9 Things To Consider If You’re Running A Business

9 Things To Consider If You’re Running A Business

Running your own business is incredibly exhilarating – and scary. There are so many challenges to navigate through and no way to ensure that any of it will work.

If you’re thinking of starting a business in the new year, or are already on your entrepreneurial journey, it’s important to consider several factors to ensure you’re well-prepared for the uphill climb.

For that reason, here are 9 things for entrepreneurs’ to consider when running a business.

1. Are You Doing Something You Love?
If you’re setting out to do something you think would be successful instead of something you are passionate about doing regardless, then you need to rethink what you’re doing. Building and then running a start-up requires a lot of time, money and personal sacrifices along the way.

If you’re not fueled by passion at every step you take, you will end up doing a job you hate. – Get some quiet time and contemplate what you are really passionate about – what were you really create to do in this world. How can you be of real service to the world?

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2. What Customer Problems Are You Resolving?
Have a clear vision of what problems you are trying to resolve for your customers and then make sure these problems are excruciating problems for your prospective customers… our solutions must be like painkillers as opposed to vitamins – vitamins are optional, but painkillers will be hunted for by people in pain.

The internet makes all this research super easy – simple google searches done to a plan will provide you much needed preliminary data that you can then further refine by one on one interviews with up to 5-10 of your ideal customers.

3. Setting Clear Goals
Now that you know what problems you are resolving – Set a clear vision of what goals you hope to achieve – how many customers you seek to serve what revenues will you achieve – set them high – as Michaelangelo said, “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”

4. There Will Be Many Failures Along The Way
It would be perfect if your business immediately takes off and brings in revenue, but that rarely happens without any bumps along the way. You will encounter several problems, big and small, but that’s all a part of the learning process.

The main thing is to learn from your mistakes so you do it better the next time. Additionally, when your goals are clear and you are passionate about them – challenges you find along the way will be way easier to be met and acted upon successfully.

5. Statistics Are Important But Don’t Be Ruled By Them
People love to throw around statics about companies failing and strategies that do and don’t work. Don’t let that deter you from following your passion. Statistics are just numbers and numbers can’t replace the resourcefulness of a determined mind.

This is really an important aspect of starting any business. It doesn’t matter what kind of statistics you have because at the end of the day, statistics alone shouldn’t be the deciding factor for your business decisions.

Use data powerfully! Do your research on the market, what needs are not being met, how much pain is that causing your prospective customers, what is the size of the opportunity in your local area, your state, in your country and then globally?

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Talk to your ideal customers, understand first hand the problems they are facing, the extent of those issues, how these issues are affecting them personally and from a business perspective, what solutions are currently available. And are these solutions working, where do they fail, what will it mean if these problems are resolved for them?

6. Managing Your Costs
Depending on what kind of business you have in mind, running it can be costly. So, make sure you create a budget that will give you the finances to back up your ideas and a buffer for any hidden costs. If you find yourself spending way over budget then stop immediately!

Take a moment to go over everything, and then scale down. It’s always better to start off small and then slowly build as you gain more knowledge and experience.

7. Get The Knowledge You Need To Succeed
Read – a lot! Follow some webinars and programs that provide you with the immersive knowledge and confidence you need to succeed. The right knowledge will save you years of struggle, instead of learning the hard way through trial and error. Some mistakes can be fatal, so get the right knowledge first.

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The more knowledge you have of your business, the industry, customers etc. the better you will be at making decisions. And don’t read up on just business books either, acquire a collection of biographies, motivational books, success stories and anything else that can help prepare you. Furthermore, if you don’t have time to read, audiobooks are a great way to consume information while on the go.

8. Get Professional Advice
It’s always wise to seek the advice of professionals when embarking on your entrepreneurial journey. This will help to avoid pitfalls you wouldn’t have previously been aware of and set you on the right path. Even after your business is up and running, consider going back for a review session, to see what areas could be improved.

9. Don’t Neglect Yourself
Building your own start-up is stressful, time consuming, and will have you up all-night going over paperwork. But, always remember to take care of yourself first – this means signing up at a gym to making sure you exercise, eat right, and relax. Spend time with your family and friends, nothing is more important than that.

When a business owner is in a positive mindset there’s is generally 80% of success in any organisation. So ensure you have strategies to manage your state and mindset. Meditation is an excellent practice that can help. In addition, listen to audio books (audible) and videos (YouTube) that will help you manage your state of mind and levels of motivations.

 

Message From Our CEO – Dinesh De Silva: Welcoming The New Decade

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Firstly, may I wish you and your family all the very best as a brand new decade dawns upon us.

The new decade brings with it new opportunities with hope and new aspirations. In addition to these new opportunities, it gives us the means to exclude what we don’t want to carry forward into the New Year.

This holiday season, I would like you to reflect over the last decade. It’s important for all of us to begin by writing down and acknowledging all of our achievements – give yourself the credit you deserve, which is something a lot of us don’t do enough of. Take note of the things that didn’t work in the last 10 years too, and what could have been executed better; and rather than seeing them as failures, look at them as lessons.

Ask yourself now, what lessons have you learnt that will help you over the next 10 years?

