Category Archives: Internet Marketing

Visitor Value and Bounce Rates for Local SEO

Visitor Value and Bounce Rates for Local SEO.

When it’s all said and done, the ultimate score card in a  SEO program (or web visibility program) is quality visits on your site. Those being visits that result in some predetermined action on the visitors part.

1 + 1 = 2Actions might include a request for an appointment, request for more information, to be added to your newsletter, downloading a free piece in exchange for their email address, and many other possible desired results from the visitor to your site.

This is where bounce rate can be a very interesting factor.

It’s clear that the higher the bounce rate on a site, the less valuable the overall visitor traffic is (with some exceptions).  But you need to know how valuable your quality visitors are to understand how your site is performing.

That’s why we use a visitor value formula to determine the quality of traffic to a website, as well as the standard formula which is just actions as a percentage of total visitors.

The reason we look at it this way, is your site may be attracting a large number of visitors from searches or referral sites that are unintended traffic. You can’t control what odd terms Google may rank your site for if you didn’t pay very close attention from day one of the loading of your site online. So after a few years, you may be seeing a group of traffic that has low value, and is very difficult to manage.

This is Important! >>>>>
This is Important! >>>>>

An example of this is we have a client that ranked on the first page of Google for the term glass bar, and a third of the sites traffic came from searches for, you guessed it, “glass bar”.  They don’t sell glass bars. They just happen to have a picture of one on the site that had that term in the alt. tag.    So it’s not really fair to calculate those visits into a value visit. And because the vast majority of those visits end up as bounces, you will get a better picture of how a site is converting visitors (who find the site through the intended search terms or categories) by weeding the visitors who bounce out.

It’s pretty simple, and can change your perception of how your site is performing.

Calculate Value Visitors

Take your gross number of visitors in a given period (week, month, year).  Reduce it by your bounce rate percentage,  then use that number to calculate the conversion percentage for your site.  That being the number of value visits that end up taking an action. This is the number that you want to see as high as possible, and will vary depending on the action you are calculating, and the industry you are in.  For many of our clients we would like to see a 7% to 10% value conversion of the “value visitors”  and for this purpose won’t pay much attention to the gross number of visitors or the conversion percentage associated with that group.

Lets use  a simple and real example of two sites looking for the same result  (A request for information) with the numbers adjusted to make the math easier but still reflective of the real numbers.

Site 1.1 + 1 = 2

Visitors per month. 300

Bounce rate  is 15%.    Value visits = 255

Requests for Info is  20 which is 8%  of value visits.

This site is hitting it’s goal of converting value visits into actions.  And also has a very good over all bounce rate, indication that the content and web visibility program is doing it’s job.   To be honest, we’d like to see a higher bounce rate with  more traffic. Maybe the SEO is to focused and not casting a wide enough net.

Site 2.

Visitors per month 1000

Bounce rate is 60%. Value Visits = 400 or 40%

Requests for information is 16 which is  4% of value visits.

This site has good traffic numbers, but isn’t converting as well even for the “value visitors”. In this case you need to ask:  why aren’t we getting visitors who stay on the site and view several pages, to take an action?  There can be many causes, page design, no call to actions, content geared towards education and not conversions and many more.

With site number 2, the cause is actually pretty interesting. This site’s center piece is a fairly advanced cost calculator,  that is intended to “weed out” prospects who don’t have the budget, or are looking for a low cost company. So in this case, even some of those “value visitors” are not the ones we want to take an action, and therefore a 4% conversion is doing it’s job.

Okay… I m started to feel like Vizzini in the Princess bride, so I will end this for the moment.

If you would like more information on how to determine how your website is performing give us a call, or feel out the contact form below. We offer free 30 minute consultations.

Mike Bayes

720-254-1234
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SEO Is Just A Google Popularity Contest

Search Engine Optimization is a Google Popularity Contest. (Updated 02-20-15)

Last week I was asked by a new client “Is search engine optimization really that hard?”… Well… no.

Either is building a house, or running a restaurant, or installing I.T. networks or fixing your car. But in each of those cases most people call a “professional “.  The last time I put a new battery in my car I scraped my hands, and lost a nut in the motor, as well as a piece of the wrench I had borrowed to do the job. (That’s a true story). Yes, I am not a mechanic.

To understand what S.E.O. is about you need to think of your web site as a high school kid who wants to be popular.  Because that’s really what SEO is… making your site popular in search results.

Make your site attractive

 

Shovi Websites   Full Service Web Design   Email MarketingSEO is really a popularity contest. Your site needs to get Google’s (and Bing’s) attention. So, just like in high school the popular kids (as I recall) are attractive, unique, and stand for something.  That’s what Google wants in your site. It should be built attractively with out a bunch of nonsense and clutter. Well organized and very clear about what the contents are about.  In S.E.O. we call this part – on site optimization.  And without it, nothing else is going to help your site win a popularity contest.

