Choosing software for your small business can be a make or break opportunity for a small business. You need something that’s value for money. Doesn’t go offline too often and allows you to take your data with you should you decide to switch to another provider down the line.
In this article, i’m going to go through the 10 points I look for in a software vendor solution. In the hope that it can give your small business some food for thought.
I have a checklist of requirements that I go through before committing to choosing software for my small business.
It’s not only the cost involved in subscribing to the new software that matters. But there’s also the not inconsiderable time commitment required in learning a new user interface and workflow.
1) Does It Have Data Portability?
Can you switch software service providers and take your customers and customer data with you when you go? Important. Especially when it comes to payment gateways like Paypal or Stripe.
Ask their support before committing to a solution.
2) Server / Bandwidth issues.
How fast is the service? Simple test. Sign-up for a free trial and access the service online via your web browser. Is the site slow or fast?
If it’s slow, check Google to see if Google is slow or fast. If both are slow. Then it’s your own Internet connection. If Google is quick. Then it’s the vendor’s software that is slow.
3) Investigate Uptime.
The length of time between the vendor’s service going offline for any reason. Worth checking out for your software solution (see below).
Always test support. Often software companies will offer support over Twitter. Some companies are based on the other side of the world and work 9-5.
So it takes at least 24hrs for support to get back to you. Also, is the support helpful and knowledgeable?
5) Sign up for a free trial.
Generally, software vendors have a free trial. If you sign up but get distracted and can’t spend the time to test. Ask them to extend your free trial for another few weeks.
Make the time to test the system the second time around. I often get an extension on a free trial for software I haven’t used much the first time around.
6) Check online reviews.
Sites like trustpilot.com, capterra.com, g2.com all contain customer reviews of software services. The best thing to do is to type in “my-software review” into Google and look for one of these sites. Where “my-software” is the name of the software product you’re researching.
7) Does the site have a status subdomain?
Eg. “status.acuityscheduling.com“. Acuity Scheduling has a status page that gets updated if they go offline for whatever reason. The status page should also tell you the uptime of the site. AcuitySheduling has a 99.98% uptime, which is good.
8) Does the software have an up to date changelog?
Bit of a technical one. But you want software that is updated and improved often. The changelog displays changes made to the software. The when and the what. So type “changelog mypthub.com” into google and it brings up the latest changes to the software.
9) Does it have a WordPress plugin?
Not a deal-breaker, but handy nonetheless. Especially if your website runs the WordPress content management system.
Most software should have a WordPress plugin that gets updated regularly. WordPress runs 38% of websites so it’s a good sign if the software integrates with WordPress.
To check type “my-software WordPress plugin” and see what comes up.
10) Are you contacted over social media (particularly LinkedIn) by a company employee after signing up?
Good sign. Gives you a go-to person to contact with any issues you are having.
Generally this means the company has their house in order in my opinion.
Finally, I’d suggest shopping around when it comes to choosing software for your small business. Often up-and-coming software vendors will try to make a name for themselves by offering features for free. That their more established rivals are charging for.
If you think I’ve missed any steps in the list. Let me know in the comments below. Alternatively if you have any questions. Just leave a comment or else contact us.
Don’t forget to read our blog post on sourcing free images for your business. If you market to clients in the health, nutrition or fitness niche. Make sure you check out the Hahamarketing.com Health Profiler.
At Hahamarketing.com we are doing a series of articles about game-changing online tools. In keeping with this theme, our first interview is with web entrepreneur and marketer Andy Barr.
Andy came up with the idea for a tool that would help calculate the amount of physical activity needed to burn off certain foods and drinks.
Not only was this tool a runaway success, with media exposure in nearly 15 countries. WorkOffYourDinner.com was featured in the mainstream media in newspapers in the UK such as Metro, The Sun and on national television shows like The Jeremy Vine Show and This Morning TV Show.
So let’s get on with the interview with Andy and discover a little more about the process of creating the online calculator and the very personal reasons Andy had for coming up with such a tool.
How did you come up with the idea for the tool Andy?
“Well basically, I used to be very overweight myself. For over 7 years I weighed 19 stone. Now I’m down to 13 stone. The tool was an aid to my weight loss journey and was created to help others in my position.”
How long did the tool take to create?
“The tool took around 2 months to create. I came up with the idea and did some data points in an Excel spreadsheet. I used sites like Myfitnesspal and Harvard Uni for the data. “
“Then I handed it over to the developers. Then to the designers. I was the weak link in the process, to be honest. Or else it might have been done sooner.”
How many people were involved in the creation of the tool?
“Overall there were 5 people involved in the process. Myself as the creator and researcher. 2 Developers to work on the code. 1 Designer to do the look and feel of the calculator. And a PR person to get the word out.”
Does the tool require much maintenance?
“Not really no. Calories don’t change. However, we add a few meals as requested from time to time.”
How successful has the tool been?
