8 Festive Marketing Ideas to Boost Sales this Holiday Season
With the gift-giving season in full-swing, researchers are predicting the average American family will spend $929 on presents in 2016. That’s an increase of $60 from last year’s holiday season spend of $882. This makes it a perfect time for small businesses to increase sales and entice life-long customers with holiday marketing promotions.
We have created the ultimate guide for advertising your small business this festive season. No matter what your budget is, this list is sure to include an idea that fits your business needs.
1. Decorate Your Store And Website
Customers flock to well-decorated and well-lit shops. Stands out from your competition with bright, festive decorations. Your holiday decorating efforts are sure to encourage more people to walk through your doors and see what your business has to offer.
This holds true for your website, too. If your business only operates online, you could design a holiday-themed banner or ask your graphic designer to add some festive touches to the homepage.
Studies have shown that people feel happy and relaxed when they see festive decorations, making them much more likely to buy. Getting people into the holiday spirit with bright lights, green garlands, cheery music, and sparkly tinsel could be the key to unlocking great sales over the season.
2. A Personal Touch
Adding a personal touch when interacting with your customers never goes out of style. It could be as inexpensive as sending a personalized card or email, letting them know that you care about their business. A holiday card is a great opportunity to thank your customers for their patronage and wish them well over the festive season. Go out of your way to send a holiday card or email and stand out among your competition.
3. Rewarding existing customers
Increase brand loyalty and trust by rewarding your current customers. Offering a discount, store credit, or a free gift with purchase are easy ways to let your existing customers know you value their business. With the added incentive, your customers are more likely to tick items off their holiday shopping list from your business.
4. Holiday Party
Another great way of wooing customers is by hosting a holiday party. Your old customers will feel appreciated while new, prospective clients can see what your business has to offer and experience your customer service. Invite your existing clients and welcome those passing by to join the festivities. While your sales are sure to increase on party day, it can also translate to sales later in the season as customers remember your generosity and hospitality. Mingling with all your customers shows a fun, friendly, side to your business and gives them a chance to get to know you and your business better.
5. Post-Holiday Coupon Code
During the festive season, offer your customers a discount, special offer or free gift to claim after the holidays. This win-win promotion encourages customers to buy now and to come back again after the shopping season winds down. Spending can slow down after the holiday season. Enticing your customers with a post-holiday promotion can help keep your sales steady as the number of shoppers dwindles.
6. Host a Contest
One thing customers love? Freebies! Holding a holiday contest allows your customers to win some fabulous goodies from your business. It’s also a great opportunity for your customers have fun by engaging in something different.
Motivate your customers to buy your products and services by offering the chance to win a prize around the holiday season. Choose a prize you know your customers would be thrilled to win to ensure healthy participation.
7. Offer free gift wrap
Here is another chance for your business to go the extra mile for your customers and stand out from your competition. Save them time and money by offering free gift wrapping service for purchases during the holiday season. Gift wrapping for your customers could significantly reduce the time and money they might spend preparing for the holidays. Making life easier is an extremely valuable way to boost customer loyalty. In addition to taking a task off your customers to-do lists, offering free gift wrap can increase your business’ overall sales during this busy season.
8. Social Media Marketing
One of the most impactful marketing strategies to use in your holiday marketing plan is social media. There is a massive amount of information at your customers’ fingertips. If they are interested in a product or service you offer, it’s likely your customers will start with online research first. Ensure a strong social presence by posting about your holiday offers, tips for getting through the holidays from your unique business perspective, gift guides, spreading the word about any upcoming events. A strong social media marketing presence will increase your brand loyalty and can boost both foot and website traffic during the holiday season.
December is one of the best marketing opportunities for small businesses. Americans spend more than 600 billion dollars shopping during the holiday season ranging from gifts, food, decorations, home improvements for houseguests and more. Ensure your small business is getting in on the action during the busiest shopping season of the year.
Your Checklist for a Succesful Website Launch
10 Essentials for Your Small Business Website to Guarantee Success
Online Marketing Myths Small Businesses Should Stop Believing
Webware for Real Estate Agents: Your Guide to Building an Awesome Website
Are you a real estate agent or agency considering a new website?
At Webware, we understand that each client we serve has unique needs. Websites for real estate agents and agencies are no exception. A great real estate website allows buyers to gain all the information they need about the agency, the buying/selling process, mortgage rates, properties for sale, neighbourhoods and more.
Purchasing a house or commercial property can be both an exciting and stressful time for buyers. That’s why at Webware, we build real estate websites that strengthen confidence and trust among buyers by using clear content, purposeful design, and access to industry specific tools.
Here’s what’s included with your real estate website at Webware:
1. Design and layout to highlight specific needs of a real estate agent website. We make it easy for your customers to find the information they are looking for immediately. The following are all easily located on the homepage:
- Search listings directory
- Map display of customizable neighbourhoods
- Prominent contact info
- Team/agent information
- Live chat
- Clear call-to-action
2. Clear, easy to find property listings. Simple to use search tools to help your customers navigate your property listings easily and efficiently.
3. Integration with MyRealPages. MyRealPages offers property listing display, advanced search functionality and search by map capability.
In addition, our Digital Services Team can boost your website with services including:
1. SEO Keyword research and implementation performed by Real Estate SEO experts
2. Regular blog posts on relevant, current topics in the real estate industry
3. Social media updates to stay in contact with your network
From our experience building real estate websites, Webware already knows what your clients are looking for in their search for the perfect property and agent. We understand the features and design required to meet your website needs. Get a beautiful website for your real estate business and reach prospective customers with an effective online experience. Get started today at webware.io
Why Your Website Popup Ads are Killing Your SEO (or soon will be!)
One of the things that makes Google the most popular online search engine is its endless mission to put users first. Their goal is to give you, the user, the most reliable, accurate and up-to-date information available anywhere on the World Wide Web. Google’s steadfast commitment to the user-experience has sparked another update to its Search Engine Results Page (SERP) ranking factors.
Google recently announced that starting in January 2017, websites with interstitials will rank lower in search engine results than websites without.
What’s an interstitial?
Google firmly believes these annoying popups hinder users’ access to information. This is especially true for mobile devices where screens are generally smaller. This new update should urge websites to eliminate popup ads to keep their ranking high in search engine results.
According to Google, “Here are some examples of techniques that make content less accessible to a user:
- Showing a popup that covers the main content, either immediately after the user navigates to a page from the search results, or while they are looking through the page.
- Displaying a standalone interstitial that the user has to dismiss before accessing the main content.
- Using a layout where the above-the-fold portion of the page appears similar to a standalone interstitial, but the original content has been inlined underneath the fold.
By contrast, here are some examples of techniques that, used responsibly, would not be affected by the new signal:
- Interstitials that appear to be in response to a legal obligation, such as for cookie usage or for age verification.
- Login dialogs on sites where content is not publicly indexable. For example, this would include private content such as email or unindexable content that is behind a paywall.
- Banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space and are easily dismissible. For example, the app install banners provided by Safari and Chrome are examples of banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space”.
If your website uses a popup to gather email newsletter signups or likes on social media or something else, this new ranking signal is directed at you. Though it won’t come into full effect until January 2017, now is the best time to get rid of those popups to give your customers the best possible user experience.
You can read the full update on the Google Webmaster Forum here.
Google News: Continuing to make the web more mobile friendly
4 powerful Google tools for businesses
Your Checklist for a Successful Website Launch
Committed to success? Have a new website in the works?
With all the changes Google has made in the last year to support mobile-friendly websites, savvy business leaders are getting on board. They’re ditching outdated websites for fresh, mobile-responsive designs.
You have invested a significant amount of time, creative energy and money into your business’s new website. When it’s ready to go live, you want as many people as possible checking it out. Ensure your Launch Day is a smash hit by creating a buzz leading up to the big event.
Here’s nine things you can do to get great results. Tick off these items from your checklist for a website launch:
Number One: Great Content. Long before launch day, devote ample time to creating high quality content. Ideally, three published pieces on Day One gives your audience enough variety to click through and read. Test and test again. Check the functions and appearance on mobile devices before you go live. First impressions are important. Initial content quality signals the experience readers can expect in the future. You want to build a loyal following of return visitors.
Number Two: Coming Soon Page. Create a “Website Coming Soon” page to let people know about your new website. In addition to informing them that it’s on the way; a “Coming Soon” page get’s people excited about your business, services or products. Offer new visitors a place to sign up for your email newsletter and provide links to “follow” and “like” you on social media.
Number Three: Email Subscriber List. Build your email list in the lead up to your website launch. If you already have an email subscriber list, enlarge it through your social media accounts and your “Coming Soon” page. If you don’t have one already, ask your existing customers for their email addresses. Supercharge your ask by adding a promotional boost; offer incentives for signing up for your email newsletter (email newsletters provide ongoing contact with customers). Promote the newsletter and special incentives through social media.
