Charlotte Internet Marketing | Digital Marketing Company Charlotte FIRM180

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Spotlight: Fattmerchant Offers Subscription-based Payment Processing for Business

Spotlight: Fattmerchant Brings a New Model to Payment Processing - Flat Rate Credit Card Processing

Subscription businesses have made an impact on nearly every industry, from music to beauty supplies. And now, the idea is coming to payment processing, thanks to Fattmerchant.

You can read more about the business and its unique way of serving merchants in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.

What the Business Does

Provides payment processing services.

Suneera Madhani, CEO and Founder of Fattmerchant told Small Business Trends, “Fattmerchant is a subscription-based merchant services provider. We offer payment processing solutions for businesses of all shapes and sizes.”

Business Niche

Affordable rates for quality service.

Madhani says, “We like to say our customers come for the savings and stay for our technology and service. We offer zero percent markup for all our clients, and our statements are completely transparent. The payment processing industry is pretty archaic and traditional with its methods. At this point, most business owners just expect to be confused by their monthly invoice, and they often don’t understand why they’re being charged. Our clients know us for our transparency in an industry that usually keeps them in the dark.”

How the Business Got Started

To overhaul the payment processing business.

Madhani admired companies like Netflix and Birchbox and wanted to bring the monthly subscription-based model to payment processing. However, when she brought the idea to the bosses at her last job, they laughed at the idea. So she left to start Fattmerchant on her own.

Madhani explains, “It all started with the idea that merchants deserve better, and we work hard every day to make sure that’s exactly what they get.”

Spotlight: Fattmerchant Brings a New Model to Payment Processing - Flat Rate Credit Card Processing

Biggest Win

Being featured in a major article.

Madhani says, “We’ve had a lot of wins but our biggest (and first) was being featured in Fast Company. The article was title “Meet the woman who is trying to change the credit card industry” and as soon as it published our phones were ringing off the hook. It was our first real proof of concept and that was the moment we knew we really had something.”

Biggest Risk

Investing in the platform early on.

Madhani says, “The biggest risk we’ve taken was to invest in heavy R&D and technology dollars. You don’t get a direct ROI right away. However, it was the best decision yet. Our platform is now the heart of our business and the heart of our customers’ businesses.”

Lesson Learned

Preparation is important.

Madhani explains, “Being prepared is a difficult thing to do, but it’s the one thing we would advise every small business owner to prioritize. Set up a team of mentors to help you along the way, and stay as practical as possible.?”

How They’d Spend an Extra $100,000

Investing in a referral program.

Madhani says, “If we had an extra $100,000 that we could do ANYTHING with — we would spend it on our customer referral checks. We’re also looking for ways to give more back to our members as well as how we can encourage our members be our biggest advocates. Putting dollars towards our referral program would be the ultimate win-win.”

Spotlight: Fattmerchant Brings a New Model to Payment Processing - Flat Rate Credit Card Processing

Company Mascot

Benji the Pig.

Madhani says, “For our Fattmerchant and our members it’s ‘All about the Benjamins’ — this is where Benji got his name! “

* * * * *

Find out more about the Small Biz Spotlight program

Images: Fattmerchant, Suneera Madhani

This article, “Spotlight: Fattmerchant Offers Subscription-based Payment Processing for Business” was first published on Small Business Trends

To Foster Workplace Collaboration in the 21st Century, Heed the General

Knowing that your decision-making processes align with those of Zappos and Alphabet is flattering. Realizing you share the same management style as al-Qaida? That’s disconcerting — until you learn that American military forces in Iraq did, too.

As General Stanley McChrystal revealed in “Team of Teams,” a book I discovered through an HR trends report, al-Qaida proved to be tougher to defeat than suspected. Like swarms of bees, its teams completed missions, dissolved and then reformed again. Although they had fewer resources, they upped their efficiency by bucking the traditional chain-of-command model. So McChrystal did likewise, ultimately batting back al-Qaida in the region.

Before I read “Team of Teams,” I’d created a similar system among my staff. Although we’ve never faced a life-or-death struggle, our small team must do more with less to stay atop changing regulations across the country and globe.

To create additional capacity, I scrapped our hierarchical structure in favor of a network of teams, just like McChrystal’s troops in Iraq. This structural shift has turned us into an organization capable of outmaneuvering larger competitors through sheer efficiency and a shared consciousness.

A ‘Team of Teams’ transformation

Before we became a “team of teams,” important issues regularly stopped at my desk, bottlenecking progress. I realized the process was unsustainable, so I empowered my team to make and implement decisions without me. On their own, members of my team began meeting in groups to address problems, later notifying me of results.

Like Innovative Employee Solutions, most small and mid-sized businesses have more challenges than they have time or teams to face. But few of them have plans in place to pick up the pace. According to CA Technologies, just 12 percent of businesses have implemented agility improvement initiatives. With cross-functional teams, SMB leaders can boost productivity and increase collaboration.

Following McChrystal’s advice has another key benefit: new opportunities for employee growth. Seventy percent of surveyed workers are dissatisfied with their company’s career development efforts, citing it as the top reason to resign. But in teams — which can be created without massive funds for education and training — individuals who aren’t official managers or supervisors can practice leadership skills including delegation, negotiation, and influencing others.

If McChrystal’s approach resonates with you, take these four steps toward a nimbler, more team-driven workplace.

