Email signatures – 7 characters you should include

Before I tell you the 7 characters, let’s look at why you should have a signature. Your email signature makes it easy for the people you are emailing to get more information and contact you. One of the best things to have in your signature is a phone number. I bet you thought, I was going to say website address 🙂 Both are important, but listing your phone number saves steps for the prospect looking to call you.

The web address, is where my tips come in though. First, it’s always useful to use capitalization within a web address in order to define words. In other words, www.justinswebdesign.com becomes www.JustinsWebDesign.com. See how the different words stand out and make the address more memorable?

So what are the 7 characters? The answer is ( http:// ). Specifically, adding http:// to your web address turns it from text to a clickable link (in most email programs). So now you know to use http://www.YourDomain.com not www.yourdomain.com. By the way, other programs (like Craigslist) also convert web addresses that have the http:// into clickable links.

Don’t be an Ostrich

Future-proof your Business with Mobile marketing

A lot of business owners, especially with a bricks and mortar business like to pretend that the Internet isn’t happening. They think that if they ignore it and put their head in the proverbial sand, that it will go away.

Sorry, but it is time to take their heads out of the sand and face reality. It isn’t going anywhere. The Internet is here to stay. It is like a juggernaut that is thundering along, gaining more and more momentum and your customers are moving with it.

Right now, just having a website is not enough anymore. It is vital that your business has a mobile friendly version.

Your customers are not going to wait until you do have one created. If they can’t see your site properly (if at all) on their smartphones they will spend their money somewhere else…your competition.

This is not scaremongering. The statistics all around are warning us what is happening right now. 51% of the mobile subscribers in the UK own a Smartphone and 49% of the mobile subscribers in the United States. They are eager to use your services. 9 out of 10 mobile searches that they make lead to action, over half leading to purchase.

The numbers are growing. 9 out 10 phones now sold are Smartphone’s. In the first quarter of 2012 alone, almost 145 million smartphones were sold. By the end of 2012, it has been estimated that more smartphones will be sold than PCs, with estimated sales of 657 million smartphones sold to consumers. As an experiment, ask your friends and family what kind of phone they have. If they don’t have a Smartphone at the moment, no doubt they will tell you that they will be getting one soon.

Smartphones are an important part of your customer’s lives. They are addicted to them. They are using them for Twitter posts, updating their Facebook status and for shopping online.

If you provide a product or service that they want, they will expect to be able to see your website on their phone.

If your website content is not easy to read on a mobile phone, you are in trouble because most mobile users will simply leave your site and take their business elsewhere.

So even if you don’t think that you need a mobile version of your website, you will actually be doing your business a lot of harm by ignoring the statistics and your customer’s needs. Every day that you don’t have a mobile web site you will be losing customers – Customers with money to spend looking for your product or services.

Whether you are a dentist, a local retailer, a chiropractor, a florist or a landscape gardener, you can reach all of your clients more effectively and easier by having a mobile web site.

Having a mobile website will future-proof your business by opening the doors to literally hundreds of new and creative ways to drive traffic to your site. For example QR (quick response) codes will allow you to create unlimited marketing campaigns that will drive potential customers to specific mobile friendly landing pages with calls to action that work (see page 9 for more information about QR codes)

Recent figures show that 50% of Smartphone uses have scanned a QR code and 18% of them purchased after a result. That is 18% extra customers that you would not have got without your mobile marketing platform. Can you see the potential for your business?

What some business owners forget is that it is not your customer’s job to remember that you are in business. You need to remind them constantly that you are there.

Using the right tools and resources is vital. We see some businesses owners attempting to draw attention to their business by throwing away good money on large newspaper ads, the Yellow Pages and flyers.

Newspapers and the Yellow pages are a dying business model and in most cases it is a waste of time putting a one-time advertisement in them. Flyers are expensive and have only reach a limited demographic.

Mobile marketing is the most effective way of keeping in contact with your current and potential customers that may have forgotten you or not known that you were there.