Get other Sites Attracted to your site (Play match maker)

Google needs to see that not only are you all of that, but other sites are attracted to you. The more sites that Google thinks are attracted to you the better. Then of course, Google does have some standards of who they deem popular, so they want to know that the sites that you are attracting (based on what your site is about) are also popular and trusted sites. These sites are need to be relevant to your site.

So the more friends (other sites) you have (linking or mentioning you) the more popular your site will be in search results. And those “friends” need to be popular and trusted, as well.

Host the party! Get invited to the events!

If you get all that going for you, they also want to see that you are social.  I mean, you can not be popular if you are not social right?  So hanging out on Google Plus, Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, and other social networks is good.  And the rules about Google liking your site then apply to how impressed they are by your social activity.  Who comes to your party, and do they like your party.

Be the Quarterback! Attract a crowd!

 

So is your site the high school Quarterback or Cheer leader?  Or is it the chess club member?  Or is it like I was in high school?  I hung out with just about every group, got invited to a few social events, and spent most my time playing guitar in a garage with 3 or 4 other almost invisible kids.  In the world of Google and search you want your site to be the Quarterback, or Class president.  Every one knows what it stands for, it’s attractive has many

Untitled design (6)

Friends, and is invited and does host lot’s of social events.

Now once your site is attracting the right friends, Google wants to see if they stick around at your “party” or just check it out and leave.  If your site visitors like your site, they’ll stay for awhile, and you won’t see them jumping over to other sites like yours because you have given them what they want to see.

See… it’s easy!  Professionals just know more about how to make a site more appealing to the robots and public, and they know how and where to get the attention of all the other sites that you want to like you.

So as you contemplate all of this, remember,  it starts with your site. Good content that addresses the questions and the curiosity of your visitors.  If you are talking to a SEO firm that isn’t focused on all of the above, and your sites content, your talking to the wrong folks in 2015.

If I can help you with your sites popularity please call me for a free consultation.  303 500 3053 ext 1

Mike Bayes

What’s Your Business Worth?

Answer: Two times cash flow plus or minus some other factors.

You can skip the rest of the blog if that’s the answer you were looking for. Or another formula is, 25% or so of the monthly cash flow multiplied by 60 months. That’s a new formula I just heard of yesterday that makes so much sense it’s crazy! I’ll give you the explanation I heard from Mark Doran ( a client and old friend) who has been a business broker in Denver since 1984

Here’s the background on why I am writing this today.

When it comes to selling a business, there are a bunch of differe
factors. I have had the pleasure (cough) of buying three businesses in my life with values under
$500,000.00 And if you speak with an experienced and honest Business Broker (not that those two attributes are easy to find together in that trade) they will tell you that is about the value of businesses they are going to sell the most.

Why? Because there are an abundant supply of buyers for your business when the price is below $450,000 or so, and they can write a check for half of it and carry the rest. But, when the price starts creeping into the $600,000 or more range, the number of buyers will decrease until you make it well into the area that a corporation may be interested in buying you.

So how do you price your business? When is it to big to sell? When is the right time to sell?

I just had a meeting with a client and another client who is a business broker in Denver, Choicebizops.com . We wanted to understand how they could continue to build their business to maximize the purchase price when it’s time to sell. This is a process I encourage all my clients to go through. The truth is, some day you won’t want to continue running your business due to boredom, retirement, other opportunities, or you’ve just had enough.

So, understanding how to maximize the value of your business is fundamental in running your business. Every decision you make will have an affect on what your business may sell for if
you’re being smart.

There are certain characteristics of a “sellable” business. First it has to be priced correctly.
Second, people don’t buy jobs. Meaning if you are trying to sell a business that the buyers can go get a job and make the same money, without putting out a high risk investment in the tune of $100,000 to $300,000 cash, why would they. Seriously, don’t flatter yourself, your business isn’t that exciting. If they are going to make $95,000 a year owning your businesses, and they currently make $100,000, or have that ability, good luck. Not going to happen often.

Now, if your business can provide the same buyer with a $225,000 a year cash flow, and it’s a better lifestyle than working for a boss, now you have something to sell.

Another principle is you, as the current owner can not be irreplaceable to the day to day function.
(This is of course is in the view of the buyer). You need to be closer to a CEO role than a mid level management role. This can be really hard. But it’s true. If you are making most of your dollars based on you selling, or you being the production person, you may have trouble. If your primary function is leadership, oversight, and senior level, you’re in much better shape. Few will pay $400,000. for a business that they have to answer the phones, and clean the toilets.

There certainly are more characteristics, but lets move on a bit.

So whats the value of your business?

Start with this. Take your cash flow (that’s basically every dollar that you get, one way or another, through owning the business. So your salary, your distributions, your profit, and other little expense items that in fact could be considered income. If that number is $150,000 to $250,000 or so, you may be in the sweet spot. If it’s above that, and lets say $400,000 or above
you may be pricing yourself out of the market. Not that you can’t sell it, there are just fewer buyers for those earning numbers.

