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Weekly Small Biz Headlines: New QuickBooks Features, Trump Tax Plan Explained

The gig economy is changing the way small businesses hire. And it has also led to more people making a career out of freelancing and contracting. Previously, tax season was complicated both for contractors and the small businesses that hire them. But a new Intuit tool aims to change all that.

In addition, the recent Trump tax plan could make a major impact on small business finances going forward. And Small Business Trends sat down with a CPA to better understand some of the nuances.

See both of those articles along with other small business headlines below in this week’s Small Business Trends news and information roundup.

Taxes

Intuit Tool Helps Freelancers and Contractors File 1099 Forms

Intuit (NASDAQ: INTU) today unveiled a series of new features for QuickBooks aimed at helping small businesses that work with freelancers and independent contractors. And it can potentially make life easier for those contractors as well.

How Xero’s Ryan Himmel Explains the Impact of Trump’s Tax Plan on Small Businesses

The recent passage of the Republican tax bill could lead to big changes for small businesses. But some entrepreneurs are still unsure exactly which parts of the bill might have the biggest impact. So a financial professional could potentially shed some light on the specifics. Ryan Himmel is a CPA and head of financial partnerships in the Americas for Xero.

Economy

Huge Jump Seen in Small Businesses Bought and Sold During 2017, Report Says

The BizBuySell 2017 Insight Report shows record annual small business transactions for the year, totaling 27 percent higher than those in 2016. The high numbers were the result of a strong second half in 2017, driven by a robust economy. This resulted in 9,919 closed transactions for 2017, compared to 7,842 in 2016.

53  Percent of Small Business Owners Pessimistic About Trump Legislation Helping Them

Small businesses aren’t feeling especially optimistic about the Trump administration’s ability to enact policies that will help them, according to Rocket Lawyer’s 2018 Small Business Index. Or at least, the optimism that many of them were feeling last year has waned a bit.

Small Business Confidence Was Higher Than Ever in 2017

The National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) says small business confidence hit a record high in 2017.

Final 2017 Holiday Sales Figures Show Best Season in 4 Years

After analyzing consumer spending at more than 1.3 million merchant locations in the U.S over the holiday shopping season, FirstData (NYSE: FDC) has revealed it was the strongest in four years. First Data’s SpendTrend Report shows the overall growth for the entire holiday season was up 6.2 percent from the previous year, which was at 4.7 percent.

GovCon Incubator Wants to Connect Small Businesses with More Federal Contracts

Small businesses looking to gain more government contracts could benefit from a new specialized incubator. The GovCon Incubator is a multi-layered program that provides curriculum to address every aspect of the federal government contracting process. OST Global Solutions is the company behind the new GovCon incubator.

Employment

71% of Millennials Support Mandatory Paid Family Leave

The issue of mandatory paid family leave by small businesses is being addressed in a new survey by Paychex. In it, 71 percent of millennials showed support, but there is no clear consensus as to how it should be implemented or funded by everyone.

Worried About Minimum Wage Increases? Here Are 6 Things You’ll Want to Watch

This year, the minimum wage will increase in 18 states. Another 20 local municipalities will enact their own minimum wage this year, too. These state and local governments are acting on their own as the federal minimum wage stays at $7.25 per hour. The local changes, however, are having an impact on small businesses in each location.

2 in 3 Employees Don’t Trust Your Process, Many Looking for New Jobs

There’s a good chance that your employees aren’t very happy with your business’s processes, according to a just-released study from Nintex, a workflow and content automation company. And that perception could cause many of them to seek employment elsewhere.

Local Marketing

72 Percent Will Judge Your Company by the Quality of Your Business Card (INFOGRAPHIC)

A business card is a piece of your company’s direct marketing plan. It typically includes a person’s name, phone number, email address, website and company. While the exchange of business cards might seem outdated in today’s digital world, it is still almost a ritual.

Dallas Small Businesses Claim Yelp Hides Positive Reviews Until They Advertise

Yelp (NYSE: YELP) is yet again facing accusations that it’s creating a pay-to-play scheme to get more businesses to buy advertisements on the popular review platform. This time, Dallas area businesses are accusing Yelp of hiding five-star reviews when they refused to pay for advertising, according to a report from CBS Dallas/Fort Worth.

Marketing Tips

Fantasy, Space and New Minimalism Set to Influence Design in 2018

The seventh Creative Trends Report by Shutterstock (NYSE: SSTK) is forecasting 11 styles which it says will be influencing design and visual production in 2018. Fantasy, New Minimalism, and Space are the top three styles this year.

New MailChimp Campaign Builder Gives Small Business Marketers More Flexibility

The new campaign builder from MailChimp has been improved to give you more flexibility so you can address each point of the campaign when you are ready. Unlike the step-by-step process of the past, the new check-off system allows for improved collaboration and the flexibility to go to different parts of the campaign at any given time.

How to Make Your Mobile Marketing Amazing in 2018

As a small business, mobile marketing has to be part of your overall campaign if you want to reach your customers. A new infographic by Filmora points out some mobile marketing statistics you should be watching out for in 2018 along with some valuable tips.

How to Prevent Influence Marketers from Going Rogue with Your Brand Name

A few recent examples of online influencers hurting the brands they work with have small businesses wary of influencer marketing. PewDiePie and Logan Paul are just a few of the big name influencers who have stirred up controversy in recent months that the brands they work with didn’t count on. But these situations don’t mean that influencer marketing is too risky for small businesses.

Retail Trends

Verifone Introduces Mobile POS to Improve Checkout for Merchants

The new Verifone (NYSE: PAY) e280 mobile point-of-sale (mPOS) solution looks like a smartphone and it is just as portable. However for retailers, it means being able to accept payments in different locations throughout the store as well as outside of it.