“Well the tool has achieved news coverage in 15 different countries including Spain, Portugal, UK and US. We earned 130 coveted backlinks to help with our Google Ranking. Many from high Domain Authority sites.”
What was the biggest issue you ran into when developing or rolling out the tool?
“When it came to building the tool. We encountered some time overruns. Especially when trying to hit deadlines. We also had some unrealistic timelines.”
“It proved a controversial tool for the fitness community. But i figured if it worked for me it might work for others.”
What has been your ‘North Star’ metric in creating the tool? ie. which web statistic have you been tracking the most (eg. sales, visitor numbers, time on site etc..)?
“Well, the calculator was created to promote our website Alertr.co.uk. So I’d say customer sign-ups. The tool drove up to 200 sign-ups per day during the peak.”
How did you go about promoting the tool?
“PR outreach primarily. We leveraged social media first. I have a decent following on social media on my Instagram. fitnesswanker tracks my weight loss journey and has somewhere between 12-15,000 followers.”
“Plus the mainstream media are always on the lookout for popular trends online. So soon after we launched – many news organizations picked up the story”.
Finally I’d like to say a big thank you to Andy for taking the time to do this very informative interview. We’d also highly recommend trying the tool for yourselves workoffyourdinner.com.
Have an idea for a game-changing tool for your industry? Then simply contact us for a free consultation.
What is the most common job amongst spiders? Web designer.
Whether you are a budding web designer. Or you’re someone who spends a lot of time on social media for business. And you would like to know how to use free stock photos for your business.
Maybe you’re only starting to use social media. Or alternatively, you remember a time when Tom was your first Facebook friend. Regardless, this article has something for you.
We aim to give you a firm grounding in how to use free stock photos for your business. Including where to get free-to-use images for your blog, website or social media profile.
And to avoid getting sued or gaining a reputation for riding roughshod over other people’s intellectual property.
We’ll have a look at some of the more permissive licences available for you to use for your business. Along with some image sharing sites where you can find images you can distribute, modify and use commercially free of charge. And without attribution.
We’ll also look at how you can optimize your images to reduce file size and download time. As well as go through recommended width, height and aspect ratios for the 4 main social media platforms.
First though, let’s look at some facts and figures.
Why should you use images on your social media posts?
Maybe because on Twitter -tweets with visual content are 3 times more likely to get engagement (ie. like, shares, comments). Ditto for posts on Facebook.
People only remember 10% of what they hear after 72 hours. But pairing a relevant image with your message. Means people can remember 65% of the information over the same time period.
So choosing the right image matters.
Which Licence Is Right For Me?
With so many licences out there it’s difficult to know when it’s OK to use an image and when it’s not. You don’t want to be hit by a bill from a photographer or image hoarding website after using one of their images without consent.
And yes, it does happen.
Let’s run through the main form of free-to-use image licences here so you don’t get caught out.
Keep an eye out for these licences when you’re searching for images for your business.
Public Domain Licence – images under the public domain licence are outside of copyright law and are free to use, modify and distribute with no attribution required.
Copyright Free – image released without any copyright by the owner. Free to use in any way you wish.
Creative Commons Zero – no rights reserved licence by the owner. Free to use commercially. Not to be confused with Creative Commons licence with which attribution is legally required.
Where Should I Source My Images?
Sourcing images on the web can be tricky. On one hand, you want a great image, professionally shot. Preferably one that your visitors haven’t seen before to avoid ad fatigue.
While at the same time paying for single-use images from stock photo sites can get expensive after a while.
These are my top 3 websites for downloading high-resolution images that are free to use or modify for commercial purposes on the web.
unsplash.com: Unsplash grants you an irrevocable, nonexclusive, worldwide copyright licence to download, copy, modify, distribute, perform, and use photos from Unsplash for free, including for commercial purposes, without permission from or attributing the photographer or Unsplash.
pixabay.com: On Pixabay, users can find and contribute images and video clips. For uploading files and downloading full-sized images, registration is required. By uploading files, the contributors waive their copyright and related image rights.
Let’s break image editing software users into 3 distinct but overlapping groups. For three different kind of web users.
Have Time, No Money: Go with GIMP.org. Completely free to download and use. My personal choice. Especially good for scaling, optimizing and cropping images. Bit of a learning curve initially. But so worth it in the end. Especially if you work on the web often.
Have Money, No Time: Canva.com – also the choice if you want to post to multiple social media sites and have images automatically resized. Or you want to produce info graphics. Canva costs €11.99 per month but also comes with a free plan.
Have Money, Have Time: Adobe Photoshop. Used by a lot of professional graphic designers. Unless you’re a pro. GIMP and Canva should be fine for most purposes.
Which Social Media Image Sizes Should I Use In 2020?
Unlike your website or blog. When it comes to social media images. You generally want to upload as high an image quality as possible.