Whatever industry you may be in, growth is a dominant factor. 2020 gives us the opportunity to relook everything, not only from a business perspective, but an individual perspective as well. How have you grown over the past decade? How do you want to grow further, over the next 10 years? What new projects do you want to launch in the coming year? Be it business or personal, the only way to get to making dreams a reality is in setting and then achieve worthwhile goals.

Equally important is a review of our existing goals and considering whether or not to reset them. Are they too conservative?

Having met over 5000 business owners in the last three years, much of the time, I think we play too safe. A result of being too conservative, and defensive, is getting attacked by competition, or being caught off guard without a plan – a fine example being environmental issues like the drought. Sometimes, attack is your best form of defence, and by attack, I mean setting the right goals. When you’re setting those goal, make sure that it’s something worth achieving. Take a risk. Put yourself out there a bit more. Once you’ve agreed on the goal, it’s all about setting a strategy to get there.

Here’s a small tip from me, for a simple strategy in getting to your end goal; identify the top three or four things that you must do if you want to achieve this goal? Not the whole 10 or 20 things – just the top 3 or 4 things you must do? Once you set the top three, these can be your goals over a period of time – set a goal for 12 months.

What are the top things you need to do to work towards the goals? Think about the things you are currently doing that are not delivering results. What are the habits? Let’s identify areas that are not delivering results. Are they habits? bad investments? Are they activities?  If they’re not delivering results or value, reassess the situation and stop doing those things. You could be working on the wrong set of customers, focusing on the wrong products or services.

Once you assess the situation and you choose to pull the plug on the people and things that aren’t working out, you will suddenly find yourself with more time and more resources.

Now use that time and those resources to enable you to start putting into action the top three or four must do’s on your list, which will help you get to your end goal.  While you’re at it, get some outside help. It’s not going to be any less challenging in 2020, so seek out the right expertise to take you to another level and offer a fresh perspective. Come to us for an hour of digital growth advisory. That one hour of advisory you spend to build a strategy can give you that leap you deserve.

Finally, on behalf of my team at NetStripes, I would like to wish all our clients, partners, friends and families a holistic growth in all aspects of their lives in the coming year, and very Happy Christmas and prosperous New Year.

5 Benefits Of Using Data Analysis To Grow Your Business

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Data analysis is a topic that gets a lot of lip service in today’s world. Although it is not a novel concept for small and medium businesses, it’s the big companies that primarily use it to their advantage. The rest are still struggling to understand its real value and to use it in a way to derive business growth.

To ensure that your business doesn’t get left behind, we compiled a list of five benefits of using data analysis to grow your business.

Helps Identify The Right Client
For a small business owner, one of the first hurdles of digital marketing is understanding where they can reach their customers. Is it through advertising, a website or social media channels? To understand their online behaviour, you need to identify your ideal customer first.

Start off by going through your last 20 transactions and analyse each customer. If the information you have is not sufficient, give them a call or schedule a meeting with them saying that you’d like their feedback on your product, service, and business.

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When you’re trying to get a deeper understanding of your customers try to look at it from these perspectives – the type of customer, what they purchased, the pricing range, what problems were they trying to resolve, what questions they asked, any concerns they mentioned and did you enjoy working with this client.

The more data you have, the easier it is to categorise customers into different groups, each representing a unique customer persona. By analysing your customer base, you are in a better position to identify your customer personas and know which of these personas are the most valuable to your business. This will help you target them better.

Validates Decisions And Removes Biases
Data analysis also removes biases and helps businesses make better decisions. Many business owners tend to seek advice from family and friends or marketing gurus when it comes to making important decisions concerning their business. This will not always provide the best results because these advises and tips are not based on data that is related to your business.

If you’re wondering which social media channel you need to invest your time on to engage with customers, instead of opting for the channel you or your friends prefer the most, find out where your customers spend their time online. This will remove biases and preferences and ensure that you’re spending your time, efforts and money on the right channel which will lead to better engagement and therefore results.

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Understanding your customers’ interests can give you an insight into their online behaviour. This will help you reach them on their preferred platform using content that resonates best with them. If you have identified customer personas that are important to your business as suggested above, this will help you to come up with a strategy to target them.

If you’re in the business of selling bikes specifically for kids then your ideal customer is a mother of young children. Find out if your ideal customer is active on Facebook groups, a space that is gaining a lot of popularity to share stories and gain tips. You can find Facebook groups categorised according to interests in Groups, which is just under the Explore tab on your news feed.

By implementing decisions that are backed by data, instead of opinions and biases, you have the potential to reach more people that matter to your business.

Supports Continuous Improvement
A business can grow in leaps and bounds if its strengths and weaknesses are recognised and improvements are made consistently. By analysing data regularly, you can find out what’s working and what’s not for your business. Using this information you can make effective improvements to your business and the processes involved to achieve better results.

Perhaps you have a website that is old and not mobile-friendly. A recent analysis of your website using Google analytics showed that most of your customers view your website via their mobile phone and you one look at the bounce rate on Google Analytics shows that majority of web visitors leave without nearly immediately without any interaction.

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This data is invaluable and will highlight that the issue you have may not be in your marketing but your website is not converting the web visitors (traffic) to leads and sales.  A deeper look may also reveal that those who remain may abandon their purchases half-way because they struggle to find the check-out page or due to a similar reason.

