8 Marketing Success Strategies For Startups

8 Marketing Success Strategies For Startups

Marketing is usually at the forefront of any entrepreneur’s mind when they are first starting out. They have worked hard to get their amazing new product or service to market, and now it’s time to tell the world about it.

With many entrepreneurs handling marketing themselves at first (often with reasonably limited experience), it can be confusing deciding what strategies you should implement.

With that in mind, here are eight marketing strategies that any startup can use to succeed and survive.

Let’s get started.

Outsource content creation.

While anyone can pound away at a keyboard, it’s not always a good idea that they do. Writing quality, engaging content that entices people to your brand and converts leads into clients is not as easy as it seems.

In fact, it’s hard. Very hard.

Sometimes executives will have a go at content creation, other times they’ll pass it off to their staff. But unless you happen to be a talented writer, your time could be better spent on other tasks. You’ll get much better content by outsourcing to dedicated freelancers or content panels – and it’s reasonably inexpensive.

Produce massive amounts of content.

It’s no secret that Google loves content; they’re almost addicted to the stuff. By churning out regular blog posts, you’re vastly increasing your chances of getting some of that all-important Google love.

However, remember that quality is always better than quantity when it comes to content. As we mentioned in the point above, if you can’t create massive amounts of engaging content that converts either by yourself or in-house, then outsource it.

Prioritize the power of video.

Video marketing used to be a little addition to a sales page that could separate you from your competitors. These days it’s an essential marketing tool that will send your conversion rates through the roof. Research suggests that consumers are 1.81 times more likely to make a purchase if they’ve seen a video demonstration.

Micro job sites like Fiverr and People Per Hour are exceptional resources for getting quality content without breaking the bank. You’ll have to spend an hour or so weeding out the low-quality gigs, but there’s gold to be found there.

Delay SEO.

Many entrepreneurs know of SEO and its importance, but very few understand the length of time it can take to see results. SEO is a long-term marketing strategy, and unless you get lucky (or garner a huge amount of media attention), you’re not going to see returns on your investment for a while.

When you’re in a bootstrapped startup, you need to make every cent count. You need leads and clients today, not next year.

While there’s no doubt about the long-term effectiveness of a well-run SEO campaign, it’s going to be of no use if your startup fails before the returns start to materialize. Spend your money on more direct marketing channels until you’re confident you’ve got enough runway to see the returns of an SEO campaign.

This being said, you shouldn’t ignore SEO completely. Do whatever you can in-house at first and pay for professionals when you’re more stable.

Invest in PPC marketing.

So what should you do to get traffic from search engines if you’re delaying hard-core SEO until you’re more established? The answer is simple – you pay for it.

PPC campaigns provide you with instant access to highly targeted traffic. It can seem expensive at first (especially in financial industries), but it’s proven its worth time and time again. Google states that, on average, for every $1 you spend on an AdWords campaign, you’ll get $2 in return.

With a well-run campaign, you’re only getting clicks from people who are actively searching for your product or service. Fresh leads don’t get much warmer than this.

Give away stuff to influencers.

If possible, consider reaching out to social media influencers in your niche and send them a free sample of whatever your product or service is.

In return, they’ll hopefully share their experience on social media and give your brand potentially huge amounts of highly targeted exposure. Don’t skimp on the product you send them, give them the “premium package” of whatever it is you’re selling. The cost value of your product or service will often be minuscule compared to the value of the exposure you’ll receive.

Host a competition.

It’s not just influencers that love free stuff, everyone loves free stuff. By running a competition, you’re going to be able to engage with your customer base, and ideally, have them share your content, too. Providing the strategy is executed properly, it’s rocket fuel for exposure and brand awareness.

This has been done by many brands with great success, and you don’t need to spend huge amounts on the prize either. Dove ran a campaign based on pure emotion that resonated with their audience and the prize was to be featured on their website.

Build a list.

Email marketing was one of the first ways brands connected with new and existing clients on the internet, and it’s still going strong. It’s astonishing how many startups overlook email marketing as part of their overall strategy and stick with Twitter and Facebook. Email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers compared to social media. You’re six times more likely to get a click to your site from an email compared to a tweet.

By building a list, you’re getting express permission to market to people who are interested in your brand (or who have already made a purchase). Sign up for a service like MailChimp or Aweber and the entire list process is taken care of for you.