We would advise any business considering using mobile marketing to reach potentially millions more customers to talk to an expert on how they can employ traffic generating marketing strategies and turbo-charge their business.

Having a mobile friendly site will not only impress your clients but will set you well apart from your competition who still have their heads in the sand and are refusing to acknowledge that times are moving at such a terrific pace.

You will find our contact details on page 3. Why not take a few minutes to contact us for a no obligation chat and we will gladly advise you on how you can reach even more customers by providing the type of content and user experience that your customers expect using their smartphones.

14 Big Online Marketing Ideas for Businesses on a Small Budget


Most businesses are on a tight budget, especially when it comes to marketing. Times are hard and many companies don’t have a lot of money to invest on advertising and marketing.

The irony is, not marketing your business will have a detrimental effect on your business.

One local business owner called Tom who owns a fireplace store has just put a closing down sign in his store window because nobody is visiting his store and he says he can’t afford to advertise any more.

This year alone he has spent over $6000 on advertising in his local newspaper with expensive one time ads and it was a total waste of time and money.

Although it is sadly too late for Tom, the good news for other companies who are still in business is that online marketing is not only much cheaper but it is far more effective than traditional methods of marketing plus you can easily track the success of each marketing campaign that you launch.

Here are some big marketing ideas for businesses on a small marketing budget:

1. Optimize your website for the search engines:

This is one of the first things you need to put on your ‘to-do’ list.
Why? Because Google is not only the most popular search engine on the Internet but it is also your business’ best friend.

Google and the search engines want you to rank high in the search results. If their clients are searching for a product or service that provide, it is Google’s job is to tell them about your business.

However, you have to make it easy for them by optimising your site. This need not be expensive at all and yet will one be of the best investments that you could ever make. The return will be phenomenal as customers far and wide discover your company online.

2. Google Plus Local

While we are on the subject of Google, we can’t miss out Google+ Local. As mentioned in the previous marketing tip, Google really is on your side and it wants to help your business be found. They make sure that if potential customers are looking for a product or service that you provide, Google wants to make sure that its results are totally relevant and your company appears in the listings.

As a result, search results are becoming much more local and personalized and companies who claim their Google Plus Local Page and optimise it properly get the best rewards.

3. Start a Blog

No matter what type of business you are in, you can still have a blog. In case you don’t know what a blog is, it basically stands for ’web log’ and they’re effectively online diaries.
If you are going to create a blog for your company you need to do the following:

Host the blog on your own domain. E.g. YourBusinessWebsite.com/blog

Anyone can set one up, that’s the easy part. Thinking of something interesting to say each time you blog is the tricky bit. You need to write good content that will be interesting for your visitors and customers. People won’t thank you if it’s just going to be one long sales pitch.

Create a community and make your visitors feel part of it by responding to each blog comment. If you do, the more people will be inclined to read and comment on your blog more often.

4. Social Networking

Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus are all popular sites that you can’t ignore. By creating a profile on each of these sites, you will not only create new opportunities for potential clients to find you but they will also be excellent sources of traffic.

Local businesses that use social media sites like these, almost always see a significant increase in monthly traffic. The part that excites them the most is the fact that it is completely free. All it costs is a little of their time but the results are well worth it.

By investing a bit of time and effort providing good content that is relevant to your audience and interacting with your followers you will soon build a loyal following. This will raise your online company profile and make your site easier to find in the search engines.

“You can no longer afford to ignore social media marketing.

In 2012, 85% of marketers found that social media generated more
exposure for their business. ”

5. Case Studies and testimonials

If you already have happy customers who love your product or service why not get a testimonial or case study from them?

Case studies and testimonials are a perfect way to get brand new customers because they build credibility and give the potential customers the confidence to try your product or service knowing that other people like it. They will be less inclined to buy if they don’t see any testimonials or reviews.

The secret is to get your customer to talk about your product or service, how they used it, and they results that they got.

Most customers will be happy to do this if you ask them.

You could also provide feedback forms on your website. Online customers are used to and conditioned to leaving reviews. They are a great way to get more people interested in what you have to offer.