Here’s another way to view what your business is worth. This isn’t your accountants formula, this is the best real life view of a small business’s value I have ever heard, and it came from Mark Doran owner of Choice Business Opportunities yesterday.

This is the premise. Most sales of a small business will have terms of 50% cash (ish) and 50% carry for 3 to 5 years for the seller. So the new owner will be paying the seller a monthly sum equal to the carry amount divided by the number of months.

So here’s an example. You sell for $400,000 because you have a $200,000 annual cash flow) you take $200,000 down and carry the rest for 4 years, which is 48 months. So the new owner will be paying you $4167.00 a month to pay off the note. Their monthly cash flow starts at $16667. a month. So there is a very comfortable “cushion” between those two numbers.

With this formula (which will come out to the same amount as the 2 times cash flow) your business is worth about 25% of monthly cash flow times 48 ( may be up to 60 depending on stuff) times 2.

So if your monthly cash flow is $15,000. 25% is $3750.00. Use that and multiple time 48 and you have $180,000 and multiple times 2 and you have your estimated value of $360,000 for a business that cash flows out to $180,000. a year. Hmmm looks like 2 times cash flow.

If your monthly cash flow is $6,000, 25% is $1500 multiplied times 48 is $72,000, multiplied times 2 is $144000.00 value. Two times cash flow
The reason this formula is important is, if you are going to carry 50% (or whatever amount) of the purchase price, you want the buyer to have enough monthly cash flow to be able to pay you, and get through what ever tough periods they run into. And new business owners often will see some revenue bumps as they get behind the wheel. The last thing you want is to take back a crumbling business, or have a buyer who can not pay back what you carried.

So why carry any of it? Because you almost have to. Few buyers won’t want the seller to have skin in the game, and banks rarely will loan money on a small business sale. So let this point sink in, you will in all likelihood be carrying a loan for the buyer.

And finally, why is this important in your day to day life? Some of it is simple, this is why you do all that heavy lifting building a business. This is the pay off some day. If you plan for it, and make decisions based on a certain targeted cash flow, total revenue, and business structure you are far more likely to get there, and not overshot the goal, or have a harsh reality hit when for some unknown reason you decide to sell. Another good idea is that when you are a few years out from selling, all new revenue to your bottom line is worth double when you sell! If you can add $40,000 in cash flow, you’ll see an additional $80,000. in the selling price. <<<<<<<<<<<<<<

So investments in marketing programs that work, make even more sense as you begin the thought process of selling. SEO, advertising, sales help, all can be a huge return during that period.

Although the meeting I spoke of yesterday was only an hour and some minutes, I could write a book on what we heard and learned about selling a business. Needless to say, everything in this post is my non professional opinion, and just what I thought I heard. Some is from the practical experience of buying 3 small businesses in my life as well, but if you are looking to sell, get to a well qualified experienced business broker. If you are on Denver or Colorado, I’d clearly recommend my client.

Marketing and sales is a part of every decision you make as a business owner in one way or another. That’s what makes our service unique. How many marketing, or SEO’s have asked you about your exit plan, and helped you understand what it takes to sell your business when it’s time?

By: Mike Bayes.


 

Why SEO Programs Fail So Often.

Why SEO Programs Fail So Often.

It’s math.  Really, think about the numbers for a minute.

Lets say you are an accountant that offers bookkeeping and tax preparation.  You want to get into one of the top 3 ranking spots on Google for “bookkeeping (in your city)”.

1 + 1 = 2

Why one of the top 3 spots ? Because those are the positions that will actually deliver traffic. The rest will at best bring in a dribble of visitors.

Okay, so how many businesses in your city offer bookkeeping (or whatever you do). ? Maybe 500 have web sites that google has indexed. So your odds start at 1 in 167 that you will be in one of the top spots. Based on that it’s not a bet you want to take.  And these numbers don’t even start weighing in the advantages many websites have over yours before you even get to the starting line, such as, the fact they have had a site indexed and well-respected by Google for maybe 10 years.  Huge advantage to the competitor here.

Now, how many of those other businesses have used an SEO or worked on their site to improve its ranking or traffic? I don’t have the answer to that, so lets just assume that all the other 499 business owners receive just as many emails and phone calls about Google rankings as you do every month, and that they, like you, eventually will give in to the constant buzz and give it a go.

The point being, a bunch of your competitors have already made the original journey down the SEO path, and in maybe 200 of 203 cases are NOT in the top three.  Also add in the reasonable assumption that the businesses currently on the first page, and especially in the top positions, have a good SEO firm they have been working with for years.

One of those 200 is most likely the one I will here from to get help. Why?  Because I rarely work with a business who hasn’t tried SEO, and realized all the unfulfilled promises. They’ve spent  $350 to $500 or more for a year with the constant hope that traffic and sales will start coming, and yet, very little has. Why?  Because of the numbers I just mentioned (the odds), the inherent disadvantages their site had to start and needed to overcome, and possible a SEO firm that was overly optimistic based on 1 or 2 success stories they are part of in an unrelated Industry to yours a few years ago.

