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How to Make Your Business Blog Stand Out

Does your business have a blog? It should. According to a study by Hubspot, companies that blog receive an average of 55% more traffic to their websites. So, it’s obvious that blogging is important. But with the hundreds of millions of business blogs out there, how can you make sure yours is attracting readers and standing out from the competition? Here are a few simple tips to get you started.

Make it Useful – Whatever your niche, there’s sure to be something of value that you can provide to your audience. Offer helpful tips and business advice or share important news and updates. If your readers find what you’re posting useful, they’re more likely to come back for more, and better yet, share it with their own networks.

Use Keywords – Keywords are the words or phrases that people use when they search for something online. Find out what keywords are more likely to bring visitors to your site and then use these words or phrases throughout your blog posts. If you’re not sure how to do this, consider outsourcing an SEO expert to establish a plan and help you get started.

Make it Attractive – Nobody’s going to stay and read a blog that isn’t easy on the eyes and engaging. Make sure your fonts and colors complement each other and project an overall professional image for your business. Don’t go crazy with graphics or large images, which can slow down your page-load time and generally annoy visitors. When it comes to stuff like this, less is more.

Go Easy on the Ads – It’s fine to promote your business, or others for that matter, but if your blog has more ads than the Sunday paper, it’s going to look cluttered and may turn people off. A few relevant, well-placed ads should suffice.

Include a Call to Action – The purpose of your business blog is to drive more traffic to your website, so it should include things that entice visitors to do just that. Offer a free trial or other resource through a link back to your site, invite people to subscribe to your email newsletter, or encourage them to shop your inventory. Whatever technique you use, the goal is to entice blog visitors to take the next step.

Make Your Content Sharable – Social media platforms make it fast and simple for your followers and fans to share your content with their own networks, thereby increasing visibility for your business. Share your posts on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and include links on each one that allow readers to instantly share. The more exposure your blog receives, the more exposure your brand will receive.

These tips should help whip your business blog into shape and make it a traffic-generating machine for your website. And, of course, once these visitors start finding their way to your website, we can help you convert them into paying customers with our click to call feature, which will let them connect with you instantly via the web. The more effective your blog and website are, the more successful your business will become.


posted by Rebecca Daneault @ 2:42 PM

5 Ways to Stop Procrastinating

When it comes to routine, mundane or boring tasks, most of us struggle to stay focused and actually get them done. Instead, we often find ourselves getting sidetracked or distracted by things like email, surfing the web and, well, anything else we can come up with that lets us procrastinate just a little longer. But procrastination can seriously hinder the success of your business. Here are 5 ways to get your dilly-dallying under control and get everything on your to-do list checked off.

Be Honest About Your Strengths and Weaknesses – Maybe you love the customer service aspect of your business, but loathe balancing the books. We tend to put off doing those tasks that bore us or that we find tedious. Instead of forcing yourself to do something you really don’t enjoy, consider delegating it to someone else on your team, or outsourcing it altogether. That way you’ll know the job will get done in a timely manner and you can focus on other items on your list that you enjoy more.

Create a Schedule and Stick to It – If you’re just working off a list you’ve got stored in the back of your head somewhere, it’s much easier to put things off and let things slip through the cracks. Conversely, when you create a detailed schedule, and more importantly, hold yourself to that schedule, you’ll tackle what needs to get done and in a timely manner.

Reduce or Eliminate Distractions – Frequently checking your email or having your co-workers pop into your office every 10 minutes can completely take the wind out of your sails in terms of productivity. Eliminate these distractions by setting aside a specific time to tackle your tasks without interruption. Put your phone on do-not-disturb or close your office door. You’ll be surprised how much you’ll accomplish when you can actually focus.

Be Realistic About How Long Things Take – When you’re scheduling out your tasks for the day or week, be generous with the time you allow to get each one done. When we feel like we’re behind on our work, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and just put it off. If you think the budget plan will take you 2 hours, allow for 3, just in case. That way when you finish it ahead of schedule, you’ll feel an extra sense of accomplishment.