Conclusion

By using one or more of the eight tips above, you’re giving your startup the best possible chance to not only survive the early years but to thrive.

Good luck. You’ll need it.

Demolition Robots Are Transforming Construction

Demolition robots, like those made by Husqvarna, are one of the surest signs that technology is making its way into construction, an industry long recognized for being slow to adopt new ways of working. There is no doubt that robots are being welcomed with open arms. After all, demolition is tough work – it’s time-consuming and can be quite dangerous – and jam-packed build schedules and tight locations can make it even tougher to get the job done.  

Power: Controlled from a distance 

“The most exciting way that demolition robots can assist human workers on the job site is through safety,” said Graham Leslie, director at JBKLabs, which specializes in technology solutions for the construction industry. Leslie pointed out that demolition work is often required in extremely compact areas, hindered by tight stairwells, low ceilings and floor debris. These areas are especially challenging for humans to work in.  

“Demolition robots typically have a relatively small core structure because they don’t require the cabin or protection for a human operator,” Leslie said. “That small core allows them to navigate into spaces previously inaccessible to mechanized equipment and allow humans to operate the robots through tight spaces and over uneven debris from a safe distance.”

Must-have demolition robot features 

The key features of a robot determine what the machine can do and what size of spaces it can fit into. You’ll want to make sure your robot is compact and robust and comes with a variety of attachments for maximum breakage capability.  

  • Power: As with any machine, efficiency and power count. Demolition robots are often categorized by their hitting or breaking power; small size is only attractive if it can do the job. 
  • Size: Consider the height and width of the robots you’re evaluating, and compare them to the size of the spaces you typically work within. How compact of a machine do you require? Consider your needs not only for maneuverability, but also for operator visibility.  
  • Attachments: How far can the robot’s arms reach, and what is its turning capability? What attachment options and accessories does it have that allow you to work within different environments and tackle a variety of needs? 

Before you buy: Things to consider 

Demolition robots can typically be leased or purchased. Leasing may be attractive for a variety of reasons, such as the ability to choose the appropriate robot for your specific projects and to share a lease with multiple business partners. If you’re looking to buy, be prepared to invest upward of $100,000 per robot. 
 
Before you make that level of investment, ask the right questions, especially if this is your first robot. Here are a few things to consider. 

  • Reputation and knowledge: You’ll want to make sure you’re investing in the right machine size for the majority of your jobs. Look for a vendor who can guide you and who has a solid reputation in the industry for their technical expertise.  
  • Assistance: What happens if something goes wrong? How many parts does the vendor typically keep in stock, and is there a help line to call if you’re in a pinch?  
  • Maintenance: What are the maintenance requirements, and what does that look like from a logistics perspective?  
  • Ease of use: Don’t invest in a machine without a demo, and be observant – are the tools and controls intuitive? Talk to other owners about what they think too. 
  • Attachments: What attachments for additional functions are available, and how can you customize the machine for your needs? 

Don’t forget the basics 

Some planning needs come down to what’s basic but necessary. Lars Lindgren, president of Brokk Inc., reminds clients to remember their power source as they plan for their demolition robot. 
 
“Electric machines need a power supply, and in most commercial applications, 480-volt is not available, so the customer must have either a diesel generator or a transformer that can step up 208 to 240 volts of ample amperage,” Lindgren said.  
 
He also stressed having “good power cords. The most important thing is the power cord management. Keep good power to the machine and there are very few problems.”  
 
Finally – and this is a big one – you must invest in training. 

Lindgren can’t stress this enough: “The most successful companies have highly trained and dedicated operators that have stayed with them for years. A good operator is the best investment a company can do after the machine. A good operator will both ensure that the job is done right and profitably, and keep maintenance and repair costs to a minimum.” 

 

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Why Websites with Simple Designs Have Higher Conversion Rates

Typically, when companies look to improve their conversion rates, they focus on their CTA buttons or value propositions.

Businesses also like to A/B test certain elements of their pages to see which versions convert the best.

Don’t get me wrong: these are all valid ways to improve conversions.

But something that’s sometimes overlooked is the simplicity of the website.

Far too often I see websites try to jam too much information into a very small space.

