7 Must Have Tools For Your Online Business Overall rating: ★★★★★ 5 based on 23 reviews
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7 Must Have Tools For Your Online Business

Business Advice, E-Commerce No Comment

So you’re running an online business, but you’re not sure which tools you need to flourish? You’ve come to the right place! There are hundreds of digital tools to help your online business grow, but who has the time to sift through all of them to find the best ones?

We’ve done the work for you in order to bring you this great list of seven must-have tools for your online business. Whether you’re a small startup or a large online retailer, these tools are a necessity for running an eCommerce operation.

1. Analytics

If you’re not using an analytics tool for your website, you’re already falling behind. Traffic is what drives your sales, keeps people visiting your site, and brings about new visitors to the site. Do you know how much web traffic you have each month? Where it comes from? Where your leads are/how you can reach them?

Google Analytics is a tool that many websites use to keep track of this information and can help you make more informed decisions regarding marketing and web design. You’ll know if you should be investing more into your online marketing efforts, which methods might produce the best results, and which websites are sending people to yours.

2. A Good Website

Speaking of websites, a good website is probably the most important tool for your online business. This should be a given, right? You’d be surprised by how many businesses don’t have a professional website under their belt. Your website acts as a landing page for your brand, and, in the case of eCommerce businesses, the point of sale for the products themselves.

If you don’t have a functional and aesthetically-pleasing website, you’re jeopardizing your potential relationship with future customers. Let’s be honest; would you continue to a website that loaded slowly, was filled with obnoxious graphics, or didn’t seem secure? Probably not!

Be sure you’re paying a designer to get you the best website possible for your brand. After all, the site is essentially your storefront, so you’ll want to make a great impression.

3. HubSpot

Hubspot is a tool for building better relationships with customers and turning leads into paying customers. This inbound marketing tool is trusted by thousands of businesses nationwide, and the Hubspot CRM is 100% free. You can upgrade as you go, getting the best version of the Hubspot software as your business starts to bring in more sales and profit.

Hubspot isn’t just another tool, either. It boasts over seven million monthly visits on its blog pages, 2.6 million social media followers, 150+ user groups, and over 400 potential integrations with other services and software.

If you’re looking for a great way to turn leads into sales and up your marketing game, HubSpot is the way to go.

4. Yoast/WordPress

Yoast is an SEO optimization tool that integrates seamlessly with the WordPress web editing tool. WordPress is one of the most popular web design tools available, as it can integrate with POS software, publish blogs, and integrate with SEO software like Yoast for a more productive blog experience.

Having an SEO-optimized blog on your website can draw ten times more people to your site than just publishing social media posts. SEO optimization ensures that your posts appear higher up in the search engine results, which makes it more likely that your links will be clicked.

Your site will become synonymous with specific keywords, which will help drive traffic, and therefore, your sales. The more people reading your blog, the more likely you are to turn those readers into paying customers.

5. Hootsuite

When it comes to social media, an eCommerce business has no choice but to participate. Social media is the world’s most effective marketing tool if you know how to use it. Hootsuite is a social media management tool that helps business keep their social media accounts up to date.

You’ll be able to stay logged into all of your accounts via Hootsuite, so you can simultaneously update each page via the software. You can also schedule posts so you don’t have to worry about deadlines or missing important events.

6. POS Software

Today’s POS software is secure, effective, and makes the checkout process that is much more convenient for your customers. Having your eCommerce site equipped with the latest POS technology can actually attract more customers. Think of it this way: if you’ve got two stores that sell the same products for the same prices, but one company’s checkout process is faster and more secure, which company would you choose?

There are hundreds of POS options available online, and some are specifically designed for eCommerce applications. You’ll find that aside from just processing payments, your POS software can also track inventory, integrate with bookkeeping software, and even help with marketing efforts.

7. Project Management Software

If you’re running an eCommerce store, you’ve likely got a team behind you that handles web copy, advertising, fulfilling orders, and more. In order to keep your team motivated, organized, and efficient, you’ll want to use project management software.

This software allows you to set tasks, due dates, allocate resources, and even communicate with the team within the software itself. The more organized your team is, the more organized and successful your online business will be.


Source: South Florida Reporter

12 SEO Best Practices That Everyone Should Follow

SEO Tips No Comment

While going through most of the problems that the marketers face, one thing that we have got to know is the challenges with the rankings. The reason why they might face these problems is that they are not implementing the right SEO practices. To get the higher rankings, SEO experts sometimes underrate some of the important practices that actually matter for the rankings.

Here we have come up with the 12 best SEO practices that everyone should follow in order to get the best rankings. Make sure that you are implementing these tips and practices so that you get better rankings. Although it is not important that all of these techniques will work, as the SEO techniques are dependent on the industries you wish to opt for.