6. Write a free ‘Beginners Guide’ for customers to download

No matter what kind of business you are in, you can get a lot more business by writing a free Beginners Guide. It is an excellent marketing technique.

They are an excellent way to get a lot of traffic to your site and increase the interest in your product or service.

Examples:

  • Beginners Guide to Choosing a Fishing Rod
  • Beginners Guide to Setting Up an iPhone 5
  • How to Choose a New Bathroom Suite
  • Choosing the Right Spectacles for You
  • Beginners Guide to Tiling

These kinds of free reports rank highly in the search engines and do a superb job of up-selling your products and services, as well as making you an ‘authority’ in your field. Customers will see that you know exactly what you are talking about and will decide to buy from you instead of your competitors.

7. Start an Affiliate Program

This is possibly the best marketing tip for any business on a tight budget.

By having a team of affiliates (individuals and companies who promote your products on their websites for a commission on each sale that they get) you get people marketing your product for free. There is absolutely no limit to the number of people that you can have promoting your services. In fact the more you have, the more likely you will make many more sales.

There are a lot of third party applications and plug-ins out there which make setting up an affiliate program easier. They will handle all of your sales and commissions. Feel free to contact us for more information and we will get you up and running in no time.

8. Answer Questions relating to your product or service

The internet is the first place people look to for answers if they have a question about a particular product or service.

They post their questions on discussion forums and question and answer sites like Yahoo Answers. If you can provide the answers to their questions relating to your products or services, you can attract a ton of brand new customers. It is a perfect free way to get more visitors to your website and gain credibility.

9. Go To Networking Events

Networking events are a great place to find new clients and all businesses should make it a practice to attend networking events if possible.

These are generally arranged by The Chamber of Commerce or global organisations such as BNI (Business Networking International). A quick search online will reveal a number of networking events in your area.

They work because you will always meet somebody who you can form a business relationship with. This will either be as a customer or as a useful contact to give your referrals or joint venture with.

10. Ask For Referrals

It is surprising how many companies don’t ask their customers for referrals. Why not? If you have satisfied and happy customers, you really should be asking for referrals as it a very effective way of getting even more happy customers.

Some people feel shy about asking and are afraid that the customer will turn them down. However, you will be surprised at how few customers actually will say no. If a large proportion of customers do refuse to introduce you to others, it might be a sign that you are doing something wrong and could be doing a much better job of making them happy, giving you something to work on.

For a pain-free way of asking for referrals, why not try this method; Look up your current customers on LinkedIn and see who they are connected with. If you think someone that they know can personally benefit from your product or service, ask them for an introduction.

Most, if not all will say yes, especially if you return the favor.

11. Harness the Power of YouTube

Companies are latching on to the importance of YouTube in their marketing campaigns. Not only do videos now appear in the search results, but you can also use videos to show how good your product or services actually are.

If, for example, you create stunning cakes, why not show a video of you making and icing the cake. Or if you are a painter and decorator, create a video showing the transformation of the room with a before, during and after video. Do you provide a lawn care service? If so, again, video the results.

There is no end to the things that you could video relating to your company. Even a tour around your company premises could be interesting to your customers.

12. Provide exceptionally good customer service.


The best way to keep a customer for life and to get them to tell others about your company is by providing exceptionally good customer service. By doing so, not only will customers be happy with their purchase but they will spend more of their hard earned money on your product or services in the future.

There has never been a more important time for your company to provide excellent customer service, especially as customers are more willing to tell others about their shopping experiences on their social networking sites and by leaving reviews, good or bad.

You want them to tell all of their friends about the great experience they had using your company.

13. Do some online PR

As you know, getting some good PR is a great free way to get people talking about your company. The more they talk about you, the more people will come to your website and check out what you are offering.

Most people think of PR coming from major media outlets such as radio and television. While this would be fantastic, it is not easy to get that sort of attention.

However, there are easier ways to get PR online which can be just as effective, especially if you have a targeted customer group.

Getting the attention of blog owners is one way of doing this, especially if it is a popular and attracts the sort of readers that you want to target.

