eBusiness Blog

Key Steps Before Implementing an Online Marketing Plan

Part One: You Have a Website; Now How Do You Attract New Clients?

Key Steps Before Implementing an Online Marketing Plan

Having a website doesn’t do much for your business if no one visits it. Try these initial steps to marketing your website online.

In 2017 not having a website would be strange for almost any business. Whether a big corporation or a solo-entrepreneurship, there is likelihood some form of online presence is necessary. And for anyone dealing in business to consumer (B2C) space, a website can even be the business.

So you get a new website build, but what about getting qualified potential customers to it?

The truth is, traffic is the life blood of any business website and not having any can be very harmful to the bottom line.

Traffic is the life blood of a website and not having any can harm the business bottom lineClick To Tweet

This is where on-site SEO, off-site SEO, paid efforts, content marketing and social marketing can all work together (and should) for a complete online marketing approach.

What makes one component necessary is often the ability of the business owner to perform it. That can mean hiring marketing professionals, taking the time to attempt it themselves, or having a solid budget for paid methods and experts to navigate them for you.

Ideally you want it all so all bases are covered. Many businesses have none of these tactics in place, or have them done wrong and as a result are struggling to gain qualified leads and traffic.

This article covers what you need to gain traffic to your website and next week we’ll get into more specifics of what to do once these preliminary steps are done.

Do These Three Things Before You Start Marketing

Before you start creating your marketing strategy there are three things you, or your marketing firm should do first:

  1. Install Google Analytics
  2. Set up Google Search Console (formerly webmaster tools)
  3. Within Google Analytics (GA) set up a conversion (or conversions if you have more than 1 way to measure the success of a user’s experience on your website)

These three components are free and by having them set up, you can now measure how effective your marketing is.

These tools are great for showing you what is happening with your website traffic. While there are thousands of third party tools promising to give more insight and help you gain traffic, they are all simply more in-depth diagnostic tools who’s relevance is the promised importance of providing an edge over the competition by way of the deeper level of insight.

The argument against using them (aside from the often astronomical cost) is that Google is the one providing the tools listed above so it’s best to stick to what they have deemed of importance to your efforts with their free methods of analyzing user experience and website performance.

Another thing to do before you start is test your website’s speed. Also make sure it’s going to work well on mobile devices. Google has seen sharp and rapidly escalating mobile usage over the years and since late 2015 even have Accelerated Mobile Pages. Mobile is key to the success of your site so make sure your website loads well on mobile devices.

Key Phrases Are Your Business’s Best Friend

The next thing you will need is a key phrase list. This will be a guide on the terms you want your website to show up in the results for when searched. In the past, these lists were much firmer but since Google has grown, it can infer meaning behind words or even groups of words that lead to an implied purpose.

How to define keywords and phrases:

  • Use the Search Console to check your existing traffic and see what has been searched for in the past that was clicked on.
  • Check your competitor’s websites to see what kind of terms and phrases are coming up often (this shows you what they’re trying to rank for).
  • Use a keyword tool to check volume of the phrases such as Google’s keyword tool.
  • The best thing is to ask yourself and your team honestly what it is you do that provides value to your clients.

Your key phrases you want to rank for should all then be associated with a relevant page on your website. They should appear in the website copy (and in other on-site SEO signal spaces like Meta tags etc.).

Once you have these key components in place, you are now ready to create a marketing plan and start driving traffic to your website so your business can start reaping the rewards of your efforts.

And whether you’re focusing your business marketing on local SEO, SEO with content marketing, Adwords, or usability assistance, it’s best to employ trustworthy online marketing professionals than to attempt it yourself. Be wary of tricks or anyone unable to demonstrate the efficacy of their efforts.

If you have any questions at all or comments please leave them below and if you want help with your marketing plan for your business get in touch and we’ll be glad to help.

Thanks for reading,
Mark Hare

P.S. For more tips on how to make your website get you the results you’re looking for, sign up for our free website guide plus weekly newsletter for entrepreneurs and small business owners today.
>> CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS

P.P.S. If you found this article helpful, please share it with your Twitter followers:

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About the Author, Mark Hare

Mark Hare

Mark has been working in search engine optimization, paid online advertising, content marketing, and usability since 2005.

He has worked with hundreds of clients on a wide range of web based projects and is a strong proponent of white hat SEO techniques and link earning over building.


7 Frustrating Things Your Visitors Hate About Your Website

Why Your Business Can’t Ignore the Importance of Providing a Positive User Experience (UX)

7 Frustrating Things Your Visitors Hate About Your Website User Experience

Does your site provide the best user experience?

Bad website usability is not only bad for your users; it’s bad for your business too.

What exactly is website usability? It’s definitely one of those industry jargon terms that many entrepreneurs and business owners might not be familiar with. But should!

Website usability means: how easy is it to use your website?

If you’re unsure of what that is, then chances are you may need some help building a strategy for your website.

Your website’s use is how well it accomplishes the reason you built it. Is it to generate leads? Get someone to make a purchase? Direct people to something else? Each page of your website needs a purpose and if that purpose isn’t clear, then the usability is diminished.

A website's usability is gauged by how well it accomplishes your site's goalsClick To Tweet

When web marketers look at usability they’re looking to see whether or not a user can complete a defined task with little to no confusion or frustration.