Number Four: Launch Day Email. Your business’s website launch is an unique opportunity to get customers excited about your business. Create a catchy-looking email to blast out on your launch day. Use an email marketing tool like MailChimp to design an attention-getting email. The email should showcase your value proposition by highlighting your best content. Encourage subscribers to visit your new website with a promotion (e.g. a free consultation, or discount coupon for giving your website a mention).
Number Five: Grow your Social Media Presence. After you’ve completed your target audience research; it’s time to setup accounts on relevant social media platforms. Your business doesn’t need to have a profile on every single channel; just the ones your target customers generally use. Instead of wasting time setting up profiles and sharing posts across 7 or 8 platforms, spend your time creating valuable content in places where your preferred customers are likely to find it.
Number Six: Mobilize your Existing Friends. If your business already has an active social media following; give your fans a heads up that your new website is coming. Share the news a few times per week in the month leading up to your launch. The average Facebook user has 338 friends. Not all your friends or social media followers will “like” or “share” your posts. But, you’ll never know if you don’t ask. Ask friends, family, other local businesses (nicely!) to like or share the news about your business’s new website on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram.
Number Seven: Online directories. Your business’s presence in online directories will influence your search engine optimization (SEO). Depending on your industry, your business has a number of options, for example: Yelp, YellowPages, Google, OpenTable, Bing, Wedding Wire, to name a few key ones. Do your research and submit your business information to the most relevant sites. Here’s a list of the most popular online business directories in 2016. Online directory entries only contribute to SEO if the business’s information (name, address, phone number and website url) is accurate and consistent across all directory websites.
Number Eight: Reputation Review. If your website is launching at the same time as your new business venture, you likely won’t have an online reputation. If you’re building a new website for an existing business, now is the time to see if people are discussing your business online (and what they are saying!). A good place to start is by reviewing each of your business’s online directory entries and social media accounts. Update any outdated information. Respond to any existing reviews. In any case, setup Google Alerts to notify you anytime someone mentions your business online. Click here to learn how to get people to review your business online (and handle negative reviews). Most consumers are influenced in their online buying decisions by positive, and critical reviews.
Number Nine: Set up Google MyBusiness. Google is the gold standard when it comes to web searches. To get (and stay) ahead of your competition; take advantage of some great tools for getting noticed. With Google MyBusiness, you can customize how your business contact information will look to customers on Google search. MyBusiness uses your business name, address, phone number and website uniformly across the platform, including: Mobile Search and Google Maps. Your customers, and potential buyers, see consistent, accurate information anytime, and anywhere they search. You can also add attractive photos and manage your reviews on Google. Both measures will help you stand out from the crowd.
Launching your new mobile-friendly website is an important and exciting day for your business.
You’ve spent valuable hours and dollars building the perfect website. You want to make a great first impression on your current and potential customers. This means you need to create and implement an effective strategy well in advance. Follow this Checklist for a Website Launch and you’ll be well on your way.
If you don't have time to execute all these activities or you're not sure how, Webware helps launch your website with a bang.
Essentials for Your Small Business Website
4 Tools Small Businesses Can Use for Better Website Performance
4 Principles of Psychology to Keep in Mind When Building your Website
5 Paw-some Reasons to Adopt an Office Pet
In 2015, the United States spent over 60 Billion dollars on their pets! The pet trend is going global, with many countries across the world reporting increased numbers of household pets and pet-related purchases. With more and more pets in the home, I started to wonder, what about pets in the office?
It turns out, I am not the only one interested in bring their furry friends to work.
Last month, in celebration of our four-legged friends, the United States, Canada, Australia, and United Kingdom participated in the cutest, 18 year old tradition of Take your Dog to Work Day (TYDTWD). On June 24th, offices across the world opened their doors (and hearts) to employees’ pooch pals. The day came at the end of Take your Pet to Work Week celebrating all pet family members.
What could be more fun than petting animals on coffee breaks and between meetings? Basically, nothing. However, it turns out that pets in the office provide more than just a cuteness overload at work. There are several REAL benefits to office pets/bring your pet to work days. To help your superiors see the light on this important issue, I have compiled a list of reasons to consider an office pet or bring your pet work days. Here we go!
Improve employees' health. Studies show that pet ownership can affect a number of aspects of our health. Pet owners visit the doctor less frequently, saving the U.S. over 11 million dollars in healthcare spending annually. Pet ownership alleviates stress and depression, reduces obesity rates, and improves heart health by lowering blood pressure. Petting a dog releases “happiness” hormones like serotonin, prolactin and oxytocin while bringing cortisol, the “stress” hormone, levels down. Improved health means happier employees and fewer sick days.
- Boost productivity. Taking a quick, 10-15 minute break every hour or so has proven the most efficient, productive way for humans to work. An office pet or pet-friendly office is far more likely to encourage these productivity enhancing breaks. A quick trip around the block with your pooch or a few minutes petting a kitten can recharge employees. For many employees, the ability to have their pet with them means less worry about what’s happening at home and less concern about staying later at the office.
- Encourage a positive office environment. Research shows that the simple presence of a pet boosts positive social interaction and increases helping behaviour. Pets can help break the ice between strangers and reduce tension between team members. A dog-friendly office promotes communication, cooperation and friendship between coworkers. And a team that gets along is more likely to enjoy coming in to work.
- Attract employees and customers who share the same pet-friendly values. Pet-related spending is up all across the world. More and more people everywhere are embracing life with four-legged family members. An office pet or bring-your-pet-to-work policy can attract new talent and customers who share your company’s values. Etsy, “the world's most vibrant handmade marketplace” has dog-friendly offices in New York, London and Dublin. Sarah Starpoli, Etsy's manager of culture and engagement tells CNBC “People want it. People know about it when they come in and are hired”. I couldn’t agree more!
- Improve pets’ health. Not to be overlooked, we can help our pets stay healthy with more socialization and physical activity. With the increase in importance of pet-family members, it’s crucial to keep them happy and healthy. Allowing pets in the office gives our animal friends more frequent walks and less days spent alone.
What started out as “Take Your Dog to Work Day” turned “Take Your Pet to Work Week” has sparked a rise in pet-friendly offices. A survey conducted in 2015 shows 8% of American workplaces allow pets in the office, up from 5% in 2013. Employers are opening their office doors to furry family members to create better workplace environments fuelled by happier and healthier employees. With all the proven benefits, it might be time for your company to consider how an office pet could positively impact life in the workplace.
10 Essentials for Small Business Websites
Up to 62% of consumers (and growing) do their research online before making a purchase! It’s never been more important for businesses to have a well-designed, informative website.
To make a lasting impression on potential customers, here’s 10 essentials for your small business website:
1. Mobile, mobile, mobile! Your website must be mobile-friendly.
- Between December 2013 and December 2015, smartphone internet consumption grew by 78%.
- Your customers are likely accessing your website from a mobile device.
- A responsive website ensures a smooth, easily-navigable experience and happier customers.
- Googles cares deeply that your website is mobile-friendly. If it’s not, your website will be bumped down the search results pages, finally landing behind your competitors’ responsive websites.
2. Relevant business information. People are visiting your website to learn more about what your business offers.
- 47% of website visitors check out a company's products/services page before looking at any other sections of the site.
- Design each webpage from your customer’s perspective: Give them the info they need to make an informed decision about your product/service.
- Make sure important content is easy to find on your website.
3. Visible Contact Info. It should be as clear as possible how and where to get in touch with your business.
- The business phone number should be visible on the homepage. Once on a company's homepage, 64% of visitors want to see the company's contact information.
- Enable Click to Call. Based on Google’s commissioned research by Ipsos, 70% of mobile searchers have used “The Call Button” in order to get in touch directly with companies.
- Another convenience favoured by many is live chat support. Learn more about why it’s awesome here.
- A Contact Us page: a feedback form, the business street address, driving directions (if applicable), or even a link to your FAQ section.
4. Simple Design. The more “visually complex” a website is, the less likely it is to be seen as “beautiful”.
- All elements (words, images, videos, links) on the homepage should have a distinct and meaningful purpose.
- Avoid clutter, small/hard to read fonts, and complex layouts.
- Include clean lines, intuitive navigation, simple font style and colour schemes throughout the entire website.
5. Reviews. As the digital age’s word-of-mouth, online reviews are a simple, yet effective way to increase traffic, sales, and improve your online reputation.
- 88% of consumers take reviews into account on purchase decisions!
- Add a review widget like Yotpo so customers can leave a review directly on your website.
- Include a few customer testimonials/reviews on your website.
6. Quality images. Showcase your products and services in action.
- Use high-resolution images to highlight your products and/or services
- Better quality images create a more enjoyable user experience
7. Understand SEO basics. Search Engine Optimization is a guiding principle when building a website for your business.
- SEO comprises several factors working together to build your website’s visibility in search engine results.
