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Big Websites To Grow Your Small Business in 2018

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The world is not what it used to be thirty, twenty, or even two years ago. Globalization has led to the increase in the number of companies competing with each on the planetary scale. Some of those are multinationals with lavish budgets and tremendous opportunities for advertising and marketing. They can afford to sign contracts with the most famous and successful people from the world of sports, arts, or show business. Their ads and commercials are everywhere starting from national TV channels and ending with big boards along country roads. But what about smaller companies with ambitions to dominate the market some day? How can they promote their goods and services to a wider audience with their limited funds? The answer is: go online.

There are numerous web resources that can be used for business promotion. Many of them are completely free or take a comparatively small commission for letting business owners place links to their blogs or websites.

Here is a review of some of the top websites that will definitely ensure your small business grows big in 2018 with their pros and cons.

1. YouTube

One of the giants of Internet marketing with billions of users in every corner of the Earth, this website can be described as “DIY marketing” resource. Anyone can create their own channel here and use if for promoting their business by attracting new subscribers. If the videos you publish on YouTube are of high quality or made by professionals, the chance to draw more users to your channel is higher and so are your business prospects. Apart from having your own YouTube channel, you may ask other users to drop a word about your company in their video blogs and either pay them for that or thank them by telling your own viewers about their channels.

There are a few negative aspects of placing your ads on YouTube, though. One of them is that anyone can leave comments to the videos you publish. Unfortunately, not all of those can be favorable. As a result, your business reputation may suffer, and your potential customers may opt for one of your competitors. Another issue with this website is that no one can guarantee that your entertaining, high-quality video will appeal to consumers and they will rush to buy your products. Even if you use the paid services offered here, you may end up with just a few dozen views, which is nothing at all.
On the whole, however, YouTube is well worth trying: By investing almost nothing you still have a chance to put your business in focus on the global scale.

2. Porch

This website is good for promoting contractors and small companies dealing with plumbing, interior or landscape design, and others. With standard features that many sites serving the same purpose have, Porch offers its users something unique as well. Homeowners and contractors can discuss various matters via a special social function. Users can also view the history of the work performed in a particular location. After signing up, homeowners can describe what type of work they need to be done on their property, specify a time frame (from a few days to a whole year), inform contractors of the compensation for their services, and attach photos or videos to their post. Once a local contractor gets a message about a project, they email or phone the homeowner and talk over the details with them. Using the site is absolutely free for anyone who needs services.

However, contractors pay for the kind of services they are going to provide, and that is not always a low price, yet, on the contrary. That’s the reason why along with many positive aspects, Porch.com is not universally praised. Some contractors have been disappointed by the fact that they paid for the leads quite a round sum of money and still did not get the job. If you decide to use this website for your business promotion, make sure that the game is worth the candle and you will get a good return on investment.

3. Manta

If you are a small business owner, you will definitely find this resource useful. Once you become a registered user, your business listing will be updated in the Manta directory no later than 24 hours after signing up. Besides, you will see your company advertised on the home page of Manta.com. All of that contributes to a better Internet visibility of your business. Everyone in search of products or services that your company offers will instantly find a link to your website through Manta’s search engine mechanism. Among the services that small business owners can count on at Manta is assistance in the organization GoogleAdWords campaigns and a dedicated professional marketer who provides consultations on the most effective ways of business promotion online. Additionally, the website guarantees that your business will be listed in over 70 online directories.

One complaint about Manta has been that once you have used their paid services and want to cancel your subscription plan, you will have a hard time doing that.

4. HireRush

This is another valuable resource for local contractors. The main difference between HireRush.com and similar websites, though, is the emphasis on the long-term collaboration with service providers and the maximum attention paid to “a small guy” who works on their own with little or no support in contrast to big companies with money to splash. Besides, there are a lot of small and mid-size companies registered which successfully increase their revenue with numerous inbound features such as business phone number, personal page or website, refund system, and 24/7 support. For customers it’s convenient as the range of work types that users can find at the website is wide. It is not limited to home improvement or fashion&beauty services, but also includes legal advice, tax preparation, veterinary services, and many others. As Porch, HireRush also has its convenient chat for customers and providers so that have their own space for private communication.