You might also want to check how the image appears on your social media profiles on your computer or laptop and on your phone. Just to be sure. Often social media platforms will stretch or squeeze images to make them fit the required aspect ratio.
Even if you don’t get the width and height of the image exactly right. Try to get the aspect ratio correct for social media. The easiest way to do this is to use the crop tool on your image editing software.
Generally you want to upload images to social media in JPG or PNG format. For intricate or detailed images choose PNG format. PNG image file sizes are larger and so take longer to download, so use sparingly on your blog or website.
Social media platforms have their own optimizing (scaling and compression) processes so you don’t have to worry about file type.
How do you know what type of image you are working with? The clue is in the filename eg. myblogimage.jpgor mysocialmediaimage.png.
Here are some recommended image sizes for LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Along with their aspect ratios.
LinkedIn Image Sizes:
400(w) x 400(h) pixels AR 1:1
1584(w) x 396(h) pixels AR 4:1
Blog Post Link Image
1200(w) x 627(h) pixels AR 1.91:1
1080(w) x 1920(h) pixels AR 9:16
744(w) x 400(h) pixels AR 1.86:1
Facebook Image Sizes:
170(w) x 170(h) pixels AR: 1:1
851(w) x 315(h) pixels AR: 1:1
1200(w) x 630(h) pixels AR: 1.91:1
1080(w) x 1920(h) pixels AR: 9:16
Twitter Image Sizes:
400(w) x 400(h) pixels AR: 1:1
1500(w) x 500(h) pixels AR: 3:1
1024(w) x 512(h) pixel AR: 16:9
Instagram Image Sizes:
320(w) x 320(h) pixels AR: 1:1
1080(w) x 566 to 1350(h) pixels
1080(w) x 1920(h) pixels AR: 9:16
Tips For Using Images On Social Media
As previously stated, social media platforms have their own software to optimize images. So it’s best to upload high-quality images because low-quality images will get degraded.
Avoid images with small text or details that won’t be legible on mobile phones.
If you are creating text graphics on Canva, use at least 16px font size for mobile legibility.
Use high-resolution images for Social Media.
Use the recommended aspect ratio.
Use highly contrasting colours.
Mix it up. Use a variety of images such as stock photos, mobile phone shots and even a video or animated gif from time to time.
When in doubt about which image to use for social media. Choose a smiling female. Studies show that images of smiling females get the most engagement on social media. Next come images of children or pets.
LinkedIn Image Tips:
Choose images of people in business attire.
Single person photos work best.
Facebook Image Tips:
Don’t use blues and whites on Facebook as they tend to blend with the Facebook brand colours.
Avoid too much text or logos on images on Facebook.
Friday posts get the highest engagement rate on FaceBook. Sunday the lowest.
Twitter Image Tips:
Tag people in your photos for best results
Upload multiple photos in one go using the Twitter mobile app.
Instagram Image Tips:
Use single dominant colours in images.
Blues often work best on Instagram.
Choose images with whitespace.
Optimizing Images For Your Blog Or Website
Don’t forget, you’ll need to optimize your images before you upload them to your blog or website.
Fast web pages. By which I mean ones that download in 3 seconds or less. Usually have a file size of around 500KB. I’ve seen websites where the small testimonial image alone is nearly 10 times that size.
And people wonder why their website’s page speed is so slow. If you learn anything from this article. Learn this. Optimize your blog and website images.
To optimize your images. Simply follow this 3 step process.
1. Download, install and open GIMP on your computer.
GIMP image editing software is completely free and is compatible with Windows, Apple and Linux. You can download GIMP at gimp.org/downloads/
Follow the instructions to install GIMP on your system.
2. Open image in GIMP. Scale and/or crop image. Save.
Once you have GIMP installed and opened on your computer. Open the image file after downloading it from the web.
The follow these instructions to scale (resize) the image and/or crop (focus on a particular section of) the image.
Tinypng.com is a great site for reducing the quality and size of images for websites and blog posts. It handles both jpg and png image formats. It also handles up to 20 images at the same time.
So assuming you’ve already scaled and cropped your images. You can just upload your entire image folder for your small website in one go. Then download the optimized images and have your website admin install them on your website.
In conclusion, we hope you enjoyed our brief overview of the world of image sourcing for your online business profile.
Don’t get caught out in the future using images to which you have no rights. Stick to permissive licences and websites and you won’t get caught out.
Where do you source your images? Do you have any tips that you wish to share with the community? Let us know.
Are you constantly wondering how you are going to feed the lead-generation monster that hangs over every business owner’s head? Getting qualified leads takes discipline and consistency. It helps if you engage with SEO services in Ireland.
It can also help enormously if you aren’t making rookie mistakes with your web presence. Since most customers will check a businesses’ website before deciding to do business with them. That goes double if you are in the B2B space.
Here I’ll help you discover some simple tips for boosting business from your website. Including improving your Local Search Engine Results Position, converting more visitors to your website into customers, and – most importantly – being the first to respond to an online customer inquiry.