- Some factors include: website content, mobile-friendliness, website quality (speed to load pages, duplicate pages, broken links, etc), website architecture and geophysical location
- SEO dramatically affects how many people (potential customers!) can find your website in the internet maze.
- Even if you aren’t building your own website or implementing the SEO strategy, it can be extremely helpful if you understand what SEO can and cannot do for your business.
8. Call To Action. A visual focal point on your website that invites customers to act.
- Common examples of Call to Action are “Buy Now” or “Signup Here” or “Enter your email”.
- Draw customers’ attention to your offer with colours, images, or typefaces.
- For example, a bright pink “Start Your Free Trial” button against a neutral background will immediately catch the eye.
9. Monitor load time. How quickly (or slowly) the content on your website loads is crucial to maintaining visitors’ interest.
- Page load speed affects SEO
- Images, videos, or text that takes too long to load can cause frustration and drive customers away.
10. Advertise your website on social media. Make it easy for anyone visiting your social media pages to get to your website.
- Add your website to all your social media profiles, business cards and other marketing materials
- Facebook updates, Tweets, Instagram posts etc., should eventually entice people to check out your website.
More and more people are fact-checking products and companies online before they make a purchase. Use these essentials to help your small business website stand out among the online clutter.
Get a mobile-friendly website that not only looks good, but also adds value to your business. With custom designs, digital services and reasonable prices, Webware’s toolkit is the perfect solution for small businesses.
4 Principles of Psychology to Keep in Mind When Building Your Website
Webware Product Update: New Page Templates
One of the great benefits of the Webware platform is the ease of use. It’s very easy to make changes to your website yourself – to edit your content, change images, add blog posts, even create your own web pages.
To make it easier for you to add great-looking web pages, Webware has added 14 new web page design templates! Now your inner website pages can look just as great as your home page, and you can choose from a wide variety of styles that include images, videos, product collections, forms, and more.
Scroll down to see all the new page types you can select for your website:
Menu Collection Page
Text & Image Pages
For details on the variety of page types available, see our Help Center article here.
To learn the basics of how to add a page, view this article.
Webware Product Update: Customizable Forms
Great news for Webware customers! Use our latest product update, customizable forms, to help you get the most out of your website.
Now you can create custom forms on your Webware site, to collect exactly and only the information that you care about from your customers.
There are three types of forms available on any Webware site: Registration Form, Profile Form, and Newsletter Form. Each of these forms gives you an opportunity to find out more about the people who visit your site.
Your site will be created with each of these forms already included and with standard fields such as name and email address.
You can now customize your forms by adding or removing fields, even creating custom fields, to collect the information you want to know about your customers.
For example, if you’re offering B2B services, you may want to know Company Name or Website URL.
If you’re an ecommerce apparel store, you may want to know Gender or Shoe Size.
There’s all kinds of information you might want to collect, such as:
- Company name
- Neighborhood or zip code
- Preferred store location
- Shirt size
For details on how to customize your forms, see our Help Center article here.
For more on the types of forms on your Webware website, see this article.
4 Principles of Psychology to Keep in Mind When Building Your Website
Are you considering an investment in your small business by building a website? The good news - An effective website can help your business reach new customers and boost your bottom line. The bad news - A poorly designed website not only doesn’t help your business grow, it can cause customers to lose confidence in your business and head elsewhere. Understanding what makes a powerful website from your customers perspective ensures a better user experience and more success out of your website. Whether you plan to invest money by hiring someone to build it for you or invest time building your own website, knowing some website psychology basics can help you get the most out of your investment.
Here’s 4 principles of psychology to keep in mind when building your website:
As humans, our brains are wired to constantly seek out what we recognize. Recognizing patterns helps us understand and navigate our surroundings. If we come across an unfamiliar situation, our brains may interpret it as a threat, triggering a chemical “fight or flight” response. [source]
However, familiarity lends itself to trust. If your website fits the “website pattern”, your customers are more likely to inherently trust your website and business. Upon landing on your business’s website, your customers will make snap judgements (in less than 1 second!). Instilling trust right away improves the chances of your customers staying on your website after their first impression. Your website should include the basics like your logo, obvious navigation, and banners with high-quality images balanced with easy-to-read text to maintain a recognizable “website pattern”.
From a user-experience perspective, cognitive load is the amount of mental effort required for your customers to navigate your website. The original definition of cognitive load, first used by psychologists, defines cognitive load as the mental effort required to learn a new task. For your customers, the new task is to understand how your website differs from other websites then adjust to their behaviour to effectively use the website. The cognitive load required affects how easy it is for your customers to find the information they’re looking for on your website - and as a small business, you want to make it as easy as possible! [source]
The first step to make things easier for your customers (aka reducing cognitive load), is to know what they’re looking for when they visit your website. Are they looking for food/service menus, your blog, products you sell, information on products/services, or contact details? Then, focus on presenting the information in an easy-to-find way. To reduce the risk of cognitive overload in your website visitors, keep your website as simple and clean-looking as possible. Each piece of content on your website should provide valuable info. Using keywords at the top of your website, like in the navigation bar, help customers understand and navigate quickly.
Human brains are designed to pay attention to anything different or unique in our surroundings. From an evolutionary perspective, humans noticing something out of the ordinary was developed as a survival tactic to judge potential threats. [source]
Though there aren’t any threats on your website, marketers can take advantage of this human tendency by creating a visually unique Call-To-Action. Draw customers’ attention to your offer with colours, images, or typefaces. For example, a bright orange “Start Your Free Trial” button against a neutral background will immediately catch your eye, drawing attention to what you want your customers to do. For your customers to be able to respond to your call-to-action, they need to know where it is. For the best results, make it easy for them to find by ensuring it stands out from the rest of your website.
With roots in Information Foraging Theory, information scent can be traced back to the earliest humans hunting for food. The scent of information describes our ability to judge whether or not we will find what we’re looking for by following a certain path. Humans are designed to look for cues that point us in the right direction as we hunt for information. The hunt boils down to two factors - motivation and effort. What will I gain by following this cue (motivation)? and is this a worthy use of my energy (effort)? [source]
Tap into your customers’ natural instinct to know where to look for information. Descriptive navigation tabs and meaningful subheadings initiate a strong information scent. Maintain the scent with images and further text descriptions on landing pages. Like cognitive load, the goal is to make things as easy as possible for your customers. Even if you have a lot of products or subcategories, studies show that customers don’t mind clicking several times, as long as they believe they are headed in the right direction. If the cues on your website don’t support humans tendency to follow the information scent, they’ll likely become frustrated and head back to Google to continue their search.
Investing time and money into your website can be invaluable for your business but it’s important to understand the underlying factors of website success. Using science-backed tactics to instil positive feelings in your website visitors means better chances of reaching new customers, increasing awareness and building sales. Time and money are both extremely valuable to small businesses; keep these website psychology basics in mind to maximize your investment in your website.
Don’t want to waste time or money on your website? Webware’s professional team ensures your website is optimized for user-experience and setup for success.
Google News: Continuing to make the web more mobile friendly
The trend of mobile search shows no signs of slowing down soon. Following the path that Google began in April of last year, the mobile-friendliness ranking signal will be updated in May 2016 to further improve mobile search results.
According to TechCrunch, “Google’s search chief Amit Singhal said for the first time this summer , more Google searches were completed on mobile devices than desktop computers”. There are 100 billion searches performed on Google each month with more than half happening on mobile phones!
With more and more people relying on Google’s mobile search, this update to further penalize non-mobile friendly websites is the next natural step for the search giant.
From the official Google Webmaster blog,
“Getting good, relevant answers when you search shouldn’t depend on what device you’re using. You should get the best answer possible, whether you’re on a phone, desktop or tablet. Last year, we started using mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal on mobile searches. Today we’re announcing that beginning in May, we’ll start rolling out an update to mobile search results that increases the effect of the ranking signal to help our users find even more pages that are relevant and mobile-friendly.”
With this update to its search algorithm, Google continues to confirm the mobile-first industry standard. If your business website is not mobile friendly, now is the best time for a redesign. Not sure if your website is mobile-friendly? Click here to test your website.
This is great news for Webware customers! Our mobile-friendly, responsive designs will continue to be favoured by Google and give our customers great search results ranking.
Reach More Customers with a Strong Online Presence
10 Signs You Need Help With Your Website
How is your website working for your business? If it’s not bringing in traffic or sales, it might be time to give your website a health check-up. Here’s 10 common issues that signal your website could benefit from some TLC:
1. Your website is not mobile responsive. Or worse, you don’t know what mobile responsive means. A website that can be viewed on all devices is not optional; it’s essential. In this booming age of smartphones and tablets, non-responsive websites are outdated, annoying to navigate, and severely affect your rank in search results. If your website in not mobile responsive, run, don’t walk, to your nearest, trusted web designer. Read more about mobile responsiveness and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) here.
