Marketing Agency vs. In-House Team: Which Should You Choose?

Marketing Agency vs. In-House Team: Which Should You Choose?

Like most business owners, you know you need to effectively market your business in order to expand your sphere of influence and engage new customers – but you’re unsure of the right approach. Is it more practical to recruit a dedicated marketing team to manage all your marketing in-house? Or is it wiser to enlist the services of an experienced digital marketing agency to tackle it for you?

Both are reasonable options, but there are also ramifications connected with either decision. In this article, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of hiring a digital marketing agency versus hiring an in-house marketing team.

3 Time-Tested Methods for Growing Your Business

If you want to grow your business (and why wouldn’t you?), there are a few tried-and-true methods you can employ to attract new customers:

  • Word of Mouth & Referrals
  • Advertising & Marketing  (PPC, SEO, Social Media)
  • Direct Sales  (Cold Calls, Email Blasts, Knocking on Doors)

In a perfect world, a business would land so many new customer referrals that they wouldn’t have to shell out money for advertising, marketing, or direct sales. But when you’re first getting started in business, referrals can be hard to rely on. Because of this, many companies will contemplate hiring an in-house marketing team or outsourcing their marketing to an agency. Let’s examine both options:

WHY HIRE AN IN-HOUSE MARKETING TEAM?

Based on your specific business needs, it might seem more reasonable to employ a dedicated marketing team in-house. Sure, you’re accruing additional salary expenses to the business, but you’re also gaining total control over how your marketing plan is put into action.

Recruiting an experienced, skilled marketing manager who can take charge of every aspect of your marketing efforts can help grow lead generation and steadily attract new customers. So, let’s weigh the pros and and cons of hiring an in-house marketing team:

PROS:

In-House Marketers Have a Deeper Understanding of the Business

Someone who works for your business is naturally going to have a much better understanding of the needs of your customers. They’re more acquainted with your products and services, as well as how best to promote them to clientele. If you’re a B2B organization – one that specializes in selling products and services to other companies – this may be even more critical, as an outside agency might not be as familiar with your specific market.

In-house marketers are likely to feel more connected to and in line with your overall business strategy. Chances are, they also have a fairly solid knowledge base and awareness of previous campaigns – and whether or not they have been successful – without having to go to the trouble of researching them, like an agency would. Additionally, an in-house team gives you creative control over the end-to-end digital process.

An In-House Marketing Team Is Focused On Your Brand Only

While marketing agencies will certainly make the effort to familiarize themselves with your brand and devote ample time to its marketing strategy, they’re also focused on the marketing needs of their other clients. 

By contrast, in-house marketing personnel are able to focus on your business 100% of the time. Each of their marketing efforts is customized to your specific needs. They spend time examining what’s working for you and making adjustments to marketing goals and processes. Because of this singular focus, your in-house marketing team is liable to put forth more ideas that are unique to your business.

In-House Marketers Are Available All Workweek Long

With a dedicated in-house marketing team, you don’t have to schedule a time to meet – you can brainstorm or revise plans anytime you need to.

Having convenient access to key decision-makers in real time can help streamline creative timelines and project management much more so than if a project has been outsourced.

CONS:

Oprah Winfrey saying,

In-House Marketing Can Be Inconsistent and Lackluster

One of the challenges of having just one or two people working on your marketing is that it’s often a part-time role. In-house personnel might already have other duties they’re expected to perform, and handling the business’s marketing needs is simply bundled into their job description.

As a consequence, consistency plummets quickly. It’s conceivable that weeks could go by without any new content being posted and ad campaign statistics going unmonitored.

Additionally, if budget constraints prevent you from recruiting a diverse team of crackerjack marketers, the content created by these individuals might be lifeless and uninspired as a result.

Yoda saying,

An In-House Marketing Team May Have Limited Training Time

Marketing agencies often spend a considerable amount of time and resources ensuring that their employees are updating their knowledge and skills. Ongoing training can entail attending marketing conferences or webinars, exchanging articles and resources online, and brainstorming between various departments.

By contrast, in-house marketers usually have less time to dedicate to improving their skills. They also don’t have the benefit of learning from or collaborating with other marketing departments. While you may initially hire individuals based on their digital marketing experience and expertise, once they’re a part of your in-house team they are far less likely to have the time and resources available to continue to maintain and refine their skills.

Steve Martin unsuccessfully trying to think of new ideas.

In-House Marketers May Run Out of Fresh Ideas

Effective marketing demands inherently imaginative minds that thrive on change. When a small in-house marketing team is focused on managing your brand alone, creativity can begin to languish over time. It’s difficult to keep formulating new and innovative strategies to promote products and share content when you have no one outside your circle to bounce ideas off. 

In some cases, company leadership keeps a tight rein on their creative team and doesn’t give them leeway to take chances and try new things. There may also be some overarching arrogance on the part of leadership, believing that no one outside the organization can represent the company as effectively as its employees.

Some rando guy saying really slowly,

Companies Must Foot the Bill for Retaining an In-House Team

In the short term, it can seem like you’re getting a better bargain by opting for a small in-house marketing team. But ultimately, it can become considerably more costly.

When you first link up with a marketing agency, you can anticipate paying out more money to get you set up – but these costs will dramatically decrease to monthly maintenance over time.

With an in-house team, you will continue to pay them an annual salary, as well as benefits and paid time off in most cases. With cost-of-living increases, this amount will only grow.

Digital Marketing Graphic with Soaring Rocket

WHY HIRE A DIGITAL MARKETING AGENCY?

Securing the services of a digital marketing agency can feel like a monumental maneuver. Typically, there’s a preliminary meeting, a contract of some duration, numerous discussions regarding the scope of work, and interacting with a variety of different people on the team. Finding the ideal agency can involve a great deal of time and effort.

Then there’s the cost. Working with an agency is oftentimes more expensive than “DIY” marketing or recruiting in-house personnel, primarily because the agency is more experienced. But a digital marketing agency can deliver a more expansive array of services and also churn out higher-quality work. Here are some pros and cons of hiring a digital marketing agency:

PROS:

Professional Marketers Have Specialized Skill Sets

Effective marketing demands a multifaceted approach, involving content creation, social media management, email marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click advertising (PPC), graphic/website design, and web development. Assembling an in-house marketing team teeming with all this talent is no easy undertaking.

When you partner with a reputable digital marketing agency, you gain access to an entire team of specialists – each of whom knows their niche and understands how best to get results. These passionate and knowledgeable marketers routinely manage a wide range of clientele, making it all the more probable that they’ll implement the proper strategies for your company with not as much trial and error.

A Marketing Agency Can Offer a Fresh Perspective

Companies that have been in business for any significant period of time may ultimately come to the realization that they’re circulating the same ideas over and over again. Campaigns start to look alike, and copywriters continue using the same terminology to describe things. In-house marketers keep trying to devise new and innovative ideas, but it’s getting more and more challenging to do so.

This is entirely normal. There’s a natural limit to how long a company can craft quality content when they’re promoting the same products and services day in and day out. It’s easy to become single-minded when working from inside an organization. For this reason, getting an outside perspective can be immensely beneficial to a business.

Partnering with an agency can help you view your company from a different perspective and bring a fresh approach to your marketing strategy. While it’s true that an outside agency will not have a thorough, expansive understanding of your company’s brand and history, this can actually be beneficial. An agency can objectively identify opportunities that might have gone unnoticed or were not as easily recognizable by in-house personnel.

