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Before & after: Website gets stunning makeover

How are things between you and your website? If the answer is uncertain or less than stellar, don’t panic. Instead, think of your website as a marketing tool that needs to accomplish four things: establish value, build trust, make a great impression, and help visitors take action. Here’s how to put these four crucial components into action. Get answers to all your website questions Get all the secrets to an effective website when you download our free Guide to Websites eBook. DOWNLOAD THE EBOOK >> 1. Establish value to visitors First, look at the value your website promises visitors. Your website speaks on behalf of your business, and it should address a need or needs that your target audience/customer may have. Are visitors able to find the information relevant to them? Let’s use a real-world example: Ramona Jones is the owner of Discover, Learn & Grow, a preschool that provides affordable education and child care to families in Bristol Borough, Pennsylvania. Success for Jones is dependent upon generating awareness, connecting with families in the community and encouraging them to enroll. To reach these goals, Discover, Learn & Grow’s website needed to articulate the organization’s value and inspire confidence in its services. The Deluxe team helped revamp the website, starting with research into the needs of parents and guardians of young children. The team determined that searching for preschools and child care services online is a high-investment choice. There are many factors that families consider before they feel comfortable committing to a child care program, from the safety of the facility to the quality of the instruction. Discover, Learn & Grow’s website needed robust content that addressed these concerns. The revamped website includes specific pages — including a Q&A section and a Health & Safety page — that address these concerns. Scannable bullet points were used to make that information easy to digest. And to give families a solid understanding of what they could expect from the program, a schedule describing a typical day at the center was included. By taking stock of its audience’s concerns and addressing them clearly, the Discover, Learn &…

4 surprising ways you might be turning off customers

Exemplary customer service means different things to different businesses. Speedy customer service, luxury packaging, unfailing courtesy and graciously accepting client feedback are all ways businesses keep customers coming back. While these customer service tactics are each important in their own right, they’re also well-known and well-documented. What about the less-obvious ways your business may be turning off customers, without you even realizing it? Here are some sneaky, often-overlooked areas where businesses may want to sweep out the cobwebs and spruce things up to make a better impact on customers: 1. Could your bathroom be the setting for a horror movie? Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain once wrote about restaurant bathrooms, “I won’t eat in a restaurant with filthy bathrooms… If the restaurant can’t be bothered to […] keep the toilets and floors clean, then just imagine what their refrigeration and work spaces look like.” Although Bourdain later recanted this opinion, the sentiment is still valid for nearly any business. For restaurants, cafes and other food service providers in particular, a neglected restroom can create an emotional link with the rest of your business, casting unspoken doubts about every other part of the customer experience. At base, dirty bathrooms are gross, and no one wants “gross” affiliated with their brand. Even if your business isn’t in the food service industry, a less-than-pristine restroom can ding you in customers’ minds — and might prevent them from returning. How to fix it: Create a cleaning rotation among your team or hire a local janitorial service to take care of the issue on a regular schedule. (Get more tips about restroom sanitation at this link.)  2. Do your phone habits tell callers to hang up? The phone is a vital tool for businesses. Even in an increasingly online world, customers call to make reservations and book appointments, not to mention request product information or follow up on previously placed orders — and myriad other reasons. Smartphones have made it even easier for customers to contact a business from anywhere, at any time. But are your phone habits undermining your brand experience? Unanswered phones, ignored voicemail messages, rude…

Create a successful holiday marketing plan

It’s time to get into the holiday spirit. Ring in the season with a marketing plan that works. This webinar will provide guidance on how to get, and stay, in front of your customers this season, as well as tools and SEO tips to get your website found by holiday shoppers. In this free webinar: Learn why sending holiday cards is important for businesses See how to use print marketing to boost sales throughout the season Get tactics for making sure your website can be found online About the presenters: Sonia Mansfield, Content Marketing Manager at Deluxe Corp., has been writing helpful and fun content for small business owners and nonprofits for nearly 10 years. As the Content Marketing Manager for Deluxe subsidiary PsPrint, she gained a wealth of insights about how businesses can leverage print marketing to grow their brands. Noah Turner is the Senior Manager of Search Engine Optimization at Deluxe Corp. He has more than 10 years of experience in online marketing and web development and enjoys helping Fortune 100 companies and small business owners create winning online strategies. The post Create a successful holiday marketing plan appeared first on Deluxe Small Business Resource Center.

