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5 Questions You Need to Ask About Your IT Setup

IT can form the backbone of your business, here are five questions to help you find the right solution

Joseph Hill

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Put plain and simple, without IT your business couldn’t operate. Whether it’s your internet, computer or smartphone, all businesses rely on technology these days. It has the ability to let you thrive in your market, but at the same time it could be your downfall, so it’s vital to make sure your setup is right for your structure.

The traveller needs to be mobile, the entrepreneur needs to be cost-effective and the grower needs to be able to expand. But with many options on the market it can sometimes be hard to find the right solution for you, especially if technology isn’t your forte. By asking yourself these five simple questions you can determine whether you’re in the right lane, or if it’s time for change.

Related: Are You Cloud Ready? Use this Checklist to Decide

1. Is it Accessible?Comps

Where, when and how you can access your documents are the three most important factors of all. If you sign up for the cloud you have access to your programs, data and documents 24/7, providing you have an internet connection.

If you choose the hardware option of storing only on memory sticks, hard-drives and your computer, you are wholly reliant on these devices. Without them, you’re up the creek without a paddle.

Tip: Google Cloud and Dropbox are great cost-effective ‘cloud folders’.

2. Is It Backed-Up?

In the past year, 275 businesses in Europe have lost a combined 72,000 laptops, costing those organisations a total of $1.8 billion (InformationWeek, 2012). This is a common occurrence, with laptops not only being a well-known favourite for thieves, but also easily portable and thus more forgettable.

But this isn’t the only way you can lose data. Accidental deletion, computer crashes and even damage can cause data loss, and many learn the hard way. The simple solution is to develop a system that backs it up, even if it just using a free provider like Dropbox and Google Cloud routinely.

3. Is It Secure?

In today’s business world, data theft and cyber-attacks are rife. Research commissioned by the UK Government BIS department revealed that, in 2013, 87% of small UK-based firms experienced a data security breach, up 10% from 2012. So if you’re not secured, you could be in big trouble.

It’s worth having a chat with an IT consultant to see how secure your system really is.

If you choose to opt for the cloud, any reputable company will have security protocols already in place, to secure it 24/7. Depending on your line of work, it may be worth the investment, especially if you need to hold and store sensitive data.

4.  Is It Expandable?Comp world

You always need a surplus of space which you can work into, regardless of what market you’re in.  Make sure you keep tabs on how much space you have used, and how much space you have left.

Related: Is Your Website Acting as Customer-Repellent? Avoid These 5 Don’ts.

For some companies, the need to rapidly expand how much data you can store over a short amount of time can be a necessity, for example if you experience an annual Christmas growth period.

If this is the case, you may need to seek out a scalable colocation provider to ensure sure you can expand immediately. It’s also possible to install a bigger hard drive, but it can take time and need expert help.

Tip: It’s imperative to get a good provider with true scalability to avoid a system crash, because not all clouds are equal.

5. Is it Host-Worthy?

For many businesses, their website is their pride and joy – shop front, billboard and portfolio, all rolled into one blissfully-designed masterpiece. But what if it crashed suddenly, your server got overloaded and your site was out of action?

Your website hosting should be in the right hands, ensuring that the upload speed is fast, the website is always live and that you can handle your levels of traffic. A great hosting provider can cost a pretty penny, but it’s often money well spent.

Online Marketing

How To Know Whether Your Social Media Strategy Is Working?

Most business owners and marketers by now know that social media provides a huge opportunity for growing a business.

Jandre de Beer

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social-media

In a previous article I broke down how our online marketing agency Version Eight went from 0 to R1m in sales in 6 months with the help of digital marketing.

It’s a fact that the strategies provided in the above article might not necessarily work for everyone, however, another fact is that social media gives us the ability to build an audience, high quality traffic to our website, engagement with potential customers and lastly, but most importantly, it allows us to drive more sales.

The sad thing is that only 43% of marketers measure their digital marketing return on investment (ROI), and the main reason for this is because it can get quite tricky to measure the success of a strategy if you are not sure what to look for.

Similar to billboards and radio ads, social media is not a linear marketing channel. Yes, you can set up the necessary tracking scripts to show money in vs money out if your business revolves online, however, it’s a bit more complicated than that if your business has a physical footprint.

So, How Do You Measure the Success of Your Social Media Strategy?

1. Fan and Followers Growth

Because social media is not a linear line, we do have to include some “vanity” metrics into our reporting.

The main reason for this is because before someone becomes a customer, they first have to discover your brand and understand what you are all about.

Believe it or not, it’s never a bad idea to build your own audience on a channel like Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook or YouTube.

Yes, organic reach on these platforms are declining, but there is still a huge amount of value in building an audience.

For one, it helps you lower your cost per mile over time. On Facebook, small to medium sized pages can still get up to 10% reach.

This means if you have a 1000 followers on your business page, posting something will get approx. 100 people to see it free of charge, given if the quality of the post is good enough of course.

On Instagram some business pages are reporting a 30% reach!

So, the first thing that you should actively be tracking is your fan growth. Not necessarily your overall growth, but most importantly you’re your total amount of new fans per week.