Digital marketing specialists have years of knowledge and experience, and they’re trained to analyze your business from the consumer’s or client’s viewpoint. The old adage “two heads are better than one” is especially relevant when it comes to digital marketing.

Additionally, an agency may be more willing to push the envelope and think unconventionally. This can bring about increased ingenuity and quite possibly more successful marketing strategies.

Consistency and Speed of Work are Hallmarks of Digital Marketing Agencies

Consistency and Speed of Work Are Hallmarks of Marketing Agencies

When generating new marketing collateral, it’s easy for an organization to become careless about what and when to communicate. More often than not, attending to customers is their primary focus, and marketing takes a back seat.

As the majority of in-house personnel have other responsibilities apart from their marketing roles, the amount of time they have available to keep up to date on all the latest social media, SEO, content marketing, and branding trends is extremely limited.

By contrast, when you outsource your marketing efforts to an agency, they are able to jump in and start implementing strategies right away, carrying out each project from planning to completion. Because these agencies routinely handle a wide array of client accounts, they typically work far more efficiently than an in-house marketing team.

Over time, these agile marketers have designed state-of-the-art workflows and processes that are built for quality, volume, and efficiency. Outsourced agencies will strive to make sure that your content, ad campaigns, and social media marketing are all sent out on time and looking great, as well as ensuring that your branding is consistent.

Kim Kardashian flashing that cash

Marketing Agencies Are Cost-Effective Over the Long Term

While partnering with an outside agency might seem more expensive at face value, when you compare it to the costs of recruiting a full team of dedicated marketers, it’s a bargain! In-house personnel can set your company back hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in salaries, benefits, and technology investments.

Alternatively, you might choose to designate a single, in-house employee to handle all of your social media marketing, graphic design, and online advertising. But for less than the costs associated with that one individual, you could hire an agency and gain access to an entire team of specialists who are experienced in meeting the needs of a variety of diverse clients in multiple industries.

Working with an agency that comprehends your specific needs will allow your company to move swifter, secure better outcomes, and make decisions more effortlessly. You may not even have to work with an agency long-term at full scale – once you’re up and running successfully, you may only have to manage maintenance fees, which are considerably less by comparison.

Schitt's Creek:

Outsourcing to an Agency Gives Your Company a Competitive Edge

Competition is fierce and technologies evolve at lightning speed. Thus, it’s essential to keep up-to-date with the latest trends in order to stay ahead of your competitors. It’s conceivable to do this with an in-house team if your organization is prepared to invest in marketing education, new technology, and advanced resources. But most aren’t.

Fortunately, staying on top of the most current digital marketing techniques is an agency’s lifeblood. Marketing agencies often enjoy early access to cutting-edge technologies, tools, and software – most of which just aren’t available to smaller, in-house marketing teams.

Unless your internal marketing team is large enough to justify the costs of ongoing education and technology, it’s generally more economical to outsource your marketing to an agency.

CONS:

Will Smith on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air looking nervously uncertain.

Partnering with a Marketing Agency Can Incur Higher Costs Over the Short Term

Depending on how many functions you decide to pass on to an agency, you can expect to spend a bigger chunk of your marketing budget than you would with a single, in-house professional – at least at first.

But, as previously mentioned, you can’t always get the best results when entrusting all of your marketing efforts to one person. If you’re currently covering the total cost of salaries and benefits of supporting an entire in-house team, you might find that outsourcing to a marketing agency is actually more affordable.

When you link up with an external agency, it’s important to bear in mind that, in addition to gaining access to a whole team of professional marketers, you’re also laying the foundations of a long-term marketing strategy that will gradually decrease costs and improve overall profitability.

Naturally, being businesses themselves, marketing agencies have their own salaries, taxes, and other expenses that must be met. In order to accomplish this, they have to set prices for each of their various services. Most agencies are upfront about their pricing and are willing to adjust their fee structures to meet your budget.

While an agency might cost more in the short term, they are going to be able to generate better returns that you can measure right away. This signifies that you know the value that you’re paying for.

Dream Corp:

Marketing Agencies May Lack Your Knowledge of the Industry

While some marketing agencies concentrate on a specific industry, most of them work with clients in a variety of markets. Consequently, they may not have the degree of knowledge you have about your products and services.

In such cases, there will be a bit of a “discovery period” in the early days of a project until the agency has become familiar with the particulars of your central business processes. Even agencies that have worked with a vast array of clients will need time to grasp your customers’ needs.

As each market is distinct, what performs well for one business could fail miserably for another. You won’t want to squander money on a campaign that will turn out to alienate potential customers.

Finding a firm with demonstrated results in your field can help counterbalance a lack of industry knowledge.

The Umbrella Academy:

It Can Take Time for Agencies to Get Up to Speed On a Company

It can be hard to get down to business straightaway after hiring an agency. The client-agency partnership needs time to ensure proper alignment to the client’s stated objectives.

A creditable marketing agency will want to gain a deep understanding of your clients and identify what it is that they’re looking for. At the same time, they’ll need to make certain they have a grasp of your brand’s voice and image.

After taking the time to evaluate your goals and prior marketing efforts with their team, the agency will work to determine what direction to take with your marketing and make certain that you approve of it as well.

Once a campaign has concluded, the agency will ask for your feedback so that they can adapt and enhance your marketing strategy going forward. All of these things take time, and a freewheeling approach won’t produce the optimal results.

You Can Expect Lots of Meetings, Especially At First

When outsourcing your marketing to an agency, you can anticipate taking part in lots of meetings and discussions, especially at the outset of the relationship.

Every single aspect demands your consent and stamp of approval early on, and you can’t relegate the critical decisions to the agency. It can be burdensome at times – being tasked with reviewing a new web design or web content, or greenlighting ad campaigns – but it’s an integral part of the process.

As the client-agency relationship progresses, you can expect to continue having regular meetings in order to:

Warner Archive:

Regular Communication with Marketing Agencies Can Be Challenging

Effective communication is crucial to keeping your marketing plan running smoothly. But when you partner with an outside marketing agency, you won’t always have instant access to your team. Lack of physical proximity is a natural barrier, and face-to-face communication is understandably more limited.

Communicating with your agency partners often takes place via phone or email, and they may be slower to respond to requests, questions, or concerns than you’d prefer. While meetings can be arranged, they typically occur hours or days later.

The fact of the matter is, you aren’t the agency’s only client – you may not even be their biggest client. Agencies routinely manage multiple accounts for a variety of clients. If other clients contract for more services, your company’s project may not be prioritized as highly. Simply put, it can be easy to get lost in the shuffle.

Principled marketing agencies, however, work to ensure that no client feels less valued than another. They strive to keep in constant contact with each of their clients and make a conscious effort to respond to concerns quickly.

Final Thoughts

Both recruiting an in-house marketing team and outsourcing to an agency have their benefits and drawbacks. Neither option is inherently “right” or “wrong” for any business.

In order to determine which approach is right for your company, it’s important to examine your short-term marketing goals as well as your long-term growth strategy. Weighing these against your own team’s strengths and weaknesses is critical in assessing whether you should keep your marketing initiatives in-house or entrust them to outside experts. In addition, identifying which particular services your company needs and what your marketing budget is are essential to reaching a final decision.

Many companies already have a core of in-house individuals tasked with handling their marketing. By and large, in-house personnel live and breathe the company brand and are likely to have a far more in-depth understanding of the business’s unique selling proposition, product set, and buyer personas. Thus, in-house marketers may be better qualified to create relevant content and effective communication strategies for the company.

