What’s Your Story?

Everybody loves a good story.

And when it comes to making a sale on your website, a key part of your content marketing strategy should be the stories you tell. With a story, you humanize your brand; you humanize yourself; you prove that it’s an actual person running this business and not just a cyborg you hired . . .  (Oh, oops. Was that supposed to be a secret?)

Stories go a long way in showing your customers that you’re honest and trustworthy. They act as a way to engage with your customers and to relate with them on more personal levels. So become a master storyteller, win the hearts of your customers, and gain devoted fans of your brand just by following these simple tips.

 

What Types of Stories Should You Tell?

Your stories should be entertaining and inspiring. Not a natural comedian or motivational speaker? No worries. You don’t have to be an established author or content writer to write good stories. In order to create captivating stories, you need to put that “strictly business” mentality aside for just a bit.

You’ll get people on board with your brand by talking about your successes, your failures, and your visions for the future because these are things we can all relate to as humans. We’ve said it before, but we’ll say it again: get to know your customers; knowing who you’re selling to will help you to determine what stories you should tell.  

Here are some different ideas for where to start and what to say.

Your Story:

  • Who are you?
  • What are your hobbies?
  • Why did you want to start a business?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5, 10 years?
  • What are you passionate about?
  • What’s a recent trip you’ve been on?
  • What is a lesson you’ve learned that impacts your actions today?

 

Your Company’s Story:

  • Why did you get started?
  • What did it take to get your business where it is today?
  • Why do you keep working to improve your company?
  • How will you keep going to meet customers’ needs?
  • Who inspired you to keep going?
  • What do your daily operations look like?
  • Why do you love the products you’re selling?
  • What makes you different?

 

Your Customers’ Stories:

Telling stories about your customers’ experiences with your products, and how those products changed their lives, helps new or perspective customers to see what you can do for them as well. Let them know about:

  • How your business helped a customer through a tough situation
  • What a customer’s life was like before and after using the product
  • Testimonials and praises of your products or services
  • Stories about ways your customers are helping others by using your products

And who else better to tell these stories than the customers themselves. Invite your customers to share their experiences through your social media channels, blog comment section. Highlight those customers who have reached out to you with an email, letter, etc.

 

Where Should You Tell These Stories?

  • About Us or Home Page- Tell us how you got started and where you’re going. Add a picture of yourself, a video where you talk about your mission, get creative!
  • Social Media- The content you share on social media tells us a lot about you and your company’s mission. Post things that illustrate your sense of humor, your knowledge of the industry, and share pictures of what you’re up to at your business.
  • Email- Create an email campaign that acts as an introduction to new customers. Tell them who you are, what you can do for them, and what you have in common.
  • Blog- Same idea as the about us page, but gives you a chance to share the content more on your social media pages to get the info out to more people.
  • Product Descriptions- Add customer reviews of specific products on the product pages themselves.

So get your story out there! Be real, be you, and you’ll see just how much of a difference it makes in helping you to build and maintain your business relationships. 


How to Start a Business

Starting a small business can seem overwhelming and a bit scary, so what do you need to do to get started? We have a few tips to help you start out on the right foot.

What Should You Sell?

First off, you’ll need something to sell. Once you have an idea of what you want to sell, research it. Ask some questions. Is there a need for that particular products or service? If so, what kinds of people need it? What’s the competition like? Do other companies offer your product or service already? How will your business fit in?

Remember that it’s better to specialize in one niche and do it really well than to have a huge variety of lower-quality products. People have to actually want to buy your product, so give them a product worth buying, and find your unique selling point so you stand out. Try to find an under-supplied niche. If you sell something with high demand and low supply, you’re more likely to find people who want to buy your product.

Plan, Structure, and Register Your Business

Once you know what you want to sell, make a plan to serve as a kind of road map to help you stay on track and give you peace of mind. As part of this plan, you’ll need to figure out how to structure your business, and you’ll need to choose and register your business name and domain name. Once you have everything registered and have any licenses or permits you need, it’s time to run your business, so make sure your plan covers how you intend to manage your business.

