Tag: GoDaddy

3 Reasons to Consider Using Gift Cards for Your Small Business

3 Reasons to Consider Using Gift Cards for Your Small BusinessWith the holiday season upon us, it’s time to talk gift cards. According to a survey done by the National Retail Federation in 2014, “gift cards [are] the most requested gift item eight years in a row.” And why not? Gift cards are more personal than cold, hard cash. They show that the giver took an interest in the receiver’s wants. And best of all? They practically eliminate the hassle of returning an unwanted item.

Gift cards put the power in your consumers’ hands. Whether you’re ushering in season’s greetings or simply considering adding another purchase path for your customers, here are three reasons why gift cards are a must for your small business.

  1. They make gift buying easy.

For the indecisive shopper, gift cards are a great way to save the day. As I mentioned above, they reduce the hassle of returns. Unless you’re armed with a shopping list of exact wants and needs, it can be hard to nail down exactly what your friends want. Wrong T-shirt size? Allergic to vanilla-bean coffee but not caramel? What if that scarf simply isn’t their style? These are common dilemmas all customers face when purchasing gifts.

Gift cards eliminate returns for unfavorable gifts. And when those customers do come into the store? Get ready for some serious spending. According to a study by First Data, “72% of gift card shoppers spent more than the original gift card value when redeeming their cards.” So not only are they easier for shoppers, they’re also great for profit!

  1. Gift cards boost new business while building relationships.

Generally speaking, we’re all creatures of habit. We eat at our favorite places, visit our preferred coffee bistros, and shop at the same stores. Why? Because we know what we’re getting. So how do you convince new customers to walk through the door? Gift cards are a great solution.

Gift card use study

Since they’re an easy go-to for consumers of all ages, you can expect a boost with first-time customers. Gift cards encourage new shoppers to branch out and try locations they otherwise might overlook. And when they come in to redeem their card, you’ll have the opportunity to impress them with your customer service and small business feel. Even if you primarily operate online, you can still use e-cards to bring in new shoppers.

Pro tip: Consider offering reloadable gift cards. They encourage shoppers to return and give you the chance to foster relationships.

  1. They help you compete with big box stores.

As a small business, it’s already difficult to compete with big box stores. Shoppers on the go can stop by any prominent retail shop and grab a gift card right next to the register. The entire trip could take less than five minutes. It’s great that you sell unique wares with heartfelt packaging, but sometimes ease and speed rank higher than your boutique feel.

Options are always better. Set up some gift cards near the register and promote e-gift cards on your site to help those in a rush. Customers will appreciate the ability to still shop local even though they’re on a time crunch.

Picking a solution

There are tons of reasons for adding gift cards to your arsenal, so now that you’re onboard start looking for the right gift card program. Prepaid cards, merchant bank cards, outside gift card vendors — be sure to do your research and find a program that fits your small business needs. You can even create your own to add branding flair to your business’s new plastic cash.

Just remember: Check out your state’s legislature concerning gift cards ahead of time. There are rules in place to protect both you and your customers.

With the right gift card program, you could be well on your way to more sales and new customers this holiday season. Happy Holidays!

[Image found at: http://research.nrffoundation.com/Default.aspx?pg=9007#.WDXRXuErIch]

About the Author:

Maxym Martineau Maxym Martineau is a copy editor and staff writer for GoDaddy. She’s an avid reader with an unhealthy addiction to Dr. Pepper and chocolate. She binge watches TV shows like there’s no tomorrow and is always up for a good plot discussion. You can follow her on Twitter @maxymmckay for further shenanigans.

 

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Online vs. Physical: When to Take Your Store to the Streets

I hate waiting. I openly admit that patience is a tough virtue for me. So when I spy a chic pair of shoes online, the first thing I do is see whether or not I can find them in-store. I don’t mind ordering and waiting the three- to five-day shipping period for commonplace, non-immediate items (i.e., a bulk order of K-cups, cleaning supplies, cat litter). But when I’m ready to put an outfit together, I’m ready now.

Online vs. Virtual: When to Take Your Business to the Streets
Photo credit: Kevin Dooley

Plus, there’s just something about actually holding a product. A blouse might look great online, but without seeing it in person I wouldn’t know it’s actually made of scratchy, second-rate material instead of the advertised silk. Yup, tangible pretty much always wins.

The good news is, if you’ve already got an online store, establishing a brick-and-mortar location can really boost your business. There are pros and cons to every venture, but here are some main highlights to consider when setting up a storefront.