Hey…  if you track rankings like we do, you will notice something incredible important.  Rankings don’t change much, or quickly for the top ranked sites under competitive keywords (and this seems to hold even more true for “local” sites).

So, now you have a sense for why most SEO programs fail to delivery the anticipated results. My intent here believe it or not, isn’t

 

to dissuade you from engaging in a SEO program, it is to simply educate you on the odds of success.  There truly are real opportunities to leverage your web site as a lead generating and prospect conversion tool using SEO and other marketing programs, you just need to understand the odds, and be prepared to face those odds with an experience partner, who has proven results as well as utilizing other forms of traffic generation for your site, of which there are many, and some that you may find a far better investment in the beginning as you build a long-term SEO program.


 


Mike Bayes

 

 

 

Is Local SEO The Right Tactic? Only When You Do Ready Right.

Ready Aim Fire. If you do ready right, the rest will fall into place.

I’ve worked with 100’s of businesses on marketing and sales campaigns, and I have time and time again found that mid market and small business owners have a tendency to approach new sales and marketing campaigns based on what marketing companies, or other business owners suggest or steer them to. This of course can be a disaster. Here’s why.

Add text

Lets say Jim owns a Auto supply company, and is in the same networking group as Mark, who owns a semi truck mobile repair business. They get along well, and one day Jim mentions that his local SEO campaign has brought in a ton of business, and Mark likes what he hears.

 

So, Mark calls Jims local SEO company to find out more.  The sales representative does a fine job of using all the current Internet vernacular and quotes the normal research on how “people” use the Internet to buy stuff, and that Jim is not taking advantage of this gold mine. Well, heck, it worked for Jim,  maybe it is a good idea.

You see all the issues already I am sure, but I am telling you almost half of the business owners I speak with found me through this type path, and would be an easy sell, if I ddidn’treally have their best interest at heart, or was just so inexperienced that I thought one tactic fits all.

The truth is you have to have a prospect that is online and searching for your service for any SEO to make sense.  So in Mark’s case, I would ask this question first, and if he didn’t have the answer I would say – let’s figure that out before we waste a lot of time and money.

The question is, where do your prospects find services like yours?  Now, having worked with a mobile semi truck repair business, I have pretty good insight into this, and it’s NOT through internet searches. I won’t go on how that buyer finds those services, because every industry and business is different.  It’s the question and answer for your business that counts.

So,  Mark was using the AIM FIRE approach.  The problem is he would be aiming in the wrong direction, because he wasn’t ready. Ready means doing enough research and analysis to understand where you need to be to be found by a prospect.

Abe Lincoln was quoted as saying if he had 8 hours to cut down a tree, he would spend 7 hours sharpening the blade.

If you do ready right, the rest will fall into place.

So you may asked, why don’t marketers and salespeople suggest more “ready” solutions, like research, before they make a suggestion. I assume its one of several things.  They don’t have a ready solution to sell, or they make their money selling what they sell so a ready solution would kill the sale because they are afraid that the research of thought process will end up pointing a different direction than what they offer. Or..

young sales professionals often just don’t have the experience to understand this. Their trained to sell a product, not assess its value.

Take your budget for the next month or two, and spend it on research and analysis just like the really large companies do. They do it for a reason, it just makes sense.

I’ll go into more detail on how and what research and thought process you can use to get ready, and have a successful campaign in the next few blogs.  Until then, don’t FIRE until you are ready.

Mike Bayes

 

Google Hang Outs Now Available From Your Web Site

This is Important! >>>>>
This is Important! >>>>>
Google disrupts customer service industry

Did Google just disrupt the disruptors?  The
 tech giant recently announced that it is 
offering the technology for a button that will launch a Google hangout directly from a 
company website.  

 Hangouts is Google's name for its 
videoconferencing service that allow several 
people to join the same video chat from multiple devices, including smartphones. 

  A related service, Hangouts on Air, allows a video conference to be recorded directly to 
Youtube.   Originally a part of its Google+ 
social network, it has since spun off into a standalone service.  

The service was announced on the official 
enterprise blog for Google posted by Stephen 
Cho, Head of Google Apps and Hangouts Technology Partnerships  "With this new Hangouts 
button, apps everywhere will let colleagues, 
partners, and customers meet face-to-face
 anytime, anywhere, and work more effectively together with just one click" Cho explained, "A number of our early partners have already 
enriched their applications with Hangouts".   He specifically mentioned several of their 
partners in the sales and customer service space, "Sales reps working in Salesforce.com can automatically kick off a Hangout with their 
account team through Esna; in myERP, a sales 
rep can start a video meeting with any 
customer prospect.    Zendesk helps support
 agents start a Hangout to consult with other agents and internal staff, while Freshdesk lets a customer service agent Hangout with a customer to quickly resolve support issues".

