How Businesses Can Support Their Customers In An Uncertain Time

In what way can a small-to-medium-sized business support customers when it is in a state of uncertainty? SMB leaders must stay more flexible, plus understand the feelings and requirements of their customers more than before. SMBs that offer services, such as salons and restaurants, are interacting with customers through the internet and they are establishing websites that have the facility to book appointments or buy gift cards. Other plans of action to think about are policy changes such as expanding cancellation-related grace periods or refraining from enforcing change fees.

When it is not possible to meet customers in person, you must make support available through mobile software, electronic mail, or your website. Chatting with them through a video conferencing or instant messaging platform will possibly offer a greater sense of community in the time of social distancing.

Nowadays, to support or help customers means to treat their safety and health as being important. So share with them whatever hygiene- and health-related protocols that you follow through an electronic mail or signboard at the front of your shop. Inform them that you and those who work for you follow every local and state ordinance.

Most Effective Procedures For Sharing Information With Customers Through Social Networking Channels

Be thoughtful of the feelings and rights of customers. They may be taking to social media more frequently to chat with their loved ones and to be informed about the latest things going on. A recent study reveals that individuals were investing 20% extra time in applications at the time of the coronavirus pandemic-enforced lockdown. Sharing supportive content and positive pieces of news will aid a small to midsized business in staying visible in the social media feeds of customers. Take part in your customers’ day without coming across as trying desperately to minimize the unease many of them may be feeling.

Finally, keep a close eye on any message that customers send to your organization or any reference that they make to it on social networking websites. You must also pass on important pieces of information related to your business such as reduced working hours or closures.

In What Way Should An SMB Adapt To The Changing Behaviours Of Customers?

With the global pandemic still posing a threat, every business must be ready for customer behavioural changes and tweak the strategies accordingly. Social distancing norms are established, so several customers still seek ways to buy things on the internet in order to remain safe and expose themselves less to public spaces. Therefore, this is the perfect time for physical shops to set up an e-commerce website. Present e-commerce stores have to prepare for a spike in sales, plus make customer support personnel ready to deal with the grown demand.

It is possibly difficult for small to midsized businesses to consider tweaking long-term plans, particularly with news changing every day, so they may go about this process gradually and steadily. Remember, the things you do presently may vary on the basis of your customers’ and organization’s requirements. For instance, temporarily stopping some projects or lessening budgets are deeds that a leader might have to think about to continue operating their small to midsized business.

Resources That Aid SMBs In Staying In Touch With Customers

More and more entities are coming forward to give monetary help to small to medium-sized businesses. Facebook said that it would offer $100 million in grants, and Google announced $340 million as advertising credits, to aid those businesses in staying connected with their customers and sharing key updates. With more businesses coming forward to support others through free offerings or lessened cost, small to midsized business leaders must seek resources that could aid them in staying engaged with communities and customers.

A number of individuals have launched GoFundMe webpages for donations to the small organizations of their preference. Some who operate Atlanta-based restaurants have made similar attempts to support the welfare of the communities that they cater to and the people they employ. This may be an onerous period but seeing how people are coming forward to assist SMB workers and owners is motivating. It strengthens the idea that all attempts to help one another will be useful for a considerable amount of time.

Debunking the Most Common Cybersecurity Myths

Even though small businesses belong to a varied group, most of them have a few things in common. For instance, they all want their businesses to thrive as soon as possible. Secondly, most small-business owners depend on their websites to market their brand and build a reputation for their company in the industry in order to draw more customers.

The problem is that with the developments in technology, cybercriminals are becoming more evolved too and they can easily find new ways to infiltrate into the network of small businesses. This can put the sensitive data of the company at great risk and could lead to many kinds of potential losses.

While many small-business owners try to learn how to stop such threats, most of them get confused with the many myths about cybersecurity and the best practices to be followed. Below are some of those misconceptions which all small businesses should be aware of so that they can protect their company data in the best way possible.

Small Businesses are Not a Target of Cybercriminals

Many budding entrepreneurs presume that their company is too small to be a potential target of cybercriminals. However, being a startup or a small business does not remove their site from the list of appealing ones to hack into. In fact, small businesses can be more attractive targets for some cybercriminals because they will not have in-house security experts or a robust cybersecurity solution installed. A recent report even highlighted that around 43% of cyberattacks happen to small-scale businesses. The results of such attacks can be devastating.