Instacart Acquires Unata Benefiting Small Grocers and Workers in the Gig Economy

The acquisition of Unata by Instacart will bring together two companies who are transforming online grocery shopping — and create plenty of opportunities for contractors in the gig economy and small independent grocers.

December 2017 Brick-and-Mortar Retail Traffic Down 5.5% from 2016

Nationally, December was a bad month for brick-and-mortar retail with sales dipping 5.5 percent below December 2016. Traffic also dropped 7.5 percent for these stores. Even transactions dipped 7 percent, according to the latest Retail Performance Plus Year over Year Report for December from RetailNext.

HP Expands ElitePOS With More Choices for Retailers

When HP (NYSE: HPQ) introduced the ElitePOS in August of 2017, it reimagined what a point-of-sale system could be. Now the company has expanded the system with more personalization and choice for retailers. The addition includes a white version of the ElitePOS, which was driven by customer request.

Small Biz Spotlight

Spotlight: Truvid Offers Video Specifically for Professionals

Video has become a powerful tool for a lot of businesses, whether you’re creating advertisements or looking for ways to explain a product or service. Platforms like YouTube give video creators a way to easily share their content. But a new platform, Truvid, goes a step further.

Small Business Loans

Small Business Lending On the Rise, Report Says

The Thomson Reuters/PayNet Small Business Lending Index is reporting small business lending is on the rise. The November 2017 Small Business Lending Index rose 4.1 percent to 138.7, and compared to 2016, it was up more than 7 percent. The Small Business Lending Index measures the number of small business loans issued over the past 30 days.

Technology Trends

Online Fraud Attempts During 2017 Holiday Shopping Season Up 22% Over Previous Year

Online fraud attempts in the U.S. during the 2017 holiday shopping season increased by 22 percent. The insight comes from new ACI Worldwide benchmark data gathered from top U.S. merchants. The report reveals fraud attempts were highest on Thanksgiving day, Christmas Eve and and Dec.

Hackers  Will Target Small Business Through the Internet of Things in 2018, New Report Says

A new report finds hackers are poised to target small businesses that use Internet of Things (IoT) technology to gain access to data from larger global firms in 2018. The  2018 Cybersecurity Predictions by Aon’s Cyber Solutions predicts a small business Internet of Things (IoT) breach will create a domino effect that damages a larger company.

Merger of Android Pay, Google Wallet Simplifies Small Business Payments

Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL) announced recently it is merging all the different payments services it offers, including Android Pay and Google Wallet, into a single brand: Google Pay. Small businesses that accept payments on its ecosystem will now reportedly have simpler, safer, and more consistent experiences.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Weekly Small Biz Headlines: New QuickBooks Features, Trump Tax Plan Explained” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Visit: http://gdi-bigmoney.com and make money online. Join for just $10 so you can rake in the commissions. source

The post Make Money Online With GDI | Income Proof | Join For $10 | Work From Home & EARN! appeared first on Newline Marketing.

How I Recruited 19 People In 30 Days Into My Business 🔥

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Ewan McGregor Files for Divorce After 22-Year Marriage

Ewan McGregor&#one hundred sixty;has filed for divorce from his spouse of twenty-two years. Ewan cites irreconcilable variations as the rationale he needs to finish his marriage to&#one hundred sixty;Eve Mavrakis.&#one …

The post Ewan McGregor Files for Divorce After 22-Year Marriage appeared first on Newline Marketing.

Should You make $300,000 with E commerce or Affiliate Marketing Info Product 🔑🔑

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Tom Petty's Autopsy, Singer Died from Massive Accidental Drug Overdose

Tom Petty’s post-mortem outcomes are in, they usually present the singer died from an unintentional drug overdose because of taking quite a lot of drugs.&#one hundred sixty; The L.A. County …

The post Tom Petty's Autopsy, Singer Died from Massive Accidental Drug Overdose appeared first on Newline Marketing.

How I Recruited 19 People In 30 Days Into My Business 🔥

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Make Money Fast Online $100 Day No Experience Needed 2018 business ideas make money posting ads

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The post Make Money Fast Online $100 Day No Experience Needed 2018 business ideas make money posting ads appeared first on Newline Marketing.

How I Recruited 19 People In 30 Days Into My Business 🔥

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Watch! – Cryptos are not the only way to make money from home – Betfair trading – Mitigate risk

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The post Watch! – Cryptos are not the only way to make money from home – Betfair trading – Mitigate risk appeared first on Newline Marketing.

Did You Give Up?? 😐😐

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New USPS Postage Rates Go Into Effect on January 21

New 2018 USPS Postage Rate Changes Go Into Effect on January 21

 

The proposed new postage rates by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) are going to be implemented on Sunday, January 21, 2018.

The USPS filed a notice to increase the price of mail services with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) in October 2017, with the implementation slated for January 2018. Come Sunday, regular mail, as well as shipping services, will be affected by the price hike.

The cost of shipping has become a significant expenditure since the arrival of online commerce. For many small businesses looking to compete with large companies offering free shipping, even the slightest increase will hurt the bottom line.

When the USPS announced the increase, it said Mailing Services product prices would go up by around 1.9 percent, and most Shipping Services products would see an average increase of 3.9 percent. Domestic and international shipping products will also see an increase, including Priority Mail Express, Priority Mail and Parcel Select.

Sunday, January 21, 2018 USPS Postage Rate Changes

Starting on Sunday, First-Class Mail letters up to one ounce will increase from $0.49 to $0.50. The price for each additional ounce will remain at 21 cents. Metered letters and domestic postcards will go up by one cent from 46 to 47 cents and from 34 to 35 cents respectively.

