Tag Archive | "Small Businesses"

Twitter to Give Away Free Ads to Small Businesses

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Twitter to Give Away Free Ads to Small Businesses


Advertising on Twitter has been something that’s been talked about a lot in online marketing circles. The microblogging service has now become part of many companies overall social media strategies. In fact, millions of businesses around the globe have created a Twitter accounts to promote their brand and share information with users who may be interested in what they have to offer. There are two ways a company can advertise on this social media site.

The first one is free and simply involves creating a Twitter account. You can then post messages on your profile, which can be read by users that follow you. But for those who want more exposure, Twitter has recently expanded its paid ads option, which allows your messages to be seen by Twitter users based on your selected demographic. Many companies, especially large and well known brands, have taken advantage of this paid advertising option.

But now, it seems that Twitter wants to increase the number of small and medium sizes businesses that advertise on its network. The company has made an announcement on November 20th that it is going to give away $100 in ad credits to small businesses that qualify. The conditions to receive the ad credit are quite simple: it requires a business based in the United States, which has a completed Twitter profile and image, sends tweets on a regular basis, hasn’t used Twitter’s paid advertising features before and has at least 20 users following them. The first 10 000 small business who sign up and fulfill these conditions are going to receive the advertising credit in their account and can begin using it right away.

Now, some may think that there isn’t anything spectacular or particularly generous about this offer. And this is actually quite true. Advertising credits have been given out by Google Adwords, Bing and Facebook through various channels. For example, it is common to receive $100 in Google Adwords credits and a $100 Facebook Ads voucher when signing up for a webhosting package. But it seems that Twitter has been a lot slower in rolling out its paid ad services and hasn’t been aggressively going after small business advertisers like Google.

But this seems to be changing and the company is now actively on the lookout for new advertisers, especially small businesses. And it also seems to be working. In fact, all statistics show that Twitter ad revenue has been steadily growing since 2010. This growth is expected to continue again in the next 2 years, with projected Twitter ad revenues reaching $808 million by 2014.

This recent promotion will give small businesses the chance to try out Twitter’s ad service without spending any money. This will give them a more “hands on” look at how Twitter advertising work and they can determine for themselves whether it is likely something that they will want to keep paying for in the future, or if other ad networks will give them better results for their online advertising campaigns.

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Is Your Facebook Page Not Giving You the Results You Wanted?

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Is Your Facebook Page Not Giving You the Results You Wanted?


One question that some business owners ask is: why aren’t people actually participating on my Facebook fan page? The question isn’t one that’s easy to answer, as there could be a myriad of reasons as to why this is happening to you. Facebook is of course, the biggest social networking site around, with nearly a billion active users. So we all know how important it is for a business to set up their presence on the network. If you read any online marketing material that deals with social media, you will see the message: get on Facebook and promote your business. So you go out, create a page, then maybe add some content on a semi-regular basis. But it’s still not working out for you. The content is there, you may get some fans, but the “connection” with them isn’t happening as you may had planned before.

What you need to do is to actually motivate your fans, so that they will like your posts, comment on them, share their own ideas and also share the stuff that you’ve posted with other on their own profiles. But it’s just not happening and you’re now busy looking for what the reason is. This is something that you would need to identify yourself. Sure, you can hire an outside firm to do it for you and this is something that many businesses have done, usually with good results. But the problem here is that many small businesses, especially startups, don’t have thousands of dollars a month to spend on “social media experts” who will go over their pages and tell them what improvements to make.

In this case, you need to develop an action plan. This is actually the most simple part of the operation. You will plan what you should change about your social media presence and the steps that you will execute in order to get there. It may take a bit of time, so there’s no sense in rushing it at this point. Once you have everything planned out, it will be time to execute. Actually do the changes that you’ve planned out and carry out any improvements that you feel are necessary in order for your Facebook page to turn into something that is interesting to your users and actually profitable for your company.

The first step of the plan involves identifying the issues that are causing poor results. We’re going to present you a list of things that may cause your fans to be “less than enthusiastic” about your social media presence. We will also give you some ways that you can employ to change all of that and turn things around once and for all. Consistently applying these changes will get you what you were hoping for: a Facebook page this is more “alive”, that has fans which participate in the discussion, like your posts, add content and share some of the content that you’ve put up.