In order to protect your customers and company’s sensitive data, you need to take proactive approaches to cybersecurity. This means that you should invest in a reliable and comprehensive cybersecurity solution for your business, which offers the same level of protection that is provided to large organizations with lots of data. This will help protect your website data efficiently.

Your Data is Not Worth Stealing

Some small businesses believe that because they are not collecting any payment details, they do not have the data that is worth stealing for a cybercriminal. However, payment details are not the only kinds of valuable customer information that cybercriminals target. Online hackers can target even personal identifiable information like the names, email IDs, and user account credentials.

When cybercriminals have the personal identifiable information data, they can use it to inject malware into your customer accounts or emails for further gains. They can even sell the personal identifiable information on the dark web for creating phishing schemes or tricking people to provide their banking details and credit card information. Cybercriminals can also use the data for ransomware attacks and withhold stolen details unless the user pays the specified amount.

Antivirus Software is Enough to Keep you Safe

A few small-business owners think that having a traditional endpoint security solution will be enough to protect their websites from cyberattacks. However, consumer-level antivirus software or firewalls are not enough to secure your business website. Cybercriminals can easily break into the system and steal the data even if you have such solutions in place. Therefore, you should adopt a more holistic strategy to boost cybersecurity. This means incorporating multiple layers of security for your business data and securing all points of entry.

Antivirus software applications usually detect threats that are in the form of executable programs or macros that run within other programs. However, cybercriminals these days can break into web applications too and install malware to compromise the security of the system. This can cause significant data loss, which sometimes happens even without the user recognizing it. Traditional antivirus programs cannot detect such threats either, which puts your websites exposed to cyberattacks.

You can install automated website scanning solutions to counter such threats. This will go a step further than your traditional endpoint security system and scan the data files and website database for malware. You can even choose a security solution that automatically fixes the vulnerabilities found in the web application.

External Attacks are the Only Cybersecurity Threat

There is no arguing the fact that external attackers are a grave threat for businesses. However, there can be some internal risks too. For instance, the team members of your company can pose significant security risks via many types of ignorant errors. In fact, reports say that around 60% of data breaches happen due to employee errors. This means that you should educate your staff about the cybersecurity measures that you have taken.

Employee training on cybersecurity should be done at least once a year. These annual sessions can include how to identify a phishing scam, how to use a password manager to generate unique and more secure passwords, and how to use a VPN when connecting to a public Wi-Fi network. That will ensure that you stay safe from the internal risks of data loss.

Why a Digital Marketing Strategy is Indispensable

If you are running an online business and have customers whom you reach out to online, it does not automatically mean that you have established a digital marketing strategy. It may be that you have put in substantial effort to advertise your services or products using internet-based platforms (this qualifies as online marketing), but that does not necessarily mean you have a strategy.

When it comes to strategy, you need to be dealing with analysis, planning, and also metrics. It is not the same as sending out a few tweets. If you happen to be marketing online without first getting a suitable strategy in place, there is a good chance you are missing out on chances to expand your business.

Before adding another post or promoting another link, you should know why it works best if you have a genuine digital marketing strategy to use and rely on.

Boosts Focused Efforts

Most businesses have the general goal to increase sales, but implementing this idea is not as easy as it may seem at first glance. You do not get the opportunity to focus your efforts, and this could lead to time spent moving in the wrong direction.

Instead, if you take the time to identify your goals, it is possible to come up with a plan which makes specific goals easier to achieve. One example is when you sign up to get your advert displayed randomly on other websites to boost visibility. If these ads do not reach the right eyes, you would be wasting your effort and money.

Let’s say your business is focused on selling women’s clothing, in which case you would not benefit much from having your ad end up on sites with predominantly male viewers, such as tech sites and sports-oriented sites. Despite the small chance that female viewers may stop by, the likelihood is that males would see the ad more.

Creates Cohesiveness

If you are not the only one in your company that’s part of decision-making, having a new strategy can help make sure everyone understands the risks and potential benefits of any course of action. The alternative is to have a group of people who each base their work on unique priorities. When everyone is not working together, it naturally means that you will not get the most return for your efforts.