Nevertheless, the range of expertise and resources available to in-house marketers may be limited – indeed, they may find it difficult to implement new software or keep pace with ever-evolving trends and technologies.

There’s a steep learning curve involved with digital marketing, and teaming up with an external agency can help avoid classic “newbie” mistakes. Instead of spending time and effort exploring various possibilities, agency specialists will formulate and carry out a hard-and-fast plan without delay, so you can receive a quicker return on your investment.

Many organizations find that a hybrid approach to marketing works best. Outsourcing key services to agency specialists can not only be extremely cost-effective, it also provides an outside perspective which can help in-house marketing teams recognize opportunities to improve. Keeping some of your resources in-house also helps the company maintain some degree of direct control over its content, branding, and other marketing resources.

Now that you’ve had a chance to analyze the pros and cons of retaining an in-house marketing team versus partnering with an outside agency, it’s time to take the next step.

If you or your business could benefit from the services of a professional, full-service digital marketing agency, HighClick Media is here to help! 

HighClick provides comprehensive digital media and online marketing solutions for businesses of all sizes. Our talented team of creative thinkers, innovators, and digital marketers bring skill above and beyond the ordinary to every project, resulting in explosive business success!

Whether you’re looking for a fresh website design, brand development, email and social media marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), or pay-per-click advertising (PPC), our highly skilled team is fully equipped to assist you!

Reach out to us today by calling 252.814.2150 or visit our website for a full description of our services!

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Why Shop Local?

Why Shop Local? It’s become something of a fad for folks to hop on social media and encourage their friends and neighbors to “Shop Local.”

Read More »

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Why Shop Local?

Why Shop Local?

It’s become something of a fad for folks to hop on social media and encourage their friends and neighbors to “Shop Local.” There’s a lot of good logic behind the mantra, though.

First, let’s look at the numbers.

Small businesses with fewer than 100 employees account for 99% of all businesses in the United States. Locally owned businesses employ over 77 million Americans and are responsible for creating 75% of all new jobs. Nonprofits receive 250% more support from local businesses than from nationally owned chains.

Still not convinced? Consider this!

Smaller-scale, locally owned businesses contribute to creating communities – like yours – that are more prosperous, more entrepreneurial, more connected, and generally a lot better off!

Here’s another startling number, and it’s a doozy! Approximately 1 in 12 small businesses closes every year, with low sales being the primary cause. Imagine your favorite 12 businesses in the community and decide which one you could live without. Tough choice, huh?

Saying “Shop Local” is all well and good, but we have to actually take the time and spend the money to support our local businesses with both our presence and our dollars. If not, we are contributing to a loss of our community and maybe even its identity.

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Why Shop Local?

Why Shop Local? It’s become something of a fad for folks to hop on social media and encourage their friends and neighbors to “Shop Local.”

Read More »

1) Strengthen the Local Economy

For every $100 you spend at a local business, $73 stays in the local economy. Conversely, for every $100 you spend at a non-locally-owned business, only $43 will return to the local economy. When profits stay local, the community’s wealth, tax revenue, and standard of living increase. When you shop local, you’re individually stimulating the local economy – and in turn, helping shape your community’s unique character and personality.

2) Invest in the Community

Local businesses are owned by your friends and neighbors who live in the community. Because of this, they’re less likely to leave and are more personally invested in the community’s future. Locally owned establishments tend to support each other, working with other local businesses such as banks, service providers, and farms to fulfill their needs. This helps both businesses and the residents of the community – like you and your family! In times of economic downturns, local businesses are more likely to work harder to stay open. Local ownership means that important decisions about the business are made by people who live in the community and can personally feel the impact of those decisions.

3) Support Community Groups

Small businesses donate significant portions of their profits to nonprofits, events, and teams within their communities. Big businesses often donate to charities and nonprofits as well, but this money doesn’t typically go back to the community where you live. When funds are donated to local nonprofits, they go directly towards helping you and your family, friends, and neighbors.

4) Keep Your Community Unique

One-of-a-kind businesses help give your community its distinct personality. This exclusive experience can make your city or town a desired destination for tourists or visitors passing through. The more interesting and unique your community, the more it will attract new neighbors as well. Entrepreneurs and skilled workers, in particular, are increasingly likely to invest and settle in a community that actively strives to preserve its distinctive character.

5) Diversity of Products

Big-box stores are beholden to national sales plans and marketing strategies. Thus, they generally don’t stock their stores with products that are highly sought after within a specific region. Local business owners choose products based on what they know their customers want, often carrying unique items and handmade goods from local artisans. Community shops and farmers’ markets are stocked with locally grown produce that’s fresher, longer-lasting, and often more flavorful than that which you’d buy at the supermarket.

6) Better Expertise

Small business owners are passionate, well-informed, and highly knowledgeable about the products they’re selling. They often hire employees with more specific product experience as well, which better equips the business to educate potential customers and “story tell” about the brand. Because they know their customers personally, business owners can easily adjust their inventories to include the goods and services local people want to buy.

7) Nurture a Close-Knit Community

When you shop at neighborhood businesses, you’ll likely run into friends and family more often, which can help unite the community as a whole. Cities and towns with a higher number of local businesses are proven to enjoy stronger social ties and greater participation in civic affairs. Local ownership of business means residents with deep roots in the community are actively involved in development decisions that shape our lives and local environment.

8) Personalized Customer Service

Maintaining positive relationships with community members is important to local businesses. Employees have a vested interest in the products or services they’re selling, and this drives them to go the extra mile to deliver personalized support and ensure customer satisfaction. Business owners are usually directly connected to every employee in the store, and this personal approach often means that any problem you have is taken seriously. Owners of local businesses are often easier to get hold of than decision-makers at a large chain store, so any customer complaints that may arise are usually resolved quickly. Other drawing factors for local businesses include a less-crowded environment and frequently shorter lines, meaning less stress and hassle when it comes to getting what you need from the business.

9) Reduce Environmental Impact

Because local businesses make more of their purchases locally, less fuel for transportation is required. They typically set up shop in town or city centers, which helps contribute to less sprawl, traffic congestion, habitat loss, and pollution. Independent businesses often have a smaller physical footprint than larger companies, and they generally utilize far less packaging than big-box stores as well.

10) Promote Entrepreneurship

Creativity and entrepreneurship are the foundation of the American economy. By supporting local entrepreneurs, you get a higher level of service and help make your community a better place to live.

11) Create More Job Opportunities

Small businesses create jobs where people live, so community members like yourself, your friends, family, and neighbors can work closer to home. This cuts back on commute time, which helps keep employees happy and improves retention and overall job performance. The increase in jobs for local residents will have a positive domino effect, as local stores will need to partner with other local residents to help with accounting, printing, and other essential services. Local businesses also contribute to higher-paying jobs for your neighbors. When you shop locally, you are helping create jobs for teachers, firefighters, law enforcement officers, and many other vital professions. During economic downturns, locally owned businesses tend to retain more of their employees, as compared to big-box retailers which decrease the number of jobs under the same circumstances.

12) Put Your Taxes to Good Use

In addition to generating more tax revenue per sales dollar, taxes paid by small local businesses are widely used to support vital public services such as schools, libraries, parks, street repairs, trash collection, and police/fire departments. By shopping locally, you are actively contributing to these and other local programs that directly benefit your friends, family, and community!

