Starting out in any business can be a challenge, and striking out to realize your dream as an entrepreneur can be even more complex. You have probably spent months coming up with the perfect idea to build your business around and taking the necessary steps to turn your goals into a reality.
Once you have the basics in place regarding what your company will sell and the work culture and policies you will put in place, it’s time to get clear on some of the most important aspects.
How you approach your financials is a big part of whether or not your business will succeed. For the best possible outcome for growth entrepreneurs, be sure to leverage the speed and ease of financial technology we have available today. These newer developments are the future of business and will help you get started on the right path.
Streamline Your Sales Platform
Generating sales is the main function that will determine how successful your business becomes. You will need a good plan in place to reach a broad customer base to showcase the appeal of the products or services that you offer.
You can get the help you need in manufacturing sales growth by using a software program to conduct all aspects of your marketing and sales functions. Consolidating all of your data and activities in one place will reduce time waste and increase revenue by offering support and resources to your team. This will help them to communicate with the right people while out on the road, have access to the information they need, and reach more potential customers.
It’s also a great way to store your customer data and track sales trends so you can make informed decisions on what products to promote. Your customers’ opinions and feedback give you insight on what is working and any areas that need improvement, so you can continue to expand in the right direction.
Use Mobile Banking
Every business needs to conduct many financial transactions. Mobile banking will make this easier and more time-efficient. Instead of carving time out of your day to get to the bank during business hours, mobile banking frees you from time restrictions and lets you choose when is most convenient for you. By using an app or website, you can make deposits, transfer funds to another account, issue payroll by direct deposit, and pay your invoices.
Beyond saving you a lot of time, mobile banking can reduce stress and confusion by keeping your financial transactions in one place. You can easily log in to your account at any time to print reports and review your current assets without the risk of misplacing any important information or tracking paper records.
Offer Mobile Payment Options
Mobile financial transactions aren’t just convenient for you, they also appeal to your customers. Give your clients the option to make mobile payments when they make a purchase. They will appreciate that this form of payment is simple, fast, and offers a greater amount of safety for their sensitive financial details.
Stay on Top of Your Profit
You don’t always need a certified accountant in order to track your profit and loss statements, especially if your business is just starting out. There are simple ways to track your profit every month, or quarterly, whatever your preference is. You do this by subtracting your expenses from your sales and there are plenty of apps or software that do this for you. A popular one for small businesses is QuickBooks. It’s even quite simple to set up your own formula in excel or google sheets if that’s your preference.
Stay Organized with Apps
I mentioned QuickBooks before, which is great for keeping track of your money, including receipts and other business write-offs. If you’re not familiar with accounting software, you might find it a bit confusing, but it’s nothing that you can’t learn. If you prefer a more hands-off experience, Bench is an app that keeps track of your expenses, categorizes them every month, and sends you reports to better understand your finances. What’s really important is that you find a method and supporting software that fits your needs and keeps you organized.
Using even a few of these financial technology solutions can help you to create a solid foundation for your business. Technology is a great way to save time and make your business practices safer, faster, and more lucrative.
Do your contacts engage with your emails the way you would expect them to be? How many of your readers do actually open the emails and reply to you?
While no magic wand can help you convince everyone to open your emails and reply back, there are some tips that you can implement to improve your email campaign results. But, before implementing the tips that we have prepared for you in this email, you should start by creating clear goals for your email marketing campaign.
The most popular objectives for email marketing campaigns are the following:
- Increasing the email open rate
- Personalizing the customer’s experience
- Establishing a connection with the email subscribers
- Improving the emails click-through rate
- Succeed in retaining the target customers and turn them into valuable brand advocates
Now that you have more clarity on the ways email marketing can help you, are you ready to find more about the 12 clever ways you can use to get a response from your recipients?
Tip #1: Create intriguing subject lines
You compare your subject lines with the movie trailers. Would you be curious to see a movie if the trailer is dull and unexciting? Most probably not! The same happens with the subject lines.
For example, the scarcity tactic seems to be working very well these days. A subject line that looks like this: “4 HOURS ONLY! 75% off ALL Jackets in Stores. Go!” would make any “fashionista” grab a cab and go to your store immediately.
