What Can Digital Mean for You?

As technology – and human beings – evolve, new words have to be used to describe what is happening. The word ‘digital’ may have once been used very little, but these days it is on everyone’s lips; the main trouble is that it means different things to different people.

We might say, “It’s a digital world these days” and simply mean that almost everyone uses a PC or iPhone. But saying ‘We need to go digital’ has a somewhat different meaning.

Different Shades of Digital for Business

Even for the business world, ‘digital’ has different shades of meaning. It is more about how things are done. We can now store information digitally and find it takes up less room. We can contact people digitally and find it is quick and convenient. Or we can change the way the whole company works to embrace the digital age and become more efficient and competitive. The latter encompasses a whole different way of doing almost everything.

Analyse, Build, Measure, Repeat

Automating business reporting, building a website, accounting through a portal, a new logo or a new mobile app. These are examples of “going digital” that all businesses can embrace for a lot less than they think. A new digital project always requires examination of the desired end outcome and therefore a business already has a success benchmark that can be measured and reported. It also means that their customer base can expand exponentially once they have the results back to tweak, retry and/or try anew.

Too Much Communication?

To most people away from the world of business, the word digital simply means a way of communicating with their friends and family. Using iPhones is second nature to most people these days and means you can communicate with someone without actually talking to them, thus it is more convenient and less invasive. An email or text message can be sent quickly with hardly any interruption to your day. That said, much time is consumed in spelling out all the words and waiting for the reply. Checking their phone for messages takes up a lot of time. Being constantly available to friends and enemies alike means very little privacy or down time. No wonder people are feeling stressed.

Keep Learning through Digital

To the older generation ‘digital’ may mean they can do video calls with grandchildren they may not see very often otherwise. It is all about photos and maybe email rather than streaming music or movies. That is on a personal level. But what about a small business run by an older person who does not have much time – or the inclination – to learn about anything digital? They may one day find it much more difficult to get the services they need.

Online Forms, Not Fax

For instance, a farmer who sees no need to ‘go digital’ suddenly finds he cannot get the tail tags or forms that he needs to sell his cattle because the PP Board in his local town closed down. Now they have a central office hundreds of kilometres away and offer their service from a website. Suddenly, forms must be ordered from the website and paid for online. So he is pushed into the 21st century, complaining loudly all the way. Or if he is lucky, his grandchildren do it for him.

Opportunities to Run a More Efficient Business

Small businesses are less likely to have all the services they need, but will find that they work with digital service providers easily and quickly once they embrace the digital world. For instance, a glass cutter who makes and installs shower stalls cannot be at his place of business all the time when he is out on the job. Even with a mobile phone he can miss out on business, simply because he cannot work and answer the phone at the same time. But he could easily get a VA to answer the phone for him.

Or what about a truck driver who spends hours on the road, often out of his local area? He won’t feel like doing his books when he gets home – and may not even know how to keep proper records. But digital records are easy to keep and accounting can be done by a specialist so that he can spend more time driving and not be fined by the ATO for late – or no – tax returns.

Small businesses cannot afford to hire IT staff permanently, but they can still have a website built and managed to expand their business by working with the right digital service providers. There are many things in the digital world that can expand your business; you don’t have to know how to do it all yourself when there are professionals just a few clicks away.

A Feeling of Achievement, Every Day

So really, ‘digital’ really comes down to your own strategy for different and easier way of doing many things in both business and personal lives. Digital can help you refine what is important to you and the best way to achieve in the time you need it, and taking an active interest in digital opportunities, you’ll have a better sense of achievement day to day.

Power to the Digital Punt

As the horses, jockeys and visiting royalty gather we are reminded of the great Australian urge to gamble. Do we love a winning result or the addiction of the possible?

Status Quo, Good Enough?

We think it’s both and in the digital world a punt can seem scary, and better that money wasn’t spent without a good result rather than risk a few hundred dollars on something that could just turn into something successful.

Digital, Built to Your Measurements

The cool part about digital is that it can be measured. Adword dollars can be linked to sales, return on website enhancement dollars can be measure directly by improved on site visitor statistics and sales leads, and it should be that way.

