Family

Networking online can also be effective both professionally and socially - especially when first starting out - can have lots of unexpected benefits. After all, one Facebook share from the right person could put you in front of your next client in an instant.

This can be especially effective for products or niche crafts, as you can even begin by selling to your friends and family first! The happier with the product they are, the more shares you will receive and you will be able to grow your audience (it also isn’t as difficult to ask those close to you to help spread your products). Word of mouth can also be a powerful tool to gain more offline work, so reaching out to your family and friends can be a great way to get the ball rolling on that!

There you have it, the best possible ways to reach a new audience and successfully freelance via offline and online methods. With so much competition out there, you really can’t afford to not ensure your efforts are as thorough as possible.

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Author & Guest Contributor: 

Zack Halliwell

 

 

How To Get Direct Bookings from Your Social Media Network

If you’re a freelancer, small business owner, or a local business, your network is a crucial relationship to ensure new and returning customers. The digital age has made manual business operation into an automated system. Now how do you seamlessly merge current online users and the network effect to create bookings instantly? Simple, when your business social media page meets Verlocal Pro.

With Verlocal Pro, your consumers can make direct bookings anytime, and anywhere, including your social media page. Now your Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter followers can book your service directly.

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Yes, Verlocal provides a marketplace, but our goal as a company is to empower your business to make it your own and grow organically. This is a chance where you can utilize your social media network effect. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter is your oyster, in another word it’s a marketplace of its own, take full advantage. While growing your network, you’ll have a perfect tool for new and returning consumers to book. Like we said before, anytime, and anywhere.

At the end of the day, this is your brand, your business, and your baby, we get it. Let’s get your business some bookings by making it simplified for your followers!

Below, we have created quick tutorials on how to install your booking tool to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter:

Quick Booking Tool Installation for Facebook :

 

Quick Booking Tool Installation for Instagram 

 

Quick Booking Tool Installation for Twitter :

Not a Verlocal Pro yet? No worries try it out for 60 days free! If you have any questions regarding installations, our team has your back! Contact our marketing lead directly at angeline@verlocal.com.

How to Use Email to Create a Successful Event

More often than not, the most challenging aspect of organizing an event is actually bringing people to it. To make it happen, you need to generate buzz around it and let people know about the occasion. Apart from social media, email poses a powerful promotional tool, one that creates a very controlled experience, because you are the master of all its elements. It also helps that the effects of email campaigns are tangible and measurable. So, here is how to make the most of email invitations and reminders to throw a memorable event and wow a big audience.

 

Digital spadework

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The first step is to figure out who you want to attract. Just sending invitations to everyone is not advisable. Merely purchasing or renting lists is not much better either. You do not want to contribute to the avalanche of spam emails that account for the bulk of all email traffic. Instead, embrace a targeted approach and come up with a customized, accurate mailing list that minimizes the amount of unsubscribe requests.

Take some extra precautions, such as making sure that the address of your server matches the sender’s address in the email. You might have to contact your domain provider, but it will be worth it. You will avoid having your emails blocked and marked as spam. Of course, you also have to keep an eye on your reputation, as it directly impacts the delivery rates of your emails.

Finally, there are other strategies you can employ, such as whitelisting. Basically, you add your email server to the “whitelists” of the attendees’ servers. This is a particularly fruitful tactic if you target people from the same organization or those that use public mailbox providers. Just know that the process involves adjusting email servers that are otherwise outside of your control.

 

Creating the invitation

Next, you want to assemble a great invitation email. As a rule of thumb, it is advisable to send it two weeks and then two days before the big day. Get all the details in the email right, including the date, place, and time of the event. People do not want to engage in guesswork when it comes to the purpose of the event and what they can expect there. Create an enticing subject line to grab attention right away.

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Another crucial element is an inviting call-to-action button. It prompts people to RSVP, which gives you a clear idea of how many participants you can count on. In addition, you can ask them to notify you in case they are not able to make it after all. Also, note that by using advanced filters, it is possible to send additional emails to those who have registered.

