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3 Barriers to Break and Get Your Service-Based Business E-Commerce Ready

You might not think your service can be sold online but here’s 3 reasons why you might be wrong!

We’ve all seen how rapidly e-commerce has taken over but many service-based small business owners and entrepreneurs are still gun shy about taking their business to the next level online.

Whether you sell a physical product or provide a service you could benefit from online sales.

In this post we’ll look at the barriers presented by e-commerce for service providers and how many perceived obstacles are easily and affordably addressed by planning your approach like a pro (or with one) and using third party tools that make the whole process much easier.

Want to use sponsored posts on Instagram to grow your business? Try our post: 3 Beginner Steps to Building Your Business on Instagram Using Sponsored Posts.

Here’s 3 common barriers business owners face when contemplating adding e-commerce to their business tools:

1. You Don’t Sell a Product

Many businesses sell a service that can’t draw a clear line between the user and the service.

Whether it’s consulting, speaking, coaching, or any other industry where you are the product, the perception is that e-commerce isn’t something you should pursue.

In reality you do sell something, but you’ll have to be an out-of-the-box thinker if you want to use e-commerce to build your business and your personal brand.

Are you a consultant? Consultants tend to adapt to the project and use their experience to guide business owners or other service providers through a lengthy process that evolves as the problems are discovered.

Sometimes there are consistent problems that are encountered and that’s where you will see your opportunities.

If you see that company after company is hitting the same wall and you have helped previous clients get past it, then that solution can be a product you can sell.

Get creative! Many successful apps started because someone like you saw an opportunity no one else was addressing and pounced.

This can be said for other service industries as well. It’s not the only approach though; if you’re a coach or a speaker you’ve got potential for e-commerce as well.

Speakers and coaches undervalue themselves habitually. Your value is clear to many other businesses who have hired you so understand that your personal brand makes a big impact.

Take that knowledge and monetize!

Write a book, have shirts and mugs printed, or look at any other way to turn your knowledge into tangible items. These could be promotional items or anything else you think of.

You’ll then not only be making money through sales but building your brand at the same time.

The big point here is not to limit yourself to your service and to recognize the potential of your knowledge. If you’re having issues with this, we have a great mentoring program that can help you discover the hidden potential for e-commerce your brand offers.

2. You Don’t Have the Time

This is the biggest reason most people don’t get into online sales.

The setup, the maintenance, and the eventual product shipping all look like major time commitments.

The new reality of e-commerce for small businesses is these things take very little time.

The setup can be quick or take a long time and the barrier will actually be you. Being overly picky about design elements or quirky functionality always hold businesses back.

Always put the emphasis on your business servicing the user.

Really all you need to do is make sure your website can take and process an order and the information and products are presented clearly with as few steps as possible for the user to complete their purchase.

Maintenance can vary and often it’s a good idea to start things yourself and then hire a third party or freelancer to handle the maintenance.

Sometimes there isn’t much required other than logging in a few times a week, though once you see it all working you’ll likely be inclined to check all the time (in a good way).

Shipping is as easy as applying an app to print shipping labels and then having the item picked up for delivery or taking the items to the post office.

Look at your potential profit margins and see what selling could mean for your business. You might be surprised at how much revenue you’re missing out on!

3. It’s Too Expensive

This is a major obstacle for many service-based businesses because they’ve seen how expensive it used to be to get into e-commerce, but it’s not anymore.

We looked at the barriers such as making your service viable and how time can factor in. Both indicate loss of revenue for the existing business if you split your time and start up some e-commerce.

In reality it’s unbelievably cheap to start selling online.

Whether you choose Woocommerce for your WordPress website, open a Shopify store, or opt for Big Commerce you won’t have to break the bank to get up and running.

With Woocommerce the expense is whatever your professional web developer costs. This system works with WordPress so if you’re already up and running with WordPress then you’re cost will either be your time in trying to set it up yourself or the cost of getting it done professionally.

Shopify and Bigcommerce both make it much easier but they’ll also either need to be installed as a subdomain of your existing website or you’ll be setting up a whole new one.

These two have near identical pricing starting at $30 per month and this includes your hosting. They take care of everything such as credit card processing and there is no shortage of apps to handle functionality not native to their platforms.

