kristymlopez

Archive for the ‘What You Need To Know About Small Business’ Category

Why Choosing Your Niche Wisely Is So Important in E-Commerce

In What You Need To Know About Small Business on September 19, 2017 at 8:12 am

While the overarching purpose of your ecommerce store is to make sales and drive profits, the secret to success will always lie in providing consumers with what they want or need at any given time. This applies to everything: from the message you convey to the products or services you offer. But this is only half the battle.

To be able to capitalize on consumer needs, you will have to show them that not only do you have what they’re looking for, but that you offer something better or more valuable than your competitors.

This is where choosing the correct niche for your ecommerce business comes in. By refining your niche, you narrow your target market, making it easier to pinpoint your marketing, and appeal to the relevant demographic. Furthermore, the more specific your niche, the fewer direct competitors you will have to face, as many businesses within your industry will have a more generic offering, or a different specialty.

What Makes a Good Niche?

It is not enough to simply choose a highly specific product to sell. After all, if there is no market for it, you will struggle to make sales, even with no direct competition. The trick to finding a profitable niche is to target specific groups within the existing audiences for sought-after products or services.

For example, GreenExamAcademy offers resources and study guides for people preparing for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) exams. This is a highly targeted niche, but one with enough interest, and little enough competition to draw in a good amount of traffic.

Sites using broader niches include Spear America, a diving and spearfishing supplies store for free-divers in America. While this is far less targeted – as spearfishing is already a niche sport – with equipment that lasts a long time, over-specializing could have made the site unlikely to be found.

For your ecommerce site to succeed, you need to find a balance between competition and demand. After all, it is worth doing a little extra work to rank for a slightly more competitive niche if the likely return on investment is significantly higher.

Lower Marketing Costs

Zeroing in on a niche is also a great way to bring down your marketing costs. Not only will you need to reach a far more select market, but you will also have fewer businesses to compete with for rankings and ad placement.

Related reading: Grow Your Online Business With Savvy Marketing Strategies.

In addition, since you’re relying on targeted searches to guide users to your website, your marketing efforts should be focused more on improving your site’s searchability and optimizing your web design to make it clear to visitors that you sell exactly what they need.

Web-flipping sites like Exchange also offer opportunities to take on an existing store that fits your chosen niche, or to seek inspiration. The benefit of this is that you’ll have a pre-established audience and a body of content to work with before you start.

Even so, whether you start your e-commerce business from scratch, or decide to flip an existing website, you still need to do your research and determine whether there is sufficient potential for the niche you have selected.

Build Better SEO

A well-defined niche presents some great opportunities to boost your page rankings with intelligent key-wording. Investigate the keyword trends for your industry, and look out for potential competitors. If there are already established businesses that have cornered the market for your chosen niche, you may struggle to compete with them.

In contrast, if you find a gap in a popular industry, where users are following specific search queries to more generalized online stores, you may be able to rank with those key phrases. This also gives you some direction for your brand message and content creation, as you will be able to build your copy around your chosen niche and its associated keywords.

The added advantage here is that users who search for a more specialized item are often closer to a purchase decision than those performing more general searches. This means that once they find your website, you have a greater chance of securing their business.

Opportunities for Cross-Selling

A well-chosen niche is one that enables you to gain all the benefits of targeting a very specific market, while still allowing you the opportunity for wider sales. For example, if you sold “left-handed tennis rackets for children”, the chances are that you would also sell other tennis accessories, and perhaps even additional sporting equipment.

For example, although its niche is medieval armor and weapons, The Knight Shop also sells modern fencing and HEMA supplies, LARP equipment, and mead. This works because many of the site’s customers are likely to have crossover interests with these related items.

This also means that while your niche allows you to be found far more easily by a very specific market, you still have the capacity to appeal to others outside that demographic. In addition, as you offer the specialist item they were searching for, your target market is more likely to extend their purchase to related items they need at the same time.