 

The moving parts

Likewise, feel free to send reminders. Some people will really forget about the event, while others just need a small push to come. In any regard, the more incentives and value you offer, the better chances are that people will show up in good numbers. So, do not hesitate to use discounts. On the other hand, avoid risky words such as ‘promo’, ‘buy’, ‘order’, ‘purchase’, and ‘click’. Capitalization and exclamation marks also tend to do more harm than good.

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Furthermore, bear in mind that in the booming online realm, content is king. Rest assured that spam filters look into your email content. Hence, if your email contains only one link and nothing else, it will likely be recognized as spam. To steer away from this, add descriptive text or include a professional powerpoint presentation. Your audience will get the taste of what is brewing and be satisfied to see something more than meager bait.

If you cover all your bases, you should be able to carry out an impactful email marketing campaign. It always pays off to take your time for configuring your account and tracking responses. That way, you can boost your open and click-through-rates and send your emails to the right inboxes. Do not let other tasks involved in planning and organizing events inhibit your promotional efforts.

 

Get off on the right foot

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Emails persist as one of the most effective marketing tools for events. There are, however, some steps to take if you mean to reach people, spark their attention, and successfully market your event. First off, produce a tailored mailing list and adhere to best practices. Present handy information and persuade people it is worthwhile for them to come by. Get them to sign up in advance and express their commitment. Ultimately, pre-event publicity goes a long way in allowing you to bring the house down when the big day arrives.




 

David Webb - Business consultant

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David Webb is a Sydney-based business consultant and online marketing analyst. With six years of experience and a degree in online business strategies, he is driven to help people to better understand this new digital age. In his free time, David enjoys writing, travelling and an occasional night out with his friends.



 

Why it is beneficial to settle debt for your small business

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Businesses of all sizes must depend on debts, especially unsecured debts, to keep the business operations smooth. However, sometimes debts can become quite uncomfortable, especially for small business and if you do not address the issue on time, it could ultimately sink the business. If you have several loans and capable of making payments, then it is the time to think about some strategy that could make loans more manageable and provide relief. For tiding over business debts, debt settlement is a viable option.  It is not that you must go for it, but considering the benefits outlined in this article, you may find reasons enough to give it a shot. Moreover, on going through debt settlement reviews you could gain more information that would be useful to support your decision. 

The process of debt settlement

To settle your debt, you must take the creditor into confidence and make him agree to waive a portion of the amount you owe. It entails hard bargaining to convince creditors about your inability to pay back the loan, which is the reason for seeking a settlement. The proposal must be attractive for creditors who would feel that it is better to go for settlement rather than losing out on a bigger amount, should you decline to make any further payments.

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Stay away from bankruptcy

Declaring yourself bankrupt could rid you of debts but it would also leave a black spot on your life that would remain in the credit ratings for at least a decade. Effectively, it could ruin your business. You would not be able to avail any new financing schemes and other financial support necessary to run the business would be out of your reach. To avoid the negative consequences of bankruptcy, debt settlement is a better option as it does not disrupt your financial prospects to damage it permanently.  After settling your debts, you can plan again to recover the lost credit score by reorganizing your finances with a positive attitude. Debt settlement gives you the much-needed breathing time to recoup finances.

Quick relief from debt

The process of debt settlement does not take much time provided you entrust the job to a professional debt settlement company. Moreover, the cost of settling the debt, even after paying the fees to debt settlement companies, would be less than any other form of loan repayment that you can think of. Since time is critical for business, debt settlement gives you an edge over other methods of seeking debt relief. 

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Relief from debt collectors

Once you have settled debts, the greatest relief is the thought that you will no more have to take calls from debt collectors that can often turn out to be quite an embarrassment.  Debt collectors pay the least respect to debtors and do not mind to cross the line of decency when pursuing payments. All this keeps happening with total disregard to your good record in making timely payments.

Debt settlement has turned out to be a very popular measure to mitigate the burden of debt without having to take any fresh loans. 

About the author:  Isabella Rossellini is a debt adviser for individuals as well as companies. Cooking is her favorite past time and she takes interest to experiment with new recipes. 