Make an Impression

Once you get going, make sure you look legitimate, confident, and professional. Tell the truth, but showcase your best attributes. As Professor Moody told Harry Potter in preparation for facing a dragon in the First Task of the Triwizard Tournament, “play to your strengths.” You can also find your competition’s Achilles’ heel and turn their weaknesses into your strengths.

Remember that you’re the underdog, and everyone loves an underdog. Show your potential customers how you’re different from the big guys and how you can do things the big guys can’t. One thing you can do to be different from the big guys is to be creative with how you advertise. Find unique things to do that are cheaper and more memorable than standard advertising. Be unconventional and surprising, and people will remember you.

Starting a business can be overwhelming, but with these tips, hopefully you have an idea of where to start. Good luck!


4 (Major) Reasons Blogging Helps Your Website

Drive Traffic

Blogging is one of the most effective ways to drive traffic to your website. It’s a natural way to grab someone’s interest and invite them to visit your website. You can include links from your blog to pages and products on your website to keep them longer and influence them to buy. It’s also really easy to use your blog as a basis for your social media campaigns. Sharing articles is really useful to customers and establishes you as an industry expert, so you may gain followers and traffic just from people interested in your content, even if they’re not buying yet. And when you write interesting, relevant content, you never know when you might go viral and get a whole bunch of extra traffic.

Increase Your Social Following

We’ve touched on this already, but blogs are an awesome way to get people interested on social media. If you’re writing good content on your blogs, people will naturally share the articles that interest them, inviting more and more people to like your content and your business. And the more people you have following you on social media, the more you may get to your website.

Influence to Buy

Most people that buy something online already know they want it, and you just have to 1) be in their path, and 2) show them it’s worth buying from you. Blogging helps with both of these issues. First, it helps you with SEO and traffic so you’re more likely to be found. And second, it gives you an opportunity to write more and argue your case for why you’re the best company out there. Whether you’re writing specifically about the product or service they’re interested in, or they just know you to be an industry leader from your blogging, you’ll be able to show them that you’re the best choice out there.

Build Trust

Writing good content makes you look like an industry expert, and people generally prefer to buy from legitimate sources. If your content is increasing your social following, other people can see that. And do you think they’d rather buy from a business that only a handful of people have liked, or one that has a lot of followers? It’s pretty simple. Even if you don’t get a sale initially, if people start following your blog and social accounts, you can build that trust, so that eventually when they are ready buyers, they’ll think of your business first. And one other note here, make sure you interact with consumers on your blog as well as social media—if they leave comments or questions, respond! People like knowing that there’s actually somebody on the other side, so if they place an order, they’ll get good service.

Moral of the story: get blogging!


9 Tips for Success in Online Marketing

So you want to start a business. What do you need to do to actually succeed? Take a look at these nine tips and find out how to be successful in your online marketing.

1. Take Action

First, you should take action. You can have all the best advice in the world, but you’ll still never get anywhere with it if you don’t actually take it and use it. You have to do something with the advice you’re given for you to reap any benefits from it.

2. Keep a To-Do List

A great way to keep up with the actions you’re taking is to keep a to-do list of all the actions you’re taking. Keep it organized and keep up with which tasks you’ve already completed so you always know what you’ve done and what you still need to do. It can also help to keep a list of content ideas along with this so you never hit the brick wall of doom that is writer’s block when you need content.

3. Work Every Day

Another great way to act is to work every day. Even if it’s only for fifteen minutes some days, this will help productivity. Working on your biggest goal for one hour a day helps, too; you’ll make more progress than you think just by working a little on your main goal every day. Your hour doesn’t even have to be all at once; find a schedule that works for you. Just be sure to get your time in.

4. Take Small Steps

While you’re working on these goals, take small steps. Even the longest journeys are made up of smaller steps (unless you Apparate, but I don’t think we Muggles have quite mastered that skill yet). Just keep taking those small steps, and you’ll get there.

5. Have a Simple Plan

You should also have a plan. Your plan should be simple. You can partner with someone else whose strengths complement your weaknesses so you can have help with the areas where you need it. But when you make your plans, make sure you don’t make your plans long and complicated. You need to have a simple plan that you can actually follow, or the plan does you no good.