Don’t be a Hero – As a small business owner, you’re already juggling a dozen or more hats. Remember that it’s ok to say “no” once in a while when your plate is too full. If you don’t take on more than you can handle, you’ll be much more likely to tackle (and complete) what needs to get done.

No matter what industry you happen to be in, everybody gets the urge to put things off once in a while. But when the stuff you put off until tomorrow is still lingering on your to-do list days, weeks or months later, it could be affecting your bottom line. Put these 5 simple steps into action and you’ll conquer the procrastination monster and get everything that needs to get done accomplished.

posted by Rebecca Daneault @ 7:43 PM

5 Tips for Using Twitter for Customer Service

A few months ago I went over the 5 Reasons Your Business Should be Using Twitter. Hopefully by now you’ve at least set up an account and begun getting familiar with the platform. The next step is to start harnessing the power of this global network to benefit your business. One of the best ways to do so is to use Twitter to handle a good portion of your customer service activities. Here are 5 tips on how to do so effectively.

Tip #1 – Claim Your Brand

You may already have a personal Twitter account, but when it comes to engaging with people about your business, it’s much more professional to do so with your business account. Create a branded persona, complete with your logo, and use it to respond to comments, share news about your company, offer discounts or retweet relevant content from other sources that your audience may find useful.

Tip #2 – Keep an Eye on What’s Being Said

Not everyone who is unhappy with your products or service is going to call or email you directly to complain. Instead, what many people do is spout about their bad experience through social media channels. It’s important that you know what’s being said about your business (even if it’s bad) so that you can understand how you’re doing and use the feedback to better serve your customers. Whenever possible, feel free to chime in and join the conversation to establish your presence and let people know you’re listening.

Tip #3 – Respond Quickly and Professionally

Answer questions, comments and complaints about your brand as quickly as possible. Sometimes just showing the commenter that you’re listening and you care about their opinion will be enough to pacify them. If not, apologize and try to offer positive solutions, such as a voucher, discount or free gift. Remember – Twitter is a public forum and everything you put in a tweet can be seen by others so avoid arguing or lashing out defensively. (Check out my previous post on how to deal with an angry customer for some more tips.) If necessary, bring the conversation offline by sending an email. Above all, be sure to position your brand in a positive, professional light at all times.

Tip #4 – Delegate

If your business is large enough, you may find it easier to handle your Twitter activity by delegating it to one or more members of your team. There are a number of online tools, such as Hootsuite, that allow you to set up multiple users that can Tweet under your brand, conduct more defined searches and schedule tweets to be posted at future intervals. By spreading the duties out and sharing the work, it’s much more manageable.

Tip #5 – Provide Value

The main purpose of using Twitter for business is to expand your network and reach more prospects, which is done by gaining followers. In order to get (and more importantly, keep) quality followers, it’s critical that you provide some sort of value. Interact with your followers, respond to their tweets, and share content that they would find helpful (not just yours). The more helpful your followers view your business, the more likely they will be to spread the word about it.

With millions of active users, Twitter can be an incredibly powerful tool to help your business reach more customers and solidify long-lasting, loyal relationships with existing ones. These five tips will help you develop an effective strategy to use Twitter for customer service and engagement in a way that will position your business as a leader in your industry and get the results you want.

posted by Rebecca Daneault @ 7:41 PM

Protecting Your Business Online – 4 Tips for Better Cyber Security

The web is an incredible tool, especially for businesses. No longer are you held back by borders or forced to only do business with local customers. Now you can reach clients in the next state, across the country or around the globe from the comfort of your own office. Unfortunately, these benefits also come with certain risk - namely the possibility of a security breech, which can be financially devastating and is something most businesses can’t afford. That being said, here are four ways you can protect your business and make sure your online activity remains secure.

Don’t Reuse Your Passwords – With dozens of programs available for businesses today, it can be tempting to use the same or similar passwords for all of them. This is one of the easiest ways to put your business at risk because if a hacker manages to steal your information, they’ll instantly have access to every program you use, including your confidential employee or client database or even your financial accounts. Choose unique passwords and change them frequently. Also implement the same requirement for your employees to ensure they are also being careful with their information.