Another successful tactic would be adding punctuation and questions directly in the subject line. By using this tactic, you start a conversation with your prospect directly from the subject line. For instance, if you ask a question in the subject line, you intrigue your prospect to give you an answer.
Take the example of Sephora, which sends an email with the subject line “Rough Day?”. In other words, the brand sends an invitation to dialogue and intrigues the recipient to immediately open the email and find more about the company’s proposal.
Tip #2: Keep your content readable
Imagine that your reader opens your email after an exhausting day in the office. Would he/she be impressed by an email that includes phrases highlighted with red, yellow, green, while others are written in italic or bold? Or would he/she like an email that is easy to read and includes different bullet points that make it easier to understand the main idea?
Instead of using special fonts or different colors, you can win the readers by keeping the content clean and using bold or underline to highlight some important words. Also, you can improve your readability by maintaining the contrast ratio at 4:5:1 for normal text and 7:1 for large text. Besides, you can use tools like Color Contrast Checker or Colorzilla to improve your contrast ratio.
Tip #3: Personalize Your Emails As Much As Possible
Personalizing your emails and subject lines can significantly improve the response rate. According to studies, a subject line personalizer will improve the response rate by 26%. According to a study developed by Experian Marketing Services, personalized emails can generate six times higher transaction rates.
You can take the example of Uber that uses this powerful strategy very often. For instance, the company sends an email to its users after the first month of using its services. The email usually starts with the phrase “You’re doing awesome, [recipient’s name].”
In the emails sent by Uber, the company includes details according to the recipient’s habits of using their services. Therefore, Uber’s emails include advice on what their prospects can do to improve their statistics to benefit from the company’s special offers. An email like this will automatically attract the recipient’s attention and obtain a reaction from his/her side.
Tip #4: Carefully proofread your text
An email that contains grammar or spelling errors will be immediately considered unprofessional or spam by readers. You shouldn’t forget that your emails speak about your professionalism and attention to detail. So, if you want to make a good first impression, you should take proofreading seriously. It may seem a tiring job, but it’s helpful for your professional image.
Tip #5: Use segmentation to get the best results
When you send the same email to your prospects, they see you are not interested in their personal needs. Depending on your business profile, you should address your messages to different categories of customers. As each client category has different needs and expectations, the emails should reflect these aspects as well.
You should segment your list and personalize your emails to target the right type of customers. You can filter your clients based on gender, age, or product interests. For instance, if you choose to segment your audience based on age, you should know that the difference between the prospects born in 1996 and 2010 is an 8-second attention span.
Tip #6: Choose the right moment to send your emails
Many marketers make the mistake of sending emails when their target audience is too busy to read them. When you create your emailing strategy, you should first analyze the metrics delivered by your emailing software. Based on your customer’s behavior, it will tell you when most of your readers open your emails.
Many marketers send their emails three times per month. This is a good strategy as long as they choose the right time to send it. Studies show that the perfect time for sending emails should be between 8 am and 4 pm. Besides, some specialists consider it better to send emails during the weekends when people are more relaxed and open to reply to a personalized email.
Tip #7: Optimize your email’s format for mobile devices
Studies show that approximately 46% of all emails are opened on mobile. Also, 35% of business professionals prefer to open their emails from their mobile devices.
This means that you should format your emails to be easily opened from a desktop or mobile device. Such a strategy will help you improve your response rate and tell your readers that you care about their comfort.
Tip #8: Calls to Action are important
When you want your readers to do something, you should be clear in explaining what they need to do. If you add a clickable button in your email, support it with action words and highlight the button with a different color. Instead of writing “Click here” it’s more efficient to name the button as “Get a free sample now!”. This way, the reader will have a clear reason to perform the action you expect them to.
A successful call to action should meet the following conditions:
- include an appealing image that follows your brand’s vision and mission
- keep the wording clean and clear, and try to have less than five words in your CTA
- use words that trigger emotions such as free, new, proven, easy
- place the CTA in the place where it makes the most sense in the context
- use a different color for your CTA than the rest of the text
Tip #9: Help your subscribers contact you easier
Receiving emails from “no-reply” addresses is one of the most annoying things for any reader. How can the client get in touch with you if your email address starts with “no-reply”? One simple example would be that such an email address cannot be added in the contacts list.