6. Use Keywords

Part of your plan should be to get customers to your site. SEO is a great way to do that. Research keywords and use those in your content. Just don’t overdo it. You can also try using pay-per-click. With pay-per-click, your ads would show up in the paid results section of searches with the keywords you purchased, and you’d pay a fee to the search engine for every time someone clicked on it.

7. Connect Through Content

You can also try to connect with your customers. Write a blog. Blogs give you a chance to use even more keyword phrases, and you can keep your customers informed of the goings-on of your industry with relevant content. Social media is another great way to connect with your customers. Give valuable content and connect with your customers so they can see that there’s a real person behind it all.

8. Share Your Perspective

When you’re writing this content, remember that you’re unique, so you should share your unique view of things. That keeps it interesting so your customers will actually want to read what you write. If you don’t know everything, go do some research. Ask questions and look for the answers. Make new connections with this information. But don’t act like a know-it-all when you give information. There’s always someone who knows more than you do, so stay humble and acknowledge that. But still put your point of view out there.

9. Know Your Customers

If you’re stuck trying to figure out what kinds of things you should write about or what products to sell, make sure you know your customers so you know what they want. It helps to have one specific niche so you can know who your customers are likely to be so you can tailor your site and your content to their needs.

Starting a business can be overwhelming, but with these tips you can do what it takes to make the most of it and have the success you want.


5 Tips for Creating the Perfect Product Page

One of the toughest things about buying stuff online is that it’s sometimes hard to get the whole shopping experience—touching the fabric, testing out the product, trying on the shoes. The five senses go a long way in helping businesses make a sale. So how can you recreate that “shopping experience” as an online business owner?

When you’re starting an online business, the truth is that you already have the tools you need to create a shopping experience for your customers. The internet gives us sensory experiences each day. So the only issue (besides the fact that we can’t touch and taste things through the computer, yet—insert maniacal laugh) is learning how to effectively use words, images, and audio on your site to entice people to buy.

Probably the most influential place on your site to stimulate the senses and create a real shopping experience is the product pages.

So here are our 5 tips for creating product pages that sell.

 

Create Meaningful Descriptions

Customers buy products because they think those products will make their lives better. When you start writing your descriptions, you’ve got to know your audience and what the product can do for them. So that means benefits sell. But how do you figure out the benefits your products have for your customers?

Ask yourself the typical “journalist” questions to get started:

  • What does the product do?
  • Where will the product be used—indoors, outdoors, at work, at home?
  • When will they use it? Holidays, each day, special occasions, summer, winter?
  • Why should they buy it from you? (Use your unique selling point).

All of these questions do not need to be answered in the written description, but can be answered in other visual forms on the page as well. Writing about the benefits of a product can create powerful imagery and emotional connection to the product. Re-write “factory made” product descriptions to fit your company and audience’s needs.

Don’t Forget the Features!

Yes, benefits do sell, but you’ve also got to leave room for the cold hard facts for those who like to see the numbers. Use bullet points and white space to clearly display product features, specs, and dimensions.

 

Use Vivid Imagery

Adding video and pictures to your product pages can go a long way in helping that visualization you set up in the text go one step further. Since it’s hard for some people to turn words into pictures, a video is a great way to give the shopper the whole experience—voice, image, and even music included. As they watch other people using the product, they can see what it could do for them as well.

Pictures also play a very helpful role in displaying features, colors, sizes, etc. Just make sure that your images are high quality resolution and large enough so that your customers can see the details.

 

Show Reviews

Put reviews from actual customers on your product pages. Add a picture of the reviewer to give the review credibility. Adding images of actual customers enjoying your products will make your company seem more friendly, trustworthy, and approachable.

 

Change Up Your Call to Action

Every good product page has a “call to action.” It tells the shopper what to do after they’ve been sold by your wonderful pitch. It uses clear and simple action words like ‘buy’ ‘add to cart’ ‘shop now,’ etc. Since each shopper is different, it’s important to mix up your calls to action. Perform tests. Try different button shapes, wording, colors, and placements on the page to see what’s most effective in getting people to buy.

