An Insight into the Top Challenges that Small Businesses Face

Operating a small business can be difficult because you don’t have the cash flow of a large company, but you have far more responsibility when compared to a freelancer. Being stuck in the middle can come with its challenges, and if you are not able to overcome these then you may find yourself being left in the dirt by your competition.

Cash Flow

Money problems can happen to anyone but if you are a small business then you will probably feel the effects more than a bigger company. You may have clients who stall payments, outgoings that you did not expect at all and even outstanding bills that have to be paid. There are some money management tools that you can use to try and get around issues such as these, and there are even applications that can help you to calculate VAT, automate your bill payments and even maintain your credit score. Online invoicing is also something that you need to be looking into, as it can be a great way for you to persuade those reluctant clients to part with their hard-earned cash.

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Tiredness

It may be tempting to try and do everything yourself. This is especially the case if you are a small business owner. Long hours can put you under even more pressure, and eventually you may end up making mistakes and not paying attention to clients as much as you should. As a business owner, it is so important that you pace yourself, and you also need to make sure that you embrace delegation. To begin with, work out the business elements that are outside your skillset and then pass them onto a specialist. This could include an accountant or even a legal expert. You will end up saving time, money and you won’t have to worry about making mistakes as much either.

Technology Issues

Think about it, if your system went down, where would that leave your business? You would probably end up having to shut for the day and your employees would have to be sent home. This is the last thing that you need, so it is imperative that you have backup IT solutions in place. You also need to have the number for an emergency computer repair service as well, so if something does happen, you will never experience too many delays.

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Retaining Customers

It’s so important that you are able to identify your unique selling point. You also need to know your customers on a personal level. If you don’t then you won’t be doing yourself any favours and you may even find it harder to retain customers who have purchased from you in the past. One way for you to get around this would be for you to utilise your own analytical data. You need to know the age of your customers, what they like and what they don’t. Social media is a fantastic way for you to do this, and it can make all the difference to your marketing campaign.

Making Better Use Of The Internet In Your Marketing Strategy

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Marketing your business online might increase your odds of reeling in customers, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s an easier form of marketing to master. In fact, the competition between businesses on the internet is so fierce that it can feel almost impossible to differentiate yourself from the crowd. However, with the right understanding of modern marketing methods, you can start to capture the attention of your target audience. Here are some ways to start making better use of the internet in your marketing strategy.

Target your content at specific markets.

If your business is trying to grow then it’s understandable that you’d want to widen your reach and chase potential customers in a much larger marketplace. However, it’s never wise to spread yourself too thinly when advertising your business. A targeted approach is a much better way to gradually increase your client base with loyal long-term customers. The goal is to find customers who’ll stick around rather than gaining lots of individual sales from one-time customers who don’t return for repeat purchases.

You can get better results from your advertising campaign by targeting your content at specific markets. Localizing your SEO approach, for example, is a very smart move. If you usually fail to reel in visitors with your keyword choice then it might be the result of casting the net too wide, as was just discussed. But if you make sure that your keywords are relevant to potential customers in your local area then you’ll stand a better chance of beating local competitors and growing a client base of local people.

Do your research.

Online research can also help your business to thrive if you do it effectively. For instance, you could use social media to connect with customers and find out what they want to change in the industry. Maybe you’ll even find problems that your rivals aren’t solving; that’s a chance to stand out from the crowd. You also need to make sure that your online content meets the needs of potential customers. When at GrowthSupermarket, you’ll be able to find PPC tools that could help you to keep your campaign updated and relevant to the current needs of the market. Pay-Per-Click advertising is a very effective online advertising method, but that’s only the case if you’re offering adverts and links that attract clicks. Sometimes, better tools can improve your likelihood of success. With the right research and data, you can make sure that you’re using relevant keywords to attract customers in your PPC adverts, your website, and your social media pages.

Keep content concise.

The internet is instantaneous. As a result, consumers have short attention spans (we’re all guilty of this). If you want your online marketing campaign to have an impact then you need to be clear and concise with your content. You need to get your point across quickly and effectively if you want to stand a chance of getting the attention of potential customers. For example, if you’re running an advert that links to your online store then you need to make sure the text is short and captivating. Calls to action need to be catchy and concise. “FREE trial for first 7 days” or “2 for 1 on all initial purchases” are good examples of adverts that’ll catch people’s attention quickly. You need to make sure your advertising approach fits the platform you’re using. On the internet, everything needs to be concise.