Priority Mail Flat Rate prices will go up by five cents across the board:

  • Flat Rate Envelope – $6.65 to $6.70
  • Legal Flat Rate Envelope – $6.95 to $7.00
  • Padded Flat Rate Envelope – $7.20 to $7.25
  • Small Flat Rate Boxes – $7.15 to $7.20
  • Medium Flat Rate Boxes – $13.60 to $13.65
  • Large Flat Rate Boxes – $18.85 to $18.90

The price for retail Priority Mail Express will go up by 3.9 percent, while Priority Mail Express Commercial Base and Plus will see a 3.7 percent increase.

If your business uses Priority Mail, Priority Mail Express or First-Class Package Service you might be eligible to get discounts over the retail rates. Contact your local USPS office to see if you qualify and see what kind of deals you can get. The discount you get will depend on the volume you ship, which will let you negotiate a better rate.

If you want to take a look at the proposed changes, you can go here to learn more. The information gets posted on the day it takes effect, so you have to wait until January 21, 2018. However, you can go to October 6, 2017, on the calendar and see Docket No. R2018-1 for Mailing Services and Docket No. CP2018-8 for Shipping Services.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “New USPS Postage Rates Go Into Effect on January 21” was first published on Small Business Trends

Product Marketing Lessons Learned: An Interview with Shopify’s Hana Abaza [Video]

Hana Abaza runs the marketing show over at Shopify Plus, the enterprise arm of e-commerce software giant Shopify. In the interview, we unpack some of the ways they’re increasing product awareness and adoption of a new product – including the genesis of the idea for Shopify Plus, and some product marketing lessons learned.

We also talk about MacGyvering, crazy startup ideas, and a ton of resources you can use for your own product marketing efforts.

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Watch My Interview with Hana Abaza on Product Marketing Lessons Learned

https://fast.wistia.com/embed/medias/h17ezvmipd.jsonphttps://fast.wistia.com/assets/external/E-v1.js

 

Show Notes

Here are all the resources we talked about:

  1. 09:03 Jobs to be Done (JTBD) Framework | Framework
  2. 15:45 Product adoption tips
    Some of Hana’s presentation slides.
  3. 18:00 Partner Marketing
    How Shopify leveraged their partners to create content to influence organic search for a new product.
  4. 20:08 Marketing a product with no pricing on your website
    Is it harder or easier to market an enterprise product when you only have a demo request?
  5. 24:10 Who does product marketing well?
  6. 25:15 First Round Capital Interview with Joanna Lord
  7. 27:14 Intercom Product Marketing
  8. 30:13 MacGyvering
  9. 31:10 Who would Hana take to a deserted island?
    The Unpublished David Ogilvy.
  10. 33:50 Hana’s favourite dad joke
    What do you call cheese that isn’t yours? Nacho Cheese!

Cheers
Oli Gardner

Get back here on Monday where I’ll be showing you how to use Sticky Bars to craft really cool mobile user experiences.

How to Scale Your Lead Generation Through Blogging

I’m a big advocate of blogging.

It doesn’t matter what business you have or what industry you’re in, blogging can be used as a lead generation tool.

How often do you get unique visitors to your website?

Unless you have an ecommerce store, there’s no reason for a prospective customer to visit your website more than once or twice.

There’s only so many times someone needs to read your “About Us” page or look up your contact information.

But if your website has a blog, it gives people a reason to keep coming back.

Even if these visitors aren’t necessarily buying anything yet, there are certain ways you can turn a blog reader into a customer.

First of all, if you’re not blogging, you need to start ASAP.

Next, you can focus on driving traffic to your new blog.

I consulted some businesses that didn’t have a blog because they say it takes too much time.

Depending on the length, the average blog post should only take you a few hours to write.

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Trust me, I know from experience this time adds up based on the number of posts you’re writing per week.

But it needs to be part of your marketing strategy.

And it’s not expensive. The only cost is your time.

You can even ask your staff members with excellent writing skills to write a few posts per week.

If you want to start pumping out lots of content, you may want to consider adding an in-house writer to your payroll.

Regardless of how you plan to delegate these tasks, blogging needs to be a top priority if you want to generate new leads without spending much money.

Here’s what you need to do to write blog posts that convert.

Offer exclusive content

Why should someone read your blogs instead of those of your competitors?

There are so many blogs out there in every industry.

With a market that’s oversaturated with content, your posts need to differ from those of the competition.

Studies tell us 55% of readers spend only 15 seconds reading an article.

But if you offer exclusive content, it will give them a reason to spend more time reading, which increases your chances of getting them to convert.

Here’s a great example from the Conversion XL blog:

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This post stands out because of the exclusive feel of the headline.

Where else can you find 11 experts voicing their opinions and reviewing software tools in one place?

When people search for this subject on Google, they will be more likely to click on this than other results.

But what if you don’t have access to a dozen experts in a particular industry?

No problem.

You’re the expert.

Use your own expertise to offer exclusive advice to your readers.

Master the art of storytelling, and tell a personal anecdote that generated results for your company.

The more often you can do this, the more it will add credibility to your brand.

Once you’re known as an expert in a particular field from your blogs, it will be much easier for you to get leads.

Add more subscribers to your email list

Are you looking for new ways to get more email subscribers?

Well, your blog is a great way to accomplish this.

Here’s how you can turn a reader into a customer.

Let’s say someone stumbles on one of your blog posts.

They skim through it and like the content, but now what?

That won’t necessarily make them buy something, sign up for a subscription, or pay for some other service you’re offering.

However, they may be interested in reading more of posts in the future.