Show what’s left in your inventory right on the product page or through email campaigns and let customers know how many of those polka dot shirts are left to inspire them to get it out of the cart and into their hands fast.

 

Offer Free Shipping

Many studies have shown that your shoppers expect and look for some sort of free shipping option on your site. In fact, shoppers will buy a bit more if they know that they don’t have to pay extra shipping costs. Whether it’s free shipping on orders over $100 or free returns, free shipping in any form is a vital tool to promote your site, show off your customer service, and recruit more customers.

 

When you put in the time to create the perfect product page, you’ll see your business grow. Your shoppers will feel like they’re really getting what they’re paying for. And you’ll have original content on your site that can boost your Google rank.

 

 


How to Choose a Domain Name

Picking your domain name is a huge step in getting your business started, so you want to make sure you choose the right one. But choosing the perfect domain name can be difficult, so what should you think about when you brainstorm for the perfect one? Here are some things that you should and shouldn’t do:

 

Do:

  1. Use keywords. Research the best keywords to use for your business, and then play around with those to get some ideas. Using keywords is not only good for search engines, but it also makes sense to your customers and makes it easier for them to know who you are and what you do.
  2. Make it obvious what you’re about. You don’t want your customers to have to guess at what you do. They’re a lot more likely to visit your site if they know that you’re relevant to what they’re looking for. Your keywords can be a great way to help with this.
  3. Be specific. The more specific your domain name is, the more likely it is to be available. And being specific helps make it more obvious what you’re all about.
  4. Include the city or state, if you’re a local business. This can help keep it specific and help locals find your site.
  5. Make it memorable. You want people to remember you so they can easily come back, or even share with friends. It’s hard to share a site that you can’t remember the name of.
  6. Keep it easy to type. No one wants to spend a ton of effort typing in the name of a site they’re looking for.
  7. Keep it short and simple. That tends to be easier to remember and easier to type.
  8. Check for other meanings. What may seem like a great name at first may have a different meaning in a different language or to a particular group. Avoid embarrassing or offensive misunderstandings by doing your research.
  9. Make sure your domain name and site name match. This will make it easier for people to find and remember your site.
  10. Research to make sure your domain name isn’t trademarked, copyrighted, or already being used by another company. Some good resources are copyright.gov for copyright information and uspto.gov for trademarks.
  11. Choose a domain name extension that fits your business. Generally, .com is the best one to use, since that’s the most common and thus is what most people will automatically use.
  12. Act quickly. Domain names sell quickly and are inexpensive, so register your favorites before someone else takes them.
  13. Protect your brand. People misspell things sometimes or may type in a different domain name extension. So register common misspellings of your domain name and other domain name extensions so if they mistype, they’ll still find your site.

Now that you’ve seen some of the things you should do, here are some that you shouldn’t do.

 

Don’t:

  1. Use slang, odd spellings, or words with difficult or multiple spellings. Those will make it difficult for your customers to find your site.
  2. Use numbers and hyphens. Those are difficult to remember and will make it difficult for your business to spread through word of mouth.
  3. Use a variation of a domain name that already exists. Using the plural form or a different spelling of someone else’s domain name will only confuse people.
  4. Follow the latest trends. Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t always mean that it works.
  5. Use a random string of letters. While your initials or those of your children, spouse, or pets might be meaningful to you, it’s harder for your customers to remember, and therefore, harder to find you.

 

Hopefully this gives you some ideas so you can go pick out a great domain name. Happy brainstorming!


Content Marketing 101

A lot has been said about the importance of content marketing. But as a small business owner, we know you have a lot to worry about, and the concept of creating and distributing content can be overwhelming. So when it comes to creating content, we have a few tips to help make it stand out and live up to its purpose. We want your time to be well spent, and these tips will help you make the most of the time you allot for content marketing.

Use Headlines

Using headlines gives your readers an opportunity to scan the article for the most important information. Then they can choose if and what they’re going to read in full. Reading in chunks makes it a lot easier to glean the important information. It also helps you to organize and focus your writing.

