Startup & Small Business – HostGator Blog Web Hosting and Marketing Tips for Entrepreneurs Mon, 17 Sep 2018 20:01:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 151369968 How to Write Your Small Business Case Study Wed, 05 Sep 2018 19:30:47 +0000 The post How to Write Your Small Business Case Study appeared first on HostGator Blog.

How to Write Your First Case Study for Your Small Business Website Case studies—business students analyze them, successful businesses feature...

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How to Write Your First Case Study for Your Small Business Website

Case studies—business students analyze them, successful businesses feature them, and marketing experts say most businesses should have them. But how do you write them?

The case study creation process is sometimes a big roadblock for small business owners, especially those who don’t have an MBA or marketing experience.

In this post, we’ll walk you step by step down the road from deciding whether you need a case study to promoting your finished case study.

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What Is a Case Study?

A case study is a story about how a business helped a customer solve a problem or achieve a goal. Case studies offer more detail than a bite-size testimonial. They also frame the story so readers who are similar to the customer see why that business is the one to solve their issue.

People like stories, and marketers like case studies because they offer social proof, help businesses show their expertise, and help prospective customers understand complex or unusual products and services.


Does My Business Need Case Studies?

Almost certainly. If your business sells something expensive, highly technical, or so innovative that most prospects won’t be familiar with it, case studies can overcome cost objections, educate prospects, and demonstrate value.

For example, international smart home company Loxone sells its equipment and services to homeowners and builders. Loxone has a slew of case studies featuring smart houses from tiny modern to large Victorian, to show how individual homeowners use their products to make their home lives easier:

case study examples

Case studies can help you if your business offers simpler products and services, too. A well-written case study can anchor a marketing program that helps you compete on value rather than price. Dog groomers and cleaning companies can and sometimes do use case studies to show off their results and benefits to clients.


How Do I Write a Case Study?

Follow these 7 steps to write your first small business case study. We followed these steps ourselves when writing this HostGator small business case study.


1. Find your story.

Every good story starts with a challenge that the main character has to overcome, right? Think about the biggest challenges your customers expect your business to solve for them. Pick the most common one to build your first case study.

Let’s say you’re a residential remodeling contractor who specializes in retrofitting homes to be accessible for people with mobility issues, so most of your customers come to you looking to redo their entrances, room transitions, bathrooms, and kitchens.


2. Next, find your keywords.

Study the way your customers and would-be customers search for information on the problem you want to talk about in your case study.

  • What do your customers ask about when they first call or email you?
  • When you look at Google Analytics, which search terms are visitors using to find you?
  • Which social media posts generate the most likes and shares?

This is how you pick out the keywords and phrases that people use to connect to your business. Include them in your case study so prospects can find it, too.


3. Pick your case-study subject.

Ideally, you’ve got customers who love your work and send you referrals. These are the folks who are most likely to agree to talk with you about their experience. Ask them if they have the time and interest. When you get a yes, set up an interview.

Besides the time and date that works best for your interviewee, find these things out in advance:

  • How much time they have to talk. An hour is more than enough time for most small business case study interviews.
  • Whether they want to do the interview in person, by phone, via email, or another way.
  • How much personal info they’re willing to share. First name only? Family name only? Full name? Ideally, you’ll get a first and last name and a city, but people have different privacy preferences.
  • What photos will appear in the case study? In this example, before and after photos are the obvious choice, but photos of the client can add credibility, too.


4. Do the interview.

Record audio or video and take basic notes. Keep the tone conversational so they’ll feel comfortable talking. Ask about their challenge, why they chose your company to help them, how you solved their problem, and what the result was for them.

Focus on details that prospective customers can relate to: Were you able to widen a hallway that was too narrow to accommodate a wheelchair? Does your client enjoy cooking for friends now that the kitchen counter height has been changed?

If your customer’s results include facts and figures, use them (with the customer’s permission). If your home remodel saved a customer the cost of moving to a new home, or if you did a remodel for a landlord that allowed her to expand her market and fill more units, the numbers can impress prospective clients.


