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Can These Under-Utilized Social Media Platforms Boost Your Business?

Posted Wed, April 2, 2014 by Julie Short

Almost every small business owner is probably aware that Facebook and Twitter can have a positive impact on their business. Maybe you have invested some time in creating profiles on those social media sites. What you may not know is that there are a number of other, lesser-known (or simply under-utilized) social media sites that are proving to be enormously effective and could be sending new eyes to your website and bringing new business to your company. The following five "underdog" sites are on the rise in popularity, and small business owners are finding that they can be just as effective as Facebook and Twitter campaigns - maybe even more so!


Pinterest
As a small business owner, you may not initially consider Pinterest  as a beneficial platform due to its heavy focus on images rather than text. However, in many cases, those images can capture the imagination and interest of potential clients far better than words.

Pinterest can be utilized in several ways, but the regular creation of new boards, with images related to your business, tends to be what captures interest.

Even better, add a board with coupons or discounts for your business. Depending on your niche, this could generate a lot of traffic – after all, everyone loves a deal. Be sure to include your website link in your Pinterest profile, and pin images directly from your site as often as possible. These things make it easy for people to click on your links.


Instagram
Instagram is extremely popular, and its easy-to-use interface makes it a snap for the small business owner. Your smart phone is all you need to upload images to this platform. You can caption your images with a variety of hashtags related to your business. People searching for those hashtags can easily scroll through various pictures and land on your images.


You can post all kinds of images on Instagram, including product photos, ads, and coupons. Be sure to "follow" back people who "follow" you, and you'll find that your Instagram network will build itself organically and steadily. To be even more proactive, find people in your community or niche and follow them to get your business’s name out there.


YouTube
If you don’t explore the possibilities of YouTube for your business, you could be leaving out a major stream of revenue and clients. Your YouTube videos need not be long or even professionally produced commercials. Think about showcasing a few of your products or services in a video. Having a special? Make a quick video in which you detail the special and how viewers can get in on the deal.


YouTube is also a place where people search extensively for “how-to” -   if you have some shareable expertise, by all means, share it!


YouTube allows you to add links to your site, providing plenty of opportunities for new visitors and conversions. Once you’ve built up a nice following, you may want to begin placing some short ads on YouTube for a chance at an even broader revenue stream.


Foursquare
Foursquare is a tool that many small business owners are still neglecting - and it could be costing you a lot of new business. Foursquare was essentially created to tell people about local businesses, much like Yelp! and the old-school Yellow Pages. Your business is probably already on it, however, you can really flesh out the listing with lots of details – and pictures – and make it more enticing to people browsing for your product or service.


Foursquare makes it easy to place ads that draw in customers. Be sure to update the site with current info on deals and specials that potential customers will become aware of. You can even offer special deals just for Foursquare users, which will increase your reputation on the app.


Klout
Klout isn’t so much under-exposed as it is under-utilized. Klout creates a profile for you or your business and gives you a Klout score – a sort of grade for the quality and quantity of your social media engagement across multiple platforms; the more good content that you create and share, the higher your Klout score. The higher your score, the more you'll be seen, and the more new visitors you'll have.


Creating unique and engaging content for your business may not always be an easy job (one of many reasons for hiring a professional firm to do your strategic SEO marketing and content management!). However, if you put some time into placing great content on Klout – and really, almost any social media platform – you'll eventually notice some appreciable rewards.

 

Posted in : SEO/SMO/SMM | 
Tags : SMM , SEO , marketing


Social Media Marketing: Essential and Within Reach for Small Business

Posted Wed, March 26, 2014 by Julie Short

Social media is here to stay, and thinking that it is just for making social connections may be a big mistake if you are a small business owner. A 2011 Nielsen report states that, “70% of active online adult social networkers shop online…12% more likely than the average adult internet user”.  The importance of social media for small business owners seems clear, so why might they shy away from being intentional regarding the use of social media? More importantly, as a small business owner, is there something more you should be doing?


Reason #1: Not Having a Plan
Many small business owners have gone at it haphazardly. They have tried to target everyone indiscriminately and ended up recruiting nobody, or they may not have known the most effective approaches, such as optimizing SEO strategies and selecting one or more platforms for their campaigns.