Based on these findings, now might be the right time to invest on a mobile-friendly website with a professional branding, and a design layout that engages the visitors within the first 2-4 seconds with a strong value proposition to your ideal customer. You can also improve other non-performing pages and usability issues such as easy access to the check-out page.

Once you have improved your website or got a new one and reduced your bounce rate you are now in a position to market to your business and also look into using retargeting advertising to remind customers of your business and any abandoned purchases.

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Minimise Costs And Increase Efficiency
Conducting regular data analysis can help your business minimise unnecessary costs and increase efficiency. Ideally, a business should monitor its website and social media channels weekly and spend more time at the end of each month analysing this data. By doing so, business owners can identify which marketing and promotion strategies are not working and make informed decisions to stop promotions or adopt an alternative method which is more cost-effective.

For example, if you spend a lot on Facebook advertising, analysing the engagement and revenue it brings can help you decide whether it’s something you should continue, amplify or if it’s time to try something different. Similar to Facebook advertising, you can also analyse other channels that you’re investing in to bring in revenue and make it more profitable for you. These could vary from promotional activities to offers, find out what’s working and focus on that channel.

If you want to know more about Facebook advertising and how you can make it work for you, click on the link to read more on Facebook budgeting. 

Helps You And Your Team Be On The Same Track
Whether you’re a small or medium business, having all your team members on the same page helps you run a smooth operation. By monitoring and analysing your business’s data regularly, you have an insight into what’s truly driving your business and bringing in the results.

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If your salesperson has noticed a sudden interest in fitness activities in your locality and communicates it to the rest of the team then they can come up with content and marketing strategies that can cater to this demand again once they have validated the sales persons observations using data that is often at our finger tips.

To derive the best results from data analysis, teams need to communicate their findings and discuss strategies together. This will help everyone to be on the same page and also keep track of their progress as a team.

Tools To Help You With Data Analysis

Google Analytics
This is a free service provided by Google to track the performance of your website. The platform allows its users to identify many crucial factors of their website including, the highest and lowest performing pages, devices they use to access the website and insights to their audience, in terms of location and times they view the site.

Google analytics provides sufficient data for businesses to come up with a comprehensive analysis of their website and their customers’ journey on their site.

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image source: Klipfolio.com

What To Look Out For?
User – This refers to the number of unique visitors to the website. This metric will help you understand if a particular page on your website generates more interest compared to another.

Bounce rate – This is the total percentage of users who visit a website and leave immediately without any further clicks on the page.

Session – Google Analytics starts recording a session as soon as someone visits your website. This includes the time it takes for the page to load and the session ends after 30 minutes of inactivity. Every click, pageview, and transaction is tracked during this time frame and is counted as one session.

Average Session Duration – This metric tells you how long on average a visitor stays on your website. It’s calculated by using the total duration of all sessions (in seconds) with the total number of sessions.

Pageview – If a user is loading or viewing a page on your website that is counted as a pageview.

Social Media Analytics
Each social media platform offers its own analytics dashboard. Facebook Insights, for instance, provides a detailed breakdown of the performance of a page and posts published on that page. You can learn about who is engaging with your page, their demographics, and location. These will help you understand what kind of content works best for your audience and how much money and time you should be investing in social media platforms. Similarly, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, Twitter, and LinkedIn have analytics dashboards.

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image source: socialmediaexaminer.com

What To Look For:

Engagement – Likes, shares, comments, and clicks fall under this category. These metrics are a good indicator of how well content is performing on Facebook. Actions like sharing, commenting and clicking, in particular, show that the audience is displaying interest to connect with the brand apart from liking it.

Click through rate – This takes the number of clicks a post gets and divides it by the number of impressions. A low CTR means you have a high number of impressions and a low number of clicks and that your content isn’t resonating with your audience.

Reach – This metric indicates the number of people who see your content on Facebook.

Impressions – This number tells you how many times a post has been seen

Email Analytics
This is another important platform if your business sends regular emails to a customer base. By understanding and analysing metrics below you might be able to improve the content in your emails to ensure that your brand gets the attention it deserves.

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image source: agencyanalytics.com

What To Look For:

Open rate – This tells you how many times your email has been opened.

Clicks rate – This number tells you the interaction the subscriber has had with your email by clicking links on the email, whether it’s to visit the website or read more.

Action rate over time – This metric will help you identify what time your subscribers are most interested in taking action with your emails.

Conclusion
Data analysis can no longer be ignored by small or medium businesses anymore. The benefits it brings to a company are invaluable and all business owners should make a conscious effort to invest the time to understand their business’s data.

Growth cannot be achieved if you are not willing to look at the results and fine-tune your strategies to cater to customers’ needs and wants. As mentioned earlier, this can lead to a streamlined operation that minimises unnecessary costs and focuses on how you can serve your customers in a more meaningful way.

Setting Goals For Your Business In 2020

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As we inch closer to not only a New Year, but a new decade, this is the perfect time to start creating goals that will take your business to the next level of success in the New Year.

The challenge is creating a plan that’s ambitious enough to inspire (always aim high!) but practical enough to implement and quantify. This is where setting SMART Goals can help you.

But First, What Is A SMART Goal?
Goals are an important part of every aspect in a business and provide a necessary sense of direction, focus, and significance. By setting goals, you are providing your business with objectives and targets; SMART goals take that one step further.

SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.

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image source: google images

Specific: Your goals should be clear and answer the 5 W’s (who, what, when, where and why).

Measurable: The goals should have specific criteria that can be measured to determine accomplishments

Attainable: The goals needs to be realistic and achievable.

Relevant: Your goal should relate to your overall business goals and factor in current trends in your industry.

Timely: Your goal should have an end date.

As a result, a SMART goal incorporates all of these criteria to help focus your efforts and increase the odds of achieving that goal. So, where do you begin? Here are a few pointers to help you set your goals for your business in 2020.

Start By Reviewing 2019
Before you set goals for the coming year, it’s important to review the past year – what you achieved, what you didn’t and why? Were you serving your ideal customer? Were there risks that could have been avoided? Were there missed opportunities?

Write down all the goals you had and milestones on one document (Google docs or excels sheets work fine) and then take a moment to review the successes across the whole year as well as areas that you think require improvements. This gives you the motivation to take into your evaluation for next year’s plan.

Many small business owners get so caught by the details of running a day-to-day business that they forget the reason why they started – the unique value proposition which they offer customers.

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Before you can create new goals, you need to understand who your customer is, what value proposition you offer to customers, and what your competition is currently offering in the market and where there are gaps for a new entrant. In other words, you need to do some market research as well.

Think About Your Vision For The Business
When planning your goals it’s essential that they fit into the overall vision you have for the business. Any goal or strategy that you implement should align to the larger vision of the business and contribute in the long run. Remember the 5 W’s when considering your businesses overall vision. This provides a good starting point for planning all your goals and affords you the opportunity to assess whether your overall vision seems outdated for your current needs or requires adjusting.

Set Your Twelve-Month Goal
Before we jump into any new goals for the year, we first need to create the financial goal for the business. Setting your financial goal is an important step toward growing your business and becoming financially secure. The ultimate objective in any business is higher revenue, but cost reduction has diminishing returns and organic growth has its limits, so acquiring a healthy, cash-flow can lead you to positive earnings.

One way of creating your financial goal is by reviewing the Life Time Value (LTV) or average revenue of your ideal customers, and then forecast your acquisition goal for the coming year. LTV can help define several economic decisions in a business including marketing and sales budget, resources, and profitability.

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Once you have your financial goal, you can work on your other major goals for 2020 – you can break them into monthly, quarterly or even year-end goals depending on your resources and business model if that’s easier for you. Remember, completion of these goals should be a clear signal that you’re getting closer to achieving your vision. And because these are SMART goals, each of them should have specific criteria that can be measured to determine the success rate.

Say you have some form of marketing leads growth or customer retention goals? Whatever you decide on, they should have quantitative measures to track them. For example, “60% repeat customer ratio” as a goal is much easier to measure than “Deliver good customer service.’

Set Up A Brainstorming Session For Strategic Initiatives
Once you have your goals in order, it’s time to start thinking of strategic initiatives that will help you to reach your goals.

An ideal way to do this is to focus on creating 3 main critical success factors (CSF). These are best described as the means and/or desired results, as well as the action.

Here Are a Few Examples:

  • Increase market share through existing customer base
  • Double new organic sales leads

Consider conducting a SWOT Analysis of your business to help you with this. A SWOT analysis is a strategic initiative that helps you understand your business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The outcome should increase your value to your customers and differentiate your business from the competition.

If you work solely on your own, it may help you to sit with a professional strategist to review your goals and define a strategy to work on that focuses on multiple projects for that year, which in turn will add up to realizing the annual goal. If you successfully complete your strategic initiatives, you’ll be on the road to achieving your annual goal.

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Prioritise Initiatives
While it would be great if we could work on every strategic idea we have, the reality is that most businesses have limited time and resources. Because of this, you will need to prioritise the strategic initiatives you have created in order of importance and benefit to your business. Focus on your CSFs, and everything else should follow after in order of importance and requirement in the business.

Fill In The Knowledge Gap
Based on the CFSs, it’s not uncommon to find yourself uncertain about many areas of the business. Especially if you feel there might be a significant knowledge based gap that’s causing the problem. One way to get over these hurdles is to keep yourself up to date with the latest news, skills and tools for your business.

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Whether it’s attending a workshop, reading e-books or blogs and even online webinars, continuously learning will not only help your business to grow, but you as well.

Review Your Goals
Finally, in an effort to avoid your goals from being put in a drawer only to collect dust and be forgotten about, track you progress with KPIs and set a date to review them. In addition to that, make sure you have a process for making changes to your plan as the year progresses. Adjusting goals (whether you overshot or undershot) shouldn’t be perceived as negative – it’s something that’s compulsory in order to keep moving forward.

Key areas to measure include:

  • Qualified leads
  • Website traffic
  • Revenue growth
  • Customer satisfaction
  • SEO

Conclusion
Creating new goals for your business takes time. Don’t waste hours listening to opinions of what you should be doing or what may or may not work. Instead focus on getting data about previous goals, create budgets, consider your resources, and make smart decisions on where you want your business to be next year. It’s important to stay motivated, follow through with your plans and focus on the task at hand to achieve success.

5 Ways To Optimise Your Retargeting Campaigns

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Retargeting campaigns are an effective form of digital marketing which has the potential to turn prospective customers into paying customers through the use of specific ads based on their behaviour online.