5. Write the first draft of your case study.

After the interview, use quotes from your customer, your chosen keywords, and any numbers that support your customer’s story. The simplest story structure is

  1. Your customer had a problem.
  2. Your customer chose your business because…
  3. You worked with your customer to deliver…
  4. You solved their problem by…
  5. You saved your customers X amount of time or money.
  6. Your customers’ lives are now better because of your product or service.

Let that first draft sit for a couple of days, revise it, and then ask someone else to read the revised version and offer feedback. Add your photos and graphics. When you’re happy with it, ask the customer to look it over in case there are any errors.


6. Publish your case study.

You can add it to your website’s About Us or Testimonials page or create a separate page for case studies.

Thank your customer for working with you on a marketing tool to help your business grow.


7. Promote your case study.

Share your case study with your email list and on social media. You can also blog about it, create a print version for in-person meetings and events, and even turn it into a video or podcast.


Congratulations! You’ve got your first case study.

Casey Kelly-Barton is an Austin-based freelancer who enjoys writing about business development and marketing, e-commerce payments and fraud prevention, and travel.

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5 Ways to Turn Your Blog Into an Online Brand in 2018 Mon, 13 Aug 2018 18:12:45 +0000 The post 5 Ways to Turn Your Blog Into an Online Brand in 2018 appeared first on HostGator Blog.

5 Ways to Go from Blog to Online Brand in 2018 When I look back at the past two decades,...

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5 Ways to Go from Blog to Online Brand in 2018

When I look back at the past two decades, a lot of websites, blogs, and social media platforms play through my mind — especially those that I personally created and worked with.

From the most simple days of basic HTML and static websites, to the now advanced days of mobile usage and social media, it’s all above adapting with the times and providing value to an audience.

In my past 22 years of making money online, one of the most pivotal moments  would have to be when I launched my blog at back in 2007.

Not only was this a huge business and brand shift for myself, but it was also the first time I started using WordPress and didn’t need to rely on design software and HTML to create my sites.

WordPress has changed everything and made the process of creating an online content-focused business or brand a whole lot easier. Since there are no technical skills required, and being that the software is free, everyone may soon have a blog. However, just because it’s easy, it doesn’t mean you are going to find success.

Every day I get emails from readers of my sites, asking me why they aren’t making money with their blogs.

To answer all of these questions and more, today I wanted to cover some of the most effective and important ways to actually turn a blog into a real brand and business.

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1. Building Your Blog, Brand and Business from the Ground Up

Before you even get started with a website or blog of your own, you need to know why you are doing this in the first place. For the sake of example, throughout this guide, we are going to focus on creating a blog to make money.

In most cases, a blog should be very niche specific, provide a need or information to an audience, and also have some form of monetization as well. Getting a ton of traffic to your site is great, but without a clear focus or calls to action (for monetization) in place… it’s just another blog taking up space on the already saturated internet.

While there are many ways to make money with a website or blog, many of them are by sending visitors away from a site or making a quick commission or sale for someone else. This is fine, but turning your blog into a brand and respectable source for information is even better.

To invest in your online business and brand, you should have a professional logo design and a way to resonate with your audience even after they leave your site. This doesn’t mean you are going to need to spend a lot of time and money.

Thanks to online design tools like Tailor Brands, it’s easy for anyone to create a professional looking logo, without the need to hire an expensive design agency or go through hundreds of freelancers to find the best design work. Below you can see a quick example of a few brand designs created in just a few seconds.

tailor brands online design tool for bloggers

Once you have a brand identity and image in place, you can build a great first impression and brand following online. This means posting the image not just on your site and blog, but also within all your social media profiles and email signatures if possible. Keep in mind that these same best practices can be used by freelancers and sole entrepreneurs as well.

The long term value in your logo branding and online following can greatly influence the amount your site can charge for reviews, content contributions, display traffic, and affiliate marketing campaigns, and as well as how much you might be able to charge for consulting or related services.

If you don’t think a professional logo identity and brand makes a big difference, go see how much it costs to buy banner ad places on a site like ESPN, versus that of another high-traffic sports blog that no one has really heard of. This is also why someone might pay more for a pair of Nike shoes or a Starbucks cup of coffee — it’s all about the brand association!