Wait, What! I Shouldn’t Do This Digital Business Thing Alone?

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When you first start to think about having your own business, it can be so exciting. You can just take a laptop, an idea, and go with it. Because when you’re running a business, you can do it alone. You don’t need a team or startup money or anything else. You can just take an idea and a ton of hard work and you can make it work out for you. It really is that simple. But, there is one thing that you may want to be aware of, and that’s not to do it alone. You could, but you shouldn’t want to – and here’s why. Here are five key reasons for why you should look to work with, hire, or contact others to work on it for you.

Bring In New Ideas

The first reason is that it’s going to give you fresh ideas. Just think about it. If you’re working on things alone, you only have your ideas. It’s just you. One person – one set of ideas. And while your ideas might be great, they are just your ideas alone. When you bring in other people, you get their ideas too. And this is the most exciting part of it. Because you’re going to be able to grow things and make them even better when you get additional great ideas.

Network, Connect, Grow

And then, another really cool thing about not doing this all alone, is that you get to network. And when you’re networking it really helps you to grow as a person. You’ll connect with others that push you and help you to learn new things. And that, in turn, then goes on to help your business. So go ahead and put yourself out there to meet others that can help you to better yourself and your business.

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Get Valuable Support

It’s also a huge plus for you to be able to get some help. Because maybe you’re struggling or you just not an expert on a set thing. Then getting some help on that matter will be so beneficial to your business. Get a security team or an IT consultant, like eSudo, to help you. Get the valuable support you know you need to grow your business.

Work With Key Experts

And it’s super amazing for you to be able to work with key experts that will help you to grow the business. You will be able to take on their advice and benefit from their incredible work too. And we all know that’s great for business.

Be More Efficient

And finally, one of the best and most interesting parts of outsourcing your work and connecting with other businesses and experts, is that it makes you more efficient. Outsourcing really does increase your productivity! Because when you are trying to do it all, you are stretching yourself thin. So not only are you going to get that expert work done and support in set areas, but then you are also free to put your time and attention into the things that you can do the best.

Digital Marketing In the Real World: A Primer

If digital marketing is east, and the real world is west, it may seem at first glance that never the twain shall meet. However, in the assumption, you would be quite wrong. In fact, a synergy of the two can be a hugely effective way of capturing your customers' attention and spreading the word about your brand. Read on for more information.

QR codes

One way that you can marry digital and real work marketing is to use QR codes in your campaigns and promotions. A QR or quick response code is a barcode that is expressed in two dimensions that can be scanned by a reader and direct a user directly to a webpage. Specialized readers are not necessary as this can be done via a process of mobile tagging where a smartphone camera can be used to read the code.

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Of course, this an excellent way of encouraging customer engagement, and the real strength of it is that it can be personalized for each client quickly, efficiently, and cheaply. What this means is that you can not only get them to visit a specific page but also add content and a welcome that is specifically targeted to them. Something that can be a very effective marketing technique and that you can go to www.smartinsights.com to read more about.

Digital displays and signage

Next, when it comes to digital marketing we tend to think of it as a way of getting users to visit our sites. However, it can also be embedded effectively in a real word environment too.

One way of doing this is by using digital signage and displays in brick and mortar shops and businesses. This being a method that can be far more dynamic than traditional print media signage.

To that end, many businesses invest in digital screen displays for their stores. Although, a much more reasonable yet still effective method for adding this is to visit a site like www.projecticodis.com and invest in an LED projector. This can then be hooked up to a tablet or laptop, and project images and video of your choice on nothing but a plain white wall.

Touchscreens

Last, of all, a true synthesis of the digital and physical world is the adoption of touchscreen technology in commercial businesses. Of course, this is where customers are presented with screen displays that they can physically interact with to choose a product or leave feedback about the level of service they have received.

The important thing here is that while this is a way of displaying and collecting information digitally, it also involves real-world physical interactions, as well. Something that can help to increase customer engagement levels.

Such tech is also seen as both novel, and instinctive too. Also, both positive aspects that can help commercial businesses encourage customer interaction with the intention of streamlining their processes, providing better services, and collect data that would have previously been difficult to source.   

This, of course, makes, touchscreen tech one of the most crucial tools in bridging the digital-real; world divide when it comes to marketing.

Why Local SEO Is A Must For All Businesses

If you ask people to say the first thing that comes to mind when someone says ‘online marketing,’ you can be sure that most people will say SEO, or search engine optimisation.  