Digital marketing basics: Internet marketing strategies for today

For most businesses, an online presence is crucial for driving business. That said, building and maintaining a website is only the first step. To get the most out of a website, it’s important for small business owners to utilize internet marketing strategies to build buzz and interest, and ultimately drive revenue. We’ve all been there before — when a specific service or product is needed, we go online to see the options available and narrow it down until we find the right fit. For small business owners, it’s important to realize that potential customers are doing the same when it comes to the products or services you offer. Learning the basics of how to market online can help give your business a leg up on the competition and encourage potential customers to give your products or services a try. To give your business a boost, here’s a look at online marketing for beginners, along with six digital marketing tips and online marketing tools you can begin using right away. Digital marketing 101 What is digital marketing? The most basic definition of digital marketing is using digital platforms to market your products or services. First and foremost this means advertising on the internet using search engines such as Google, but it also includes other platforms such as social media and mobile phones. Here are six steps every business should take when it comes to digital marketing strategies: 1. Create a website This may seem like a no-brainer; after all, one of the main goals of digital marketing is to drive potential customers to your website. Think of your website as a window into your business that gives people a look at the products or services you offer, along with other key information such as your location and contact information. You want your site to have a modern look and feel, but also be easy to use, so anyone who visits can find the information they’re looking for. 2. Sign up for social media accounts Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter or any of the many other platforms on the market, many consumers these…

6 ways to drive traffic to your new website

For small business owners, building and maintaining a website is crucial. A professional website is a great tool for educating potential customers about your business and for driving sales and revenue. But once your site is up and running, what comes next? How do you actually get people to visit your site in the first place? Here are some techniques to take advantage of right now to drive traffic to your site — and ultimately help you boost your bottom line. 1. Use email marketing to invite readers to your website There are a number of advantages to sending out an email blast to drive traffic to your website. First, it’s inexpensive. Additionally, it’s easy to track things such as how many people opened your email and how many clicked a link to visit your site, which helps you understand which types of messages work and which don’t. Email tip: You can choose to set up email marketing campaigns yourself or let a team of professionals handle it for you. 2. Promote your website on social media In addition to your main business website, plan to set up social media accounts on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to engage with current and potential customers while also directing them to your site. There are many ways you can utilize social media to generate web traffic. The most basic is to include a link to your site within the posts you share on your accounts. You can also place social ads that will cost some money up front, but can deliver large amounts of visitors to your site. Social tip: If you’ve just launched a new website, don’t be shy about broadcasting that on your social media platforms. 3. Utilize online listings We’ve all visited online listings and directory sites such as Yelp or Angie’s List to find businesses, and you can bet that your potential customers will do the same. Verifying your online listings is a great way to get your business found online locally. Be sure to optimize your listings across the web to give yourself the best chance of…

Get the facts on the new online sales tax ruling

Remember when customers turned to the internet for that tax-free patio set from Overstock.com? The rules have changed, and online retailers may now collect sales tax, just like any other retailer. If you’re an online seller, this guide has the answers to help you navigate the new internet sales tax law. The ruling On June 21, 2018, in a 5-4 ruling in the South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc. case, the U.S. Supreme Court gave states the authority to compel online retailers to collect sales tax from customers in other states. For example, a retailer in Virginia who sells goods to a customer in Minnesota may now need to collect sales tax — if the state of Minnesota requires it.  The court’s decision stemmed from a 2016 lawsuit filed by South Dakota against online retailers Wayfair, Overstock and Newegg regarding state tax collection. And it overturned the 25-year-old Supreme Court ruling in Quill Corp. v. North Dakota that allowed companies without a warehouse, office or other physical presence in a state to bypass state sales taxes. What prompted the court to overturn “Quill?” The “Quill” rule was ultimately deemed outdated. The court believed that internet retailers had grown too big to remain exempt from sales taxes. This sales tax advantage would result in significant revenue losses to the state, to the tune of billions of dollars annually. And eliminating this sales tax advantage would level the playing field between brick-and-mortar and online businesses. What does this mean for e-commerce businesses? Behemoths like Amazon and Wal-Mart with warehouses across the country will be largely unfazed because they’re already collecting sales tax in every state. But smaller online stores may feel the sting. Thousands of small businesses that only ever collected sales tax in their home states may be responsible for collecting tax in 12,000 taxing jurisdictions — not only states, cities and counties but also police districts, parishes and Indian reservations. Does this ruling apply right away to online sellers in every state? No. States have missed out on billions of dollars a year by not being able to collect sales tax on internet sales to customers located in their…