2. SEO is Dying, but the Long Tail Value is Here to Stay

As much as I hate to say it, SEO is kind of making its way out the window. This is always going to be an argued debate, but we can clearly see that more people are moving away desktop usage and focusing more on mobile usage, social media, and online video to get their information.

mobile vs desktop usage

There will likely always be a place for searching websites and content online, but it likely won’t be through the traditional Google search and SEO methods that we are familiar with today.

However, even with this in mind, the value in long-tail keywords is still extremely effective and profitable. When someone searches for something very specific on Google, they are likely ready to take action and buy something. The deciding factor in what site is going to get the sale is who is ranking at the top of Google for these terms.

So what does this mean? In short, stop focusing on creating a lot of content, and instead focus on bigger, better, and longer content.

At the same time, keep an eye on the latest case studies and trends from other top SEO blogs, as these are the sites that are often already ranking well and know what it takes to move up on Google with all of these latest algorithm and user changes in motion.

Not only will this allow you to get more focused with your content and who your target audience is, but it will also help with the content promotion and your link building process as well. Keep a close eye on your competition and research not only what keywords and search phrases they are ranking for, but also the different types of content and length they are publishing as well.


3. Target Your Best Audience through Social Media

Everyone talks about social media and the massive two-billion plus users across the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others. However, not many are actually mastering the art of social media and converting these followers into customers and visits on their site.

At the same time, every social platform is different in the way not just content needs to be created, but also how you can reach and promote to such audiences as well.

For example, simply by continually using any of the top hashtags on Instagram, you can instantly improve your impressions and exposure to millions of new users. The tricky thing about Instagram is that you aren’t going to be allowed to link back to your site, but it’s amazing for visual content creation, branding, and building a following.

If you ever needed an example to follow, Kylie Jenner is the one to keep an eye on right now. With a net worth of over $900 billion, Kylie has built her massive make up empire through the use of social media and getting new attention, followers, and sales at all times.

More often than not, if you take the time to examine your competition and see where most of their traffic is coming from, it’s usually from one social platform over a wide spread across all of them. With this in mind, it’s important to know not only which social network is best for attracting your target audience, but also which methods (visual, text content, paid ads) will work best as well.


4. Manual Outreach is Still King in the World of Blogging

Like it or not, but in some cases, throwing money at your website or blog will only get it so far. It’s the time-consuming and annoying manual research and outreach that really helps content sites move ahead of the competition.

There are many ways to get manual outreach working for your blog and brand. Instead of listing all of them within this article, I recommend you take a look at this detailed outreach resource guide.

blogger outreach example

Whether your outreach is for an infographic, broken link building, or guest blogging… it’s all about the tone and conversation you start with. Here are some of the most notable and effective ways to start using manual outreach and promotion to grow your blog, brand or online business:

  • Sending out emails to other websites and seeing if they would like to cross-promote your content on social media, through mailings, or even mentions in articles. These emails should be more personable and not an obvious template.
  • Guest blogging still works extremely well, but it should only be focused on legitimate websites that have traffic and are relevant to your niche. Contributing to other websites and blogs is great for link building, but also for reaching new audiences and growing your brand.
  • Broken link building is a huge opportunity, but again… this can be very time consuming (and rewarding). Analyze other sites within your niche, find where their broken links are, and then reach out through email and see if they will replace their broken link with a working one to your site.

Depending on how you approach each of these methods, your personal outreach and research methods might vary. The good news is that many of these processes can be outsourced to freelancers who will do all of the manual work for you, or if you want to work on this yourself, be sure to consider your options with SEO analysis tools and software automation.

No matter what route you go, the more ‘realistic’ your outreach and content emails look, the better they are going to work. At the same time, don’t just ask for backlinks, promotions, and favors — try to offer something in return.


5. Treat Your Blog Like a Business, Not a Content Distribution Center

Last but not least, it’s time to talk about blogging as a whole and why there are now more than 300 million blogs in the world today… yet only a very few only get traffic and make money with their sites.