2. You don’t know what SEO means. If you have never heard of Search Engine Optimization, that’s a red flag that you need help. SEO is an essential component of a successful and effective website. When ranking websites in search results, search engines, like Google, run algorithms to check several factors on your website. Here’s a few examples of factors that contribute to where your website lands on search engine results: website content, mobile-friendliness, website quality (speed to load pages, duplicate pages, broken links, etc), website architecture and geophysical location.
3. Your website has no (or minimal) traffic. Your website has very few visitors or the number of visitors is declining. This is most likely related to no SEO or poor SEO practices. Even if your industry is already saturated online (like women’s fashion), there is room for everyone and a little SEO work can go a long way.
4. Your web traffic isn’t navigating past your homepage. If your website has a high bounce rate, your traffic is either clicking the “back” button in the browser, closing the tab, or going dormant. In any case, they aren’t being captivated by your website and there could be a few things happening:
- content is cluttered or hard to read
- content is irrelevant
- there is no Call-to-Action
- your website is attracting the wrong traffic
Whatever the reason, if visitors to your website aren’t moving from the initial place they land, now is a good time for a general website review.
5. Your website isn’t updated regularly. In addition to mobile responsiveness, updates to a website positively contribute to it’s Search Engine Optimization. Regular updates help your website and business get found. If it’s not updated regularly, you will likely notice a decline in web traffic and a drop in your search results rank. If you can’t or don’t know how to make changes to your website, seeking help can get you on the right track.
6. Your website has 404 error pages. These are error messages a visitor will receive when a URL (link) doesn’t exist; either because it was moved or deleted. This can be an annoying and frustrating experience for your web traffic and may send them packing. Search engines, like Google, do not like 404 errors either. This will be reflected on the search engine results page (SERP) with a low rank. A review for 404 error messages and broken links should be part of your regular website maintenance plan.
7. You have trouble finding your own website on search engines. If you can’t find your own website online, how do you expect your customers to find it? Being unable to find your website (without typing the exact business name) means it’s not fully optimized for search engines. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a basic website practice that makes it easier for search engines, like Google, to find your website. There are several things you can do to improve your website’s spot on the search engine results pages and here is a good place to start.
8. Your website was designed by you. Unless you’re a professional designer, designing your own website can be tricky. Web designers have studied the discipline in detail and understand what makes an effective web page. DIY websites can be time consuming, frustrating and can lack the professional polish that comes with hiring an expert. An effective website provides customers with a smooth, user-experience; something a designer has been perfecting for years. If you want your website to work for your business, it’s best to seek out a professional designer.
9. Your website doesn’t have an online marketing plan. Even if it’s basic and simple, every website needs some amount of online marketing. There are both free and paid services to help you market your website. Blogging, social media presence, email newsletters or setup and maintenance of Google tools are all things you can do for free! Without a plan for finding and attracting potential customers, your website may not be as effective as you expected.
10. Your website uses flash intros. Thankfully, flash intros on websites have been on a rapid decline over the last 5 years. “Flash” is a web coding technology (by Adobe) to create animation, like a video, on a website. Firstly, search engines cannot read flash technology. If your website has any flash elements, they are detracting from your “search-ability” (how easy or hard it is to find something online). Secondly, they use a lot of bandwidth and can take a long time to load. If your web developer recommends flash elements for your website, it’s time to get a second opinion.
Your website should be contributing your business. If any of the above 10 signs ring true for you, it’s likely your website could be working harder for your business. Seeking the right help can give your website the refresh it needs to compete in this ever-changing internet world.
Not sure where to start? Webware offers a complete tool-kit to help businesses navigate the internet. Your toolkit includes: a content website or an ecommerce website, blog plus all the digital services your website needs to thrive online.
4 powerful Google tools for businesses
Google provides some amazing tools to anyone with a website. These (for the most part) free tools offer businesses an amazing advantage over their competition on the most used search engine in the world. Where your business ranks on Google Search can influence how many new customers visit your business and possibly your bottom line. Use these four powerful tools to ensure your business is as visible and effective as possible across all Google platforms.
The Google My Business tool is arguably the most important tool offered by Google for businesses. The My Business Tool allows you to set up how your business contact information will look to customers on Google search. Once set up, your location, website, reviews, phone number and business hours will appear prominently in Google search results, making it easy for your customers to see relevant information quickly. The My Business Tool is used across Google, including Mobile Search and the Google Maps app, so your customers see consistent, accurate info from anywhere they search. Given the popularity of Google and it’s powerful local search, the My Business tool is a necessary component to any business’s online strategy.
When it comes to website data, Google Analytics is the gold-standard for tracking and reporting on your business’s website. Google Analytics tracks and reports visitor data in a convenient dashboard allowing businesses to see new visitors to the website, returning visitors, how long each visitor spent on the website, which pages they viewed and their geographical location. You can also pull reports on specific page performance and traffic sources. Businesses can monitor marketing campaigns, conversion rates, keyword data and add e-commerce tracking. Google Analytics is a “freemium” (free with paid options) tool for monitoring the basic health and operation of any website and is a must for businesses.
Google Search Console
Google Search Console, previously called Webmaster Tools, allows for more advanced website tracking and maintenance of Google-friendly websites. It provides detailed reports on your search traffic, click-through rates and mobile vs. desktop traffic. Through the Search Analytics Report, you can group, filter and compare your data to tweak your overall digital strategy and maximize website performance. The alerts feature will notify you of any website errors that might affect your rank in search results. Google Search Console can provide your business with the tools to get an extra edge against your competition in search results.
The Google+ Publisher tag is another valuable tool to further enhance how your business info appears in search results. Once you install the publisher tag on your website, Google will link your website to your business brand page on Google+. When someone searches your brand specifically on Google, the content from your Google+ plus will appear on the right side of the search results, providing an eye-catching and detailed description of your business. The Publisher tag allows you to show customers more than the basics of your company without leaving the Google Search page.
With consumers turning to the internet more than ever for information, a business in solid standing with Google is likely to have better online visibility and see increases in both foot and website traffic. These four tools comprise a solid foundation for any business looking to establish a strong online presence and manage an effective, profitable digital strategy.
Webware offers it’s customers an extensive range of services to help manage and grow their websites after the initial launch. The Digital Services Package includes the set up of Google My Business, Google Analytics, Google Search Console and Google+ Publisher for your website. The package also includes blog content writing, online reputation management, website/keyword analysis and optimization to ensure your website adds value to your business. Click here for more info.
Why Reviews Matter for Your Small Business
In this digital age, the value and influence of online reviews is on the rise. Eighty-eight percent of consumers take reviews into account on purchase decisions! Reviews, both positive and negative, can influence your business’s reputation and bottom line. Monitoring what’s being said about your business online is an important part of any digital strategy. Keep reading for a detailed guide on how to make reviews work for your business.
Here’s why your business should care about reviews:
- Trust - 88% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Consumers actively seek out opinions on products/services and studies show consumers highly value peer reviews.
- Visibility / SEO ranking - Businesses with more total reviews and more positive reviews are ranked higher on search engines. For example, Google Maps and Google Mobile Search return the top three businesses nearby with the best ratings and reviews.
- Traffic - The more visibility your business has online, the more likely you are to see an increase in foot and website traffic.
- Conversion - 40% of consumers read reviews on their mobile while at the POS. Positive reviews can close sales and increase overall spending. They can also be a tie-breaker when deciding between establishments so ensure your reviews are accurate and up-to-date.
Ready to get started? Here’s your most important review-related questions answered:
Which review sites should my business use?
The best thing your business can do is find where your competitors are reviewed. Do some research to find which review sites your industry uses to concentrate your effort.
Some popular places to leave and read reviews:
Google Reviews - Google is the most used search engine in the world and specializes in local search. This is a good place to start.
Yelp - This app spans many industries and is go-to search tool for consumers looking for highly rated businesses.
Trip Advisor - If you’re in the hospitality business, TripAdvisor is a well-known and respected website to find reviews
Angie’s List - Mostly for North American based businesses, Angie’s list is ‘higher end’ review site for product and service businesses with guaranteed verified reviews.
Your Website - Add a review widget to your website. Reviews on your own website can increase traffic and sales.
How many reviews does my business need?
Consumers generally read between 4 and 10 reviews before they trust a business. Check out your competitors then aim to stand out from that number. However, consumers are smart and can sniff out fake reviews. If your competitors have 10 reviews and your business has 200, consumers are likely to be weary of your reviews. Aim for a steady increase of one review per month or per quarter.
Can I trick Google with fake reviews?
