Tag: small business

Effective Local eCommerce Strategy for Small Business

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How do you eat an elephant? As the adage goes, bite by bite. This works when you think a problem is too big to manage all at once, but it also makes a great deal of sense when it comes to local eCommerce strategy.

Consider the probability of any eCommerce startup skyrocketing to “unicorn” status. These usually require millions of dollars in angel and venture capital, and even then the vast majority of eCommerce shops fail early (90% in the first few months) and even after a year in business (it stands at around 78%) . Do you know what one component most of these eCommerce sites are missing?

Focus.

And, more specifically, localization. Localization is important to eCommerce, because people like to do business with businesses that are near them for a variety of reasons. These include familiarity, convenience, better customer service, loyalty, and trust. Further, there is a strong Shop Local movement happening, which has made consumers more conscious and conscientious about shopping local even when they’re shopping on the Web.

eCommerce Website Sales Strategy

While having a website is fundamental to business visibility today, it’s important that business owners recognize the value of a website’s connection to sales.

Websites are where sales happen online today. So, why would a business website not have some ability to display products or services, and take payments? (If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us nothing else, it’s that it’s vital to be able to reach customers and continue to transact business online in the face of dynamic circumstances.)

So, we start with a sales strategy and then we build an eCommerce website to support its purposes. What are you selling? And, how does the website fit the needs to sell it/them?

Moreover, much of the past two decades’ worth of marketing research demonstrates that the supermajority of your sales will come from consumers within a five-mile radius. Google noticed this with consumers performing local searches and purchasing via mobile ads, and it biases search results in Google’s Local Search to around that same distance.

Businesses that have a great eCommerce presence can capture the 70+% of local searchers who go to a business’s website standing outside the store. If a potential customer finds what they need on your website, even if they don’t buy on the eCommerce website, they are likely to enter the physical store and purchase from you. This cannot be underscored enough times.

Online shopping promotes physical retail, and supports physical retail when it’s not possible or as a convenience to the customer. Local eCommerce is the best thing to happen to local commerce. All it takes is understanding this premise when building your website strategy. And, so, what should your website strategy look like?

Email Is Important

At the heart of every eCommerce website marketing strategy is email. It’s the stitching that holds together the fabric of online sales. From email marketing newsletters to email sales funnels and emailed receipts with requests for reviews.

Some questions to consider in building your local eCommerce email marketing:

  • How will you generate leads to capture their emails?
  • Where does email marketing (i.e., promotional, relational and transactional messages) fit into your overall business strategy?

Which email marketing service provider has all the features you need at the price you can afford?

To learn more, check out this article on small business email marketing strategy.

Mobile Is Dominant

If it wasn’t already apparent, people are using mobile phones more than ever and it’s driving sales. Whether it’s for researching online to buy offline (ROBO buyers) or for safety, convenience, or loyalty to a brand, mobile arguably has a hand in almost every sale happening online today.

  • Some questions to consider in building your mobile marketing:
  • Is your website mobile-optimized?
  • Is your content “snackable” and organized for mobile reading?
  • Back to email, how are you capturing leads through email capture on mobile?
  • How are you connecting a mobile visitor to your products/services?

Learn more here about small business mobile marketing strategies.

Content Marketing & Advertising

While much ado has been made of social networks like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Snapchat for its ability to get in front of potential customers. And, yes, they can get your business in front of many people. You need to create content on your local eCommerce site that is worth creating Social Media posts about, that drives visitors. And, while social networks like
your Social Media posts, you need to have a budget for advertising your best performing content to people beyond those who merely follow you.

If you want to excel in local eCommerce you need a mix of great content (in the form of blog posts, podcast episodes, or videos), Social Media posts that bring people to your site (organically and through social ads), and products and services on your website that can convert visitors.

Here are a few important questions to think about related to content marketing:

  • What localized content do you need to produce to bring potential buyers to your local eCommerce website?
  • How does your content marketing connect a potential buyer’s felt need or want to what you offer?
  • Do you have a content calendar so that you can keep on top of creating enough of the right content?
  • How will you measure the success of your content marketing efforts for your
    eCommerce website?

Here is a great article on digging in deeper into small business content marketing.

Local Search Optimization: Local Schema, Hyper-
targeted Local Content, and Local Listing Directories

The last ingredient in local eCommerce strategies is far from the least important–local search optimization. Three different parts combined on and off the eCommerce website itself make up local search optimization: local schema, local content (hyper-targeted, preferably), and local listings.

Local Schema

Google (and the other search engines) use structured content (just like HTML), Schema markup, on local websites (including eCommerce sites) to display rich snippets to local searchers. Schema allows not only the business to get visibility on Google, but it also provides an ability to get specific content and products on your eCommerce site to be shown to more people by using it.

At the very least, your eCommerce site should display your name, local business address, local phone number, and hours of operation using the Schema markup. If your eCommerce website doesn’t have the functionality built into it, you can use Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper and Structured Data Testing Tool to add and test how your Schema looks on your site.

Also, if you have a product catalog in your eCommerce site, you will want to push the product feed into Google Shopping.

Hyper-Targeted Local Content

Next, you can create a volume of local content that is great for Google without much more work than generating the original content in the first place. This method requires you to create your base pages for your products and services. Then, you can identify all the localities and landmarks for which you’d like your product or service to appropriately rank on Google.

The tricky part is understanding how web pages are displayed to Google and website visitors versus those displayed in the menu navigation of the eCommerce site. For hyper-targeted local pages, you only care about Google seeing those pages and directing visitors to them, but they will not be displayed in your website’s navigation menu.