The navigation is confusing, and it’s overwhelming for anyone viewing the site.

If this is starting to sound like the layout of your website, it could be the reason why your conversion rates are unsatisfactory.

Even if you don’t think your design is too cluttered, there’s always room for improvement.

A slight rise in conversions could mean a significant increase in your annual revenue.

Below, I outline some reasons why simplicity can optimize your conversion rates.

You’ll learn some proven strategies that focus website visitors on your CTA and any other element of your site you want to emphasize.

It’s time to clean up the clutter and simplify the layout of your pages.

Here’s why modest designs have the highest performing conversions.

They have faster loading times

If you have too much going on all over your website, it will take longer to load.

Don’t think it’s a big deal?

Think again.

When a web page takes longer than 4 seconds to load, the bounce rate increases by 100%.

Once your site hits the 8 second mark for loading time, the bounce rate jumps to 150%.

If you can speed up the load time, your bounce rate will improve as well.

image1 2

Think about how much potential you’re missing out on over a couple of seconds.

Getting your page to load in less than 4 seconds should be your goal.

To accomplish this, you have to get rid of unnecessary elements on each page.

This is especially true for ecommerce websites.

Why?

Take a look at how speed effects shopping cart abandonment:

image5 2

According to survey respondents, four of the top reasons for shopping cart abandonment were related to the speed of the website.

What elements can you remove to get your page to load faster?

  • Complex images
  • Extra features
  • Added options
  • Unnecessary text

Those are just a few places to start.

Visuals are definitely an important feature to have on your website. Just don’t go overboard with them.

Simplify the photos so the images are smaller and can load faster.

The CTA is clear and obvious 

When your pages have simple layouts, you have more control over what visitors see.

If the site is too cluttered, your CTA button may be obscured.

You don’t want people to be confused about whatever action you want them to take.

Some examples of CTAs:

  • join an email subscription list
  • download an ebook
  • sign up for a service
  • make a purchase
  • enter personal information

Basically, whatever your CTA is, it needs to be the clearest item on the page.

Here’s a great example from Unbounce:

image12

Notice how open and free of clutter the page is.

There are no complicated images or visuals to distract the user.

The text is minimal, and it explains exactly what their company does.

Now the user can focus on the CTA because the options are so limited.

The site visitor can:

  • start a free trial
  • explore the platform

Sure, there is a menu that visitors can navigate through as well. But based on the design, it’s clearly not made to be the primary focus.

Their menu at the top of the screen has the smallest text on the page.

If Unbounce tried to jam a detailed description of each section of their menu, the page would be too overwhelming.

So they did the right thing here by keeping it simple.

I use this same strategy on my own website as well.

image4 2

When someone visits my page, their eyes are immediately drawn to my different CTA buttons.

There’s nothing else to distract them.

If you’re looking for help to find out what users see when they’re looking at your page, try using a service such as Crazy Egg.

You can analyze a heat map that shows what visitors’ eyes get drawn to when they’re viewing your website.

This is really helpful in terms of CTA placement when you’re simplifying your design.

It’s easier for visitors to skim through your page

People aren’t going to read all the content on your page.

It can be disappointing because I know what it’s like to put much hard work, time, and effort into every word on a website.

But that’s the reality.

Break up the content on your page to make it easier for visitors to scan it.

If you’re writing in long paragraphs without any breaks, it’s going to be difficult to get your message across to the audience.

Here are some tips to break up content and make it easier for visitors to scan through your page:

  • use short sentences
  • keep paragraphs between 1-3 lines
  • insert visuals
  • include numbered lists
  • use bullet points

Take a look at how visuals are used to accomplish this goal:

image11

The most common types of visuals to break up content are:

  1. infographics
  2. stock photos
  3. videos
  4. charts and data visualizations
  5. GIFs and memes

Take this into consideration when you’re deciding what to include on your page.

Stick to the suggestions at the top of this list.

When you get down to GIFs, complex images like that can slow down your loading time.

Keep it simple with some relevant infographics and photos.

Navigation is simple

Simple navigation piggybacks on my last point.

Let’s go through an example to illustrate what I mean.

Here’s the homepage for Square:

image9 1

It’s super clean and easy to read.

If a visitor wants to get started, they can simply select the size and type of their business.

There’s nothing confusing about this navigation because the options are narrow.