Champagne Now or Later?

It would be nice if those results showed up in fancy frocks, suit & tie with a bottle of champagne like your Melbourne Cup bet. Or maybe you treat your staff to a great Melbourne Cup party next year because today was the day you bet on your business success and won.

The Power of the Punt

It is possible to win with digital, in fact, its a certainty.

Freshen Up Your Marketing Mix – Go Offline!

We were recently invited to an American Chamber of Commerce lunch in Brisbane on behalf of our Adelaide Plains customer Dominic Versace Wines and it was a terrific example of how to efficiently bring your brand to a national audience.

Dominic Versace Wines is in growth mode, appealing to the growing Chinese taste for high quality wine with an excellent, award-winning brand reputation.

Amcham (as the Chamber calls itself) is an extremely well connected group, the room was filled with QLD CEOs and major consulting, banking and law firm representation. Queensland is in growth mode too, trying to appeal to the growing Chinese appetite for authentic tourism experiences.

Having their wine on each table and a great plug by Robyn Houghton from AmCham gave Dominic Versace Wines direct access to people who can help them expand their business and drive some offline relationships online.

We have been eagerly supporting the growth of Dominic Versace Wines because they continue to think outside the promotional box.

Consider the opportunity to relaunch your marketing strategy along with a new website, there is so much to the mix.

How Snapchat Can Help Your Business

Almost everyone is on social media. Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram or Twitter most people have now embraced the digital way of communicating. What’s even cooler, is that new social media platforms are popping up everyday, reinventing the way we communicate with each other on a personal level, but also the way businesses can communicate to their consumers.

Enter Snapchat

With more than 100 million users each day, Snapchat is the fastest-growing social network of them all. With the unique way Snapchat works, it stands out from the other platforms and means if your business joins in, you have an amazing opportunity to stand out and shine.

If you aren’t familiar with how Snapchat works, it’s an app especially designed to make the experience of seeing content online with a mobile device instant and for a limited time only.

Snapchat’s main feature is the short shelf life of it’s content. The user (whether it be an individual or a business) can choose how long they wish to share their photo or video for (we are talking from 4-10 seconds). This means the content that is shared captivates the consumer, because if they don’t pay attention the content will be gone forever. It is this need for undivided attention that sets it apart from the other platforms.

How this Can Help Business

Interaction with consumers is one of the most important aspects of business. Getting a captivated group of people who are interested in your product is way up there on the importance scale too. Snapchat makes both these things easy to do. Not only are their millions of young people using this app, but they are ready and willing to join in the chat – interact with businesses they are interested in buying from.

How One Business Uses Snapchat

Say hello to 16 Handles, a frozen yoghurt chain that sends out offers to their young target market using Snapchat. Their customers only have to send a selfie or a snap of their friends eating yoghurt at a branch of the business and they are immediately sent a discount coupon to use on their next purchase. It will be a discount of between 5% and 100%. However, the coupon cannot be opened until they are at the checkout because it expires 10 seconds after it is opened.

16 Handles’ target audience is Gen Y & Gen Z and they know this generation love taking selfies. With the discount offer expiring after 10 seconds it creates a sense of urgency, ensuring that it is highly likely to be used. When consumers use the coupon their details are kept by the business, thus enabling them to create a list of customers who are keen to buy. 

Not just food for thought

All kinds of business can benefit from Snapchat, especially if their target market is between 13 and 35. You can share behind the scenes snaps and other content users can’t find on your other social platforms, and have sneaky discount coupons, giveaways and specials of various kinds sporadically to keep them tuning in.

How to Get the Marketing Gold

Anyone who wants to harvest details (names and email addresses) from potential customers who visit their website knows it’s not as easy as it sounds. But, if you’re creative it can be easier than you think. All you need to do is offer them something in return for the gold.

Getting people to part with their email address doesn’t have to be all that difficult if you offer them something of real value. A free giveaway will also add interest to your website and make your visitors think twice about leaving it without giving you some contact details, especially if you make it super easy to signup.