Use Bullet Points

Bullet points are another way you can make your content easier to read. A big block of text is less reader friendly. People are more likely to read bullet points and small chunks in text. Are we beating a dead horse here? Short points are easy to read. Done.

Include Images

Another great way to break up text, introduce your topic, and make your article more reader friendly? Images. And videos. And infographics. Most people are way more likely to respond to an article with images than just a wall of text. And videos and infographics can be used alone or paired with writing. A lot of people prefer to watch a video over reading an article.

Use Stats

People like to see the numbers, so support your point with well-researched stats. Don’t just make them up, as that will damage your credibility. Stats can help you create a great infographic too.

Ask Questions and Encourage Comments

One great way to interact with your readers is to ask them questions that encourage comments. While not everybody is going to feel the need to respond, inviting people to do so can open that door to help you interact with them and improve your relationship with potential or returning clients and customers.

Use Calls to Action

When you write, it’s great to include a call to action. People like to be invited to do something, and you can’t just expect that people will do it on their own. So whether you want them to check out a service or product or you just want them to comment or share your content, invite them to do so.

Use Social Media

Social media is a great place for you to share and promote your content. Get it out there on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, wherever you can. Social media makes it easy to share content so it can get around. You just might go viral.

 

Creating and sharing content is made simple with our multi-purpose business platform. Learn more about it here.


How to Pick a Niche

Nowadays, just about anything and everything can be sold online. So as a new online business owner, it can be hard to know where to begin, especially if it looks like everything’s already been done before. But cheer up, my friend. Don’t let the web get you down!

What you’ve got to do is pick a niche.

Your niche is made up of your site’s products, services, and unique selling point; these ingredients together can persuade customers to buy from you, even in a sea of online businesses. So how do you choose your niche?

Think About Your Passions

If you’re still not sure what to sell, take a minute to list your passions. At the end of the day, you want to sell a product that you are familiar with, that you care about, and that you’re knowledgeable about. But a word to the wise: don’t become blinded by your passions. Always ask yourself: am I being realistic? Is my community willing to pay for this product? Is it the solution to their problems?

Know Your Customers

Take a minute to think about the type of customer attracted to each of your passions, and get to know them through social media or sites that are similar to yours. You can even go out and talk to them; take them to lunch. Learn what they’re looking for in a product or service.

Do Your Research

Narrow down your list of passions to see how profitable each passion is. You need to look at keywords that are commonly searched for and are specific to your products (for instance if I sold shoes I might search for gladiator sandals).

You can find good keywords using Google’s keyword tool. You’re looking for keywords that accrue a minimum of 1,000 global searches a month. The keywords that do best can help you determine your niche. Do a traditional Google search to see how many pages come up that are related to the best keywords. You don’t want to sell something that is overly competitive, but you want it to be something that has enough competition so that you can make your mark.

Tell Them What Makes You Different  

Remember that you’re selling more than just products. You’re also selling what’s unique about your company. Discover any holes or voids in your niche’s community, so that your site will stand out by filling those voids. Tell your customers specifically what makes you different—your customer service, amazing prices, the value of your products, free shipping, etc.

Become a Specialist in a Few Areas

Focus on one or two specific areas or markets so that customers can easily find the products that will help them fulfill their needs and solve their problems. Find a specific market that you’re good at and stay with it.

Picking a niche is one of the most important things you can do to see success from your site. It takes work, and time, but your efforts will be well worth it in the end.

 


What’s Your Unique Selling Point?

You can have the best looking website, exceptional content, and excellent products, but your site will get lost in a sea of Google results if you don’t know what makes your company unique. In order to stand out in a crowd, you need a unique selling point (USP). Creating a unique selling point is one of the best things you can do if you’re starting an online business. 

What is a USP?

Your USP tells your customers why they should buy monkey bread from you rather than from the bakery around the corner. It can be a content marketing strategy, promotion, unique product or service, or even a “how-to” blog that teaches customers about your industry or innovative uses for your products.

Having a USP can help you to focus and plan out each move you’ll make as a business owner. It helps you to understand who you’re selling to and what they’re looking for. Knowing these things will help you to give your customers what they can’t find anywhere else.