Though HireRush covers the whole territory of the United States, it cannot boast having lots of leads, which is probably its major drawback. However, residents of all states and cities can use the services offered here, and there has been considerable expansion progress over the past couple of months.

5. Google My Business

Have you ever noticed a well-organized listing of companies offered to you every time you search for a certain business on Google? Using this feature, you can find out about the opening hours of any company included in this list, its precise location on Google Maps, as well as its phone, email, or any other contact methods. You can promote your business this way, too. All you need to do is specify all the information Google My Business needs. Later, you can change this data if, for example, you have changed your office location.

Note, however, that this service is not available in all countries. After creating your own account, find out if residents of your country can use Google My Business.

Even if your budget doesn’t allow your company to launch an all-conquering marketing campaign, you can still efficiently promote your business online using the websites described above. Then, you can gradually build your customer base and look ahead to new horizons.

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Marketing

5 Sure Ways to Consistently Grow Your Audience on Instagram

In today’s digital world, social media plays a significant role in ensuring many businesses become successful.

Although many social media platforms abound in the social networking space, Instagram remains one of the best and most popular social media apps that business owners have to take advantage of, and for good reasons, too.

Recent findings show that over 1 billion people use Instagram every month, and about 200 million Instagram users visit at least one business profile every day. These figures only buttress just how important it is for your business to have an Instagram account.

Whether your business is new to Instagram or not, you should have one major priority: how to grow your Instagram audience. A larger audience on Instagram means your business will get you lots more potential customers.

This article will highlight five ways to grow your audience on Instagram and the benefits you gain from being on Instagram (if you didn’t already know.)

5 Ways to Grow your Audience on Instagram

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These five ways have been tested and are proven to help you grow your audience on Instagram. In addition to growing your audience, these tips will also ensure you get more customers and inevitably more sales in your business.

Optimize your Instagram profile

The way you portray your business on Instagram determines whether or not you will grow your audience. If the Instagram account you created is not set to a business account, it is imperative to change it immediately.

Switching your current account to a business account is very easy. Once you log in to your Instagram account, head over to the settings and click on “switch to a business profile.” Then, you can take it from there.

With a business account, you can create and publish Instagram ads for your business. Lastly, Instagram’s analytics tools, also known as Insights, helps to provide statistics about the impressions and the reach of your posts to the audience.

In setting up your business profile, you have to be as detailed as possible. When creating your profile, talk about what industry your business is in, what your business offers, your website’s address, the location of your business, your business’s phone number, and your email address.

Use interactive, branded, and appropriate hashtags

Hashtags and “hashtagging” make it easier for Instagram users, who are searching for specific items, to find your photos. Hashtags help you grow your audience and engage with your followers on Instagram.

Using popular hashtags not fitting your brand and business will only earn you additional likes and engagement. But, to increase your following and, most importantly, sales, you need to employ interactive, branded, and appropriate hashtags.

It could be a difficult task to decide which hashtag is best for your post. So, you can use any of the following ideas when generating hashtags for your business on Instagram:

  • Brand keyword hashtag: this involves using keywords related to your brand in the hashtags, e.g., #womensaccessories, #menshoes
  • Product category keyword hashtag: using keywords of the products you offer, for example, #colorfulsocks, #courtheelsforwork
  • Location-specific keyword hashtag: this focuses on your business location or possible areas you deliver to, e.g., #GeorgiaBusiness, #WisconsinFashion

If you want an easy option, you can use hashtag generators like All Hashtag and Ritetag. These will produce tons of hashtags for you. All that will be left will be for you to choose the best of the best.

Partner with influencers

Partnering with influencers allows you to reach a wider audience because they have already built an audience with their large following (they have many followers). People nowadays buy products and services based on what they see on the pages of influencers they follow.