The hangout start button can be configured by any moderately skilled developer and let you 
specify if it starts up a text chat, a video 
call, a video conference or a recorded on Hangout on Air.   Since the customer has control
 of their own camera settings, this 
essentially allows for deployment of an Amazon Mayday- like customer service button on any 
website or app allowing customers to see and 
communicate with the representative, whether they are using their video camera or not.

It seems that Google has once again put a 
disruptive game-changer on the market.   
As described by the CITEworld blog  
http://goo.gl/KlurVp "Pretty much everybody 
has access to Google Hangouts, and Google is
 letting anybody embed the button. Obviously, you lose some of the really deep functionality for customer service agents to go hands-on 
with customers that Salesforce offers, but 
it's definitely more lightweight and almost 
certainly easier to deploy in an application. 

  There's a move towards using collaboration 
and chat technology for better customer 
service. It's going to be really interesting 
to see if Google Hangouts gets further built
 out as an enterprise offering with that kind of service as the focus".

What will this free application do to the 
large number of startups and small software 
companies have developed similar fee-based 
applications?   No one really knows, but the 
news can't be good.   They will likely either have to either adjust and offer more value
 added services, or incorporate the technology into their own offering.   Clearly this is a development in the customer service technology industry that cannot be ignored.

Companies like www.teledini.com, a client of 
ours seem to like the news.  It will bring 
further viability to WebRTC  and Video applications.

Want To Sell More? Look To Product Development First

Sales is not about convincing people who do not want your service to buy it. Sales is about finding the people who do want your service and letting them buy it.

Odd that this premise is so overlooked in business. I’ve worked with 100’s of small and medium business owners or senior managers who really didn’t get this. And it can be a fatal flaw to a company.

Sales

There is a complete misunderstanding of what a salesperson/group/ division is capable of. I’ve worked with owners of multimillion dollar companies, who really think the simple act of hiring a professional sales person means that sales person should now be able to convert most (or at least a decent amount) of prospects by using the magic they have learned throughout their career, no matter how good a fit the service or product is, no matter the position of the product in the marketplace, no matter the branding of the product. In the mind of the less informed, a sales rep can sell anything.

Add to that the natural and common tendency for owners to have a higher regard for their offering than the market itself, as well as the common optimistic early sales projections and outlook communicated by the new sales force, and you have a disaster waiting to happen.

I should note that I have worked with sales people who can sell anything, but they are very rare, and they generally produce much lower customer loyalty. Perhaps these are the salespeople owners are thinking of when their expectations are that a “sales person” can sell anything.

The solution is a well thought out sales and marketing assessment before you go and buy the farm. And this is tricky, because the reality is marketing is primarily responsible for identifying the target market (People who will like your service) finding out how to reach them , and then attracting them to your sales group or funnel.

Yet most companies I have worked with don’t have a budget or an understanding of how these two key disciplines must work together to achieve success. So they put all their dollars in one or the other, or severely under budget one.

So if you buy into this premise, the fundamental success of sales for you company starts with product development. A good sales rep can’t sell a product that is hard to use, or poorly designed. A good sales rep can sell a product that is easy to use, and has a clear advantage for their target market.

So working relentlessly on improving what you sell, will do more for driving sales than anything else you can do.

After that, you must have a marketing machine to get the service in view of the right buyers. Once that is accomplished, sales comes into play. Sales is the last piece of the sales process, following product development and improvement and then marketing.

So if you’re struggling with sales, perhaps where you should be looking for answers is in your product or service offering, or are you asking your salesperson to be both your marketing department and sales department.

By: Mike Bayes

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Lead Generation Is Easy (Not)

Building a Lead Generation Program Is Easy (NOT).

So… I’m asked all the time how to build sales for a business. Should I do Social Media, SEO, Advertising, Direct sales, all of that.

I think the first point to start with any “sales” program is the understanding of one very important principle. So to get to that lets start with this question which is this: Sales starts with and goes no where without what?

There are many good answers to this, you might say..

– A great product, – A sales person, – An offer, – Marketing dollars, and on and on.

But the pragmatic answer is this: Sales go nowhere without “leads”. A lead is a business or person who has been qualified as a prospect AND expressed interest in what ever it is you sale.

This is Important! >>>>>
This is Important! >>>>>

Lead Generation is hard

Now here is the second principle you must understand….Lead Generation is hard, expensive, and can be very painful. That’s why “inbound Marketing” has become such a big tactic. Inbound marketing whispers the promise of easy leads being sent to your inbox, ready for your sales rep to close.

The mistake in this concept is that Inbound Marketing is HARD, expensive and can be painful. like any other form of lead generation, it just has a prettier face.

So if you want to build sales, you have to understand, it’s going to either cost money, or it’s going to take all your time (if you’re a small company).

How much money depends on your service or product, and market. To get the picture on how you should budget (or spend) on sales (and 30% to 50% of that should be in lead generation) you need to understand there are different type sales strategies and customers. Depending on your growth strategy, and your tactics have a everything to do with the cost.