If you’ve never run a retargeting campaign before, do read our blog How can a retargeting campaign benefit your business?, to learn more about how these ads works.

To sum it up – retargeting is advertising to people who have already visited your website. As per research, over 90% of first time web visitors leave without making a purchase or signing up. They also typically get busy and may forget your brand and end up buying elsewhere. Hence, retarget advertising is a great way of being front of mind to these people and bringing them back to your website.

Whether you’ve just started testing campaigns or you’re a seasoned ad expert, here are some easy tips to help take your campaigns to another next level.

Understand The Buyer Journey
Understanding the buyer journey is an important part of any business and is particularly important when it comes to retargeting campaigns. Similar to the marketing funnel, the buyer’s journey begins with a cluster of customers at the top of the funnel in the awareness stage and ends up at the bottom with fewer people in the conversion stage.

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image source: medium

Retargeting campaigns are designed to capture more consumers as they pass through the funnel, but they are only effective if you understand who you want to see the ads and when. If there’s one thing all marketers agree on, it’s that you must have a detailed understanding of customer data and the effectiveness of marketing initiatives. That means understanding what’s successful and what’s not. Which customers are converting on which channel? Which ads are working best for revenue?

Improve Your Audience Targeting
If you’re targeting everyone with your advertising, then you’re doing it wrong. People will visit your website for different reasons. When a prospective customer visits a particular web page, they are displaying different buyer intents. It’s possible that they aren’t even planning to buy your product, but simply comparing it to a competitor product. The key with retargeting ads is to match your ads with your audiences’ intent.

For example – If your business is running a catering service and someone visits your website page about your evening buffet service for summer weddings, you want to segment that group into a custom audience titled like “summer wedding” or “evening buffet” If you want it broken down even further then segment groups for “evening wedding in Sydney”.

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image source: addthis

To improve your advertising, create various audiences based on what your visitors are interested in. You can also create retargeting ads for social media channels, so depending on which channels your target audience is active on, test out a few ads on these channels.

Watch The Frequency Of Your Retargeting Ads
Ad frequency is often overlooked when running campaigns, but it is something that we should be thinking about in terms of improving the overall performance. High frequency can have a negative impact on buyers. It can be seen as annoying, invasive, and even worse – it cause prospective customers to associate irritation with your brand.

When you’re setting up your campaigns, make sure to set an advertising frequency limit of about 2 per day. If your audience sees an ad more than twice, either turn it off after a few days (giving them a break from the ad) or change the imagery so they have something new to look at.

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image source: defunktional

Experiment Until You Find The Best Offer
A retargeted ad should ideally send a visitor to a website page which they previously visited, however, offering incentives in retargeting ads are also a great call-to-action. If you’re not sure what your incentive should be based on, take some time to analyse your traffic. Whether you plan on offering a discount or free resources, first find out what is reaping more traffic? This could be a product, service or even a blog article.

Once you’ve pinpointed a few pages with high traffic – take it a step further by analysing conversion rate for each of them. In simpler terms, what’s the total number of conversions from a specific page compared to the total number of visitors? The higher the conversion rate, the better the incentive.

Don’t Ignore The Power Of Emotional Advertising
While it would be nice to believe that we all act rationally when we go shopping, the truth of the matter is that emotions play a large role in our shopping decisions. A straightforward list of product features will appeal to the rational mind for some users, but it has no effect on their emotions. Our emotional side doesn’t care about features and ease of use, it wants to see, feel and imagine the benefits it could make in our lives.

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image source: forbes

Brands like Nike and Coca-Cola are famed for their emotional and heartfelt ads. The Sainsbury Christmas advertisement “Mog’s Kitchen Calamity” features a Christmas-esque story complete with furry pets, snowflakes and a soft-spoken narrator, a perfect example of a brand eliciting strong emotions and connection by utilising the “feel good” Christmas spirit.

It’s important to target both sides of potential customers in your retargeting ads. Speak like a friend, not a sales person. They’ve already shown some interest in your website, now bring them back with a reason that speaks to their heart.

Remarketing can be a valuable tool in your marketing strategy and we hope these tips help you with your next campaigns. If you’re not experienced with retargeting or just need a helping hand, consider consulting a digital specialist to help you incorporate it into your strategy and set you on the right path.

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HOT OR NOT: Digital Marketing Trends You Need To Know Before 2020

Marketing Strategy Connting Digital Devices ConceptWith only one month to go, 2020 is almost upon us. Not only is it a new year but an entirely new decade as well. Yes, let that sink in! As you prepare your business for new challenges, risks, and growth in the upcoming year, here’s a list of the hottest trends in digital marketing that every small and medium business owner needs to know before 2020.

The Power of Videos
2019 has been a huge year for videos, especially on social media. When it’s done right, videos can be fun, interactive and informative. While many still prefer to consume information by reading, the number of people who would rather watch a video instead is rapidly increasing. In a fast-paced world, where everyone is time-poor and convenience is highly valued, videos seem to be the perfect answer.