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Are You Looking for Low Cost Marketing Methods?

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Are You Looking for Low Cost Marketing Methods?


If you use the internet to advertise your business, one of your main concerns would probably be the cost of the advertising and whether it would actually be profitable for you, in the sense that your online ads bring you more sales than what you’ve spent on them. There are many types of companies that use the internet for advertising purposes. This ranges from individual marketers, small businesses, to multinational corporations. If you operate a small business, some would say that you’re already at a slight disadvantage when it comes to advertising. See, large companies such as Coca Cola or IBM have dedicated teams which work around the clock to design, test and run online advertisements. They can afford to burn through millions of dollars in advertising budgets simply to “try” whether a certain strategy would be successful or not. Obviously, you don’t have this privilege.

However, this doesn’t mean that you won’t succeed. There are some advantages with are unique to internet marketing and that you would not find in any other type of advertising solution. First is the exposure. In developed countries, nearly everyone has access to the internet in some way or form. This means that no matter who your target audience is, whether it’s young adults, business men, car owners, retirees, people who travel a lot, etc. they will be found online and there is a high chance that many of them use the internet to find information or to buy products or services that they would need for any reason. The second advantage of online advertising is the accessibility. In theory, anyone can advertise in any form. Sure, television ads, billboards or full page magazine ads don’t have a rule attached to them that they’re limited only to large corporations or to brands that are already famous. But the main barrier here would be the cost. Few small businesses can afford to make extensive use of these advertising methods, mainly due to the high cost of designing and publishing these ads. But with online advertising, everyone has the chance to put their message out in front of millions of viewers, all of that at a much lower cost than with any other method that you can use. You will also find that there are certain advertising methods which cost nothing in terms of money to use. The only thing that you would need to invest is your time, which will help you make the right choices as far as advertising your business online goes.

The main question remains: how do you find advertising solutions online which are both low cost and profitable. There are various ways to do so. However, business owners need to understand that saving money on online ads goes far beyond simply looking for the cheaper prices and also involves reducing wasted money. There are certain things that you, as a business owner, should do before you even look for ways to market your business in the online world.

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Simple Business Types You Can Start: Part 2

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Simple Business Types You Can Start: Part 2


Yesterday, we’ve seen an example of a simple type of business that you can start online. The majority of easy to start online businesses involve either selling a product or providing some type of useful service to your target market. Here are some more examples of small online businesses that you can start:

  • Social Media Marketing Services

Social media has gained a lot of popularity in the past few years, so much that many businesses have seen it useful to build their presence on various social networking websites, such as Facebook, Google + and Twitter. Of course, there are still small businesses that, even though they may have an online presence through a website, don’t currently use social media even though it could be profitable for them. If you have knowledge on how to promote products, services and ideas through social media, you can offer your services to local businesses.

There are many types of services that you can provide. The most simple ones would be creating a social media page for your clients, filled with information about their business and products, and done in a style that matches their main website. You can also offer to manage the social media presence of a business entirely, by making the updates as well as creating events, groups, etc. when necessary.

  • Web Design and Web Building Services

Here again, you will offer your services to other small businesses in your area. You can offer to create web sites completely from scratch, or to update existing ones in order to improve their appearance. You can also offer to create mobile compatible versions of websites, which is something that is quite in demand lately due to the increasing use of smart phones by consumers to look for products and services that they want to buy.

In addition to designing and building websites, you can also offer additional services that will make you look more valuable for your clients. For example, you can offer to manage a website completely, by adding content and making updates when necessary. You can also provide your clients with web hosting services as part of your web design packages, which can simply be done by getting a reseller account with a good quality web host.

Naturally, you will need some good web design skills working with different software, plus graphic design skills would be useful as you can then create completely customized backgrounds, logos, etc. for your clients websites. Advertising can be easily done through free or low cost methods, such as on social media, through classified ad sites, forums, etc. If you do a good job and are priced competitively, you could also get some word of mouth referrals which will boost the amount of clients that you get.

These two are other examples of online businesses that you can easily start if you already have the right skills. There are plenty of other ways to make money online by starting a small, home based business. You just need to be creative in finding useful services that you can offer and that people would be willing to pay for.