Also keep in mind is the free gift or offer should align to that of the service or product your business offers. This is to make sure your website visitors will be actually interested in signing up. So what can you offer? It really depends on the kind of business you have, but here are a few suggestions:

A White Paper

This will usually be on a topic of interest to your visitors and is more in the academic line. It is usually around 7 pages, but can be more or less, so long as it contains important information that they are unlikely to find elsewhere. It may also contain validation links to certain points that are made as well as links back to whatever you are selling or whatever else it is you would love to encourage them to do. Ours is a 2 page jargon free guide to website design that you can download from this page here.

Free Designs

Free designs can be as elaborate or simple as you like. They can be in template form or in the form of an offer, depending on how much time and effort you are prepared to give. Templates are the easiest and quickest to do as they can be made in advance.

An Informative eBook

This can be on a topic that your visitors are sure to be interested in. For instance, if you are selling cat food, an appropriate eBook could be on cat health, different types of cats or even cat training. You can put links in the eBook back to your website products, or to other websites that sell cat items, so long as they are not in direct competition to your own products.

A Fiction eBook

If you are selling fiction eBooks, offering a short fiction book is sure to be a winner with visitors to your website. It should be one that is not available anywhere else. If your books are for adults, offering a free one for their kids might work. Or you could offer another eBook that they would be interested in – this is usually a short story or novella.

A Short Email Course

If you are offering training of some kind, a short course will be the ideal free giveaway. It should contain valuable information while offering hints about how much more your training can offer them. It is easy to automate sending this course using an email responder such as Active Campaign or MailChimp (we have put more information together about these email services in a previous blog). You can offer something like one email containing tips and hints a week for 4-6 weeks. Links should go to your main course at the end of each email.

A Special Offer

Again, it totally depends on what your business is, but offering a special promotion in exchange for signing is a good idea especially if you are trying to increase sales. Whether it’s a free valuation or a 10% off coupon, you can get really creative and your potential customers will appreciate the thought.

Be Daring

Remember, the best giveaway will solve a problem for your visitors, be easy for them to follow and also remind them of your brand in the future. Doing something a little different will also get their attention, so try and be creative when brainstorming a way to get their details. Don’t forget, once you’ve got their details that’s when the real marketing fun can begin.

Its also important that your website has the latest tools to help you market your giveaway and connect your new client details directly to your email marketing program – give us a call if you would like to discuss a more connected online marketing strategy than you have today – 1300 796 771.

Customers Are on Your Website, Now What?

The Good News: you just spent money, blood, sweat and maybe a few tears getting your new website out there.

The Frustrating News: it’s like a plant, it needs to be cared for daily.

The Good News: If you’ve just refreshed it you have an outstanding chance in making it work for you, rather than the other way around.

The Important News: You need to make sure the “Now What?” question has clearly been answered. By giving a good website experience to your current and future customers you need to make sure what you get in return is useful.

Our top three suggestions for the getting the best return:

Visible Contact Phone Number

Your contact phone number should be clearly visible within one finger scroll anywhere on your website

Name and Email Only

Your website freebie (giveaway product, assessment, video, white paper) collects only requires a small amount of information to be given. We suggest first and last name and email, maybe a phone number. This dramatically increases people’s submission rate and allows you to market to them on email (which still has a great return rate – see here)

Useful Data Collection

Integrate any information you collect directly into the online sales tool you use to manage leads. If you use a particular CRM product for example then no one should have to manually add the lead to that program, it should happen automatically so you can get on with selling.

While there are many options for addressing “Now What?” in our next blog we will cover those freebies/giveaways you have on your website that reward people for sharing their contact details.

Three Things Social Media Training Must Offer You

We love stripping the jargon away from what really matters when it comes to online. We insist on leaving those terrible techie three letter acronyms checked at the door when we train our clients on to get the best out of LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube or any of the other online places that gets their business seen and heard.

