In their book, Start Your Own Business, the staff of Entrepreneur Media Inc. guides you through the critical steps to starting a business, then supports you in surviving the first three years as a business owner. In this edited excerpt, the authors offer quick tips to help you get visitors to return to your site and stick around for a bit.
A good website design and a strategy for attracting visitors takes you three-quarters of the way to success. The final step is getting people to try your offerings and to come back for more. The best way to do that is to treat each customer as unique. Fortunately, the web lends itself to the kind of personalization that’s relatively easy and inexpensive for even the smallest business.
With a little effort, you can address each site visitor’s needs effectively. Combined with offline strategic work—such as hitting customers every other week with a free newsletter or offering them a two-for-one special if they haven’t visited your site in two months—readily available ecommerce tools enable you to personalize as nothing else can.
The basis for customization is the cookie—a morsel of information that lets sites know where customers go. A cookie is a piece of data that’s sent to the browser along with an HTML page when someone visits a site. The browser saves the cookie to the visitor’s hard drive. When that customer revisits the site, the cookie goes back to the web server along with his new request, enabling your site to recognize the return visitor.
Here are some ideas for marketing programs you can create from an analysis of stored cookies and email:
Getting visitors to stick around long enough to explore your site is just as important as tempting them to visit in the first place. Here are some tips on capturing your visitors’ attention.
By the Staff of Entrepreneur Inc.
When it comes to online video success, you need to know how to get your video seen by the people who will publicize it further. Here's how to do it:
1. There’s more to success than just views.Brands often tout video views as if they’re the purest metric of success, but that’s just part of the picture. While views are helpful for measuring brand awareness, they are not reliable in directing further action. It’s important to identify your campaign goals and the corresponding metrics:
When selecting whom to hire to oversee your video campaign, choose someone with extensive experience in delivering campaigns, as well as interpreting data. Ask candidates to show you past case studies in which they were able to interpret and capitalize on analytics in real-time that an algorithm would have missed.
There is a saying in video marketing that it never pays to post and pray; if you want your video to be a success, you can’t just hope it gets picked up over the millions already out there. To achieve success, you need to know the relevant metrics, employ analytics and ensure that an expert is overseeing your campaign. With these tips, your video will be poised to achieve online success.
By James G. Brooks
Every great business started with drive and a passion. Even moguls like Richard Branson, Oprah, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett started at zero.
If you know my story, you know that after I was injured in professional football, my lifelong dream of playing came to an end. I spent a year and a half broke and sleeping on my sister’s couch trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life.
At that time my main passion was sports, and that was my focus for as long as I could remember. I wanted to have the flexibility to do what I love, and make a living that would set me up for the rest of my life. But I had no idea where to begin.
Through equal parts luck and persistence, that year I found a brilliant mentor. I interned with him for close to a year and he paid me about $500 a month. I poured myself into learning from him. I also did whatever I could to earn income on the side working event marketing gigs and other odd jobs.
As I put one foot in front of the other, I started seeing where my passion and skills intersected. I loved connecting people and adding value to their lives. I loved providing whatever service I could to them that would help solve a problem they had. As I pursued the things that interested me, I began to put together networking events. I started to form what would become my business and brand, ever evolving along the way.
It wasn’t as if I had a perfect plan mapped out. I combined my passions, strengths and vision to create the ideal business for me along the way. The most passionate entrepreneurs are driven by more than just money. They’re driven by living a fulfilled life.
If you haven’t yet discovered your passion, I encourage you to do so. That’s part of the reason I started The School of Greatness Academy -- to help people pursue their passions. Think about what excited you as a kid, or the thing that when you do it you lose all sense of time and space, you are so lost in the moment. You will be happiest when you follow your passion. I love what Steve Jobs had to say about this:
Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.
Once you have figured out what you want to do, here are some important things to keep in mind while starting your business from zero:
1. Research your market.Knowing what the competition knows won’t cut it. Go deep. Dive in to your market and study it like an expert.
Search Google for keywords that are related to your industry. Don’t get discouraged if the market seems flooded. You can use this to your advantage. It means that it is working for those people and you can make it work for you. There is money there.
2. Set a tangible financial goal.I set new goals every six months and always stretch my initial mark. Work backwards and figure out what you need to do each day to get to where you want to be. Set a goal that is a stretch for you and look at the steps you need to take every day to accomplish that goal.
3. When you create a website, make the content shareable.It’s great to reference some the leaders in your space, but when you are developing your own brand, it’s important to create unique content on a single hub. A site that your readers and viewers can reference back to, for more of your incredible content. I lean on Derek Halpern who’s a pro at this.