So how do you know if your customers are finding your website easy to use?

Measuring User Experience and Usability

There are many services that have come and gone when it comes to measuring user activity and a site’s usability.

Heatmap services such as Hotjar or Crazyegg have been semi successful though woefully abused in the hands of those who don’t know what to do with the information. These types of services give the website owner a birds-eye view at where their website visitors are focusing their attention.

Testing groups can be a great asset but at the same time these are closed, controlled groups so they often inadvertently present misinformation by way of not being an accurate representation of the site’s actual target market.

The best way to check your website’s usability is your Google Analytics. Google offers its analytic web-based software for free for many reasons. One is so you can make your website better.

Within Google Analytics site owners can check things like how long someone is on a page, where they entered the page from, what they did on the page, and when they left.

If someone lands on your page and leaves nearly right away you have what is called a Bounce. If the majority of your users are bouncing (called a high bounce rate) then you have a usability issue and are offering up a bad user experience where they have left too quickly to take any action.

Another way to check is to set a conversion measurement. This is when you input information into Google Analytics that triggers a signal when someone completes a task as defined in there. You can even assign monetary values to the conversion if you want to measure the revenue generated through the conversion.

This type of analysis is best left to professionals so get in touch with my team if you need any help.

But Google doesn’t stop there with its free offerings! Try checking things like your site’s speed or mobile usability using these free tools:

https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/

https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly

Find helpful tools to assist in your website's usability hereClick To Tweet

Measuring usability is as complicated or as easy as your website is. Larger projects with many types of users and conversion types will have more complicated ways to measure usability but the overall message here is: does your website accomplish your business goals set for it?

Are Your Users Having A Bad Website Experience?

If you’re looking at the overall stats and the numbers are not good then it’s time to look at why your users are having a bad website experience.

Here’s 7 questions to ask yourself about your website to avoid frustrating your users:

  1. Have you clearly defined what your business does and is it appealing to the right audience?
  2. Did you make it as easy as possible for users to find the information they’re looking for? Typically there should be no more than 3 steps between landing on the site and finding what the user wants.
  3. Can a customer contact you easily if they are stuck or have any questions?
  4. Do you have any broken links on your site that will lead users to a dead end?
  5. How fast does the site load (see test above)?
  6. Is your website mobile responsive?
  7. How transparent is your About page?

Nothing can be more frustrating than a dead end so make sure you don’t have any. Users need to have trust established by a website if they’re going to commit their time, money, or both to it.

This is where user test groups can come in handy. Universal website staples that often get forgotten are there so someone who has never been to your website before can have a good experience on it.

Check the few points listed above and if there are areas you haven’t covered or you need help with then get in touch and we’ll be able to break it all down for you.

Is User Experience Really The Same As Usability?

The experience and expectations will vary greatly between websites depending and their purpose.

For large scale big businesses, user experience transcends platforms and current award winners are melding online with offline in attempts to boost both point of sale ‘conversions’ on site and web conversions.

For anyone working in small to medium sized businesses usability is your website’s user experience so focus on that. Make sure when someone lands on your website searching for something, they find what they were needing as quickly and easily as possible.

And don’t forget your user experience doesn’t end there!

A Conversion Is Not the End of the Road for Good Website User Experience

Provide Great Support

Your user experience doesn’t stop when the conversion does.

Think about the process of your conversion from the perspective of someone performing the conversion.

Once you’re done, are you coming back to the website? If you do, are you going to be able to get the support you need right away?

Not having a support channel or any indication of one is a big negative for any user. They likely won’t buy from you if they don’t think they can contact you afterwards regarding any problems.

Refine Your Website Based on Feedback

Make sure you respond to negative feedback with more than dismissive apologies or a canned ‘thanks for the feedback we’ll work on it’ email. Users who have a bad experience during a conversion but a great experience with support can be recovered customers who will likely buy again.

Accept negative feedback as an opportunity to improve even if you disagree with it.

Take what you learn from the feedback as a gift. If a user takes the time to complain about something, treat it seriously and remedy the situation (within reason).

Maybe they completed their task but have feedback on how easy (or not) it was?

In addition to analyzing your Google Analytics, you can follow up with surveys for customers (if they opt in for having one sent to their email of course) to help refine your user experience.

If you need help drafting a survey try this list of some basic website experience survey questions to ask.

I hope you found this all helpful in ensuring your website provides a great user experience. If you have any questions about user experience and usability please post them in the comments below or on our social media or of course feel free to reach out and contact us at any time.

Thanks for reading,
Mark Hare

P.S. For more tips on how to make your website get you the results you’re looking for, sign up for my free website guide plus weekly newsletter for entrepreneurs and small business owners today.
>> CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS

P.P.S. If you found this article helpful, please share it with your Social Media followers:

7 Frustrating Things Your Visitors Hate About Your Website User ExperienceClick To Tweet

About the Author, Mark Hare

Mark Hare

Mark has been working in search engine optimization, paid online advertising, content marketing, and usability since 2005.

He has worked with hundreds of clients on a wide range of web based projects and is a strong proponent of white hat SEO techniques and link earning over building.


Customer Service Strategies in a Digital World

Customer Service and PR in the Digital World

How to get your social media presence set up right so you can deal with customer complaints like a Pro

With social media being so prevalent, users often take to their favourite channel with their complaints.