1. Make use of HTTPS

You might be knowing about the HTTP and the HTTPs both as two things. With a single s in the end, you get enhanced security by encrypting the information sent between the visitor and the serve. Since 2014, HTTPs has been one of the important ranking signals. You can easily get to know if you are using the HTTPs with the help of the locking sign presence in the address bar. In case if you are not having this, then you have to install the SSL certificate

2. Fast loading of the page

As per the stats found, people do not like to stay on a page that takes a longer time to load. After mobile friendly websites became popular, it has become an important ranking factor. You can get to know about the speed of your page with tools like Google’s page speed insights tool. With this tool, you get improvement advice. Google search console will help you also for checking the speed and gives the complete report about the page speed. Take the help of any PPC Specialist whose prime concern remains to increase the website speed before running Google Ads.

3. Target a topic with search traffic potential

Make sure that you choose the right keywords for which you wish to get ranked. Do not waste time in the words that are not used by anyone to get ranked.

4. Match the search intent

This is one of the major ranking factors as per the latest google algorithm. Focus more on the user search intent. Understand what is the kind of content that people are looking to buy your services.

5. Target the topic in the wheelhouse

Most competitive keywords can be much difficult to rank as the powerful brands are overruling them. This is why you have to use the keywords in your wheelhouse.

6. Use target keywords in 3 place

Using the target keyword in the title tag, meta description, and the URL is a must to get the higher rankings in the SERP. Make sure that you insert it properly and in a natural manner rather than compulsive stuffing.

7. Use a short and descriptive URL

Google loves the short URLs. This is because of the reason that the large URL might intimidate the searchers. You must deal with your Ugly URL and fix how it can be shortened.

8. Compelling title tag and meta description

SEO is not only about optimizing but also about attracting the clicks. This is why you have to write the attractive and enticing title tags and meta descriptions as this gives you the right and required sales pitch.

9. Optimize images

When you compress the images, the pages get loaded faster and thus, your SEO is optimized. Also, you can get ranked for the long-tail keywords. Add the alt tags and use the descriptive filenames so that you get the higher rankings.

10. Write thorough content

It is good to rank for a single keyword but to get rank for the more queries you have to make your content more thorough. The length of the content does not matter, but it is the relevancy to the subtopics that the people are searching for.

11. Internal links from relevant pages

These are the links from the pages on your website to another. With this, you get a higher PageRank. PR is the major factor of the Google rankings algorithms and is still considered a factor.

12. More backlinks

When we talk of SEO, you all know that backlinks are the foundation of the Google ranking algorithm. There has been a correlation between the organic traffic ad number of websites linking to a page.


These SEO practices help you to rank high in the SERP. Make sure that you are using these tips for your SEO practices. Along with this, focus on the content quality and the other well known important factors for the high rankings.


Source: IMC Grupo

6 Tips For Companies To Improve Their Reputation Online

Business Advice, SEO Tips, Social Media No Comment

Image by mcmurryjulie from Pixabay

The prevalence of information and connectivity on the internet has been tremendously advantageous for both consumers and industrial buyers. Search engines and social media make it easy to find reviews about products, services and companies within a few clicks.

But what happens if that information is both negative and untrue? Worse, what if it’s about your company?

Reputation management is important for all businesses, regardless of industry. Blogs, forums and social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are ideal platforms for upset customers to publicize their complaints — valid or otherwise — with your company. When this kind of feedback rises to the top of search results, it can be challenging to deal with. Here are some ways industrial businesses can manage their reputation online.

1. Control All Your Profiles And URLs

Does your company have a LinkedIn profile? Twitter handle? Facebook page? Thomasnet.com company profile? If not, get them. And use them. You can’t address what’s being said about you on social media and other platforms if you are not there. Listen to what others are saying about your company (and your competitors for comparative purposes). The last thing you want is for a negative forum post to be the main source of information about your company.

Post customer success stories on your website and encourage customers to provide positive reviews on your relevant online platforms. The increase of positive reviews and testimonials will be helpful for your brand awareness.

2. Optimize For Search Engines

Make sure your website is optimized for search engines to find. Adopt SEO best practices and make sure to include as much information about your company and your offerings as possible and not just glowing praise from customers (although you should have that too).

If done correctly, a good search engine optimization strategy can help win new customers. SEO is a way to maximize the success of the organic traffic your website receives.

3. Use Video Content

Video is one of the most sought after forms of content in the B2B world right now. Brand videos in particular, are a great way to reach new customers effectively, position companies in the marketplace, and distinguish itself from other suppliers. According to the Aberdeen Group, video marketing efforts can achieve a 54% increase in brand awareness.

There are many different styles of videos you can incorporate into your video marketing strategy, but keep in mind that different videos enable you to connect with buyers at different stages of their buying process.

Types Of Videos That Can Engage Your Prospects

  • Company Overview
  • Customer service
  • Facility tours
  • Capabilities
  • Product demos

4. Don’t Add Fuel To The Fire

The best way to validate a negative comment or review is to start an argument over it. That will make your company seem defensive and even childish. In fact, the very act of visiting the offending website tells search engines this is valuable content.