Rather than hoping they come back on their own, you can encourage this visitor to join your email list to get content delivered straight to their inbox.

Jeff Bullas does this with his blog:

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Jeff promotes his mailing list on the sidebar of his blog homepage and each individual blog post as well.

You can do this too.

Once you have their email address, you can do much more than just send them new blog posts.

If you have an ecommerce store, try sending some coupons to entice a sale.

Once you have the leads, proceed with all your winning email marketing campaigns.

But first, you have to get these people hooked with your initial blog post.

Promote your blog on other marketing channels

I consult with companies that struggle to manage their social media accounts all the time.

They recognize the importance of posting on a regular basis, but they’re not quite sure what to write.

Well, your blog gives you a great excuse to stay active on social media every day.

When your fans and followers see your brand on their timeline, it helps create awareness.

Even if they aren’t customers yet, the constant awareness can eventually help drive a sale.

For example, let’s say your company sells niche products such as camping equipment.

The consumer may not need what you’re selling the first time they see your business online.

But maybe six months down the line, they decide to plan a camping trip.

If you’ve been flooding their social media timeline over the last several months, your company will be fresh in their minds when it’s time for them to buy a tent or sleeping bag.

I use this strategy as well. Take a look at my Twitter account:

image2 8

I’m constantly promoting blog posts there.

This is also a great way to get new readers interested in your blog.

After they see a catchy headline on your Facebook or Twitter page, they will be more likely to join your email list, which we just discussed.

Use the comments section to facilitate a discussion

You’re making a big mistake if you don’t allow comments on your blog posts.

After someone reads your content, give them the opportunity to contribute to the conversation.

They may have some further insight to share, a personal story to tell, or a question to ask you.

It’s possible they disagree with some of your viewpoints and opinions on a topic as well.

That’s okay.

One of the best ways to encourage comments is by ending your blog posts with a question.

Make sure the question is related to the topic.

This will help reassure the reader you actually want to hear from them.

Respond to all the comments.

Here are some of the comments from a recent blog post I wrote about creating an actionable drip campaign:

image5 7

A couple of readers had questions that were related to their own websites.

It’s a great way for you to keep the reader engaged.

You can also offer a solution to these questions by suggesting certain products or services your company offers.

Readers may also have a discussion among themselves in the comments section.

I see that happen on my posts all the time as well.

It’s encouraging, and it shows that people are genuinely interested in the topics you’re writing about.

Be consistent

How often do you add a new blog post to your website?

When you first started off, you may have been trying to put out articles every day.

But as the weeks pass, I’ve seen some websites get discouraged if they aren’t seeing immediate results.

Generating leads through blogs takes time.

You won’t see a drastic increase in your traffic or bottom line overnight.

Slowly but surely, you’ll notice a difference—as long as you stay consistent.

Here’s an example.

Let’s say you post a new blog every day for a month.

You start to get some faithful readers.

But all of a sudden, you change your pattern and only post once a week.

Well, your regular audience is going to be disappointed if they visit your website and don’t see any fresh content.

When it comes to blogging, more is always better.

A recent study suggests that bloggers saw stronger results the more frequently they posted:

image4 8

Just make sure your quality doesn’t suffer.

You still need to write good content, or nobody is going to read it.

Publishing 20 articles per day doesn’t mean anything if all the posts are garbage.

Do what you can, but don’t overextend yourself.

If you’re just starting off, I think it’s reasonable to aim for one blog post per day.

See how that works for you and then go from there.

Write guest posts

You’re making a mistake if you’re turning down guest posting opportunities.

Look, I realize on the surface it may not sound very appealing.

I was skeptical about this too before I started guest posting.

It’s hard enough to put out content on your own website, why should you write for someone else for free?

Guest posting gives your brand great exposure.

Your content will be exposed to a new audience that may have never heard of you or your company.

You’ll also have plenty of chances to pitch your content and services throughout your post.

Websites will typically let you include a biography about you and your brand either before or after the article.

Take a look at this guest posting example from Crazy Egg:

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Daniel Threlfall is one of the co-founders of Launch Your Copy.

Contributing to Crazy Egg gave his company exposure and drove more traffic to his website.

Hyperlinks can drive traffic to your highest converting pages

I’ll continue with my last point.

Throughout the content of your blog, you have the chance to add hyperlinks.

If you’re writing a guest post, you can have several links to your website in each article.

You can apply this same strategy to the posts on your site as well.

As you can see from reading my posts, including this one, I do this all the time.

I use hyperlinks to cite all my sources, but I also use internal hyperlinks to drive traffic to other blog posts and landing pages.

Internal linking is also great for your Google search ranking.

Getting ranked higher on Google can help you generate more leads.

Let other bloggers contribute to your website

In addition to writing guest posts for other websites, you can also let other writers contribute to your blog.

Guest posts on your own site can give you a bit of a break.

You can still publish an article a day without having to do as much writing.

When someone else writes a guest post for your blog, they may promote it to their own readers and share the post on their platforms.

This will give a wider audience a reason to check out your blog.

They may initially come just to read their favorite writer’s post, but there’s a good possibility they will read your content as well.

Look at how HubSpot encourages people to contribute to its website:

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You can employ a similar strategy on your blog.

Plus, this could help you develop a relationship with other writers.

Maybe they will return the favor and let you write guest posts on their websites.

Just make sure their posts get approved before publishing.

You don’t want a guest writer to say anything that’s not aligned with your brand.

Even if you don’t write it, you are still associated with all the content on your website.

Encourage readers to share your content

If you’re a good writer, people will want to share your posts with their friends.

You want to make this as easy as possible for them.

All your posts should include social sharing icons.