However, as is the case with all things in business, SEO has progressed rapidly over the years, and with competition being fierce, companies have had to look for different ways to stand out with their SEO campaign. This is where local SEO, otherwise known as geo-targeting, comes in.

Local SEO has presented SMEs and start-ups with an effective way to maximise their profits while a lot of national businesses have also used this approach to target specific locations.

Local SEO is based on the logic that when customers do not define their geographic needs when using a search engine, the results frustrate them. For example, let’s say you are looking for a cake shop. However, when you do a search, it shows up cake shops located in places ranging from China to Belgium. This is of no use, which is why local SEO is so valuable.

With that being said, let’s take a look at the different reasons why local SEO is a necessity for all businesses today.

Drive targeted traffic to your company

Since local search engine optimisation is based on the generation of more targeted traffic to your company, you are more likely to receive traffic from local people that have the greatest chance of turning into a paying customer. One of the main reasons for high bounce rates today is because of a lack of keyword relevancy. Well, this is something you never have to worry about with local SEO.

Google loves local companies

If there is one reason why you should invest in local SEO, it is because Google loves it. Do you need any other reason? Google has worked hard to ensure that it provides user-friendly results. They view local SEO is very influential in ensuring they meet their customers’ demands.

Local SEO converts searches to purchases

Another reason why you should consider investing in local search engine optimisation is because it will cause you to make purchases. This is not something you need to take our word for. According to Go-Globe, offline purchases come from 78 per cent of local-mobile searches today. This means that for every ten local searches on mobiles, purchases are made from them at least seven of them.

You can expect a great return on your investment

This leads on from the former section where we spoke about making a higher number of purchases. Featuring high conversion rates and low expenses, local SEO is one of the most valuable online marketing methods available today. There are statistics to back this up. Did you know that every one in two consumers that do a local search on their smartphone will visit the store in question within one day? That’s not all. For those using tablets or computers, 34 per cent will visit the store within a day as well.

A great way for SMEs and startup businesses to fight the competition

In commerce, competition is omnipresent. Name any service or product, and you are going to find hundreds if not thousands of competitors in the marketplace. It is impossible for any company to enjoy 100 per cent market monopoly for a lengthy period of time. When it comes to brand loyalty, your most direct threat is the competition. Local SEO gives you a platform to increase your visibility, which helps to strengthen your brand image.

You don’t have to spend a penny

Of course, you can engage the services of a search engine marketing company or an expert online consultant, and if you can afford to do so, this comes highly recommended. However, if you cannot, this does not mean that you cannot make the most of local SEO. There are still plenty of free tools and approaches that you can make the most of until you have the money available to enlist the assistance of an expert.

Remember, it’s not enough on its own…

As you can see, there are many different benefits that are associated with local SEO. However, it is critical to recognise that this is no longer enough on its own. In recent years, Google has made an effort to make its results more user-friendly and user-focused. While local search engine optimisation caters to this, it is not sufficient without user experience.

You need to make sure that your website is not letting down your local SEO efforts. UX has a massive impact on your overall search engine ranking. This means you need a website that is easy to use and provides tons of value in terms of content. It also needs to be quick to load, which requires a fast hosting provider, and it needs to be secure, which requires a reputable online payment processer. You also need to make sure that navigation is seamless. If you do this, and combine it with local SEO, you have the perfect recipe for search engine success.
Hopefully, you now have a better understanding regarding what local SEO is and how it can benefit your business.
From driving targeted traffic to your company to beating the competition, local search engine optimisation presents you with a great way to get ahead. It is especially beneficial for small businesses and SMEs.

Quick Insights For Quick Wins In Local SEO

If you have had a digital marketing strategy in place for a while, then you will know one thing for sure; digital marketing and SEO changes all the time. Even more so now that you can be specific with your SEO and get some local SEO for your business too.

Being able to optimize your on and off-site SEO for local regions can make a massive difference when clients and customers are looking specifically for local businesses.

Small local businesses are seeing increased competition and if you’re not on top of your local SEO game, then it can put you behind. Especially if your competitors are already doing it.

So here are some tactics to improve your local SEO game. When local people are looking for your services, you want to make sure that you come up as an option.

Titles and Meta Tags Still Matter

Titles of online content and meta description tags are still relevant, even when it comes to local SEO. They are part of the HTML that will show to search engines what your web page or content is about.

Your title and other descriptions will be the things that come up in search results. It can look almost like a small advertisement when you do it, with tags being around fifty words that fits into the space. So think carefully about the words that you are choosing.