How to Streamline Organic Search Through SEO

For small businesses and freelancers just starting out, SEO is the scariest set of three letters that ever graced the Earth (well, maybe the second scariest after VAT). SEO, what it is, how to do it, what is it supposed to do for you: these are all questions that everyone thinking about e-commerce nowadays has asked themselves. And the answers are often confusing. The only thing everyone seems to agree is that SEO is very important.

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It hasn’t always been like this. During the Internet’s salad days SEO used to be a quite straightforward. People soon figured what were the main factors to get to the top of Google organic results: keywords and links. And so, people used and abused the system, using it to get their sites to the top regardless of content and quality. Google soon got fed up and said, “no more.” Enter Penguin, Panda and Hummingbird, the updates to Google’s sorting algorithm that to this day haunt SEO experts all around the world. These updates started punishing those that abused the system buying links from other sites and abusing keywords, pushing their sites to the bottom of their search results.

Google algorithm has gotten so complicated, and sometimes so punishing, many are timid to use traditional SEO techniques at all. There’s a fair amount of guesswork and even superstition. Self-proclaimed SEO gurus sell themselves as modern day alchemists. They’d have you believe SEO is magic.

However, at its heart, there’s nothing arcane or obscure about SEO. It’s not high tech. It’s not witchcraft. The core foundation of how to get good Google organic results is today the same it has always been:

Content. That’s the secret.

It’s simple, and yet it’s still the most effective way to get to the top. Relevant, quality content. Providing value to the customer. Old-fashioned tenets, yes, but they’re guaranteed to shoot you up Google’s PageRank.

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Good content, however, is not easy to come by. Luckily, there are plenty of tools online devoted to make it easier for small companies. Sites like Market Domination Media help you craft relevant, SEO friendly content, design an adequate website and prepare a sound marketing strategy.

It’s also very important to publish new content regularly. Google loves fresh content. Make sure to keep your website or blog up to date, making regular publications with information of interest to your target clientage. A quick and easy hack in this regard is to freshen up old content. Change the date of publishing of your copy to a more recent date and Google will already look kindly on your website.

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You should also make sure your customers have no problem navigating your website. Keep in mind that most people nowadays prefer to use their phones to check Internet sites than a computer. Google’s sorting algorithm is known to rank mobile-friendly websites higher than the rest.  Make sure that your website is optimized for mobile devices. Small details like these are crucial for your success in the organic search result page.

It’s also vital to be mindful of social media. Have a profile on all the main platforms – Facebook, LinkedIn and especially Google+. On this topic, one of the most frequent SEO mistakes to avoid is having inconsistent info on your different profile. Make sure to keep updated every change in phone number, address, company name, etc. Consistency is key to get recognized by search engines as a single entity.

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That said, don’t forget the old-fashioned essentials of SEO: keywords and links. Yes, lately has become quite punishing lately, but only to those who cheat. High-quality links still play an important role in SEO. The key is not going for the spammy strategies so popular just a few years ago. Instead, go for quality over quantity: shoot for links on respected websites. Guest blogging is a very popular way to build links these days, as is infographic distribution.

The same principle of quality over quantity applies to keywords. The days of stuffing your content with non-relevant, overly general keywords that send useless traffic to your website are over. To avoid getting punished by Google’s algorithms, make sure you use targeted keywords that are relevant to your business. Be as specific as you can. If, for example, you own a home improvement company in Dallas, don’t use the general keyword “home improvement.” Instead, you want something more precise, like “Dallas home improvement.” This will send you the kind of traffic that is specifically looking for you, therefore raising your overall SEO performance.

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You might think that even having this in mind, you still don’t know how to craft good content. However, there’s no excuse in the Internet age: there are plenty of tools and sites, like Five Technology, that can help you optimize your content and bring the tech-savviness your business needs.

These are the basics of modern SEO practice. OF course, there’s much more to it, but following these guidelines you’re guaranteed to get a competent organic search position for your website.