What is search engine marketing?

If you’ve been wondering how to get potential customers to visit your website, search engine marketing (SEM) can help. When done strategically and consistently, all of your marketing efforts — from email to social media to print marketing — will come together to help your business grow. SEM, however, can give those efforts a boost, increasing your visibility in online search results and connecting you with more potential customers. You may have heard the term before, but what is SEM exactly? Here’s how it works: What is SEM? When you search online, do you ever click to the fourth or fifth page of search engine results? If you do, it likely doesn’t happen very often. Recent studies have shown that while the first page of Google captures 71 percent of clicks, the second page only captures around 6 percent. To get your business seen in those results, you have to rank high on search engines like Google and Bing. SEM is the quickest way to accomplish that. After entering a question or topic into Google, you’ve likely noticed that some of the results — typically the ones at the very top or on the right-hand side of the page — are labeled “sponsored.” These results are ads, and examples of SEM in action. Broadly speaking, SEM encompasses the paid and unpaid techniques used to generate website traffic, but it typically refers to the practice of using ads displayed on search engine result pages (SERPs) to market a business. How do I get started with SEM? In order to launch an SEM campaign, you bid on keywords associated with your products or services. An interior designer in San Francisco, for example, might target keywords like “interior design San Francisco” or “living room interior design San Francisco.” When people search for those keywords, that interior designer’s ad will appear at the top of the results page. With so many companies vying for the same customers and trying to be seen online, it’s crucial for businesses to get listed in the top results. Instead of having your listing buried in the outer reaches…

Small business advice: Your top 10 questions, answered

Deluxe launched the Small Business Revolution in 2015 to shine a light on the amazing businesses that make our communities great. Through the years, I’ve traveled to communities across the country, meeting hundreds of business owners who have taken the brave step to start their own businesses. I’m passionate about helping small businesses thrive and eager to share the knowledge I’ve built from my years in marketing and advertising. And with Deluxe’s more than 100 years of working with small businesses, we have a wealth of knowledge that can really make a difference in helping a business thrive. Here are the top 10 questions that entrepreneurs tend to ask me, and my answers. 1. I have a great idea for a business. How should I get started? Starting a business can be daunting. Ask for help! Reach out to SCORE: a nationwide nonprofit that arranges mentorships between experienced entrepreneurs and aspiring business owners. Beyond getting one-on-one support, you should also do some research about your potential market and industry. And seek out resources to learn more about marketing and operating your business. 2. I’m not a numbers person. How do I stay on top of my business finances? Start simple by creating a small business budget. Done properly, a budget gives you visibility into your profits, improves your cash flow and helps track progress toward your long-term business goals. If budgeting and financial planning are too tough or time-consuming, consider hiring an accountant. 3. I can’t afford to spend much on marketing. How do I get the most bang for my buck? Many small businesses spend $1,000 per year or less on marketing. However, if you want to attract new customers, keep in touch with existing clients or grow your business, it’s crucial to develop a marketing strategy. Every business is different, and there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to how to spend your marketing dollars. That said, social media advertising, print marketing and search engine marketing can be affordable tools to reach your target. 4. I know I need an awesome website. Where do I start? When it comes to creating…

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