You can email the blog owner, asking if they would like to interview you. As they are constantly looking for new topics to write about, many will be happy to interview you, especially if it is something that they think that their readers will benefit from.

14. A Crafty Twitter Technique

If you want more customers, here is a great suggestion to encourage people to promote your business for free AND build up a huge mailing list at the same time.

Here is the plan:

Offer a free downloadable report, or set up an exclusive password protected VIP Loyalty Group on your website or Facebook page where you will have special offers and discounts not available to anybody else.

People can get access to the report or VIP area by Tweeting about your product or service.

Once they have sent the Tweet, they notify you and you give them access to their prize.

Give Your Business the Competitive Edge With Mobile Marketing


According to the owners of Google, mobile marketing is the “fastest growing platform” that they have seen so far.

Mobile marketing definitely puts your local business ahead of your competitors because it gives you the ability to present your existing customers with a totally new experience and it also gives you the opportunity to potentially connect with millions of global users who don’t own or bother to use their desktop computers.

The whole world is there at their fingertips.

Most local businesses have not even grasped the importance of mobile marketing so this gives your business the edge.

Get in early and steal all of the customers that they might have got if only they had been as marketing savvy as you.

We will give you all of the information that you need to make an informed decision about mobile marketing.

Boost Your Business Profits by Listing Your Company on Google+ Local

If you are not using Google+ Local then you are missing out on a lot of business.

A Google Places listing is one of the most powerful money-making tools you can have. Here are some compelling reasons why.


Google Advertising. Once you have your Google Places page completely set up, you can take advantage of the huge selection of Google Advertising open to you.


Custom Review Form. Your Google Places page is the perfect place for satisfied customers to post glowing testimonials for all to see.

It is also an ideal place for you to publicly handle any customer complaints. This is not a bad thing. In fact it works to your advantage as it enables potential customers to see firsthand that you are willing to work with them to make them happy.


Google Maps. Along with your Google Places listing, Google will also place a marker for your business on Google Maps, making it even easier for customers to find you. This is perfect for those customers finding you on their mobiles.


Better Than Yellow Pages. Yellow pages is now almost extinct. Over 65% of people use Google to find local services compared to only 0.2% still using the Yellow Pages. If you want your business to get noticed, you need a listing on Google Places.


Mobile users. Most people use their smartphones these days to view the internet rather than desktop computers. Mobile users have full access to Google places listings making it a very valuable market.


Targeted Demographics. It is now possible to tweak and refine your Google Places listing so that it is seen by those people more likely to visit your web site and become your customers.


No website? We can help you with that but in the meantime we can build your Google places page so that it acts as your website.


Special Offers. Google makes it very easy for you to offer incentives to customers who visit your Google Places page with special offers and coupons. By making some changes to your Google Places page, Google will publish the offer on your page.

More Feasible Social Media

I recently answered the following question on Linkedin and thought you might be interested.

How can we make Social Media Marketing more economical and Feasible?

One tool that can help a lot is HootSuite. It’s free (for the basic features) and will allow you to easily post to and monitor several social media platforms from one location.

Additionally, for sending information out, I’d suggest having a blog. You can use the rss feed from the blog, hook it to HootSuite, and have it automatically send out new articles when you post them. It’s post one and done. You can also connect your Blog up to MailChimp and send out a news letter every week/month with your most recent posts.

You have three main goals with social marketing.

1) Bring people into your network (follow me, join my group, etc)
2) Deliver interesting information that your prospects and clients would be interested in
3) Answer questions and respond to people talking about you through these social media outlets.

Regarding bringing people into your network, you have passive solutions like having a link to your Facebook page on your website, and having a QR code on a sign that says, follow us. The active solutions are much faster, where you offer a discount or contest entry if they join a certain network. The best active solution is a viral contest, where the person entering the contest gets one entry for signing up and more when they send it out to their friends who sign up.

You will also want to allocate time for searching for people who you know, and adding contacts to your social networks.

