Many businesses create a blog with the best of intentions but then neglect it. An active blog is a great tool for SEO and building authority for your business. To get the maximum benefits, however, you need to post regularly to your business blog. Read more
One of the most powerful ways to grow your business and outsell your competition is to get more positive online reviews. Reviews are getting increasingly important as consumers do research and seek reassurance before they buy a product online or stop in a retail business. Reviews are especially valuable for helping you rank and attract customers in local search. According to some research, each star in a review can result in between 5 and 9 percent increase in business. This is extremely significant and makes it worthwhile to investigate the best strategies for getting more reviews.
Reviews on Your Own Website
There are two types of online reviews. First-party reviews appear on your own website. Third-party reviews appear on sites such as Google, Yelp, Angie’s List or other independent websites. Both types of reviews are important. Let’s start with the first party type. Aside from building confidence in your visitors, these reviews are also valuable for SEO. Here are a few guidelines for attracting and maximizing the benefits of first-party reviews.
- Ask all of your customers to leave reviews on your website. Remind them on your website, social media pages, via email and, if you have a physical business, in person.
- Publish all reviews. If you filter them and only publish positive comments, you’ll quickly lose credibility.
- Don’t incentivize. Don’t offer people rewards or discounts in order to get reviews.
- Reply to all of your reviews. Thank people for taking the time to comment, even if the review is critical.
- If you get negative reviews, address the issues promptly. Do whatever you can to make the customer happy.
Reviews that appear on third-party sites are also important. Many customers use sites such as Google and Yelp as guidelines when choosing businesses, including restaurants, lawyers, accountants, medical professionals, and others. Many of the guidelines for third-party reviews are similar to the ones listed above for reviews on your own site. However, there are some differences as well.
- Make sure your business is listed with Google and any other sites that are relevant to your business. Google is especially vital if you have a brick and mortar business and want people to find you.
- While almost all types of businesses are now listed on Yelp and Google, don’t overlook specialty sites for your industry. For example, attorneys are listed on Lawyers.com and Avvo. Doctors are listed on Healthgrades.
- Monitor review sites carefully so you know when people leave reviews. Set Google Alerts or use some time of reputation management software or service so stay informed.
- As with reviews on your own website, always take the time to respond to reviewers. Thank people who leave positive reviews and do what you can to correct any mistakes. Some people will remove or update negative reviews when they see you care enough to address the issue.
- If you suspect a dishonest competitor is leaving fake bad reviews, notify the site. This doesn’t work everywhere but some sites, including Google, will remove dishonest reviews if you report them.
Online reviews are now one of the best ways to build your business and stand apart from the competition. The best way to attract positive reviews is to offer outstanding products and customer service. It’s also essential to remind your customers to leave reviews.
Invoice financing is a great alternative to bank financing. It’s a way to quickly improve your cash flow without incurring debt. It’s also an option that’s open to many businesses that might not qualify for bank loans. Riviera Finance, founded in 1969, is one of the acknowledged industry leaders for invoice factoring. They provide the highest cash advances in the industry with funding available within 24 hours.
Learn more about Riviera Finance’s invoice factoring solutions here.
It’s interesting to look at how the perception of business websites has changed in recent years. In the early days of the internet, websites were a novelty and only considered essential for web-based businesses. Gradually, more and more businesses learned the value of creating websites. Lately, however, the rise of Facebook and other social media sites has made some business owners think that all they need is social media. This, however, is an incorrect and potentially costly error. Websites are just as critical to the success of a small business as ever before.
Why Websites are Crucial
No matter what other marketing tools you use, nothing can replace your business website. For one thing, this is your own personal online property. When you post to a social media site, YouTube, or any other third-party site, you don’t control the process. You’re posting to someone else’s domain and they set the rules. When you own a site and domain, you can take measures to improve SEO and generate more unpaid or organic traffic. You also have complete control over the look and layout of your own site. Above all, your business name and logo appear at the top of the page. These are all essential aspects of building your brand.
How to Get the Most From Your Website
Now that we’ve established that small businesses need websites, let’s look at some guidelines to help make you get more traffic and engagement.
- Make sure your site is easy to load and navigate. If your pages don’t load quickly, you’ll lose traffic. Menus should be relevant and clearly visible.
- Your site must be mobile-friendly. More and more people are using smartphones and tablets to access the internet. Your site has to be responsive, meaning that your content is visible and easy to navigate from any device.
- Create relevant content and update your site frequently. Use strategic keywords that your customers are searching for. Stay current on the latest topics in your industry and post fresh content regularly.
- Link to your site. To increase targeted traffic, make sure you link to your site from as many places as possible. Include links in your social media posts, emails, business cards and any ads you place both online and offline.
- Provide contact information and solid customer support. Make sure your email, phone number and, if relevant, your physical location are prominently displayed. Offering multiple customer support options, such as email, phone and even chat bots helps visitors get the information they need from your site.