Update Software Regularly – You may be perfectly content with the way your software is performing for your particular business needs, but updates involve more than just enhanced features. They also often address security issues – flaws that can easily be exploited by those who are familiar with the shortcomings of previous versions. Things like your Windows operating system, web browsers, desktop applications, blogging platforms and any other software you use frequently should all be updated on a regular basis. Turn on automatic updates if and when available to make it easier to stay on top of everything and if need be, order updated versions of software when available.

Take Extra Precaution with Financial Accounts – Many business owners operate under the mistaken idea that their online banking activity is protected by their financial institution. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. Be particularly diligent about protecting your banking and financial credentials because if they should fall into the wrong hands, you may very well find your accounts drained and with no recourse. Also, be wary of phishing campaigns that aim to collect your personal information and gain access to your accounts. Remember, legitimate financial institutions would never email you asking for your username, password or tax ID number. If you receive such a request, contact your bank directly.

Don’t Forget Your Mobile Devices – Most people are careful to protect their computers with anti-virus software and are diligent about not visiting or downloading from questionable websites. Yet many fail to consider the dangers that exist for mobile devices, like smartphones and tablets. The increasing popularity of these convenient tools has made them a prime target for hackers and dangerous malware. Be careful what sites you visit using your mobile devices and only download applications from sources you can trust to avoid these risks.

At Synclio we’re all for embracing technology. After all, it’s what our innovative product is based on. But we also want you to be safe when you’re using the internet for your business. These four things should get you on the right track to protecting your important information and keeping your business safe on the web.

posted by Rebecca Daneault @ 3:14 PM

5 Ways to Entice Customers to Pay On Time

Cash flow issues are among the biggest reasons small businesses fail. When customers pay late, it can have a snowball effect and cause further delays in paying your own expenses, which can hurt your credit and create unnecessary stress. Collecting payments on time is a critical component to the ongoing success of your company and therefore it’s something that you must make a priority. The good news is there are five simple ways you can entice your customers to remit on time or even early.

  1. Schedule Automated Billing – Having to manually track down late payments can be a job in and of itself, and probably something you don’t have time to do. Set up an automated billing system that notifies customers when a payment is due, then automatically sends follow-ups each week until the payment is received. This will take the burden off you and keep your invoice on the top of your client’s minds.
  2. Find Out the “Go-To” Person – If you deal with other businesses, the fastest way to ensure a timely payment is to learn the name and contact information of the person who handles accounts payable. This way you can go straight to the source if you need to inquire on payment status. As a bonus, if you develop a more personal relationship with this person, they’ll be more likely to put your invoices to the top of their list.
  3. Offer a Discount – Entice your customers to make payment early by offering them a small percentage off the total bill if payment is made by a specified date. You may get slightly less than you billed for but knowing you’ll receive it in a timely manner is worth it, especially when you have your own expenses to worry about.
  4. Assess a Late Fee – Include a section in your contract that details the percentage you’ll assess for late payments. When someone knows they’ll have to pay more if they’re late, they’re much more likely to ensure their payment is received on time. And you’ll get the bonus of collecting slightly more from those who still pay late to make up for the hassle. (Just be sure to discuss this with a business lawyer first to be sure the amount you charge meets the regulations in your state.)
  5. Offer the Option to Pay Electronically – In today’s day and age, technology is becoming a way of life. More and more people are choosing to forgo their checkbook for online banking and electronic payments. Offering this option to your customers can encourage them to pay more promptly, and even better - you’ll have access to the funds quicker.

One of the most important components to succeeding in small business is being able to manage cash flow properly. When money is coming in on time, you can handle your operating expenses more efficiently and your business will run more smoothly. Implement these five simple strategies to help ensure timely payments from your customer and your business will benefit in the long run.


posted by Rebecca Daneault @ 9:20 AM