1. Identify existing cross-functional teams.

You might already have some cross-functional teams addressing strategic initiatives. We have a data breach team, for example, that reviews our plan for such incidents annually, conducts drills, and meets to discuss suspected breaches, which can happen to small companies if they can happen to sophisticated corporations such as Equifax and Target.

With this small but mighty team, we learned how greatly a “team of teams” approach can extend our abilities. Put your own existing cross-functional teams under the microscope to gather data and determine which company problems additional teams could tackle.

2. Learn about the culture and operations of current teams.

After identifying internal teams, dig into their operations. When and why were they formed? How often do they meet? How do they make decisions? What is their reporting process? How do they resolve challenges? The insights you gather will help you set up future teams for success.

At Zappos, CEO Tony Hsieh announced a move to what he termed “holacracy” – a “team of teams” management style – via email and without previous discussion. Unfortunately, the abrupt change frustrated Zappos employees, many of whom left the organization. Jumping blindly into a new management structure is a recipe for chaos, not collaboration.

3. Secure buy-in and solicit volunteers.

Before switching to a “team of teams” management style, secure buy-in from leadership and everyday employees. Provide an overview of the new mission, and allow employees to volunteer to join teams. For such a radical change to succeed, the whole company must be on board. 

We prepared to introduce the shift by first presenting a business case to leadership. We used teams already in place as case studies and created a name and logo for the initiative. Afterward, we unveiled the “team of teams” approach at an all-staff meeting.

4. Seek feedback and monitor performance.

The only path to improvement is through regular feedback. Take complaints seriously but in stride. Openly speak with teams about their accomplishments and sticking points. Track productivity metrics, like “jobs completed,” and relay them to the leadership team. 

Tracking progress toward goals makes them more likely to come to fruition, according to a long-term analysis by the American Psychological Association. The analysis discovered that people who monitored progress toward a personal objective increased their likelihood of attaining that objective.

You needn’t adopt a military mindset to realize the benefits of a “team of teams” approach. In fact, your teams might already be in place; you simply need to acknowledge and empower them. Take a page from McChrystal, and you’ll discover just how much ground your small team can cover.

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Crush Your Competition with these Website Building Basics

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Crush Your Competition with these Website Building Basics

Let’s start this off on the right foot — your website is really important.

Once a customer chooses you over your competition in search, it’s extremely important that your website provide all the information and deep facts about your business in a way that’s easy to navigate. No argument.

However, if you aren’t in control of your digital knowledge — all the facts about your brand (like name, address, phone number, hours of operation, products and services) that live online for customers to search — then your website needs to take a back seat for a moment.

Consumers are on average 3x more likely to make a decision about your business on sites like Yelp, Facebook, Google My Business, Apple Maps, and hundreds of other sites — without ever clicking over to your site. More on that here.

Once you’ve got all those important facts about your brand (i.e. your digital knowledge) under control, then we can talk about what you need to do to ensure your website offers a positive customer service experience — before customers even walk through your door.

The following is broken down into a few sections: Table StakesMastery, and Super Juice. You can think of these website building basics as good, better, best — or as novice, intermediate, and expert. If you want to crush your competition, set your goals at Super Juice.

TABLE STAKES

These are the basics. Don’t even consider building a website or hiring an agency without these website building basics in place. A lot of them may seem obvious, but it’s important to have a sturdy foundation.

An Easy to Remember URL

Try to buy a URL that’s relevant to your name and business — but don’t over complicate it. Try to stay as short as you can, avoiding dashes. Long names and dashes make it hard for customers to remember your site, and it looks like you compromised. abcnycplumbers.com is much better than yourlocalabcnewyorkplumberfriends.com

Basic Digital Knowledge

There are some universal categories of information that are going to be relevant to all your customers. These are the backbone of your digital knowledge. Where are you located? When are you open? How should customers get there? What do you offer? It’s important that these pieces of information be prominent and easy to find on your website.

  • Address / Area of service
  • Phone number
  • Hours of operation
  • Services offered / Menu
  • Easy to find contact information
  • Social networking links

Clear Navigation

You probably know what you want a customer to do when they come to your site. But do you know what they want to know first, before they take that action? Think about the customer path. Just because they came to your site, does not mean they are ready to transact with your business or even give you their email address. Make sure the information they want most is the easiest for them to find. For example, if you’re a restaurant, hours and menu are super important. Put them at the top.

A Clear Explanation of You and Your Business

Don’t make people guess. Are you a CPA, a clothing store, or a dry cleaner? Put that at the top of your site and make it easy to find. Include with that a description of what makes you different.

If you’re a CPA who focuses on small construction, include that. Does your clothing store only sell imported New Zealand wool sweaters? People want to know.  My dry cleaner is organic and offers pick up / delivery. It’s right at the top of their site. Be like them.

Use Quality Pictures and Subheadings

Please hire a photographer. 93% of all human communication is visual. Showing a great picture of you, your services, or your products is going to do way more for your business than text, or worse, a terrible photo. Make them big and easy to see on your site and include a brief description.

I’m not about to book a party with you for my kid’s birthday if I can see that what you offer looks unpleasant. If there is cake on the floor, kids crying, and the room looks dark, I’ll go on about my googling. You would too!

A Reliable Host

Make sure you have a good web hosting service. There are a number of well-known providers who can guarantee you great service.[Curious – do we have any relationships with GoDaddy or is this an unbiased opinion?] The last thing you want is for people to click to your site and then not be able to see anything because it doesn’t load, or worse, loads slowly.