Absolutely not. Google is well-known for authenticity and will find, then punish, businesses abusing the review system with poor search rankings.
What can I do about bad reviews?
Negative reviews are an opportunity for your business. If you receive a bad review, reach out to the customer. At the minimum, you can apologize for the negative experience and hope they return to your business for another chance to make things right. You can also offer an exchange/refund or discount to compensate for a bad experience. If your business turns the experience into a positive one, you can ask the customer to update their original review or write a new one.
How can I monitor reviews to stay up to date with what people are saying about my business?
Set up Google Alerts to let you know anytime someone says anything about your business. This allows you to respond immediately and provide top-notch customer service.
Ready to get reviewed? How to get reviews:
- First and foremost, DO NOT offer incentives for reviews. This is against most review sites’ policies. Incentivized reviews create mistrust in your customers and will get you booted off review sites.
- Lightly encourage your customers to write reviews. Use your best judgement here. Ask your regulars and satisfied customers. Not everyone will write a review, but if you ask 10 people, you may get 1 quality review.
- Display your reviews inside your establishment. This shows your customers you value their input and may encourage them to add a review as well.
- Establish your online presence. Simply increasing your online visibility can remind customers to write a review.
Word-of-mouth is one of the best forms of advertising. As the digital age’s word-of-mouth, online reviews are a simple, yet effective way to increase traffic, sales, and improve your online reputation. With the increase in value and influence of reviews, a small business can no longer afford to have a poor online reputation. Ensure your small business is up-to-date and reaping the benefits of this essential online tool.
Making the Most of the Holiday Season: 4 Marketing Ideas For the Holidays
The holiday season is upon us! Is your business prepared? The average American consumer is expected to spend over $800 during this holiday season. SMB retailers see 20-30% of their annual business during the last two months of the year. It is essential for you to ensure that your business is able to capitalise on the high rate of spending during the holiday season. An estimated 47% of consumers prefer to shop online compared to the usual brick and mortar stores. In other words, it means is that there is big money to be made this time of the year as far as online shopping and marketing go. But how do you make sure that you and your business are prepared?
Here is where you can start…
1) Start Planning For The Holidays Today
If you have a website or a dedicated blog, begin by updating it to reflect the mood of the ongoing holiday and festivities. If you haven't posted a new article, photo or even a mere promotion in a long time, then this is the time to do it! You can also try pinning one or two colourful banners or even populating it with holiday verbiage. If you run a webstore, then it is an opportune time to start planning what deals and discounts you can offer!
2) Step Up Communication with your Customers
The key to driving traffic and increasing sales during the holiday shopping season is knowing exactly who your customer is and marketing to them well in advance of the holiday season. Businesses that communicate with their customers year-round have more successful holiday marketing campaigns because they took the time to build relationships with shoppers. Incorporate your holiday promotion ideas into a year-round marketing strategy. During the holiday season, focus on your existing customers but also work towards improving your business’ online presence and driving more traffic to your site.
3) Harness the Power of Social Media
It's the holiday season. And as far as the web statistics go, this is the time of the year when social media outlets record the highest amount of traffic per year. Therefore, it goes without saying that if you lay out strategic plans to tap into this traffic, you can easily multiply your mailing list subscriber base within a few weeks or even days! Be accessible on every social media platform and every device. 65% of shoppers use social media to find the perfect gift, so help them find your store. Below are a few ideas for great social media posts during the holiday season:
- Gift guides
- Wish list items
- Creative ways to use your business’s products/services
- Seasons greetings from your staff
- Party planning and event ideas
4) Partner with Other Small Business Owners to Drive Sales
Just like the adage goes, there's indeed strength in numbers. And if you're just starting out (have a new blog, website or social media page), you'll be far much better placed this season if you concentrate most of your effort in pooling your resources together and partner with other local businesses in your area by promoting one another’s products/services during the holiday season. Partnerships with other local businesses will spread awareness about your business to a new audience of highly qualified buyers, e.g. if you own a nail salon, you could partner with a hair salon and offer combined holiday packages.
Now is the time to get working on your holiday marketing plan. Try out one - or all - of these ideas to kick-start this holiday season for your business.
Webware Announces Integration with Fedex
Webware.io is now integrated with Fedex, the world’s largest express transportation company. Webware customers now have access to Fedex’s shipping service right from their Webware workspace.
Enabling Fedex with your Webware website allows you to manage your entire online business from a workspace you already use. Track and fulfill orders right from the same place, your Webware workspace.
Setting up Fedex with your Webware site saves you time too. You won't need to add any shipping rates or setup weight slabs (for example, 1kg = $2.99, 2kg = $4.99, etc). The shipping rate is automatically integrated into your shopping cart during checkout, based on the weight of the items and the zip/postal code entered. This shipping rate includes delivery fees and pickup fees.
Activating Fedex on your Webware website makes shipping easier and streamlines your e-commerce process. Take advantage of Webware’s newest integration and simplify your shipping today!
5 Ways Webware Helps Your Business Succeed
Webware is a leading cloud-based web platform designed for small and medium sized businesses. Businesses can use Webware and our expert support team to design, set up, manage, and grow a website or webstore.
Whether you’re starting an online business, taking your existing business online, or are ready to upgrade your website, Webware has all the key components for a successful digital business, all in one place:
A website builds your brand, increases your business’s credibility and, ideally, will bring you more customers. But it’s a lot of work to build and maintain a website, even if you’re outsourcing the work.
Webware's Do-It-For-Me team will design a website to reflect your brand and give your customers an informative and easy-to-use online experience. Here’s how it works:
- The Webware expert team will start from one of our beautiful website templates, get your inputs and preferences, and build a website that fits your business brand and needs.
- Once it's built, you can run and manage the site yourself with our easy-to-use web-based tools.
With Webware, anyone can have a beautiful, mobile-friendly site at the lowest rates available, all within a quick delivery timeframe.
Want to sell your products online? The Webware Do-It-For-Me Team will deliver a beautifully designed webstore, fully integrated with reputable payment gateways like PayPal and Stripe that support mobile-based transactions.
Site visitors can browse, add to cart, and make payments right from their smartphones, tablets or desktops, using our integrated, straightforward checkout process.
Then you can log into your Webware's Workspace to:
- Manage your products, orders, and customers from one, easy-to-use online Workspace.
- Create coupons to drive more sales and draw in customers.
- Add apps from our App Store for additional features, like customer service chat, surveys and reviews.
- View reports on order activity, visitor stats, and referral sites, so you can keep tabs on your business.
Webware's platform gives you all the tools you need to digitally manage your ecommerce business, from one convenient place.
Blogging significantly increases a website’s SEO and lands your business higher in Google search results. Whether you’re selling online or promoting your business with a website,Webware's blog platform is a great way to increase traffic to your website. It’s also a great place to link to content on your website and products/services on your webstore.
Your customers will experience a seamless transition between your website and blog, while you enjoy the convenience -- and SEO benefits -- of managing both from the same platform.
4) Social Store
Use social media to get your fans onto your website and convert them into buying customers! With the Facebook Store feature on Webware, you can sell your products on your business Facebook page.
Consumers love to research their potential purchases online and frequently ask their social networks for advice. Your Facebook fans can easily view your products on your Facebook page, and share them with their social networks. This will increase your reach and allows you to harness the power of word-of-mouth through social media.
When your fans want more information, or are ready to make a purchase, they click on the product from your Facebook Store and are taken to your website.
Social media is vital to online success - increase your web traffic and engagement with Webware’ Facebook Store.
5) Loyalty Program
Once your fans become customers, it’s important to treat them right to keep them coming back. With Webware's loyalty program, you can award points to customers who register with your website and/or make purchases. And you can decide how customers can redeem their loyalty points. A Loyalty Program helps increase customer satisfaction, customer retention and brand loyalty.
In today’s world, it’s imperative for businesses to have an online presence, and your website is the heart of it all. But a static website alone is not enough.
If you’re selling products online – whether it’s physical products, professional services, or takeout menu items – you need a secure, easy-to-use ecommerce store. And extras like a blog, loyalty program, and social links are now critical elements to success.
And even for those businesses who are not conducting sales online, you still need your customers to find your website, learn about your business, gather the information they need to make an informed decision, and follow your call to action.
Webware's, with our team of experts, will design and setup your online business and give you the tools you need to manage it, all with minimal cost and effort to you. For more info, start a free trial or contact us.
How To Host an Awesome Instagram Contest
This article is the third in a series about marketing on Instagram.
Do you want to boost your Instagram marketing effort? Attract more fans and engage existing followers? Host an Instagram contest! 70% of Instagram users have already participated in a contest on Instagram or would be willing to do so (according to the Iconosquare 2015 Instagram study). Instagrammers enjoy engaging with brands and appreciate companies who value customer interaction. It’s easy to overlook an Instagram contest, but it has proven valuable for small business marketing.