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Simple Business Types You Can Start

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Simple Business Types You Can Start


Many individuals would like to have a simple business to start as an online entrepreneur. The advantage of the internet is that it gives you access to potential clients from all around the world without having to spend a fortune on advertising costs. There are thousands of different kinds of businesses that can be started online. But many would like something that is simple to do in order to earn some extra money. Here are a few examples of businesses that can be easily started depending on your skills:

  • Computer Support and Repair

Now practically anyone owns a computer. But the issue is, the majority of PC users don’t have the knowledge required to troubleshoot problems when they occur, nor do they have the time and patience required to look for a solution. This is where you can come in. The computer support and repair business model can take several forms. The most simple one to operate is a purely online type of business.

Here, you will provide remote technical assistance to users who are having problems with their PC. You can accomplish this by having the user install a remote desktop software, or use a plug in that is built into many commonly used programs such as Google Chrome or Skype. You can now gain remote access of the client’s computer and fix most kind of issues, as long as their PC can still boot normally and they can access the internet. You can set the pricing according to many different models, but for small, one man operations, this would usually be on a per incident basis. Advertising can be done through various ways, such as classified ads sites, social media, or placing ads in local newspapers.

Another thing that you can do is to offer your services as an independent technician to individuals and small businesses. Here you will troubleshoot and repair computer related problems by going to the clients location and fixing the problem. While there is usually some competition from larger support firms, especially in bigger cities, one of the advantages is that you can charge much less for each visit, thus earning you more business from those who can’t afford to pay such high prices.

This business model is not only limited to PCs, depending on your skills and available parts & equipment. For example, you could offer repairs and modification services for smart phones (replacing broken screens, jailbreaking, unlocking, recovering data, etc), tablets, gaming consoles, etc. Depending on how much time you’re willing to devote to your business and how much you advertise, this can be a good side job, or you can also turn it into a full time business, even renting out a physical location and hiring staff, etc. It all depends on what you want to accomplish and what your business objectives are.

Tomorrow we will look at some other small business types that you can start right from home and that you can use to earn some extra money online.

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Using PPC For Small Business

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Using PPC For Small Business


If you take a look at recent online marketing news, you will see that using pay per click advertising is growing online. In that past few years, this use has grown steadily. One of the reasons behind this growth is the fact that many small businesses are now using PPC advertising to get more visitors to their websites and customers to buy their products. If you want to get started as a small business user, then here are some tips that you can use to launch your first successful campaigns:

Take Advantage of Free Offers

Many PPC advertising service providers give free ad credit to members who join. You can find these free offers simply by looking online. Some web hosts also offer free advertising credit to clients that use their services. For example, you can get a $100 Google Adwords credit from many web hosting providers. Making use of these credits will allow you to start advertising at no cost on various platforms and see which ones will be the most suitable for your business and bring you the best quality traffic.

Don’t Forget to Target Your Ads

This is one of the most important aspects of PPC advertising: geo targeting, which means only serving your ads to web users that are in a certain defined geographic region. There are several uses of this: obviously, if you have a local business that only serves a certain area, you will want to limit your clicks to come from that area. Anything else will simply be a waste of money. Even if you do business globally, you may want to limit the countries that you target for your advertising, mainly due to the fact that there’s a much higher amount of fraud and poor quality traffic coming from certain countries.

Some PPC services also allow you to choose specific sites or groups of sites that your ad will appear on. They also have demographic targeting, meaning you can make your ads appear on sites that will be mostly visited by the demographics that are the most likely to purchase something from your business, thus making your traffic more useful for you.

Use Keywords Wisely

If you advertise on search services, like Google or Bing, then keywords for PPC are as important as for SEO. Even more so, as you will be paying for each click. Be sure to do your keyword research in thoroughly before and carefully select the keywords you will want to target. Avoid keywords that will be too broad, as they will result in getting traffic from people who may not necessarily be looking for what you’re offering. If your business sells clothes and accessories, instead of targeting general keywords like “fashion”, you may want to target more specific ones like “Diesel jeans” or “discount handbags”, etc. Basically, you need to think as one of your customers and target keywords that they would be most likely to search for.