MASTERY

Take your website to the next level. The following are items that you can include on your website that will optimize your business’s online experience — putting you beyond your competition and helping to build a better customer-oriented experience.

Regularly Update Your Blog

Search engines are looking for fresh content. What does that mean? The more frequently you update your website, the more relevancy the search engines will award to you. Since most business details don’t change that often, the best way to do this is a blog. By creating new content to share on your website, you’ll also become more relevant to your customers.

How often should you blog? Once a month is good enough to appease the search engines. But is twice a month better? Yes, so is once a week, once a day, etc, etc.

Tell Visitors What You Want Them to Do

What are the steps that a typical consumer goes through before they conduct business with you? How do they go from first searching for your business to actually spending money? That’s the customer journey. It doesn’t matter if it’s a new customer or a returning one — everyone has a path. You can make it that much easier by building a clearly defined path for them — by telling them what you want them to do.

As an example, if you are a lawyer and you know that your highest rate of conversion is after they’ve had a free consultation, put a big “free consultation” button right at the top of your website.

Use Google Webmaster Tools

Look, if Google tells you it’s good for SEO and then builds you a tool to use it, that’s what they call a “signal.” If you were bringing a large tanker ship into harbor late at night you would rely on a lighthouse to bring you in. Well, think of this the same way. These tools will help you understand how Google (and other search engines) see your site and give you the tools to index your site for search. Plus, it gives you some great insights about the activity on your site.

With Google Webmaster tools, you’ll automatically be informed when you update your site, find out how people are reaching your website, and learn which internal and external links generate the most traffic for your business.

SUPER JUICE

First Party Reviews

There are two types of reviews. A review that lives on a site that the business does not own or control, like Google, Facebook, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Foursquare, etc., is a third-party review. Typically these sites allow business owners to claim their listing and manage replies and contact with customers. According to research by Convince and Convert, 80% of Americans trust at least some ratings and reviews as much as they trust recommendations from friends and family members.

The second type of review is first-party reviews. They are reviews that a business asks customers for directly, and which live on a business’s own website. Yes, you read that correctly, you can collect your own reviews and add those reviews to your website.

The best part? Google will add these star ratings from your first-party reviews underneath your business name in organic search results. Businesses with star ratings in organic search get 153% more clicks than those without.

Schema.org Best Practices Design

In 2011, Google, Bing, and Yahoo got together and created a standard vocabulary that webmasters can use to give signals back to the engines to let them know what kind of content is on a web page. That standardized code is known as Schema.org (or just Schema). Using this language on your website lets the search engines know what kind of business you are and can also tell them what kind of content is on that page.

If you use them, you are basically laying out a welcome mat, opening your door and offering a lovely afternoon tea and snacks to the search engines. They will be happy to stop by and tell others just how nice and easy you made their visit. The truth is, they don’t care how nice your proverbial house is or how good the tea is — they just want to know that it’s a tea parlor, offering afternoon tea, and that it’s wheelchair accessible.

That’s a really simple explanation of a really complex solution, because c’mon, who has time to learn the ins and outs of Schema code?! Thankfully, there are a number of different ways you can do this with your site. The easiest (and best in my opinion) is by using Yext Knowledge Tags. Once you have access to them, you just put a simple code into your website, update the Tags, and that’s it. Let the good tea times roll.

Positive Testimonials or Proof of Work

Want to convince prospective customers to choose you? Testimonials have tons of power. Customers who have had an outstanding experience, seen amazing results, or just really love your business will be more than happy to give you a testimonial.

You can take these glamourous stories and put them in a permanent place on your website, right in the moment of the customer journey where someone is asking, “but can I trust this business,” or, “will I be happy with the results I will get from spending my money here?”

While testimonials won’t put star ratings beneath your business name in search results (that’s what first-party reviews are for), you can control how testimonials live, look, and deliver on your site. Give potential customers the social proof they need to know that you are the right business for them in that moment.

If you incorporate the above website building basics into your website, it’s likely you’ll be crushing your competition in terms of traffic and customer service. Good luck!

Website Development Wireframe Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Crush Your Competition with these Website Building Basics” was first published on Small Business Trends

 

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Why Are Microsoft's Business Product Names So Confusing?

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As far as I know I’ve never done anything to anger the Microsoft corporation, but it seems to insist on punishing me. It punishes all of us, really, with its skillfully obtuse and, what I can only assume are, intentionally confusing product names.  

Sometimes I imagine the lady or gent who is currently locked away on a Microsoft campus, slurping down a coffee drink while devising another sinister way to combine the words Microsoft, Office, 365, Business and Premium. Who are these unsung copywriting anti-heroes, and where did they come from?

It seems like it would be easier for Microsoft to consolidate some of their packages into a centralized, tiered system (or even offer a la carte features), so business shoppers could clearly see what each package includes rather than cull facts from different pages and figure it out themselves, but then, perhaps, I’d be out of a job. After all, if business people who don’t spend all their time reading spec sheets and testing products could easily discern between Microsoft 365 Business, Office 365 Business, Office 365 Business Essentials and Office 365 Business Premium, I might have to learn a trade, or worse, start selling terrible crafts on Etsy and then guilting family members into purchasing them. 