Why host an Instagram contest?
Hosting a contest can increase your followers, likes, and overall engagement. A creative, thoughtful giveaway will reach your target audience and increase your Instagram stats. One contest can create the same interest and engagement as months of your regularly scheduled content. It can also get your customers creating interesting and relevant content for you.
The benefits of a well-executed contest will extend beyond the length of the contest, so it’s important to create a clear plan.
Step 1: Create and plan
Choose the target market, prize, type of contest, and theme.
Target Market: Get a clear idea of who will be interested in your contest, and who you want to participate. Once you have the ideal contest participant in your head, research what they post on Instagram and which hashtags they use to guide you. Targeting the right audience is vital to your contest success.
Prize: Give away an awesome prize. Choose something your followers are going to get really excited about. To keep the focus on your business, make sure the prize is related to you. If you’re a company with one product/service, give that away. If you have a lot of products/services, give a gift card or a dollar value to spend at your business. Webware clients can give away coupon codes and Loyalty Reward Points. This ensures your contest entrants are genuinely interested in your brand. Other options include tickets to trade shows and industry-related events. Decide how the winner will be selected (public/private vote, random selection, your favourite, etc). To continue reaping rewards after the contest is finished, you want to attract those who have potential to be interested in your brand (not someone who is only interested in winning an iPad).
Contest Rules & Structure: Think about how the rules of your contest can help with your marketing strategy. Here are some ideas we recommend.
1. Select an interesting theme related to your business or industry. Get creative with your theme and encourage your followers to have fun.
2. Choose a brand or contest-relevant hashtag that participants must use to enter their posts. This is the best way to have all submissions organized in one place for reposting entries, selecting winners and for people to view all submissions.
3. Content that your customer creates for you has high value. If you want to take advantage of this precious resource, make user-generated content a mandatory qualifier for your contest.
You can host a contest based on likes and/or follows, which means that users who “like” your photo or “follow” you are automatically entered into the contest. This is an easy way to host a contest and doesn’t require much planning. Because it’s simple to enter, it will get you likes and followers. The drawbacks to like/follow contests are that they will attract people who aren’t members of your target audience, and that contestants aren’t creating any content for you to use. This type of contest may not create future engagement on your Instagram feed or in your community.
Other types of contests include reposting or comment-based entry. Entrants must repost your contest photo or comment on one of your posts to qualify for your giveaway. These entry methods have more interaction than like/follow contests but don’t come with the valuable user-created content of a photo contest. You can also use a combination of requirements for entry into your contest. For example, contest entrants must like a photo, follow your brand AND comment on the contest post. However, one of the most common reasons why contests fail is that there are too many requirements for entry. Find a sweet spot between too easy and too difficult to ensure maximum, quality entries.
Helpful Tip - No matter what kind of contest you host, always require a “follow” for entry. This is a simple yet effective way to increase your potential future engagement.
Step 2: Prep fans
Once you've decided on the type of contest, a fun theme and a cool prize, let your customers and followers know about the upcoming opportunity. In the weeks leading up to your contest, give your fans the heads up that soon they can participate to win an amazing prize. Before launch, advertise the contest regularly on social media, email campaigns, your website, and in-store. Use your Instagram bio space to promote the contest while it’s happening. To create some buzz, encourage your fans to spread the word or offer an added incentive to anyone who shares your contest post.
Step 3: Launch
Before you start your contest, ask a friend or two to go through the contest steps from start to finish. How easy or difficult was the entry process? Did you understand the rules and how to qualify? Was the prize motivating? Do you know when it starts, ends, and how the winner is chosen? This will give you an idea of how your contest is received by others and how you can make it easier and more lucrative to participate. On day one of your Instagram contest, give your followers all the info they need to enter. Create an eye-catching post with a high-quality photo of the prize. If you’re giving away a gift card, get creative to keep it interesting! In addition to the prize photo, the post should also include start/end date, qualifications for entry, rules, winner selection, hashtags, and other contest details. Another reason for an unsuccessful contest is misunderstanding how to enter. To avoid losing participants, clearly state how to enter and what to expect.
In addition to the contest-entry hashtag, the launch post should also include other fitting hashtags. Refer to your target audience research in the planning phase to ensure your contest execution is on track. If you’ve been hash tagging for a while, you may already know which general hashtags your target audience follows and uses. Add popular/keyword hashtags relevant to your contest and frequently used by the Instagrammers you want to engage. You can also include general contest hashtags but keep in mind this may attract contest-seekers only. You’ll have more success with general contest hashtags if your contest is easy to enter or appeals to a broad audience. Popular general hashtags are: #contest #photocontest #giveaway #entertowin #contestgram #contestgiveaway #contestday. More on Instagram hashtags for marketing here.
This Instagram contest was hosted by Webware customer My Envy Box, and is a great example of a well hash-tagged contest.
Click here to read Instagram’s requirements for hosting promotions on their app.
Step 4: Maintenance
Give the contest enough running time to garner attention and entries, but not so long that people lose interest. Two to four weeks is the general guideline for an average contest, ensuring ample promotion before the start date. If you’re running a photo contest, you can promote throughout the contest by reposting submissions. Continue to repost even after the winner has been announced, to show appreciation and maintain the connection you established with your fans during the contest.
Carefully crafting and hosting an Instagram contest can boost your social media stats. Get creative and have fun with your followers. Instagrammers appreciate brands who want to get connected and see the world from their customers’ view. Find your like-minded fans and get them thoughtfully engaged with a fun contest!
6 Tips on Getting Started with Instagram for your Business
We are live with Webware
Today we are releasing webware to the public. We have been running in stealth for the last 6 months with a few special partners around the world.
Webware is a turn key white label platform that allows any company or entrepreneur to provide ecommerce and website services to their customers. Anyone from a bank or mobile telephone company to your local digital services entrepreneur can now offer a branded software as a service platform, charge what they want and keep the customer relationship to themselves.
Help in setting up your webware with these first steps:
2. Customizing your website / signup page
3. Setup your blog and customer communication box in the workspace
3 Essentials for your Instagram Marketing Plan
You already know that marketing is essential for your business. And if you’ve done any marketing for your small business, you also know that social media is an important part of the overall strategy. The photo-sharing app Instagram is a growing force in social media, especially for business. Research shows that Instagrammers love to shop - more than people on Facebook, who use the older social media site mostly to stay connected with friends and family. So if you haven’t already, it’s time to get your business on Instagram.
We’ve covered the basics here, so now that your Instagram business page is up and running, it’s time to make a plan to achieve your marketing goals. This post covers three essentials to include when creating your Instagram marketing strategy.
1. Use Hashtags!
There a lot of ways you can use hashtags to promote your brand and get more followers. First off, some examples of the types of hashtags you’ll want to use.
Trending hashtags - Trending hashtags are the topics that people are currently discussing. They can be trending in a specific community/industry/country or trending across all of Instagram. The use of trending hashtags can help increase your exposure to non-followers. It’s best to use them when you find one related to your business. When that happens, switch out your regularly scheduled post for the trending hashtag to reach like-minded Instagrammers. Last week, #nationalsiblingday was trending. This adorable non-profit in New York City got in on the action.
Top Hashtags – These are the most commonly used hashtags on Instagram. Examples of consistently popular hashtags include #love #picoftheday #fashion #friends #food #repost #beauty.
To see the overall top 100 Instagram hashtags, click here.
To see a sample of top hashtags sorted by industry, click here.
It’s useful to hashtag your posts with one or two popular hashtags to reach non-followers. Use both general and industry-specific hashtags to maximize your reach.
Brand hashtags - It’s almost always best to use your brand name here. For example, #powerstores. In some cases, a short and clever slogan can work (KitKat uses #haveabreak), but it’s best to do some research beforehand. Include your brand hashtag on your profile page so anyone viewing your feed will see it.
Campaign hashtags - Hashtags for marketing campaigns or contests. Choose a short phrase that captures the essence of the campaign. Make a requirement for entering a contest or participating in a campaign.
Keyword hashtags - These are general hashtags used to describe the content of your post. They describe products and lifestyle.
Locations and events - Hashtag your geographical location (country, city, community, neighbourhood etc). Look for and use event/conference hashtags to reach fellow attendees and fans.
General tips on using hashtags - Use between 5 and 10 hashtags per post for maximum exposure. Any more and risk putting your followers off by appearing obnoxious (this goes for posting more than once a day, too). Use a few different types of hashtags to best describe what’s happening in your post. Knowing which ones to use can be tricky, so when getting started, check out what other businesses in your industry are up to on Instagram. Follow industry leaders, businesses you admire, and customers you appreciate. Research a hashtag you’re considering by typing it in the Instagram search field to see how popular it is and what it’s already used for.