So, in choosing the right Instagram influencer, select one that has an audience relevant to your brand or business. For example, if you sell gym clothes or equipment, you need an influencer that’s into fitness.

The Instagram influencer or influencers you partner with will post your products and services on their pages. These would attract their followers to your page. When these new followers see what they like on your page, they will patronize or even follow you.

Also, getting these influencers to take a picture or make a video of them using your products or services will increase the trust the Instagram community has in your business. This will, in turn, increase your audience on Instagram.

Experiment with different types of Instagram content

There are diverse types of Instagram content today, and it appears that each update comes with a new feature. See some of these different content types below, use them on your Instagram to reel in a wider range of audiences.

Instagram Reels:

You can use it to create short, informative, and entertaining videos about your products and services. Fortunately, your reels are not restricted to only your followers, making it easy for your brand to reach a greater audience.
Instagram Stories:

On your Instagram story, you can post photos and videos to announce a new product or on your page. This feature helps you to boost your reach and increase engagement. They are only available for 24 hours, however.

Instagram TV or IGTV:

This allows you to upload longer videos about your products or services. You can answer FAQs about your business, talk about your brand’s story, upload a behind-the-scenes video, or even post tutorials on how to use your products and services.

Instagram Highlights:

These are those Instagram stories that you want to feature permanently on your profile. Once you add the story to the highlight, it remains visible even after the 24-hour timeline for the IG story has expired.

Other ways of experimenting with content types on Instagram include promotional posts, incorporating quotes, testimonials, fun facts about your business, etc.

Post consistently and at the right times

Do you know that posting at the wrong times or not regularly posting could affect the growth of your Instagram audience? If you hope to increase your audience significantly, you need to be active on the app.

The timing of your posts plays a major role in the success of your Instagram page. One way to determine the right times for you to post is by analyzing what has and has not worked for you in the past.

Some businesses may decide to post three times every day or upload a post every two hours. You have to choose the times that will be right for you and your audience. You should also try and post product teasers that will urge your followers to patronize your business.

When posting, ensure you do not overdo it by posting too many pictures or videos in a day. This may annoy your current followers and scare off potential new followers.

You can use free online tools such as Webstagram and IconoSquare to make informed decisions on the best times to post.

How Your Business Benefits From Instagram

There are tons of benefits your business gains from having an Instagram account. See them below.

Helps you attract more traffic to your business or website

Having an account on Instagram for your business will draw more traffic to your business and website. This will then lead to an increase in sales or conversions. When you push your products to your Instagram followers, they become eager to learn more about your business.

It is easier to connect with customers

With Instagram, you can easily connect with your customers. You can get feedback from them either in the comment section or your DMs. This will help you improve in areas that need improvement. Constantly keeping in touch with your followers will help you know what they like and do not like.

Allows for free advertising and marketing

Instagram is the perfect tool for you to advertise and market your business for free. With the right tools, content, and marketing strategy, you will be reaching a greater audience on Instagram than you could think.

Showcase professional, beautiful photos and videos of your products

Instagram provides a lot of features for users to upload photos and videos. You can even edit your pictures and videos to give them a professional look. The pictures and videos of your products should be of high quality. If not, it can discourage potential customers.

Gain trust for your business

When you post updates, communicate with your followers, make comments, tag people and locations, etc., you build trust. As a result, people will easily get familiar with you and your business. This encourages them to patronize you.

Conclusion

You have read how important and beneficial Instagram is to businesses. It is, however, no longer enough to have an account.
You also have to look for ways to grow your audience. This is because the size of your audience on Instagram can determine how much sales you make in your business.

You can be sure that when you integrate these five tips discussed in this article, there’ll be a boost in your audience on Instagram, as well as your sales.

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Marketing

7 Expert Tools to Improve Your Content Marketing Strategy in 2021

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While no content marketing software can replace your knowledge, writing style, and ingenuity as a business owner, like many marketing tools, some features are useful for improving your content marketing strategy.