Also make sure you are measuring the difference between organic and paid growth, as this will give you an indication on whether your paid strategy is actually working.

For those looking for some advanced tips and tricks to grow your Instagram business account, make sure to read our article on How to Grow Your Instagram Account for Free.

Related: 10 Laws Of Social Media Marketing

2. Engagement

After discovering your business, the next step would be to get these prospects to engage. By measuring your overall engagement rate you will get a clear indication on whether you are building a quality audience.

An average engagement rate on a platform like Instagram would be around 2-5%. This means that if you have 10k followers on Instagram, approx. 200-500 of them should be engaging with your content.

On Facebook the engagement rate will be a lot less, but it’s essential to measure your engagement rate so that you can get an idea on whether your audience is engaged with your brand or not.

If they are, then it becomes a lot easier to turn them into new and long-term customers.

3. Traffic to Your Website

Using Google Analytics (GA) you can track how whether people are actually taking the time to learn more about your business.

GA can help you dissect between organic, referral, email, social media traffic. Ideally you want to see an increase in social media traffic if you are spending money on social media.

Also, ensure to measure the bounce rate and time on site of your social media traffic as this is usually a strong indicator on whether you are reaching the right people on these networks.

Lastly, by using UTM links you can actually measure what social channels are driving the most traffic. The reason I would advise using a tracking link is because GA isn’t usually that accurate when it comes to differentiating between Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, etc.

By using a tracking link you will just be gathering more accurate data.

4. Repeat Visitors

Again similar to a billboard and radio ad, it’s about putting your brand in front of people all the time. This is why tracking repeat visitors, as well as where they are coming from is so important.

If someone has visited your site for a second, or third time in a period of a month, then it’s a good chance that he or she might convert into a customer once pay day arrives or once you launch that promo you’ve been thinking about.

Related: The Seven Rules Of Social Media

5. And Finally, Sales

If you’re an online business, then it’s a lot easier to measure your ROI from channels like Facebook and Instagram, as by having a Facebook Pixel installed on your website you will be able to track how many purchases have come from your social media ads.

This will give you a clear indication of money in vs money out.

However, if you are a physical store it might be a bit more tricky. Facebook launch offline conversions a few years ago and has been approving on the functionality of the feature.

By using Facebook offline event tracking you can request your customer to provide his or her email address and if you import that into Facebook it can identify whether or not that customer has seen one of your social media ads.

Now, that doesn’t always mean the person became a customer because of your advertising, but at least it’s a metric that can help you sleep better at night knowing your ad potentially had impact on an in-store sale.

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Online Marketing

WordPress Vs The World: Building A Website In 2019

Building a website on your own can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. With CMS platforms like WordPress available for free, anyone can design their own website.

Steven Slotow

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Just How Did WordPress Capture 60% Of The Web?

To the everyday person, WordPress may be well-known as an online platform where anybody can set up a quick site and create a personal blog about their hobby. However, for many, many businesses worldwide, this leading Content Management System (CMS) is actually the foundation of their entire web presence and the back-end editor of their website and landing pages.

WordPress emerged about 15 years ago, amidst the rapid growth of the World Wide Web, and has quickly become a solid favourite of website builders, both amateur and pro. But why? WordPress’s popularity has, in a large part, been thanks to its strong and active community of followers and users. WordPress is user-shaped with hundreds of developers worldwide contributing continuously by imagining, building and supporting thousands of themes and plugins for the CMS platform that keep it constantly evolving into a better version of itself.

Related: How To Create The Best Small Business Website: 5 Easy And Effective Steps

Just How Popular Is WordPress And Why?

According to web survey organisation W3Tech, WordPress runs a little over 32% of all websites on the Internet. That’s nearly a third of the entire web! Once narrowed down to only sites that are run using a CMS, the numbers translate to WordPress having nearly 60% of the pie. Aside from nurturing a growing community of user-generated plugins and themes, what else contributed to WordPress’s success?

Who doesn’t like a freebie?

The answer is “nobody”, and that’s why WordPress’s most crucial drawing card is that it’s accessible for free. It’s easy to download and offers an open source code, so you can make changes to tailor your website in the ways that you need.

Usability

WordPress is accessible and easy-to-use, with a wealth of features to choose from. You don’t need to be a professional coder or web developer to design a website with WordPress. In many ways, WordPress has cut out the middleman and provided an opportunity for any and everybody to try their hands at web design.

Innovative Plugins & Themes

The ability to mix and match features and looks is among the key components of WordPress’s consistent growth. With plugins, you can customise your website’s features with additional software. With the various themes that are added daily, you get to choose a style for your website that goes with your business look.

Related: 5 Mistakes To Avoid When Building A Website For Your Business

When its not WordPress, it’s…

WordPress may own 60% of CMS-based websites, but who is ruling the rest of the coop? There are a variety of other CMS options to consider for building a website, and often these options are catered specifically to the type of website you’re looking to build. There’s:

  • Wix – an incredibly simple and user-friendly website building platform that’s probably best known for “not having as much to offer as WordPress”. This might sound like a negative, but for many first-timers building a website, this is actually a much better alternative to what can sometimes be a bit of a complicated WordPress back-end.
  • Shopify – toting itself as the preferred CMS option for anyone wanting to build an online store, Shopify is purposeful, directed and won’t disappoint. The platform is secure and reliable and opens itself up quite well to a multitude of marketing techniques to drive business to the store.
  • Weebly – works well for small-scale entrepreneurs, helping them to build websites and even facilitate e-commerce. It’s a simple drag-and-drop platform that is inexpensive and intuitive. However, it lacks the community support of other platforms like WordPress.