A more successful strategy would be creating a shared inbox and sending your emails from addresses such as email@example.com. Thus, you encourage your prospects to reply to you. Apart from showing your recipients that you have dedicated resources to reply to their emails, setting up a separate email address will also help you separate your business emails from messages from prospects.
In case you lack resources for organizing an adequate customer care service, you should encourage your prospects to save “no-reply” emails that include confirmations, reminders, or transactional messages. Besides, you can use autoresponders and reply back to your prospects with contact resources such as an email address and phone number.
Tip #10: Show your recipients that you understand their needs
It’s clear and obvious that when you email to your prospects, you want to turn them into your clients. But why would someone prefer you over your competitor? First off, email recipients should feel they are important to you, and you understand their expectations. Instead of presenting the service features, focus on highlighting the benefits that the service can bring to your prospect, including the emotional side.
Tip #11: The first sentence is highly important
The first sentence will tell your reader whether he/she should continue reading your email or skip it. It’s not enough to convince your recipient to open the email with an intriguing subject line. He/she should also read it until the end.
For example, you can open your email with a quick question that targets the reader’s needs. Or create a last call to make the reader understand that he/she should take advantage of your offer.
The example presented above follows the AIDA model. AIDA stands for Attention Interest Desire Action. The first lines start by grabbing the recipient’s attention with an intriguing question. Then it continues by making the prospect get interested in the service. Also, these first sentences make the recipient want and buy the service right away to save the extra 10 hours each week.
Tip #12: Don’t forget about emotions
Your readers receive hundreds of emails daily from different companies that want to sell them something. A winning strategy to improve your response rate would be to include emotion in your emails. Statistics show that the emails that expose emotions (not necessarily positive ones!) tend to draw out between 5 to 15% more reactions than those written in a neutral tone.
Getting your recipients to open your emails and respond to them takes you closer to finalizing a sale. While building a successful email marketing campaign might seem a big deal, you shouldn’t get discouraged and keep testing your strategy until you meet your response rate objectives. With each response that you get, your brand, content, and services become more relevant and better known by your target audience, don’t you think so?
Author’s bio. Jessica Fender is a copywriter and blogger with a background in marketing and sales. She enjoys sharing her experience with like-minded professionals who aim to provide customers with high-quality services. You can check her last review of TutorDoctor.
High-quality content is a sure way to attract new customers, as well as retain your existing audience. However, if you go online, seeking expertise on some pressing topic, as your customers often do, you will soon discover that finding a detailed, up-to-date reply that is easy to understand and follow is quite a task. You will likely need to shuffle through a couple of articles before you will get the answer you are looking for.
This is how your customers feel when they attempt to get some insight online – as you can imagine, it is very frustrating. This is exactly the reason why you shouldn’t settle for average content quality and post mediocre writing copies, but instead learn how you can make your articles “pop” and fulfill their purpose of supporting your company’s image, educating your audience, boosting traffic to your website, and, of course, generating more leads for your business.
By now you are probably asking yourself: how can I upgrade my content? To help you out, we will reveal some blog content writing tips that will teach you how to elevate your content and produce truly helpful and exceptional articles for your readers to enjoy and learn from.
8 Blog Content Writing Tips to Creating Lead Generating Content
#1: Learn your audience and what content they need
Studying potential customers is a great way to understand your target audience. Answer these basic questions when researching your product’s consumer:
- What does your target audience look like?
- What are their main sources of information?
- What are their goals?
- What main challenges do they face?
If you want to create lead-generating copies, always consider your target audience before you put any work into writing.
#2: Choose the right types of content
Once you get to know your audience, it will become clearer what type of articles they prefer consuming. Develop a list of content types and categories, based on customer’s likes, dislikes, wants, and needs. For each category, determine which stage of the buyer’s journey this content will be most efficient at. Creating content for specific stages of the sales funnel will increase content’s relevance.
Since we’re sharing our ultimate blog content writing tips today, here is a list of several types of content categories you should explore:
- Instructional videos: webinars, informative videos.
- Educational information – can be used during the evaluation stage, where your target audience examines how a product meets their requirements.