We love the upsurge in training interest, people want to know and understand better what the tech buzz words of today offer them. We also know that people value their time and money and when it comes to training our clients we think these three things are a must:

1. Complete Profile Setup

– We too roll our eyes at some of the verification hoops we have to run through to get a Google Plus company profile setup, but once you have it, its worth it. Your trainer should work with you to get your setup completed with attractive images and relevant content about your company. The front door has to look good enough for people to knock, come in and take a look around and the job should not be left half done.

2. Customised Training Content

– A company selling directly to consumers is unlikely to benefit from LinkedIn the way that a business to business company will. So while it’s valuable to understand the major social media platforms, including LinkedIn, its better if the training is on a topic that will benefit you directly from day one.

3. Follow Up Support

– The downside of the boom in online help is that sometimes its hard to find what you actually need. Follow up information and advice specific to your training session will be a gentle and relevant reminder that you are empowered and that you can actually do this online marketing stuff.

Why you should use social media to your advantage is because it comes down to how best to connect to your people, and how to demonstrate that you offer value better than your competitors. The appropriate training can give you the knowledge to understand that there is is an online tool out there that will work for you and that you can take full advantage with a helping hand.

If you would like a hand please give us a call to discuss how we can customise training that works for you, 1300 796 771.

You’ve Got (to e-) Mail

When starting a small business or even when you start opening up to new marketing tactics as a business owner of old, you can be sure to hear a lot about the importance social media, SEO optimisation and the likes of Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising.  While each of these marketing strategies can hold their own, nothing will do as well as marketing to people who have: a) already purchased your product or b) signed up to your email database. Why? Because these people are opting to hear from you. They are choosing in a world full of advertising to hear more from your business. Now that’s special. How you talk to the people who want to hear from you is a whole different ball game and to do it well, you need an email marketing platform that you can rely on.

Email Marketing is relatively low cost in comparison to other marketing strategies, it is also simple to set up and most services make it easy to measure and tweak your email campaigns in order for you to see the best results. But how on earth do you choose which platform to choose?

We have done a quick comparison below of the three main platforms used in Australia covering three important areas:

  1. a) Ease of Use
  2. b) Campaign Analytics &
  3. c) API Friendliness (which basically means which other digital platforms the software can sync to).

We will rate each area out of 5 stars and then it’s up to you to choose which one suits your needs more.

Mailchimp

Mailchimp is up there with the most popular Email Marketing software in the world. The main reason for Mailchimp’s worldwide popularity is simply because of its – simplicity. The interface is clean, has lots of walkthrough tours and provides heaps of ready to go email templates – which is great news for the non-technical folk.

For all you ‘show me the statistics’ people out there, as far as who’s opened it, who’s clicked it, who’s forwarded it, who’s ignored it and which subject line did better- Mailchimp can tell you a lot. What’s even better? Is that you don’t need a marketing degree to interpret the statistics available to you. Which means you can actually work towards improving the results by tweaking your email strategies.

Due to the wide reach of Mailchimp the list of app integration is phenomenal. I dare you to try and find an app that does not sync with Mailchimp. Even if you find one, it won’t be long until they’ve included it.

So as far as our little rating system goes this is how Mailchimp has scored:

Ease of Use: 4 Stars

Campaign Statistics: 4 Stars

API Friendliness: 5 Stars

 

Vision 6

Next up, Vision 6. This one is a little smaller in terms of reach in comparison to Mailchimp and Active Campaign, but that’s because it’s an Australian company. But never fear, this Brisbane based e-messaging platform can stand on its own two feet in the international email marketing game.

What makes Vision 6 alluring for Australian businesses, is that their servers are all hosted right here in Brisbane. For businesses that hold sensitive data this is a big plus and certainly make for a lot less risk. Being based in Australia has other perks too, the same time zone (most of the year), support that is easy to understand as well as if required potential face to face training and sales help.

As far as Ease of Use is concerned, Vision 6 have a done a lot in the past couple of years to come to the party. They have created more email templates, have greater support options available and have video training tutorials at the ready.