1) Are Your Click-To-Contact Details On Your Website? This will Improve Your SEO Service in Ireland.
While Google does provide webmaster guidelines for developing websites. They are really only contactable over the phone once you start running a Google Ads campaign. And seeing how it’s in their interest that your Google Ads succeed.
They don’t mind sharing some high-converting tips with you. I’ll spare you the trouble of a phone call. The main tip they share is an important one. You should have a click-to-call and click-to-email link in the top-left-hand corner of your website.
Some people will prefer to contact you by phone or email. Bonus points if you have links to your social media profiles (eg. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) on the top right-hand side of the page. It’s all about giving people as many contact channels as possible.
2) Do You Have a Consistent Name, Address, Phone Number On Your Website, Google My Business Profile, and the Web?
Have you ever looked up a local service online by using a search term such as ‘Web Design Cork City’. Well if you have, you were probably presented with the Google Local Pack. A list of businesses fitting your description along with a map of locations.
Almost 50% of Google searches are local. While 63% of people who search online on their mobile for a local business visit that business within 24 hours.
In a nutshell. You want to do everything you can to get into the top 3 positions of this local pack if you do any business at all locally. A big determining factor that decides your position on the local pack, is a consistent NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number).
That means your NAP should be exactly the same on your website, as on your Google My Business profile, and everywhere else on the web (eg. directory listings, Facebook and social media, etc…). To improve your local SEO services in Ireland.
3) Are You Earning Backlinks?
To greatly simplify Google’s process, think of 3 subprocesses carried out by Google. First Google crawls your website (ie. downloads it). Then Google indexes it (ie. stores it in its library) and lastly, Google ranks it in order of importance for various keywords.
The third process is where backlink authority comes in. Backlink (link) Authority is kinda like the class election you might have had in school. It sorts the popular kids from the not-so-popular.
One way Google ranks this election is to determine which webpages link back to other webpages. Webpages that have the greatest number of high-quality backlinks from other webpages in their niche. Win the vote.
4) Have You Created Online Tools For Your Niche?
One of the best ways to build a backlink profile for your site. Is creating an online tool for your visitors or industry niche. Are there any repetitive tasks you carry out on a daily basis?
Do you have to do calculations, budgeting, printing, or literally any online task that others also have to do on a weekly or even daily basis? By creating an online tool to solve this problem you are sure to garner attention from other sites in your industry and elsewhere.
What’s more they usually aren’t very expensive to create and can have a lasting impact on your site’s backlink profile and Google Search Engine Results Position.
5) Are You The First To Respond To Customers?
Perhaps the easiest win of all is to respond to customer queries in the golden time of 5 minutes or less.
The odds of contacting a lead if called in 5 minutes versus 30 minutes drop 100 times.
This is the number 1 conversion tip that you can take away from this article. Not only is increasing your speed-to-lead effective. But it’s also pretty much free. Although paid software that’s easy to use and install can help.
For more information on software solutions to help you boost profits and customer lead response time. See our blog post on Speed-To-Lead software.
Changes #1 and #5, in particular, should take less than 30 minutes to create. Depending on which software solution you choose for #5. Especially if you are running a WordPress Content Management System for your website. Which we highly recommend BTW.
If you have any questions about any of these easy-wins please don’t hesitate to comment below. Or if you have an idea for an online tool, but aren’t sure whether it’ll work or how long it’ll take. Just contact me for a free consultation.
For more blog posts on SEO services in Ireland. Follow our blog here. Alternatively my LinkedIn profile is here.
So without further ado, we’ll pick the top 8 WordPress plugins that your small business website will need to get started. By installing and configuring these plugins you will get a head-start on the competition and run a more streamlined WordPress website than others in your niche.
1. Form2Text WordPress Plugin By Hahamarketing.com
The Hahamarketing.com Form2Text plugin is an easy win for any online business running WordPress. After all, it costs you nothing to be the first to respond to customer leads from your website. And the stats show that it is one of the biggest factors in closing leads to customers.
If you’re not familiar with Form2Text, it works by text messaging your phone whenever someone fills out a contact form on your website. It’s easy to use, comes with direct support and bespoke roll out is available.
For more info on Form2Text please go here. Also, make sure you use the Form2Text Calculated Spreadsheet which helps you calculate your lead response times and the number of times you check your email daily.
2. Yoast SEO
Yoast SEO helps you get more search engine traffic to your website. It does this by helping you with on-page and technical SEO work. Such as getting your content keyword density just right and creating a compelling meta descritpion.
Don’t forget to also install Yoast Local SEO if you get local traffic and customers to your business or website.
Yoast also has a great tutorial and exam facility where you can train yourself on the Yoast products. Certainly a must try.
3. WooCommerce ECommerce Plugin.
WooCommerce is the world’s most popular eCommerce platform and runs on WordPress. Not only is it free and easy to install and configure. But it also interfaces with payment gateways such as Paypal and Stripe.