For extra help, hashtagify.me lets you search a hashtag then gives you related, popular hashtags. It can help you find trends and recommend additional hashtags that may be relevant to your post.
2. Show Appreciation
As with all social media platforms, a grassroots marketing plan includes engaging with your customers. This is especially true for Instagram. A great tactic to increase overall engagement and attract more followers is customer appreciation. Re-posting followers’ content shows you’re listening and value their outlook on your brand. A popular campaign by Chobani yogurt showcases delicious food creations made with their products, by their customers. They encourage followers to get creative with their product then post the photo with a branded hashtag (#creationaday). Chobani re-posts the photo with a shout-out to the creator.
While showing the love is bound to get you more followers, the value of appreciation goes beyond customer loyalty. Your customer has saved you time by creating valuable content that genuinely shows how your product or service is actually used. It’s also great insight into what people love about your brand.
Instagram doesn’t give you the ability re-share your followers’ content, but Repost and Regram are two popular apps you can download that will. The free versions of these apps add a watermark to re-posted content and paid versions allows multiple Instagram accounts. Check your mobile’s app store to see what’s available.
There are other ways to show appreciation that work. 41% of Instagramers would follow a brand to benefit from special offers. Reward your followers with exclusive promotions, discount codes, sneak-previews of product launches or priority access to new services. Offer giveaways – such as your products/services, tickets to food & beverage shows, fashion shows, concerts, or other events of interest to your fans. Offering quality benefits exclusively to your Instagram followers will encourage them to never miss a post!
3. Measure what works
Don’t let the effort of creating content, researching hashtags and hosting promotions go to waste. You’ll want to measure how each of your strategies affects the number of likes, followers and comments received. Analytics are the key to refining your marketing plan and understanding what works for your business. Then you can make tweaks in response to how different strategies affect your metrics.
Iconosquare is the most recommended analytics tool for Instagram. Get your basic statistics and analytics to hone your marketing plan. Union Metrics offers a free checkup of your Instagram account which will give you a few pieces of valuable information at no cost. Collec.to’s free plan provides the same basic stats. These platforms also offer paid plans to get additional features to manage your Instagram account.
Instagram is great for business because users want to get involved with the companies they buy from. Instagrammers love to engage and are very active on what’s becoming one of the most popular social media apps in the world. Once you incorporate these essentials into your marketing plan, your business will get the most out of Instagram.
6 Tips on Getting Started with Instagram for Your Business
Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly Now! Google Announces Important SEO Update
Last November, Google announced that it would be labelling and promoting "mobile-friendly websites" in their search results. This was in response to the fact that 80% of Google searches are performed on a mobile device. People are moving away from their desktops and spending more time on smartphones and tablets. As technology improves, mobile devices are getting better at handling tasks which were once reserved for desktop computers.
On April 21, in less than four weeks from now, Google will update its search algorithm to include mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor for websites.
As stated on Google's official blog:
“This change...will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.”
If your website or webstore isn’t mobile-friendly by April 21, it will take a big dive in Google’s search results, which could significantly impact your website traffic.
If you’re already a Webware customer, you can rest easy. All of our themes are responsive, automatically giving your website or webstore the “Mobile-Friendly” label. Your business will rank higher in Google’s search and customers will have a hassle-free experience on your website.
Is your website not mobile-friendly? Visit www.webware.io and get a new website!
6 Tips on Getting Started with Instagram for your Business
Instagram is a photo sharing app that has taken the social media space by storm! Users post photos and short videos to share any and all aspects of their lives with friends, family and fans. Before posting photos, Instagram users can easily enhance them using filters. Each filter has a different effect on the photo like adding more contrast, light, shadows, tint or vignette edges, black and white/sepia options. Take a picture with your smartphone, add a filter and share it with the world.
Brands have discovered that Instagram is way to communicate with their current customers and reach potential customers in a fun and unique way. Because Instagram is one of the top ten most popular smartphone apps, it’s an easy way to reach your customers and target market. Create a buzz around your product and engage your community to increase brand awareness and loyalty with this popular and growing photo sharing tool.
As part of a three-part blog series on Instagram, here are some basic guidelines to get your business’s Instagram account started off on the right foot.
1) Communicate your brand consistently.
What is your business hoping to achieve with Instagram? More followers? Increased product sales? Brand awareness? Know what your main objectives are and work toward them with every single post.
Instagram is a great way to visually communicate your brand’s values through relevant, eye-catching images. These posts can be funny, inspirational, educational, or simply beautiful to look at, as long as they promote your brand image and align with your business goals.
2) Connect your Instagram account with any other social media you use.
Facebook and Twitter will automatically repost your Instagram photos to your existing fans and followers. Link all of your accounts and let all of your social networks know you’re on Instagram to build your initial following.
Learn how to link your social networks and more on linking to your Facebook page.
3) Post a good mix of business and fun images.
Business images promote your products and show them in action. These are a great way to start a conversation about your product and interact with your customers. However, your followers will get bored by seeing posts that only promote products and feel sales-pitchy. Connect with your followers on a personal level. Share the faces behind your company at work and play. Your followers will appreciate an inside glimpse of your company’s day-to-day life and culture.
4) Use #Hashtags.
This is the best way for non-followers to find your photos. Hashtags are words or phrases used to categorize posts making them searchable by subject. For example, if you take a photo of a beach and add the hashtag #beach, it will come up in an Instagram search by anyone looking for beach-related posts.
Use hashtags to describe your post and further convey your brand’s message, and it will help increase visibility of your photos.
5) Time your posts for the most engagement.
Post consistently, when your followers are likely to have down-time. Don’t post too often, once a day with a purposeful message is enough to engage your followers.
6) Engage with your followers.
Reply to comments on your posts. Like, comment and re-post your followers’ posts to build brand loyalty and attract new followers and potential customers.
These beginner tips will help get you started with your first posts and create a foundation for your business’s Instagram presence. Stay tuned to the Webware blog to learn more about using Instagram for your business. Future posts will cover marketing with Instagram, tools to help you get the most out of Instagram, and integrating Instagram with your website/webstore. Happy Instagramming!
3 Essentials for your Instagram Marketing Plan
Top 5 Reasons Why Customer Satisfaction is Astonishingly Important
Most owners of online stores typically run extensive promotions and marketing campaigns to capitalise on the festive season at the end of the year, and watch with delight as their sales volume soars. You are likely one of them.
Now that you have set up your promotions and campaigns for the peak shopping season, it’s time to focus on another equally important element for success - Customer Satisfaction!
If you had any reason to wonder just how important customer satisfaction is to your ecommerce business, we have compiled the top 5 reasons just for you!
1.Satisfied customers are the ones who return
As obvious as it may sound, it’s important to always keep in mind that only those customers who are satisfied with your products and service are likely to return for more. Of course, not every satisfied customer will become a repeat customer, but it’s almost certain that a dissatisfied customer will never return, especially given the large variety of options available in today’s highly competitive market.
2. Returning customers are cheaper to retain than acquiring new customers
If you’ve ever run a successful marketing campaign, you are well aware of the high cost of customer acquisition. The cost involved in getting a satisfied customer to return to your website is a lot cheaper than the marketing spend required to acquire new customers. One thing successful businesses have in common the world over is a high volume of returning customers. And, as I’ve already said, the only customers who are likely to return are the satisfied ones.
3. You can make it part of your brand’s Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
As you already know, in today’s highly competitive market, customers have a number of businesses to chose from to satisfy the exact same need. Good customer service can often become one of a brand’s USPs that customers take into account when making their choice. Price is of course an important differentiator, especially for first-time customers - but research has shown that very often, people are willing to pay a slightly higher price for better customer service.
4. It leads to customer loyalty, increasing Customer Lifetime Value
The more frequently a customer returns to your store, the more value he or she creates for you. Your Sale Cost reduces with regard to that customer, while your Sale Value keeps increasing. The longer you can keep a customer satisfied, the more you stand to gain from them.
5. It affects your Online Brand Reputation
Research shows that more and more online buyers are depending upon product reviews and customer testimonials to make their purchase decisions. The more positive reviews you have, the higher your chances of acquiring a sale. On the other hand, negative reviews will turn away customers in a devastatingly efficient way. So when you start getting those great customer reviews, be sure to post them on your website for all to see!
Conclusion: It's Worth It!
With these important reasons in mind, be sure you go the extra mile to please your customers. Fulfil your orders quickly, communicate well with your customers, ensure your products are high quality and well packaged – all with a goal of ensuring the highest levels of customer satisfaction. You'll be glad you did it! And your customers will too!
Get your Online Store to show on Google Search Results
After you get your business online, the first thing you’ll likely want is to have people find it. One way to do this is advertising and marketing, for sure. But one critical (and free) step you should do right away -- once your website is ready and optimized for SEO -- is to index your site with Google, so that people can find your site through search.