A digital marketing strategy can construct a singular vision concerning the growth of the company, helping ensure that fund management stays proper according to a primary goal, as well as allowing online activity to move forward depending on known priorities and not personal whims.

On top of this, the chance for duplicated effort can be eliminated. For instance, if you believe a marketing campaign on social media is a sure-fire way towards your goal, and your co-worker gets the same idea, the two of you could end up spending time and energy working on the same thing. Another possibility is that the two of you could be using different platforms for the same purpose, and end up creating mixed messages or even conflicting brand images.

Supports Organization

Having a strategy lets you schedule and organize your efforts. You can release a social media post or an ad campaign, for instance, in a supportive way, which is to say each effort could build on top of the last. While you’re able to make a full picture of how the digital marketing campaign is progressing, it would be much easier to ensure everything is the way it has to be in order to achieve optimal results.

Pinpoints Shortcomings

A lot of times it’s hard to realize what you don’t know until a strategy is inspected as a whole. Unguided digital marketing can easily result in people moving into their comfort zones, and this could be bad for your ROI. A strategy could reveal shortcomings which can be managed subsequently, such as working with a marketing agency, for instance.

It can often be hard to figure out the holes your approach has until you make a list of what you know, and relate the information to your goals. Taking the time to do this can make sure your strategy lets you reach your ideal market, improving brand awareness and boosting sales.

By doing all this, you would be left with a strong platform to work from, which is what makes time spent on developing your strategy a good investment.

Reasons to Improve Your Current Content Marketing Strategy

Are you content with your current content marketing practices? Improving daily marketing tactics can easily turn out to be a boundless and cyclical process, and one that takes a good amount of testing to get just right. Content marketing always stands out as a tool to educate and inform customers, but it is vital to ensure the content is optimized. Here are a few tips and tricks to get more engagement with your audience.

Focusing On the Experience

Coming up with informative content is the easy part when it comes to content writing. See if your team can take it further by writing material to craft a complete user experience. Try and figure out how your content can be improved, and also look at improving your website and strategy to ensure users spend more time reading up. The improvement of user experience can begin from several places.

  • Test, as well as optimize, the mobile version of the site
  • Write shorter paragraphs to publish on your mobile site
  • Put in images and subheadings, as well as bulleted lists, so that your content has space
  • Personalize all aspects

Writing Long-Form Content

With your content getting longer, you’ll also see a rise in the time your readers spend on your site. You need to gage their interest the whole way through, and also spark enough interest for them to want to visit your site again. Not all blogs need to be lengthy, but it does pay to write longer pieces every month. Try producing downloadable eBooks or clickable white pages. Also, keep an eye on who is visiting your pages, what led them there, and the number of downloads you have each month.

Reading Out Loud

You need to make sure that your content makes sense to the people visiting your site. While this may seem ridiculous given everything else, it still makes a huge difference if you remember to do it. The writing must be on-brand, and coherent with your theme. Writers can lose their thread of thought while writing. Reading out loud can ensure the message is coming across the way it’s intended to. If the content is not performing in the way it should, then reading it out loud can give you insights into what changes you should make. Everything you write should be easy to understand, and should come across as natural.

Getting Your Company Off the Ground

It might be very much exciting and daunting for you when you launch your own business. As an entrepreneur trying to get his/her business off the ground, you will have to do your part on unappealing work; however, it will be worth it in the long run. Here are a few steps you can take to help you get your business off the ground and running.

Love What You Do

It is never an easy task to get a business up and running, but if you are very much passionate about your business, you are surely going to achieve great success. This is the reason it’s important for you to launch a business that lets you do what you love. As per the business experts, most of the business people spend more than half of a day working. Therefore, it is important that you love what you are doing in order to grow your business.

Pay Attention to Details

While starting a business, you will have to do much more than offering great products and services. First things first, you will need to write down a business plan explaining why you care, finding the purpose of the plan, and documenting all the aspects in order to offer an understanding of your plans and the way to operate it. In addition, it can improve your chances of raising funding for your business. You will obviously need money to fund your startup so never let money stand in between you and your business dreams.

If you are wishing to start your own business, but do not have the funding, you can still work on getting it off the ground. You can always visit your local bank to find out your available funding options, seek help from friends and family, or secure your funds from angel investors, venture capitalists or crowdfunding. Moreover, understand there are numerous ways to get a business loan, even with bad credit, no credit or bankruptcies. You’ll need to have a full understanding of the market and to develop a powerful and influential message. Understand your strengths and skills, and surround yourself with mentors and advisors, who can always extend the necessary help and support.