The CTA is clear: “Sign Up With Square.”

When someone visiting the website wants to learn more, their options are limited, so they are forced to scroll.

image3 2

As you continue to navigate down the homepage, you learn more information about the product.

Look at how the screenshot above reflects the points I talked about earlier.

  • No complex images
  • Minimal text
  • Short paragraphs
  • Bullet points

From here, the user has no other option but to continue scrolling.

image7 2

Now they have even more information about the product, and there’s a CTA button in this section as well.

There’s no messy sidebar or confusing menu.

It’s so easy for the visitor to navigate that it’s impossible for them to get lost.

This also impacts the page loading time.

Each time a user has to click on a new page to find more information, you risk having an issue with loading, which, as we saw earlier, will negatively impact your bounce rate.

But Square eliminates that problem but putting all the information on the homepage.

image6 2

Once you get to the bottom of the screen, you’ll see a much larger menu on the footer.

Can you imagine if this was the first thing you saw at the very top of the page?

You’d be so overwhelmed that you’d have no idea where to get started.

There are nearly 40 options to choose from.

It’s fine at the footer because at this point the user already has an idea of what they’re looking for.

But I know you’ve been to websites that have menus like this at the top of their pages.

Bad idea.

If your website looks like this right now, you need to simplify it right away if you want to improve your conversion rates.

You’ll have fewer problems designing the website and fixing bugs

If you’ve been running a website for any length of time now, you know that bugs and minor issues are bound to happen.

It’s inevitable.

The key is being able to identify those problems and get them fixed right away.

Here are some of the most common types of problems with a website:

image2 2

All of these can negatively impact your conversion rates.

If your site is too cluttered, it’s hard to keep the page code organized.

Anytime you need to make an update, it becomes a complicated process.

There’s just too much room for error.

Having a simple design will make it easier for you to code, build, update, and edit the site.

It’s less expensive for your web hosting services

How much does it cost you to host your website?

If your site is complex, you’ll need extra storage space.

Prices vary from platform to platform, but here’s an example from SiteGround’s web hosting plans:

image10 1

There’s a 300% price increase between 10 GB of web space and 30 GB of storage space.

I realize the price points also come with other upgrade features, but from a storage standpoint, it’s going to be cheaper for you if the page design is simple.

You can put the money you’re saving towards another aspect of your business.

That money can help you from a marketing perspective to generate new leads and eventually increase conversions.

Visitors will think your site is more trustworthy

Have you ever been on a website and thought it didn’t seem legitimate?

I have.

It’s a weird feeling getting instantly worried about cyber security.

You don’t want your website visitors to get this feeling when they’re navigating your site.

Having too much clutter can make it seem like you’re trying to hide something, even if that’s not the case.

Having images and advertisements everywhere feels too salesy.

Even if you’re selling something, you don’t want to come off like you’re trying to force it down the user’s throat.

Earlier we discussed some reasons for shopping cart abandonment as it relates to the speed of your site.

This graph explains that trust also impacts conversions on your page:

image8 2

For an ecommerce store, this could be a deadly mistake.

The customer wants your product or services, but they are hesitant to complete the purchase because they don’t think their credit card information is secure.

They’ll just go to another website where they feel safe and make the purchase from your competition instead.

Conclusion

If you’re looking to improve the conversion rates on your website, take a look at the design of your pages.

Those of you who have too much clutter overwhelm your visitors.

Go back to the drawing board.

Simplicity needs to be your goal.

Simple designs help your pages load faster, reducing your bounce rates.

Without distractions on the page, your CTA button will be clear and obvious.

Users won’t have to search for it to take the action you want them to take.

Modest designs also make it easier for people to skim through your content.

This is beneficial for you because you’ll have complete control over what their eyes see on the screen.

Limit their options, and make your points stand out.

A simple website design is also less expensive for you to host.

You can put that extra money towards another marketing campaign that improves conversions.

Simple websites also help you establish more trust with the visitors.

If your design is too complex or sketchy, you’ll have trouble getting conversions.

What elements of your website do you plan on eliminating to cut down the clutter?