If you must address it, post something to the effect of, “I’m sorry you have had such a negative experience. Please send me a private message so we can investigate the issue further and reach a resolution.” You can also include a website link to make it easier for you to be contacted online.

5. Thank People For Positive Feedback

Conversely to the above advice, always reply to positive feedback with gratitude. You can further this by posting links to positive comments from blogs and forums on your social media accounts. If you have a company blog (and you should) you can dedicate regular posts to appreciate customers who volunteer good feedback. This serves two purposes:

1. It shows appreciation and engagement

2. It boosts the SEO of positivity over negativity

Pro Tip: Get a Google My Business Account to easily connect with customers and give them a place to leave you a review! This will also provide your business leverage in terms of SEO.

6. Be A Real Person

When representing the company online, whether via a corporate blog or on public forums, it is important to show some humanity—more specifically, state who you are and what your role is. This facilitates trust. If your internet presence is littered with faceless, nameless logos, people will perceive your company as cold and aloof, run by corporate suits, instead of people who care.


Source: Team Thomas

How Ecommerce is Evolving in 2020

E-Commerce No Comment

shopping online

2020 has already seen the world change quite significantly. The situation with COVID-19 has dramatically shifted the way we’ll work and indeed shop, both now and likely in the future. It’s shone a light on the relevance, usefulness, and power of online shopping.

eCommerce is evolving in real-time. We now do more online shopping than ever before. Smaller retailers who’ve had to take a multichannel approach to sales have had to overhaul their websites and use omnichannel retail software solutions.

So, what’s next?

With more eCommerce competition than ever before, how does an online retailer ensure they stand out from the crowd? Predicting what comes next isn’t a science, especially considering our current social and economic climate. However, we can look at where we’ve been to get a sense of where we’re going. And use those insights to help bolster our understanding of where the online retail industry goes from here.

Social media as your primary store

Most people learn, share, and live life online through the medium of social media. Shopping is naturally a part of that experience.

Social commerce built tremendous momentum last year, with some of the more established platforms expanding their offerings to enhance their eCommerce capabilities.

In March 2019, Instagram launched its eCommerce checkout feature, because it wanted to offer an end-to-end in-app e-commerce experience for users. This means Instagram users can complete product purchases without ever having to leave the app, and in the process, save purchasing information for future payments.

It’s vital you connect your sales to your social media account. If your potential customers are finding your products through their social feeds but having to leave that page to buy it, you’ve created friction: the more steps involved, the less chance of a conversion. It’s the same reason poorly designed websites see high bounce rates and low conversion rates.

By reducing the friction and allowing customers to swipe or click to purchase your product, you’ve reduced friction of the buying process. Impulse buys shouldn’t take more than three clicks.

If you’re not properly marketing your products on social media, utilizing Influencer Marketing, or making use of all the current and emerging tools and trends to help retailers succeed. It would help if you got on that sooner rather than later. Social media platforms like Instagram are how most people access the broader internet landscape, and it’s on you to ensure those windows align with your sales channels.

Know what they want before they do

Predictive analytics has been around for more than a decade, but the take-up (particularly with smaller retailers) has typically been low, perhaps due to the complexity and costs. However, with Big Data combining with the current surge in online shopping, as well as more affordable solutions currently available across several platforms, it’s becoming a more affordable solution.

Predictive analytics allows retailers to:

  • Predict what customers are most likely to purchase
  • Determine the highest price a customer will pay for a product
  • Improve supply chain management
  • Enhance business intelligence
  • Accurately make recommendations regarding promotions and follow-up purchases
  • Employ better price management
  • Minimize fraud

The new decade’s demand and reliance on reliable and now anticipatory data cannot be overstated. It might not be the case that every use of predictive analytics is relevant to your business.

Staying ahead of how a customer behaves online, means you aren’t falling behind them.

Refined shipping and delivery methods

Amazon has set the bar when it comes to delivery, with most items available within 24 hours of the order, and no cost for the dispatchment. For most, such a turnaround is impossible. Still, you need to be competitive. This relies on reducing those turnaround times. Or, working alongside your customers to balance the speed of your deliveries vs. the money it takes to deliver them.

An inventory management system is a key part of this process. Such a system helps you streamline everything related to your supply chain. You can better manage reordering, deliveries, order fulfilment, and more.

Once you’ve created a birds’-eye view of your stock, focus on providing a delivery service that aligns with their needs. Conduct a short survey over email or social media to determine whether speed, convenience, or cost is the most important outcome for your market. Next, source the right couriers who will help you deliver on what your customers want.

Now that the right services are in place ensure they’re presented clearly on your website. Every page should feature a header with the headline offering, and then a link to the delivery options. Do not obscure the prices and have current and concise information on every product page. Like, is it in stock? How long will it take to despatch? What are the relevant postage prices?

Clearly explain it again on the checkout and basket pages too.

Special offers on delivery will always be one of, if not the most powerful promotional tools you have in your arsenal. Any promotion is an opportunity to get a customer to do what you want them to do with a reduced impact on your margins.