On a serious note, though, Microsoft isn’t doing itself or is clients any favors by piecemealing together multiple product bundles and then pushing them out at different times. In fact, Microsoft can’t even keep up with their own product lines. I have, multiple times, heard Microsoft reps get tongue-tied over the different product names, pause and then correct themselves. There are so many similar packages and products that this even happens on the Microsoft site.

I recently researched a new product called Microsoft Invoicing (part of the Microsoft Business Center), and I found this on the Microsoft website:

I knew this statement couldn’t be right because I’d heard about Microsoft Invoicing at an event for Microsoft 365 Business, and, sure enough, when I continued searching, I eventually found a side-by-side comparison of the two products (Office 365 Business Premium and Microsoft 365 Business), which confirmed that Invoicing comes with both. What’s even more puzzling about all this is that Microsoft doesn’t make the same mistakes with consumer products. The three consumer versions of Office 365 are Office 365 Home, Office 365 Personal and Office 365 Student. It’s easy to discern from these names that Home is for families/households, Personal is for individuals, and Student is, well, for students.

So, what is it that makes the business product names so annoying to navigate and so difficult to remember?

The root of the problem

As you can probably tell, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the root of this naming problem (I’m really fun at parties), and I’ve concluded that there are two main culprits. The first is that Microsoft creates dozens and dozens of products that do very similar things (I’m looking at you SharePoint, OneDrive and Near Share), and then call them different things and group them into different sets, rather than integrate them into existing products as new features. The second problem is the approach to differentiating names.

When Microsoft comes up with a new bundled plan or product line, they expect the world to completely forget every other Microsoft product name that came before it. I’m sure I’m not alone in remembering when the office suite was referred to as “Microsoft Office.” Then when the web version debuted, it was called “Microsoft Office 365,” but at some point, “Microsoft” was dropped and it became “Office 365.”

Despite this fact, when I read “Office 365,” my brain automatically thinks “Microsoft Office 365,” and when I read “Microsoft 365,” I instantly add an “Office” in the middle. Now, when I see a lone “365,” I think “Microsoft Office 365.” The irony is, of course, that there isn’t even a product called Office 365; that’s just the family of products under which there are business and non-business solutions (with six subscription options, each with its own name that also incorporates the term “Office 365”).

Basically, what is happening with Microsoft’s product names is a perfect microcosm of what will occur when we’re on the third generation of married couples who decide to hyphenate. I fear that at some point there will be a New York Times marriage announcement that reads: Mr. Davis-Xian-Ellis and Ms. Hopper-Gordon-Marquez will marry this June. The Davis-Xian-Ellis-Hopper-Gordon-Marquez family will continue living on the Upper West Side where Mr. Davis-Xian-Ellis works in sales for Microsoft Office 365 Business Premium Online with Teams and Ms. Hopper-Gordon-Marquez works as a developer for the Premium Business 365 Online Office Business Center division of Microsoft.

It’s going to be chaos.

Why Are Microsoft’s Business Product Names So Confusing?

As far as I know I’ve never done anything to anger the Microsoft corporation, but it seems to insist on punishing me. It punishes all of us, really, with its skillfully obtuse and, what I can only assume are, intentionally confusing product names.

Sometimes I imagine the lady or gent who is currently locked away on a Microsoft campus, slurping down a coffee drink while devising another sinister way to combine the words Microsoft, Office, 365, Business and Premium. Who are these unsung copywriting anti-heroes, and where did they come from?

It seems like it would be easier for Microsoft to consolidate some of their packages into a centralized, tiered system (or even offer a la carte features), so business shoppers could clearly see what each package includes rather than cull facts from different pages and figure it out themselves, but then, perhaps, I’d be out of a job. After all, if business people who don’t spend all their time reading spec sheets and testing products could easily discern between Microsoft 365 Business, Office 365 Business, Office 365 Business Essentials and Office 365 Business Premium, I might have to learn a trade, or worse, start selling terrible crafts on Etsy and then guilting family members into purchasing them.

On a serious note, though, Microsoft isn’t doing itself or is clients any favors by piecemealing together multiple product bundles and then pushing them out at different times. In fact, Microsoft can’t even keep up with their own product lines. I have, multiple times, heard Microsoft reps get tongue-tied over the different product names, pause and then correct themselves. There are so many similar packages and products that this even happens on the Microsoft site.

I recently researched a new product called Microsoft Invoicing (part of the Microsoft Business Center), and I found this on the Microsoft website:

I knew this statement couldn’t be right because I’d heard about Microsoft Invoicing at an event for Microsoft 365 Business, and, sure enough, when I continued searching, I eventually found a side-by-side comparison of the two products (Office 365 Business Premium and Microsoft 365 Business), which confirmed that Invoicing comes with both. What’s even more puzzling about all this is that Microsoft doesn’t make the same mistakes with consumer products. The three consumer versions of Office 365 are Office 365 Home, Office 365 Personal and Office 365 Student. It’s easy to discern from these names that Home is for families/households, Personal is for individuals, and Student is, well, for students.

So, what is it that makes the business product names so annoying to navigate and so difficult to remember?

The root of the problem

As you can probably tell, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the root of this naming problem (I’m really fun at parties), and I’ve concluded that there are two main culprits. The first is that Microsoft creates dozens and dozens of products that do very similar things (I’m looking at you SharePoint, OneDrive and Near Share), and then call them different things and group them into different sets, rather than integrate them into existing products as new features. The second problem is the approach to differentiating names.