Ideas to get started

Here are a couple of USP ideas to take for a test drive until you find what works best for you:

  1. Exceptional customer service: Respond to your customers regularly. When it comes to online shopping, knowing that there’s an actual person there listening to and responding to customer concerns can go a long way.
  2. An educational resource: Show your knowledge and participation in your industry so you can gain your customers’ trust. Share your content with other sites, participate in social media forums, and post and re-tweet from other sites in your industry.
  3. A guarantee they can’t pass up: Offer your customers a guarantee your competitors are too afraid to offer. Say that you offer the best service, remarkable deals, and unbeatable sales. Then give it to them!
  4. Give them more: Add more value to your products by creating a full-fledged service. Let’s say you offer dance lessons to kids. Instead of making the parents wait outside, perhaps you create a room that gives them refreshments and entertainment. Doing more can help you to retain and get more customers.

How to make an effective USP

Now that you’ve started thinking about a potential USP here are some questions and strategies you can consider to make it strong and effective.

  • Is it specific? Does your website clearly state, “this is why I’m different, and this is why you should buy from me”?
  • Are you a chatterbox? Always keep talking about what makes your company different. Talk about it on your site’s landing pages, email campaigns, SEO, Meta and Title tags, product descriptions, blog posts, social media posts, about us page, etc.
  • Does it apply to and meet your customers’ needs? Get to know your customers. Ask them why they buy from you specifically. Ask them what’s missing in the industry or on your site that they’d like to see, and then give it to them!
  • Can your USP stand up to the competition? Does your USP offer your customers something better? Is it realistic? And can it have value in the market over time? Is it something that gives you an advantage over the competition?  
  • Does it have a bit of YOU written all over it? Your unique personality, approach, insights, knowledge, and experience in the industry can make your company stand out. A great way to show off your personality and goals is to use a story about what got you started in your About Us Page.

When it comes to starting a business remember there’s power in being different. Defining who you are and what you can do for your customers goes a long way in making your business a success. 


Why You Need to Put Work into Your Own Site

buisness man working hard

You’ve just got the news from us that your site is complete. Now it’s just time to sit back and watch as the money train rolls in, right? Unfortunately, that’s not how the online business world works . . .

I’m going to give you the cold, hard truth:

 

Until the day that Hagrid comes to your door saying, “You’re a wizard, Harry,” there’s no magic spell that will instantly make your company a success. A successful online business owner keeps working on his/her own site.

 

So what type of work do you need to do to start producing more results?

 

1. Create a Unique Selling Point

Add your unique selling point to your home page to tell customers what it is that makes you stand out. That could be as simple as adding free shipping. Tell your customers what makes you you. 

2. Personalize Your About Us Page

As the first page that many customers visit to tell if your site is legit, your About Us page should tell your customers what you can do for them, who you are, and how you can give them the resolutions to their needs like no one else can.

3. Update Your Product Descriptions

Edit your product descriptions. If you’re using a drop shipper, the product descriptions have the original descriptions written by the manufacturer. Create new content to tell customers the benefits of your products; your unique selling point can be included here, too. 

4. Update Your Product Images

Make sure that you have the highest quality images on your site to help your site look professional and sleek. Typically, you want to choose images that are 300 dpi in quality. Include a title tag for the image in each image’s META section, using a keyword as the title.

5. Set Goals and Get Organized

Staying stagnant and not setting marker points for yourself is just another form of magical or wishful thinking that your business will just improve on its own. Create manageable, realistic short and long term goals for yourself, and stick to them!

6. Network and Promote

Social media makes it easier to connect with people who can help your business progress. Get conversations going with fellow online business owners, join an affiliate marketing program, and find mentors who can help you progress.

7. Keep Learning

Keep researching and learning the latest trends in the market. You want to stay ahead of the curve so that you can show your customers that you can give them what they need and understand what they’re looking for today.

8. Get to Know Your Customers

Talk to your customers. Find out what they really want. Use social media to ask customers what they like about your products and how you can improve. Answer emails from customers and add a phone number to your site so customers can feel more comfortable communicating.

 

When you put work into your own site, you will see great benefits as you come to better understand your market, customers, products, and site.