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Demolition Robots Are Transforming Construction

Demolition robots, like those made by Husqvarna, are one of the surest signs that technology is making its way into construction, an industry long recognized for being slow to adopt new ways of working. There is no doubt that robots are being welcomed with open arms. After all, demolition is tough work – it’s time-consuming and can be quite dangerous – and jam-packed build schedules and tight locations can make it even tougher to get the job done.  

Power: Controlled from a distance 

“The most exciting way that demolition robots can assist human workers on the job site is through safety,” said Graham Leslie, director at JBKLabs, which specializes in technology solutions for the construction industry. Leslie pointed out that demolition work is often required in extremely compact areas, hindered by tight stairwells, low ceilings and floor debris. These areas are especially challenging for humans to work in.  

“Demolition robots typically have a relatively small core structure because they don’t require the cabin or protection for a human operator,” Leslie said. “That small core allows them to navigate into spaces previously inaccessible to mechanized equipment and allow humans to operate the robots through tight spaces and over uneven debris from a safe distance.”

Must-have demolition robot features 

The key features of a robot determine what the machine can do and what size of spaces it can fit into. You’ll want to make sure your robot is compact and robust and comes with a variety of attachments for maximum breakage capability.  

  • Power: As with any machine, efficiency and power count. Demolition robots are often categorized by their hitting or breaking power; small size is only attractive if it can do the job. 
  • Size: Consider the height and width of the robots you’re evaluating, and compare them to the size of the spaces you typically work within. How compact of a machine do you require? Consider your needs not only for maneuverability, but also for operator visibility.  
  • Attachments: How far can the robot’s arms reach, and what is its turning capability? What attachment options and accessories does it have that allow you to work within different environments and tackle a variety of needs? 

Before you buy: Things to consider 

Demolition robots can typically be leased or purchased. Leasing may be attractive for a variety of reasons, such as the ability to choose the appropriate robot for your specific projects and to share a lease with multiple business partners. If you’re looking to buy, be prepared to invest upward of $100,000 per robot. 
 
Before you make that level of investment, ask the right questions, especially if this is your first robot. Here are a few things to consider. 

  • Reputation and knowledge: You’ll want to make sure you’re investing in the right machine size for the majority of your jobs. Look for a vendor who can guide you and who has a solid reputation in the industry for their technical expertise.  
  • Assistance: What happens if something goes wrong? How many parts does the vendor typically keep in stock, and is there a help line to call if you’re in a pinch?  
  • Maintenance: What are the maintenance requirements, and what does that look like from a logistics perspective?  
  • Ease of use: Don’t invest in a machine without a demo, and be observant – are the tools and controls intuitive? Talk to other owners about what they think too. 
  • Attachments: What attachments for additional functions are available, and how can you customize the machine for your needs? 

Don’t forget the basics 

Some planning needs come down to what’s basic but necessary. Lars Lindgren, president of Brokk Inc., reminds clients to remember their power source as they plan for their demolition robot. 
 
“Electric machines need a power supply, and in most commercial applications, 480-volt is not available, so the customer must have either a diesel generator or a transformer that can step up 208 to 240 volts of ample amperage,” Lindgren said.  
 
He also stressed having “good power cords. The most important thing is the power cord management. Keep good power to the machine and there are very few problems.”  
 
Finally – and this is a big one – you must invest in training. 

Lindgren can’t stress this enough: “The most successful companies have highly trained and dedicated operators that have stayed with them for years. A good operator is the best investment a company can do after the machine. A good operator will both ensure that the job is done right and profitably, and keep maintenance and repair costs to a minimum.” 

 

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Get Social: How Entrepreneurs Can Expand Their Reach

According to a report released by TapInfluence and Nielsen Catalina Solutions, influencer marketing campaigns can generate up to 11 times the return on investment (ROI) of traditional digital marketing strategies. And 71 percent of influencers believe that an honest and authentic voice is necessary for keeping their audience engaged. And an authentic voice is equally important for marketing since viewers are looking for authentic storytelling they can relate to.  

This authenticity is why people follow influencers. Other than our real friends, the people we follow on social media sites are often the people we wish we were friends with or the people we want to be like. And when they showcase products or services they use or like, we want to use those products and services too.

This relationship is something brands have been capitalizing on, and based on this report, they’re seeing results. For entrepreneurs, working with influencers is an important method for marketing and growing their business. It expands their reach to audiences they might never be able to interact with and by partnering with bloggers, brands can present a relatable image of their product or service. 