- Guides, infographics.
- Landing pages.
- Blog posts.
Check out this infographic that showcases different content types and how effectively they produce leads:
Information provided by Venngage
#3: Plan your content
A comprehensive content marketing strategy should include different forms of content for different target audiences with varying interests. At an industry level, it is imperative for your company to establish itself in its chosen area of business as an expert of the highest caliber with a high degree of trust. This is why you can’t simply post whatever and whenever it’s convenient – instead, you should do proper research, plan content according to customers’ needs, shining a light on some pressing topics that may arise in your industry. One of nifty copywriting secrets to top-notch content is not just its high quality, but also timely release – it should “hit the spot” exactly when customers need it.
Content planning also gives you time and opportunity not to rush articles, but spend the necessary time assuring their quality in the eyes of both readers and search engines. This step includes proper keyword research – determining which words and phrases resonate with the audience and should be included in your content. Conduct a thorough analysis of keywords in your niche, identify high traffic keywords, pinpoint which ones are a better fit for your articles.
#4: Create lead magnets
These content writing tips may not be news to you – make sure content is helpful for your readers, as well as easy to use. However, we would like to elaborate on this tip and give you a practical piece of advice that you can utilize for your benefit – create lead magnets. A lead magnet is a free, useful, easily downloadable information, usually exchanged for customer’s emails. There are hundreds of lead magnet options: guides, checklists, cheat sheets, infographics, reports, video tutorials, template kits, and so on.
No other content is as useful and handy as a powerful lead magnet. It provides value for customers but also allows you to expand your audience, collecting insight that will allow you to share more of your content with people who are actually interested in receiving it.
Here are some tips on writing a great lead magnet. Make sure that it is:
- Easy to read.
- Instantly downloadable.
As well as:
- Shows off your expertise or unique proposition.
- Solves a real problem.
- Has a simple name, which makes it immediately clear what it is and how it can be used.
Powerful lead magnets build audiences’ trust, showing visitors of your website that you are eager to put expertise to good use and educate them. Such trust is valuable – it helps build a better relationship with the audience, driving them to closer explore what your business has to offer.
#5: Address your audience properly
Here is another copywriting secret that helps write more engaging and personalized content. When creating effective writing copies geared towards lead generation, remember the rule of three pronouns – “I/You /We”:
- Write in the first person (use “I”);
- Appeal to the reader directly (with the pronoun “you”);
- Unite yourself with readers (using “we”);
- Refer to the company by its name (instead of the pronoun “we”).
This creates an illusion of personal interaction between reader and writer, such that can only exist between two people, and not between a company and individual. Thus, content takes on an emotional connotation. Lead-generating content should be reader-oriented – it should talk about the reader and what they want to receive. Of course, this is only possible if you are writing for an audience, the interests, and needs of which you are well aware.
Writing is not easy. As long as we are on the topic of connecting with the audience, it is something that you can learn if you visit this site – it contains prime samples of content that you can learn from, studying real examples of high-quality academic writing.
#6: Use content framework: Problem–Agitate–Solve
Another way to level yourself with your customers is by showing that you feel what they feel, understand their problems. You can do so by applying this simple but well-established formula for writing persuasive content: PAS, which stands for “Problem/Pain”, “Agitate”, and “Solve”. Firstly, you should highlight the problem – paint it in vivid detail that will let your customers know that you understand them and relate. Secondly, elaborate on the problem, discuss its effects, building up tension to make your readers desperate for a solution. Finally, offer a straightforward solution that you can provide, thus creating the feeling of gratitude and relief in your readers.
#7: Create a sense of urgency
You can ramp up the “volume” of content and drive readers to take immediate action by setting a deadline or another time limit, describing consequences if readers miss out on your offer, keeping an assertive tone, utilizing a warm color palette for design, etc.
#8: Hint on taking action
CTA is commonly used to motivate readers. It doesn’t matter what is a topic of your content – you should always “keep eyes on the prize” and aim content at reaching your goals. If it’s lead generation, gear all content to make readers want to, for example, try your product. However, a trick is making an agenda discreet – don’t place direct demands, but weave subtle hints into text.
