10 Effective Ways to Make Shopping Easier for Customers

Customer service is the heart of any business. Without your customers, your business would cease to exist. It makes sense that the most successful companies focus on great customer service. When you keep your customers happy, they will come back for return purchases in the future.

If you provide great customer service, your customers are also more likely to recommend your services to their friends and family. Word of mouth marketing has been proven to be the most effective method of business growth. Forbes highlighted the importance of word of mouth advertising in an article from 2014, stating, “According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising. WOMMA and the American Marketing Association (AMA) decided to find out exactly what brands were doing about that fact. In a recent study, 64% of marketing executives indicated that they believe word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing.”

The online marketplace is incredibly competitive. In fact, the Wall Street Journal reported in 2016 that online shopping accounted for over half of all purchases made. Due to the rapid growth in the online marketplace, customers have a wide variety of vendors to choose from when making purchases. If your systems are outdated, or your customer service is lacking, your sales will suffer.

Keeping your customers happy should be your top business objective. If you want to continue to grow, customer service will become the lifeblood of your business. One facet of customer service is making the purchasing experience as pleasant as possible. When your systems function seamlessly it makes the shopping experience easier for your customers, ensuring that they will be satisfied by your service. Encourage your customers to become repeat buyers and increase your referral rate by improving your business processes.

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5 Considerations for Choosing a Web Hosting Provider

There is a whole slew of helpful information for the subject on blogging sites and how to get the most from your hosting options. While this information is important it all begins with the web hosting you have chosen for your needs.

Choosing the wrong web hosting options can have some of the following effects to your rankings and online authority for the worse. In the end, a poor choice can be a waste of cash, time and valuable resources.

Before deciding on the best web host for you there are 5 important points to consider:

1.The Biggest and Brightest Might Not Be the Best for You

There are many big-name companies out there that offer many great advantages and a wide variety of web hosting solutions. Some of these can even be quite versatile. Nevertheless, sometimes we get caught up in their excellent marketing strategies we forget one simple point: Web hosting is not a one size fits all gig.

The thing about big name hosting companies is there services are comprehensive, if you have a limited website with very basic needs it may be good for you. But you should also know that slow loading, downtime and slow customer services are another reality of these solutions and can affect your web site’s efficacy in the long run.

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Why Facebook Marketplace Is Not Just Another Sales Channel

The recent launch of Facebook’s new Marketplace service has been met with more than a little acclaim in Australia and elsewhere. It’s now possible after all, for individuals to buy and sell items among people in their immediate local communities.

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Will Facebook Marketplace eventually kill off the suburban garage sale? Probably. The service, after all, is available directly through Facebook Messenger, an app used by over 450 million people each and every day.

Why Local Businesses need to Start Looking at Marketplace

However, while Facebook Marketplace is being marketed as an easier, more localized alternative to platforms such as Ebay for everyday users, Marketplace has phenomenal potential for local business owners also.

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Five Ways to Stabilise Your Small Business Income

It’s 2016 and the world around you is changing. More and more people are owning small businesses. The internet has progressed and evolved since its early days, and people are flooding to get their small businesses out there through websites and other platforms. For those of us who are current small business owners, it was not easy to get here. So many hurdles to jump, so many failures to overcome. But here we are and we plan to stay here so long our income continues to go up and not the other way. Stabilizing your small business income should be at the top of your list of important things to keep in mind. With the economy note yet on its feet, it’s best to focus your attention on this subject. In this article we will give you 5 ways to stabilize your small business income.

1. Track All Of Your Expenses

This one might seem like a simple one but creating a budget for literally everything is essential when running a small business. Make sure you are keeping an eye out on ALL of your accounts as your small business keeps growing. It’s as simple as gathering all receipts used throughout the day and making sure to either write down or put in the computer any and all payments coming in and out. Do not leave anything out; meals you eat on the go, gas used to get from one place to another, supplies bought at another location – it all adds up in the end. By not keeping up with all of the expenses, you end up not being able to create a reliable financial statement or conjure up correct reports on your tax returns.

2. Boost your SEO

SEO is important when wanting to up your revenue or attract more customers. SEO is not difficult and should often be updated to keep up a certain amount of traffic on your small business website. You’re going to wanna utilize keywords that are a bit closer to your niche and that have fewer competitors. The URLs you use be able to take your customers back to your main site and should also have indicators of the content on the same page, such as the page title. Also, you’re going to want to avoid using numbers or odd strings of text in your URLs – this is so that you do not lead people away from your page. And finally, every article you publish on your page should also be be accompanied by social share icons that lead to your small business’s Facebook page or Twitter account. In a sense, it’s like killing two birds with one stone.

3. Learn To Separate Personal and Business Money

This applies to new and seasoned small business owners alike. It’s important always to keep business, and personal money separate. Try going with easy-to-use software, such as QuickBooks. Honestly, you don’t need to be an accounting expert to keep track of your income and expenses. However, if you know you won’t enter information into the computer software every once in awhile while it’s still fresh in your mind, you might want to get a simple cash book from the local supply store. Make sure to write all the money that comes in and all that goes out. You can end up with way too many financial headaches if you do not organize and optimize your financial records.