 

Get Into The Local SEO Ecosystem

Around four out of five people that are looking to buy online, will use search engines for a local search. Gone are the days of people scouring the phone book; it is all about online.

But for many small businesses, they haven’t even claimed that vital online space to say ‘look at me, this is my business and I’m in your area.’ So make sure that your business gets listed online in directories like Yelp. It will help you to get more noticed, for sure. Heck, you can get these done at Brightlocal for $2 per citation

Get Your Social Media Up To Scratch

Having your social media profiles up to date and looking good can be another important aspect of sorting your local SEO. Potential customers are likely to look at your channels, to see your content, as well as any potential reviews. So making sure that it states where you are in the world is very important.

If you’re not too sure what to be doing when it comes to social media and SEO, then you could always outsource to a company like 180 Fusion who might be able to sort it all for you. You don’t want to miss a chance to get plenty of potential customers.

Claim Google My Business

If a customer was to do a Google search for your business specifically, then it can save a lot of time and effort if you have claimed the Google My Business (GMB) page. 

It’s free to do and it will come up with your business address, contact details, website, reviews, and things like opening hours. So again, another good opportunity not to be missed. Especially since it’s the doorway to getting your “branded” SERP to be all that it can be. 

Engage with local organisations and communities

If you can be seen to be active within the local community, it can help with growing branding, sales and assist consumer advocacy. There are lots of ways to do this, and the best way will depend on your type of business.

Sponsorship of local events or donations to local charities, schools and public organisations can give you an opportunity to earn some links to your website as well as local news coverage.

There are plenty of content-based ways of engaging with local communities too. Look for ‘content gaps’ in local search where you feel you can offer something worth while. A ‘content gap’ might be that there’s no website that features a local events calendar, or there’s no content about the best coffee shops in your area.

This idea should ideally be related to your business services, but even if it’s not directly related there are worthwhile SEO benefits that can come from publishing content for the general local audience.

You want your business to be top-of-mind when someone in your local area thinks about your type of products, and by furthering your brand by reaching into areas of the community you wouldn’t otherwise be found in, you’ll be the first company they think of.

Z (In Store Visits)/ Y (Website Sessions) = X (Local Conversion Rate)

Solving the Conundrum of Organic Local In-Store Conversion

If you own a salon and you’re considering actually investing in legit SEO, how can you possibly know if it’s going to be worth it for your business? Just how many people visiting my site is going to represent an actual increase in the number of people coming in the door and making purchases? That’s where it gets rough.

How many sessions to instore visits?

There’s very, very few local service businesses even trying to keep track of how many clients they have vs. just counting their revenue from receipts. Even fewer are asking where people found them, recording that information and using it. It seems none of those unicorns are making those numbers public, so how can we find out what a “rough, general” conversion rate for local service businesses to in-store visits? I mean if you’re a virtual office, you will want to know just how many more people walking in the door to become tenants came from your investment in SEO. I asked some experts, and got SOME information…we’ll see if we can find that white whale!

[Thanks for all the experts who suggested other experts who might have an idea: Aj Kohn, Jon Henshaw, Mark Traphagen, Ian Lurie, Andrew Shotland, Darren Shaw]

Anecdotal & Personal Experience On Organic Local In-Store Conversion

“There are a lot of dependencies on this. We usually see 3-7% net conversion rate (i.e. 25% from landing page to call, 25% from call to customer / patient) from paid search visits in local, but organic is much more leaky.

That’s based on a few hundred clients, but it’s by no means statistically significant.” – Will Scott of Search Influence


“When I was at StyleNet, I only knew of 1 salon (out of ~ 5000) that seemed to do a good job of tracking this. The numbers they shared were about 100 visits to 1 new service client. At the time, we weren’t tracking calls & salon customers didn’t really use the contact forms on the salon websites. Times are alot different now but this was specific to your salon industry example. My experience was in 2010 but it looks like the studies are old too: 2013 & 2014.” Ross Jones of 2TheTop Design

Relevant Data & Studies On Converting Visits To Your Store

There are some conflicting but generally “directionally consistent” data points and studies. These don’t answer your precise question but here a few generally relevant studies. Greg Sterling of Local Search Association

Have We Found The White Whale?