Digital Marketing Trends you need to know before 2020
image source: oberlo.com

So how can you adapt this to your business? For many business owners, the first obstacle in doing video content would be “I’m camera shy” or “I’m not sure what to say” or perhaps that nagging self-doubt feeling of “I’m not sure if people would want to listen to me.” We assure you, every YouTube content creator you’ve come across or motivational speaker has had to overcome one or more of these obstacles at some point in their lives.

Start small. Talk about what you know best: your business, your customers and how you can improve the quality of their lives. Videos perform better when it’s informative, interesting and connects to your audience on a personal level.

If you’ve already identified your customer personas, pen down a few video ideas that will take them through the customer’s buying journey. Make sure to focus these videos on their pain points, needs, and aspirations which will help you create a better relationship with your audience.

Voice Search
Similar to videos, voice search will also be big next year. In 2018, it was found that 57 per cent of Aussies are using voice search (iProspect). Research also shows that Australians are adapting faster to voice search compared to their counterparts in the U.S. So one thing is certain, these numbers are only going to soar through the roof by next year.

Digital Marketing Trends you need to know before 2020
image source: dialogtech.com

If you’re looking to jump on the bandwagon of enabling voice search for your business, one of the key things to focus on is getting search engine optimisation (SEO) for voice search right. Factor in the differences in the use of language and words when people type and verbally interact.

For example, someone would type “best pub parma near me’ and say “What is the best pub for parma near me”. So ensure to include long-tail keywords (which specifically describes what your audience might be looking for). As a result, voice search queries tend to be longer and have three to five keywords in length. Note that the search will include words like who, how, what, where, why, where and when and that you will have to fine-tune content to answer these specific questions.

If you want to take advantage of voice search, list your business on all the relevant platforms including Google My Business, Apple Maps, Bing and Yelp. This will help voice assistants such as Google search, Siri, Alexa, and Cortana find you during a search query.

Capitalising on online reviews will also help your business rank better on voice search so ask your customers to review your business on sites like Yelp and Google My Business. Coming up with a few keywords that are most suitable for your small or medium business will also increase your chances of being ranked better.

Augmented Reality

Digital Marketing Trends you need to know before 2020

Both, Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are not new concepts but their roles in our day-to-day lives are going to increase in 2020. With AR, more businesses will be able to offer personalised service whether it’s through their website or app to help customers make informed purchases.

Major companies such as IKEA, Kia, and Coco-Cola are already using AR technology to provide a personalised experience to their customers to solve different problems. Whether it’s demonstrating how certain furniture may look in a specific space by using an app or a visual introduction to new features of a car, AR is sure to change the customer journey and how we purchase.

If you’re interested in using augmented reality to give that extra advantage for your small or medium business, here are a few ways you can use it.

Include an AR marker on your printed catalogues or product packages, so with the help of an app people can access additional information or even make a quick order online.

If you’re in the field of real estate, augmented reality can be very useful in demonstrating a realistic presentation of the property. With a host of affordable AR apps available for this specific industry, this will help small scale businesses raise their standards.

Cybersecurity
With over 23,000 Australian businesses reported to have experienced some form of cybercrime in 2019 (CIO Australia) the importance of cybersecurity is without a doubt crucial in 2020.

Business owners, irrespective of their size need to understand that their websites can be the target of a malicious cyberattack if they do not take necessary precautions. If you’re a small or medium business owner looking to set up your business online, make sure to have a thorough conversation on the different aspects of cybersecurity with the website development agency.

Digital Marketing Trends you need to know before 2020
image source: stanfieldit.com

As much as growth, increasing leads and conversions are a priority for your business, protecting it from cyberattacks is a responsibility that should not be ignored.

Digital privacy is another area of cybersecurity business owners should be aware of to safeguard their data as well as of their customers’. Here are a few key steps you can practice to protect the digital privacy of your business.

Ensure that your website uses an SSL certificate and the HTTPS protocol especially on pages that collect sensitive data. Both the SSL certificate and the protocol use a high-level of encryption to secure data that is being communicated.

Multiple people using one login and password make it very difficult to find out when a privacy breach occurs. Therefore, make sure to use individual login accounts and strong passwords to protect against access via login credentials.

If your business has multiple accounts on different platforms, use Password Manager to create and retrieve strong passwords without too much of a hassle.

Personalisation
We may share the world with 7.7 billion people but we’re all looking for a personalised experience that will make us feel special. Thankfully, no one is tasked with the mammoth obstacle of trying to please 7.7 billion humans. But the sentiment still stands true. In the new decade, more people will be looking for information, services, and products that are catering to their needs. Irrespective of how small or large your customer base is they all want a personalised service or experience. So how do you create content that will resonate with all of them?

“The only way to win at content marketing is for the reader to say, ‘This was written specifically for me.“ ~Jamie Turner.

Companies including Coco-Cola, Amazon, and Netflix have been using personalisation to connect with their customers for years and are seeing great results. A personalised video campaign done by Cadbury in Australia, matching a Dairy Milk flavour to users based on the different elements from their Facebook, saw a huge increase in engagement and conversion rates.

Digital Marketing Trends you need to know before 2020image source: campaignlive.co.uk

Although these may be big brands with bigger budgets, small and medium companies can also adapt personalisation to their marketing campaigns. To get this formula right, you first need to understand your clients, their needs, their aspirations and problems better. Then create content that will resonate with them and help them solve their problems. If you’re looking for more information on personalised contenting marketing, click on the link to check out our blog post on it.