When Microsoft comes up with a new bundled plan or product line, they expect the world to completely forget every other Microsoft product name that came before it. I’m sure I’m not alone in remembering when the office suite was referred to as “Microsoft Office.” Then when the web version debuted, it was called “Microsoft Office 365,” but at some point, “Microsoft” was dropped and it became “Office 365.”

Despite this fact, when I read “Office 365,” my brain automatically thinks “Microsoft Office 365,” and when I read “Microsoft 365,” I instantly add an “Office” in the middle. Now, when I see a lone “365,” I think “Microsoft Office 365.” The irony is, of course, that there isn’t even a product called Office 365; that’s just the family of products under which there are business and non-business solutions (with six subscription options, each with its own name that also incorporates the term “Office 365”).

Basically, what is happening with Microsoft’s product names is a perfect microcosm of what will occur when we’re on the third generation of married couples who decide to hyphenate. I fear that at some point there will be a New York Times marriage announcement that reads: Mr. Davis-Xian-Ellis and Ms. Hopper-Gordon-Marquez will marry this June. The Davis-Xian-Ellis-Hopper-Gordon-Marquez family will continue living on the Upper West Side where Mr. Davis-Xian-Ellis works in sales for Microsoft Office 365 Business Premium Online with Teams and Ms. Hopper-Gordon-Marquez works as a developer for the Premium Business 365 Online Office Business Center division of Microsoft.

It’s going to be chaos.

 

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Chris Keyz Wedding In New-Jersey What Went Down

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5 Signs it’s Time for an Email Marketing Makeover

These days, just about anyone can create and send out email campaigns to their list of prospects. But just because it’s nearly push-button simple to do, doesn’t mean it always gets the results you want.

And if your beautifully-designed, precisely-formatted and succinctly-written email went over like a lead balloon, it doesn’t mean the end of the world. It just means that you should take a step back and consider making some changes to your approach.

The thing is, you know your email marketing isn’t working as well as it could. The results you’re getting are tepid at best and engagement levels are plateauing, or worse, falling. You’re just not sure what to do to fix it.

The good news is, you’re about to learn. And even better, it’s easy to implement these changes and start seeing a measurable increase in all the email engagement metrics that matter — opens, clicks and conversions.

1. The Sign: Your Email List Isn’t Growing as Fast as it Once Did

Much like a doctor diagnoses your symptoms to determine the best course of action to make you better, you’ve got a sick email campaign (and I don’t mean that in a good way!) and you’ve got to find a remedy.

One of the key signs of a floundering email campaign is that the list just isn’t growing. People may subscribe, but they also leave just as quickly — if they even subscribe at all. The rate of growth for your list has slowed, plateaued, or worse, reversed.

The Fix: Create a New Offer

Take a look at what you’re offering your prospects in order to get them to join your list in the first place. Oftentimes this is an eBook or a video. But how old is it? Is the information you’re sharing outdated or no longer applicable?

Try creating a new offer — a new ebook, a new video, or something completely different. Things like templates that your prospects can just “fill in the blanks” with or roadmaps that outline different strategies in a step-by-step way are always popular no matter what industry you’re in.

2. The Sign: Prospects Simply Don’t Engage With Your Message

Maybe you’ve got a sizeable email list, but the open rate barely registers as a blip on the email marketing radar. And the click-through rate is even more abysmal.

If you only send emails out when you want to sell something, and you don’t take the time to get to know your prospects and their goals as they relate to what you’re selling, no matter how great your sale is, it will find itself squarely in the recipient’s trashcan.

The Fix: Start an Email Marketing Calendar

The best email newsletters don’t just sell — they go much further. They share stories of the people behind the company. They ask subscribers to share their own stories. They go behind the scenes and share insights about their product — where it comes from, who makes it, why people love it.

And they don’t do this once or twice, but consistently. They establish rapport with their subscribers so that the subscribers actively look forward to receiving the company’s messages.

One of the easiest ways to start building an email strategy like this is through the use of an email marketing calendar. Just as you schedule out sales emails now, look for ways to fit in emails about other things your customers value.

Are there any new laws that are going to change your industry? Any big developments on the horizon that customers should know about? Any interesting stories about where their product comes from or how it got started? Schedule these into the calendar as well. It’s a different type of marketing — one that fosters open communication and mutual respect between subscriber and sender.

3. The Sign: You’re Sending Out a Blanket Message to All Your Subscribers – And Getting Little in Terms of Interaction

If you’re sending out the same message to everyone, don’t be surprised if your open and click-through rates are low. This happens because not everyone is at the same stage in the customer journey or the sales cycle.

Some users are simply looking for more information, while others are ready to buy. Still others may be somewhere in between. By sending the same message to all of them, you’re mistakenly assuming that they’re all starting at the same place. As a result, readers will find that your sales announcement or any other message you send them isn’t really tailored to their needs — and that your product may not be, either.

The Fix: Start Segmenting Your List

Most modern email marketing platforms allow you to segment your list, and it doesn’t cost you anything except a little time to make it happen. The great thing about segmentation is that you can segment by nearly any criteria. Want to segment your users by demographic? By product purchased? By whether or not they even bought in the first place? Provided you have that information, you can do that.

And if you’re looking to convert people from prospect to customer, you can put together a drip campaign that overtime builds prospects interest to eventually getting them to convert.