13) Increase Competition

Unfortunately, big-box stores have a long history of driving mom-and-pop shops out of business. With less competition, the big-box stores can charge higher prices. With a multitude of local businesses within your community, all stores will need to keep their prices competitive in order to gain your business. Having lots of small businesses in the community also guarantees a much broader range of product choices, many of which are carried specifically to fill the needs of local customers.

Final Thoughts

Shopping locally is, hands-down, one of the best and easiest ways you can help improve the community in which you live. Patronizing small businesses in your neighborhood has endless positive and long-lasting effects – not only for the businesses, but for everyone in the community!

What’s your favorite local business to shop at on a regular basis? Drop us a line here to let us know or call us at 252.814.2150!

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6 Things People Might Hate About Your Website (And How To Address Them)

6 Things People Might Totally Hate About Your Website (And How To Address Them)

Whatever the size of your organization, one of the first things a business owner seeks to sort out is your website – understandably so, given the digital age in which we live.

A good website is an integral part of any business’s success; but for e-commerce companies, in particular, it’s absolutely essential. Notwithstanding, businesses are often quick to launch a website without making certain that it functions in a user-friendly manner. 

Making the effort to ensure that your website is fully operative – both from a design and usability perspective – can help your site become a chief source of both leads and revenue. But neglecting to do so could bring about an infinite number of missed opportunities.

In this article, we’ll take a look at six key components that people generally hate about websites in order to help you avoid making the same mistakes with your site.

Dumbledore is waiting for something to happen...impatiently.

Slow Loading Times

Let’s start with one of the greatest nuisances for web users today – loading time. In this day and age, people want instant gratification in every area of their lives; rapid access to web pages is merely another “necessity” that we’ve come to expect. Indeed, the impatience level of most people is about 3 seconds – with approximately 40% of individuals reporting that they’ve exited a site which has failed to load in that time.

There are a number of ways you can effectively overcome slow loading times. These range from quick fixes such as decreasing the amount of media on a page as well as compressing large image sizes, to more technical solutions – some of which might necessitate the services of a professional web developer.

Jocelyn from Schitt's Creek: So what does this mean?

Keyword-Stuffed Copy

Website content that’s jam-packed with keywords does nothing but lead to haphazard copy providing very little value to consumers. Moreover, it actually undermines your search ranking, as Google now penalizes sites observed to be employing this method – meaning that there’s no good reason for businesses to persist in this practice.

The concept of keyword stuffing came about at the turn of the century when Google’s search algorithm leaned heavily on the amount of keywords featured on a website. This led to marketers incorporating as many keywords into their copy as possible, without regard to the overall quality of the content – which, at the time, saw their websites ascending through Google’s search rankings.

Since that time, Google’s ranking algorithms have progressed by leaps and bounds, and now a considerable burden is being placed on website reputability and user behavior. Regrettably, many marketers are still seeking to optimize their sites through the now-antiquated practice of keyword stuffing.

You ought to have a good idea of the content that’s currently on your site. However, it’s never a bad idea to revisit your copy to make certain that it provides genuine value to website visitors and hasn’t fallen into the trap of keyword stuffing. You can have an in-house employee refresh your copy or hire a professional copywriter to update it for you. The long-term effects of being penalized by Google will outbalance the short-term commitment of time and money in rewriting the content – the sooner you get this taken care of, the better.

Steve Harvey is a bit overwhelmed by all the messages on his computer.

Too Much Text

While it’s important to provide quality content that users will find beneficial, websites should also be visually appealing. Content doesn’t only consist of written copy; nowadays, images play a critical role as well. Not only do images help provide a visual reference, but they’re also ideal for splitting up large portions of text.

Websites featuring an excess of verbiage will instantly turn off many users. In this day and age, when people’s patience levels and attention spans are perpetually declining, it’s unreasonable to expect them to wade through multiple paragraphs of text.

Britney Spears is very confused...as per usual.

It Doesn’t Clearly State What Your Business Does

Having a website that doesn’t explicitly spell out what your business does is a surefire way to suffer defeat at the hands of your competitors. As with many decisions these days, consumers are likely to hop online and research their options before investing in a particular product, business, or service.

When a user visits your website, they’ll expect to quickly find out what it is you do and how your product or service could be of use to them. It’s vital that you communicate this information right away, as consumers are typically only a couple of clicks away from looking elsewhere.

If you know your target audience would prefer to be spoken to in plain English, then you’d be wise to stay away from industry jargon as this could make your product offering hard to understand. It’s always best to keep your message as clear and concise as possible.

Overusing Stock Imagery

Users welcome an image or two to break up sections of written copy. Regardless, businesses that choose to utilize stock imagery have to take into account the types of images they use. A huge number of identical or similar-looking images are being overused these days. Adding to these trends could leave your website looking tacky and outdated while failing to reflect the true nature of your business.

The images you choose to use on your site should add value as far as providing a visual aid for the information on the page – or, at the very least, be aesthetically appealing while still being relative to the page itself.

Stock images (such as the two pictured above) are classic examples of the type of imagery that will leave your business looking dull and unimaginative. Make sure your brand identity isn’t obscured amidst the excessive use of generic images.

girl scrolling on her mobile device

Not Optimized for Mobile Devices

While mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets are being used to surf the internet more than ever before, a staggering number of websites still aren’t optimized for mobile. This often makes for a lousy user experience for visitors attempting to browse a site that lacks mobile functionality.

Whether it’s persistent pinching and pulling to navigate each page, multiple clicks on the wrong tabs due to the display screen being too small, or a section of the web page not showing up correctly on the screen – the end result is typically that visitors will no longer wish to return to the website, at least not on mobile devices.

If you have yet to optimize your website for mobile, it’s time to take a look at how much of your traffic is arriving via mobile. If it’s a considerable chunk – and let’s be honest, it almost certainly is – then optimizing your website should be your primary concern. You don’t want to be turning away potential customers due to negative experiences while navigating your site.

Final Thoughts

As demonstrated here, there are a number of elements that visitors dislike or find annoying about business websites. Hopefully, this list will help you identify any trouble spots on your site while also offering some practical ideas for how to improve it.

Before you go about making drastic changes, though, it’s important to take a close look at how your website is currently performing. Doing so will allow you to better track how the changes you make now will impact your site’s performance going forward.

If you’re like a lot of small businesses, the highly technical task of updating and optimizing your website might be a bit outside the scope of your personnel’s capabilities. Never fear! The knowledgeable web designers and developers at HighClick Media are ready, willing, and able to help! Give us a call today at 252.814.2150 or visit our website for more information!

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How to Grow Your Business by Optimizing Your Website

How to Grow Your Business By Optimizing Your Website

Prioritize Creating a Data Recovery Plan

Unfortunately, business owners too often minimize the importance of cybersecurity until after their company has been targeted and compromised by cyberattackers. Rather than waiting until disaster strikes, it’s imperative to educate yourself about cybersecurity data protection and be proactive about protecting your company’s website.

Coming up with a cyber-recovery plan to safeguard your company’s digital assets – including your website – should be your number one priority. This will allow you to get your website back up and running quickly in the event of a cyberattack. You’ll want to establish a proposed timeline with your preferred “deadlines” for system recovery, as well as details about which programs and applications will have to be addressed in order to execute recovery. Finally, make note of who will be responsible for conducting each task included in your recovery plan.