75% of users surveyed said they include social media when evaluating a purchase.

32% want a response within 30 minutes and 42% expect a response in under an hour!

When you set up your social media keep that in mind.

How to use social media for customer service

Using social media to manage customer complaints may seem like a burden but the payoff is repeat business and happy customers.

Users often take to the majors like Twitter and Facebook.  Don’t shy away from either even if you’ve received some nasty feedback in the past.

When you initially set up your accounts you entered an email to register and you’ve probably noticed unless you changed the settings you get an email every time someone is active on your page/profile.

If you find this bothersome try creating an email like customerservice@example.com that forwards to your own account or the account of an employee whose job it is to monitor your online presence.

If it’s directed to your own email create a folder or label specifically for customer service or PR that these emails automatically go to. Don’t let it get lost in your emails though or you’ll miss alerts.

*Depending on your email setup this will vary in execution*

These alerts will let you know when you have a new comment or message on your profile.

When you get one have a response protocol ready. You don’t want to jump on a complaint and then have to wait 2 days for a decision-maker to draft their response.

One single meeting with your team on customer service/PR protocol on social platforms can save you a lot of headaches.

Have canned responses ready

Use Social Media to make your customers happy. Learn how to use social for customer serviceClick To Tweet

Canned responses refer to an automatically generated response that is prompted by the user contacting you. You may have seen these in the past and wondered how they get set up; now you get to set them up for yourself:

Twitter

Twitter rolled out some great tools last year for users who operate their business online:

https://business.twitter.com/i/settings/support

That link allows you to upgrade your account with messages that will automatically send to anyone who messages you directly and will show users that you provide this option.

You account will show your support hours and users will see that you take their feedback seriously.

This is a great signal to Google too – that you’re serious about your business and helping customers.

If you want more help using Twitter try our section dedicated to using Twitter for business.

Facebook

Facebook also allows you to set up your account to help communicate with customers via instant messaging. To turn on instant replies to any instant message to your business’s page follow these instructions:

To turn on Instant Replies for your Page:

  1. Click Settings at the top of your Page
  2. Click Messaging in the left column
  3. Below Response Assistant, click to select Yes next to Send Instant Replies to anyone who messages your Page
  4. To change your instant reply message, click Change, update the message and click Save

To turn off Instant Replies:

  1. Click Settings at the top of your Page
  2. Click Messaging in the left column
  3. Below Response Assistant, click to select No next to Send Instant Replies to anyone who messages your Page

You can direct users in both instances towards a contact email or simply let them know you’ll review their message within the next 24 hours and respond.

Once you have these set up, how you use them is entirely up to you. Each were only available within the last 2 years so not all businesses have adapted yet but those that have done it have set user’s expectations.

For more tips on using Facebook look at our section all about using Facebook to grow your business.

Monitor your reviews

Whether it’s Yelp (who’s results are now actually trending in SERPs) Google reviews, or Facebook reviews (if you have them turned on) it’s very important to stay on top of your reviews. There could be even more players in your niche so be on the lookout for sites dedicated to reviewing your products or services.

If you get a bad one you don’t want to remove it. That would defeat the purposes of the reviews.

Instead use the platform’s response option to address the reviewer’s concerns.

By demonstrating to users you take their feedback and complaints seriously you show them they can trust they’ll be treated with the same respect should things go wrong between you and them.

The point of PR and customer feedback should not be to defend yourself outright.

While some users may be serial complainers or even thieves always assume the best in the customer.

Use their complaint or question as an opportunity to possibly address something within your business you should have paid attention to a long time ago.

Often you’ll find the customer has either made an error or there’s a genuine issue you need to address with your business.

Whatever the case, keep in mind what you post will be what users see when reading up on your company. Not only that but Google looks for signals of a bad business in online engagement and reviews as well.

Position yourself as a responsible business owner who will address their concerns, so whenever someone reads about your business they get the right impression.

Just because a lot of customer service has moved online doesn’t change the fact that your business needs to give a good impression to potential users/customers. Put a smile on people’s faces as much as possible and your social media can really help you grow.

To your ongoing success,
Susan Friesen

P.S. New to Social Media and online marketing or find it overwhelming and confusing? Check out Social Blast: eMarketing for Entrepreneurs. It’s a monthly group coaching program for those just starting out or wanting more advanced strategies to help with their online marketing and social media efforts.
>> CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS

P.P.S. If you found this article helpful, please share it with your Twitter followers:

Customer Service in the Digital WorldClick To Tweet

About the Author, Susan Friesen

Susan Friesen offering 10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum ResultsSusan Friesen, founder of the award-winning web development and digital marketing firm eVision Media, is a Web Specialist, Business & Marketing Consultant, and Social Media Advisor. She works with entrepreneurs who struggle with having the lack of knowledge, skill and support needed to create their online business presence.

As a result of working with Susan and her team, clients feel confident and relieved knowing their online marketing is in trustworthy and caring hands so they can focus on building their business with peace of mind at having a perfect support system in place to guide them every step of the way.

Visit www.ultimatewebsiteguide.ca and download your FREE "Ultimate Guide to Improving Your Website's Profitability - 10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum Results".