If you are reading this and are in a dilemma of what content marketing tools you need to use to improve your content marketing, you are in the right place. This article will discuss the seven content marketing tools you can use to get more done in less time.

Without knowledge, training, and experience, you will find yourself challenged by the need to create relevant and interesting content for your audience. The good news is where there is a need, and there are software developers keen to fill the gap and make your life easier.

Connect, Engage, Build Relationships

While content marketing software is fairly niche, there are quite a few tools to help you perform repetitive, mundane tasks, but all the while – necessary to connect and engage with your community of customers. Remember, marketing in all its forms preceded sales, and that’s why it’s so vital.

Your business has to turn up every day either via email, on your blog or social media, so here are a few tools to make it a little easier.

Google Docs

Google Docs is an essential content marketing tool for your business serving a wide range of functions. Like its competitor Microsoft Word, it is packed with more features than the average user will ever need. Use google docs as a word processor for your content.

One handy feature is its auto-save feature. Never again do you have to worry about saving your content before closing your computer, as Google saves every change or addition you make – to the cloud.

Several features help improve your content marketing, too, like templates, and you can get add-ons from the Google Chrome Web store, e.g. a grammar tool.

Highlighting grammatical errors, so you don’t have to spend hours proofreading and getting your documents looked at by colleagues or peers is hugely beneficial to copywriters. Also, consider getting the duplicate content checker, aka plagiarism checker.

Even with the best intentions, sometimes you will write something that is accidentally found on another website. Duplicate content is a red flag to search engines, and it will impact your page rank and domain ranking too.

Google Docs also aids effective collaborations with your team, so when you draft your content, you can easily share it with your editor or your staff, and they too can add changes that can be visible.

Google Docs also enables you to access your work from any device. It’s compatible with iOS and Android to access your content on the go, which helps facilitate your content marketing efforts because you are not restricted to any device. You don’t have to be in your office or store to create content.

Grammarly

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No matter how excellent your content marketing strategy is, if your content is laden with errors and fails to resonate with your readers, you won’t get the right results.

Consistency is also key as your website visitors reading your content become familiar with your style. With the help of Grammarly, you can prevent the negative consequences of bad content through Grammarly’s professional editing features.

Grammarly gives you real-time corrections when you write, and it does more than editing your grammar errors. It notifies you of punctuation, context, and sentence structure errors as well. Plus, it too has a plagiarism checker to ensure you post unique, readable, and error-free content on the web and other platforms.

HappyScribe Subtitle Generator

Subtitles are a great way to enhance your content marketing strategy because they help boost your video engagements. Your audience learns in different ways, and while some learn by watching, some learn by reading and this tool improves engagement with all types of learners.

With HappyScribe Subtitle Generator, you can appeal to your audience through compelling texts as it generates subtitles in your videos.

HappyScribe Subtitle Generator also helps you cut across all languages and communicate in the language your ideal customer speaks and understands. Plus, it lets you design your subtitles to align with your brand’s format. What’s more,  it’s easy to use.

Canva

Even if you’ve devoted time to create useful content for your audience, you need a good design to captivate your audience’s attention and get them to consume the content you’ve created.

Canva helps you create professional-looking designs that create a good impression and attract your customers. It, too, is simple and straightforward to use, so you can easily navigate the features even if you are a newbie.  Just use its customizable templates.

Buzzsumo

Buzzsumo is an amazing content marketing tool to enhance your content marketing research. Rather than write on topics your audience isn’t interested in, you can use Buzzsumo to research trending topics in your industry.

You can also use the Buzzsumo software to track the topics generating the best results on your competitors’ websites. You have insights on the types of topics your audience is looking for, and you can create these topics to get the best results with your content marketing strategy.

MailChimp

Email marketing is a crucial aspect of your content marketing strategy. This is because it is a more personal form of marketing, and it’s easier to grab your audience’s attention and engage them when you provide valuable content and use efficient software in the process.

MailChimp is popular for being the entrepreneur’s go-to email marketing tool. That said, it’s popular with marketers and has all the features you’d expect from a bulk email marketing system.