So get experimenting and pick a platform. Once you’ve found what works for you, website building on your own is really about experimentation, trial and error and some late nights in the glow of a laptop screen.

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Online Marketing

5 Ways You Can Turn Your Instagram Account Into A Revenue-Generating Machine

Instagram is slowly transitioning into what will soon be a fully functioning ecommerce platform. Are you jumping in?

Michael C. Burke

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Instagram has earned a rep as the place to go if you want to see pretty images of flowers, quotes and sunsets. And, for the most part, ecommerce companies have shied away from investing a lot of time in the platform, because, let’s be honest, that clever GIF you posted last week probably won’t drive a lot of web traffic, or bring you a huge spike in sales.

But Instagram has kept innovating, adding new features that make life easier and its own platform more interactive for users. And the result has been that the application’s value proposition for businesses has become clear – something that’s readily apparent in the platform’s recent blog post extolling its new and expanded shopping features.

Back in March of this year, Instagram announced probably the biggest game-changer to date for ecommerce brands: shoppable posts. So, while Instagram was, and is, a place where you can go for your daily dose of inspiration or motivation, it is slowly transitioning into what will soon be a fully functioning ecommerce platform.

And the brands that adapt to this the most quickly may well be able to turn their ordinary Instagram account into a beautiful, highly creative revenue-generating machine.

With Instagram’s new shoppable media feature, eligible businesses now have the ability to tag products in their posts, and send users from their feeds to the add-to-cart section of a website with just three clicks. It’s also pretty easy to become eligible if you, as head of that eligible business:

  • Have the latest version of the Instagram app
  • First make sure you have a business profile on Instagram
  • Are an admin on a page or business manager account
  • Have a product catalog associated with a shop on Facebook
  • Sell physical goods and comply with Instagram’s merchant agreement and commerce policies.

With the amount of content that’s vying for our attention every day, increasing traffic to your site and acquiring new customers is not as simple as making your account shoppable. The truth is, you need to make sure you have the infrastructure in place before you even begin to tag and sell products on Instagram.

Related: How To Become An Instagram Millionaire

Here are my top five tips for success.

1.Your content needs to be great

Getting people to pay attention to your content on Instagram can be tough – and having mediocre content in 2018 just isn’t going to cut it. For this reason, it’s critical to hire a part time photographer/editor who can help you make your images look crisp, on brand, and, most importantly, professional. Start to think of your Instagram as the new “Shop Now” page on your website.

2. Your captions are awesome

The caption of an Instagram post is often an afterthought. Whether humour, sincerity, or education is your thing, make sure the copy that accompanies your imagery is authentic, engaging and on-brand. Using language that will resonate with your target audience only heightens the probability of its members liking, commenting, sharing in the DMs or even clicking on the tag to purchase your product. When it comes to combining shoppable posts with a witty caption, see how Liza Koshy does this.

hashtags

3. You’re using the best and most optimised hashtags

Researching the hashtags that your target customer is using on a daily basis will eventually pay huge dividends. It’s all about getting on that Instagram explore page and using the hashtags that your consumers love.

This also strengthens your chances of putting your posts right in front of your ideal audience. Use a mix of 20 to 30 hashtags per post and experiment to see which group of hashtags gives your posts optimum exposure. There are a ton of great apps out there, like Top Tags or Leetags, which tell you the hashtags that you should be using.

Related: 8 Tips To Attract Your First 250K Instagram Followers

4. You’ve made your posts shoppable

It’s finally time to tag your products and make your feed shoppable. Tagging your products will allow viewers to tap the image, then tap the description, which will bring them straight to the add to cart section on your website. Click here to read in detail how you can do this.

But be sure not to get carried away; it’s not a good idea to make every one of your posts on Instagram product-oriented. In our experience, a good percentage of shoppable posts is only about 40 to 50 percent. Have a look at some of the brands that are killing it when it comes to shoppable posts, such as Byta, and Nordstrom, and follow their lead.

5. You’ve begun engaging with posts under those hashtags

Now that you’ve done all the hard work – making your feed look clean, crisp and cohesive; writing some amazing, on-brand captions; using the best hashtags; and making all posts that have a product, shoppable – it’s time to begin engaging by liking images under the hashtags that your bread and butter customers use on a daily basis.

For instance, if you’re selling sneakers, identify four to five community hashtags that sneaker lovers use, such as #sneakerhead, #solecollector, #instashoes, #newkicks or #igsneakercommuity, and then like and comment on 100 to 200 images underneath these hashtags every day. This will draw the organic traffic to your account that is needed to turn your fresh new Instagram feed into a lead- and revenue-generating machine.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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