And if you don’t have that information, it may be time to upgrade to a platform that collects it for you, like Kissmetrics.

https://fast.wistia.com/embed/medias/z946e3jlgn.jsonphttps://fast.wistia.com/assets/external/E-v1.js

4. The Sign: Everyone’s Getting the Same Message So You’re Not Sure What’s Causing Opens and Clicks to Rise or Fall

If you haven’t segmented your list yet, but you’ve just sent out a campaign and are seeing a surprisingly high response — that’s great!

What caused it?

Was it the subject line? The design? The offer?

Not sure?

Wouldn’t it be great if you could find out? You can.

The Fix: Start A/B Testing Your Emails

Just like with ab/b testing your landing pages and other areas of your site, so too should you be a/b testing your emails. This works even better when paired with list segmentation since you can determine what, precisely, encouraged customers to click or convert.

What resonates with one group of people (for example, customers just looking for information) may not necessarily “click” with people who are ready to buy. By segmenting and a/b testing your emails, you’ll see exactly what energizes each segment of your list and propels them to convert.

5. The Sign: People Open Your Message or Click, But Don’t Purchase

It could be that your open rate or click-through rate is good, but you’re not getting that all-important conversion. People just aren’t buying. And while the reason could lie in your site itself — that’s a topic for another post.

For the purpose of this article, we’ll assume that your site is also converting at a steady clip, but conversions from emails directly aren’t getting the results you’d hoped for.

The Fix: Start Retargeting Campaigns

Most prospects come to a site, look around, and leave. You’ve worked hard and spent money getting them this far. Are you just going to let them go so easily?

No! Which is why it’s a good idea to get started with retargeting campaigns. Retargeting can show your customer a relevant ad for your site across a wide range of other web properties — even those you don’t own. What if they could be reminded of a product they looked at yesterday while browsing the morning’s news or weather?

This is just one example of what a retargeting campaign can do. Done correctly, it serves to not only remind customers of your product or service, but also capture their attention again — essentially giving you a second chance to make that connection.

A Makeover Doesn’t Just Mean a Fresh, New Design

As you can see, an email marketing makeover doesn’t mean slapping up a fresh coat of paint on your existing email design. It means digging below the surface to find out why users aren’t acting when they receive your message.

You want every email you send to be something a user looks forward to receiving – and when that happens, you’ll discover that it wasn’t so much a makeover, but a rebirth — of email that’s more relevant, more social, and more compelling than before.

About the Authors: Sherice Jacob helps business owners improve website design and increase conversion rates through compelling copywriting, user-friendly design and smart analytics analysis. Learn more at iElectrify.com and download your free web copy tune-up and conversion checklist today!

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7 Strategies to Make Your AdWords Campaign a Success

Businesses are extremely effective when it comes to driving qualified and relevant traffic to your website – especially when people type in specific keywords related to your business.

What are Google ads?

Google offers businesses the opportunity to advertise on their search pages. This is Google’s exclusive advertising platform where advertisers bid on specific keywords in order for their ads to appear in the search results when people type them in.

Since advertisers pay for these clicks, Google makes money from these campaigns – known as pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns. Depending on the relevancy of the keywords to conversions for your business (and the competitiveness of the keywords), this type of campaign may need to be tweaked to suit your specific needs, ensuring that you don’t spend money on the wrong content and keywords.

How do Google ads appear?

Google ads typically appear once an auction is completely focused on specific keywords. How do Google ads appear?

  • Advertisers choose a list of words and phrases relevant to their business based on the terms people are most likely to use when searching for related products and services.
  • Advertisers then bid on these keywords covering how much they are willing to pay for users to click on their ads.
  • Google combines a quality score along with the bid to determine which ads appear on the search engine.
  • Once the user clicks on your ad, you will need to pay a specific cost based on Google’s cost per click for that particular ad.

AdWords typically work on an auction system. This system takes place during every keyword search undertaken by users.

What affects a quality score on Google?

In order to win AdWords on Google and have your ad appear in relation to specific keywords, you’ll need to ensure that your quality score is high. A higher score and good bid amount will put you in a better position to get your ad placed on a Google SERP. The following factors make a difference to your quality score:

  • Relevance of the search query to your Google ad and ad group
  • Relevance of your ad to your landing page
  • Historical data covering the click-through rate for the ad and ad group
  • Historical account performance

What are the benefits of a higher quality score on Google?

Apart from getting your ad placed for certain keywords, there are additional benefits for your business if you have a higher quality score, such as:

  • Lower costs. Google tends to reward advertisers who have high quality scores in the form of lower costs per click, which ultimately helps enhance their return on investment.
  • Greater exposure. With higher quality scores, you will notice your ads displaying more often in the search engine and in more prominent positions than others, which enables you to get more conversions and clicks without having to change your bid.

Businesses looking to build successful ad campaigns on Google should always try to get a higher quality score for their long-term benefits.

How to make your Google Ad campaign successful

Certain actions will help make your Google ad campaign more successful, so make sure you follow them in your quest to build the online reputation of your business.

Keep track of customer demand

One of the key ingredients of a successful Google ad campaign is customer demand. If people aren’t searching for relevant products and services, then your efforts in Google are hardly going to work. Before starting any online campaign, check the following:

  • Ensure adequate search volume to target the market you’re going after
  • Research what consumers are looking for and tailor your ad solutions accordingly
  • Create products and services that are in demand.