Solution: Hire a marketing firm to implement a social media campaign that can give the best results for the amount of money and effort invested.


Reason #2: Not Having the Time
Small business owners are working long hours already, and they may feel that they are unable to dedicate the additional hours necessary to implement an effective social media strategy. They may not realize that long hours are not necessary to see dividends in a social media campaign.


Solution: Strategize to create a targeted campaign that requires minimal hands-on work. A professional social media marketing company can assist with the initial launch of the campaign and then leave the small business owner with only small amounts of maintenance necessary as time passes. The use of local online directories allows customers to promote small businesses without too much effort or time on the part of the owner.


Reason #3: Thinking it Unnecessary
They may think that social media is optional and that they can continue growing their businesses without it. They may be unaware of the role and the possibilities of successful social media usage.


Solution: Research….look for case studies of small businesses that have implemented a social media strategy with positive results. They should see convincing data on the increase in sales or profits after the use of social media compared to before. In addition, small business owners will benefit greatly by becoming educated and aware of the implications of a social media focus…success might not be measured by direct sales only, but by an improved reputation and/or increased referrals.


Reason #4: Not Knowing How
Small business owners are likely talented experts in their own fields, but caterers, tailors, consultants, and printers etc. may have little or no knowledge of the impact or possibilities of social media as a viable business tool: and once they have become aware of it…may not know where to begin.


Solution: Get Help…You do not have to be a computer expert to implement an effective Social Media campaign, however, consulting with an experienced and knowledgeable Social Media Marketing (SMM) specialist can provide you with feasible ideas for simple but effective campaigns. There is no need to allow any of these reasons to prevent you from capitalizing on the opportunities that may be yours in the ever expanding world of Social Media.

 

Posted in : SEO/SMO/SMM | 
Tags : SMM , social media , small business


(ERP) Enterprise Resource Planning and Your Business: Learn the Basics

Posted Wed, March 19, 2014 by Julie Short

"Our business doesn't need something as complicated as ERP."
It isn't a surprise to hear such a statement from a company. Many business owners believe that ERP (enterprise resource planning) is a very technical and complicated process that will only result in a clunky computing environment and extra costs that strain limited budgets. But the truth is that ERP isn't that complicated once you understand it for what it is: a back office management software strategy that can help consolidate business functions into a unified process.


ERP 101: What is enterprise resource planning?
ERP is an integrated software system that has been used by businesses for over a generation. The term itself was introduced in the 1990s by the Gartner Group. But it was actually a software suite strategy developed in the 1950s for inventory management and to create plans for materials requirements.


The manufacturing industry benefited from ERP as a replacement from the past MRP (manufacturing resource planning) software. ERP was more robust, even during the 1990s, as it streamlined the entire production process from the design phase to the financial costs calculation stage. As technology evolved, so too did ERP software. Businesses from every industry saw a way to incorporate ERP into their business software strategies to help manage their human resources and accounting processes.


How does ERP work?
ERP consists of individual software modules featuring technical capabilities to handle automated back office tasks. These modules have integrated application functions suited for the activities that you want it to perform. The common ERP modules used in most small and large businesses today are:
•    Material purchasing
•    Human resource management
•    Distribution services
•    Inventory control
•    Manufacturing processes
•    Accounting services
•    Marketing and sales


Each module works from one relational database system. This database management system has a dashboard, analysis tools, user interface, and access and security features. It can easily integrate with other computing features like web-based applications, word processing and email clients.


The main function of ERP is to allow for real-time data collection and sharing throughout every department of your operations. All of the data is placed within this central database management system and can be accessed through the different ERP modules used in the other departments of your business: accounting, customer services, sales, and warehousing.


Benefits of ERP
What makes ERP so ideal for businesses is that you don't have to purchase every module. You can pick and choose the module you want based on your business needs.


Let’s say you are looking to automate your accounting tasks. An ERP accounting module can give you some of the following functions:
•    configure pricing for products
•    gather more complete and accurate accounting data
•    manage employee payrolls


Other departments of your business will be allowed to access this information for their operations. Your warehousing department can go through their ERP system and ensure customers paid orders through accounting before shipments are sent out. Customer service can change customer payment information with accounting in moments as the sales department ensures that product pricing corresponds with any special deals currently being offered.