Here’s what it looks like on my blog:

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Again, this exposes your brand to a new audience.

Getting your readers to promote your content for free is a huge win for your company.

People are much more likely to share a recent, relevant, and informative blog post than just a random link to your website.

It’s a great way to get new leads.

Conclusion

Every website needs a blog.

It’s one of my favorite ways to generate leads.

Offer exclusive content in your posts to get readers hooked and keep them engaged.

Try to use your blog as a platform to get more subscribers to your email list.

New blog posts give you a great excuse to post on your social media accounts and other marketing channels.

Stay engaged with your readers by continuing the discussion in the comments section.

You should try to write guest posts for other websites and allow other writers to contribute to your site as well.

Just make sure you’re consistent with the frequency of your posts.

Use hyperlinks to drive traffic to your highest converting landing pages and improve your Google search ranking.

Provide social sharing options on your blog to encourage readers to share your content with their friends.

These tips will help you write better blogs and generate more leads for your website.

How many blog posts does your website publish per week?

9 Tips About Remote Workers You Can’t Afford to Miss (INFOGRAPHIC)

How to Motivate Remote Employees at Your Small Business

With almost 40 percent of the U.S. workforce identifying themselves as freelancers, working remotely from home is an employment practice no employer can afford to ignore.

For employers, having teams work remotely from home comes with challenges, as well as many benefits. One of the biggest challenges employers of remote teams face is how to keep remote workers motivated.

How to Motivate Remote Employees

Business Backer has compiled an interesting infographic on ways to motivate employees who work remotely.

Create A Social Space for Teams to Integrate

According to renowned management author, Patrick Lencioni, one of the leading dysfunctions of remote teams is a lack of trust. Business Backer’s infographic advises employers to create a social space designed for teams to share personal news and get to know each other. A short 5 to 10-minute chat at the start of a remote meeting can be an effective way to heighten trust amongst remote teams.

Provide Professional Development Opportunities

A staggering 76 percent of millennials believe professional development is amongst the most important things an organization can offer.

Your workers might be remote but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t provide them with the chance to go on professional training courses.

Don’t Time-Track, Productivity-Track Instead

Religiously tracking time can make remote teams feel untrusted and like they’re being watched. According to the infographic, giving workers the flexibility and freedom to complete tasks when they wish can be up to 35 percent more productive.

Instead of relentless tracking time, focus on what your team is consistently managing to achieve.

Take an Interest in Your Employees’ Working Environment

Did you know that Automaticc, the creators of WordPress, offers remote workers $2,000 to make their home office a happy space? A happy workforce means a productive workforce and therefore providing your remote team with information on comfort and productivity in their home working environment could prove an invaluable move.

Take a look at Business Backer’s full infographic on motivating remote teams below.

How to Motivate Remote Employees at Your Small BusinessImages: Business Backer

This article, “9 Tips About Remote Workers You Can’t Afford to Miss (INFOGRAPHIC)” was first published on Small Business Trends

1 in 6 Americans Owns a Smart Speaker, Important News for Online Businesses

Smart Speaker Ownership: 1 in 6 Americans Owns a Smart Speaker -- 31% Shop More Using It

One in six Americans (16 percent) now own a voice-activated smart speaker, up 128 percent from January 2017. Out of the rising number of people who own a smart speaker, 31 percent said they use it for shopping purposes, adding items to their cart so they can review them later for purchase.

Findings come from the Smart Audio Report, Fall/Winter 2017, which analyzed smart speaker ownership data from NPR and Edison Research. The study also found that 29 percent of smart speaker owners used their device to research an item they may want to purchase. A total of 22 percent used the speaker to re-order an item they have previously purchased. The same number of people ordered a new product with their smart speaker that they had not previously purchased.

Implications of Rise in Smart Speaker Ownership

The fact that a growing number of consumers are using smart speakers when shopping online is interesting for small businesses partnering with the likes of Amazon and Google. As consumers are using smart speakers to spend more time shopping online, researching items, re-ordering products and ordering new products, these innovative devices could prove advantageous to small businesses which sell online.

The rise of smart speakers also presents fresh opportunities for businesses to market their products and enhance their brand through voice-activated ads that enable viewers to ‘talk’ with a brand.

As Carrie Seifer, CRO for the IBM Watson content and IoT platform, commented in the report:

“We have already begun to see that consumers are spending more time with these cognitive ads than with other digital ads.”

With one in six Americans now owning a smart speaker, many of which are using these integrated devices to shop for products and engage with ads, small businesses would be wise to recognize the business potential of smart speakers.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “1 in 6 Americans Owns a Smart Speaker, Important News for Online Businesses” was first published on Small Business Trends

32 Ways Your Ecommerce Company Can Boost Engagement and Sales

The ecommerce customer is a moving target. I mean that in more than one way:

  • Online behaviors and buying preferences evolve constantly.
  • Customers jump around relentlessly from apps, to messaging platforms, to social sites and websites.
  • They’re mobile.

How do you woo these “moving targets” into engaging with your ecommerce promotions, opting into your offers, and buying your products?

Your marketing and media needs to “move” them.

You experiment with a variety of ecommerce promotion ideas available to you now. We’ll run through a heap of them and hopefully offer a few you might want to try to build your audience and boost sales.

1. Offer Coupons and Discounts

Coupons have always been a staple in retail promotions so we need not question their power.

However, in the digital shopping realm, coupons play a role beyond simply providing a purchase incentive. They act as bait to hook new email subscribers. Of course, you’ll follow-up with subscribers, so consider expanding your portfolio of coupons to create specific subscriber segments that will receive relevant offers.
You can offer coupons explicitly for product purchases, but may also find coupons marry well with offers to receive newsletters and useful downloadable content.