 

  • Mobile: If 50% of consumers visit a store after a smartphone search…
  • Desktop: “34% who searched on computer/tablet did the same [visited a store after a search]”

Unfortunately, Google keyword planner, SEMrush, Ahrefs and other keyword tools don’t provide mobile search traffic estimates for queries… so we’ll need to use the lower number of 34%.

We can use my rough process to estimate  potential organic traffic,  with [nashville spa] as a quick example of a local service/retail query: 480 people searched for the query monthly, if we approximate that #1 placement will get 35%, that’s 168 visits.  If we use the lower desktop percentage of 34% that represents 58 in-store visits in a month.

Challenges: 

  • In these studies were these retail purchases at shoe stores or service businesses? Is there a difference between the two?
  • How many of these site visitors already knew about the business and just used local searches to verify location? (Counter-point- If location information couldn’t be found would they have chosen another business? How many?)
  • Does that ACTUALLY reflect reality of DIFFERENT industries represented in local search/local service businesses? Anecdotes suggest “100 visits to 1 new service client. [1% conversion rate]” &  “3-7% net conversion rate (i.e. 25% from landing page to call, 25% from call to customer / patient) from paid search visits in local”… Can real local organic search REALLY be such a high conversion rate to instore visits??Do I have this totally wrong? Am I interpreting studies wrong, or are the samples of those studies outdated? What do you think based on these anecdotes and data?

Musings on Service Area vs Location

So I have this Nashville roofing client( Hell yea that’s a followed anchor text link to them. Not sure when we got so scared to link out! But that’s another rant for another day.)

Annnnyyyyways, they do roofing for Nashville and it’s surrounding cities, but they happen to have chosen an office located in Hendersonville, a small suburb North of Nashville.

Of course, when we connected he wasn’t ranking organically for any Nashville area related keywords or phrases in the first page. Nor was he ranking in maps, outside of Hendersonville.

He was more and more worried that given his competitors closer locality to the centroid he was never going to be able to rank for Nashville queries in Maps.

 My View On Service Areas

Here’s what I suggested we do. Change his location to a service area, improve his website, build local links AND cleanup and expand his citations at the same time. Once we started surfacing organically for Nashville queries, then we would look to see if our Map rankings followed suit. If not, then we would look into opening a new office in Nashville proper, and build out the citations for the new locale.

What would you have done?

My View On Brick & Mortar

Another person I recently talked to was Jeremy who runs a Nashville residential & commercial cleaning company called The Cleaning Executives. He DOES have a brick and mortar office location, but really does provide services at his client’s location. So in this situation, I recommended we check for his citations…of which he had 3 or 4. So we checked out the top ranking competitors with Bright Local’s citation tool  and came up with a game plan to get 2x as many citations as the top competitor.

Nashville SEO “Group Therapy” Session #2

Depressed about your website’s current lack of rankings and traffic?

Frustrated with your conversion rates?

Are you feeling sad, lonely and confused about SEO for your business? Why not get together and talk it out.

Join me to talk out your current SEO frustrations in a friendly group setting. I’m more than happy to chime in with my own suggestions and advice and give you the opportunity to hear from other Nashville small business owners who might be struggling with the same issues. So come join me, and whoever else shows up for some FREE SEO CONSULTING. 

Where:  Thistlestop Cafe  – West Nashville
5128 Charlotte Ave, Nashville, TN 37209

When: Wednesday, 9am, CST

What: A friendly meetup to talk about SEO

How much: Free!

Where to start in the Local SEO Ecosystem

David Mihm of Moz and his Local Search Ecosystem: http://moz.com/blog/2013-local-search-ecosystems

It’s a Jungle Out There

Every expedition started in the drawing room, with a map. The reality is that getting your local business visible is a challenge that is generally too daunting for most small business owners, but is also a high reward activity when done correctly. Each listing doubles as an advertisement on those specific sites while also boosting your signal to Google, Yahoo and Bing about your business’s actual location which is key to driving local prospects. 

Order in the Chaos

As insane as that image looks, when you get down to it there are 4 major data providers that funnel information to the majority of the web. Getting in here is key. Unfortunately, these data vendors make it really difficult to actually find where and how to submit/correct your business listing. After some research I found the direct sign up pages for these vendors as a shortcut. There may be cost associated with some of them, but most of them “seem” to be free. 
GOOD LUCK
Localeze: http://www.neustarlocaleze.biz/directory/index.aspx
Acxiom https://mybusinesslistingmanager.myacxiom.com/
InfoGroup: http://www.expressupdateusa.com/

Factual: http://developer.factual.com/contribute-or-correct-data/