Author Bio:

Rachel Summers has been a social media manager for seven years, working for a variety of companies, both big and small, including Top Canadian Writers, a leading custom writing service. In her free time, Rachel also helps and advices a variety of small and start-up businesses on their social media strategies.

Why Opt-In Marketing Matters for Small Businesses

Imagine looking forward to watching your favorite TV show at the end of a tiring day. Only instead of enjoying it, you get interrupted every few minutes by commercials. Or maybe relaxing to a soothing music on YouTube – only to be brought out of your reverie by a loud, obnoxious ad.

Business owner or not, everyone would agree that this is one of the most annoying things about ads. Perhaps, it’s this kind of forced promotion that gives marketing a bad name.

A study shows that 77% of consumers prefer to receive promotional messages through email and only after their express permission. This brand of advertising called opt-in marketing is making waves because it appeals to a generation of consumers who have grown weary of ads that pop up unannounced.

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For small business owners, this change gives you almost equal footing with bigger companies. Now, you don’t have to feel left out for not being able to afford TV commercials. You can even forget about allocating a big chunk of your budget to print ads. These types of advertising may have ruled the business world many years ago, but they are growing less and less effective as people prefer brands with less-invasive marketing moves.

Check out why opt-in marketing is ideal for your business:

Reason #1: There is a wider market online.

Just because you have a start-up business doesn’t mean you should limit your market to your friends, colleagues, and the people who live near your store. Free tools such as Google My Business, Maps, and Google Search will literally put your name on the map.

Besides, people spend more time online on their phones than in front of TVs or listening to the radio. They check their emails more regularly than they do watching videos. Whether they are doing errands, working, researching, shopping, or just catching up with friends, the internet is where you will find people who are just one opt-in email away from becoming your next customer.

If you want to reach more prospects, cast your net on the widest market today.

Reason #2: It reaches the right market.

Imagine paying hundreds or thousands of bucks for a YouTube ad where you must squeeze in your marketing talents into just a few seconds. This endeavor requires ingenuity to pack in as much information as possible in a limited span of time.

You don’t want your marketing genius to be shrugged off as easily as that – especially if you paid a handsome amount of money to put it out there. Unfortunately, that’s what you get when you put your investment in the wrong market.

With opt-in marketing, you know your efforts go to the right people. These people deliberately subscribed to learn more about you. You won’t have to limit your content and cut yourself short because you’re dealing with people who are interested with what you have to say.

 

Reason #3: You have freedom to deliver extensive content.

Free e-books to show people how your products can make their lives better. Downloadable worksheets for tracking progress while using your products. Members-only newsletters. Special-events emails. These are just a few things that you can send subscribers who opted to receive your content.

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This kind of diverse, extensive content creation is now possible, thanks to opt-in marketing. Unlike the traditional brands of advertising, opt-in promotions allow your small business to try different approaches and send a variety of content because you know it will be accepted by an audience that is waiting for it.

There are many online marketing strategies for small business owners available today. But if you’re looking for one that is received well by the market, invest your time and money in opt-in marketing. Your consumers will thank you for it.

Author Bio

Catherine vanVonno, the author, holds a doctorate degree in Applied Statistics,
Research Design and Program Evaluation from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
and has over 10 years experience in facilitating evidence-based strategic planning, product
development, brand management, legislative communications, and medical policy.

Love The Job You're With

Love The Job You're With

 

Written by: Kerry Ito, MA, LCPC

Psychotherapist and Life Coach

As a psychotherapist and life coach, I often work with people who hate their jobs and for various reasons can’t leave. So, I advise that they make the best of the job they have until they can make a move by:

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1. Thinking positive--this is more than changing “I’m going to get fired.” to “I’m not going to get fired.” You manifest what you focus on. So if you focus on “The State’s broke. They’ll cut funding to my program.” That’s what will happen! But if you turn it around and focus on: “I need to find alternate funding to keep this program going.” That’s what will happen!