If you are running a WordPress website and want to start selling online. Then WooCommerce is your best bet.
The WooCommerce community is large and helpful to newbies. You can sell both physical and digital goods. It also has product variations, custom configurations, instant downloads, and affiliate items.
Bookings, memberships, subscriptions, and dynamic pricing rules are also possible.
4. Wordfence Security
Wordfence Security is a WordPress Application Firewall (WAF) that keeps your WordPress site free from a whole host of malware, sql injection attacks, brute force attacks and malicious traffic IP’s.
Wordfence is one of the most comprehensive WordPress security solutions available. Since getting your site hacked can lead to a Google manual action or penalty.
Which could include a removal of your website from the Google index. It’s important to have one WAF installed on your site. More than one WAF though can lead to complications as each plugin begins to step on each others toes, so to speak.
It’s best to install just one WAF. And that WAF should be Wordfence Security in our opinion.
5. Updraft Plus Backup Software
Every webmaster should know that it’s essential to have regular and consistent backups of your website. Depending on your website type, a 24 hour backup schedule is advised.
However if you have alot of User Generated Content (UGC) or you update your site often. Then you should back up more often.
Updraft Plus is the most popular backup plugin available for WordPress and comes with a one click restore feature. Which will restore your WordPress site from backup with the click of a button. Life saver.
6. Akismet Spam Protection
Not only is spam annoying and a waste of your time and resources. It can also lead to your site slipping in the search engine rankings when it’s noticed by search engines such as Google and Bing.
Akismet monitors your blog comments and blocks spam comments from bad actors and spam bots which troll the Internet looking for WordPress blogs to comment on.
7. Site Kit By Google
Site Kit By Google is Google’s attempt to join the WordPress bandwagon and make all of it’s tools available to WordPress users without having to go through a laborious installation, configuration and monitoring process.
If you just want some basic statistics on how your website is doing in Google. Then Site Key is the answer. It interfaces with Google Ads, Google Search Console and Google Analytics.
Mailchimp is one of the best and easiest ways of building an email subscriber list with your WordPress website.
Simply sign up to Mailchimp. Then install and configure the Mailchimp plugin. And start your very own email marketing campaign.
Mailchimp is free initially until you reach the threshold of number of subscribers. Then it’s a paid model.
So these are a pick of my top 8 WordPress software plugins for your small business site. What are your favorite plugins for your business WordPress website?
Let us know what works for your business and I can include the best choices in our list maybe. Any other WordPress plugin tips that you’d like to share?
If you are serious about maximizing your online potential through improving your customer response time. Make sure to get your free copy of the Form2Text Calculated Spreadsheet.
Which you can use to gain a full picture of how your speed-to-lead software is benefiting your business. Along with calculated graphs and charts that’ll track your speed-to-lead progress over time and an email checking counter.
It’s built with Form2Text in mind, but can be used with any speed-to-lead software solution.
Also, don’t forget to take the Lead Response Time Test to see how long it takes your business to respond to customer leads. It just takes one minute. Want to find out how much you are losing every minute you don’t respond to a customer query?
So let’s dive right in then. We’ll have a look at some of the best speed to lead software out there for WordPress.
Note: software that integrates with WordPress is generally called a plugin. So that’s what we’ll be calling these pieces of software in this blog post.
1. Form2Text by Hahamarketing.com
Hahamarketing.com’s very own custom developed WordPress plugin (software). We developed this piece of lead response time software because we were tired of constantly missing out on leads that went to competitors that responded more quickly.
Form2Text works by sending an SMS message to your phone whenever someone submits a contact form on your WordPress website.
It also comes with a Math Spam Captcha to halt those nasty spam messages and save you time. It even features a privacy mode so your messages can stay off third party servers.
What’s more, it’s free to download and install. It comes with direct support. It’s easy to use. Bespoke rollout is available.
2. Live Call: Callback Plugin For WordPress.
Live Call is a plugin for WordPress that allows your customers/leads to contact you immediately by phone.
It works like this – a customer comes to your website. Enters his name in the Live Call widget. Then gets connected with someone on your sales team automatically by phone.
LiveCall also comes with a call back scheduler. An exit intent popup that’ll appear if a visitor to your site appears to be leaving your website.
Overall, if you have someone available to talk on an immediate basis. Then Live Call is definitely a good option. However if you do alot of international business and don’t have a 24/7 sales staff you might run into issues.
3. ChatBot For WordPress.
ChatBot for WordPress is a simple, light-weight, programmable chatbot that won’t slow down your website. You can interact with your customers 24/7 using this plugin.
ChatBot is designed to be easy to use and doesn’t require any technical knowledge to use
However ChatBot, like any conversation bot. Does have its drawbacks. Some customers just don’t like talking to bots. Plus it can take some time to configure and finesse correctly for your customer interactions.