We’ve all heard the saying ‘content is king’. While this may be true in theory, it’s actually misleading many would-be bloggers and entrepreneurs in their journey to online profitable. Gary Vaynerchuk also makes a good point, in saying “Content is King, but Context is God!

gary vaynerchuck online branding

Content is great, but there is simply way too much of it. With more than a billion active sites on the internet today, I think we have a pretty good amount of content already out there. However, anything that can be improved, and anything we can use more of, is great content!

If you want to rank at the top of Google, be a trusted resource for information online – and also get free quality backlinks, mentions, and references everyday – you need to be creating better content than what is already out there. As mentioned earlier, people are less interested in text content, and now they want visuals and online video more than anything.

To make all of this work for you and your brand, keep the following in mind.

  • Create less content, but better and more resourceful content.
  • Longer content performs better in Google. Stay above 2,000-words in each post.
  • Go after the longtail keyword and cover every topic in full detail.
  • Have an exact form of monetization in place, and calls to action in each article.

With all of these elements and factors in play, your blog is no longer just a blog. It’s a traffic generating revenue lead magnet that is also providing value to an audience in the process.

This isn’t rocket science. Take a look at any of these blogging success stories, and you will find that each of them has their own unique target audience, topic they specialize in, and awareness of exactly why and how they are monetizing their traffic and turning new readers into revenue daily.


Your Blog Is Your Business

“Blogging” has a lot of different meanings depending on who you ask. I’ve already looked at blogging as a way to create content and build your own online platform. Others look at it as a way to get started with a website and having their own voice online.

In short, blogging can be anything you want.

However, if you want blogging to be a business — you need to have a business model!

Run through each of the ideas above and make sure you have all of these methods implemented into your blog. It’s time to turn your blog into a blog business and potentially change your life and brand for the better.

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The 2018 Online Holiday Shopping Season: Is Your Ecommerce Site Ready? Wed, 08 Aug 2018 19:14:06 +0000 The post The 2018 Online Holiday Shopping Season: Is Your Ecommerce Site Ready? appeared first on HostGator Blog.

Yes, It’s Already Time to Get Your Online Store Ready for the Holiday Shopping Season No matter how hot it...

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Yes, It’s Already Time to Get Your Online Store Ready for the Holiday Shopping Season

No matter how hot it is right now where you live, it’s time to start thinking about the winter holidays. That’s because you have several weeks to set the stage for strong Black Friday weekend sales.

Now’s the time to make your site more mobile-friendly, plan your holiday-sale merchandise offers, hatch a gift wrap plan, and find out how your small business can offer same-day delivery.

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Make Your Store as Mobile-Friendly as Possible

We write a lot here about the importance of mobile-friendly websites because the mobile channel is a large and growing part of e-commerce success.

Most shoppers use their phones to browse and they’ll complete their purchases on their phones if checkout is user-friendly enough. Otherwise, they’ll move on to more mobile-friendly competitors or (maybe) switch to their computer to finish their order.

How can you streamline the checkout process to keep shoppers from abandoning their carts?

Offer the online payment methods your customers like most and don’t make them key in a lot of data during checkout.

PayPal is the best-known payment method for this type of convenience and popularity, but Amazon Pay and Google Pay are other options to consider. Now’s the time to research and compare payment methods in terms of processing fees, ease of use, and popularity with your customers so you can get everything set up, tested, and ready for Black Friday sales.


Create Exclusive Black Friday Weekend Promotions

Black Friday weekend and Cyber Monday are the biggest US shopping days of the year. What do people buy? Everything. Electronics, toys, clothes, and video games are always popular.

But your customers are going to be looking for deals from your store, so you need a custom game plan.

Think about what sells well all year long and what’s been most popular with your customers during past holiday seasons.

  • How much of a discount can you offer—or do you even need to offer—on popular items?
  • Can you create limited-time-only product bundles?
  • Is it possible to debut a new product similar to your bestsellers for Black Friday weekend or offer a bestselling item in a new color or style only during the sale?

Plan your offerings in detail now so you can have your products and promotions ready to go well before Black Friday crunch time arrives.


Consider Adding a Gift-Wrap Option

When your customers snap up your Black Friday deals, they may want them gift-wrapped. Offering gift wrap for a small charge, or for free on expensive orders, is a way to set yourself apart from the competition.