And what about Campaign Analytics? Well, the features here for Vision 6 don’t leap out with anything too original, but that’s not too much of a worry as it does provide you with what you need to call some e-marketing shots. As with Mail Chimp, the opens, clicks, bounce rates and click maps are all here.

Vision 6 were clever enough to partner with Zapier which basically means the platform can integrate with almost every web app. It’s easy to move data between them and automate the stuff you don’t want to do or don’t have time to do.

So here’s the verdict for Vision 6:

Ease of Use: 3 Stars

Campaign Statistics: 4 Stars

API Friendliness: 5 Stars

 

Active Campaign

Last but certainly not least, say hello to Active Campaign. Although Active Campaign is certainly an email platform, it offers its difference by realising the importance of knowing as much as you can about your customers. Active Campaign uniquely combines its email marketing software with that of an integrated CRM that can track what your customers get up to on your website and when. Thus helping you identify which emails to send and when.

While these bonus features of Active Campaign are super awesome, if we are to compare apples with apples, in this article we will continue with our focus of ease of use, campaign metrics and API integration.

Active Campaign also has a wide range of templates to use and offers certain fail safes to help you from losing work that was unintentional (helpful for beginners). Although Active Campaign is relatively straight forward, it could do with a bit of TLC in the intuitive design department as seemingly natural shortcuts and user experience features somewhat lack.

Campaign Measurement is where Active Campaign shines. Lots of clear tools that demonstrate where your customers have opened, clicked and bounced but also with the added transparency that tracks where your customers go on your website! Pretty cool huh?

As with both Mailchimp and Vision 6, API integration has never been easier with Zapier. You won’t even need a developer to hook up the apps you need. So it’s a 3 way tie as far as API friendliness is concerned.

So let’s get out the measuring tape and see how Active Campaign shaped up:

Ease of Use: 3 Stars

Campaign Statistics: 5 Stars

API Friendliness: 5 Stars

 

So, as the results get tallied you can see that it’s a relatively close game! Mailchimp and Active Campaign tied and Vision 6 was only one point behind. But what really matters when choosing which platform to go with is what your business needs most.

Mailchimp: 13 points

Active Campaign: 13 points

Vision 6: 12 points

 

Most importantly, you need to comfortable and understand the software you choose to implement- especially if you’re the one who has to do the set-up and the emailing. Like we said, the three platforms we have compared each have their merits, and you will not be disappointed with any of them no matter which one you choose. Worse-case scenario, if you don’t like the one you end up going with- change. Simple as that.

Now go forth and start email marketing, we know you won’t look back.

 

Set-up a Business PayPal Account and Start Selling Sooner

Starting a business can be one of the most exciting times of your life. Sure, it can be a little stressful but most of the time you will undoubtedly experience a thrill that can be hard to explain at dinner parties but gives you the rush to keep everything on your ‘to-do’ list moving.

Running your business comes with many decisions that you will need to make and chances are you will need an easy and reliable way to invoice your customers and/or clients. Offering a trustworthy payment method makes using your business that much easier for your customers, so it’s important to get it right.

If the above description has hit the nail on the head, then you don’t need to look much further than PayPal. PayPal is quick, provides lots of online tools, is trusted and most importantly- it’s available anywhere you have access to WIFI. PayPal has come a long way in recent years and is not just used for safely purchasing items of eBay – contrary to popular belief.

Follow the below guide to learn just how easy it is to set up a PayPal account for your business.

Step 1: Create your PayPal account
Setting up your PayPal account is quick and easy. It’s free to sign up, it doesn’t matter which account you select. PayPal generally runs by accepting commissions for all payments you receive as well as currency conversion fees.

Step 2 – Start your Application

To continue with the set-up of your PayPal account, PayPal asked for quite a few details to verify your business and the individuals associated with it. There is nothing to worry about here, it is just one of the many ways PayPal can keep to their commitment of providing a safe place for transactions – for all parties involved.