Forget chasing after big-name celebrities with millions of Instagram followers. If you’re a smaller brand, you can utilize the growing pool of bloggers that have built a following just by being themselves. If you’re in the parenting industry, there are a plethora of “mommy blogger” influencers. There are thousands of blogs dedicated to pets, or gamers, the list goes on and on. 

These are spaces brands need to be marketing themselves in order to get noticed. Here are four effective ways brands can partner with bloggers to expand their reach. 

1. Authenticity drives results.

As previously mentioned, consumers prize authenticity above all else when it comes to choosing influencers to follow and engage with. That’s why it’s so important to choose the bloggers and social media personalities you’re working with carefully. While using authentic and relatable influencers is a better way to engage with consumers, it’s also more ethical.

This year the Federal Trade Commission cracked down on YouTube personalities for failing to disclose their partnerships with certain brands. The FTC also cautioned a number of Instagram influencers who were operating under similar practices. As influencer marketing has grown in popularity, many opportunists have rushed into the industry to make a quick buck. These people often inflate their reach and use a number of inauthentic methods to portray a higher number of followers than they actually have.

When choosing which bloggers to work with, brands have to do their due diligence to make sure they are working with honest and reliable influencers. This is the only way they have the kind of access to consumers that translates to real engagement. 

2. Stay on top of customer engagement by working with influencer marketing companies.

Entrepreneurs have a lot to deal with. Between the everyday tasks that keep their businesses afloat and trying to be innovative in a constantly changing world, marketing and advertising can fall by the wayside. When it comes to influencer marketing, there are a number of companies that do the heavy lifting. Especially for small businesses, mastering the nuances of consumer engagement can be difficult, and it can be hard to figure out which bloggers and social media personalities will give you the most ROI.

TapInfluence is an influencer marketplace that takes care of this for you. The company connects brands with social media influencers, allowing them to tap into the power and reach of influencers and content creators who have authentic voices their audiences trust. But most importantly, the company uses benchmarks to help brands compare the performance of their influencer marketing campaigns and to examine engagement rates. The company has obtained more than eight years of repository campaign and transaction data on over 2,000 influencer marketing programs, and uses this information to provide customers with a clear picture of how their marketing strategy is doing. 

3. Find influencers with highly engaged followers vs. the most followers.

What’s better than partnering with an influencer with 100,000 followers? Partnering with 100 influencers with 1,000 followers each. Working with big-name celebrities or well-known bloggers can be a difficult task for smaller brands. Even if a famous celebrity is accessible to work with you, they often come with a hefty price tag. 

Niche Instagrammers, YouTubers and bloggers have a curated following, and if that following has similar demographics to your own target audience, you can get your products or company in front of a very lucrative group of potential customers.

How can you identify these niche influencers? Find innovative ways to connect with them. You can utilize companies like Mavin that are working to create an influencer marketing ecosystem where marketers will benefit by reaching a more extensive audience with a higher engagement rate. Through this ecosystem, brands can work with not only well-known and famous influencers but also ordinary people, because in today’s digital world, everyone’s an influencer. 

4. Do your hashtag homework.

The reality is, not all startups can afford to work with marketing companies, and that’s okay. There are many ways you can find influencers and grow your social media following by simply training your team on some growth tactics.

One of the most effective ways is to stay on top of current hashtags that are popular in your industry, and use these hashtags to identify influencers. Let’s say you’re in the fashion industry, a simple google search for “popular fashion hashtags” will populate a list you can start with. Or you can check out hashtags being used on popular images on Instagram. You can then do a search on Instagram for the popular hashtags, and that will lead you to users’ accounts.

You can start identifying influencers you may want to reach out to; look for those with the most engaged followers (i.e., likes, comments, etc.). As you look through influencers’ images, notice new hashtags they are using on their images, which will allow you to go through the same process and apply the new hashtags. It’s a lengthy process, but if you don’t have the money to spend on influencer marketing, you will need to invest time instead. 

Once you’ve compiled a target list of influencers, you can simply reach out to them, introduce your brand, offer to send product in exchange for an honest review. And make your efforts count by offering a trackable discount code to the influencer’s followers.