4. Visitor Real Time Statistics
If you are a local business with local customers. Especially if you are a brick and mortar business with no online ecommerce facility. Then it’ll pay to know exactly where your customers are coming from.
Visitor Real Time Statistics can help you discover which of your customers come from your local area and doesn’t require the applied knowledge of a heavy weight tool like Google Analytics.
If however you sell internationally and have customers from other countries. Knowing which of your customers are locals won’t help much.
Also, it’s harder for systems such as these to track Desktop locations because many of the Internet Service Providers terminate the Internet connections far away from where the customers are actually living.
5. Appointment Hour Booking WordPress Plugin.
The Appointment Hour Booking plugin for WordPress allows your customers to schedule an appointment to meet you or one of your sales staff at a time that suits both of you.
This plugin allows you to define opening hours, services type, price and duration and can come in handy if you are advertising to locals who want to see a real live person before making a purchasing decision.
The only problem is though unless you are specifically advertising and targeting local traffic. Or you are willing to travel great distances to sell your services. The Appointment Hour Booking software isn’t suitable.
6. HubSpot – CRM, Email Marketing, Live Chat, Forms & Analytics
Last but not least we come to the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) WordPress plugin from Hubspot. This tool is a one size fits all affair. Integrating your WordPress site with the Hubspot CRM.
It does email marketing, live video and text chat, web forms and even provides analytics. It’s free to download and install.
For businesses familiar with Hubspot, this plugin is essential for integrating the CRM with your businesses WordPress site. The only issue is however is that the tool can get expensive to users for certain essential features.
Although using a CRM is something we’d recommend for your business. The Hubspot charges can add up for a smaller enterprise.
So there you have it. 6 of the best, free tools to use to dramatically improve your speed to lead response times from your WordPress site.
Do you have any experience with these tools? We’d be happy to hear your thoughts. Let us know how you handle customer response processes in your business. What is your average lead response time ?
So you put in the hard work. Getting your name out there. You are investing in advertising, marketing and all the rest. Leads are contacting you. Only you’re falling at the last hurdle. Your competitors are stealing your leads because they respond quickly. Whereas you are busy working with the customers you have already so you’re missing out.
The odds of contacting a lead if called in 5 minutes versus 30 minutes drop 100 times.
Let’s take Tom. He’s an accountant from Cork. His business is growing year-on-year and he’s gotten to the stage where he can invest in Google and Facebook ads. Tom also has a website – from which he gets enquiries from customers/leads online. Tom works mostly in the Business-To-Business sector.
After all, the website was expensive. But turned out to be an investment in his business. It’s where the people who click on the Google Ads and Facebook Ads end up. And is Tom’s most effective marketing channel.
Tom spends the day balancing the books for his clients. Some say his work is boring, but Tom doesn’t mind. He finds it stimulating and doesn’t have a moment to lose during the hours of 9-5 Mon-Fri.
Tom can’t be checking his email every few minutes because he’s busy taking care of his existing customers. The problem is though, Tom finds that many of his leads go with the first accountant that offers them a free consultation online or over the phone.
Tom can’t afford a secretary like his bigger competitors. And doesn’t have the time to respond to emails like less-busy competitors of his own size. Time is Tom’s most valuable resource. After all the bank loan Tom took out isn’t going to pay for itself.
Flushing Money Down The Drain
Since Tom spends hundreds of Euros every week on Facebook and Google ads. Yet he has an average lead response time of well over an hour. Tom is essentially flushing his advertising budget down the drain.
Unless Tom can get his response time down to 5 minutes or less. He is doing himself a major disservice. And is not helping his cash flow situation one bit.
So what can Tom do to fix his problem? He’s tried a number of solutions already but has found them either so intrusive that they break his concentration and workflow.
Or else he has encountered solutions that don’t work because they share confidential financial information with third-party computers which doesn’t comply with GDPR regulations. Still, more fixes fail to stop spam and so he gets bombarded with marketing messages all the time.
Tom also has a special contact form with a menu whereby the customer picks the service they are inquiring about and fills out their information first. Tom wants to know why and not just who is contacting him.
So Tom wants to save time, slash lead response time, preserve his concentration and workflow and develop a bespoke rollout that fits the software directly to his site. He needs an easy to use piece of software and would like to avoid having to wait while newbie support staff consult their boss on simple questions.
1. Facebook Messenger
Facebook messenger is certainly one solution to Tom’s problem. Not only is it easy to use, but it comes with its own mobile app that means Tom can get notified of messages on his phone. What’s more, you can program a chatbot into Facebook Messenger to answer simple questions and take information from customers.
The major problem with Facebook Messenger is that it’s not private. So is unsuitable for confidential information. Also many people won’t use Facebook Messenger because they know that all too often they’ll end up talking to a chat bot. Chat bots are not only impersonal, but take time to finesse, program and install.
At over 120MB the Facebook Messenger App is too big for many phones.