A shift towards subscription-based models

Over the last few years, subscription-based eCommerce business has gained much attention due to its growing success. With disposable incomes for those in their 20s higher than a decade ago, but overall wealth on the decline, large one-off purchases are no longer in vogue. Instead, this year will see the introduction of more subscription-based businesses than ever before.

The simplicity of a monthly automated direct debit and the buzz of a monthly product or service is appealing for many consumers and companies. Especially with millennials who place higher importance on personal experiences and emotion instead of larger, more generic purchases like cars and homes. It’s why ‘experience first’ companies like Airbnb are booming. It’s also why eCommerce sites like Dollar Shave Club have exploded with popularity.

Product subscription boxes give an addictive and familiar sense of excitement every month when a package arrives at a customer’s door or desk. The ease of the service is also attractive, especially for those who find themselves time-constrained, or those who just hate shopping on the weekend. Multiple subscription-based companies succeed through simply saving the customer time—one thing highly prized by most people.

Determine if there’s a subscription element you can add to your website. Is there a product that goes alongside another, like a refill? Is there a service that can be offered monthly? Subscriptions can improve the customer’s relationship with your brand by having a repeat payment and delivery set up to make their life easier.

If you can bring a subscription element into your business, you might find an excellent opportunity to expand your online shop in a way that can provide much higher levels of revenue and repeat business.

A little more conversation

You can’t put a value on direct, one on one conversation. You can, however, put a price on employing enough staff to handle direct inquiries instantly and personably. It wouldn’t be financially feasible. So, you deploy a chatbot to answer questions, offer recommendations, and deal with queries and complaints. And the more they’re used, the smarter they become, so much so that in a few years it may become impossible to distinguish artificial intelligence and, well, a human respondent.

The utilization of chatbots is a trend that’s taken off well with many eCommerce stores fighting to provide improved customer service. Productivity boosting and cost-effective, this useful automation will continue to advance as machine learning gets increasingly more powerful, and AI will become more scarily human-like.

2020 and beyond

With technology’s staggering advancement, we’re witnessing an incredible expansion and diversification within the eCommerce industry. It’s an exciting time for retailers. New techniques, strategies, and tools are all there to be experimented with and implemented, but you’re only able to do so if you take advantage of them as and when they arise.

User experience, conversion optimization, and the way customers pay and take delivery of their products can all be factors that determine your bottom line. It’s on you as a retailer to optimize efficiently, make use of your analytics, and be unafraid of embracing what comes next.


Source: Business2Community

Facebook launches Shops to bring more businesses online during the pandemic

Business Advice, E-Commerce, Social Media No Comment

Facebook is making a major new push into e-commerce. The company today announced the launch of Shops, a way for businesses to set up free storefronts on Facebook and Instagram. The shops, which will be powered by third-party services, including Shopify, BigCommerce, and Woo, are designed to turn the social network into a top-tier shopping destination.

In a live stream, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said expanded e-commerce would be important to begin rebuilding the economy while the pandemic continues. “If you can’t physically open your store or restaurant, you can still take orders online and ship them to people,” he said. “We’re seeing a lot of small businesses that never had online businesses get online for the first time.”

The launch of Shops comes as stay-at-home orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic have led to record sales for e-commerce companies. The pandemic has also been devastating for small businesses, with a third of them reporting that they have stopped operating in a survey conducted by Facebook and the Small Business Roundtable. An additional 11 percent say they could fail within the next three months if the current situation continues.

But online sales have been a bright spot for small businesses. At Etsy, where solo entrepreneurs have leaned hard into knitting fabric face masks and baking pastries for sale, revenue has doubled from three years ago. Facebook is betting that bringing more local businesses online will help them to endure while also creating big new business opportunities for Facebook itself.

While Shops are free to create, they could create significant new business opportunities for Facebook in advertising, payments, and other services. Businesses will be able to buy ads for their Shops, and when people use Facebook’s checkout option, it charges them a fee.

Zuckerberg said Shops will improve on the standard web commerce experience by storing users’ payment credentials in a single place that they can then use on any Facebook or Instagram storefront. There are currently more than 160 million small businesses using the company’s apps.

Shops can be found on businesses’ Facebook pages and Instagram profiles, and they can also appear in stories or be promoted in ads. Items that businesses have made available for purchase will appear within the shop, and users can either save items or place an order. (Some businesses enable users to make purchases directly on Facebook, while others will take you to the business’s website to complete the transaction.)

Businesses can handle customer support issues through Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp. Eventually, the company plans to let you browse store catalogs and make purchases directly from the chat window. It also plans to enable shopping from live streams, allowing brands and creators to tag items from their Facebook catalogs so that they appear on the bottom of live videos.

Facebook is also working to integrate loyalty programs with shops. “You’ll be able to easily see and keep track of your points and rewards,” the company said in a blog post. “And we’re exploring ways to help small businesses create, manage and surface a loyalty program on Facebook Shops.”