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Your options for delivering coupons are many. GlassesUSA gets right to it by presenting a huge discount for first time buyers on their home page via a popup that “greys-out” the page until you respond.

2. Offer eBooks and Other Lead Magnets


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The average online conversion rate for ecommerce shoppers hovers between 2% and 3%. At least 97% bail on you. However, a failed attempt to capture a sale doesn’t mean you can’t capture email addresses.

In a Kissmetrics post that explains how SaaS marketing differs from other types of marketing, Neil Patel writes, “If you are a B2B SaaS marketer, think of yourself in different terms from mere ‘marketer.’ Think of yourself as an industry savant — the one who possesses and dispenses information.”

While blog content helps attract traffic, one of your content marketing goals should be to convert the traffic into subscribers. Offer eBooks and other lead magnets such as checklists, mini-courses, templates, tools, and more to motivate visitors to give you their email addresses.

Think value. Think relevance. What can you offer to help a prospective customer solve a problem? Think of your lead magnet offer as something so valuable it’s worth paying for—then deliver it free.

3. Offer a Loyalty Program

You not only want customers to buy your products; you want them to keep buying.
Ecommerce brands accomplish this by making their best customers feel valued. Do so by giving them valuable rewards through a customer loyalty program.

Create a loyalty program that offers customers an incentive to buy more often or spend more on their purchases. Loyalty programs can take any number of forms, but generally feature a system whereby points are accumulated that build increased buying power.

You might also consider loyalty programs that reward buyers for doing things beyond buying such as writing reviews, sharing your pages and posts, and submitting photos.


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The first feature on the Pure Hockey homepage is information about their “Pure Rewards” program that aims to deliver bonus buying power to loyal customers.

4. Host Giveaways

People love free stuff. Create buzz about your brand with giveaways.
Promoting giveaways on your website and via social media puts your brand in front of new eyes and grows your email list.

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A simple giveaway by Ginger Heat Muscle Rub encourages participants to “Like” the brand on Facebook and enter to win free product samples.

A holiday giveaway hosted by Mixed Hues offers prizes for 12 days and delivers a discount just for entering to make everyone a winner. (Image Source)

The examples of giveaways shown above were created with templates from ShortStack, a platform that makes it easy to create an immense variety of ecommerce promotions.

5. Conduct Contests

Instagram and Facebook contests—or contests you promote on any social network or channel—are one of the best ways for ecommerce brands to generate awareness, build community, drive traffic and boost sales.
Best practices for conducting social media contests include:

  • Create a unique hashtag for the promotion.
  • Create an image or video to announce your contest.
  • Create example posts to inspire users.
  • Use a moderation tool.
  • Secure legal rights to re-use user-generated content.
  • Display the curated posts in a gallery on your website and social channels.
  • Adhere to the rules of the network and publish the policies of the contest.

6. Create a Challenge

I stumbled into a fun tactic while researching this article and found it to be a powerful idea: create a challenge. Those that join it share a common cause. They’ll welcome your ideas, are likely to share your content, and may consider purchasing your products.

At the very least, they’ll experience a memorable, personalized experience with your brand.

NaturallyCurly invited customers and fans to its “No sugar challenge.” Joining means opting in for email updates. What a great way to create a bond between a brand and its fans. (Image Source)

7. Cross-sell

A post on the SEMRush blog wisely recommends focusing on cross-selling your products to increase sales. They offer as an example, a customer that has purchased a mobile phone being offered a screen guard or case.

It shouldn’t be difficult for you to think of practical cross-selling opportunities to offer your buyers that will add value to their purchase and dollars to your cash register.

8. Up-sell

Upselling works too. In fact, Econsultancy says it works 20X better than cross-selling.

See, buyers often don’t know a superior product is available. Chances are some of the products you offer are closely related to premium versions. Set-up your store to upsell and keep in mind:

  • The suggested product must fit the original needs of the customer.
  • Price sensitivity is bound to be an issue, so be clear about the benefits of upgrading.

9. Showcase Top Sellers

Ask a food server what their favorite dish is and they’re likely to respond with, “Our most popular pasta dish is the…” or… “If you’re really hungry, everyone really loves the…” — or something like that.

The suggested item might be something they’re known for, can prepare most easily, or profit the most from. Many restaurants spare you from having to ask by highlighting their most popular menu items on the menu.

Ecommerce companies can do the same.

It’s human nature to go with the crowd. Also, buyers value direction. Show them your best sellers, or best sellers in specific categories. You’ll reduce overwhelm, and accelerate sales.

Imagine knowing little or nothing about games, but you’re shopping for a gift. You’d welcome suggestions to buy the most popular games. Nutty Squirrel Games gets it and helps with this smart form of suggestive selling. Image Source

10. Create Interactive Assistants

Buyers value when online stores provide insights and advice to help make more informed decisions. Enter the vast array of interactive content tools such as assessments, configurators, chatbots and recommendation engines.

Tools such as these enable you to walk the customer through a series of questions and deliver recommendations based on the answers—like a helpful salesperson would do.

While your online tool helps prospects and customers determine their priorities and preferences, it also helps you gather useful data, which might drive sales in the moment, or later, when the data is used to personalize your subsequent communications.

The “Flavour Generator” from Hello Fresh is a great example of a simple assessment tool. It’s designed to inspire cooking ideas, which clearly aligns with the brand’s recipe box products. (Image Source)

Help yourself to the quiz offered on the Warby Parker homepage and after answering five quick questions the site suggests frames that fulfill your preferences and offers to send them to you to try-on. (Image Source)

11. Create Video Demonstrations

Images obviously help sell products, but are merely par for the course. You can boost sales of new, featured, or popular items by creating short promotional or review videos.