Sharing is Caring – Uncovering Blog Content Writing Tips
Even if your content failed to entice readers before, leave all worries behind – the above-mentioned tips on producing lead-generating content will help you create high-quality engaging, easily digestible writing copies that readers will not get enough of. We only have one question for you – are you ready for leads to swarm your website?
BIO: Kristin Savage
Kristin is a writer and editor with years of publicist and marketing experience under her belt. She uses her articles to speak with each reader individually and educate them on topics that keep them restless. Her skills and poise transfer through her writing, evoking readers to gain new knowledge by the pound. As a well-rounded specialist, she uses her voice to cut through the noise and deliver pure facts. In her free time, she loves playing video games and running.
*This article was originally published in Lowe’s for Pros
A brand is a major differentiator among small business owners in the same industry—it’s a way consumers and even competitors identify a business. But creating a solid brand strategy is no easy feat. In part one of a three part series, learn how you can brand your business for success.
For many small business owners in the building industry, pondering the launch of a brand can seem like an abstract concept—like examining a piece of modern art for the first time and having no clue as to what it’s supposed to be.
Maybe it’s puzzling because it’s supposed to look simple, but still convey the essence of your company. An effective brand represents a tidy mini-portrait of what you want your business to be. It should instantly convey a clear image that resonates with customers. It should even project an engaging personality that draws repeat business because of positive, associated experiences with you and your crews. In the end, your brand-launching strategy will impact everything from the way you train your employees to your marketing/advertising methods and the visual images that are stamped on your trucks.
Here are five simple steps small business owners in the construction industry should take when launching a brand:
1. Define who you are—and what you want your business to be. It’s not enough to identify yourself as a residential or commercial builder or re modeler, plumber, electrician, property manager or landscaper. Nor is it enough to say that you “specialize in remodeling upscale homes” in a particular region. Potential customers need to know what you can do for them—right now.
“You need to target a very specific type of customer—not just a market, but a market niche,” says Yoon Cannon, a Philadelphia-based business consultant. “You need to find the subsets within the subsets.”
So if you use your marketing materials to focus on that upscale, local market, push a message that highlights a winning niche. Maybe you’ll provide homeowners with gorgeous lawns and gardens—and chemical free. Or you provide counter tops that represent the latest and most elegant designs of any local kitchen-remodeling business. Or you’re the plumber who can install fixtures that will turn a drab bathroom into a luxury spa worthy of a five-star hotel. Whatever your niche is, run with it.
2. Learn everything you can about your competitors—then brand yourself as something else. You can’t launch a brand without researching first what your competitors are selling. Are they fixated on price? If so, you need to latch upon something other than price, like value or service. One way to get a sense of this is to go online and seek public forums where the levels of satisfaction and dissatisfaction with completed projects are discussed.
“Learn everything you can about other builders and associated industry support companies that serve your area,” Cannon says. “Know their philosophies, approach, strengths, weaknesses, brand positioning and marketing plans.” (Look for more about distinguishing your brand from competitors in next month’s Branding for Success Part 2: Differentiating Yourself.)
3. Create marketing/promotional materials to constantly reinforce your niche. Once you determine who you are, then you need to align this focused message in all of your marketing efforts, whether online, print, radio or television. Keep the message clean and streamlined. Also, come up with a logo that’s simple and memorable. If you need to hire a brand or marketing consultant to advise you on your logo or messaging, do it. Since this brand is intended to last forever, it should be a one-time fee.
“Ultimately, you need to nail down a message that explains in a few words why your business is the smartest solution,” says Cannon, whose business, Paramount Business Coach, provides service companies with branding, business management and sales training. Then make sure all company materials—from printed materials to the shirts your crews wear—convey these words and images. This extends to everything that’s associated with your business, even your email address. So rather than use generic free accounts provided by Internet companies, provide your employees with email addresses that use your company name as the domain.
4. Come up with a story. A business isn’t simply a collection of tools, trucks and buildings—there are people behind it. Perhaps there’s a compelling story about how your company came together. The easiest way to engage customers is to share that story, whether in your promotional materials or your Web site’s blog.