Develop Educational Content

Sure, your website is a sales and marketing platform – but it can also serve as a vehicle for customer education. Whether your typical customer is another small business, a nonprofit organization, or an individual consumer in your area, you can establish your website as a place that visitors can turn to for up-to-date resources on everything from product use cases to new developments in your industry.

So, how can you ensure that your marketing content is also educational? Business 2 Community recommends publishing blog posts that address your audience’s most common “pain points,” hosting live video lessons with product demonstrations on your website, or even establishing a special membership section of your site with bonus content for paying subscribers.

Integrate Your CRM & ERP

Your customer relationship management (CRM) system and enterprise resource planning (ERP) software are both indispensable to your business. From tracking and capturing leads to managing your overall operations, these software programs can be leveraged to carry out a plethora of key business functions. You can use these programs to their fullest potential by integrating them and then connecting the internal, integrated system to your website. In doing so, not only will you boost your team’s productivity and efficiency but you’ll also be able to seamlessly transfer information from your website to these interconnected programs.

User-Friendly Design

Have you ever had an unpleasant experience while browsing a particular website? Maybe you found it difficult to find the particular page you were looking for. Perhaps you tried to use the search function to find an important piece of content, but it didn’t deliver accurate results. Or, maybe you were seeking contact information so that you could get in touch with a customer support specialist – but no matter how hard you looked, you didn’t see any contact forms, email addresses, or phone numbers.

Crafting an enjoyable user experience should be at the heart of your website design and management approach. But, how can you go the extra mile to make sure that your customers can easily navigate your website and make the best use of all its features? Rock Content recommends designing a clear menu that allows your customers to visit key sections of your website with one click, including an easy-to-find contact form.

In addition, it’s also essential to make sure that your overall site layout looks attractive – after all, visually appealing content might prompt visitors to stay on your website longer (and the longer visitors stay on your site, the more likely they are to take action, such as making a purchase or booking an appointment). If you can’t find a theme that you like with your current content management system, you might consider enlisting the services of a professional web design and development firm that can create a custom layout for your site.

Local SEO: How to Get Found Online by Customers in Your Area

You might be acquainted with the basic principles of search engine optimization (SEO), and perhaps you’ve even been incorporating some useful keywords into your website content already. But have you taken the time to focus on local SEO? By emphasizing local SEO in your website strategy, you can specifically target customers in your area who are seeking products and services like those that you offer.

What can you do to reach customers nearby using SEO tactics? BrainChild Studios recommends putting your city and state on your homepage, adding your city to your page title tags (including the local schema code in your website pages), claiming your Google Business Profile listing, and including your business in local online directories.

Boost Your Conversion Rate

The ultimate goal of your business’s website is to convert visitors into paying customers. Therefore, you need to find ways to boost conversion rates with your website. While implementing user-friendly website design principles can help in this area, there are also some other steps you can take.

A/B testing is key to increasing conversions – you can run tests to analyze your conversion rates with your current site features. Then, as you implement new features like headlines, calls to action, or contact forms, you can run additional tests to compare their effectiveness. By conducting multiple A/B tests at once, you won’t have to wait until a new feature has been thoroughly tested to analyze the impact of another.

Speed Up Your Website

The ultimate goal of your business’s website is to convert visitors into paying customers. Therefore, you need to find ways to boost conversion rates with your website. While implementing user-friendly website design principles can help in this area, there are also some other steps you can take.

A/B testing is key to increasing conversions – you can run tests to analyze your conversion rates with your current site features. Then, as you implement new features like headlines, calls to action, or contact forms, you can run additional tests to compare their effectiveness. By conducting multiple A/B tests at once, you won’t have to wait until a new feature has been thoroughly tested to analyze the impact of another.

Final Thoughts

Your website doesn’t exist just so your company will show up in search engines. In reality, your website might be an unrealized tool for your business’s growth. If you haven’t prioritized growing your business by maximizing your website’s potential, you can get started by integrating some of these recommendations.

If you need help with optimizing your existing website, creating a new website from scratch, boosting your SEO for greater discoverability in Google searches, or any other aspect of your digital marketing, you don’t have to go it alone! HighClick Media is here to help! Contact us today at 252.814.2150 or drop us a line here to see how we can help #elevateyourbrand!

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Guest blogger Cody McBride’s love for computers stems from high school when he built his own computer. Today he is a trained IT technician and knows how the inner workings of computers can be confusing to most. He is the creator of TechDeck.info where he offers easy-to-understand, tech-related advice and troubleshooting tips.

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10 Ways to Celebrate Independent Retailer Month

10 Ways to Celebrate Independent Retailer Month

July is Independent Retailer Month, a month-long-celebration that encourages consumers to shop locally and champions the positive social and economic impact that independent retailers make, at the local, national, and global levels.

We applaud the efforts of small business owners and their employees who work hard every day to make our community a fun, vibrant, and unique place to live. Independent retailers help build our economy and create more sustainable cities, towns, and communities.

There are any number of ways that local businesses can celebrate Independent Retailer Month. Here are 10 great ideas we found, courtesy of indieretailermonth.com:

1)  Bonus Bucks

Offer customers a $1 coupon for every $10 they spend in your store in July. Make the coupon redeemable in August, so customers have to return at a later date.

2)  Goodie Bags

Reward new customers and other qualified purchasers with free goodies. Bags could be filled with sweet treats or small items from your inventory.

3)  Hold a Contest

Offer one lucky winner and their guest the luxury of a private shopping party. This could also be a special door prize during an in-store event.

4)  Shopping Crawl

Partner with neighboring independent retailers to promote a shopping crawl. Provide a map and prizes for participants.

5)  Drop and Shop

Invite customers to donate lightly worn clothing and shoes to a local nonprofit organization. In exchange for their donation, customers receive an exclusive in-store deal that day.

6)  Charity Giving

Donate 10% of the purchase price of all sales to a community charity. Promote this in advance to your customers for optimal response.

7)  Check-In Deals

Offer every shopper who “checks in” or tags your store on social media an exclusive, in-store promotion.

8)  Online Coupons

Offer exclusive promotions on your website that are redeemable in-store only.

9)  Badges

Create campaign-style buttons for your staff to wear with the message: “Proud to Be Independent.”

10)  Digital Ad

Promote your business with a paid ad on a social networking site, such as Facebook, where you can specifically target your local community, as well as current and past customers.

 

If you’ve never advertised online before and don’t know where to start, HighClick Media can help! Give us a call today at 252.814.2150 to learn more!

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An Approachable Guide to Starting Your Own Business

An Approachable Guide To Starting Your Own Business

Ready to get the ball rolling on your entrepreneurship dreams? It’s common for prospective entrepreneurs to feel overwhelmed by the steps involved in launching a business. Between coming up with a viable business idea and introducing your product to market, there’s a lot to do! Don’t let the steps ahead paralyze you. Take it day by day, chip away at each part of the process whenever you have the time, and try not to overcomplicate things.

Professional service providers can offer a lot of value while you work to build your startup. For example, if you’re looking for branding, digital marketing, or web development assistance, partnering with an agency can help. Having the right professionals on your side will make your entrepreneurial dreams much more attainable.

To make business ownership seem a little more approachable and guide you through the startup phase, we’ve put together this guide packed with tips and resources!

Develop Your Business Idea

Before you do anything, you will need to pick a business idea. Try to keep it simple! Some businesses are easier to start than others. Inexpensive, service-based businesses are great for first-time entrepreneurs on a limited budget, especially those going at it alone. You won’t need to hire a team of employees, lease retail space, or purchase large quantities of inventory. Plus, you can always scale your business later when you have the funds to hire help!