Once you’re able to keep track of customer demand, you’ll be in a better position to deliver a successful Google ad campaign.

Always have a clear goal in mind

Any SEM campaign must have a goal and the desired outcome in mind in order to be successful. You will likely run an AdWords campaign in your quest to grow sales or win followers for your business, in addition to creating more brand awareness. Consider the following:

  • What is the outcome you’re looking to achieve from your ad campaign?
  • Who are you looking to target?
  • What kind of keywords are being searched for that may be relevant to your business?
  • How can you make your ad relevant to the keywords typed into the search engine?
  • What action do you want to drive for readers?

You must always be aware of the specific call to action you are trying to get your targets to perform so that you can create a clear ad campaign that directly reflects your goals. Never go live with any campaign until you’ve identified your goals clearly and know what you need to measure results.

Write for your target customer

Any ad you write must be relevant to your specific target audience, so your tone, language and call to action must be adjusted accordingly. What do your ads need to do for your target?

  • Attract attention with the right tone and context
  • Raise customer interest
  • Convince customers to perform your desired call to action
  • Lead customers into taking that action

When you write ads that resonate with your target audience, your ad campaign will have stronger results.

Be clear with your keyword targeting

When you implement an ad campaign, you should have all types of keyword targeting included in your overall strategy for the best results. Your keyword targeting strategy should include:

  • Broad match. Google shows your ad when a similar phrase or keyword is used but has a higher chance of irrelevant traffic being driven to your website. You should ideally bid lowest for broad match keywords.
  • Phrase match. Google displays your ad when a user types in the specific phrase your ad is optimized for, giving you more control over who sees your ad. Bid a higher amount than broad match keywords.
  • Exact match. Google will only display your ad when the user types in the exact keyword or keyword phrase, which is why this gives you the most control over who sees your ad and has the least bounce rate. If possible, bid the highest for exact match keywords.

Keep your ad groups separate according to keyword type in order to ensure the campaign remains well organized.

Create a strong selling proposition

Having a clear and unique selling proposition is key when you’re looking to cut through the clutter and come up on top with your Google AdWords campaign. Customers should be well aware of why they are choosing you over your competition, which is why you need to have a strong unique selling proposition. Here are some benefits to creating a strong selling proposition:

  • A strong USP generates more traffic while keeping away unwanted leads – ensuring more quality leads to your website.
  • It boosts conversion rates.
  • It can reduce the time customers spend on price comparisons, especially if you’re offering something unique.

The best way to create a strong USP is to understand your customers more intimately, so you solve problems and give them what want. When you pay attention to their shopping behavior and patterns, you’re in a better position to create something that adds value to their needs.

Optimize your Google AdWords campaign

You can never create the perfect AdWords campaign from the start. So you will need to optimize it midway to ensure that you’re getting the best results. Consider the following:

  • Keyword bids. From the time you start generating clicks to your website, you should consider optimizing your keyword bids. You can raise the bid for keywords bringing in good sales. If the keywords are not generating the results you want, lower the bids or switch to other keywords.
  • Landing page conversion rates. Landing pages should always offer what is being promised in the ad or else you run the risk of the customer bouncing off. Landing pages that stick to the ad content usually result in higher conversion rates and greater profit for the brand.
  • Click-through rates. Any quality score for a website is determined directly by the click-through rate of a particular Google ad. Test different campaigns simultaneously, if possible, to see which ones get you the most number of clicks.

Once you’re able to optimize your Google AdWords campaign, you’ll start to see greater traction for your desired call to action – which, in turn, is beneficial for your business in the long haul.

Be aware of what your competition is up to

Knowledge of what your competition is up to will help you make more informed decisions about your specific Google Adwords campaign. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Use keywords your direct competition is optimizing for
  • Create call to actions that generate the best results from your target audience
  • Thoroughly examine the look and feel of landing pages

Once you have knowledge of these factors, you can optimize your Adwords campaign effectively to ensure that it is structured and well organized.

Effective Google Adwords campaigns can help you boost the profitability of your business, but you must build them around powerful concepts in order to be successful. Consider working with online marketing experts who can help you take your business to the next level.

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50 High Tech Business Ideas You Can Start Small

50 High Tech Business Ideas You Can Start Small

When you think of high tech businesses, big names like Google and Facebook probably come to mind. But you don’t have to think that big when you’re just starting out. In fact, many of the tech giants that are successful today started out relatively small. If you’re interested in following in those footsteps, here are 50 ideas for high tech businesses that you can start small.

High Tech Business Ideas

Smartphone Repair

With so many consumers owning smartphones, there’s a definite need for repair services. You can start a business where you have people bring in or send you their devices so you can fix various issues.

Smartphone Accessory Manufacturing

You can also manufacture different accessories to go with smartphones, like charging cords, speakers and lenses.

Refurbished Device Sales

Manufacturing actual computers and smartphones can be a larger scale operation. But you can still have a business where you sell those devices by refurbishing older models with new and improved parts.

Computer Parts Manufacturing

You might also consider manufacturing different computer parts, especially if you can narrow down a specific niche.

Social Networking Site

There are a few big name social networking platforms already. But you never know when the next major one might emerge.

Social Media Consulting

You can also use your expertise in social media to start a consulting business where you help brands create strategies and content for various platforms.

SEO Specialist

SEO specialists help businesses and online publishers optimize their online content for search engines.