Both online retailers and brick-and-mortar stores have been dropping their gift wrap services, leaving shoppers to deal the task themselves. However, before you commit to offering gift wrap, it’s important to understand why so many retailers have bailed on it.

First, gift-wrapping orders takes time and can create holdups in fulfillment—no small issue when so many shoppers want same-day delivery (and we’ll look at that below). Also, gift wrap isn’t free, and it can be hard to estimate how much you’ll need. Run short and you might disappoint customers. Overbuy and you’re stuck storing it.

If you have the budget and space to proceed, think about how you can wrap orders as efficiently as possible. For local orders that you’ll deliver the same day (see below), consider gift bags and tissue paper rather than paper, tape, and bows. Or you can bake the gift wrap into your packaging, delight your shoppers, and skip the wrapping stage—a search for “holiday product packaging” will turn up more than enough ready-to-order and DIY options.

Whatever gift wrap option you go with, remember to promote it along with your Black Friday deals. Show shoppers what their gifts will look like when they’re delivered and show them that you’re ready to help save them time.


Find Faster Delivery Options

In 2017, Amazon raked in 40% of all US e-commerce revenue, according to Forbes. One reason? Fast delivery, including same-day service in many cities.

Because many shoppers are now used to same-day delivery from Amazon and grocery delivery services like Instacart and Shipt, they expect that option whenever they shop. One local-delivery startup found that 78% of shoppers plan to look for same-day delivery when they do their holiday shopping this year. And it’s now possible for local businesses in many cities to give these customers what they want.

same day delivery for online holiday shopping

Companies like Deliv and Dropoff were founded to help local businesses provide same-day delivery. These companies serve dozens of US cities and help level the playing field between giant e-retailers with their own delivery infrastructures and small businesses. If these companies don’t operate in your area, research local courier services or consider hiring a seasonal employee to make daily deliveries.

Before you write off the idea of same-day delivery as too costly for your business, remember that major carriers may add holiday surcharges again this season, as they did in 2017. The difference in cost between same-day and rush shipping may be smaller than you think.

Whatever shipping options you go with this holiday season, be sure to build the cost into your pricing if you offer free shipping.

When you have a same-day delivery plan in place for the holiday season, make sure your customers know about it well in advance of Black Friday.

  • Create a same-day delivery map and notice for your site. Share the news on social media.
  • Craft an email for the local segment of your customer email list.
  • Have a brick-and-mortar store? Post the news there, too, so your in-store shoppers will know they have options during holiday crunch time.


Prep Now for 2018 Online Holiday Shopping

The more planning and prep work you do now, the more value you can offer your customers during the holiday season.

Want more e-commerce holiday tips? Get inspired by these marketing campaigns.

Casey Kelly-Barton is an Austin-based freelancer who enjoys writing about business development and marketing, e-commerce payments and fraud prevention, and travel.

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Which Payment Methods Should Your Small Business Offer? Wed, 01 Aug 2018 22:42:10 +0000 The post Which Payment Methods Should Your Small Business Offer? appeared first on HostGator Blog.

Choosing the Best Payment Methods for Your Small Business Your online store is filled with great merchandise, your social media...

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Choosing the Best Payment Methods for Your Small Business

Your online store is filled with great merchandise, your social media accounts and ads are driving traffic to your site, and your mobile user experience is first-rate.

So why aren’t more visitors buying what you’re selling?

Maybe you’re not letting them pay the way they want to.

If you only offer one or two ways to pay, even if they’re popular methods like PayPal or Square, you may be losing customers who expect a convenient checkout, especially when they’re shopping on their phones.

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Do Visitors Want to Use Your Payment Options?

How do you know if you’re losing customers because they don’t like your payment options?

They probably won’t tell you but if they do, consider it a gift you can use to learn more about what do they want. You can also survey your customers, but you’re not guaranteed to get responses.

One of the clearest indicators that shoppers don’t like your payment options is your store’s shopping cart abandonment rate, which is the percentage of carts with items in them that get ditched before payment.