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Promoting Your New Web Store – Part 3

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Promoting Your New Web Store – Part 3


Once you are done promoting your web store socially, by letting others know about it, then there are some other methods that you can employ to promote your site to a wider audience, outside of your direct social circles both online and offline. Here are some common tactics used by small businesses everywhere that you can take advantage of:

 

  • Offline promotion

 

While the results may not be as direct and measurable as online marketing, offline promotion still works and is done by many small businesses, even if they primarily operate online and do not have a physical retail location at all. Here are some methods:

 

Passing out fliers and business cards

 

Here, you can print out some fliers, or simply some business cards and pass them out to people on the street. Of course, you can also pay someone else to do this for you.

 

Advertising in print media

 

While there are many newspapers that are having problems maintaining a readership, they are still surviving, which means people are still reading them. But one way to be more successful with print media ads would be to advertise in the right type of publication. It is possible to advertise in a “general” newspaper, but it would be better to do so in a more “targeted” publication, even though circulation may be smaller, the readers will have a higher chance of getting an interest in your website.

 

So if you are selling urban and trendy clothing, you may want to advertise in a local magazine that deals with hip hop music. Or if you are selling computers and electronics, then advertising in a publication about technology would be an excellent choice. The advantage of using print media today, is that many free magazines and papers have both a print and online version. Therefore, your ad will be available both online and offline as well.

 

  • Online Promotion

 

Here, you have a few other methods to choose from, but remember to focus on local customers first.

 

Online classified ads sites

 

These are probably the best choice for a start up web store. You can post a free ad on a number of online classified ads sites such as Craisglist, Gumtree, Kijiji, US Free Ads, etc. In many cases the ad is free, but you can pay for a small upgrade to get your ad featured on top of the list, or to have a border around it to bring attention to it.

 

Pay Per Click Ads and Media Buying

 

You can use pay per click ads or buy banner ad space on websites that have visitors from your local area. You can also advertise on search engines such as Google and the Facebook pay per click platform. A quick tip: take advantage of the free ad credits that many web hosts offer when you sign up. Most give you a $100 or so Google Ads voucher, as well as a $50 Facebook ads coupon. These can also be bought on many webmaster forums like Digital Point for around $5 to $10.

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Internet Marketing Use In Small Businesses

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Internet Marketing Use In Small Businesses


A recent survey taken in the United States by a technology consulting firm gives some very interesting figures about the use of internet marketing among small business owners. Based on the results, the majority (close to 80%) of small business owners had a website for their business. Of those that didn’t the majority were planning to create one in the coming year. This result is really not something that is surprising. It has been said time and time again that creating a website is beneficial for any business owner, even those that run a very small local enterprise. It makes them easier to find by their prospective clients, many of who exclusively use the internet in order to locate a business that they want to use.

 

While this first statistic was not especially surprising to anyone, what followed next may raise a few eyebrows. Of all business owners that had an online presence, nearly 40% were not entirely satisfied with the results that it was bringing them. Some were not happy with the way their website looked and wanted one that was more professional and more attractive to customers. Some others had a website and were quite happy with the way it looked and worked, but they were not convinced that it was doing them any good, as they did not see their website bringing them the amount of customers that they needed. It has also been said that small business owners (outside of the technology or marketing sectors) did not have much knowledge of how internet marketing worked and only a minority of them (14%) wanted to spend some time studying techniques to make their site better and to figure out how to deploy betting marketing efforts such as SEO and other internet advertising, in order to get more visitors to their website.

 

Ok, this maybe news and it is always nice to know some stats… but what does this mean to internet marketers? The bottom line is that there is a wide open market of local business owners who would want to use your services. Some of them want better websites. Some want to do some SEO on their site to get a better ranking on search engines. Others would want to use internet advertising in order to bring in more customers but are not sure which kind to use and are hesitant to buy ads on their own.

 

For those of you who are just learning internet marketing, or who are doing something else (CPA, Clickbank, eBay sales, affiliate stuff, etc.) and don’t get the results you want, this is a great opportunity. What you need to do is simple: learn how to create simple, yet functional websites. Learn how to optimize pages for SEO and build backlinks. Learn about the different kinds of online ads (business directories, classified ads sites, PPC, etc) and how they work. Compile a list of tutorials and learning materials (there are hundreds of videos, articles and blog posts on these topics, all free) and study them for about 2 weeks. Then you can start targeting local business owners and providing them your services as an internet marketer.