Facebook has been dabbling in commerce for years. In 2016, it introduced Marketplace, a destination within the app for peer-to-peer buying and selling. Two years later, Instagram began working on a standalone shopping app, though it was later abandoned. Instead, last year, Instagram added in-app checkout.

Shops will begin rolling out on Facebook today in the United States and are coming to Instagram sometime this summer. Instagram will showcase brands on its existing shop account, which already highlights items that are available for purchase. Later in the year, it plans to add a dedicated shopping tab to its navigation bar.


Source: The Verge

Navigating the 4 stages of a small business’s digital journey

Business Advice, E-Commerce, Social Media, Wordpress No Comment

Many business owners, side-hustlers and freelancers know that it’s more urgent than ever to accelerate their digital journey, to help stay active during the Covid-19 pandemic and serve the needs of a connected customer base.

Even for those that are not familiar with digital tools and platforms, embarking on this journey can be easier than they imagine. And the rewards of doing it well can be significant.

Here are some ways for small business owners to help navigate the four stages, to help travel down the road of digital enablement.

1. Find out where you are today

Before you embark on an online journey, it’s wise to take stock of where you are today and where you want to be in a few months, and a few years from now. So, it can help to take a step back to evaluate your brand and what it stands for:

– How do you describe what you do and what business you have?

– Who are your customers today?

– What makes you different to the rest?

– What branding assets have you developed?

– How will all of this translate to the digital world, for example, is your company name a good fit for a domain name?

– Are you using any digital touchpoints today? For example, a Facebook page and a Gmail account?

– What is working well for you and what isn’t?

2. Planning

Once you have a clear picture of where you are today, you can develop your roadmap for tomorrow. A good place to start is to understand which business goals you aim to achieve by improving your digital channels. Do you want to generate leads, convert existing prospects, build your brand, become more visible online, proactively interact with existing customers? Which customers do you want to reach?

This can help you to decide what type of website you need to build, the functionality it will require, and how much time and budget to allocate. It can also help to guide your decisions about which digital platforms to focus on to reach current and future customers, for example, social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

3. Build a website

Now that you have assessed where you are today, and have a plan of where you want to go tomorrow, you can begin your journey. As you get started with creating or enhancing your digital presence, having a website can help your business be more visible to people in your neighbourhood, across America, and around the world.

To get started, the important first step is to choose and register your domain name for your website. Your domain name is the part of your website address that comes after the www. Your domain is your business’s nameplate on the web, so be sure to choose a domain name that represents your business and is easy to remember.

Next, you’ll want to choose the tools you’ll work with to build your website. A site builder from your hosting company may be a good option, if you want to build an attractive yet simple and affordable DIY website. Simply choose a pre-designed template and then update the text and images to best describe your business.

If you want something more flexible and richer in functionality and features, building a website with WordPress might be for you. You don’t need to learn HTML to use WordPress. You can choose from a wider range of free or paid WordPress themes (designs for the overall style of your website), as well as plugins to help customize your website a little more.  A range of plugins can also help to boost your site’s functionality, for example, for e-commerce.

Once you have chosen the website builder tool and the design, it’s time to start generating content. You can tell your business’s story throughout a handful of pages on your website. Five core pages – Home, About Us, Products/Services, Testimonials, and Contact Us – can make for a solid small business website, and you can adapt these sections and headings according to your industry and as your business grows.

4. Expand your digital presence

Building your website is simply the first leg of the journey. Once you have a website up-and-running, you’ll want to attract people to visit it. You’ll also want to keep talking with your customers and prospects in digital channels to help generate leads, close sales, retain customers and build your brand.

Here are a few ways to continue building your digital profile:

  • Social media

Set up social media accounts for your business on the platforms your customers use. Facebook and Twitter are good places to start, but tailor it to your audience. For example, a youth brand may need to be on TikTok and a business-to-business brand on LinkedIn. Post regularly and try to respond quickly to queries.

  • Blogging

Writing blogs on your own website or guest posts for other sites can be a good way to build your profile and attract traffic. Be sure to promote blog posts on your social media channels, and point back to your website.

  • Google My Business

Google My Business (GMB) is a local search platform. It helps you to show up when a nearby user searches for a keyword related to your brand’s business, products or services. You can’t optimise for local search until you claim your company listing on GMB. If you don’t yet have a Google account for your business, set one up so you can configure your GMB profile.

  • Email marketing

Promotional emails are one of the most economical ways for any business to connect with their customers. Add a signup form to your website to gather email addresses from visitors, and then keep in touch with people who are interested in your latest news and promotions.


Source: IOL

4 Essentials a Website Has to Have

Web Design Tips No Comment

Social distancing, stay at home orders, job insecurities and fear have had an enormous impact on businesses across the country. Navigation of the new rent-to-own landscape requires new ways to connect and engage with customers, and a website is key to making that connection. More than ever, having a functioning updated website and increased online communication can lead to success.

Many websites are not quite there yet.