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5 Money-Saving Tips for Choosing a Restaurant POS System

When you’re in the market for a new point-of-sale (POS) system, one of the keys to saving money is to keep your system as flexible as possible. This allows you to shop for deals on each piece of the system and, as your system ages, change things as needed without overhauling your entire system. As you’re evaluating POS systems for your restaurant, look for a system that gives you the flexibility to do the following:

  • Switch POS software providers without penalty
  • Continue using your POS hardware when you switch software
  • Work with the payment processing company of your choice
  • Add features to the system as needed

 

Editor’s Note: Looking for a POS system? We can help you choose the one that’s right for you. Use the questionnaire below to have our sister site, BuyerZone, provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free:

 

The following five tips can help you save money on your next restaurant POS system:

  1. Choose a cloud-based system with a monthly subscription. The main benefit of this is that, if you’re unsatisfied with the software after using it for a few months, you can switch services without being out hundreds of dollars on a software license for a system you won’t be using. You won’t have to pay any additional fees for upgrades either, as they’re included in the subscription price, so you always have the most recent version at no additional cost. And, although you still need to do your part to keep your data secure, you’re not storing sensitive customer payment data on your system – it’s in the cloud, and the POS company does all the heavy lifting to keep it secure.

  2. Insist on a system with month-to-month service. There are two reasons you don’t want to sign up for a service that requires you to sign a lengthy contract. The first is that you maintain your freedom to switch to another system without being charged an expensive early cancellation fee if you don’t like the POS software and want to try a different system or find a better deal elsewhere. The second is that the POS company should have enough confidence in the quality of its product and service that it doesn’t feel that it needs to lock you into a contract to keep you as a customer.

  3. Select POS software that works with unlocked hardware you can buy outright. There are two problems with systems that have proprietary hardware. First, you have to buy the equipment from the company (or a dealer) and pay whatever it’s charging – you don’t have the option of shopping around for a deal. Second, if you switch systems, you’re stuck with unusable equipment and the prospect of buying new equipment, which may deter you from switching to a new system until your equipment breaks, even if you’re experiencing significant issues with the system. Ideally, you want POS software that works with hardware you can purchase from a third-party vendor.

    Also, you never want to lease equipment, because it will cost you exponentially more over the life of the lease than if you buy the hardware upfront. Plus, you’ll have to sign a leasing contract, and these typically span three to five years and are noncancelable, meaning that even if you go out of business and return the equipment, you’re obligated to continue paying on it. Although buying equipment is a higher upfront expense and may mean that you have to start with just the basics (tablet, cash drawer and receipt printer), you can add more peripherals as your restaurant grows and you can afford them.

    The last hardware-related point to keep in mind is that even if the system is cloud-based, it may be platform specific, meaning that it only works with iPads and iPhones or with Android tablets and phones. If you have a strong preference for a specific platform, or already own tablets or mobile phones that you plan to use with your POS system, you want to verify that they’re supported.

  4. Opt for a system that’s compatible with multiple credit card processors. Doing so allows you to shop around for the best rates, fewest fees and most favorable contractual terms (month-to-month service). While some POS systems integrate directly with nearly every major U.S. processor, others may only offer a handful of options. If the payment processor you prefer doesn’t integrate with your POS system, or if you want to use one of the less expensive POS systems that don’t integrate with any processors, you will have to process payments alongside the POS system. While this is less convenient than an integration, it may be worth the extra steps to complete a transaction if it offers substantial savings or you’re under contract with an incompatible processor and don’t want to pay a cancellation fee.

  5. Consider whether the POS system integrates with other business systems. This is an indirect money saver, as it may save you time, which, in turn, saves you money. If the POS system integrates with business systems you already own, such as your accounting program, it can save you the time it would take to enter or upload data from one system to the other. It also gives you the option of augmenting the system with advanced features as your business grows rather than switching to a more expensive system with built-in features. Popular integrations include loyalty tools, advanced employee and inventory management programs, and email marketing features. Some add-ons and integrations cost extra, while others are free, so you’ll want to take into account any additional costs as you compare systems.

Following these tips saves you money in several ways: You’ll have the freedom to shop around for the best prices, upgrade select components rather than the entire system, and avoid getting locked into a system, service or hardware that you have to pay extra to get out of or continue paying on even if you dislike it or no longer use it.

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