Links:

How to Find Twitter Users in Your City

Twitter is currently second to Facebook in a long list of extremely popular social media sites. It is recognized as a great way for people to connect with businesses, friends and relatives by letting them know what they are doing via short posts. Since there are millions of people on Twitter, it provides a great ground to increase customers for any determined local business.

Below are a few steps you can use to gather more followers around your city and consequently increase your sales.

Twitter Search

Twitter offers a great feature that allows users to search for people in the same location. There is an advanced feature dubbed “near this place” that enhances the search and will help you find any tweets in a particular location. This can be used to find targeted customer groups around a city or town.

iPhone Applications

iPhone has made it easy for users to find other Twitter users in a local setting using different apps. There are a number of applications which will allow a business owner to view tweets from a location of their choice and convince them to follow them.

Nearby Tweets

This is a website that will show users where other users are located, depending on the information they submitted during signing up. This is an effective tool that business owners can use to find local tweets that can be of importance to their business.

Tallowhood

This is a search function aimed at local searches. This site provides clickable maps that make the search easy and fast. To enhance the search and the ease with which people can find your Twitter profile, it is important that you first register on Tellowhood.

Finding Twitter users around you can be daunting, but with the right information and tools, the process will be fast and easy.

How to Create a Group for Your Local Business on Facebook

Facebook offers local businesses many different tools and features that can help them effectively market their businesses. The good thing about these features is that they are currently free, which means it is the best time to take advantage of them.

One of the most useful tools available to help businesses build a loyal following is the Facebook “group” feature. Facebook groups are not entirely different from Facebook pages; the only difference is that the group revolves around a particular group of people rather than a brand.

Below are simple steps you can take to create a Facebook group:

1. Sign in to your account and click on the link labeled “Groups” on the left side of the home page.

2. The top bar menu will appear and you should click on “create a new group.”

3. A form will open with fields that you will need to fill. Some of them are mandatory while some are optional. Some of the fields you will need to fill include but not limited to group name, description, is your group public or private, picture upload and many others. To create a group that will not leave any questions, it is important that you fill all the provided fields.

4. After you have successfully created the group, you can now take your time to invite people to the group. You can promote the group through other means outside Facebook, such as inside your business establishment, blogs and other effective social media sites.

It is important to start by inviting people who know you as this will prevent any spamming reports or blocking. Another important thing is to keep your group as active as possible. Active groups are more popular and are more likely to give you results.

Do not overlook the power of Facebook groups in your marketing strategies, as they have proven to be very effective in generating more exposure for small businesses.

How to Be Proactive When Building Online Reviews

Online reviews are a crucial part of any business because they act as a window that shows the public “how good” your business really is. This means you have to be pay close attention to what is being said about your business online because this will directly impact the number of consumers who will actually choose to do business with you.

If you have several positive reviews posted from satisfied customers, other people will want to experience those benefits for themselves. In fact, the more reviews you have, the better.

As a result, your sales will increase. So it is crucial that you set up, claim, and verify all of your local directory listings to open up different avenues for your customers to leave reviews.

This includes Google+ Local, CitySearch, YellowPages, InsiderPages, Yelp, SuperPages, MerchantCircle; among many others.

Once you set up these listings, more people will be able to:

  1. Find your business
  2. Leave reviews for your business
  3. See what others have to say about your business

You may be wondering “how” you should go about getting reviews from your customers… Simply ask them to go online and let others know what they think about your products or services. This should not be a daunting task and many would be happy to do so.

You can effectively ask for reviews through word of mouth, on your receipts, on your website, on your social media sites, and any other feasible method.

While your focus will be placed on getting positive reviews, keep in mind that some of your unhappy customers will also post their opinions about your products or services online; and that’s OK. A few bad online reviews are to be expected, but when they exceed the number of positive reviews, your reputation is at stake.

So it is critical that you stay up-to-date about what is being said about your business online. This way, you will have a chance to respond to any negativity, which will show people that you actually care about your customers.

Following just these few simple tips will help you protect your brand, generate fresh leads, and build loyal customers online.