Once a customer finds a business online, the website must provide vital content and features that will support and encourage them to rent with confidence. These four website essentials will power businesses through the pandemic and beyond.

Show Your Products

People are no longer window shopping in person. Even with some restrictions loosened, many customers may not feel comfortable casually browsing in-stores. Think of the customer’s experience if products are not shown online. Imagine going to a showroom and it was empty. Would you stay to look around? No. At a minimum, essential products need to be seen, but ideally, every product available for rent is highlighted.

Include The Price

If prices are not presented with products online, customers will assume they are more expensive or include hidden conditions. Would you purchase from a store that did not show prices on anything? Would you stay and ask the cost for each item? Chances are you would leave and go somewhere more straightforward and upfront with providing product information. Prospective online customers will do the same.

Highlight What Is In-Stock 

With fewer customers window shopping, there is an increased demand for products that can be received immediately. Whether they need an appliance to replace a broken one or require electronics to continue to work in a new environment, duress purchases have increased online across the country. If the item is in stock and can be delivered quickly, this business is much more likely to win the rental over its competitors. Having items available for quick distribution is a huge asset. Mark these items on the website and promote them.

Make Communication a Breeze 

In a store, it is easy to know if a customer needs assistance or has questions on a product if they ask, “Excuse me, can you help me?”. That same ease should be replicated in the online experience. Chat plugins like Zen Desk, Syncro, Live Chat and Podium are simple to install without major changes to a website and offer a direct way to communicate with customers while they are browsing online. Many offer free trials, like Podium who currently offers Podium Starter, a free introductory version. It includes easy to use texting abilities that keep you in contact with customers even after they leave the website. In addition to instant chat abilities, it is vital that a phone number, email and contact forms, are all up to date and answered immediately.

More than 88% of customers research a company or product online before making a purchase. For many of those customers, a website is their first introduction to your business. It takes less than half a second for an online customer to form an opinion about a business and to decide whether to stay or bounce. Today’s customer expects the same experience online that they would get physically going into a store 24-7-365.

Get your website ready for modern business success.


Source: APRO

5 Principles for Responding to Customer Reviews

Business Advice No Comment

Understanding how to respond to online reviews is essential for businesses across all industries. Indeed, 89% of consumers read business responses to online reviews. How should manager responses differ for positive and negative reviews? How does manager response time impact online reputation? Should manager response times differ for positive and negative reviews? While some online platforms, like TripAdvisorYelp, and Google, offer managers general guidance on how to respond to online reviews, answering these questions has — until now — been far from easy.

To help managers responsible for responding to customer reviews, we examined more than 20 million online reviews across four different platforms: TripAdvisor, Expedia, Hotels.com, and Orbitz. Based on the analyses of the length and the content of manager responses for each online review, we offer five principles that can enhance online reputation regardless of platform.

Principle 1. Address a positive online review by providing a generic, short response.

Surprisingly, we found that managers need to be careful even when responding to positive reviews. While a simple “thank you” had little impact, more customized responses — perceived as promotional and thus viewed as disingenuous — negatively affected future reviews.

Principle 2. Delay responses for positive reviews.

Furthermore, managers can mitigate the negative effect of response time by delaying responses to positive reviews until after the review reaches the second page of reviews (for example, TripAdvisor shows 10 reviews per page). The delayed response allows the positive review to be buried behind newer reviews (all platforms in our sample automatically sort reviews from newest review to oldest review and are not bumped up after a manager response). By doing so, managers obtain any direct, positive effects from thanking a reviewer without negatively influencing future reviewers.

Principle 3. Respond to all negative online reviews.

Negative online reviews impact buying decisions and potentially lead to some consumers avoiding some businesses entirely. To reduce the damaging effects of negative online reviews and the potential loss of a significant share of customers, we find that managers should engage in responding to an online review primarily as a complaint management strategy. A manager’s response to a negative online review potentially prevents a subsequent negative review, because a future reviewer can observe prior complaint management interactions for a complaint similar to their own.

Principle 4. Address a negative online review by providing a tailored solution to the specific complaint.

Additionally, managers should customize their response to each negative review to increase the quality of their complaint management. Specifically, managers should communicate actions they have taken to rectify the problem(s) expressed in each negative review. By addressing the reviewer’s issue, the manager can potentially appease an unsatisfied customer and show subsequent reviewers that the firm cares about customer complaints and issues. Thus, an organization can proactively manage service recovery efforts.

Principle 5. Respond quickly to all negative reviews.

Finally, manager responses to negative reviews should be timely, so that a manager’s response is visible to future reviewers. The faster the manager responds to a negative online review, the faster the reviewer is appeased and prospective reviewers can see that the manager and the firm are dedicated to solving customer complaints in a timely fashion.

Mitigate the bad, maximize the good.

While in our analyses, both independent and chain businesses benefited from the strategies outlined above, chain businesses saw the most lift from using it. Why? Customers expect independent businesses to interact more with them and they are not surprised when they receive a response to their comment. Indeed, our analyses shows that responding to reviews in the manner we suggest doesn’t improve an independent company’s reputation, while it does for chain businesses. Still, following these steps are important for both independent and chain businesses because responding to reviews is not just about improving reputation, but limiting potential damage.