Online Advertising Platform

Online advertising is another high tech area of online marketing. You can create your own platform where you connect businesses looking to advertise online with website owners who want to earn ad revenue.

Digital Marketing Consulting

You can also focus more generally on online marketing for business clients, helping them with everything from advertising to content marketing.

Online Dating Site

Another type of website or app that you can earn a revenue from, create a dating platform that helps connect people with similar interests.

Web Design Service

You can also use your tech savvy, along with design skills, to design and develop websites for businesses and other clients.

Software Development Service

Or you could become a freelance software developer to create programs for specific clients.

App Development Service

Mobile apps are also becoming increasingly important for businesses. You can work with clients who want to have their own apps on a freelance basis.

Mobile App Sales

Or you could develop your own mobile apps instead of working with clients. Then you can make money by charging for the apps or offering in-app purchases.

Info Tech Shop

If you’re interested in starting a sort of retail business, you could open up a one-stop-shop where people can purchase tech items or bring in their gadgets for repairs.

Cloud Based Phone Service

To help your clients communicate more effectively, you could start a phone service that’s based online using cloud technology.

IT Equipment Service

You could also work with businesses by offering to repair or maintain various types of IT equipment like servers.

IT Equipment Sales

Or you could actually sell that equipment to businesses and others who need it.

Internet Cafe

Cafes are becoming more popular for freelancers and others looking for a comfortable place to use wifi. You can set up a small coffee shop or coworking space where you offer internet access and other tech amenities.

Online School

If you’re looking for ways to spread knowledge on a particular topic, you could set up a website or online education platform where you offer course material directly to students.

E-Library

You can also set up a site or platform where people can access or rent various digital educational materials like PDFs and ebooks.

Online Book Store

Or you could actually sell ebooks on your own website, either your own titles or ebooks that you license from other authors.

Ebook Writing

You might also consider writing your own ebooks and then offering those for sale on platforms like Amazon.

Digital Product Sales

You can also sell other digital products online, like printables, access to membership sites or even online videos.

Ecommerce Platform

To help other entrepreneurs make a living online, you can create a platform where sellers can upload products to list for sales.

Shopping App

Or you could create a mobile shopping platform that lets customers browse products and shop right from their smartphones.

Tech Blog

If you’re interested in writing about technology, you can start your own blog about the subject and make money through ads or sponsored content.

Tech Podcast

Similarly, you could start a podcast where you talk about the new gadgets or innovations in the tech industry.

Tech Video Channel

Or you could opt for creating video content about technology, using a platform like YouTube to earn revenue.

Livestreaming Influencer

Livestreaming has become a popular way for people to communicate online. You can build up a following on platforms like Facebook Live and Periscope, then earn an income as an influencer.

Livestreaming Service

You could even start your very own livestreaming service that other people can use to share their thoughts and connect with followers.

Online Video Platform

Similarly, you can start a website or app where people can share video content related to a particular topic or niche.

Online Podcasting Platform

Or you could start an audio platform where people can upload their podcasting content to easily share with potential listeners.

Music Streaming Service

Another audio platform idea, you could develop a site or app that people can use to stream a specific type of music, especially if it’s not available on the most popular streaming services.

Video Content Streaming Service

Similarly, you could start a streaming service for a particular type of video content, like holiday films or educational content.

Tech Gadget Rentals

If you have the ability to purchase tech gadgets that people might want to rent for specific situations, like projectors for presentations or cameras for photo shoots, you could start a business where you let customers rent those items.

Sharing Economy Platform

Or you could create a site or app that lets users share those items or other products or services with other consumers.

Tech Consultant

If you want to provide general tech advice to business clients, you could start a consulting business where you help them make decisions about new device purchases and software implementation.

Remote IT Service

You could also start a business from your home where you provide insights and answer questions for people having IT issues.

Computer Setup Service

To help individuals who don’t want to go through the lengthy computer setup process on their own, you could charge a small fee to handle that task for them.

Computer Training Service

Or you could teach others how to get the most out of their new devices by offering workshops or one-on-one training sessions.

Online Research Service

If you’re skilled with online researching tools, you could use your expertise to perform research for businesses and clients that need specific insights.

Live Chat Service

Live chat is becoming more prevalent for businesses and website owners that need a way to communicate with customers in real time. So you could offer a plugin or platform to offer to those entities.

Chatbot Creator

You could also build a chatbot that uses AI to communicate with people and then offer it to business clients.

AI Platform

There are plenty of other potential uses for AI that you can explore as a tech savvy entrepreneur. You could invent a voice activated device or app that uses the technology to answer questions or perform other tasks.

Analytics Service

You could also create an online platform that allows businesses or website owners to gather analytical data about website performance, customer interactions or other online functions.

Influencer Marketing Platform

Influencer marketing is becoming a huge part of online marketing for a lot of businesses. So you could use your tech savvy to create a platform that connects influencers with relevant brands to work with.

3D Printing Manufacturing

3D printing is another major tech trend. If you can design small parts or other products that can be 3D printed, you can start a small manufacturing operation.

Robotics Manufacturing

If you want to get even more in-depth with your manufactured offerings, you could create parts that go together to create robotics products.

UX Service

You could also provide an essential service to website owners or app developers by testing their features to make sure they’re offering a good user experience.

Drone Programming Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “50 High Tech Business Ideas You Can Start Small” was first published on Small Business Trends

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