2. Being proactive--Figure out what’s wrong with your job and what you can do to make it better. For example if you hate your boss, co-worker, whoever:

  • Reactive response: “I’ll just ignore the jerk!”
  • Proactive response: Identify the problem; what do you dislike about him? Is he micromanaging? Rude? Confusing? Unwilling to hear your ideas?
  • Acknowledge the other person’s point: “I know you want to make sure that this project is carried out according to the specifications you negotiated.”
  • Propose a solution: “Let me explain to you my understanding of the specifications, so you don’t have to stop what you are doing to direct me at each step of the process.”

 

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3. Being competent--One of the most important aspects of job satisfaction is the belief that you are doing an effective job.

  • Assess your performance: Take a look at performance appraisals; look at quantitative data, such as number of complaints, time spent on tasks/calls.
  • What are you good at? What can you improve?
  • Assess the times you felt proud versus when you feel you missed the boat. What’s the difference?

4. Being the best you can be:

  • Take advantage of any training provided by your employer.
  • If you need to learn a skill or concept to make you better at your job that is not included in the training provided by your employer, it may be worth your time and money to obtain this training on your own.
  • Observe supervisors, co-workers, competitors who are good at what they do. Ask their advice.
  • Learn something new.
  • Share what you know with co-workers.
Book a Joy Assessment with Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, Kerry Ito Today!

Seeds Center provides classes and services to enhance community well-being located in Chicago, IL.

 
 

Six eCommerce Hacks for Small Business Owners

With the world getting more and more technologically advanced, traditional means of commerce have upgraded and have evolved far beyond from where it was a decade ago. Now, buying and selling are done at the tips of the fingers. Everything is just found online, even items that you never have thought to exist, like bacon toothpaste (weird, right?). If you are a business owner, and you would like to do business the easy way, there are plenty of growth hacks for your business. And unlike the more sinister “hacking” that we commonly know, e-commerce hacks are actually good. These are innovative and unique marketing strategies that causes fast profit for your business. Now this is the kind of hacks that we all want to learn!

Data analytics

Today’s digital marketing is much better than traditional marketing methods. Now, it is already possible to analyse data from an ongoing campaign in real time. Data from any digital campaign can be gathered before, during, and after its run time. You will be able to check who is visiting your ad, when they visited, and how long they stayed. It is even possible to see where they are from physically, and which device they are using while logged to your campaign. Now, it is easier to gather information about which target group you are attracting and which strategies you are using are working to bring them in.

Blogs

Blogs have a personal touch to anyone who follows them. Most blogs chronicle relatable contents that allow for interaction with the followers. Your blog should also have that. Potential clients often are sensitive to blatant advertising when it is literally shoved in their faces when they browse online. Your blog can help you convert followers by making sure that you are posting relevant contents. Make your posts interesting by using various media, like vlogs, guest posts, articles, and quality pictures. For example, if you are in the real estate business, your content should not only be about your listings, but should also contain tips on what is current in the real estate industry, or you can include infographics on what would be the points to look out for when looking for a house or looking for a workspace. And don’t forget to interact with your visitors and followers. Listen to what they want and use it to improve your brand.

Social media

Social media platforms are great vehicles for your blog contents. You can increase the number of people you reach out by using your social media accounts to share your contents. With interaction and communication as the building blocks of social media, it is the best bet you have to spread the word around. Use it to your business advantage.

 

Mobile-friendly sites and apps

There are now more mobile users than laptop users. With this change in the trend, be up to date, and have an app that can be used to show your wares. You don’t necessarily have to do it yourself, there are plenty of app developers who can do the work for you. Make it easy to navigate and secure. For your websites, make sure that you have optimized mobile-ready versions of it for mobile users.

User endorsed content

While you may be able to say the best things for your products, most consumers still prefer product that are endorsed to them by someone they know. The power of the word of mouth can’t be challenged by any marketing strategy. As with traditional marketing, it is best to have plenty of endorsement contents for your products. Be sure to include reviews and testimonials of people who have used your products and have loved it. Sometimes, all it takes is a simple review can make a customer go for the purchase.

