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The Best Free Apps for Small Businesses

Posted Wed, February 19, 2014 by Julie Short

Do you ever find yourself wondering, “What if there were free apps that could help my small business thrive?” Running a small business, especially for first time business owners, can be ridiculously stressful. But thanks to plenty of wonderful advancements in the world of technology, you now have a plethora of helpful apps at your disposal.

We at WebRevelation have been scrounging the depths of all things iOS to pull together a small but important list of the best free apps for small businesses. Let us help lift some weight off of your (probably tired) shoulders.

HootSuite

HootSuite has been a solid service for business owners on both PC and Mac for years, but now you can get it on your iPhone or iPad in a handy app form as well. Having HootSuite is like staying at an all-inclusive resort: not only can you manage your social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare) for your business; you can also share and store important files, schedule messages to be sent out and track your click-through stat reports. (You’ll have to take care of the paper umbrella drinks and palm trees on your own.)

Social media is a great way to drive traffic to your small business, so HootSuite is a must have for all small business owners.

Mynd

Trust me – we know how busy you are and how stressful running a business can be. That’s why an app like Mynd Calendar was made to help you power through the day. Mynd isn’t just a calendar – it’s the calendar. Mynd works with all existing calendars on your smart device and puts the most important and relevant information on Mynd’s Home screen.

Mynd is aptly named because it happens to know all. Have a meeting to get to across town and need an alert to remind you? That’s no problem. In fact, Mynd will send you that alert based on current traffic conditions AND it will launch a navigation app to give you precise directions.

Still not convinced? Mynd has the ability to pull clients’ information from websites like LinkedIn and put them into your calendar so you have all the information you need before going to that aforementioned meeting. There’s a reason Mynd was named one of the “Ten Best iOS Calendar Apps” by The Next Web. Try it for yourself!

Evernote

Evernote is the ultra-popular app that keeps all of your thoughts in line. If you’re anything like us, you know that a random thought can pop up at any time. Maybe you’re doing paperwork and don’t want to scribble something down on the same notepad you’re already using – Evernote is there. Maybe you’re in the middle of washing your hair during your (hopefully) daily shower and suddenly have the best idea ever – no worries, Evernote is there.

Evernote not only allows you to save your thoughts, it also lets you pull relevant information from around the web and store it for later use. This will come in handy when you need to share your notes and thoughts with friends and colleagues. Evernote also keeps everything you store in sync with every smart device and computer you use.

Going on a business trip and want to keep track of everything? Evernote even has a function that allows you to store itineraries, confirmations, maps and scanned travel documents so you’ll always have them when you need them. Small business owners – assemble!

Wave Accounting

If we told you that an accountant-approved app that produced professional balance sheets and sales tax reports was absolutely free, would you believe me? Obviously, we can’t hear you say yes, nor can we see you nodding your head in confirmation, but trust us – it’s not too good to be true. Wave Accounting has been featured in the New York Times and Forbes for its groundbreaking functionality.

Wave’s accounting tools come with no limits – you can use it as much as you want, with as many customers, invoices, expenses and reports as you need. Small business owners never have to worry about arduous invoicing and payroll ever again. With Wave, your data is instantly synchronized everywhere. Stop trying to over-complicate the back-end of your business and make your life easier with Wave today.

 

Have any of these apps worked for your small business?

Feel free to let us know which app works best for you!

 

Posted in : Business Strategy | 
Tags : small business , apps


Should you be doing Email marketing in 2014?

Posted Wed, February 12, 2014 by Julie Short


With the rise of social media and mobile marketing, email marketing can often times be forgotten. Does that mean this strategy is dying? No way. In fact, if you haven’t been doing email marketing before 2014, you have definitely lost out on some prime business opportunities.

Don’t you worry, 2014 is here and you still have time to hop on the nostalgia-ridden bandwagon that is email marketing.


Still feeling skeptical? Here’s some information that should help ease you into the idea that email marketing still exists: According to last year’s Econsultancy/Adestra Email Marketing Census, 55% of all company respondents attributed more than 10% of their total sales to email marketing, while 18% of respondents attributed over 30% of their total sales to email marketing! Those stats show the value and importance that still exists in email marketing.