Know the Legalities

You’ll also need to seek the help and advice of an attorney who is experienced with handling business matters. Also, choose a business name that is not too similar to any other business names. An attorney will be able to make the necessary documents that are needed to set up a federal tax ID and apply for LLC.

Insure Your Business

Make sure to buy insurance to protect your company from theft, vandalism, accident liability, fire, etc. Always find time to research and understand insurance plans for you and your team. You need to decide whether to offer insurance to your staff or wait until your company gets a little older. Also, do not forget to start a checking and savings account for your business.

Have Fun

Make sure to have fun with your employees along the way even though you have many important things to do. There are many challenges to entrepreneurs, like the uncertainty feeling while embarking into unknown terrains, and the stress of managing everything. However, in between all these challenges, make sure to cultivate a work environment that motivates your team members and keeps them happy. You can consider team outings and other bond forming events. Business experts claim that an engaging and funny environment will help strengthen your business team.

Consider Customer Satisfaction Important

You need to find out what or who your competition is. This can help you figure out ways to deliver a more emotional connection with your customers. Experts claim that if you are able to make your customers happy, you can make them supporters for a lifetime. It is the loyalty of the customers that leads to business longevity.

A business plan and a product idea are great ways to embark on the journey of starting a new business. However, do not stop there. Make sure to incorporate the above tips in order to finish the required tasks and get your business up and running in no time.

Steps to Map your Customer Journey Effectively

There are several unexpected events that may disrupt the smooth journey of a customer, including distractions and unplanned discoveries. This journey is worth mapping, because it would give you a clear picture of the process of business and help you build a better relationship with your customers in the future. Below are some of the essential steps to take when mapping the customer journey.

Focus On a Buyer Persona

One of the first things you need to be clear about is the buyer persona. There are several personas among customers observed in society, and you should put your focus on one of these.

Learn More about Your Persona’s Needs

The next essential step is to analyze the needs of the persona you have chosen to focus on. You need to ask certain questions, such as what they intend to achieve through their visit on your website. Assess this, and it’ll make it easier to map their journey.

Ascertain Touchpoints

Any touchpoint is an interaction your customers have with your business. While mapping, you have to consider every touch point. This is best accomplished using Google search, and then confirmed using Google Analytics. Always make sure to cover the following points.

  • Actions: Find out all of the activities your customers participate in during their interaction with your brand. This includes everything from searches to simple clicks.
  • Emotions: Analyze and think about the various emotions that your customer would go through while visiting your website or business.
  • Difficulties: Understand your customer’s obstacles or otherwise smooth journey through the platform you have created for interaction.

Experience the Customer Journey Yourself

Make sure you go through the actual customer experience yourself. This will give you a better understanding of the whole experience and process. Besides, it’ll also allow you to make essential changes where it’s needed based on your own experience.

Envision the Information

Always stay open to implementing new ideas on your interface so that you can enhance your customer’s experience. If you have new hypotheses regarding new touchpoints, make sure to test them. Afterwards, you can reassess, enhance, and make changes as necessary. Overall, viewing things through a customer’s perspective should garner a great positive effect on creating favorable customer experiences.

Customers Have Their Say on B2B Marketing

Businesses at times overuse their marketing strategies. Whether they pick B2C or B2B marketing to go with, the process itself no longer impresses customers the way it used to. In fact, these days, if you are not careful, your marketing tactics can easily end up boring them.

A recent survey conducted by advertising agency WHM looked at the Business-to-Business (B2B) advertising market. It concluded that purchase decision-makers are bored and wish for creative and engaging advertisements as part of their buying journey. Although consumer-targeted advertising is pulling on the major share of business budgets, B2B marketing is still a lucrative part of the sector for those that specialize in it. Receiving uninspiring and dull B2B marketing content is equally problematic for small and big enterprises.

“The truth is, the vast majority of buying decisions are emotional,” said the WHM agency partner Audrey Merritt, in a recent press release. Besides, if customers are fed up with the first thing that they see concerning a particular service or product, they will not get involved in it emotionally. “It’s hard to sell something if you’re boring people to death. So much B2B marketing falls flat because it doesn’t make the audience feel something,” added Audrey Merritt.