5 Key Points That Must Be Considered Before Filing A Trademark Application

5 Key Points That Must Be Considered Before Filing A Trademark Application

In my previous articles, we have discussed the importance of choosing a strong brand, how to choose a strong brand, how to conduct a trademark search, the benefits of employing a trademark professional and the differences between the ™ and ® symbols and how to use these symbols correctly.

Now, it’s time to talk about the mechanics of collecting the key information that is required to file a trademark application.   The Canadian Intellectual Property Office is a complete resource for learning about trademarks, trademark searching, filing a trademark application on-line and so much more.

When you arrive at the site, scroll down to the “Services and Information” Section and click on “Trademarks”.  Here you will find all of the information that you will require to file a successful trademark application.

If this is your first time to the site, I recommend that you go to the “Learn Section” and read: A Guide to Trademarks.   This guide provides answers to most general trademark questions in “Understanding trademarks – The basics” and “Filing a trademark application – Getting Started” explains the application process step by step.

The following is a checklist of information that should be collected before filing a Canadian trademark application:

  1. When you file a trademark application, it is important to decide who the Applicant is going to be. Ask yourself – who is going to be using the mark?  Is the mark going to be used by:
    • an individual ie. Mary Smith
    • a sole proprietor ie. Mary Smith, doing business as, Smith Adventures
    • a partnership ie. Smith Adventures, a partnership
    • a corporation ie. Smith Adventures Inc.
  2. What address should you use?
    • Home address
    • Office address

    If you work from home, it is appropriate to use your home address as the place of business for the trademark application.
     
    If you have an office, use the office address as the place of business.  If you move, it is important to make sure that you write to the Canadian Intellectual Property Office and let them know in order for correspondence to reach you.

  3. What type of a trademark are you filing for? There are two main types of trademarks that can be applied for:
    • Word trademark
    • Logo design

    A word trademark is the most common type of trademark – it is a word or words shown in plain block letters, for example: INFUSE WORKS.
     
    A word trademark affords you the broadest scope of protection.  This type of trademark provides the most flexibility because it is not limited to any particular type font or logo design.
     
    A word trademark application allows you the right to use the mark in any logo design form and you are not required to file a new trademark application, if and when, you update the type font, colour, logo design and/or icon.
     
    The second type of mark is a logo design trademark.  It can consist of a word or words in a particular type font, colour, graphic design and/or icon.
     
    A logo design trademark is limited to the extent that if the logo design undergoes changes or is updated in the future, a new logo design trademark application should be filed to protect the new variation.

  4. Will the trademark be used on goods, services or both?
    • Goods
    • Services
    • Goods and Services

    At the time of filing your trademark application, you must provide a list of the goods that you are planning to produce/manufacture and/or describe the service(s) that you are planning to provide – in ordinary commercial terms.
     
    Sometimes, this is not always easy because the Canadian Trademarks Office likes goods and services to be described in a certain way.  In order to make this task easier, the Office has developed a Goods and Services Manual.
     
    You should refer to this manual and search your particular goods/services prior to filing the application.  This is one of the most important parts of filing a trademark application.
     
    Over 35% of trademark applications experience difficulties during examination because the description of goods/services has not been defined correctly.
     
    Remember you cannot add to your description of goods and services once your trademark application has been filed.  Take the time to really think about all of the goods/services that you are going to use the trademark on in the future.  You always can delete goods and services from the application down the road if you don’t use them.

  5. Will the trademark application be based on proposed use or use in Canada? When the application is filed, you must identify the filing basis.
    • Proposed Use
    • Use in Canada

    Proposed use – means that you have not actually produced/manufactured/sold any products or provided a service at the time of filing the application; however, you intend to do so in the future.
     
    Use in Canada – means that you have produced/manufactured/sold products on which the trademark was displayed at the time of sale or you provided a service that you issued an invoice/bill to a customer.

Determining the date of first use is critical to a successful application.  Many applicants use the date of incorporation as the date of first use of the mark.  This typically is incorrect because it takes several weeks/months to get a business up and running.

You may not produce/manufacture/sell a product or provide a service on the date that you incorporate your company.  As a rule of thumb, always use the date that you first sold a product on which the trademark was displayed or provided a service to a customer and issued an invoice as the date of first use of the trademark.

There also are circumstances where you may have both a proposed use and a use claim in one application.  For example, you manufacture and have sold olive oil for one year and you are expanding the product line to include balsamic vinegars, salt and spices.

The application would include a use claim for the olive oil dating back to the first time the product was sold in Canada, and the application would include a proposed use claim for the balsamic vinegars, salt and spices.

If you consider the five key points outlined in this article, chances are good that your application will be successful (assuming of course that you conducted your trademark searching and the mark is available!).

Any inquiries about any of the information contained in this article can be addressed to Sandra Wright at infuseworks@me.com.

About the Author, Sandra Wright

Sandra Wright

Sandra Wright has operated and owned Intellectual Property firms for over 25 years. She is a specialist in the field of Trademark Law. As a trusted Business Advisor and Strategist to start-ups and existing businesses, she provides a focused and strategic approach to corporate organization and operations, corporate communications and corporate governance.

She assists businesses to identify and implement change that directly affects corporate growth and profitability. Connect with Sandra on LinkedIn here.


Why You Need to Stop Using Gmail for Your Business Email Address

What kind of email address are you using for business? Are you using Hotmail, Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo or email? Any of those free email services?