4. Stop The Habit Of Using Your Sales Tax Money

This one should come as no surprise to all small business owners. It will certainly cost you way more in future penalties, fees, interest, time and aggravation than obtaining some short term financing. The most reliable strategy is to discipline yourself to deposit all the sales tax money you gain each and every day into a separate bank account. Now, why do this you may ask; it’s simple; tax liabilities grow due to business owners using the tax money they collect and will gain working capital for their current operations

5. Don’t Forget To Pay Yourself The Right Amount And No More

It’s Friday afternoon, and it’s time for the weekend to begin. So like always, you pay yourself what you want and sometimes even take a little more out that you need for whatever weekend plans you might have. In the short run, this seems like an okay thing to do – but in the long term, this is just bankruptcy waiting to happen. Even when the business is thriving, it is important to continue to draw only YOUR salary. This is because the “down times” will be coming eventually through the natural business cycle of your small business. It’s not fun to leave the money in the firm during times of plenty, but it sure is nice to have those reserves when the company is struggling in future. So make sure only to grab what you need and leave the rest. It’ll surely help shortly.

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Joel House runs a leading Queensland based SEO Agency  – Black Shirt Marketing. When he is not growing businesses across Queensland, he has his head in books to ensure he is on the cutting edge of all things small business and digital marketing

How to keep your Computer and Network Safe

Keep all software up to date including the operating system

Software isn’t perfect. It’s bad enough that bugs in the code occasionally make a program crash. What’s worse is that cyber criminals are constantly seeking flaws in operating systems and other software, vulnerabilities that will let them steal your passwords, install malware, and otherwise give you grief. For these reasons it is vitally important that you install the recommended updates. Recommended updates can also address non-critical problems and also make your computer and network perform better.

Install antivirus and malware protection

This will protect against viruses and malware that can come from emails, files on disks or downloads from the internet. Make sure to use the very latest version of your antivirus or security suite. The bad guys are always inventing new tricks to try to correct your Computer and network. If you’re using an old security tool you won’t have the new fixes. If you make certain to keep these essential programs up to date, you should stay safe from most known threats.

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How Small to Medium Sized Businesses Can Use Video Content Marketing

For a long time, content marketing has been a key channel in any successful online strategy. Quality, unique content is the best way for companies to increase their social signals, obtain natural inbound links and engage prospective customers en masse.

Recently, more and more brands are turning to video content marketing. And for good reason: it’s estimated that by 2017 video will make up nearly 70% of all consumer traffic. Currently YouTube receives more than a billion unique visitors every month. A well-crafted video can say a lot about your brand in a short space of time. This makes it an effective way to get your brand’s messages out quickly to many people.

We often hear about successful video marketing campaigns from global companies with huge advertising budgets. But how can small and medium sized businesses with more conservative budgets leverage the power of video content? We look at a few simple ways companies can increase the reach and impact of their campaigns.

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A Startups Guide To Bring Your Own Device Policies (BYOD)

By 2017, one in two firms will no longer provide devices for use by their employees. Under deliberate or default “bring your own device” (BYOD) policies, an increasing number of employees are using their own phones and computers in the workplace rather than hardware owned by their employer.In a 2013 study conducted by Dell, 59% of IT Decision makers said they would be at a competitive disadvantage if they didn’t embrace a BYOD policy. And the companies at the forefront of the movement? Startups of course.

But is BYOD as great as it sounds? Start up companies are among the most financially savvy businesses, always looking for ways to stretch a small budget. At first glance, asking employees to purchase their own devices seems like an easy way to save company funds, while improving staff morale (19% of firms believe BYOD improves employee satisfaction) and offering other benefits.

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Keeping Computer and Network Safe for SMEs

We’ve all heard of the most recent cyber attacks; Ashley Madison, David Jones and K-mart to name a few. What many people haven’t heard is that in 2014, 60% of targeted attacks hit small and medium businesses1.

So why don’t we hear about the smaller scale incidents? In Australia, it’s not mandatory to report cyber attacks. To avoid reputational tarnish, customer dissatisfaction and the chance of repeat attack, it’s no surprise that most businesses choose to stay quiet.

Not only does being a small or medium business make you a greater target, the consequence is also greater than that of a large enterprise. According to research from the Ponemon Institute2, the cost of a cyber attack costs SMEs $755 per capita, more than double the $282 per capita that larger organisations get struck with. And according to a different study3, 60% of small organisations go out of business within 6 months of a data breach.

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Secure Your Business From Data Breaches

Identity theft is increasing on a global scale, with financial information and client records considered foundational data for cyber criminals that indulge in this practice, whether for strict financial gain or use in fraudulent transactions. The normal practice is that harvested data is used to create other accounts (such as bank, email or other) or indeed continue using existing accounts but changing passwords to prevent legitimate access.

Small to medium enterprises obviously store both financial and health information and are prime targets for hackers. In August 2014. These criminals do not care about your business information but focus more on your personal details such as date of birth, address, etc., using them for services or credit applications.

Australia has had its fair share of data breaches. In 2012, ransomware (software that locks down a computer until a ‘ransom’ is paid using an untraceable digital currency such as Bitcoin) was used to compromise the operations of a Gold Coast medical centre.

Luckily, with a little knowledge and some forward planning, you can protect your medical practice from most of these data breaches. I say most, as even large enterprises are successfully breached by highly skilled hackers on occasion and few servers can continue operation if thousands of hackers launch a simultaneous attack.

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How Well Do Australians Protect Their Online Security and Privacy?

Ever seen your hipster mate on Facebook gush about how talented Justin Bieber is? We’ve often laughed at friends who’ve had their social account hacked as part of a harmless prank. But is this a symptom of a wider problem? Perhaps there are many of us who are leaving our social media accounts vulnerable to much more sinister attacks on our privacy and security.

Melbourne based SEO agency Optimising conducted a recent survey to attempt to find out how educated Aussies are when it comes to protecting their online social profiles. The team surveyed 853 adults across the country earlier in 2015 and asked respondents whether their profiles were public or private, if they’d had their data or personal information shared against their will, as well as their knowledge of some common privacy related technologies.

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