As per Thomas Whalen, another WHM partner, customers want to know two things before considering any pitch: who you are, as well as in what way can you serve them. The recent study provides some great insights into what B2B customers are looking for, and how they can be served in a better way.

Statistics on B2B Marketing

One of the most telling topics of debate which the survey raised was this: “All other things being equal, do you wish that advertising for business products and services had more of the creativity that consumer advertising is generally known for?”

Over 82.6% respondent customers in the survey answered in the affirmative, with the rest answering NO. So the vast majority of respondents have given a thumbs up to better B2B advertising only. However, the answer to another question just about contradicts this one. When asked what they make of the advertisements they receive today, 52% of the respondents said they are equally interesting because ads targeted to consumers tend to be. On the contrary, the other 48% said B2B marketing was not as creative, but rather boring. Apparently, a certain percentage of purchase decision makers are indifferent to the advertisements which they get.

Taking that into account, the next question is whether these ads really inspire them. The answers are extremely revealing since only 22.4% of respondents said they are oftentimes inspired by these ads. The other 50.1% said they are occasionally drawn in, 24.3% said they seldom feel that way, and 3.2% basically said “never”.

B2B Websites

A way in which one business discovers things about another is through the latter’s websites. In most cases, B2B sites are not nearly on par with those used by B2Cs, on the creative side that is. In the study, the respondent base was split into nearly even halves on this matter; where 50.6% of them said the websites of business services and products were as creative and interesting as consumer sites tend to be, the other 49.4% thought otherwise.

Better Buying Decisions

The survey asked participants if they believed a more inspired advertisement would help in making relatively better buying decisions. 80.8% said yes, while the remaining said it wouldn’t. In any promotion campaign, the aim of an ad is to influence or draw businesses or consumers towards that very important sale. While approaches towards that differ among businesses, the WHM survey has proven that most consumers wish to get inspiring and engaging advertisements to go on.

4 Simple Steps to Understand Customer Needs

What makes a good business owner stand out is the attention and care they give to their customers. But how do you offer value to them if you don’t know your target audience? Many business owners focus on delivering the product but skip a very important step: identifying the ever-changing needs of their customers.

Here are 4 steps every business owner should take:

1. Schedule a call with your customers

The impact of a 5-minute phone call can be huge, in terms of understanding your target audience. By personally reaching out to them, you are not only showing that you care and value their feedback, but you are also building rapport with them, as well as increasing your company’s credibility and trustworthiness. Plus, it is an opportunity to collect suggestions on how to improve your business model and approach.

2. Ask them to fill out feedback forms

Surveys have been used consistently over the years but they haven’t stopped being one of the most effective ways to identify your audience and collect key information about their preferences. Surveying customers when they join your mailing list or when they purchase a product or service from you is one of the most common and organic techniques. It is always important to outline what people should expect from your company when they sign up to hear from you, in order to set the right expectations and keep the engagement levels high.

Some of the top platforms we recommend to create surveys and questionnaires are Typeform, Survicate, SurveyMonkey, SurveyGizmo and PollDaddy.

3. Provide incentives

Offering incentives is another effective way of collecting feedback from your customers. Whether it’s a discount code, free samples, or a membership upgrade, you could use incentives to receive valuable information in return.

4. Utilize social media

Everyone uses social media these days, regardless of their age. Social media is a great tool to discover what your customers’ interests and demographics are. You can easily identify your target audience by simply looking into your Facebook or Instagram insights section. Regardless of the social media platform you use, audience analytics have become extremely sophisticated in recent years, giving you the most up-to-date information regarding your target audience.

You can also create social media posts to give your customers the opportunity to ask you questions or ask them specific questions about your products or services, about their experience, and about their level of satisfaction. In addition, you can become active in other relevant-to-your-business social media groups in order to interact with your target audience by engaging into conversations with them. Pay attention to common questions or comments, and then use them to your advantage.

Once you have followed the aforementioned steps, gather all the data you have collected and compare them. Your collective results should be your guide to adjust your creative content, emphasize on different products, revamp your website, or improve your responsiveness. Whatever your challenges may be, if you don’t ask your customers you’ll never find out.