Taking this approach will be time consuming though.

If you hire a professional developer for any of these systems, make sure they really know the platforms beforehand because they differ greatly right down to the programming languages they’re built with.

Of course, there are plenty of other options to consider such as 1ShoppingCart or even Infusionsoft and Magento, which are considered to be higher-end options for large-scaled shops.

Ultimately, the short answer to the question is: no, it’s not too expensive. This is because the price range starts with FREE.

The real cost is your time and the only risk is wasting it.

If you do elect to explore e-commerce as an option, put a lot of time into the planning. Not just one day of grinding out ideas but weeks of spit balling and brain storming.

Look around at what others in your industry have done and even more importantly what they’ve not done and plan everything out properly.

Hiring a professional business mentor to guide you can be the best decision you ever made. You’ll be walked past the typical hiccups and hurdles and on your way to launching your e-commerce project much faster and with much less effort.

More and more service-based businesses are seeing the potential of e-commerce so the quicker you jump into the ring the better. For many, the e-commerce even takes over as the primary revenue driver.

Susan 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.


Online Marketing Strategies 101

There’s two major ways to advertise online, one is using paid advertising programs and the other one is using free advertising platforms. The idea is to send targeted internet traffic to an offer in order to get responses and feedback from interested prospects.

Paid Advertising

Paid advertising can come in different forms but the most popular ones are called: SEM (search engine marketing) using PPC (pay-per-click), display advertising, shopping networks, video advertising using Google AdWords, Bing Ads, Yahoo Ads, just to name a few. The idea behind PPC is a simple one, advertisers are only charged by networks when their paid ads running are clicked on and prospects are directed to the web pages or landing page offers. Depending on the type of industry or niche market and advertising networks, PPC prices can vary greatly from.50 cents to $60.00 or more each time a prospect clicks on a running ad.

In general insurance, loans, mortgages, attorney services are among the highest cost-per-clicks. Obviously, the most expensive advertising network is Google.com with their AdWords program. It’s a powerful money making machine if used properly. It could also leave you broke if don’t properly understand the platform. As long as you have the budget and the know how, you can really make a different in your overall conversion and ROI (return on investment).

There are other popular paid advertising methods out there using social medias and their paid advertising programs again using PPC (pay-per-click) technologies. Networks such as: Facebook have a huge and also powerful paid advertising program called Facebook Ads with the option to also use Instagram Ads since they also own that social network. You can also buy paid traffic with Twitter Ads, LinkedIn Ads, YouTube Ads (AdWords program). Besides that, there are other social media paid advertising platform such as Snap Chat and Pinterest that are also gaining ground.

The advantage of using paid advertising is the quick entry. The paid traffic is offered almost immediately once you finalized your advertising campaigns and it’s officially approved by the network. The drawback is that you need a good marketing budget to collect important data insights, test and fine tune to get satisfying results.

Free advertising

First, let’s get something straight about free traffic and web page positioning in the search engine result page also known as the acronym (SERP). Google and other search engines rank web pages and not websites. You can have a web page from your website that appears on the first page of Google for a particular keyword query while other pages of the same website are nowhere to be found in the search result pages for the same keyword query.

Google and other search engines will give priority on their respective first page results based on their algorithm (mathematical equation) which contains many ranking factors. The six most important ranking factors are as follows:

1- On page optimization, the action of making a web page compatible to search engines and also human friendly (meta tags, keyword selection, interlinking, etc.)
2- Great relevant content
3- Back links (relevant links from other high authority sites pointing back to your web pages)
4- UX web page design (easy to navigate for a good user experience)
5- Page load speed (the time it takes to load a web page)
6- Responsive design (each page must be compatible to mobile devices)

So the job of a webmaster is to prepare each page of the website using search engines industry standards best practices. In return, search engines will provide the best possible match to the users searching for a particular subject. Google thrives to always deliver the very best of user experience and sets the bar very high for webmasters to provide The ” Wow ” factor each time a user lands on a web page following a search engine query.

How to build back links?