If you’re in a sustain mode, relying on referrals and luck, then your budget is tiny because it costs very little to acquire referred customers.

If you want new “open market” customers, that’s a completely new game. And these new customers are your growth group. You have to sell to them in a completely different way. They don’t know you, so you have to establish trust in the relationship. That takes time and money.

So here is a simple formula you might consider. A new market customer will cost you at least 15% of your Gross revenue. So if you sell $2500. Web sites, a new market customer will cost $325. Also understand that that’s 15% of a new sale, not 15% of your gross revenue. If your revenue is evenly split between referred customers and open market customers (a nice healthy mix), your budget is 7.5% of all revenue. That’s why the first few years of a business is so tough! Your cost of sale is twice to three times what your established competitions is.

The thing that really stops most companies from investing that 15% is the fact that it’s money up front, and it takes time to get the return. If you want 10 new customers in a quarter (or a day, its all just math) you are going to have to invest $3250.00 , it may take 6 months to see the total first stage results (First stage is the original prospect buys, second stage is when they refer others).

So if you have an ongoing program, you’re into the budget $3250 time 6 months before the first months return is final. Ouch! That’s why most start up sales programs don’t have a positive return until the 9th month.

if you do it wrong (which is easy to do) it’s throwing your money away. So you can start to see the pain… it’s hard, and it’s temporarily expensive. Not only that, but if you do it wrong (which is easy to do) it’s throwing your money away. And the first way to do it wrong is by NOT focusing on lead generation first.

For small companies without a sales department or person, you are going to have to outsource your lead generation. Sorry, no choice if you want to grow. You’re also going to need to put some dollars into it. So if you don’t have 15% of the expected new revenue ready to spend, your not ready. If you want to add $1,000,000.00 in sales in the next 3 to 12 months, you need $150,000.00 in funds. Sorry, that’s the truth. And of that 30% to 50% should be in lead generation.

The bottom line in a successful lead generation campaign is this: If you don’t have the money, it’s not going to work 95% of the time.

So if you do have the money or time where should you spend it for the best return on Investment? Well, that’s a whole new subject, which I will write about soon. But, here’s a big hint, you should start with Lead Generation.

You can generate leads with:

Social media campaigns managed by a professional firm with a great track record.

• Search Engine Optimization
• Email campaigns that drive qualified prospects to euth your site, or your online presentations
• Advertising on any media
• Trade shows
• Direct sales
• Co-op marketing
• Networking
• Referral programs

And a bunch of other tactics. All of which, falls under business development, because any of those tactics have to be implemented well, and will need to be integrated with other parts of your business to be successful.

That’s what I do with companies. What I call business development. And that starts with assessing budgets, strategies and tactics to be uses, and finding decent measurement metrics and tools.

It’s hard, it’s expensive, and it’s painful at times. It’s also the way 95% of businesses grow, and owners become wealthy.

Your choice is to recognize the challenges, and do nothing, or boldly go where few small businesses go, which is find the money and courage to grow.

Monthly SEO Check and Web Presence maintenance

Monthly SEO Check and Web Presence maintenance.

From time to time we are asked what we do monthly to check on a web sites SEO status. So, instead of boring you with a narrative I thought we would just post some of the instructions I give to our SEO people. It’s in no way completely inclusive, but if you want to D.I.Y this is a good guide.

On Site:Home Page and Main keyword page.

- Meta Tags:  The Title and Description

Google Web Toolkit

  • Does it contain the keyword(s))

  • Does one of the two contain a local intent keyword if a local company.

  • Find the meta tags by right clicking on a blank part of the page. Click on “page source”  A new page will open.

- Does the home page have a G+ icon that goes to the business G+ profile?

If not, refer them to this link on how to add a business page: http://www.google.com/+/business/

Mention that when the Business profile is complete, they should add the G+ badge to their home page. Instructions are in the G+ business page information.

- Does the home page have at least one out bound (external Link) to a high authority site? Example:  Check our B.B.B. ratings and a link to their B.B.B. page

- Does the site have good quality content?

Google 貼牌冰箱(Google Refrigerator)

Internal pages should be added from time to time, and a page from the main navigation should have at least 700 + words.  The information should be useful and well written.

- Does the site have a Blog?  If yes, is there new valuable content on the blog? Are blog titles used that will be easy for the search engines to identify what the blog post is about. Are they using a SEO plug in for a word press blog.

- No blog?  Add one. They can pay content writers to produce blogs. (average cost $70 to $129.00) or write their own.

Site Structure: Is the navigation clear and using a silo system for main search topics ?

Site Load Time:Does the site load in an acceptable time.  Check GWT  for speed test.

NAP (Name, Address, Phone)

Does the site clearly display the local businesses Name address and phone number on the homepage and contact form.  Suggest they use http://schema.org  mark up for their address. Their web master can do this very quickly.

If its a local company are they using a local number? Add one if they are using a n 800 number.