The below are the type of details you need to provide and have ready to create your Paypal Account (PayPal may at times require further details):

Personal information:

  • Your address
  • Your full name
  • Your email address
  • Your phone numbers

 

Business information:

  • The address of your primary place of business and registered office (if applicable).
  • How your business is structured (e.g. sole trader, proprietary company, etc).
  • The Website Address or Facebook Web Address
  • ABN and/or ACN
  • Legal business name and trading name (if applicable)

 

Business contacts details:

  • Names of any applicable business contacts (e.g. company directors, chairpersons, treasurer, secretary, etc).
  • Names and addresses for any beneficial owners.
  • Names, addresses and dates of birth for any partners.
  • Name, address and date of birth of the primary authorised user of the account

 

If you’re applying on behalf of a trust, PayPal will also need:

  • Trust name and type
  • Details of the trust beneficiaries.
  • A copy of the trust deed. (PayPal will ask for this once your application has been accepted)

 

Once you have filled out all of the above details, you just need to accept and agree to PayPal’s User Agreement, Privacy Policy, Combined Financial Services Guide and any other incorporated policies. These policies may be updated at times, and PayPal will send you an email communication to let you know.

Your PayPal account has been successfully created.

Once you have completed the above mentioned steps, you can use your account straight away and this means you can begin immediately customising your PayPal payment preferences.

How do you want to receive payments?

PayPal has several options to choose from. You can choose one, or you choose them all. Choosing the right method will open up features that will most suit the type of business activities you will be conducting. PayPal is also very helpful and point you to the option/s that suit you most and you can always change your preferences at any time if your business circumstances change.

The options include:

  • On your website
  • With online invoicing
  • On eBay
  • In person

To finalise your set-up there are some more things you need to do but are all quite simple and easy to manage with a little bit of quiet time and a cup of tea at hand. You don’t need to do them all at once but it is good to get them out of the way so you don’t need to worry about it later on.

Things to note to finalise your business set-up:

  • You will need to confirm your email address – head over to your inbox and click the provided link. If there is no email there, check your Spam Folder (You will need to confirm this before you can accept payments).
  • Link your bank accounts – link your bank account so your PayPal account knows where to send money when you wish to withdraw or make payments.
  • PayPal may initially limit the amount of money you can transfer from your PayPal account until you’ve verified your linked bank account or credit card, so it’s a good idea to do this as soon as you can.
  • Make your business name clear for customers. In your account set up, you can add your logo as well name your PayPal account that your customers will recognise on their bank statements as well as in their email invoices.

 

Setting up your PayPal may be a daunting concept but it really is a simple process that’s very much worthwhile. It’s important to remember that PayPal is a big enterprise and is trusted by millions of people all over the world so there are lots of resources and help available if you need it.

 

 

Resist the Urge to Save

We’re a nation of contrarians, we don’t like to be told what to do. So if the government says spend because of generous tax breaks, we shout “Save!” But maybe we’re shouting save and thinking…SPEND!

Tax deductions are always attractive and this year the carrot is shiny and sweet, so if you’ve got spending on the mind then consider these technology investments:

1. Upgraded Point of Sale units – if you have POS cash registers connected to the internet then there is always a risk of viruses but most importantly, just like upgrading a laptop you need to consider the main point of receipting cash and credit cards and then consider an upgrade today. We’re big fans of – Ordermate they just get customers and on the plus side your eCommerce website integrates directly to the POS for seamless ordering and monitoring of your profits.

2. Tablet – Your kid has one, so why shouldn’t you start using the ultimate in flexible technology that acts as a fantastic sales tool? Why wait to show your customer your goods when you can hand over your new, pixel perfect tablet and they can scroll through themselves. As a aside, how is your website looking on the tablet these days?

3. Mobile – Tablets are sales tools, mobiles are the productive-you tool. Tech changes so quickly in this space so don’t wait any longer to change out to a mobile phone that can act as a mini-office in your pocket. The statistics for users viewing your website only through mobile phone browsing are approaching 50% of the browsing public and will only continue to grow, how is that site looking on your phone?

Ok so we violated the “Don’t Tell Us What to Do!” rule but even though we don’t think Gerry Harvey needs more money we do like the focus on technology to sharpen your business model so think about it, but not for too long.