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Full Time Online Business: Part 2

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Full Time Online Business: Part 2


If you want to make a full time income online, there are plenty of business models to select from. Of course, it is possible to earn some decent money by providing services to others, such as doing web design, writing articles, sales copies, etc. However, there are some things that you can do to make a full time income without spending all day actually doing the services.

 

What you can do is to outsource the actual service creation to other workers that you can find on classified ads sites, freelancing sites as well as forums. If your business gets really big, you always have the option of actually getting a physical office and hiring a full time staff.

 

Here are two business types that you can start:

 

  • Web Design Agency

 

A lot of small and local businesses right now are getting online and would like to have a website. The thing is, very few business owners have the skills to create a good looking website and many of them do not want to spend the time it takes to learn how to put one together. This is where you come in.

 

All you need to do is to put together a team of a few freelancers that specialize in web design. It is always good to have people with diverse skills on board, such as one who specializes in blogs, while another one that does flash websites, etc. Basically, you would get clients to pay you for a website. Let’s say you charge $100 per site and pay the freelancer $60 for their work. You would then pocket the difference.

 

  • Digital Marketing Agency

 

Plenty of business owners are also realizing the potential that the internet has when it comes to attracting new customers. This is where you will be helping them. You can offer a complete marketing package to small businesses, which would include optimizing their website for SEO, building backlinks, creating articles and uploading them to directories, creating and managing social media pages, putting up ads and listings in business directories and classified ads sites, managing their ad campaigns on PPC and media buying platforms, etc. This can be a very profitable business model, as there are plenty of local businesses that would like to advertise online, but don’t really know how to.

 

Getting Clients

 

Remember that most of your clients aren’t really up to date on the whole internet marketing scene, so advertising on IM forums is not really the best idea. It would be better to advertise in local classified ads sites, business directories, as well as in local businesses. Doing direct mail campaigns as well as calling up local businesses can sometimes yield quite good results, although these methods of advertising are a bit more expensive and time consuming for you. However if you do great work at competitive rates, you are likely to succeed in building a full time income.

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Is Local Web Hosting a Good Idea?

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Is Local Web Hosting a Good Idea?


There are plenty of local business owners and internet entrepreneurs who are asking as to whether going with a local hosting company in their city is a good idea. One of the principal reasons as to why they are interested in using a local web host is to support the local economy and to support local small businesses like theirs. Certainly enough, no one could ever say that supporting a local business is a bad idea. But are web hosting solutions which are provided by small local companies really adequate for everyone’s needs?

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Here are some possible drawbacks of using a small local hosting company for your website:

  • They haven’t established their reputation yet

Large, international hosting companies which do business with everyone and are not aimed at a particular city have usually been thoroughly reviewed and talked about on the internet. You will find reviews made both by webmasters who have simply hosted a website with them, to experts in the field of web hosting. This can be very helpful in making a determination as to whether a certain web host provides quality service or not. If you can’t find many reviews on the host you intend to use, it can be quite hard to make this decision.

  • Their support could be limited

Small companies often cannot afford to have staff members that are available 24 hours a day who can answer all of your questions and resolve problems, just like the bigger hosting companies. Remember, your website is not like a store, it never closes. Therefore, it needs to be up 24 hours a day and help should also be available 24 hours a day should it be needed to resolve any technical problems that cause your site to not function properly. This staff should also be truly able to fix problems, rather than just note down information and say that someone will get back to you the next day.

  • They may have limited resources

Smaller companies usually cannot afford to make large investments in order to have an entire data center filled with servers. Furthermore, they may not have the facilities to make daily backups, as well as have a contingency plan in place should there be a problem, such as a fire, natural disaster, or power failure.

So, who are local web hosting companies actually good for?

If you run a small website for your business and you don’t mainly depend on the site to conduct your operations, then you could go with a local hosting company if you believe that it is a better idea in your opinion. However, if you are running an e-commerce site that is the main source of revenue for your company, you are much better off using the services of a larger web hosting company which has shown that they have a good reputation in the marketplace and have a perfect record when it comes to reliability and support.

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Attracting Local Visitors To Your Website: Do Your SEO First

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Attracting Local Visitors To Your Website: Do Your SEO First


One of the main attractions of advertising your business in the online world is that you are able to reach people all over the world. Anyone, from anywhere can visit your website and do business with you. However, for certain small businesses, this is not what they need, especially if they only do business in a certain local area. Therefore, for them, receiving visitors from all over the country and all over the world will be quite useless and will simply result in wasted time and wasted bandwidth on their website.