The problem that most people run into when it comes to email marketing is figuring out the ins and outs that really make this strategy successful, such as: Choosing the best subject line, picking what types of offers to send and learning when the best time of day to send emails is. Did you know that the most active period for email opening is between 2pm and 5pm? Were you aware that Tuesday and Thursday are the busiest days in terms of email volume? These are facts that Mail Chimp discovered after analyzing more than a billion emails to identify trends to benefit email marketing. So, like any other marketing strategy, you really need to know your audience before you can achieve optimal success.

Here are a couple of things to remember not to do:  

  • Do not send important emails between the hours of 10pm and 8am. This should be self-explanatory, but just to clarify: People are less likely to open emails when it’s time to wind down and go to sleep. Most people begin their work day at either 8am or 9am, so the likelihood of somebody opening an important email before 8am decreases significantly.
     
  • Do not send important emails on the weekend if you’re looking for an immediate response. Around 85% of all emails are sent and opened between Monday and Friday. The weekends are supposed to be stress free and relaxing! Even though checking email is becoming more and more of a mobile activity, the weekdays are still the best time to reach your audience.
     
  • Do not seem needy in your subject line. Mail Chimp analyzed the open rates for over 200 million emails and found that there were three phrases to absolutely avoid: Help, percent off, and reminder. These phrases have negative connotations that are associated with begging or offering something that might be too good to be true.


These are just a few standard rules to help you better understand what makes email marketing successful. At WebRevelation, we stay current on all studies and trends that are beneficial to our clients. Email marketing isn’t dead yet. Let us show you what you’ve been missing!

Posted in : Email Marketing | 
Tags : email marketing


Beyond the Black Hat: Contemporary and Common SEO Strategy Mistakes

Posted Wed, February 5, 2014 by Julie Short

If you’ve been working on updating your business’s website, you’ve definitely come across the ubiquitous concept of SEO – and have probably been confused about how to effectively implement it.


And SEO isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. For one, SEO best practices change every few months – these are collectively referred to as “white hat” SEO. And if your site doesn’t already drive a large amount of traffic, you have to execute an elegant SEO strategy to stay on the search engines’ good sides. Here are a few bad moves to avoid when you’re starting in on your SEO campaign.


White Hat SEO No-No’s

  1. Linking like it’s 2010. If anyone tries to sell you hundreds of links for a small price, or an SEO “blast”/“quick SEO” – run, don’t walk. Today’s SEO is all about directing authority and relevance to a site for legitimate reasons – not paying a less-than-reputable article directory to house some shady links to your pages. Links are essential and beneficial – but they do not grow on outsourced trees.
     
  2. Not paying attention to links at all. On the flip side, your site won’t gain much traction if nobody is linking to it once you launch. The concept of “link building” is dramatically different than the outsourced link farm bonanza you might have heard about in earlier years. But off-page links remain one of the most effective ways to drive traffic to your site going forward. Getting links that point to your site is time-consuming, to be sure, but well worth your effort – as long as you’re employing a decidedly white hat SEO strategy. Point Blank SEO has a useful (and affordable) tutorial here.
     
  3. Weak title tags and meta descriptions. Google pays a lot of attention to your titles – H1s – and also to your subheadings (H2s) and meta descriptions. While there’s no need to splash “BEST SANDWICHES INDIANAPOLIS” on your site like lamb’s blood on the front door, some strategic word smith-ing can boost your visibility to search engines and local searchers alike.  
     
  4. All images, no text. Your website should be visually striking, yes – but that doesn’t mean it needs to be completely Flash-based or full of in-your-face sliders. For one thing, these sites can confuse your readers; and from an SEO perspective, it just doesn’t make sense. Search engines “read” the text on your site, but they can’t read images – which means you’ll have a tough time getting your site optimized and ranking.   
     
  5. Duplicated text. More is not more when it comes to white hat SEO – especially when it comes to the text content on your site. Avoid using the same title tags and body text on different pages, as you’ll miss out on the opportunity to inform your readers (and the search engines, of course) about what you actually do.
     
  6. Not using free, white hat SEO tips and tools. SEO firms might act like search engines are the enemy – but really, they’re some of the most helpful (and accessible) SEO resources out there. Google’s webmaster blogs and videos cater to both industry insiders and business owners. And then there are sites like Moz, Search Engine Journal, and Search Engine Land that offer super-informative blog posts, free tools, and up-to-the-minute industry news so you can be knowledgeable about – and learn, hands-on – SEO best practices. And when you’re just starting out with a new website or SEO campaign, you’ll probably find that free tools are sufficient!  
     