Your chosen niche will affect every aspect of the design and branding of your ecommerce business, so it is vital to choose carefully. In addition to the factors mentioned above, your niche needs to be one that you feel comfortable working with. If you have no knowledge of or interest in the product or service you offer, it can be a lot harder to dedicate yourself to making it a success.

Finally, once you have established your niche business, it is important to be patient. Do not give up if you do not instantly see a high volume of traffic. These things take time for any business, but you have the advantage that your customers are more likely to make a purchase.

In the meantime, keep building your niche, creating high-quality content, and targeting your marketing efforts. Before you know it, your business could be a booming enterprise, branching out into other niches as it grows.

 

Victoria Greene is an e-commerce branding expert who loves to help niche businesses grow online. She’s also a freelance writer and runs her own blog at victoriaecommerce.

 

This post may contain affiliate links.

Finding Fertile Ground: Why Location Matters

In What You Need To Know About Small Business on September 14, 2017 at 9:49 am

Location, location, location isn’t just a rule of real estate. It’s a rule of running a business, as well. It’s easy to want to plant your flag where you grew up or where you now live. Indeed, having that insight and understanding of the area can be very valuable to a business. But it’s not always the most profitable choice for the business. Here, we’re going to look at the three major impacts that choosing the right location in business can have, whether you’re looking at a fresh startup or expanding to a new area.

Flexibility

The simple truth is that you’re not going to be able to run your business the same in some areas as you are in others. The website howtostartanllc.org gives a very clear-cut example in the fact that it’s easier to set up an LLC in some states than it is in others. There are also state and local considerations and regulations that might limit your business or enforce aspects of organization and administration that might work contrary to what you want from your business. Business owners have different priorities in how they exercise their freedom to run the business as they please and might have to find a different location to find that freedom.

Costs

The ease of starting a business of a certain structure and the different regulations you have to follow in an area might also dictate certain costs that you have to take into consideration. But there are other ways that the location you choose makes difference in costs. Gothamgazette.com uses New York as one example, including how Paid Sick Leave Laws can end up costing business owners thousands of dollars a year. There are also local costs of supplies, services, building rent or ownership, utilities and more to consider. For a business to succeed, it has to be able to make more than it costs to run it, but in some areas, that might not be as easy.

People

The services and suppliers you rely on are just one example of the different people that your location offers you access to. For retail and service brick and mortar industries, finding the right area with the right curb appeal potential and foot-traffic will play a huge role in the reach you have regarding customers. The same goes for choosing a location based on the talent pool you can hire from, with sites like ciodive.com making it clear that some areas, like Seattle or the San Francisco Bay Area, offer a greater selection of employees better suited for tech companies. There’s also competition to worry about. Setting up too close to competition can seriously hurt a business’s chance of standing out and finding their place in a market.

The hurdles you give yourself and the flexibility of the business. The costs of setting up and the wages the local population expects. The consumers, the competition, the talent pool. These are all considerations that can dictate why a business might fail in one area and excel in another. They should all contribute to where you decide to set yours up, too.

This post may contain affiliate links.

The Surprising Reasons For A Negative Marketing ROI

In What You Need To Know About Small Business on September 14, 2017 at 9:43 am

For small companies, marketing activities represent the major part of the yearly budget. Without marketing, there can be no business. However, it can be frustrating to spend a lot of your budget on advertising campaigns that somehow doesn’t bring the expected results. Is your PPC campaign just draining funds without turning enough leads? Or is your magazine advertising a gaping hole in the budget that refuses to drive any sale? The problem with marketing activities is that they can be easily associated with an ROI. How much did you pay vs. how much did you get in exchange. A negative ROI in marketing is a nightmare for all small businesses that struggle to keep their budget in the green. What’s even worse is that it sometimes feels like you’re wasting money for no reason. But you still can’t find a way to improve your marketing activities – maybe you even believe that you should invest more to see positive results. Stop wasting your budget on marketing and address the underlying issues. There can be only three reasons why your marketing activities don’t work:

#1. You don’t have the right technology

It doesn’t matter how much you’re spending on marketing activities. If you don’t use the right technology, you’re wasting your budget. Instead, you should have a look for the latest software solutions and app-based programming advertising tools. Indeed, your customers live in a digital world where everything is tailored and fast-paced. If you’re not using the relevant tech to comply with their savvy habits, it’s likely that you’ll be ignored. More importantly, automated software and compiling data tools can help you to create a fast and smooth marketing toolbox that gives you updated in real time.  

#2. You don’t have a strategic plan

More than 70% businesses don’t have a marketing strategy. In fact, they tend to choose their marketing activities as a response to their competitors’ campaigns. If a competitor has invested a lot of effort in improving their SEO, then you decide to beat them at their own game by creating content for the same keywords. Don’t smirk as you read: it’s, unfortunately, a very common approach. Instead, companies need to work with a marketing strategy template that helps to analyze the situation and maximize opportunities with the best-suited activities. Don’t know how to create a marketing strategy? Don’t panic; steal these templates that give you a clear guideline on how to proceed. In the end what matters is to create a strategy for your company so that you can move in the right direction, instead of copying what competitors are doing.

#3. You don’t have the right expertise

You need these experts in your marketing team: An Analytics expert will be able to read your Google Analytics data and guide your SEO strategy accordingly. A content writer can create valuable, engaging and targeted content to attract visitors. The designer and developer will give your presence – online and offline – the right user-friendly and trend-conscious feeling. Finally, the marketing manager can lead the team in the best strategic direction.

Small businesses need to take their marketing activities seriously. Success is not the work of a single person anymore. It’s the combination of the best technology with the best strategy, supported by a team of experts. If you thought you could do it all alone, think again!

This post may contain affiliate links.

Your Personality Has A Financial Impact On Business Funding

In What You Need To Know About Small Business on September 7, 2017 at 7:53 am

When many guidelines online and offline offer the best step-by-step instructions to launch a successful business, it can seem easy to forget that it’s people who make businesses and not the other way round. As a result, when you are looking to grow your independent startup and are set for a solid business up-size strategy, it’s important to remember your personal strengths and weaknesses. Indeed, when in the process of up-sizing, or even launching a business, your key priority is to define where you will find the necessary funding to support the growth. For startups or business launch, there is no other way around: You will be the face of your small business. Therefore you need to focus your efforts on the best-suited funding strategy for your skill set and personality. Finding growth investment is a stressful enough process by itself. Consequently, your best chance to make it work and to focus on what you can do best.

The corporate leader who analyzes problems

If you’re the kind of person who’s confident with analytical problems, you would probably see no issue in calculating your forecasting wins and losses in an excel spreadsheet. Being naturally driven and successful at identifying plans to tackle problems, you will be able to build a solid and convincing commercial moan application for your business. This kind of applications requires open figures about the current and previous years, detailed presentation of your business strategy, forecast reasoning for the years to come. Additionally, you will need to clarify how you intend to use your loan and the potential return on investment of your strategy. As loan applications can be extremely tricky and difficult when you are applying for bank or governmental funding’s, it’s an approach that is best left to extroverted thinkers with a strong sense of analytical efficiency.

The optimist who loves to connect with people

If you’re hardworking and focused on bringing happiness into your workplace, you should make the most of your knack for positivity in the business world. Begin able to develop a happy attitude that inspired others and to share knowledge with your network – whether it’s your team or your partners – is a significant advantage in being successful with the best small business loans at a peer-to-peer level. P2P loan programs enable you to share your optimistic vision of the world with an investor and to convince them that you are worthy of their investment. Being a people’s person can give you the personal edge you need to influence a funding decision.