Think of it this way. If you run a local landscaping business, you don’t need people from the other end of the country seeing your website. It will be as useless to them as it is to you. The visitor will simply see that you don’t serve their area and then leave your site. For them, seeing your website would have simply been nothing more than a waste of time. But how do you target visitors that are only from the area that you do business in? There are many ways in which this can be accomplished. We will take a look at some of the techniques that you can use to make this happen.

Proper Local SEO

Sure, there are many different ways to get people to see your website. With dozens of different advertising options, many business owners don’t focus much on SEO, considering it too complicated to perform on their own and too costly to outsource to a professional firm. As you will see, both of these assertions are not necessarily true. In any case, even if you don’t expect search engine traffic to be your main source of clicks, doing some SEO work on your site is recommended, even if it is just the most basic type.

Basic SEO is not complicated at all for a local business. It simply consists of targeting the right keywords in the proper way. Therefore, you should optimize your content towards keywords that are more “local” than simply general keywords. So if you run a landscaping business in Boca Raton, Florida, you would optimize your content for keywords such as “Boca Raton landscaping” or “landscaping in Boca Raton”. By doing so, you will only be competing for rankings with local businesses, which is easier than trying to rank for the more general “landscaping”. Furthermore, a person doing a search for (product or service) + city is more likely to be in buying mode and seeking out a place where they can GET the service in your city. Even if they are not ready to make a decision yet and are just comparing prices, they are much more likely to contact YOU if they notice that your business offers the best value. On the other hand, someone searching for “landscaping” could simply be looking for landscaping tips and tricks and not interested in hiring anyone’s services.

But is it really hard to do SEO for local businesses and is it really costly to get help? These are topics that we will discuss in the second part.

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Selling Websites To Small Businesses? Here Are Some Quick Tips

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Selling Websites To Small Businesses? Here Are Some Quick Tips


Do you market web site creation to small business owners? If you do you may have come across some business owners who are reluctant to get an online presence. Here are some of the most common objections and their responses.

I don’t want to sell anything online so I don’t need a website.

Even though you don’t plan on selling your products or services on the internet directly, customers who are interested in a type of product or service that you offer will search online for someone that can provide it to them. According to recent statistics, people of all ages are increasingly turning to the internet when shopping. You may have the best quality and the best prices, but if they can’t find you online, chances are they won’t even know your business exists and you may lose many customers that way. A website with just a list of your products and your prices can go a long way.

It is too complicated to maintain, I’m not good with computers.

Having a website doesn’t require much in terms of computer skills these days. There are simple tools that you can use to update your site with new information or products. It is very easy to figure out once you get the hang of it.

I don’t want to spend money on a website, it’s too expensive.

Web design, as well as web hosting services have gotten much more affordable in the past few years, mainly due to increased competition from various service providers and an increase in the number of customers that these providers get. As your website is a business tool, it will help you get more clients and thus get more sales.

If you run a small business that only provides one main service, such as a moving company, you don’t need a complicated website. A simple site with a description of your services, your rates, some background about your company and your contact information will be enough to inform your customers. You don’t have to get a site with fancy graphics, videos or multimedia content if it won’t be useful for you.

I’ve heard all of these stories about hackers attacking business websites. I’m scared this will happen to me.

Most of the news coverage surrounding these incidents is overblown by the media. The majority of recent attacks are not actually security breaches where private information was stolen, but rather denial of service attacks designed to flood a web server with data to bring it offline. These types of attacks are mostly targeted against large companies and governments by people who have a grudge against these entities for whatever reason. As a small business owner, your website is unlikely to become the target of such an attack.

I already advertise in the newspaper or distribute fliers with info about my products. These methods have been effective for me so far, what’s the use of changing?

Setting up your website and promoting your business in the online world doesn’t mean that you will have to stop other marketing methods that you use. Internet marketing is designed to complement, rather than replace other marketing activities. Don’t forget, some people don’t read newspapers (they get all their news online) and throw any advertising fliers that they get in their mailbox straight in the trash can. By having an online presence, you will be able to get in touch with a larger segment of the population.