If so, keep reading because I want to implore to you to stop using your personal email addresses for business purposes!

The biggest reason for avoiding using a personal email address for business is that it does not present you in a very professional light.

When you’re sending a professional based email to a prospective client, existing client or to vendors and resources, anything to do with business correspondence, when they’re seeing it’s coming from a personal email address like Gmail or Hotmail, it does not present you in a very professional light and it actually has a detracting affect on their perception of how professional you are.

Using a free email service for business emails will not present you in a professional lightClick To Tweet

So if you want to be presented as a professional business person that you want to be taken seriously and want people to spend money with, then you need to have a professional domain-based email address.

Assuming you have a website, every website has a domain name: www.whatever.com or .ca etc and that domain name can be used to create you a professional email address.

Fr instance, my email address is “Susan at eVisionMedia.ca” where our domain name is the “eVisionMedia.ca” part of it. If you typed “eVisionMedia.ca” into your web browser you’ll get our website.

It is very straightforward and simple to create an email address that matches your domain name. If you’re not sure how to do it, ask your web developer or VA to do it. It happens at your web server account and they can set that up for you.

I understand using a Hotmail or Gmail etc. is handy because you can access it from any browser, but your domain-based email address can also be set up in Gmail but you want to make sure it is set up as a POP3 or IMAP account so that when you hit reply to somebody who has emailed you, you’re replying from your professional email address not your Gmail address.

Another thing you can do is set up your email address as an IMAP account and that way it can sync up to all of your devices. This means you can check your email in Outlook on your desktop computer, on your smart-phone, on your iPad – they will all sync together, which is really handy.

The way that works is all of your emails, all that data is stored on a cloud server and that data automatically feeds to your devices that are set up with that email address. With this in mind, there’s really no reason for you to be using a free email service for business use convenience sake only.

Get your web developer to set you up with a proper email address and forget about using those free email address accounts because it’s hurting your brand reputation.

For more information, read this: Proof Why Using Your Personal Email for Business Is Hurting Your Credibility

I’d love to hear what you think – are you using a personal email address for business? Share your response below in the comments section or if you have a question, I’d be happy to answer.

To your success,

P.S. Are you ready to take your business to the next level? Our “All Under One Roof” boutique web development and digital marketing firm can help you make your vision a reality.
CLICK HERE: www.eVisionMedia.ca

About the Author, Susan Friesen

Susan Friesen offering 10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum ResultsSusan Friesen, founder of the award-winning web development and digital marketing firm eVision Media, is a Web Specialist, Business & Marketing Consultant, and Social Media Advisor. She works with entrepreneurs who struggle with having the lack of knowledge, skill and support needed to create their online business presence.

As a result of working with Susan and her team, clients feel confident and relieved knowing their online marketing is in trustworthy and caring hands so they can focus on building their business with peace of mind at having a perfect support system in place to guide them every step of the way.

Visit www.ultimatewebsiteguide.ca and download your FREE "Ultimate Guide to Improving Your Website's Profitability - 10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum Results".

5 Top Time Saving Social Media Management Tools

3 Top Time Saving Social Media Management Tools

Sharing content regularly on social media is critical for staying top of mind.  Yet many businesses struggle to find the time to do daily social media posts.

While sharing timely posts live is important, pre-scheduling social media posts using social media management tools helps you save time.

Scheduling social media posts helps business owners save timeClick To Tweet

Planning your posts also helps you to align your posts with upcoming promotions and topics on your marketing calendar.

Last but not least, planning and scheduling your posts ahead of time can give you peace of mind from the worry of “what should I post about today?”.

But with all the tools out there, how do you know what the right one is for your business?

Here’s some of our favourite social media management tools you’ll want to check out:

  1. Hootsuite

    Hootsuite is a free tool with a Pro option that helps you track and manage your social media posts.
     
    Not only does it allow you to manage what others are saying about your brand and enables you to interact with your social media accounts, but it also allows you to schedule posts on multiple social media channels.
     
    Hootsuite also has the ability to curate content to help with your content marketing efforts as well as schedule posts in bulk. Their auto-scheduler will also suggest ideal times to post content, based on your followers’ online activities.
     
    The free version let’s you manage up to three social media platforms.  If you need to manage more, you can upgrade to the professional version for $9.99/month.

  2. Buffer

    Save time on social media with Buffer. This free app (with upgrade options) makes social media scheduling simple.
     
    This tool makes it easy to share other people’s Tweets. Plus, you can spread your Tweets out throughout the day for greater visibility.
     
    One feature that makes Buffer a great tool is its easy integration with other social media tools like Followerwonk (an analytics tools) and Feedly (a news aggregator).

  3. Hubspot

    HubSpot’s Social Publishing tool makes it easy to publish to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. It also allows you to select a custom time to post your content.
     
    It gives you custom tools to discover the best times to publish your content to reach the biggest audience. Their Social Inbox tool allows you to optimize your engagement strategy.

  4. Postcron

    Postcron is another social media scheduling tool that allows you to schedule posts to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram.
     
    Costs start from $8.33 per month with unlimited posts, a bulk uploader, content recommendations and the ability to add your watermark to image posts.
     
    Postcron also has the ability to re-use previously published material and can auto schedule posts based on when your users are prominently online.