Think for a minute about how you shop online. You search for the product you want in a search engine like Google, and then click on links that show up as results. So you need YOUR business to show up for people who are looking for YOUR products and services in the same way.
As we’ve said before, Google is by far the most popular search engine today, with 67%+ of all searches happening there, so it makes sense to focus your attention on Google’s search engine. You can make sure your site shows up on Google quickly by indexing it.
What is indexing?
It’s a way of telling Google that your website exists. Google’s search bot may eventually find and index your site, but you really have no idea how long it will take, it could take weeks or more. So this is a way to speed up that process.
How to index your site with Google
Here are the steps:
1) Go to Google Webmaster Tools site. You will need to sign in with a Google Account. If you don’t already have one, you will need to create one.
2) Click on the ‘Add a Site’ button and submit your website URL.
3) You will be given different options to verify that you are the owner of the site. The easiest option is to choose the “HTML tag” option under “Alternate Methods”. You will be given a code that you need to copy-paste in the meta tag of your home page.
Webware clients, to paste the HTML tag into your homepage, go to Website > Site Pages in your workspace and select “Home” page, or ask your Guru for help with this.
4) Once the site is verified, you will get an email from Google that looks like this:
This email will help you set up your Google Webmaster Account.
If you are unsure of how to do the set up, there are helpful links to explain the whole process in easy-to-follow-steps. Whether you make use of the other options or not, be sure to submit the sitemap of your online store.
Once you have set up your account, your website, along with all its pages, will get indexed by Google soon thereafter. And once your site is indexed, it will show up in search results for searches that are relevant to your business.
How is indexing different from SEO?
SEO is about page rank, which is the next step. First, your site needs to be indexed.
Note that indexing does not guarantee your website will appear on the first page of Google search results. It only guarantees that it WILL show up on relevant search results. It won’t be missed.
For a new website, it’s highly unlikely you will show up on the first page right from the start. You need to work on your SEO to get it moving up the Page Rank, hopefully to the first page, for your most important keywords.
Indexing your site with Google is a key and simple first step to getting your site noticed by Google's search engine.
Webware customers, we’re now offering an SEO marketing package, where we will make sure that your site has all the right title tags and meta descriptions, and we will take care of indexing your site on Google for you. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or your Guru for more information!
Tools for Marketing Analytics at your Fingertips!
We have talked about why online businesses need Marketing Analytics and what kind of data to look for in Marketing Analytics. Now, let’s look at some specific tools that you can use to gain insight into the performance of your website as well as marketing campaigns.
1) Google Analytics
Google Analytics is one of the best website analytics tools, and it’s free! You can gain insight into many different parameters related to user behaviour on your website, such as:
- Deep insights into your audience - where they are coming from, their demographics and interests, the devices they use, etc.
- An overview of their usage of your site - number of pages, time spent, etc.
- Tracking your social marketing campaigns and how much traffic they have brought to the site, and
- Details of all sales on your website, to help you identify marketing strategies that work.
Google Analytics also offers real-time analytics, in-page analytics and visitor flow visualisation that can have a deep impact on understanding how well the website is performing and which elements need to be improved.
Compete is a paid tool and its prices vary based on the types of features you need. Compete offers comprehensive information on keywords that attract your target audience to your website as well as your competitors’ websites. Such information can be very useful in creating advertising campaigns that provide a high Return On Investment (ROI).
You can also find out where viewer came from and where they go, for both your website and those of your competitors. This can help you identify the best referral websites to place your ads or content on as well as understand how customers behave when they leave the website.
3) Google Analytics Content Experiments
Formerly known as Google Website Optimizer, Content Experiments is now part of Google Analytics. Content Experiments enable you to test all different segments of your website to identify the best options. For instance, you can try different layouts, images and content on different pages of your website in rotation and easily find out which ones or which combinations perform better than the others. This will help ensure that all elements on your website are as optimised as possible.
KISSinsights is a free survey tool offered by KISSmetrics. It enables you to reach out to your customers directly and get answers to important questions like:
- What are visitors attempting to do on your website?
- Are they able to do it or not?
- How satisfied are they?
KISSinsights is an extremely simple survey tool, and its best advantage is that it’s short and does not impose on your visitors for too long, while providing you with the most important insights you need into their opinion and experience of your website.
5) Social Media Tools
Let’s look at tools for two of the most popular social networks: Facebook and Twitter
Facebook: Page Insights
If you have a Facebook Page for your Brand, Page Insights can provide you with a whole lot of information about it.
You will find the Insights tab in the top left corner of your Facebook Page.
Here you will get deep insight into the Likes your Page has received, your Posts that have been popular, the kind of audience your page attracts and their ages, genders and locations. Such information can be very useful in targeting your Facebook ads and promotions.
Similar to Facebook Insights, Twitalyzer offers comprehensive insight into your number of followers, retweet insights, how often a specific account replies or engages with your brand on your Twitter feed, and more.
As you can see, these are tools that assist you in every aspect of your online presence and engagement - your website, your audience and your social networks. Using these tools will provide you with all the data you need to ensure the best performance of your brand on every net property.
Top 5 Reasons Why Marketing Analytics is Critical to Your Success
No Pain No Gain: No Longer True for Building A Website
‘No Pain, No Gain’ seems to be the way things go for everything in life, whether it’s a fitness program or even an online business. No matter what it is we want to achieve, we have to endure a painful ordeal to get it, right?
Let’s look at all the hassles you will have to go through (or already have gone through) when you want to build an ecommerce store and/or take your business online.
PAIN #1: Finding the right designer
You need someone who can translate your vision for your website in a web-ready design, while keeping in mind all branding requirements.
PAIN #2: Finding the right developer
Then you need to find a website developer who can translate the visual design into a functioning website, keeping in mind user experience and functionality.
PAIN #3: Finding the right domain-selling and hosting company
You need to decide where to buy your website’s domain name from and on whose servers you will host your website. Understanding the choices and all the features offered requires major time spent just educating yourself on all of it.
PAIN #4: Finding the right payment gateway
If you’re selling online, you have to choose a payment gateway that is right for you, based on many different technical and non-technical parameters, then have your web developer integrate it with your website.
PAIN #5: Finding the right vendor for site maintenance
Once your site is ready and launched, you will need someone who will update and maintain your website on a regular basis. Often, the developer who built your site has then disappeared when it comes time to make changes!
PAIN #6: Finding the right fulfillment partner
Finally, if you’re shipping products to customers, you will also need to find the right logistics partner and then negotiate with him to offer you a reasonable deal.
THE BIGGEST PAIN: The Cost
More than anything else, you will need to start with a large capital investment to pay for all the above-mentioned professionals and expenses.
It is easy to see why so many people are put off by the thought of taking their business online.
But imagine if this process was not as convoluted or as expensive as it is right now… Would you let anything stop you from breaking the Internet barrier and offering your goods and services to the large number of shopping buyers online?
Webware is a DIY Online Store Builder. We believe that ecommerce has the power to transform the lives of small business owners, and that it should be as easy as possible for them to have a great website where they can promote their business and sell products. That’s why we’ve created an extremely easy-to-use platform that’s as effortless as managing your Facebook page.
With Webware, you get pain-free access to:
- Create your own professional-looking website yourself in a matter of minutes using our beautiful website themes. And they're all free, even the mobile responsive ones.
- Or you can have us build it for you in a matter of days, at about one-third the cost you’d pay a web developer!
- Try out many different designs, colors and other elements of look-and-feel of the website, as many times as you want until you have a website that you like - and it’s all for free!
- Web hosting on blazing-fast Amazon servers. And the hosting cost is included in your highly affordable monthly subscription.
- The best Payment Gateways available, like PayPal and Stripe, pre-integrated into your website. Just enter your merchant account info and you’re ready to accept payments for orders.
- Webware tie-ups with several logistics partners to help you find the right fulfillment partners at reasonable rates.
- Finally, Webware is such a simple platform to manage that you will be able to make any and all changes to your online store on your own. You’ll never have to rely on a developer again!
Webware offers a host of other features that make it easier for you to manage your website easily, like:
- Easy web-based tools to manage orders, update product info, and communicate with customers
- Integration with social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter
- Discount coupons and Loyalty programs
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) friendly
- Blog platform hosted right on your site
- App Store with a wide range of third-party apps to plug into your site
Webware does not require any upfront or setup fees, so you avoid a large upfront capital investment, plus the monthly subscription prices that you pay are also extremely affordable. Check out our Pricing Page to see for yourself!
So, what are you waiting for? Join hands with Webware, and say good-bye to the pains of cobbling together a website and chasing elusive and expensive web developers! Set up your online store in minutes and watch as your business grows online!
The all-in-one platform that gives your business a web presence you're proud of without the headache you’re used to.