Overall, the e-commerce cart abandonment rate hovers around 70%, according to the Bayard Institute, which compiles data from dozens of sources. The range is anywhere from 60% to 78%, meaning that at best, more than half of shoppers choose items and then don’t buy.

Of course, your store’s cart abandonment rate may be higher or lower. It’s one of the metrics to track so you can see how well your checkout process meets your customers’ expectations.


Is It Worth Your Time and Effort to Add New Options?

Bayard found that 19% of shoppers who’ve abandoned a cart say they didn’t trust the site with their card information. Another 8% said there weren’t enough payment options.

why customers abandon shopping cart

So, let’s do some quick math: If your store is average, 70 out of every 100 shoppers who add an item to their cart will bail. By adding digital wallet payment options so they don’t have to give you their card number, you could convert up to 13 (that’s 19%) of those 70 shoppers. And if you add the payment methods your target audience prefers, you could convert another 5 or so (the 8% who want other options).

Earning up to 18 more conversions per 100 carts seems like a worthwhile use of your time. Let’s look at some methods to consider.


Amazon Pay makes discount deals with some merchants

Amazon announced in May that it’s offering Amazon Pay processing-fee discounts in exchange for long-term deals with some merchants. Even if you’re not among the big-name merchants to be courted by Amazon with the fee discount, adding Amazon Pay to your store can make it easier for Amazon customers to shop with you without having to key in their payment data in your checkout.

Why court Amazon customers, who seem very loyal to that site? The company told trade site that 33 million consumers in 170 countries already use Amazon Pay, and about a third are mobile shoppers with an average ticket value of $80. Getting even a sliver of those customers into your store could translate into more sales, especially if they can pay easily.


Google Pay now works with Firefox, Safari, and iOS

Google Pay, meanwhile, also made a big announcement in May. It’s now compatible with Firefox and Safari browsers and—importantly, given the number of iPhone users—iOS. Previously, only Google’s Chrome web browser and Android devices supported Google Pay.

The change means shoppers who visit your store via Firefox, Safari, or their iPhones can use their Google wallets to buy your merch.

However, unlike Amazon Pay, which provides customer billing and shipping address information in merchants’ checkouts, Google Pay only autofills that information in Chrome. Having to key in data can increase cart abandonment, but the extra convenience and security of not having to enter a card number might make up for that.

Google Pay also lets retailers set up loyalty programs, digital gift cards, and deals for customers so everyone can skip the paper and plastic cards. And Google Pay works with PayPal and Visa Checkout for added reach.

Perhaps the biggest advantage Google Pay has over Amazon Pay is that it’s free. Neither merchants nor shoppers pay extra processing fees to use the service. (Apple Pay and Samsung Pay are also free for merchants to use.)


Snapchat’s a social media payment tool to watch

Although these aren’t payment processing methods, there’s a social media payment tool you may want to keep an eye on for the future.

The one to watch is Snapchat’s new in-app ticket buying feature, which debuted in June. The soft release with SeatGeek lets users book event tickets within Snapchat stories for the Los Angeles Football Club and the International Boxing Federation.

Snapchat’s also been trying out in-app branded merch sales and swipe-to-buy features. The features aren’t widely available yet, but these tests are worth watching, especially for merchants whose target audience is teens and young adults.


Which Payment Methods Are Right for Your Small Business?

Ultimately, any payment method or tool that makes it easier for your customers to buy from you is worth exploring.

As you consider which ones to add, look at their fees (if any), customer base, countries in which they operate, security and fraud prevention, and popularity with your target audience.

And be sure to track your cart abandonment and conversion rates to measure the performance of any new methods you add. 

Casey Kelly-Barton is an Austin-based freelancer who enjoys writing about business development and marketing, e-commerce payments and fraud prevention, and travel.

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5 Summer Tech Initiatives for Small Businesses Thu, 19 Jul 2018 19:35:51 +0000 The post 5 Summer Tech Initiatives for Small Businesses appeared first on HostGator Blog.

5 Summer Tech Initiatives for Small Businesses The summer is a slow time of year for most businesses, with many...

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5 Summer Tech Initiatives for Small Businesses

The summer is a slow time of year for most businesses, with many customers and clients out enjoying the longer days and extended vacations.