  5. Meet Edgar

    Meet Edgar is more costly but behaves quite differently than the typical social media publishing tools described above.
     
    Not only is it a scheduling tool, but using a content library concept, it also thinks on your behalf by re-purpsosing your own best content and re-distributes it over a period of time. Essentially, the automated queue of content could fill your social media stream with valuable content forever.

Social Media Content Tips

While pre-scheduling posts can save time, you also need to supplement that with on-the-fly posts about where you are, who you are meeting with, big insights, and breaking news.

Followers want to know they are getting the inside scoop and to-the-minute updates on what you are up to with your social media.  It’s like a reward for being an active follower to know the big news first, before anyone else.

In addition to informational posts, social media graphics, and videos, it’s important to share regular calls to action. Always share an exciting way that followers can go deeper with you to experience your products and services.

Feeling Overwhelmed?

eVision Media has a team of experts who can help you identify content that resonates with your audience, plan posts to promote your top offers, and grow your engagement online. Ask about our done for you social media services today!

And if you are a do-it-yourselfer, you’ll want to check out our Social Blast membership program with easy-to -follow, step-by-step strategies and best practices that will help drive traffic to your website, create sales opportunities and grow your brand online.

To your success,

P.S. If you found this article helpful, please share it with your Twitter followers:

Here’s 5 top recommended social media management tools from @eVisionMediaClick To Tweet

About the Author, Susan Friesen

Susan Friesen offering 10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum ResultsSusan Friesen, founder of the award-winning web development and digital marketing firm eVision Media, is a Web Specialist, Business & Marketing Consultant, and Social Media Advisor. She works with entrepreneurs who struggle with having the lack of knowledge, skill and support needed to create their online business presence.

As a result of working with Susan and her team, clients feel confident and relieved knowing their online marketing is in trustworthy and caring hands so they can focus on building their business with peace of mind at having a perfect support system in place to guide them every step of the way.

Visit www.ultimatewebsiteguide.ca and download your FREE "Ultimate Guide to Improving Your Website's Profitability - 10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum Results".

Why Solopreneurs Should Create a Communications Plan for Their Business

Why Solopreneurs Should Create a Communications Plan for Their Business

Small business owners and solopreneurs often think communications planning is for big business.

Yes, communications is the stuff of corporations, governments, and not-for-profit organizations, and it can benefit you, the small business owner or solopreneur as well.

Large organizations who are keen on reputation management, media relations, rolling out annual reports and extensive internal communications programs rely on their communications team to craft the message, to write and create the material, to deliver the program and to keep the organization top of mind with their target audience.

These are all things that you need to do as well, no matter how big or small your business is.

Here is a quick quiz on whether or not you need to bring a communications expert onto your team:

  1. Can you answer what your business does in one, clean, sentence?
  2. Do you know what reputation your business has?
  3. Do your customers/target audiences know your name?
  4. Is your website current and does it accurately reflect you and your business?
  5. Are you clear on how much you need to talk to your customers/target audience and do you have a plan for that?

If the answer is “no” or “I’m not sure” to any of the questions above, then you could definitely benefit from hiring a communications consultant to help you through some of these things.

A good consultant will start by asking you about your business. Why did you start it? What do you love about it? What do you want people to know about your business? What call to action do you want your target audience to have once they hear your message?

Once you can answer these questions, you can start creating a communications plan for your business.

The funny thing is, many business owners think they know the answers to these questions; however, once they try to voice it, they stumble.

Here’s an example of how these conversations often go:

Consultant: So, you want people to know about your business. What do you want them to know?

Business Owner: Well, that we’re awesome, of course!

Consultant: Great! I know you’re awesome, and you know you’re awesome. Why are you awesome?

Business Owner: Because we offer a great product. There’s nothing else out there like it on the market!

Consultant: Great! So, what does your product do?

This is where you start getting into what’s important. What do you do? What sets you apart from your competition? How will your customers find you? How often will you communicate with them and when? Do you have a feedback mechanism to hear from your customers? Do you even know what they really want?

A good communications plan will contain the following components:

  1. Background on your Business
  2. Business Goals
  3. Communications Goals (big picture) & Objectives (smaller picture)
  4. Target Audience
  5. Key Messages (for each target audience)
  6. Communications Strategy
  7. Action Plan & Timeline
  8. Budget
  9. Evaluation methodology (how will you know you’ve been successful?)

Sound overwhelming? It doesn’t have to be. You can even take a stab at this yourself, regardless of your communications experience.

And, the more you have pre-prepared when you meet with a consultant, if you decide to go that route, the more they will love you for it. Particularly the business goals. Nobody but you can tell you what your goals are.

What does success look like for your business?

Let’s start there.

What are your goals for your business?  For three months, six months and one year from now. Once you have your business goals clearly defined, the rest will flow.

And you’ll be well on your way to developing your first communications plan.

About the Author, Susan Elford

Kathryn Wilking

Susan Elford, PR Strategist & Leadership Coach, works with start-ups and seasoned entrepreneurs to help them get real about their strengths and celebrate them so they get more of what they want; clients, exposure and success, while living a life of balance.

Visit Susan at www.elfordcommunications.com for traditional PR support and www.susanelford.com for a look into how she works with her coaching clients.