Google Web Master: Is there a current site map on G.A.?

Reputation Management:

Search for business name on Google.

Check all first page results for any positive or negative reviews.

Here’s what you find under My One Call LLC

What ever review sites show up (Google, Yelp, Youtube)  you should encourage the web owner to ask for more positive reviews on those sites and make them aware of any non positive mentions or reviews.

MOZ Rankings: Go to MOZ.com and log in.

Run an open explorer report on the main URL. Note and communicate the Page Authority, and Number of links. Down load a monthly back link report.

Competitive assessment:  Search for their main keyword and city (if Local)  Note the top ranked sites.  Make a note of the top three. (do not include directories)

Go to moz.com open Site Explorer.  Add top three competitors to “compare link Metrics ”Copy report to client.

Run Open Site Explorer for the top three sites. Look for linking opportunities.

Provide a brief summary of work completed this month or period.

Social Mentions

Continued Web site presence on My One Call LLC sites

Tips and updates.

Research

Links

Site review

Reputation check

New Keyword ideas

New content ideas.  (FAQ page)

Rankings for main keywords.

Traffic reports.

By Mike Bayes

My Google Plus Profile: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MikeBayes/about

More about us www.salesjumpstart.net

Want to learn more about Google Plus and promoting your business?

Try these two G+ Guru’s (my words not theirs)

https://plus.google.com/u/0/+JesseWojdylo/posts

Stephan Hovnanian is a true G+ Master! https://plus.google.com/+StephanHovnanian/posts

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Ecommerce for Solopreneurs

Ecommerce for Solopreneurs

By Rob Gordin. 

Suppose you want to start selling online, but you are a one man (or one woman) show.  What solution fits your needs the best?   How much work will it be to get up and going?   How much will it cost?  Is it flexible and easy to maintain?  Does it provide a growth path for the future?

These aren’t easy questions to answer, and there are a mind numbing number of options, but this article will give you a few things to consider in making a rational decision on the best eCommerce system for you.  This is not intended to give you every possible option in selecting a platform for your  business  – that would be all but impossible.   Rather, we would like to provide a “framework” for ways you can think about it so you can make rational decisions on the eCommerce approach that is best for you.

There are two things that Solopreneurs generally don’t have in great abundance – the first is time, and the second is of course, money, so those will generally be the primary consideration, but there are many others.   Let’s take a look at the possible options, and note that there is a great deal of overlap with each of these approaches.

1.   Use an open source platform.   Many solopreneurs are into DYI (do it yourself) approaches, so these are always popular.  Basically this just means you select one of the many solutions that have been developed by the open source community, then configure and modify it to fit your needs and then host it on your own server and domain.  A few of the more common examples in this genre:

  • Zencart

  • Magnito

  • OpenCart:

  • osCommerce:

  • Miva

  • PrestaShop

The Upside:  For all intents and purposes, you will “own” this system and can do what you want.   There will be no monthly service fees beyond what you pay for hosting, and no transaction fees beyond what you pay to your credit card payment provider.  There will also be a great deal of flexibility in development – with some effort, you should be able to get the exact “look and feel” that you want.

The Downside:  This is not for the faint of heart.   Even if you are technically skilled, this is often a “trip into the weeds”.   You very will may find yourself working far more on your technology, then you are on selling and marketing your products and services.   The maintenance and upkeep of these systems can be daunting, and technical support can be spotty at best.   In the case where the open source software company also has a paid version, there will usually be less functionality and the free version is mostly meant to eventually get you to upgrade to the paid version.

2.   Use a Content Management System.   This is somewhat similar to using open source software, except in this case software that is designed for managing content on websites is used, and a plugin of some kind is used to provide the eCommerce functions.   Depending on the technology selected, this can be either easier or more difficult than using open source software designed specifically for this purpose.  A few of the common examples in this genre:

  • Joomla with VirtueMart Plugin

  • Drupal with Ubercart Plugin

  • WordPress with WP e-Commerce (and others)

The Upside:  Most solopreneurs who use this approach are already using it to manage their website so it has the advantage of being well integrated with what is already in place.  It can often be a superior way to showcase products, as not everything is oriented to :”selling” so product displays can be mixed with other content.

The Downside:  This is usually not quite as flexible as using an open source system specifically designed for eCommerce.  Technical support is usually through online forums and can be frustrating and time consuming.

3.   Use Commercial Software.   This is also similar to the “free open source” approach, but in this case solopreneurs elect to pay for their software solution – either through a one time or ongoing licensing fee.  Note that “open source” and “free” are not exactly the same thing.,  Software can be open source – meaning you have full access to the source code and can modify it if you wish, but it still requires a licence fee.   Also, some commercial ecommerce software does have free versions with less functionality.   A few of the common examples in this genre:

  • Magnito (also has free version)

  • CS-Cart Shopping Cart Software

  • X-Cart Shopping Cart Software

  • Pinnacle Cart

The Upside:   Purchased ecommerce store software is generally has a higher initial cost but there is only a single payment and then you own the software or have a permanent licence.  Support is generally superior and you have an accountable party and “someone to talk to” if something goes wrong.   Purchased software is also usually more flexible and can be modified to suit your needs.