As mentioned above, a back link is created when an external website links to your own website. There are many ways to build back links and get free traffic on the internet. The most common way is to post articles on social media sites with a link back to your website to get some post engagements. Also submitting content articles to well-known article directories will also get you some good website visitors to your money pages. Among many good article directories, at the top of the list is EzineArticles.com which really helps SEO organic search result ranking with strong back links due to its long time presence online. The directory is also considered an authority site in the eyes of Google and other search engines.

Another popular way is to create and submit interesting videos to YouTube and other well-known video sites. Another method to get good quality free traffic to a website is using directory submissions. Guest blog posts are also very popular where an author has the permission to post an article in a popular blog site therefore gaining a strong back link. Forum posting is also a familiar way to create strong back links as long as the topic is relevant to the web page it links to.

The back linking process for organic search results should be created slowly but steady. Search engines are very smart now days and can spot spammy links a mile away. It’s always advisable to use white hat (ethical) methods when building back links to avoid being penalized by search engines.

In conclusion, it’s always advisable to use many marketing channels to get your marketing message across. Use both online traffic generation methods, paid and free organic traffic building if your budget allows it to get the momentum going.


Effective Lead Generation Through Digital Marketing

How to Increase Your Small Business Lead Generation

Lead generation is a critical component of many different businesses. Take an insurance agency for example, whether you’re providing car, life, home, life, health or business insurance, you need to understand how to consistently get more customers and utilize your sales funnel.

A lead is a person who has shown interest in your company’s product or service in some way.

You want them to buy something from you, but you need to spend some time building up the benefits and wooing them to entice them to choose you over your competitors.

A lead generation funnel centres around a large number of names being poured into the funnel. Over time, you identify which are viable targets, then hopefully turn those targets into prospects and finally convert to buyers as they move down the funnel to purchase.

Direct marketing goes way back in the world of insurance sales, but the internet has made it much easier for insurance companies to get new targets and automatically follow up with potential clients.

If you’re using online marketing strategies, it doesn’t matter if it’s the middle of the night and your business is closed – your insurance agency can get new clients anytime, anywhere.

There are 3 steps to this process:

1. Generation

This is the first part of the journey, where you generate the initial spark of consumer interest or enquiry into your products or services.

Ideas to start trying to convert targets to paying customers include:

• Asking people to sign up for your email newsletter

• Encouraging people to fill out an online form for a free consultation

• Using an exit intent popup on select webpages

If you’re doing SEO, SEM, social media marketing and content marketing well, you should have a large number of visitors to your website and social media accounts, where you can initially engage new clients.

Note that Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) requires you to receive consent from recipients before sending messages. Make sure you ask people if they’d like to sign up for your newsletter before you start sending your finely-crafted marketing materials to their inbox!

2. Qualification

Not every prospect you capture is going to become a sale. You need to have an effective process of filtering through all your leads to find the best ones. Otherwise, you’ll waste time on audiences that will never convert.

For example, a prospect who lands on your site, visits your “Pricing” page and enters their information into a form to download your free report is more valuable than a person who lands on your site, reads a blog article, then leaves.

Here’s an example of lead generation through digital marketing from everyone’s favourite gecko.

3. Nurturing

This is the step where you’re focusing your efforts on providing relevant information at each stage of the buyer’s journey. Some examples are providing targeted marketing content and email personalization.

Studies show that compared to traditional marketing, content marketing and email marketing generate 50 percent more leads. It’s important to create original, quality content if you want to attract customers – especially because a lot of insurance information is confusing to the average person.

Content marketing helps you get discovered on social media and in search engines.

Then, you can help drive new referrals organically. Appeal to potential clients’ needs and pain points with solution-based content and you’ll get their attention.

Through continuous nurturing with valuable content, people will start to think of you as a trusted source and authority.

The Importance of A/B Testing

You’ll never know quite how successful any campaign is without testing it! A/B testing is a popular way of determining what works and what doesn’t.

You should be testing the effectiveness of one element at a time to determine what is actually responsible for an increase (or decrease) in traffic or conversions. The more time you spend testing, the better results you’ll see.

Some things you can A/B test include:

• Adding or decreasing text or white space on your website

• Changing a call to action in your email or on your site

• Changing a headline or block of text on your sales landing page

Finding new clients is hard work. So is working hard to stay ahead of your competitors. Will it be easy? No. But if you put in the time and energy you’ll see your insurance marketing strategies pay off!

Susan 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.


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