Test the idea with just a few items and measure the impact to help establish if the investment in creating video pays. If you discover videos generate sales you can expand the program with more videos and experiment with different approaches to video production and different types of videos.

A number of products offered on WatchShop present shoppers with the option to watch short product videos. (Image Source)

12. Highlight Risk Reducers

Your homepage likely features “risk reducers,” that is, notices that help overcome objections and give buyers greater peace of mind, such as:

  • Free shipping
  • Fast delivery
  • Money back guarantees
  • Free returns
  • Transaction security

However, many visitors will arrive directly on product pages and not see your homepage. Make certain your most important risk reduction messages are also displayed in at least one prominent place on product pages. Test the messaging, design and page layout to determine what works best.

A product page on YourSuper reminds would-be buyers of its shopper-friendly policies on a sticky header bar and in another prominent element beside the call to action. (Image Source)

13. Present Product Plugs (Testimonials, Reviews, etc.)

I can’t decide whether to say it’s a good idea to include user reviews to boost sales or it’s a bad idea to exclude them. Both are true and it’s probably fair to say, thanks to Amazon, buyers expect to find them.

Standard ecommerce product review systems are useful, however, those that include photos and/or videos that embellish the customer stories are even more convincing.


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14. Provide Wishlists

Ecommerce experts at Big Commerce claim that offering shoppers a wish list is an effective way to reduce shopping cart abandonment and fulfill sales from customers who showed intent but didn’t end up purchasing. They add that wishlists:

  • Give customers who aren’t ready to order an easy reminder system when they return
  • Enable merchants to measure product interest
  • Are helpful to shoppers that are buying gifts
  • Encourage users to sign up for an account

Would-be buyers will often forget about their wishlists, so send friendly reminder emails to inspire customers to complete their purchase.

15. Present Trust Badges

Customers often dropout of a purchase process when they have concerns about the security of their payment. Address this challenge by including one or more “trust badges” on your checkout page to convince customers the process is safe and secure.


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16. Present User-Generated Content

“Hype up engagement,” is a piece of ecommerce promotion advice from a Kissmetrics post. The post featured this insight from of Dan Wang of Shopify:

“User-generated photos are a great way to generate social proof. Prospective customers see that your products are regularly being purchased by people just like them, and feel more comfortable doing something that others are doing.”

User-generated content (UGC) can be collected and used in a variety of ways. The GentleFawn store gathers photos via an Instagram hashtag and features them a gallery on their homepage.

17. Use Satisfaction Surveys

Savvy ecommerce brands cater to new and existing customers by gathering feedback with satisfaction surveys. A survey done well builds goodwill. The data you collect enables you to improve the user experience. Both equate to smart marketing.

Ask questions that will help you learn:

  • How customers found your website
  • How satisfied they were with the shopping experience
  • How your store compares to others they’ve visited
  • How can you serve their needs in the future

Though satisfaction surveys are most commonly handled with email, Spartoo is an ecommerce company that takes a proactive approach by offering a survey on its homepage. A discount helps motivate shoppers to comply. (Image Source)

18. Present Exit Intent Popups

Add an exit intent pop-up to your website to capture visitors on the verge of leaving. Give them a reason to join your email list by offering a free guide, discount, or some incentive that aligns with your brand.

19. Send Cart abandonment Emails

Marketing automation platforms enable you to send customized emails to shoppers that have abandoned shopping carts.

If a customer logged in, you can send customized emails with images of the items they shopped for. Tactics you might try with abandonment email include:

  • Put personalized information to use.
  • Send emails promptly.
  • Try more than once.
  • Include social proof such as customer reviews, ratings, etc.
  • Offer viable options such as related items.
  • Send discounts before giving up.

Shortly after I left an item in my cart without completing the purchase, Michael’s sent me an email telling me I have great taste, which showed me the item again and suggested other products I might like.

20. Send Automated emails

Prospects and customers are giving you their email addresses. Send them something in return: email. Email marketing allows you to send targeted—and well-timed messages—at various stages of the buying lifecycle.

In a great post detailing ecommerce email strategies, Nadav Dakner shares six potential automated email flows you might want to put in place in addition to the abandoned cart reminders we’ve already covered:

  • Welcome series
  • Purchase follow-up
  • Re-engagement prompts
  • Upsell offers
  • Notices about education content
  • Product and promotion updates

21. Support a Charity

Ecommerce brands can take a cue from the shoe company Toms, where “Every purchase has a purpose.” Toms has built a reputation for improving lives and giving back. Their customers understand, appreciate and support the mission. Everyone wins.

Charity programs that come to my mind from ecommerce leaders include Pura Vida Bracelets and Warby Parker eyeglasses.


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22. Promote Around Special Occasions

While Christmas, birthdays and anniversaries are obvious special occasions, you can promote special occasions year-round.

For instance, in February you can create sales, special offers, promotions, contests, giveaways and even downloadable content around Ground Hog Day, Valentine’s Day, Presidents’ Day and the Super Bowl (to name just a few).

Here’s an example of simple voting poll an ecommerce company might do to attach their promotion to the Super Bowl hoopla. (Image Source)

23. Make Customers your Sales Force

Influencer marketing takes many forms beyond celebrity endorsements and paying popular YouTubers to mention your products.