Chatbots
Chatbots is another trend that has had massive growth over the last few years. In 2016, Business Insider predicted that over 80 per cent of businesses are expected to have some sort of chatbot automation by 2020. With months away from the New Year, many big brands have transitioned to using chatbots to manage different areas of their business, mainly customer service.

The use of chatbots can benefit a company in multiple ways including guaranteed customer satisfaction and saving time. As chatbots are capable of handling customer queries at any point of time and providing accurate information (if it has been programmed appropriately), this will have a direct impact on a business’s conversions and sales figures.

Digital Marketing Trends you need to know before 2020
image source: i-programmer.info

A small scale business can use chatbots in numerous ways. The chatbot’s most well-known function is providing customer service which frees up a considerable amount of time for a business owner. As chatbots can retain a lot of information, they can use this to better help future users and provide recommendations to customers influencing their decision-making process.

You can also use chatbots to automate the sales process from start to finish. Businesses can also look into using chatbots with more advanced features such as streamlined payment systems. This will provide customers the ability to complete a transaction without leaving the chat interface and make regular purchases as easy as clicking a button.

Social Messaging Apps
Social media has become one of the biggest necessities in the modern-day world whether it’s for personal or business use. Similarly, the popularity of social messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook messenger, Viber, WeChat and Snapchat has been increasing and will continue to do so in the coming years.

Digital Marketing Trends you need to know before 2020
image source: statista

With the combined number of users of WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and WeChat, surpassing Facebook and YouTube, it’s time to look at using these apps to reach your customers. With over 55 billion messages been exchanged daily on WhatsApp alone, businesses must find out which messaging apps their customers are active on.

Since social messaging apps allow personalisation, small and medium businesses can use this to their advantage to send personalised messages directly to customers. This will help improve engagement as well as enhance the overall customer experience and relationship.

Once you identify which platform your customers are active on, you can use it in multiple ways to interact with them. Whether it’s to provide information regarding your products or services, boost sales, invite customers for events or as a customer service platform, the options are numerous.

Visual Search
Visual search is another trend that will gain momentum in 2020. As indicated by its name, visual search allows people to upload an image and conduct a search based on it to get specific results. Platforms such as Google Lens, Bing Visual Search, and Pinterest are providing this option to users to help them track down exactly what they are looking for.

In the case of Google Lens, it recognises objects and landmarks through a camera phone and provides additional details regarding the search. Bing Visual Search will help users find details of specific elements within an image, which can be very useful.

Digital Marketing Trends you need to know before 2020
image source: the verge

If your business sells interior décor and a potential customer happens to see a specific wall hanging they like on an image found on Bing Visual Search, the detail view will provide more information on it including where it can be purchased. Pinterest introduced a visual search tool called Lens to enable users to take a photo of an item to find out where to buy it online.

If your business falls under the categories of fashion and beauty, home décor, food, products, travel and vehicles, visual search will help you boost your business and leads. Using multiple high-resolution images, the right keywords describing your products, optimising image titles and descriptions, are just some of the few ways you can optimise your business for visual search. Don’t forget to add alternative text and include captions for every image you upload to increase the chances of your products being discovered.

5G network
5G (Fifth Generation) is still in its infant stages but will make a huge impact in the world once its functionalities are properly rolled out in the coming year. It will influence nearly every industry including IT, transportation, health care, manufacturing, agriculture, education, and entertainment.

As of now, 5G’s new features include greater speed in transferring data, increased response speed, network slicing and the ability to connect to more devices including sensors and smart devices simultaneously.

These features will pave the way to a plethora of opportunities for all businesses including small and medium-sized businesses.

Digital Marketing Trends you need to know before 2020
image source: statista

5G’s ability to connect to multiple devices simultaneously will enable small businesses to conduct their operations much faster which will enhance customer experience and satisfaction.

Through network slicing, operators can split a single physical network into multiple virtual networks that can be tailored to different types of services or customer segments. This means a business can have its private 5G network customised to its needs. Network slicing also prevents cyberattacks from spreading from one virtual network to another which increases user experiences for businesses.

With 5G’s super-fast internet, small and medium businesses are also being offered the chance to take innovation to the next level. Whether it’s creating video experiences for customers or giving 3D presentations at meetings, conferences or events, businesses will be able to provide an enriching visual experience to its customers.

Conclusion
In short, all the trends we’ve been seeing in the last few years – videos, voice search, personalised content, augmented reality, chatbots, social messaging apps, and visual search are going to play an active role in 2020. Additionally, cybercrime is also going to be on the rise, so make sure to take adequate steps to get your business secured in the coming year. Most importantly keep an eye on 5G which set to revolutionise the operations of every industry.

So these are nine digital marketing trends that will make a big impact in the New Year. Let us know if you agree and what you’d like to know more about.

How To Rank “ZERO” On Google And Increase Your Digital Presence

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Position Zero, also known as featured snippets placements was introduced by Google in 2014, but has been largely ignored by most businesses since then. But what is position zero, and why does it matter for your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) strategy?

What is Position Zero?
Position Zero (P0) refers to the first result that shows on Google search results above SEO listings. Better known as the featured snippet, the P0 is designed to answer search inquiries, without needing to click any link in the listings.