  7. Being antisocial….media. We’re not saying you must have a personal Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Google+ account, but social media is extremely important to your business’s visibility. A regularly updated social media account also shows your customers that you’re interested in their community – not just their business.
     
  8. Not having a blog. No need to post a daily, crazy-involved piece. But a blog that’s updated regularly – even monthly – can help you build authority to your site and credibility in your brand. Share your blog posts via email newsletters and social media – places you know you’ll have an audience.
     
  9. Using a third-party site to host your blog. There is one caveat to having your own blog. Repeat after us: I will not blog on someone else’s domain. Buying your own domain or adding a page to your site might cost more and take a bit of your time, but think of it as an investment that quickly pays for itself. If you create informative content about your business’s specialty and your area of expertise, you’re making yourself an authority in the field. If your blog lives on a different domain, your authority goes to that business – not to you. So – have your blog-cake and eat it, too.
     
  10. Neglecting local SEO strategy. Local SEO is a bit different than your typical SEO strategy. Instead of driving traffic to your site with high-quality links and social mentions, it focuses on assuring that your contact information is the same across multiple sites, directories, and platforms. (In the eyes of search engines, inconsistency reads as fraudulent practices.) Local SEO also allows you to establish a business page on Google+. Your position on Google Maps also plays a big role. If you’re a local business, local SEO is crucial to a successful SEO strategy.   

A high quality SEO campaign takes a bit of time and practice. And if your business is expanding, you might want to let the pros take care of it. Contact Web Revelation about a simple, effective SEO strategy for your company – your site will thank you.

white hat SEO - 880, med comp.
SEO strategy - 1600, med-high comp.

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


What is CRM? A Guide for Newbies

Posted Wed, January 29, 2014 by Julie Short

The world of marketing is full of acronyms. Every modern marketer knows what an FAQ is, but other acronyms – CPC, CTR, and MFA, to name a few – are not as well understood by many of us. Here’s one you need to know: CRM. Whether you’re a marketing newbie or just interested in learning more about this mysterious acronym, here’s a quick guide to navigating CRM.

First things first: What does CRM stand for?

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. Successful CRM entails a company-wide strategy designed to increase profitability and reduce costs.

At the heart of this strategy, the company as a whole – especially the marketing, sales, and customer service departments – works to create a two-way interaction with its customers so as to better understand customer needs and behaviors.  An efficient CRM system imports relevant information from several sources into one central location, making this information available to your marketing team and other key players in your organization.

Marketers implement CRM through various methodologies, software and internet applications. These tools help you keep track of customers in an organized way.

What is CRM, really?

A theoretical definition is all well and good – but exactly what is CRM in practice and how can it help your business? Although CRM is a pretty simple concept, it has grown to include all kinds of software and strategies – mainly because various consulting firms and software vendors try to create their own brand of CRM.  Here’s a more application-focused explanation:

  • A CRM system compiles all of your customer information in a central location and makes it accessible across your team.
  • Marketing tools within CRM assess the effectiveness of your current email, social media, search, and telephone campaigns by tracking the number of responses, clicks, leads, and deals these methods generate.
  • CRM software can provide tech support to customers; automated customer service capabilities can increase efficiency and customer satisfaction.
  • Successful CRM helps you identify strong leads and focus your marketing energy on these high-potential leads.
  • An automated CRM system improves your bottom line by eliminating duplicate efforts, unnecessary expenses and ineffective campaigns.

Effective CRM tools organize, automate, and synchronize marketing, sales, technical support, and customer service efforts in a way that makes the information you gather meaningful and usable.

That is what’s tricky about CRM: its exact functions and capabilities vary widely from one system or organization to another – but the overarching meaning remains constant. You use CRM to learn what your customers need and want.

Implement CRM across the board at your company.

If you’ve been handling customer data and relationships manually, you might be put off by the idea of adding a whole new system to manage something you feel is under control. But there are a few factors – a lack of customized customer relations, unorganized customer data in a hundred different places – that might make you realize that your spreadsheets (or Rolodex – we won’t judge) just aren’t cutting it any more.

Ask your employees – and not just the marketing team – how they feel about their relationships with customers. If they feel strained or stretched in too many directions, it might be time to consider implementing an across-the-board CRM system.

Let the experts at Web Revelation help you implement an effective CRM strategy. You’ll finally have time to take care of your existing customers – and time to find new ones, too.