You get features to create landing pages for growing your email list, upload or download contacts, create and send emails in bulk, and measure your success via its open and link tracking and reporting. You can also find out averages too for clicks, unsubscribe, and much more targeted email marketing.

SproutSocial

SproutSocial is your reliable social media software to help you schedule posts and automatically post your content across social media platforms.  Plus, you can get actionable feedback on your social media content marketing strategy.

Providing you with accurate metrics on your posting performance, you get the insights you need to better connect with your followers.

Conclusion

Content marketing software doesn’t do it all (well, not yet, but with AI and machine learning, it will continue to take over tasks you don’t need to do so you can focus on the quality of the content.

Content contribution

We wish to thank Lydia Iseh, an SEO writer who enjoys being part of the process that helps websites rank high on search engines.

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What is Reputation Management for Hotels in 2021?

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According to a survey, when a customer is given an option between two similar properties, 79% prefer choosing one with a higher star rating.

That’s the impact your reputation has on your potential customers, making reputation management a must for every hotel.

It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently

Warren Buffett

Irrespective of whether you own a vacation rental or a hotel, these lines ring true in the digital landscape. In a world where every customer is a critic, where hotels strive hard to earn that extra star rating from the customers, controlling your online reputation is more necessary than ever.

Plus according to research, when hotels increase their review score by 1-point on a scale of 5, the hotel can increase the price by 11.2%. This should encourage you to start giving importance to reputation management.

But first…

What is reputation management?

“No matter how strong your products, they’re only as good as buyers think they are” – MrWhatman.

Reread these lines every time you’re apprehensive about the importance of reputation management for your hotel. Reputation management is nothing but a practice of shaping your hotel’s public or customer perception by influencing, controlling, and improving online information. It helps in improving how others perceive your brand.

Hotel reputation management involves:

  • Keeping track of review sites
  • Posting engaging content on social media
  • Optimizing your website for search, among other things

In the simplest form, reputation management involves three basic steps:

Build

You need first to build your hotel’s reputation online. If you’re new to the hospitality sector, this would include creating profiles on different review platforms, social media platforms and encouraging customers to leave reviews. If you’re a business hotel, build your reputation in that industry instead of positioning yourself as a bread and breakfast hotel.

Monitor

The next step involves monitoring and maintaining your reputation, which you developed in the first step. Monitoring is essential because unless you know what people are saying about your brand, you cannot respond. What you monitor solely depends on where your brand is present.

Do people talk on social media, review forums, or other OTA booking platforms? Missing out on any place could be detrimental to your hotel’s reputation because customers may be complaining, and you fail to take any action. This could pinch your reputation beyond repair.

Respond

After knowing where people are talking about your hotel, it’s time to take active measures to develop a positive reputation. It would help if you improved upon what people are saying. The best way to respond and recover a spoiled reputation is to press down negative press and respond quickly to all reviews, whether positive or negative.

4 Ways to Hotel Reputation Management

Even though your hotel is physical, its reputation is digital and online. Here are four ways to manage your hotel’s reputation:

Use software for managing your reputation

With hundreds of hotel review sites online, your guests could post about their experience with your hotel anywhere.

Tracking and managing these reviews is an uphill battle. That’s where reputation management software comes in. This software aggregates reviews and customer feedback from the web. This helps you read, react and respond to the feedback in a timely and efficient manner.

Hoteliers who monitor and respond to what customers are saying on social media and review sites are the ones who are successful.

For example, suppose common feedback on review sites is that the check-out process was tedious as it took more than 1-2 hours for your customer service desk to respond. In that case, the operations team at your hotel could take the feedback positively and ensure to rectify such a mistake. Furthermore, this software will help you decode the most relevant and popular review sources for your hotel.

Using a hotel reputation management tool, you can quickly identify your hotel’s most preferred and least preferred service. For example, if your spa services are a hit among customers, you can plan to introduce new massages to capitalize on their popularity.