The visionary who has a passion to share

If you’re the kind of person whose mind is bubbling is new ideas every day and who finds it easy to keep an audience captive, then you want to utilize this skill to the maximum. Sharing your vision with others is about telling a powerful story that people want to listen to, and that’s exactly the talent you need to start a crowdfunding campaign. Using a video and other informative pieces of content, you can share with millions of potential investors your business ideas and hook them to your dream. With a lot of personality and charm, you can convince anonymous viewers to fund your business and to believe in your success.

People make businesses. They drive them. They grow them. And finally, they fund them. By maximizing your best business qualities, you can increase your chances of success to finance your business growth and take your small company or startup to the next level.

This post may contain affiliate links.

5 Strategies to Increase Customer Retention

In What You Need To Know About Small Business on September 6, 2017 at 9:31 am

Every business owner wants their company to reach as many customers as possible. But it’s not as simple as acquiring tons of new customers; in fact, that’s a whole lot harder than holding on to the customers you have.

This is why customer retention is so vital; it’s more efficient and cost-effective than constantly starting from square one. According to a study from Harvard Business school, increasing customer retention by 5% can increase profits by up to 95%.

With that in mind, here are some of the most effective strategies for holding on to your customer base.

Reward your best customers

If your goal is customer loyalty, give them a reason to be loyal. For example, consider creating a program where customers earn a discount if they reach a certain spending target. You can set up a gamified “tier” concept to encourage people to make more purchases and unlock more rewards.

You could also send customers a special customized gift once they’ve hit a particular loyalty goal; this shows them that you value their business on a personal, emotional level. Smaller, local business who can afford a face-to-face interaction might try something even personal, such as taking all of their best clients out for a fancy dinner once a year.

Keep things personal

For a customer to feel emotionally engaged with your brand, you have to take the first step and engage with them on a personal level. If you’re an e-commerce business, this starts with the user interface of your website. Design your home page so that the products most relevant to the user’s purchases or viewing history are most prominent.

It’s the little touches that count. Whenever you reach out to a customer or prospect, address them by name. Consider sending emails wishing them well on their birthday or other special events. If it’s feasible, you could also include a handwritten thank-you note with every purchase they make.

Educate others

Some businesses hesitate to share too much insider information with their clients, fearful that it will only make them more discerning and drive business away. But studies show that educating customers actually makes them trust you more, and more trust means more retention. Plus, educating people gives you an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge and build authority.

If you haven’t already, start up a blog and write posts that detail the ins and outs of your industry. Alternatively, you could give a webinar, record a podcast, or start up a YouTube channel where you provide helpful information.

Being a guest speaker at conferences allows you to engage potential customers and colleagues face-to-face in an educational context. Try handing out custom binders emblazoned with your company’s branding. Not only does this enhance your presentation with additional materials, it gives audience members a lasting reminder of your business that they can take home with them.

Set realistic expectations

All businesses want to be able to provide their customers with everything they want and more. But promising more than you can deliver is a big mistake; it might close the sale, but it’s horrible for customer retention.

Instead, the trick is to make a realistic promise and then overdeliver on it. Don’t sell yourself short—just be honest about what customers can reasonably expect, and then do whatever you can to exceed those expectations. Above all us, maintain clear and constant communication with your customer.

Encourage feedback

Few businesses have a customer base that behaves exactly the same as any another, so leveraging feedback and understanding the unique behaviors and preferences of your customers is one of the best ways to ensure that you retain them.

Following up with customers after they make a purchase is a great place to start. Ask them for honest feedback; this is best done over the phone because it helps to establish a more personal, emotional connection.

You can also gather feedback through social media or using customized surveys built into the interface of your website. Once you have that data, don’t just sit on it. Make changes to your business that improve customer satisfaction. Remember that feedback from unhappy customers is actually more valuable than that from people who love everything you’re doing—it provides more opportunities to grow.

Do you have more tips or techniques for increasing customer retention? Share them in the comments below!

This post may contain affiliate links.