Websites are, and will continue to be, a crucial small business tool. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use other marketing tools such as social media and email. Indeed, these can actually help you send targeted traffic to your site. You also have to consider other elements essential to maintaining and growing your business, such as improving cash flow.
One of the best ways to do this is to sign up for invoice factoring with Riviera Finance, which allows you to collect payment immediately on invoices and accounts receivable.
Operating a successful business is less about finding a secret formula than paying attention to many moving parts. You have to pay attention to every aspect of your business, from the quality of your products to marketing to customer service.
The following are 7 business best practices that will help you grow your business and delight your customers.
Optimize Your Website
One of your key business goals should be to build or improve your website, which is essential for attracting leads and customers. Make sure your site looks professional, loads quickly, and clearly communicates what you have to offer. Additionally, make sure that your contact information is easy to see.
Connect with Your Audience on Social Media
A presence on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram helps you engage with your customers and get new leads. Identify the social media platforms where your audience is most active and post regularly. Don’t simply advertise but post helpful and informative content that builds your authority and positions you as an industry leader.
Build Your Business with Email Marketing
An email list is one of the most powerful tools for growing your business. When you have your own list, you can always contact your customers without having to advertise or send them to your website. Creating a newsletter or giving away helpful content is a time-tested way of building an email list. Use analytics to track your email marketing campaigns.
Leverage the Power of Influencer Marketing
Partnering with influencers can help your business build credibility and attract a wider audience. Find people in your industry with large followings and find ways to connect with them. You might, for example, send samples of your product to them and ask for reviews. Interviewing well-known people in your blog, podcast or webinar is another possibility. At the same time, make sure you’re transparent with your audience about your relationship with influencers or you can damage your credibility.
Hire Specialized Help
In some cases, hiring additional employees frees up your time and helps you improve in areas where you lack expertise. For example, if you don’t have a technical background, an IT specialist can deal with many issues more efficiently than you could. Similarly, an accountant or bookkeeper can help you get your finances in order. Hiring the right professionals can help you meet your business goals. Another option is to outsource tasks to freelancers or agencies.
Set Up an Efficient Tasks List
A daily or weekly tasks list is a traditional, yet still effective way to stay on target with your goals. The key to making a task or to-do list effective is to prioritize. Focus on the most urgent and difficult items first. Find a method that works for you, whether this means writing your lists out by hand, writing them down in a text file or using an app.
Find Ways to Improve Cash Flow
Without healthy cash flow, it’s very difficult to grow your business. Certain simple business tips, such as cutting back on unnecessary expenditures and raising prices when appropriate can provide you with more cash. Business loans are another option. One creative alternative to traditional loans is invoice factoring, which lets you collect immediate payments on outstanding invoices.
As 2018 is starting, it’s a good time to start planning your marketing strategy for the year. There are some major developments that you need to be aware if you want to grow your business. Let’s explore the three leading 2018 small business trends.
Top 3 Small Business Trends in 2018
Think Mobile First
When considering small business trends, we can’t overlook the continuing rapid growth of mobile. It’s no longer enough to be merely mobile-friendly. Mobile devices are getting increasingly popular and more and more customers are shopping via mobile. If you sell products online, you have to make it easy for people to access your website and make purchases from mobile phones. Even if you have a brick and mortar business, many of your customers will look up your website using a mobile device to find out about your products, hours and location. Small businesses must prioritize mobile customers when they build their websites and post content online.
More Personal Customer Service
In an age when we hear so much about AI, machine learning and automation it may seem counterintuitive to think that one of the biggest small business trends is more personal service. However, as automated tools are used more frequently, they create a certain backlash. Even as customers appreciate the convenience of chatbots and automated services, they also want to feel like they’re dealing with actual human beings. Businesses that provide personalized service, whether in person, on the phone or online will have an advantage. This doesn’t mean you have to handle everything on a person-to-person basis. Use automated tools when necessary but reach out in a personal way for important interactions. A short phone call or personal email goes a long way towards building strong relationships with customers. The best way to run your small business in 2018 is to find the right balance between high tech and personal service.
Small businesses always need to find ways to cut costs and improve efficiency. With the growth of cloud computing and freelancing, it’s now easier than ever to outsource many tasks. You can now communicate with contractors anywhere in the world using platforms such as Skype and video conferencing software. Documents can be stored and shared on cloud platforms such as Dropbox or Google Drive. It’s often more economical to hire contractors on a per-project basis rather than full-time employees. Depending on your needs, you might hire freelancers for web design, SEO, content writing, PR, customer support or other tasks. Outsourcing and taking advantage of cloud-based services help make your business leaner and more efficient.
These are a few of the major 2018 small business trends that you should pay close attention to. While none of them are brand new, they’re all on the upswing and will only get bigger in the next few years.
Another issue that has a huge impact on your business growth is cash flow. If you want to grow your small business in 2018, consider invoice factoring, a process that allows you to receive immediate cash for your invoices.
Riviera Finance has helped companies improve cash flow with invoice factoring for nearly 50 years. Get Started today!