Tools to Get You More Organized, Efficient, and Less Stressed in Your Business

Tools to Get You More Organized, Efficient, and Less Stressed in Your Business

9 Operational Apps, Systems and Processes We Use at eVision Media

The other day I was having a conversation with a professional organizer I met in a Facebook group. We connected over the phone and talked about our businesses.

When she asked me how organized I was, she was quite surprised to hear I felt I was very organized and systematized. I’m not overwhelmed like many busy entrepreneurs and small business owners are and this intrigued her greatly.

In fact, she commended me on how few people reach what I consider pretty normal! Isn’t that typical, right? Where we just assume everyone else knows/does what we do and thus, it’s nothing worth writing about?

So today I thought I would write down a list of the tools and systems I use to keep organized and systematized on a daily basis. Working with a virtual team of 11 people has forced me to be this way!

Want to know what a busy web development/digital marketing firm does to stay organized?Click To Tweet

Here’s 9 ways I keep our eVision Media business operating smoothly:

  1. At the top of the list is using Microsoft Office 365. I really couldn’t be functional without this software suite as an integral part of my daily operations. There are 3 apps I use the most and they are:
    • Outlook. My Outlook program is always open. It’s the hub of my operations for my emails, calendar and tasks.
       
      I use IMAP for email so I can use Outlook on my iPad and iPhone as well, enabling me to keep all 3 devices synched at the same time.
       
      The only thing that doesn’t sync nicely is the calendar (due to my not using MS Exchange) so I use iCloud that syncs my calendar and I can use it for file storage too.
    • Excel. I love lists and keeping things organized. I guess one could say I’m addicted to using Excel to manage many of my day-to-day operations.
       
      Whether at a client level such as tracking our marketing and social media progress or at our own level in tracking our content marketing efforts. I can’t live without Excel!
    • Word. This is self explanatory. All of my business correspondence is done in our branded stationery that’s embedded into Word.
       
      All of my eVision Media and client documents are stored in “libraries” on my PC so I can easily access any file pertaining to anything I need.
  2. Evernote. I started using Evernote a couple of years ago and never looked back. What a gem on keeping me organized! There’s a free version and paid version and so far, I’ve only needed the free version. This is where I keep track of many things like:
    • Current Projects. This notebook tracks all of our website development projects, marketing campaigns, webinars/telesummits as well as our “Done For You” social media projects.
       
      I love how I can create checklists in Evernote to ensure I have all my bases covered as we work through each level of completion on each project.
       
      Because we can have as many as a couple of dozen projects running at the same time, this system is invaluable to keeping me on top of things without having to always rely on my memory.
    • Leads. This is where I can easily take notes as I’m speaking with a potential client so I ensure I do proper follow up and not forget any details told to me.
    • Resources. I use this Notebook to save website links, tools and YouTube videos I want to remember and reference at a later date.
    • Notes. I’m always coming up with new ideas and need a place to jot them down so this notebook is ideal where I add things like newsletter ideas, Social Blast topics, tips I’ve learned on webinars and the like.
    • Daily Tasks. This is basically my to-do list. I find this one the hardest to keep up – sometimes my tasks are completed so quickly, they didn’t make it in here to begin with!
    • Personal Stuff. Life is not all business! So here’s where I store recipes and health tips I like to be able to easily reference.

    Evernote also has a handy voice recording feature that I haven’t gotten into the habit of using but really should. The other feature I don’t use much is the ability to share certain Notebooks with my team. Since we use a different Project Management tool, there hasn’t been a need for this yet.

    An alternative to Evernote is One Note, which comes with Office 365 but I’m a creature of habit and haven’t taken the time to explore One Note enough to see if it would work better for me. Why try to fix what’s not broken, right?

  3. Speaking of Project Management, we use a centralized team system called eGroupware. This is a completely secure, privately accessible system that manages our entire team’s daily activities at an operational level.
  4. For time tracking, most of our team uses Toggl. This is a free desktop/online app. that allows us to track how much time we spend on clients’ tasks down to the minute. This is extremely handy since we charge in 10 minute increments!
  5. There’s often a need to send large files to clients so we have a Hightail account that I much prefer over using Dropbox.
  6. For communicating with my team, I either use email or Skype. Skype is great for quick questions or for face-to-face team meetings.
  7. During my monthly Social Blast training sessions, I use TeamViewer for screensharing capabilities. We also use TeamViewer when we want to do a demonstration with a client or get feedback on a design layout with our graphic designers.
  8. For a newsletter database service provider, we now use Mailchimp. I usually recommend Mailchimp to our clients who are just starting out with their list building efforts due to it being free.
     
    However, sometimes client’s needs require a different service like aWeber, Constant Contact, Get Response, iContact or even 1Shopping Cart or Infusionsoft if sales integration is needed.
  9. To keep organized, and sane, with our social media efforts, we use Hootsuite and PostCron. Each of these services allow me to pre-schedule many of our posts to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

    Every entrepreneur who is using social media in their marketing efforts should use some sort of scheduling software (there are lots to choose from) to save tons of time.

And as a bonus tip, call me old fashioned, but I still like to have a notepad and pen in front of me so I can jot down quick notes on the fly and track any quick tasks I need to take care of.