Thank you cards

While we have been talking about everything modern about ecommerce, nothing ever beats a simple act of saying thank you. Since your greatest aim is to get as personal as you could to your target market, a thank you card is a great way to show them that you are personally grateful to have done business with them. Also, this is one marketing tactic that shows your heart and your personal touch. It makes your buyers see the person of your business, and not just the savvy apps and ads. It is easy to do this. You can start by doing it by yourself, our you could hire someone to do it for you. Whichever way you choose, make your message short and personal. And, you can also throw in a special promo code or coupon to make that person feel that you welcome more business with them.

The ways may have changed, but doing business still at its core is about having the knack of knowing what your market needs, and making sure that your business is positioned to meet it.

 


Author Bio:

Gemma Reeves is a seasoned writer who enjoys creating helpful articles and interesting stories. She has worked with several clients across different industries such as advertising, online marketing, technology, healthcare, family matters, and more. She is also an aspiring entrepreneur who is engaged in assisting other aspiring entrepreneurs in finding the best office space for their business.
Check out her company here: FindMyWorkspace

 

Verlocal Pro Booking Tool Integration

Effective Booking Tool Integration

Turn your visitors into a profitable consumer through Verlocal Pro booking tool on your website.

Here are 4 different ways you can integrate Verlocal Pro booking tool:

Note: For the first 3 Go to “Dashboard” then “My Calendar” and click on “Copy or Embed Calendar” to begin.

BOOKING URL

The booking URL will be the first tab with a link that you can use to redirect your or page on your site.

  1. Select “copy calendar” and use the link to paste into your website or share on social channels to promote your listings.

  2. The page this link will redirect to a separate page consist your business listing.

 

HTML FRAME VERSION

This is a website friendly code that can directly embed your booking tool to your site, providing your visitors direct access to all your listings!

  1. Select “HTML Embed Code” on the pop-up, choose “Frame Version”

  2. Simply Copy the code and paste it onto your website

(Read on below to see the best place to install HTML Frame Version Calendar on your website)

 

HTML BUTTON AND POP-UP VERSION (Call-to-Action Button)

This is where you can embed a call-to-action button onto your website. Once a visitor clicks the button, it will open a pop-up window that will display your listings

  1. Select “HTML Embed Code” on the pop-up, choose “Button and Modal Version”

  2. Copy code to your site at a visible range for a direct purchase option.

 

DIRECT PAYMENT PAGE URL

This is a great option when you have a dedicated content of your different types of offer. This link can be implemented to a direct payment page that can allow your user to book instantly to a specific listing.

  1. Go to your “Dashboard”, then select “My Listings”

  2. Select the connected link button

  3. Use the link to attach to your site for direct payment option.

Note: We have three different payment display. To see a live version click here.

 

BEST WAY TO INTEGRATE VERLOCAL PRO BOOKING TOOL FOR MORE SALES

The integration is crucial, because where you place the booking tool is how you will expose your visitors to an offer and implement a call of action.

 

Place listing on your main page to Increase bookings and Ad performance.

Limit the clicks to 1 for your visitors to find your listing. You get a couple of seconds to make your impression before a visitor clicks-out. The best recommendation to place your booking tool is closest to your visitors reach:

  1. Landing Page

  2. Offer Page

 

Get instant bookings with a visible call-to-action.

Give your visitors a way where they can see all your offering immediately meaning, front-and-center. Get instant bookings by placing a book now button. This button will portray as a sense of urgency that your consumers curiosity will want to interact with so you can earn sales immediately! Here are ways you can best use the call-to-action button:

1. Introduction Button

2. Navigation Page

Note: You can customize your button. You’re provided with a code that you can implement simple changes i.e. the color, font, size, and call-to-action word.

Details to intrigue more visitors.

When showing your listings, you can add descriptive notes to give brief description of your offer. This is can be a personal marketing tool to write something creative, or even a reminder to your customers about the experience.

Note

 

Optimize your incoming sales by installing the Verlocal Pro booking tool on your site today! Get more sales with the help of an easy-to-use booking tool. If you have further questions on how to integrate your booking tool we’re here to help, contact support@verlocal.com and we’ll get you started!