 

Posted in : CRM | 
Tags : CRM


How Should You Prioritize Your Social Media Marketing?

Posted Wed, January 22, 2014 by Julie Short

By now, most businesses agree that social media marketing is no longer optional – you have to maintain profiles on the major platforms if you want to compete in today's world.

But, deciding how to split up your time (or even money) between the different social media sites themselves is an entirely different matter. If you look hard enough, you can find a number of very good reasons to prefer any of them over the others:

  • Facebook still has the largest reach, in terms of daily visits and new content;
  • Google+ is affiliated with the world's most popular search engine, and is the fastest growing of the social networking sites;
  • LinkedIn is built for business, and can make networking with clients easier;
  • Twitter takes very little time, and can allow you to spread your marketing messages in a viral way;
  • Some studies show that Pinterest is the most reliable for e-commerce sites looking to generate click-throughs to online stores.

As you have probably guessed, we could go on with more bullets until you are thoroughly confused. But, if you're like most of us, you don't have the time, energy, or manpower to focus on all the social media sites at once. So, how do you decide where to place your priorities?

Here are a few tips to help you sort things out:

Remember that much depends on your industry and location. The answers that work for a small bakery aren't going to be the same that apply to a manufacturing company. Context is important, especially when it comes to social media marketing.

Pay attention to your customers. In a lot of cases, you can find out what social media sites are most important to you simply by going where your most important customers or clients go. Chances are, other buyers who fit the same profile will prefer the same social networking sites.

Study the analytics. As a rule of thumb, you want to pay the most attention to the social media sites that are showing you the biggest results. That means going back to your business website analytics and seeing which profiles are generating visits and conversions.

Don't be afraid to experiment. Regardless of what results you're seeing now, though, don't be afraid to experiment and see if you might be able to reach new markets (or at least engage customers in a different way) by trying social sites you haven't paid attention to in the past.

Are you getting the right kind of advice from your Internet marketing partner? What about bottom-line results? Now might be the perfect time to talk to WebRevelation and see what we can do to help your business grow.

 

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


How to Generate Content That Attracts Decision-Makers

Posted Wed, January 15, 2014 by Julie Short


Far too many small and medium-sized businesses treat content marketing as something they simply have to do, or an item that they need to check off a list. If you ask the business owners or marketing executives in question why, they might tell you something about search engine optimization or engagement, but the truth is they really don't have a strategy tied to the articles, blog posts, and other content they create.

That's probably better than not generating any content at all, but it isn't the kind of approach that's going to do a lot for your business, either. A better way to think about content marketing is to develop a strategy to attract decision-makers to your business website, interest them in your point of view, and then get them to take action.

Here are eight easy tips to help you do exactly that:

1. Build your content as part of a plan. Magazines, major websites, and newsletter publishers all plan their content weeks or months in advance to ensure they remain consistent and stay on topic. You should do the same.

2. Use cutting titles. Did you notice how the title of this article cut right to the heart of an issue that a lot of business owners and executives care about? Open your content with something that's interesting, timely, or inspires curiosity.

3. Start with an attention-grabbing hook. If the first few seconds’ worth of your content aren't interesting (usually the first paragraph of an article, or the opening moments of the video), you can be sure viewers and readers will click elsewhere.

4. Do your research. You can add a lot of credibility to your content by taking advantage of current statistics, relevant quotes, or new studies.

5. Find the right length. Your content should feel like it’s short, sweet, and to the point – even if you need longer to explore a topic. Break something up into different sections, or a series, if you need to in order to stop things from going on too long.

6. Give a strong call to action. After someone has viewed regular content, make it clear what you would like them to do as a result. Decision-makers are busy people; don't leave them guessing about what comes next.

7. Don't gloss over your resource box. Often, readers or viewers will look at a resource box before your content to see whether they can trust your ideas. Make sure your most prominent qualifications are listed.

8. Pay attention to the comments that are generated. Sometimes, the real value in a piece of content is in the comments it generates. The feedback you get could lead to sales opportunities, or at least ideas for more content in the future.

Here's one more bonus tip: Content works best when it's released continually, so put these tips into action early and often to get the best results.

Looking for an Internet marketing partner that understands how to create profitable websites? Get in touch with WebRevelation today to see what we can do for you.

 

Posted in : Website Content | 
Tags : marketing , content


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