  • Benefits of online reputation management software
  • Driving direct bookings to your website
  • Enhancing guest satisfaction
  • Increasing revenue
  • Performs sentimental analysis
  • Conducts competitor analysis
  • Translates review in your language
  • Help flaunting your best reviews

Watch out for negative reviews

If your hotel enjoys a good name and has a higher star rating, negative reviews can backfire and adversely affect your reputation. Instead of panicking about a negative review’s possible consequences, take the review in a positive light. Always remember that it’s impossible to make every guest happy. Even a tiny lapse on your part is enough to irk a customer. One negative review doesn’t degrade your hotel’s name if you tackle it tactfully.

As reviews are listed in reverse chronological order, the newest review first, a negative review, causes more harm when it’s new. A swift response showcases your eagerness to make things right and sends a message that you value every customer. Instead of being aggressive, apologize for the poor experience, and propose changes you plan to implement to ensure such instances do not repeat.

With 64% of guests agreeing that they don’t prefer booking hotels that respond aggressively to a bad review, being polite is the key to ensure a silver lining even in a negative online review.

You can also try taking the conversation offline or in a private chat to prevent further damage to your reputation.

Encourage guests to leave feedback.

Have you ever noticed that Amazon sends an automated feedback form after every purchase? It’s a great way to collect feedback. As a hotelier, you can replicate the same review-seeking model.

Send automated feedback forms or encourage guests to leave feedback after check-out. The key here is explaining to your customers the importance of feedback. With 96% of users consider reading reviews as the backbone for making travel-related decisions, hotels cannot ignore the importance of reviews.

When a customer is happy with your hotel’s services and enjoys their stay, a few moments to post about their experience isn’t a burden. To capitalize upon the power of reviews, many hoteliers offer something small like a cup of coffee or a free cookie in exchange for sharing a review.

You can even send follow-up emails to event planners and guests to capture their experience. However, remember to share your Yelp or TripAdvisor profile link so that without wasting time, the guest can leave a review.

The rule here is simple, the more positive reviews you get, the higher the chances to see a ‘sold-out’ board outside your hotel.

Use social listening tools

Apart from tracking reviews using reputation management software, it’s essential to listen to what people are talking about your brand in their conversations. With social media becoming a strong influencer in deciding the travel plan, a social media listening tool ensures you don’t miss out on a single conversation about your brand.

Social listening is not about how many comments a post about your hotel receives; it’s more about the sentiments that trigger those comments. Today, the entire hospitality sector can use social listening and monitoring to identify trends and capitalize on them.

Social listening, when done effectively, improves performance and shapes up a winning marketing strategy that ensures footfall in your hotel. It also helps you give insights into what travelers are looking for.

Using these insights, you can craft persuasive marketing messages to increase your occupancy rate. Furthermore, social listening helps create content that resonates with your target audience, opens up new opportunities to increase occupancy rate, and solves customer issues. All this collectively improves the hotel’s reputation.

  • Benefits of social media listening
  • Measure your hotel’s performance against competitors
  • Refine your positioning
  • Increases and maintains positive hotel reputation
  • Open opportunities to connect with customers and partners
  • Increase occupancy rate
  • Help ineffective budget allocation

Jump on the reputation management bandwagon

Success mantra for 2021: Hotel reputation management is a never-ending project and requires continuous efforts from your side. With the ever-changing customer needs, hoteliers must adjust to the change. Otherwise, the reputation will falter.

Today, reputation management is no longer limited to a revenue strategy; it’s gaining and maintaining competitiveness in the market. Collecting, reviewing, responding, and distributing your online reviews helps increase your visibility across different social media platforms, booking platforms, and review portals.

It’s your hotel, and you have to ensure it remains the top priority for travelers. Reputation management is a go-getter and will help your hotel increase its occupancy level over a long time!

If you start implementing these four tactics, you’re on the road to creating a community where a customer prefers your hotel over others. Like your guests, reputation management is a valuable asset that will reap results 24/7 throughout the year.

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