9 Operational Apps, Systems and Processes We Use at eVision Media

There’s nothing more satisfying than having that red pen and striking through things are they are completed. Ahhh…

'There's nothing more satisfying than a red pen striking through completed tasks.'Click To Tweet

So there you have it! These are the tools I use on a daily basis to keep me organized, systematized and operating at an efficient level here at eVision Media.

What about you? I’d love to hear what tools you use that keeps you organized in your business!

To your success,

About the Author, Susan Friesen

Susan Friesen offering 10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum ResultsSusan Friesen, founder of the award-winning web development and digital marketing firm eVision Media, is a Web Specialist, Business & Marketing Consultant, and Social Media Advisor. She works with entrepreneurs who struggle with having the lack of knowledge, skill and support needed to create their online business presence.

As a result of working with Susan and her team, clients feel confident and relieved knowing their online marketing is in trustworthy and caring hands so they can focus on building their business with peace of mind at having a perfect support system in place to guide them every step of the way.

Visit www.ultimatewebsiteguide.ca and download your FREE "Ultimate Guide to Improving Your Website's Profitability - 10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum Results".

Why Speaking Engagements Don’t Have to Be Nail-Biting

Why Speaking Engagements Don’t Have to Be Nail-Biting

So, you’ve finally launched your website. (check)
You’ve got a decent social media campaign going – you figure. (check)
You’ve got business coming in. (check?)

And now you’re ready for the next big thing: THE STAGE.

You know you need to add “speaking engagements” to your annual marketing calendar and you’re not sure where to start. Yes, nail-biting, isn’t it?

Well, if you picture yourself on-stage “a la Oprah” and your knees start shaking, not to fear…. It doesn’t have to start that way. In fact, I can guarantee you it didn’t start that way for Oprah either.

Speaking engagements can simply mean this: you speak one-to-many vs. one-to-one. What you may say to one person, you now say to more than one at the same time.

You don’t even have to stand up.

In fact, I did a speaking engagement recently where I got to sit down the whole time. It was a very casual presentation to a group of about a dozen female entrepreneurs in a pub. It was casual, it was fun, it definitely wasn’t intimidating, but it definitely was a speaking engagement.

I had to write an intro about myself, they promoted me to their membership, and I spoke in front of people with my prepared text. That was a speaking engagement.

So, if you are just starting out in your business and you do not yet have a line outside your door of people clamouring to hear you speak.

Here’s a “how-to-guide” to launching that line-up and securing that first speaking engagement:

  1. Write your signature talk

    Honestly, this is probably the hardest part. What are you going to say? I would recommend developing a relatively short, 20 – 30 minute presentation where you speak about the core of your business.

    The goal? To generate interest in you and your business. I definitely don’t recommend selling from the stage at this point, your whole goal will be to generate interest in you and your business by providing value in a 20-30 minute presentation.

    You want people to walk away feeling that talk was a good use of their time and for them to consider contacting you in the future for possible work opportunities.

    At the early stages of talk-giving, you are asking your audience for important collateral – their time — in exchange for your time and knowledge. It’s important to make you worth their time.

  2. Know your target audience

    Who do you want to have hire you? Once you narrow down your target audience and your ideal customer, you can start sourcing where they hang out and what they might want to hear in a short, 20-30 minute snippet of information delivery.

    The better you understand your people, the more value you can deliver in a presentation you prepare.

  3. Identify where your target audience gathers.

    There are groups everywhere these days who gather in the name of networking, promoting their business and learning about topics related to their business or personal growth.

    Identify where these groups are and identify the best ones for you to connect with. Check out meet-ups, networking organizations in your area, and eventually conferences and gatherings where participants pay to hear a number of speakers talk.

    Aligning yourself with organizations who already have a following of your ideal customer, will provide endorsement of you and give you a leg-up before you’ve even hit the proverbial stage.

  4. Introduce yourself to the group organizer

    Arrange a coffee date or meeting with the lead of the organizations you identify. Find out what they’re all about to determine if there is a fit for you to either join the organization yourself and/or become someone they would have come speak to their regular meeting.

    Be ready with #5 (below) if they are interested.

  5. Prepare your “sell sheet” or promotional bio

    You will need this to both promote yourself to be invited to speak and as well to promote to the membership of the organization, so members are enticed to come out to hear you speak.

    It should include your photo, a brief bio about you and why you are someone with something they want to hear.

  6. Let your networks know you are speaking

    Now that you have secured your first speaking engagement, let your networks know you are speaking. You will undoubtedly get a “I didn’t know you gave presentations! Good for you! I know another group who you could really help.” And then the word-of-mouth promotional chain begins and lo and behold, speaking engagement #2 is right around the corner.

After you have gotten a taste for how your Signature Talk is received, you can tweak and amend it to ensure you reach your ideal client and serve them in a way that turns into new business for you.

And, once the requests start rolling in for you to speak, and your time becomes more valuable, you can start charging for that talk. Look out Oprah!

About the Author, Susan Elford

Kathryn Wilking

Susan Elford, PR Strategist & Leadership Coach, works with start-ups and seasoned entrepreneurs to help them get real about their strengths and celebrate them so they get more of what they want; clients, exposure and success, while living a life of balance.

Visit Susan at www.elfordcommunications.com for traditional PR support and www.susanelford.com for a look into how she works with her coaching clients.