“Every business has a different story, a history and background,” says Caitlin Sharp, a consultant at Design Management Company, a business management firm with offices in Los Angeles, New York City and London that works with residential/commercial development companies, among other clients. “Use that to make your company stand apart from all the others. Bring that story into your message.”
5. Get employees’ buy-in. Your staff needs to get on board too, so train them on the proper way to convey your brand identity. After all, the way they approach customers, perform jobs and follow up all speak to your brand.
“Your brand identity needs to stay the same and be conveyed effectively, no matter what form you’re talking about,” Cannon says.
*This article was originally published in AARP – Life ReImagined
Word of mouth is an unbeatable career and business builder. Here’s how to max it out.
As a business coach, Yoon Cannon relies on word of mouth referrals to grow her venture. But she faces a tricky challenge: The nature of her service makes it awkward for clients to tell their connections about her. “It’s an odd thing to say, `I think you should hire a business coach,’” she observes.
Cannon has found a way around that. To market her firm, Paramount Business Coach in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, she posts a blog that covers interesting topics, like inexpensive marketing techniques and the traits of successful entrepreneurs. When she adds a new post, she shares it on LinkedIn, making it easy for her followers to pass the links along without suggesting the recipient needs help. Similarly, she sends her contacts links to information on free webinars she holds, which they, in turn, can pass along to their network.
“Those are things that make it easy for people to refer me,” says Cannon. “They’re not referring me as, `Hire Yoon to be your personal business coach.’”
Whether you’re trying to stand out as a small business owner or in a traditional corporate career, enthusiastic professional referrals are an important way to get an edge. Doing so is a much better way to express ideas by word of mouth than in the cold formality of print. In a recent study by Manta, an online social network for business owners, more than half of recipients said that, compared to meeting people at events or participating in social networking sites, customer referrals provided the biggest boost for their business. At the same time, in corporate America, more companies are turning to their staff for referrals to prospective employees, instead of relying only on outside sources like ads on job boards.
But as Cannon’s experience shows, getting referrals doesn’t happen by accident. You’ve got to understand how to make it easy for people in your network to refer you. And your timing and approach need to take into account what’s at stake for those who might refer you.
“When you give a referral, you give a little bit of your reputation away,” says Ivan Misner, PhD, founder and chairman of the global business networking group BNI (Business Network International). “People give relationships to people they know and trust.” And she points to the downside when things don’t work out down the line. “They understand that giving a referral can hurt their relationship with the party they are giving the referral to.” Here are 5 strategies for making yourself more referable.
Nurture relationships with customers and colleagues. The people who report the most success from their networking efforts focus on building relationships first and on doing business second, according to research by BNI, which helps members build referral networks.
That doesn’t mean wining and dining everyone around you. It’s a matter of building trust—and that comes from giving every client your highest level of service, or, if you have a corporate job, making sure you meet and exceed the expectations of your boss and colleagues consistently. “Networking is more about farming than hunting,” says Ivan Misner, Ph.D, BNI’s founder and chairman. “It’s about cultivating relationships with other business professionals.”
See also: Over 50 & Unemployed: Finding Consulting Work
Those who are more “transactional” in their approach—trying to tap people they’ve just met for favors or new business–often find their approach less effective, according to BNI’s research. If you’ve ever had a great conversation with someone at a business conference and then gotten a phone call a couple of days later pressuring you to make a deal, you understand how off-putting it can be. That new acquaintance is suffering from what Misner calls the networking disconnect. “They try to sell before building a relationship,” he says.
Raise your profile. If you’ve just started a small business or recently made a career change, becoming visible and establishing credibility in your professional community are the first steps to getting referrals. “People have to know who you are and what you do—and know that you’re good at it,” Misner says. Contributing to industry publications or volunteering to serve on a committee or speak at a conference for your professional association are all good approaches. As well as promoting by word of mouth by putting signs and posters up.
This works for well-established pros, too. Cannon, who is in her forties, attends meetings of the local chapter of Le Tip International, a networking group where members make brief presentations about what they do. Instead of attempting to make deals with people she’s just met, she’s asked the group to consider her as a speaker or to pass along information about a seminar she is holding. “I’m giving them value as a thought leader in my area,” she says. In four or five years, the group has given her 32 referrals to people who eventually became clients.