Startup & Small Business
Written by Jeremy Jensen
Thursday, March 5th, 2015
With over half a million businesses on Pinterest, the Social Media platform is becoming a lot more than just recipes and fashion photos. It’s time to prepare yourself to start seeing even more ads now that Pinterest unleashed new tools for businesses back in June. The “do-it-yourself Promoted Pins” feature will allow businesses of any size to promote their pins on a cost-per-click basis in order to reach more people and get more visits back to their homepage.
Pinterest has been testing this program since early May with big brands like Old Navy, Target and Shutterfly, and is offering a sign up for any business to try it when they’re ready to get started.
Competing Against Facebook and Twitter, Subtly
By adopting the same principles as Facebook’s ad promotions and Twitter’s promoted Tweets, Pinterest’s Promoted Pins have been touted as “changing the game one pin at a time.” What’s different about their advertisements is that they won’t appear any different than the other posts that interest you. If, for instance, you’re browsing new cocktail recipes you won’t see an ad for JcPenny’s, instead you’ll see pins from companies that deal in mixology or interesting cocktail glasses.
Many have reported this as a noticeable benefit simply because the ads won’t be pestering potential customers by appearing in random categories. Pinterest is already such a product-and-image driven environment that users have been embracing brands long before any advertising was thrown into the mix.
Building Off Rich Pins
Back in June we talked about standing out on Pinterest with Rich Pins, a change in eCommerce that shared pricing information and availability. Rich Pins also came with analytics and options to receive pricing alerts.
Promoted Pins will only add to these features, with promises that pins will appear first in search results and category feeds on both the web and in mobile apps. If you aren’t on Pinterest already sharing your products, the time has never been better to join. Currently only select businesses are receiving the option to promote but getting started now will prepare you when the time comes.
Your Pinterest Board and Planning Your Pins
While the notion of the promoted pins blending in with the rest is great from an advertisement perspective, the pins you’re choosing to designate as promotional should do anything but. Aim to make the promotional pins to be taller than those around them and really draw the viewer in.
Customers have always found you on your own Pinterest boards and promoted pins will be no different. Some of the most compelling reasons for businesses to start using Pinterest include:
- It’s a great place to promote a contest
- As most users are visually inclined, it’s a great platform to optimize your brand’s image
- You’re allowed to comment and interact with potential customers
- Built in SEO benefits with hashtags and keywords
- Integration of other Social Media sites
So What’s So Promising?
Back in April, the data tracking blog, Shareaholic, dubbed Pinterest as the reigning queen of social referrals. Since December it has seen a growth in traffic of 48% and is second only to Facebook in terms of steering Social referrals.
In three years of operating there have been 30 billion items pinned and 750 million boards created. Even what once was a heavily female dominated user base has now shifted from over 80% females, to 68.2% female and 31.8% men.
It’s become very clear Pinterest has established itself as one of the top marketing tools, and in no time businesses small and large will be benefiting from the use of Promoted Pins. When do you plan on starting?
Written by Jeremy Jensen
Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015
As I write this I’m making several observations on the disheveled desk in front of me: unopened bank statements, old and useless receipts, and worst of all offers from credit cards I’m never going to apply for. I’m not unorganized, I just have a lot of paper coming my way, still.
The trend over the last decade has steadily pushed towards cutting paper from our overhead and trying to reduce the carbon footprint every business accounts for. According to Matt Peterson of eFilecabinet, by switching from paper to electronic documents you can lower your overhead by 30 to 40 percent.
If you’re truly ready to make the transition into digitizing documents here’s how to get started and keep it that way.
Everyone Has To Buy In
For so long paper has been an integral part of how an office functions and communicates. Faxing, copying, and mailing were and still are routine tasks executed by employees that may not yet know about the alternative ways businesses are operating. In order to make paperless a reality your entire staff will have to adapt to the gradual transition into a permanent way of doing business.
It won’t be easy.
Many people have a strong affection for holding a physical document in their hand. The same is true for those who prefer to read a book, rather than reading their laptop screen. These people will have to learn new routines their comfortable with, some may even have to become skilled at software requiring weeks or months of professional training.
But the challenges are worth it. Worth it for your company’s overhead, and worth it for the critical threats our environment is facing. The key to getting everyone to buy in is patience.
Where To Start
Start easy with recurring mail - The easiest place to start is where we already have simple options in place. Most banks have realized the advantages of not having to send out statements to those who are set up with online banking. Go ahead and start the transition by stopping the statements, letters and bills you could be receiving through your e-mail. Most can be done with the push of a button! What’s great is most of these letters are coming from places that already store and backup your data online as well.
Emphasize document management - This is more than just having enough disc space. Managing files requires a layout and the ability to search for individual documents in order for the operation to run smoothly. We recommend choosing a file organization software with the ability to index and search by keywords.