Some great examples of easy businesses include pet sitting, residential cleaning, landscaping, hauling, exterior home maintenance, painting, and event planning. If you’re looking for something more remote, consider services you can offer virtually, like tutoring or personal training. Offering services to other businesses is where you’ll make the most money. Think freelance copywriting, web design, web development, marketing, consulting, and social media management.

Launching a service business will serve as a great introduction to business ownership while minimizing the risks involved. Service businesses generate cash quickly, enjoy good profit margins, and can get off the ground in a matter of days!

Register Your Business

Once you have your business idea, your next step is to decide whether or not to register your business. In some cases, you might not have to register at all! As long as you do business under your legal name, you are not required to register anywhere. However, you might still want to register your business with the federal government for trademark protection and with your state agencies for legal benefits and liability protection. You may also want to file a Doing Business As (DBA) so that you can legally conduct business under a name other than your own.

Streamline Your Business Finances

Financial organization is another important part of starting a business. When your finances are managed properly, you’ll have a much clearer picture of the financial health of your business. Keeping track of the cash flowing in and out of your business is essential for ensuring you have the money to pay the bills before they come due. Carefully tracking your expenses, staying on top of your accounts receivable, and managing payroll effectively will help you keep your finances on track.

Online accounting tools make it easy for business owners to manage these financial tasks without hiring an accountant. For example, if you’re short on time, you can automate repetitive tasks with invoicing software. A reliable invoicing system will help you send detailed estimates, create invoices quickly, send invoices to multiple clients, track client payments, duplicate invoices for different customers, and more. Tools like these will make quick work of all your time-consuming administrative tasks, giving you more time to focus on what you do best.

Access Startup Capital

Most entrepreneurs need some level of funding to get a business off the ground. Fortunately, you have several different options when it comes to funding your new venture. Startup Nation explains that crowdfunding is one such method that has become incredibly popular in recent years. Using crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, you can raise money directly from people who support your business idea.

You can also try soliciting startup capital from angel investors and venture capitalists. Just make sure you’re willing to give up some share of equity in your company if you go this route! Small business loans, grants, and contests can also help you access the funds you need.

Market Your New Business

Marketing is one of the most challenging parts of launching a startup. What’s more, lack of budgeting resources is a common marketing problem among small business owners. Focus on low-cost, high-value marketing strategies to attract your first clients and continue growing your business from there.

For example, social media marketing can offer some incredible value to local businesses. Use social media to build a following of engaged locals around your brand and give your audience a reason to care about what you’re doing. Content marketing goes hand in hand with social media and is a great way to position your business as a trusted leader in your industry. Produce blog content and YouTube videos sharing valuable content with your audience. Aim to deliver a high level of value to your followers with the content you produce so they have a reason to keep coming back!

Build a Solid Online Presence

Make sure your customers can also find you on Google. Listing your business on Google My Business will allow customers to find your business when searching for local services in your region. Beyond this, Google My Business provides tools that you can use to engage with your customers, evaluate data insights, and share updates about your business. Google My Business further provides tools to streamline appointment booking, showcase menus, and advertise promotions.

Starting your own business is a great way to carve your own path and take full control over your earning potential. If you’re feeling hesitant about getting started, you’re not alone! Thankfully, there are plenty of great tools and resources out there that will make business ownership more approachable.

Need help with website design, digital marketing, or branding? HighClick Media can help! Contact us at 252-814-2150 today and see how we can help elevate your brand!

While you’re at it, check out this article from our friends at FirstSite Guide to discover more than 50 online business ideas that you can start right now!

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Guest blogger Alyssa Strickland created millennial-parents.com for all the new parents on the block. Alyssa believes the old adage that it takes a village to raise a child, but she also thinks it takes a village to raise a parent! Millennial-Parents is that village. Today’s parents can be more connected than ever and she hopes her site will enrich those connections. On Millennial-Parents, she shares tips and advice she learns through experience and from other young parents in three key areas – Education, Relationships, and Community.

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8 Generation Lead Tips for Small Businesses

8 Lead Generation Tips for Small Businesses

Small businesses have to overcome numerous hurdles before making a name for themselves and ensuring an ever-increasing revenue stream. Naturally, some of the biggest obstacles are generating leads and inspiring loyalty.

At first glance, it seems simple enough – find a market gap and have your business fill it. Customers will flock to you without much effort on your part. In practice, it’s not nearly as effortless.

If you don’t want to be in the 70% of businesses that fail within a decade, you need to ensure that your lead generation tactics are flawless.

Let’s take a look at a few tips and tricks that will help set you up for success:

Start with an Impeccable Website

Most members of your target audience will have one thing in common – when they need products or services (that happen to be in your offer), they’ll first look them up online.

Over 97% of users search online to find local businesses and make purchases. So, only having a website will immediately up the ante on your lead generation.

Still, it’s not enough to simply have a website. You need to make it a great one if you’re going to generate and convert your leads.

Create a clean design that makes it easy for your website visitors to scan your pages and find the information they need. Be clear about who you are, what your business does, how it can help your audiences, and how interested prospects can contact you.

It’s also always a good idea to take a look at what your competitors are doing with their websites and gather some inspiration from that.

Perfect Your Landing Pages

With your website done, it’s time to start developing landing pages. One of the worst mistakes you can make in this regard is to use your homepage as the go-to landing page for all your ad campaigns.

Your homepage is already the most frequently visited page on your website, so there’s no reason to keep directing your audiences to it during your campaigns. Instead, create dedicated landing pages focused on converting visitors.

You’ll need to make your landing pages enticing, relevant to your ad content, concise, and direct. Present your offer, highlight your brand’s value, and include a clear call to action.

The better your landing page, the higher your conversions will be. Do some A/B testing to find out which landing pages perform the best, find out what your audiences want, and keep tweaking your pages until you get the desired results.

Improve Your SEO 

Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the biggest prerequisites for successful lead generation. By enhancing your SEO, you will:

There are a number of factors that impact your SEO ranking, including:

  • Page loading speed
  • Internal and external links
  • Quality of your content
  • Security
  • Mobile-friendliness
  • Keyword usage

If you want to rank on search engines and attract audiences, you’ll need to develop a comprehensive SEO approach. You can’t just improve your page speed, neglect all the other aspects of SEO, and expect to rank first.

SEO is a slow and steady approach, so take your time perfecting it.

Provide Relevant Content 

One thing that will help you improve SEO and boost lead generation is content. In the online environment, content is king.

Content marketing allows you to improve keyword usage, take your external and internal linking to a new level, engage audiences, enhance your visibility, and display your expertise.

 Whether you’re creating blog posts, e-books, video guides, infographics, Facebook Stories, or any type of content in between, your focus should be on quality. Keyword stuffing and improper backlinking are a no-go. Here’s what you should do instead:

  • Provide valuable information that will help your audiences
  • Offer solutions to your target customers’ most common problems
  • Provide relevant insights
  • Entertain your audiences

Before long, you’ll notice just how helpful content marketing can be for your lead generation.

Make Use of Social Media

We can’t talk about lead generation for small businesses without mentioning social media. It’s a gold mine for attracting customers and inspiring loyalty.

Whether you like it or not, you need to have a social media presence as a small business owner – it doesn’t matter if you’re running a small antique shop, a dropshipping business, or a family-owned pizzeria.