The Downside:   Primarily the up front fee, and also the danger of being “locked in” with a single vendor.   It is not unheard of for these companies to go out of business which will leave you with no growth path.

4.   Use a Hosted Platform.   This is an approach where you do not host the ecommerces software at all, but rather use a host to provide this service.  Typically you will “embed” the shopping cart into one or more of your website pages, but is is also possible to use many of these as standalone platforms – even while retaining your domain name.  Be aware that there is a wide range of functionality with these platforms.  Some hosted platforms provide no more than an “add-on” cart which is deployed on an existing website by copying a few lines of HTML, while others provide a complete stand-alone website builder can be added onto an existing site or used independently as your entire website.   A few of the many examples in this genre:

  • Yahoo Stores

  • Intuit Ecommerce

  • Shopify

  • Paypal Shopping Cart

The Upside:  This is a great solution for beginners because the hosting is included and there is usually no technical setup required.   There are some great deals out there especially if you don’t have a ton of different items to sell.   In general, the will support multiple payment providers so that is one less thing to worry about.

The Downside:  There is usually a monthly fee and often transaction charges.   Many of the deals out there are “loss leaders” and If your store is successful there could be some hefty fees and service charges as you grow.  When the platform is provided without charge, some companies put advertisements on your store which can be a turnoff to your customers. It can also be extremely difficult to migrate to another platform once you have selected one of these services.  

5.  Get in Bed with a Giant.  This is an approach where you use the solutions provided by one of the major players in the ecommerce industry.  At the moment, there are really only two “giants” to consider – Amazon and eBay, but we can expect all the major social networks – Facebook, Google+. Twitter and Pinterest to have offerings in this area.   The two major examples in this genre:

  • Amazon Webstore

  • ProStores Store (An Ebay Company)

The Upside:   These sites know how to sell, and there may be some advantages to their dominant market position.   If you are selling on Amazon or eBay anyway, this is something you probably want to consider.   There are generally multiple payment options and since these sites are highly “trusted” you may get more sales by associating with them.

The Downside:   Since these services are associated with these giant companies, your branding may become overwhelmed by the larger company.   The solutions are often more “canned” and less flexible than other approaches.

6.  Get Social.   This is an approach where you sell primarily socially – either through an existing social network or through sites that have been specifically set up for this purpose.  This is an emerging genre and we can expect to see more players in this area, including all the major social media companies.  A  few examples in this genre:

  • Etsy  (mostly for art and handcrafted items).

  • Envato (for digital goods)

  • Threadflip (clothing)

  • FriendShopper

  • Vendio Ecommerce (for Facebook stores)

The Upside:  This sites often specialize in niche areas, and come with a built in community of prospective buyers – a big plus for the solopreneur.

 

The Downside:  As with hosted services, the growth path is uncertain and you may find yourself needing to do a migration at some point – which can be even more difficult since you may have active buyers and prospects in the community.  Also, since the genre is new, no one really know what will happen.  New players will almost certainly emerge, and there may be a shakeup with some of the existing companies.

7,  Go Mobile.    More and more people are buying off their mobile devices – smart phones and tablet computers.   While this genre overlaps somewhat with the others, it is worth considering in its own right.   A few examples in this genre:

  • Square

  • Venda

  • Shopgate

The Upside:  This, along with social commerce, is likely to be “the wave of the future”.  Most ecommerce providers will be designing support into their platforms if they haven’t already

The Downside:   Many new and smaller players that may not provide support for more traditional methods.   Some “trendy features” may not stand the test of time, and not all products are ideal for being sold on mobile devices.

***

At best, a report like this can just scratch the surface on an industry as broad and multidimensional as ecommerce.   For all intents and purposes, you can expect just about every Internet technology company to try to get a “piece of the action” this, for the simple reason that it is “where the money is”.   Most players in this industry will be integrating different approaches so it shouldn’t be to difficult to find the provider that is best for you.

For most solopreneurs, however, the best solution will likely be to use one of the hosted platforms.  These will allow you to get up and selling almost immediately, which you can’t do with either open source, content management or commercial software.

Regardless of ths solution you select, do your homework.   Select the approach you think works best for you and write up some specifications for your needs before you even look at the prices and feature sets of the different systems.   Avoid any services  require you to pay a percentage of your sales and “free trials” are all but useless.  Even with hosted platforms, there will be some effort in setting this up so you want to select the system that best matches your needs.

 One more thing – don’t delay.  If you have products to sell, you can be making money sooner than you think.

About the Author. Introduction. Rob is the founder and owner of one of the largest business communities on Google Plus.  You can find his information on his G+ profile. Because he interfaces with over 25,000 small business owners he has a unique knowlege of that market. He also is the founder of http://world-startups.com/


 

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