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Social Media For Small Business – The Advantages

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Social Media For Small Business – The Advantages


Many small business owners have heard of the power of social media and how it can be beneficial for their business. It is indeed possible to spread the word about your business by using social networks and they are in fact one of the best tools to do so. Now what makes social marketing so great? Here are some of its unique advantages:

An large established user base.

Popular sites such as Facebook and Twitter receive millions of visitors every single day of the year. This means one simple thing: the traffic is already there. You just need to establish a presence on these sites and get users to see your materials. Among the millions of users which frequent these sites, chances are that some are looking for something that you are offering.

Lower costs.

When selecting an advertising method, something that many business owners worry about is how much it will cost to use. Many small businesses don’t have much of a budget to spend on online advertising. The fact is, creating a page about your business on social networks costs you nothing. It is completely free to use. If you want your page to look even better and be more functional there are many tools available which let you do so. Some are free, while others require that you pay a monthly fee to use them. But even the paid tools will cost you a lot less than other advertising options.

Possibility for your page to go viral.

You may have heard about the viral effect. It is when something spreads among people without intervention from whoever created it. Social networks are the ideal place if you want your page to go viral. If you make it attractive and catchy enough, people will share it with their friends, who will then share it with their friends and so on. Pages which are truly unique and interesting could receive millions of views in total.

Flexibility and opportunities for expansion.

Any social media site is constantly evolving. New features are added. New options for communicating are created. All of this means even more opportunities for you to spread the message about something that you want to promote. You get complete choice on how you structure your advertising campaigns. For example, you can either create a main page for your business, or create several different ones which will promote various products or services that you provide.

Also, new sites could appear in the near future. And these new sites could open the door for even further promotional opportunities for you. Sure, Facebook and Twitter are probably the most popular options offered right now, but who knows what will appear in 1 year or in 5 years. If a new social network appears, why not establish your presence on it right away rather than wait to determine whether it will become popular? This will allow you to stay one step ahead of the game, rather than constantly playing “catch up” with your competitors.

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Ecommerce Security Risks And How To Deal With Them – Part 1

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Ecommerce Security Risks And How To Deal With Them – Part 1


As a business owner you may have heard all about the advantages of getting an online presence to help your business acquire new customers and better serve existing ones. But you may have some reservations about the whole thing. One of the main concerns that business owners bring forward today is security. These concerns are certainly valid. After all, it is rare that we see a week go buy without a mention in the media of some high profile security breach. But this should not dissuade you from taking full advantage of what the online world has to offer for your business. Here are some of the most common security threats facing small businesses transacting online and how they can be mitigated:

Payment fraud.

This is the most common security risk that you will face and it can consist of either: a fraudster making a purchase with a stolen credit card or sending a forged check, or a “real” customer making an order, paying with a legitimate credit card and then charging back on the transaction claiming that they never placed this order, never got their merchandise or that it was damaged when they got it.

Fraudulent payments are, unfortunately, a part of the e-commerce world and there is no sure-fire way to stop them. However, there are certain things you can do to bring the amount of fraud close to zero.

First, use a payment processor that uses security measures such as verifying that the address on the credit card and the shipping address match. Especially when it comes to high value orders, do not ship to an address other than the billing address. Most payment processors have automated tools that evaluate each order and can help determine the chances of it being legitimate.

Verify the customer’s information yourself before shipping the item. Call them on the phone number provided to ensure that it is valid.

While doing business internationally is great, be very careful about shipping to certain countries where internet fraud is rampant such as Nigeria, Russia, Indonesia, etc. A common story used by scammers is that of a wealthy businessman based in the USA ordering a high priced item as a “gift” to a relative who just happens to be working in a third world country known for credit card fraud.

If a customer sends you payment by certified check, call the issuing bank to ensure that the payment instrument is legitimate. Just because a check has cleared your bank account does not mean that it is genuine. Stolen or forged checks are sometimes used by scammers when ordering high priced items like jewelry, industrial equipment or electronics.

Use a courier service that gives you the ability to trace shipments and requires a signature on delivery. Any item over a hundred dollars should be sent insured for its full value. This will prevent dishonest customers from claiming they “never got the package.”

And most importantly, use common sense when processing orders and always err on the side of caution.

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