Software vendors offer ERP software module applications based on the size of your business. The ERP software market is divided by tiers: ERP Tier I is suited for large corporations, ERP Tier II is for mid-size companies, and ERP Tier III is for small businesses. Compare software vendors from each tier to see what ERP solutions match your business needs and fit into the company budget.

 

Posted in : ERP | 
Tags : erp , web applications


Streamline Your E-commerce Solutions for Customers

Posted Wed, March 12, 2014 by Julie Short

Taking payments over your website should be a painless experience for both your company and your customers. Finding the best solutions to streamline your e-commerce operations will depend on what you are selling, what payment options you want to offer, and how much control you want over the purchasing aspects of the website.
Never forget that when you plan to streamline e-commerce operations, it should be an easy process for you to manage. Look for the most efficient methods that fit into your budget while at the same time pleasing your customers.


Decide which payment methods you want to offer.
While offering only one payment method makes it easier for you to process payments, it limits customers’ payment options to the point where people may seek other companies who offer their purchasing preferences. Try to feature the basic payment features such as PayPal, credit card ACH and electronic funds transfer (EFT) with easy-to-use ordering tools and payment fields.


Decide how much control you want over your purchasing features.
You have several options on how to set up your e-commerce solutions. If you are tech-savvy, you might want to develop and set up your own payment methods using available e-commerce software. If you don't know much about e-commerce, it might make more sense for you to have an e-commerce service provider handle all the backend features and manage your purchasing system. Decide on all the features you want to provide for your payment methods and then pick the solution that best fits into your company's operations.


Promote repeat business with payment profiles.
Repeat customers don't want to have to fill in their information for every purchase they make. Allowing people to store their private payment information on a secure server makes the process easier, as customers can complete transactions in minutes through a one-click method. Stored information also gives mobile users an easier way to make payments on their cell phones or tablet devices, as they don't have to worry about filling in tons of required billing and shipping field boxes. Speaking of mobile users…


Don't leave out mobile users.
Mobile technology is on the rise, and more and more people are making their purchases on the go. Optimize your e-commerce site for mobile users by offering larger payment buttons that are easier to click on using small touch screens. Limit the number of field boxes that need to be typed in and sync specials between your online website and your mobile marketing campaign so mobile customers aren’t left out.


Take advantage of the abundance of available e-commerce solutions.
The most exciting realities of e-commerce operations are the limitless options available in payment companies and the ways in which you can customize their presence on your website. Decide on the purchasing features that will work best with the products and services you provide, then, create an efficient payment process that you can easily manage and change; one that will seamlessly evolve with the growth of your business. Your customers will thank you.

 

Posted in : e-commerce | 
Tags : e-commerce , webpayments


How Cloud-Based HR Solutions Offer Advantages throughout Your Company

Posted Wed, March 5, 2014 by Julie Short

CIO reports that 900 of the companies named on the Fortune 1000 list will soon be moving to cloud-based systems to take care of their HR needs.


What’s driving this move to host HR systems in the cloud? In some instances, it’s the simple fact that in-house legacy systems have become obsolete. In other cases, it’s the desire to eliminate the significant hardware costs associated with an in-house system.


For many companies, moving HR to the cloud also provides a wealth of advantages that can be leveraged throughout all levels of management within the organization—and on the front lines.


The IT Case for Cloud-Based HR Systems
From an IT perspective, one of the most appealing features of a cloud-based HR system is the freedom provided by being bound only by a licensing agreement instead of a capital-intensive equipment purchase. If the cloud-based system selected doesn’t meet your company’s needs, your IT department doesn’t have to worry about finding a new system that’s compatible with existing hardware. Instead, it only needs to investigate how to migrate to a new remote provider smoothly.


Housing the HR system off-site also moves the burden of data backup and equipment upkeep to the cloud provider.


Finally, through cloud computing, IT departments are able to offer HR staff throughout the company a familiar, modern user interface. On the surface, that may not seem like a compelling reason to migrate HR to the cloud, but as Josh Bersin of Forbes points out, the interface issue is actually “the number one driver of change” in this arena. It makes a lot of sense: a familiar interface not only increases the chances that HR pros will utilize the system; it also makes it easier for IT to train users and communicate about how the system operates.