This makes summer the perfect time to implement new technology. With your business and employees less stressed by pressing deadlines and client demands, you can finally tackle some of those technology projects or updates that have been put on the back burner.

Bolster your tech before this season ends with these tech initiatives.

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1. Digital Security

Big, high-profile business aren’t the only ones being attacked by cyber criminals. According to Verizon’s 2018 Data Breach Investigations Report, small businesses represent 58 percent of data breach victims.

Per the report, the majority of breaches (73 percent) came from outsider threats, while 50 percent came from organized criminal groups and 12 percent involved nation-state or state-affiliated actors.

To protect your business from expensive and damaging cyber attacks, it’s important to implement improved digital security. For example, if you don’t have an IT team, consider hiring consultants who can mitigate threats and monitor regularly for you.

Use the summer months to educate your employees as well. You may even want to start a cyber security series, sharing a new digital security tip for employees to learn and then follow each week.


2. Mobile Responsive Website

More and more consumers are accessing information and purchasing goods via their mobile device. According to eMarketer’s estimates, smartphone retail mcommerce sales in the U.S. increased more than 50 percent in 2017, to total $102.14 billion.

mcommerce sales

In order to successfully compete, it’s important for small business owners to have a mobile responsive website. This makes it easy for customers to find and purchase your products or services, or simply read about what you have to offer—which is, of course, step one in the buying process.

To do so, start with your development team. Is your website already mobile responsive? If so, head online and test it with a number of mobile browsers. What’s showing up wrong? What’s not working properly?

Better yet: do what the big tech companies do and “eat your own dog food.” In this case, that means requiring employees to only use your app or website via mobile for an entire week. You’ll be sure to come up with a long list of issues that need to be addressed.


3. Better Developer Training

Employee training is valuable for all employees, but especially those in tech-focused roles, like your development team. With technology changing at what feels like the speed of light, and more and more tasks on their plate each day, it’s crucial that they stay up-to-date.

As you look to improve your online training for this team, start by asking them what they want to learn about.

“If you haven’t asked your technical talent what they want to learn, you could be missing an opportunity to customize your learning strategy, and more importantly, to build your business. Your technical talent is often closest to problems that will produce cost savings and or increase sales, service or efficiency if solved. Therefore, they often know what they need to learn—so ask,” suggests

Use their answers, in addition to tech leadership preferences, to start searching for a better tool to implement the training they requested. Look for platforms that allow for customized lessons, dedicated implementation and ongoing development support, and gamification. All of these features make it more valuable for your employees, and easier to manage from your end.


4. Collaboration Tools

With so many companies choosing to hire remote employees, it’s become imperative to implement better collaboration and communication tools. This is the only way for teams to work together without being in the same office, and luckily, technology makes it easy to facilitate.

There are likely a number of collaboration and communication needs between your various employees. Consider onboarding a variety of the following tools to mitigate those woes:


5. Chatbots

Chatbots are computer programs that use artificial intelligence to converse with with customers or website visitors. They’re becoming increasingly popular within the small businesses community because they can help you save both time and money.

The experts at BusinessTown explain:

“Hiring a developer to build a basic bot is remarkably easy and affordable … Chatbots are [also] an affordable means of providing a better customer experience. They don’t take time away from otherwise busy employees and don’t cost much money to use.”

With chatbots, your business can run 24/7 without ever having to pay an employee overtime. What’s more, chatbots can help improve customer engagement and satisfaction as their needs and questions are being answered any time, day or night. Check out Impact’s list of chat bots to check out in 2018 to find the best one for your needs.


It’s Time for Tech Initiatives

Now’s the time to get started on the projects that make the most sense for your business. Pick the tech initiatives that will help you work faster and more efficiently, while mitigating issues you’re currently experiencing.

When your busy season comes around, you’ll be glad you took the time to make these updates now—and your employees will thank you too.

Jessica Thiefels has been writing and editing for more than 10 years and spent the last six years in marketing. She’s worked with a number of small businesses and security clients, and you can find her work on publications like Virgin, Forbes, and Manta.

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