2. Email Automation
The best thing about email automation is that it’s free. It’s also relatively easy to set up and doesn’t require a lot of support. You can respond to customer leads in minutes without breaking your workflow.
One problem with automated email responses though, is that they are canned responses. They aren’t personalized for the most part. They are also one-size-fits-all and are difficult to configure if you want different responses to different inquiries.
They also aren’t great at converting leads to customers. And because much of your email from your website is bot-spam. It doesn’t look good to your mail provider that you are constantly emailing spam addresses.
Customer Relationship Management software is great for capturing email addresses and telephone numbers and assisting you in turning leads into customers. It keeps track of contacts, provides template sales emails and generally keeps track of your sales performance.
CRM software however can be an added expense for a small business. Especially if you use it infrequently. Plus you have to check your CRM database regularly.
There are also privacy issues and with a large number of businesses using CRM software, it’s tough to make the advantage count.
Google recommends you display your telephone contact details prominently on your website. Many customers like to be able to talk on the phone. The personal contact and instant communication is great for closing leads.
The problem with the telephone though, is many prospects aren’t ready yet to enter your sales funnel. They want basic information and for that, they want to communicate over email only.
Many customers fear the hard sell tactics of having a telephone conversation with a business owner and/or salesperson. Especially one that now has their telephone number in their database.
5. Form2Text WordPress Software
Last but not least is the Form2Text WordPress website software. Not only does it have a Math Captcha Spam filter for stopping all those spam messages. But it also has a privacy mode setting for confidential information.
Gone will be the days of checking email every 30 minutes. Breaking your concentration and workflow. You’ll be able to slash your lead response time and convert more leads into customers from your website.
Form2Text works by sending an SMS to your phone whenever someone submits a contact form on your website.
It’s easy to use, has direct support and comes with bespoke rollout so you can integrate extra functionality and features based on your website lead process. What’s more, the Form2Text WordPress plugin is free to download and install.
Whichever solution works best for you. The statistics show that you need to have a method of cutting your lead response to 5 minutes or less. Whether you get most of your traffic from Google organically or you pay for Google/Facebook/LinkedIn ads.
You can save both time and money while eliminating waste by having a process in place to optimize your lead response times.
These are testing times. Bringing heaps of trouble. Here we’ll look at helping your small, Irish business survive COVID. Most have been forced to close their business down or reduce their service capacity. It is still unknown as to when the coronavirus pandemic will subside. The future, at the moment, doesn’t look good for small businesses, that’s for sure.
But, is there a way these companies can save or generate revenue during COVID-19? In this post, we are going to discuss exactly that. We have found five important ways SMEs can use to keep winning despite the coronavirus outbreak.
5 Useful Tips For Small Businesses During COVID-19
There’s a lot that can be done to keep generating revenue for your busine
1. Get Online To Help Your Small, Irish Business Survive COVID.
If you have always been thinking about moving your business online, this is the perfect time to do it. There are a number of compelling reasons why you should not let this moment pass.
First, people’s attention is moving towards the Internet. It’s where they spend a huge percentage of their time. This shift will slowly tilt against the brick and mortar businesses over time. Even after the pandemic is over. The Internet is the future and you should be ready for it.
Second, the overhead costs of running an online business is far less than that of running a physical store. You have fewer resources to manage and more of your time can be spent on growing your business.
Third, COVID-19. People are afraid to get out of their houses. They still have access to the Internet. They can use it to get the products and services they want. If your business is not online, your Internet-savvy competitor will win.
There’s nothing much you have to do to move your business online. All you need is a business website with all the important features like product pages, virtual carts, payment integrations, SSL certificates, etc. A website design and development expert can help you with this.
2. Don’t Stop Advertising Online
Have you been advertising online but gave up because of COVID-19? Well, you should rethink your strategy. You have a great opportunity to attract an entirely new user base for your business. Ultimately helping your Irish business survive COVID.
Pressing hard on marketing during the pandemic, making the audience know that you care about them, can go a long way in creating a healthy customer-business relationship. Many companies, like Dominos, are doing it by providing a zero-contact delivery.
Promoting this very ‘update’ in your services shows that you care. This is the perfect time to market your services and build an audience to reap its reward for years to come. The quarantine will be over one day, for sure.
Therefore, spending money NOW to attract an audience will help you gain more revenue AFTER the quarantine is over.
3. Content Creation for Communication
Once you have a website developed, you can add a blog section to it. The purpose of adding a blog on your website is simple. Your potential customers are looking for solutions to their problems on the Internet.
When they search on Google, and your website ranks on the SERP (Search Engine Result Page). You automatically form a great impression on your potential customers. On top of that, if they click on your link and find your post really helpful, they will be much more likely to do business with you.
By writing blog posts and optimizing it for search engines using the latest SEO techniques, you can really boost your brand’s online presence. Make sure you hire an expert blog post writer for your website because the content is going to reflect who you are.