Advantages within the HR Department
One of the major advantages of a cloud-based system within the HR department is data standardization. That was certainly the case for HB Fuller, a company that employed over 4000 people but couldn’t gather company-wide data about them in a single, usable form until it began to migrate away from its legacy HR system in 2008.


Rather than relying on disparate systems to gather HR data and make decisions, a pervasive, cloud-based system allows HR staff to get the answers they need from a single online portal. Such a system makes it easy for HR team members to centrally track and process requests for time off, make policy manual changes visible throughout the organization, administer payroll, schedule training, and analyze data.


Mobile access is another advantage for HR staff. Since a cloud-based system is accessible from any device that can access the Internet, HR pros armed with smartphones or tablets can solve problems outside the office or offer instant feedback to other staff in the field.


Advantages for Frontline Staff
For frontline staff, the advantages of a HR system sitting in the cloud are both immediate and practical. Staff members can easily access policies, update forms, request to use vacation time, and track their working hours.


If you’re interested in switching over to an accessible, intuitive HR system, contact the experts at Web Revelation today. We’ll set you up with a system that lets you do your job more efficiently – no frustration or complicated training necessary.

 

Posted in : Business Strategy , ERP | 
Tags : ERP , HR


Does Your Website Effectively Reflect Your Brand?

Posted Wed, February 26, 2014 by Julie Short


If you’re a business owner who wants your organization to move to the top of search results, you’ve heard this recommendation too many times to count: brand yourself in every way possible. It’s good advice, and it still holds true.


Companies have heeded this advice – they’ve taken to paid ad space, social networks, and professional networking sites. But some of them are still missing one crucial piece of the branding pie: their website.


Having your brand plastered onto high-traffic sites is great – but it won’t necessarily convert website traffic into sales if your customers aren’t impressed by your website.  In order to convert traffic to conversions, you’ll need a site that has solid functionality, ease-of-use, and ways to build customer loyalty. Contemporary branding begins and ends with a company website that leaves a favorable lasting impression on every person who visits it.


Is Your Website Reflecting Your Brand?
When customers visit your website, there should be no confusion about what your brand and company is. If you’re promoting athletic shoes, for example, then your website should feature some of your best or latest products and feature your name prominently. That way, people will associate your brand with that kind of footwear.


By the same token, a public relations company should focus its website on differentiating their business from other PR professionals in the region or niche.

Eliminate brand confusion with consistency.
As a company grows and develops, it undergoes several metamorphoses. It changes names. It changes product lines. It changes ownership and brings other businesses into its fold. During any sort of development, it’s crucial to keep your organization’s website up to date to prevent muddling your branding efforts. Make sure that any old websites redirect web traffic to your current site, and always build sites with URLs that are relevant to your business.


Consistency is vital to branding: customers need to know who they’re doing business with and what products they’re spending money on. Have a clear idea about your company’s product and services – and focus on marketing that single identity.


Have quality website integration.
Well-built, thoughtfully designed websites tend to be better for users than sites that revolve around one flashy, visual element. People enjoy entertainment and visual stimulation, but they really value information. Quality website integration involves the following factors:

  • regularly posting relevant content
  • proper placement of cross-links
  • utilizing efficient SEO and SEM website strategies with strategic keywords and analytical tools
  • sharing content on various social media platforms

Show what other people think about your brand.
Happy customers who have worked with your company in the past can be hugely influential in promoting your brand. Testimonials posted on your website can inform visitors about the positive experiences other people have had when working with your company.
For one thing, these testimonials build up trust and brand loyalty. And for another, your customers’ words and faces will contribute to your overall branding efforts: potential customers and website visitors will see these happy clients and associate them with your brand.
Pay attention to the placement of your testimonials: your customers should be able to see them while still being able to read about your company’s products – and also able, as always, to navigate through your site efficiently.


Get Your Website on Board with Your Branding Efforts
Your website is the hub of your branding efforts: it’s one of the main places that people will find information about your company, and it’s where people will turn to find out how to buy your products or request your services.  Make sure your site is doing a good job of reflecting your brand – you’ll get your message across to visitors, and you’ll eventually convert visitors to customers.  

 

Posted in : Websites | 
Tags : branding , websites


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