However, before you join all the most popular networks and get in over your head, analyze your target audience. See which platforms most of them use and examine how they interact with other businesses on them.

Then, only join those platforms that you can easily manage. After all, you’ll need to stay active on these platforms by regularly posting fresh content and responding to comments and messages. If you’re on more than a couple of platforms, you’ll likely find it difficult to keep track of them and use them to your advantage.

Take Advantage of Lead Generation Quiz Makers

A reliable lead generation quiz maker is ideal for engaging your audiences. It makes quiz creation a breeze, allowing you to know your target customers better and offering you a chance to stand out from the crowd.

You can create any type of quiz you want:

  • A fun personality quiz that grabs the viewers’ attention
  • An assessment quiz that tells you how much your audience knows about you and your products
  • A market research quiz, which allows you to assess your target audience’s most common pain points 

Share your quizzes on social media to reach a wider audience, add them to your lead generation emails, and embed them on your website to convert visitors.

With a lead generation quiz maker, it will take you no more than a few minutes to create engaging quizzes that boost your visibility and help you attract customers. You can also integrate it with email marketing tools or customer relationship management tools to nurture leads efficiently.

Monitor Your Online Reputation

To generate leads as a small business owner, you need to keep a very close eye on your online reputation.

You could have the perfect brand persona, excellent products and services, top-notch support, and a bulletproof content marketing strategy – and yet your reputation could still suffer. You need to be careful to pay attention to what people are saying about you and your brand.

Your customers and even competitors will talk about your brand on forums, social media groups, review sites, personal accounts, and more. Keep a close eye on all brand mentions.

If someone is harming your reputation online, you’ll need to be ready to clear things up, highlight your brand value, and present your business in the best possible light.

Respectfully respond to negative reviews, engage in discussions on public forums, offer solutions to public complaints, and ensure that your online reputation is excellent.

Spread the Word About Your Business Through Different Channels

Even with the best strategies at your disposal, it can sometimes be challenging to significantly increase lead generation on your own. Sometimes, you’ll need a little bit of help. Don’t be afraid to ask for it!

Spread the word about your business through different channels. For instance, you could try guest blogging, wherein you create content for other websites in your niche. Doing so will help you expand your reach, showcase your expertise, and attract a wider clientele.

Alternatively, you can reach out to influencers who make sense for your industry and who can connect you with their followers. Influencers inspire trust among their followers, enjoy an excellent reputation, and can easily impact their fans’ purchasing decisions.

Final Thoughts

Lead generation for small businesses can seem like an insurmountable challenge. But it’s easier than you may think when you have a few tricks up your sleeve and know what you’re doing.

So remember, if you want to boost your lead generation and conversion, you’ll need to: 

  • Create a great website 
  • Perfect your landing pages
  • Work on your SEO
  • Create relevant, engaging content 
  • Make use of social media 
  • Use a reliable lead generation quiz maker 
  • Monitor your online reputation
  • Spread the word through channels, such as guest blogging and influencer marketing

Follow these tips to ensure the success of your small business and start generating leads like a pro. Your business could also benefit from some creative experimentation on your part to complement the ideas discussed above.

If you need further help developing a lead generation strategy for your business, reach out to the small business experts at HighClick Media. We’ll take the time to get to know your business, identify its particular needs, and come up with solutions that will help your business grow. Reach out to us today at 252.814.2150 or drop us a line here.

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Guest blogger Angela White is an ed-tech enthusiast with a passion for writing. Specifically, she writes in the areas of product research and marketing using quizzes and surveys. She is a researcher at a brand that’s known for creating delightfully smart tools called ProProfs Quiz Maker.

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5 Ways to Get Your Small Business Ready for the Metaverse

5 Ways to Get Your Small Business Ready for the Metaverse

Is your business ready for the transition to the metaverse? Yeah, we get it – that’s a loaded question! After all, there’s still a fair bit of speculation and rumors about exactly what’s involved with the metaverse and what it will mean for us and our businesses.

Over the past couple of years, we’ve witnessed businesses placing a greater emphasis on ecommerce and digital transformation – thanks in large part to the global pandemic. But we’re also seeing businesses begin to shift their attention even further toward digital as the virtual world becomes less of a fantastical idea and closer to reality.

With internet users spending more time online than ever before, and many small businesses falling on hard times, it’s time for us to rethink how we will connect with our audiences going forward.

In this article, we’ll explore five ways to help your small business weather the world-changing transition to the metaverse – and thrive in its aftermath.

Know Your Niche

The concept of the metaverse – connecting people to technology (and vice versa) using virtual and augmented reality – isn’t a new one. In fact, the idea has actually been kicked around for decades, to varying degrees of execution.

No one seems to agree, or know for sure when the metaverse concept was originally conceived; it’s equally difficult to find an agreed-upon definition of what the reality of the metaverse means for us now.

What’s certain is that the first (and perhaps best) way to make sure your small business is ready for this new era of digital transformation is to have a clear idea of what you want for your brand and how you can make the most of technology to achieve your goals.

For one company, that might mean developing better AI in order to be able to better address customer questions through your website. For another, it might entail creating an entire virtual reality world that allows potential buyers to examine products before buying them as though they were actually there with the items.

Let’s face it: you know your business better than anyone else. Accordingly, only you can determine what the metaverse can (or can’t) do for your business.

Consider Updating Your Branding

With new tech initiatives and the emergence of newer, more diverse social platforms come new branding opportunities. This is a great time to take a long, hard look at your visual brand.

One of the great things about the metaverse is its focus on connectivity. Startups and small businesses alike must ensure that the visual aspects of their messaging make clear how important communication is to the business. As one of the founding values behind the metaverse, paying special attention to your visual branding must always be a top priority.

Claim and Update Your Business on Search Engines

More than half of business owners haven’t claimed their company’s listings on tools like Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business). This is a huge mistake!

Claiming and maintaining your online presence is absolutely crucial for a small business in today’s digital world. Without it, you’ll miss out on countless opportunities to drive traffic to your site, or to the business itself, as well as risk frustrating customers who can’t find the information they need when they need it.

Keeping this information up to date is just as important, particularly for things like holidays or hours of operation, as incorrect information could easily turn off potential customers.

I am not ready for that.

Don’t Abandon the Old Ways Too Quickly

Try to avoid the temptation to go “all virtual, all the time” too soon. Yes, the idea of the metaverse is exciting, and it’s likely that at least some of your customer base will be ready for it.

But good business dictates that you should always give the customer what they want – and the majority of consumers aren’t quite ready for this new way of doing business. At least not yet.

Even as you’re positioning your business to be ready for “the next big thing,” don’t be too hasty to cast aside the old ways completely. Many of your customers are going to want to stick with what they’re used to, for as long as possible. You should continue to give your audience the option to engage with your brand through more traditional methods.

Remain Adaptable

Last but certainly not least, be ready for anything! One thing that many entrepreneurs and small business owners know well is that right about the time you get comfortable, that’s when change comes fast and furious!

Sure, we have an exciting future ahead of us, thanks to an increasing tech-minded push, and it’s going to change the way we view and interact with our world. But if you get too hung up on tomorrow’s virtual reality project, you might not see what’s coming up next week.

 
 

Final Thoughts

Transformation is coming – that’s a given. How will your small business ride out these changes over the next decade? Well, that’s up to you. At the very least, you should be prepared for what comes next.