A clever strategy for ecommerce brands is to create a user-driven affiliate network of niche influencers. Your program might extend beyond simple financial incentives or product offers to include:

  • Additional promotional opportunities on your website and social media properties
  • Coaching
  • Access to experts
  • Social media advice and assistance
  • Loyalty program development

1st Phorm does a stellar job of promoting its “Legionnaires” program. Copy beneath the image and video above reads, “We interact with our Legionnaires on a constant basis to make sure they are successful in not only promoting 1st Phorm and making money, but also growing their personal brands.” (Image Source)

24. Send Instagrammers to Your Store

Instagram is for people who love images. It also appears to be for people who love to shop.

  • Instagram reported 60% of its users say they learn about products and services on the platform and 30% have purchased something they discovered.
  • A study by Shopify reported the average order value from Instagram marketing is $65.00 (second only to Polyvore).
  • Engagement on Instagram is 10 times higher than Facebook.

The key to Instagram marketing is engaging users and moving them to your website. How’s it done?

  • Run contests.
  • Show pictures of customers using your products (a.k.a. user-generated content).
  • Carefully select a compelling page on your website to feature in your Instagram bio. This is your one and only link opportunity on the network.

Stitch Fix uses the link in their Instagram bio to direct traffic to a style gallery. A “Get Started” call to action atop the page introduces how the shopping service works and a gallery of photos and videos link to various products and promotions.

25. Send Shoppers to your Instagram

Next up for your list of ecommerce promotion idea is the opposite of what you just read. That is, in addition to sending Instagrammers to your store, you might also send shoppers to your brand’s Instagram account.

Consider your Instagram account a destination for building your audience and earning sales from prospects that have never seen your Instagram feed or profile. They could discover the credible proof they’re looking for with a branded hashtag or on an Instagram account you’ve populated with authentic user-generated content.

ModCloth features its #MarriedinModCloth hashtag on the homepage inviting visitors to Instagram where they find thousands of images created by customers.

26. Publish Product Landing Pages

Ecommerce companies sometimes make the mistake of directing traffic from search, social and digital ads to their home page or shopping cart. Typically, neither is an ideal approach for increasing conversion.

Try directing first-time visitors to information-rich product landing pages. Create pages that step visitors through everything they need to make an informed purchase decision.

Showcase some combination of a benefit-focused headline, value proposition, social proof, risk reducers and relevant images and video.

27. Explore Mobile Advertising

“Mobile shopping clicks overtook desktop clicks sometime in the summer of 2015 and continue to rise,” claims ROIRevolution. The retail-focused agency makes the case retailers can no longer afford to adopt a laissez faire mentality regarding mobile advertising. In fact, many shopping sites now recognize the importance of a mobile-first strategy.

Mobile advertising combines geolocation and mobile-ready ads to connect shoppers to your store while they’re commuting, sitting in a waiting room, or even shopping.

Recommendations to effectively use mobile advertising for ecommerce include:

  • Optimize the website for mobile users with responsive design.
  • Leverage retargeting display ads.
  • Consider video.
  • Use the Facebook and Instagram ad platform.
  • Appeal to the “in-the-moment” needs of the mobile user with “snackable” content.
  • Utilize Google Analytics to better understand the behavior of your audience by channel.

28. Expand Shipping Options

Who wants to wait weeks for their product to arrive? Worse yet, who wants to wonder when it will show up? These are clearly rhetorical questions.

Satisfy more customers with predictability, specificity, transparency, details and most of all, choices. Consider:

  • On-demand delivery options
  • Delivery tracking
  • Detailed information regarding shipping expenses
  • Free and fast delivery incentives

29. Create Auto-Ship Options

A good portion of ecommerce companies can borrow a page from various subscription businesses to create incentives that encourage auto-shipping, and automatic renewals.

Chewy offers instant savings for customers setting up an autoship option for the first time and sweetens the deal with bonus savings on select brands.

30. Optimize for Buyers That Are Shopping for Ideas

SEO and paid search need to be weapons in the ecommerce brand’s marketing arsenal. However, your keyword selection needn’t be limited to targeting buyers shopping for specific products.

An increasing percentage of would-be buyers on mobile devices are looking for ideas. New research from the Think with Google site offers insights about selecting keywords to optimize for shoppers that are idea hunting.

(Image Source)

Highlights from Google’s data research indicate:

  • Searches for “ideas” on mobile are rising fast.
  • Mobile searches for “shopping lists” are spiking.
  • “Outfits for” is a hot partial search term.
  • Those shopping for a category frequently conduct searches containing the word “brand,” “top,” and “best.”

31. Offer Live Chat

Online sellers that don’t offer a live chat option lose business to competitors who do. Live chat is a way to assist customers and is becoming the most desired method of contact—especially for millennials.

Econsultancy reports live chat has the highest satisfaction levels for any customer service channel, with 73%, compared with 61% for email and 44% for phone.

The post cited above features interesting data that reveals why live chat is preferred. Immediacy wins. (Image Source)

32. Bring Ace Media Buyers to the Table

In this, my last tip, I was going to get into ecommerce Instagram advertising, but then I thought about all the various types, including the emerging “shoppable ads.” It’s not easy to keep up with Instagram advertising.
The same goes for Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Google and any other digital property that sells ads.

I concluded if I were to give you practical advice about this vitally important but terribly complex topic (without cranking out another 3,000 words), it would be this:

  • Learn the basics about the Google AdWords platform and your social media options, then…
  • Experiment, then…
  • Bring a pro to the table.

Advertising can be expensive, but that’s only the case when it doesn’t work. An ace media buyer will show you where to place your chips and perpetually improve your ROI from the digital advertising programs that drive ecommerce sales.

About the Author: Barry Feldman operates Feldman Creative providing clients content marketing strategy, copywriting and creative direction. Barry’s authored three book including the best-selling personal branding guide, The Road to Recognition. Visit Feldman Creative and his blog, The Point.

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