In an age where customer word of mouth can quickly go viral, these five principles provide a proactive approach to service recovery efforts by placing more emphasis on manager responses to negative reviews, which helps mitigate potential future negative reviews and maximize the benefits of positive reviews.


Source: Harvard Business Review

14 Ways To Increase Engagement And Conversions On Your Website

Business Advice, E-Commerce, SEO Tips, Web Design Tips No Comment

The primary goal of any business site is to increase sales. While steady traffic and click-throughs are great, you want people to make a purchase or take the next step.

To boost engagement and conversions when people land on your website, you’ll need the right strategies. That’s why we asked the members of Forbes Agency Council how to turn website visitors into loyal customers. Follow their tips to help your business earn more sales.

1. Make Customers The Hero

Most websites talk at prospective customers, telling them how great the brand is rather than starting a conversation with them. Start by asking how your brand makes your customers the “hero” in their own stories and then use your website to demonstrate an understanding of their challenges and how your experience and processes can guide them to success. Sales will grow from authentic connections. – Brian HandriganAdvocado

2. Use Remarketing To Bring Them Back

By setting up remarketing through Google, you can continue to reach out with display ads to those who did not convert or abandoned the cart on your website. Some customers may not be ready to buy and are only researching, so remarketing keeps your brand or product top-of-mind. – Rebecca KowalewiczClearbridge Branding Agency

3. Invest In Video

The demand for video continues to rise. It is estimated that 80% of Web traffic is now coming from video alone; it is the No. 1 source of content. There have been studies that have shown that video not only improves your searchability and increases your average time on site but also increases conversion rates. If your website does not have videos you are missing out. – Nathan HallSimple Story

4. Offer Money-Back Guarantees

Giving your customers the comfort of knowing that if they are not fully satisfied with your product they can get their money back removes a lot of their fears. Some may think that this is a short-term fix, but putting yourself out there will build trust, which will up your conversion rate in the long run. – Zachary BinderBell + Ivy

5. Create A Digital Path To Purchase

One factor contributing to low conversion rates is an information architecture that doesn’t factor in the customer’s ideal path to purchase. To efficiently turn visitors into customers, it is critical to first know your target customer and the specific stages of their decision-making process. Design your website to lead visitors down that path, serving up the right information at the right time. – Keri WitmanClever Lucy

6. Add Opt-In Forms

Even if your business doesn’t sell directly on your website, you can still convert your Web traffic into sales by having opt-in forms that allow visitors to fill out their contact information, often in exchange for a piece of value, thereby becoming a contact in your database. Teams can then follow up with the leads at a later date with an upsell proposition and convert the initial Web traffic into sales. – Jonathan DuranteExpandify Marketing Inc.

7. Communicate Value

Make your value proposition clear from the get-go on your website. It’s a quick pitch that tells them why they should bother sticking around and buying from you. You can take action by using headlines that communicate why something is worth purchasing, crafting copy that supports the value proposition with benefit statements and using images that tell a story that supports the benefit statement. – Aaron AgiusLouder.Online

8. Change The Conversation Completely

When traffic, conversions and sales are being discussed in presentations, my one tip is to change the conversation away from numbers and towards the customer. There is a human behind every click. Have your team learn about design thinking methods and develop a new level of empathy with your audience. Understand why conversion is not happening, then prioritize the optimizations. – Kashif Zaman

9. Work To Share The Value

One of the biggest issues with website traffic that does not convert is that most people do not understand the sale. What this means is that the conversion piece is critical to the success of the sale. It is important to know that you are going to be able to share the value to that audience and ensure that there is a conversion. – Jon JamesIgnited Results

10. Don’t Neglect The User Experience

A well-designed website should do more than promote services or products—it should guide the customer journey. Including tons of options in the main menu, for example, might seem like a good way to keep customers’ interest when in fact it can create confusion and lower conversion rates. Use carefully placed design elements and messaging to direct customers toward your highest-priority offerings. – Hannah TrivetteNUVEW Web Solutions

11. Have A Strategy For Staying Top-Of-Mind

The industry standard for a conversion rate is between 2% and 3%. It means that the majority of your visitors aren’t going to convert on the first visit. Despite this information, focus on the effort that would make them your customers over time. One thing that’s especially effective is remarketing and retargeting. It helps you make sure your brand stays on top of people’s minds. – Solomon ThimothyOneIMS

12. Optimize Design Using Data And Psychology

Humans engage based on emotions. If we can track behavior and correlate the actions of a visitor, we can also alter the page and test. A/B testing allows us to optimize a page to convert at a higher rate. There are many ways to boost conversion, including proper use of layout, white space, contrast, wording, style and imagery. – Zamir JaverJumpfactor