If you need help transforming your business for the digital age, HighClick Media can help! Whether you’re looking to update your website, get started with social media marketing, or optimize your website for search engines so it’s easier to be found online, we have a solution that’s right for you! Call us today at 252.814.2150 or drop us a line here to see how we can help elevate your brand!

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An earlier version of this article appeared on Entrepreneur’s website and can be found here.

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How to Advance Your Small Business Objectives

How To Advance Your Small Business Objectives

While small business owners and entrepreneurs are typically savvy business professionals, there are several tried-and-tested best practices that can help you stay organized and productive, allowing you to advance your business with speed and at scale. Let’s take a look at a few of these.

Organizational Skills

Organization and time management skills are both crucial to the success of your small business operations. This means utilizing project management planning and tracking tools; having a living, breathing business and marketing plan that you consult regularly; and establishing measurable objectives to help ensure that you’re hitting your goals.

Clearly defining operational functions for yourself, employees, and contractors can also go a long way toward ensuring overall productivity. You can achieve this by creating an employee training manual, drafting detailed job descriptions, and developing a defined organizational chart with a reporting structure.

You can keep your projects on track by using a process map to organize your project. A process map helps define the tasks needed to achieve your goals and breaks down deliverables at each stage of your project.

Developing Protocols

As there are several different ways a business can choose to operate, it’s imperative to clarify expectations with your staff in order to maintain smooth operations. According to Business News Daily, establishing best practices, chains of command, and an organizational hierarchy can help keep everyone on track.

It’s important to state, in writing, how projects are determined, defined, and implemented. Who signs off on purchases, training, or software implementations? Who is responsible for reviewing and approving marketing messages or social media strategies?  Who interviews, hires, and trains new staff members? Having these outlined in writing and used for employee onboarding is a must.

Communication Channels

According to Forbes, having open channels of communication – both internally and externally – can help your business run smoothly. Consider using a company intranet in which coworkers can stay connected. Have an email distribution platform in place for keeping in regular contact with your customers. Being on the same wavelength with vendors and contractors is also critical, whether that’s through regular email correspondence, routine telephone check-ins, or even in-person connections. If you haven’t already, create an employee manual including best practices – with examples and templates – around all communication protocols to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Innovative Practices

For a company to remain competitive and keep advancing, innovation is essential. This means continually looking for new ways to improve your products and services and deliver top-notch customer care. Conduct brainstorming sessions with employees to gain their unique insights. Attend conferences on a regular basis and join industry associations – this gives you numerous opportunities to ask questions and learn about policies and practices that work well for other organizations. Be open to new ideas and take calculated risks. This can include continually updating training protocols, conducting in-depth market research, and discovering new ways to outpace the competition.

Enhanced Productivity

When everyone has a well-defined job description and is able to focus on their particular area of work, productivity is sure to improve and employees will experience a sense of accomplishment.

Consider outsourcing key services when necessary. For example, you might enlist the services of a digital marketing agency to handle your social media and manage your marketing strategy, or hire an accountant to do your books and your taxes.

If your business’s invoicing process is cumbersome and time-consuming, making use of a bank account balance API can help you verify whether customers and clients have the funds available to pay for products on the spot. This helps ensure a steady cash flow for your business and helps customers avoid overdraft fees.

 

Final Thoughts

There are a lot of moving parts involved when it comes to operating a small business. Effective communication, time management, and regular collaboration meetings can all help your team stay focused and on track. Don’t be afraid to frequently revisit your planning documents and adjust accordingly. It’s all part of embracing an innovative mindset!

If you’re looking to scale your business through digital marketing or give your marketing strategy an overhaul, HighClick Media can help! Give us a call today at 252.814.2150 or drop us a line here to see how we can help #elevateyourbrand!

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Guest blogger Alyssa Strickland created millennial-parents.com for all the new parents on the block. She believes the old adage that it takes a village to raise a child, but also thinks it takes a village to raise a parent! Millennial-Parents is that village. Today’s parents can be more connected than ever, and Alyssa hopes her site will enrich those connections. On Millennial-Parents, she shares tips and advice she’s learned through experience and from other young parents in three key areas: Education, Relationships, and Community.

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How to Keep Your Business Competitive in the Marketplace

How To Keep Your Small Business Competitive In The Marketplace

 

Small business owners can take advantage of the latest technologies to help elevate their companies to the next level. While there are a variety of different marketing and advertising mediums to pursue, digital options can help narrow the playing field when it comes to competing with larger counterparts.

Website Design

If you’re a small business, entrepreneur, or independent contractor with some basic tech skills, you might be able to create your own simple website using an online builder which allows you to add your own text, photos, and contact information. While this is not an ideal solution, it’s still better than not having an online presence at all – and having a website can go a long way towards helping your customers find you.

However, if you’re really looking to make an impact, it is well worth the investment to hire a top-notch website designer. A professionally designed business website not only looks great but also has the capability to track data and provide an analytical breakdown of customer traffic – and this, in turn, can help you refine your messaging and strategy.

Social Media Presence

Social media is a “must-have” in today’s business world. Select the platforms best suited to reach your target demographic and come up with a strategy for regularly adding content and updates to ensure that you’re getting repeat traffic.

You’ll likely want to gather relevant images and/or documents to help develop your online presence. Converting file sizes so that they’re easier to send and use is beneficial in various ways. For example, when you convert a JPEG to a PDF you can retain the quality of the image while sending a smaller file. You can also merge multiple PDFs into one, limiting the number of attachments you have to provide.

Email Marketing

According to Rewind, an email marketing campaign is a cost-effective way to get in front of and stay in front of your target market. It’s also a great way to engage customers and to share news and information with collaborators and business associates – all while linking back to your website, product pages, or social media sites.

When it comes to creating compelling content for your email marketing campaigns, you’ll want copy that’s short and easy to read, contains lots of great images, and includes a call to action. This might involve encouraging recipients to take advantage of an upcoming sale, driving foot traffic through your doors, or getting people to subscribe to your blog. While you can set up a distribution list for email marketing, certain software products come equipped with features that make this process easier.

Other Web-Based Tools

Having a web-based or digitally focused strategy can go beyond advertising and marketing purposes. You may find that it’s beneficial to engage freelancers who work remotely or to utilize online software programs or platforms for things like accounting, bookkeeping, customer relationship management, streamlining the payment collection process, and even collaborating with vendors in terms of ordering and scheduling deliveries. In fact, Tech Radar says you can find apps that will help you keep pace with your competition – whether it’s via a scheduling calendar, a project management tool, or even a quick bill-pay app that saves you time and hassle.

The more digital, web-based, and online tools you can use for your small business, the better positioned you are to maximize every opportunity to get in front of your target audience. Take the time to carefully evaluate what you can do on your own and what it’s wise to hire out for – IT, web design and development, and even a social media consultation can all be worthwhile investments towards your enduring success.

Final Thoughts

As a full-service digital marketing agency, HighClick Media is eminently able to help your business compete in even the most crowded markets. Our team has extensive expertise in a wide range of areas, including brand development, logo design, website design, email marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click advertising (PPC), social media marketing, and more!

Call us today at 252.814.2150 or drop us a line here to see how we can help you #elevateyourbrand!

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Guest blogger Cody McBride’s love for computers stems from high school when he built his own computer. Today he is a trained IT technician and knows how the inner workings of computers can be confusing to most. He is the creator of TechDeck.info where he offers easy-to-understand, tech-related advice and troubleshooting tips.

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