For example, you might have a “Men’s Haircuts” page on your local business website and people can book appointments and pay/tip online. But, if you have a hyper-targeted local page for every neighborhood that your hair salon business serves, you’ll rank better and gain more traffic. So, you might have pages that are duplicates of the main page but are modified (approximately 20% different than the original), such as “Men’s Haircuts on Main Street”, “Men’s Haircuts in Somewheresville” and “Men’s Haircuts in the Neighborhoodsname”. These pages will include content that highlights the locality and landmarks, and because they’re 20% different than the main page, Google will see them as different than the main page and they’ll rank well for when people type those local searches into Google.

Local Directory Listings

Finally, but just as powerful, it is important for local commerce and local eCommerce alike to take advantage of local directories. These are online business directories that can generate a good amount of traffic for savvy small business owners.

The most prominent today is Google My Business, but there are many others available (see the sites that Local Listing Ninja submits to as a service to get an idea about how many there are).

The important part is to keep the listings data (especially hours of operation and website details)
up-to-date, and with Google My Business, it provides a portal to post updates, offers, products
and services, and even eCommerce links (purchase, appointment/booking, online courses,
events, etc.).

Conclusion

eCommerce sites are tough to launch, so don’t you want to do it well enough so that it actually pays for itself and more? Use this eCommerce marketing framework to consider how your products/services are going to be positioned on the Local Web. Then, consider how your mobile-optimized website is going to handle your sales, what your email marketing is going to
do for you, what content marketing you’ll create and when/where you’ll distribute it, and then how you’ll optimize for Local Search.

When you do these things well, you have a local eCommerce website that has a chance of standing up to Big Box eCommerce and outpacing your competition.

 

Thanks to Ray Sidney-Smith, guest author of this post.

Economic Injury Disaster Loan

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Eligibility Restored For Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance

Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance

Small Businesses are now eligible for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance

The Small Business Administration’s (SBA) just announced that the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Advance is available to small businesses.

This advance can give your business much needed financial relief.

What You Need To Know

  1. Your business is now eligible to receive $1,000 per employee up to a maximum of $10,000.
  2. You do not need to repay this loan advance.
  3. Your business does not need to qualify for this loan advance.

Questions Your Business Should Consider

  1. Has my business received a Paycheck Protection Program loan (PPP)?
  2. Did I complete my original EIDL application correctly?

Yes, I received a PPP.  Therefore, your EIDL Advance amount will be subtracted from your PPP loan. That amount will not be eligible for forgiveness.

The Small Business Administration will verify and validate the information in your EIDL application. After that, your advance will auto deposit into your bank.

If there are issues verifying your banking or business information you will receive an email. The email will ask you to update any missing business information.

If there is an issue with your bank information, you will be asked to update your banking information as well.

If you have questions about EIDL or need help navigating the loan process, please contact our office:  (540) 868-7093

Our director Christine Kriz is available to answer your questions or point you in the right direction.

In addition, we have created a frequently asked questions page to help you navigate the loan process.  

 

Brown Bag Breakfast

Bring your breakfast and your hunger for business knowledge.  Light refreshments will be provided.  Our discussions will include ways to finance, manage, grow, and nurture your business.  Brainstorm with other small business owners on ways to improve your business strategy. 

Email [email protected] or call 540-727-0638 to register

Quickbooks Desktop

Learn to manage the financial aspects of your business quickly and efficiently with this powerful accounting software program. QuickBooks is designed especially for the small-to-midsize business owner who needs a fully functional accounting system that’s also easy to use. In this class, you will gain hands-on experience as you master the tools you need to set up a chart of accounts; reconcile your checking account; create and print invoices, receipts, and statements; track your payables, inventory, and receivables; create estimates; and generate reports.  Whether you’re new to QuickBooks or have already used earlier versions of this accounting software program, this course will empower you to take control of the financial accounting for your business. Should currently be using the following: QuickBooks® Pro, Premier or Enterprise

Register Here

Figuring Out Cashflow

Frustrated with cash flow? Join us to learn the difference between “profitability” and “positive cash flow,” and why you need both of them to have a successful business. You’ll discover ways to impact the money coming into your business and going out of your business.

Register Here

Agribusiness HR Challenges

In addition to running an agricultural business, you are expected to deal with human resource issues and the increasing responsibilities that places on front-line managers. In this class, you will discuss current issues in the human resources field and the changing role of managers regarding legal landmines, sexual harassment, workplace diversity and managing a seasonal workforce. Gain knowledge, techniques and strategies for strong recruitment by selecting the best candidates through the behavioral interview process. Come learn about key HR issues to help attract, retain and protect your most valuable asset – your people! Class resources included.

Register HERE

Quickbooks Desktop Version

Learn to manage the financial aspects of your business quickly and efficiently with this powerful accounting software program. QuickBooks is designed especially for the small- to-mid sized business owner who needs a fully functional accounting system that’s also easy to use. In this class, you will gain hands-on experience as you master the tools you need set up a chart of accounts; reconcile your checking account; create and print invoices, receipts, and statements; track your payables, inventory, and receivables; create estimates; and generate reports. Whether you’re new to QuickBooks or have already used earlier versions of this accounting software program, this course will empower you to take control of the financial accounting for your business. Should currently be using the following: QuickBooks® Pro, Premier or Enterprise.

Please note this class runs 9/11/17 to 9/13/17 from 8AM-12PM each day.

Register HERE