13. Get As Specific As Possible

While a website is technically about the company, it really needs to speak directly to the person who’s visiting at 2 a.m. with worries and concerns. How can you reassure? Create landing pages that speak directly to defined audiences, and curate their narrative journey with precision. Remember, you can’t be all things to all people. The more you specialize, the more business you inspire. – Lynne GolodnerYour People LLC

14. Give Them All The Information They Need To Continue On The Path

Landing on the website is just the start of any customer’s journey with a company. While the goal is to get the sale, this is not going to happen immediately with a site visit. To get visitors closer to a sale, you need to make sure that the rest of the path is already laid out for them. Give them all the information they need and get their email so that you can reach out with the next step. – Dmitrii KustovRegex SEO


Source: Forbes

3 Reasons SEO is a Crucial Cost-Effective Medium for Your Struggling Business

Business Advice, E-Commerce, SEO Tips No Comment

What with consumers stuck inside and conservatively conserving their cash, many businesses are looking for ways to cut their budgets without eliminating their operations entirely. Right now, marketing is one of the best investments for businesses struggling to get by; digital marketing keeps businesses in touch with their audience, which could boost online sales but more importantly maintains brand visibility and engagement. Unfortunately, because so many businesses are investing in digital marketing during the COVID-19 crisis, many businesses simply don’t have the resources to compete when it comes to developing online content.

That’s where SEO comes in.

SEO is perhaps the best strategy for businesses striving to maintain or improve their visibility on the web while decreasing their expenses. Here are a few reasons SEO could save businesses struggling to survive during the pandemic and beyond.

SEO Is Less Expensive Per Click and Per Acquisition

The primary alternative to SEO is PPC, or pay-per-click advertising, which as the name suggests requires businesses to pay a set fee per user interaction with an ad. Both major and minor websites host PPC ads, and the cost per click will depend on a number of variables, such as the ad service employed, the location of the ads, the quality of the ads and more. Using Google Ads, a small business will probably pay about $1 to $2 per click, which could result in expenses between $9,000 and $10,000 per month. Those expenses do not go away as a business grows. In fact, larger businesses with more name recognition will garner more clicks, increasing their PPC costs.

In contrast, SEO attempts to build organic traffic to business websites. Organic traffic finds and follows links on search results and in content around the web, and that content isn’t necessarily paid and certainly isn’t an ongoing expense. Though most businesses do pay for SEO services, the associated costs are meager and decrease over time because. The ROI is actually excellent.

However, costs will vary depending on the amount of competition needed. According to Abby Smith from Digital Current, it is possible for a local pizza company to hire an SEO company for as little as $500 a month. On the other hand, a major ecommerce provider may need to pay an SEO company a retainer over $10,000 a month. Business owners need to be realistic about the amount of competition that they face when estimating SEO costs.

SEO Becomes More Effective Over Time

As mentioned above, PPC does not decrease in price over time. In fact, larger and older businesses often have much higher PPC expenses because they are enjoying higher engagement and might acquire more robust PPC packages for greater visibility.

Such is not the case with SEO. Over time, SEO grows in effectiveness. According to Search Engine Journal, it might take years to see an improvement in search ranking and to benefit from the higher organic traffic, but with diligent effort, SEO will pay off. Eventually, businesses will need to do less to improve or maintain their search engine ranking, which means their reliance on SEO experts and accordingly their costs for SEO will begin to decline. SEO works so well as a long-term strategy within digital marketing because…

SEO is even more effective if you use it for different channels. You can use SEO to get more traction for your social media channels. Mixed Interest reports that this is a prudent decision since there are so many benefits of social media marketing.

SEO Enhances Your Brand and Builds Consumer Trust

For years, SEO was like hacking search engines — finding loopholes in their algorithms to achieve high rankings without putting in the real time and effort required to get there naturally. Yet, Google has systematically reduced the efficacy of those black-hat tactics, compelling SEO professionals to develop much longer-term strategies for generating high-quality content and natural audience engagement. As a result, SEO isn’t merely a technical trick for gaining visibility; it is integral to a business’s overall digital marketing strategy.

SEO, in conjunction with content marketing, helps to build digital assets, which help to flesh out brands. Plus, consumers tend to trust businesses that appear higher in search results; not only are better-ranked links more convenient, but they seem to be judged as more legitimate or higher-quality, as well. In contrast, Neil Patel reports that many consumers automatically ignore advertisements or look down on businesses that pay for ads, especially if those ads are ugly, irritating or otherwise low-quality. SEO is a slow and methodical way to generate more traffic to a business’s website without compromising its brand image.

Struggling businesses shouldn’t pull away from marketing entirely. Especially as consumers shelter at home, effective digital marketing is what will keep businesses engaged with their audiences. However, businesses should choose marketing options that offer a low investment and high return — options like SEO. Compared to PPC, SEO is less expensive over both short and long term, and it can do so much more for a business’s marketing than boring ads. Struggling businesses should always consider SEO as a viable strategy for jumpstarting online visibility and boosting sales.


Source: Forbes

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