Get into the scanning rhythm - Most offices have the initial challenge of turning all of their physical files into digital ones, this will be the majority of the work in the transition. Also, start indexing all new files and emails as they come in the door. Once a document is scanned and you’re set up with a secure backup shred the documents! One of the best feelings in this process will be the satisfaction of having space freed up in the office where all the file cabinets once existed.
Secure multiple backups - One backup typically won’t be enough of a guarantee when it comes to irreplaceable documents and records. Using two, one hard drive and one cloud storage service, should cover all your bases. There are several companies worth comparing for all your storage needs.
The Best Apps To Assist In The Paperless Process
It turns out scanning and storing aren’t the only avenues for making your paperless venture successful. Third party app developers have also chipped in to streamline file sharing and storage. Here are some of our favorites:
Dropbox- Free up to 18GB with referrals, Dropbox is quickly becoming the most preferred file sharing platform out there. Access from anywhere with the new smartphone and tablet application.
Evernote- Store documents, photos, receipts and almost anything else you can think of. It’s customizable Interface lets you organize and find files in a way that will work for you.
SignMyPad- Available for iOS and Android. Allwos you to sign and date PDF documents which can then save right to Dropbox.
MyFax- If you deal with clients who still use fax machines, MyFax’s mobile app allows you to send and receive fax from your smart phone and email account through a ‘MyFax’ number.
Square- One of the hottest trends in stores looking to cut back on receipt paper is getting on board with Square. You can easily send receipts to a customers via e-mail or text message.
Image Source: http://joinspringerrealtygroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Simplify.jpg
Written by Sean Valant
Thursday, February 26th, 2015
The entrepreneurial spirit is something that we hold near and dear at HostGator. After all, if not for the aspirations of a young entrepreneur in a Florida dorm room, HostGator would not exist.
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This offer will expire very soon. Simply click the button below to get started, be sure to enter the coupon code SMALLBIZ at checkout in order to receive 50% off your new hosting package!
Written by Brandi Bennett
Tuesday, February 24th, 2015
Your e-commerce site is flashy; it loads quickly, and you’re selling a decent amount of product. But no matter how good your site is, it can always be better. There is always room for improvement. This is not meant as a criticism of any site, it is simply a fact. Technologies evolve and with them comes room for additional improvement to any site.
There are certain tips that that will work to ensure that your e-commerce site stays as good as it is, improves drastically, or will serve to benefit your site in some way. As with any suggestion, please don’t take it personally, and remember, I most likely have not been to your site (though I could have!). These suggestions are more like a compilation of different issues I have seen on the e-commerce sites that I frequent and feel that they need addressing so that others can constantly improve. With that in mind – the suggestions:
- Keep it Simple – as I have mentioned in a previous post, simple is better. If customers have additional questions about your products and services, they will ask (as long as you have a place for them to do so). Do not inundate your customers with information. Most online consumers already have a good idea of what they are looking for and have a basic idea as to what those products will entail. Give a basic description and that’s it. Have a place for them to add the item to the cart, a place to ask questions (like an easy to spot customer service email address or chat support) and you’re all set.
- Don’t Make Me Register to See Your Items – Seriously, this is one of my biggest pet peeves (and I’m not alone in this one). If your site makes me register to see what you have for sale, I’m either going to go somewhere else to investigate the product (like Amazon) or if I’m really curious and you’re one of the only places selling it, I will sign up with a completely fake name, fake email address, etc. You won’t get my real information, and I still most likely won’t purchase the item from the site that made me do that. Why? Because you don’t need my information. You’re not mailing me something that I bought from you, you’re trying to preemptively gather information on me, and that’s just not cool.
- Make Your Site Easy to Navigate and Make it Easy to Search – Personally, I’m not a huge fan of Etsy. I dislike trying to navigate through to find the cool stuff. The site is non-intuitive and clunky. I begrudgingly go there anyway, because it’s one of the few places to get handmade items, and I like that. I maybe visit the site once every six months, why? Because it is NOT easy to navigate. If it was easier to find things without having to look through hundreds of pages of stuff, I would absolutely spend way more money there. Thriftbooks.com is another site I would spend more money on if their search was more intuitive. I want to put in a book name or an author and just go. I don’t want to specify half a dozen things to try to find one or the other. Make it easy for me to search, like Amazon or Barnes and Noble and I will spend money all day long. Make it difficult for me and you will get little to no money. This basically goes back to the first point – keep it simple. Don’t over complicate things and you will get more money from consumers.
E-commerce can be rewarding, and it can be frustrating, but the key to making money is, as always, make it easy on your customers to spend money. This is why those little stands next to the checkout line work. Someone sees lip balm or a candy bar or a soda and thinks, man my lips are chapped/something sweet sounds great/I’m thirsty and grabs it. If those items were too difficult to find or too hard to get to, stores wouldn’t make as much on the little items. Your e-commerce website is a virtual store. Make it easy on your customers and they will reward you for making the experience a better one for them.
Image Source: U.S. Media Consulting. (2014). E-Commerce. Retrieved from http://latinlink.usmediaconsulting.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Ecommerce-Latam.jpg