If you’ve never seen a snippet before, here’s an example:

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As you can see in this screenshot, the snippet displayed in this search has a numbered list from a travel blog. However, Google has chosen to display an image from a different website than the one it took the list from. That is why Alt text (alternative text) in images also plays a role in SEO.

Where Do Snippets Come From?
Back in the day, before Google even existed, search engines including Yahoo used directories created and managed by humans for search information. As content continued to increase on the web it became impossible for these people to keep the directories updated. It’s at this point that the search engines started using algorithms and AI curation.

When Google launched the Knowledge Graph, its information database, it was based entirely on human-curated data from sites like Wikidata. You can see an example of this data in “Knowledge Cards,” For example, this card appears on a search for “who is prime minister of Australia”

australia-prime-minister

The answer is short and factual and comes from the information curated by Knowledge Graph.

Although Google tries its best to match queries to answers in the Knowledge Graph, they can’t avoid the obvious limits of human curation. There are several questions that don’t fit within the Knowledge Graph model. For example, if you search for “how does Australian minister work?” (pardon the awful syntax), you will be showed this snippet:

minister-description

Google’s solution to this question was to search the billions of pages in their index and generate an answer in real time. If you go to the source page, in this case the Parliament of Australia website, you’ll notice the text in the snippet is taken directly from on-page copy.

However, it’s not as simple as taking content from the first paragraphs and sticking them on Search Engine Result Pages (SERP). Google searches for extremely relevant results and has been fine tuning this since launching P0.

Position Zero Plays A Key Role In Voice Search
According to Google statistics, 20% of all searches are voice, and that number will continue to grow in 2020. P0 is essential for voice searches because it’s the snippet that gets read out during a search. This is just another reason to optimise your content for P0 – otherwise you could miss out on voice search traffic and leads.

How Do You Get Ranked On P0?
Keep in mind that P0 is very unpredictable – a search that produces one snippet will show something entirely different an hour later. But getting that position even once can provide so much of visibility to your business, which can lead to website visits, leads, and eventually more revenue for your business.

To get your business on PO you need to check two criteria’s:

Firstly, you must be ranked organically on the first page of results for a particular query. Secondly, your content should effectively target the question asked.

Let’s first focus on the first criteria. While you do need to be ranked on the first page, you don’t need to hold first position, although it certainly doesn’t hurt, but in general, P0 URLs are taken from the 1st search result down to 5th position.

For the second criteria, your content, keywords and formatting are all factors that Google will take into consideration when picking snippets.

What Kind Of Content Should You Create?
To make your content worthy of Google’s attention, it’s helpful to take note of the 5Ws (Who, What, When, Where, Why) when creating content.

information-keyword-image

image source: emaze.com

To makes things easier, ask yourself this when creating content: is the answer a matter of fact? For example, a question like “When is Labour Day?” is going to be pulled from the Knowledge Graph. Although human curation can’t keep up with the web, sites like Wikipedia still contain a massive amount of information. So these types of questions won’t produce snippets.

Instead, most snippets appear for “What”  “Why and even “How” questions since these can’t be answered with a simple explanation. A benefit of this is that the snippet summary often appears as a teaser to a longer answer. This summary can add credibility to your business while still attracting clicks to onsite content. For example, a search for “word to pptx” brings up a snippet for a “How to” page.

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What Format Will Work Best For You?
Snippets are available in different formats including:

How To‘s
How-to searches will almost always trigger P0 results. For example, the search “how to grow grapes” yields the following P0 information.

painting-search-serp-image

Most “how-to” searches yield snippets with results that have step-by-step instructions to guide searchers through the process. You could also choose to opt-out the numbered list for an infographic.

Comparisons
Most people want a quick comparison when deciding on brands or products to purchase. This P0 result for “Colgate vs crest” gives a summary of the competing brands with a link for searchers to learn more.

Colgate-search-serp

Pricing Information
Searches related to pricing display P0 results which give searchers helpful breakdowns of how much they should expect to pay whether on products, services or travel. Want to know how much it costs to travel in Sydney? Here’s some information in the form of a snippet.

opera-house-proce-serach

Lists
This is one of the top searches in the purchase process and they make great P0 results. Been wondering what the top-rated skincare brands were? Check this list of “skincare brands”.

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Videos
You may occasionally find videos on P0 – like the above formats, the videos are answering some form of search so the key is to make sure your titles are clear and target a particular keyword’s.

video-search-serp

Whichever format you are more comfortable working with – just make sure your topic is both:

  • Simple enough that it can be defined in a short paragraph or a list.
  • Complex enough that it requires a whole page to describe in detail.

Optimising Your Content For Position Zero
Now that you know all about P0 and what types of content Google prefers, all you have to do is learn how to structure your website content. The basic formula for how to rank in P0 is:

  • Start your content with a direct, simple answer to a specific question.
  • Add further details and supporting information, including videos and images if possible.
  • End it with examples and case studies that support your answer.

If you are still unsure about the kind of content you need to create or how – pay attention to snippets in your niche industry. Check out what your competitors are doing, what kind of answers they’re providing and which formats they use.

Once you have this information you can figure out which areas you can improve to land your website in Position Zero. Alternatively, book a free consultation with our digital specialists who can help you go over your content strategy and optimise it for Position Zero.