Creating blog posts and doing SEO for your website will eventually help you lower your ad spend on paid advertising. Thus, it can really help you save a lot of money during COVID-19.
4. Get Active on Social Media
Did you know that there are almost 3.8 billion people on social media? Well, we are quite certain that your target audience is also on social media. This is the perfect time to attract the attention of your target audience on popular social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more.
How can you do that? You can do it by creating content. Designing social media posts, videos, and graphics that show how much you care about your followers will definitely help your brand to get closer to them during these tough times.
You can also go live on these social media channels and express your opinions and announce what you are up to during the quarantine. Doing this will make you look authentic and people will want to do business with you and stay loyal.
5. Make a Shift in Branding
There has to be a complete shift in your branding strategies for your business. The COVID-19 outbreak has made businesses temporarily change their branding to show that they support the people in their quest to contain the outbreak.
People are always keen on doing business with brands that show solidarity with their followers. Such brands are relatable to the public and thus they attract more business and revenue.
Hiring a branding expert and utilizing this time to create a relatable brand should be your top priority. It will not make you spend much. But will ensure great returns. Also, make sure you couple your branding shift with exceptional content as well.
There you have it. We have mentioned some of the best ways you can save and also generate revenue to help your Irish business survive COVID. These are tough times and we highly recommend making sure that all your employees are safe and healthy.
We wish you all the very best for your future. Since you are here, don’t forget to subscribe to our weekly newsletter as we bring all the latest updates from the world of online marketing and web development. Thanks.
The majority of mobile internet users abandon a website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to fully load. Also, many mobile sites – if designed/programmed poorly – will have an uncomfortable amount of ‘jumping’ as the browser tries to render the page correctly.
47% of users expect desktop sites to load in 2 seconds or less. You can test how quick your website loads by clicking here.
Code optimization, page caching and faster servers can all help with loading times. If your page loads take more than 3 seconds. Then you might want to speak to a professional developer.
#3 Start Email Marketing.
Did you know that email marketing generally gives a return on investment of x44 times investment spend? If you don’t already do email marketing then you might want to start thinking about starting.
Embed an email sign up sheet on your site and start collecting those subscriptions straight away. Alternatively, you could start with sales magnets such as a free e-book, or special discount for an email address.
Remember to add value to the user experience. Whether you email customers monthly or weekly, be sure not to spam or oversell. Market by starting a conversation with your customers. Rather than at your customers is a great way to market your small Irish business.
#4 Analytics: know your data.
Whether you’re building a customer persona for your social media marketing campaign. Or you’re monitoring your Return On Ad Spend. The important part of analytics is to focus your attention on the customer’s journey.
How customers go from noticing your brand, to subscribing, to making a purchase and eventually becoming a brand evangelist.
Can you tie your analytics back to Return On Investment (ROI)? Do you ignore vanity metrics‘ that don’t contribute to the bottom line? When analyzing traffic, segment your traffic by source eg. organic, paid, referral, social and direct.
Analytics should tell you which pages on your site attract the most visitors, which actions visitors are taking on your site, where your visitors are dropping off and opportunities to enhance the various stages of the customer’s journey eg. Awareness, Consideration, Decision, Retention and Advocacy.
#5 Start a Blog.
Blogging is one of the least expensive ways to get your brand in front of an audience and influencers. The more content a consumer reads on your site, the more likely they are to trust you and make a purchase down the line. And will ultimately help you market your small Irish business.
Today’s customers go straight to the web in order to find information well before they ever consider making a purchase. It’s important once you start a blog, to update it regularly with new posts with informative content.
#6 Conduct Experiments.
Don’t be afraid to change things around on your site. Does your email subscription form need to be changed, from the bottom of your page to the top? Can you change your email subject lines?
True growth hacking means constantly conducting experiments on your site (and in your social media presence). Little differences can make a big difference so get stuck in.
Confidence is contagious. So is lack of confidence.
#7 Be a (shameless) Self-Promoter Of Your Small Irish Business.
In order to get your brand name out there, you’ll have to work tirelessly at self-promotion. Get out there and ask for strategic backlinks for your business. Also, try to guest post on influencer’s websites.
Visit online communities and forums and start posting helpful advice on them. Relationships are one of the most valuable currencies in growth hacking.
#8 Partner With A Company That Complements You.
No man/woman is an island. Sometimes the best way to increase brand recognition or the bottom line is to partner with other companies that complement your business.
In your marketing efforts don’t forget to point users to others that already love your brand. This social proof is just as powerful as customer testimonials in attracting new users/customers.
Competition is everywhere and today, consumers have more choices than ever before. They choose who they want to interact with on social media and who they trust/subscribe/purchase from on the Internet.
It’s your job to create quality, informative content that keeps users coming back. Creates brand evangelists and helps customers on their buyers journey.
Maybe you’d like to share some of the growth hack techniques that have worked for you in the past?
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