4. Build a list.Email is best form of currency online and building an email list is one of the most important tools in building a business. As you develop your shareable site, begin building a list of emails of the people that visit your site. Then continue to provide them with value. This will translate into buyers for the future launch of your product or service.
Adding in an opt-in form on your website and having a place to store your emails are the first two steps to building your email list. Free resources like HelloBar.com and AppSumo.com allow you to collect email information on your website. To store email addresses, I recommend the program Aweber, which even offers a free 30-day trial.
5. Launch a product or service you can sell.If you have a financial goal that you’ve set out for the next six months, then you have to sell something. Take the time to figure out the biggest challenges your audience is facing and build your relationship with them. Then create something that solves their problem. I know this is easier said than done, but it’s critical. Your leads come from your list, you convert them to customers, follow up and build a relationship.
6. Start NOW and improve as you go.A lot of people waste time thinking about making things perfect before they launch their business. The logo, the website, the copy -- everything. This is a waste of time. Sell your product before you make it by offering a pre-order. Focus on getting sales and attracting leads. Successful companies launch all the time and they aren’t perfect.
Think of Facebook and all the changes and improvements it has made. Start with a small product and always be improving. Launch online you can sell over and over and not have to trade time for dollars.
The most important thing is to enjoy the process and know that you don’t have to make it perfect. Start today. If not now, when?
By Lewis Howes
Small-business owners face a massive challenge when it comes to marketing their companies and products. Without the proper tools or experience, they can end up spending large budgets with no guaranteed return.
The typical customer sees countless ads every day, across a huge array of channels.
The chances of a small business successfully cutting through that noise are slim. The way small businesses thrive is through relationships, and influencer marketing could be the best option.
Word-of-mouth marketing is the oldest and most valuable way of convincing people to buy a product or service. Being encouraged and reassured by a trusted source has more value than any other sort of advertising. Social-media influencers have proven rapport with their followers, easily affecting the buying behaviors of those who subscribe to their feeds.
With carefully chosen, highly relevant influencers, a small business owner can target the most relevant consumers for a fraction of the cost of traditional media. Here are some of the advantages:
1. Create a cost-effective campaign.An influencer-marketing campaign is extremely flexible, meaning that your initial investment can be quite small and a successful program can immediately be scaled up.
2. Build brand loyalty fast.A startup does not have the benefit of years of customer relationships and brand loyalty. By having an influencer create native content with your brand’s message, you can build equity with potential customers more quickly.
Thus, you leverage the longstanding relationship an influencer has with an audience based on a crucial pre-established trust. You are essentially being introduced to the person's followers with an implicit credibility: This gives a company a major advantage, especially when paired with the vital market research that social media can provide on consumers (from "likes," shares and comments).
3. Achieve highly targeted advertising.The traditional model of attempting to reach a large, broad audience can be very expensive and inefficient. With an influencer-marketing platform, you can create a highly targeted campaign by zeroing in on very specific variables, like the geography of consumers or an age group.
For instance, pairing with an influencer who has a dense following in a particular geographic location and a high concentration of millennial followers could make a campaign more focused and budget sensitive.
My company, InstaBrand recently executed a campaign for a jewelry company to promote a highly curated collection for men. By carefully selecting key influencers on Instagram whose followings were most likely to appreciate the brand, the campaign resulted in a fourfold increase in online sales. Reaching the right people is sometimes far more important than reaching a lot of people.
4. Return on investment is easily trackable.With influencer marketing, return on investment is highly quantifiable. With a wide array of metrics available to your business, you can appraise the success of an influencer-driven campaign.
Follower acquisition is an important key performance indicator: A follower is essentially a potential customer who can be targeted and advertised to at no additional cost. A potential consumer is more likely to become a purchasing customer if he or she elected to hear from you.
You can then draw on a wide array of metrics to track the effectiveness of individual posts, seeing how well followers react to the content and if it translates to sales. Hashtags and promo codes let you monitor sales, usage and click-through rates, making them valuable indicators of a return on investment.
5. Create premium content without paying model or a photographer.Content creation takes labor and resources from talented individuals, and a small-business owner might find it best to outsource this. Influencers are also major content creators, not just distributors. Pairing up with a fashion influencer will not only bring you marketing, but professionally produced photos that you can repurpose.
Next time you’re considering traditional advertising for your small business, take a stab at influencer marketing and track the return on investment. You may be pleasantly surprised by the results.