The pros

Let’s start with the good.

The experience. As I mentioned above, physically touching a product can make a world of difference. The same can be said for going to a store. I don’t get a “hello” when I walk into a virtual shop, and online assistance is generally limited to impersonal FAQ. A little human interaction can go a long way.

Brand awareness. Have you ever Googled “cute blouse” on the internet only to be bombarded with options? It’s hard to stand out as an online boutique when the competition is so fierce. There’s unlimited potential for space, whereas there are a finite amount of locations for physical stores. Snagging one is guaranteed marketing for passerbys on the street, which could result in greater customer awareness — physically and virtually.

Feedback potential. It can be difficult to gather honest reviews online. People are busy, they forget to revisit the site and rate once they’ve received the product, or they simply don’t take the time. With physical customers, all you have to do is start a conversation (this plays into the experience factor I mentioned earlier). Which shirt do you prefer? What are you looking for today? Did you like those shoes? This kind of feedback can drive business and product-related decisions in the future.

The cons

Prep yourself for the tougher times associated with physical storefronts.

  • Newfound expenses. Wages for staff. Property dues and rent. Inventory. The list goes on. If you’re not prepared to fork out some cash, then reconsider opening a physical storefront. Make sure you have the spending money ahead of time before blindly opening and then encountering this problem later.
  • Location, location, location. It’s kind of a double-edged sword. As mentioned above, it’s great to have a physical representation of your brand. And yet, deciding on a physical property means settling down. The likelihood of working whenever you want, wherever you want, drastically decreases (especially with specific operating hours). You’ll have responsibilities as a store owner that you didn’t have before, and it’s your job to make sure that your business runs smoothly.
  • Customers. Foot traffic is largely dependent on a number of things — time of day/week, advertised sales, seasonal shopping, etc. Some days will creep by with little action. Others will have you wishing for more inventory. But when you compare that to the consistent number of users on the internet — roughly three billion — it’s not even a drop in the bucket (which is why having both an online store and a physical store can be beneficial).

The decision is yours

Regardless of what route you decide to go, be sure to keep your short- and long-term business goals in mind. Still not sure if a storefront is the right move for you? Head on over to the GoDaddy Blog and take advantage of our handy worksheet to decide if you’re ready for a physical location.

About the Author:

Maxym Martineau Maxym Martineau is a copy editor and staff writer for GoDaddy. She’s an avid reader with an unhealthy addiction to Dr. Pepper and chocolate. She binge watches TV shows like there’s no tomorrow and is always up for a good plot discussion. You can follow her on Twitter @maxymmckay for further shenanigans.

 

 

 

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Getting Social for Business

Get online, get found and grow your business with social media

By RuthAnn Hogue, GoDaddy

Getting social for businessSocial media has long since taken the leap from an ever-growing collection of forums and apps to enhance your social life to the realm of valuable business tool. If you’re still waiting to join in, here are some reasons why you should.

First, everyone else is doing it. Regardless of what your mother said, sometimes this does matter. Granted, it’s still not wise to jump off a cliff. You can trust her on that one. But if you are a small business trying to reach critical mass you need to get your message in front of potential clients. Today, that means being where they are. And that is on social media.

So, what exactly is social media for business?

Isn’t it just a bunch of egotistical people posting selfies on Facebook and Instagram or snapping pics of themselves on Snapchat using apps to add silly pig noses?

Isn’t it just for kids or those who cannot be bothered express themselves in more than 140 characters on Twitter?

What about all those people going crazy trying to catch imaginary creatures using the Pokѐmon Go app on their smartphones?

And Periscope, isn’t that just a place where users gather to watch whatever someone else is willing to broadcast?

Yes, but each is so much more.

Here are some real-world social media business applications that might make your life better.

Buy the numbers

Still the big daddy of social media, Facebook as of June 2016 reported on average of 1.13 billion active users daily. While using Facebook is free, access to those users is for sale. Because Facebook has so much personal information on its users, targeting your demographic sweet spot is completely possible.

It’s a Snap

Meanwhile, Snapchat was reported as of June 2016 as having 150 million logged-in users. While its content is fleeting, new upgrades now allow users to save memories to create stories. Whether you use Snapchat to share pics of a live event, let people know about an event on deck, post a coupon or offer other perks, it also has the ability to target—now including geographically.

Instagram for Business

For those relying on a personal account to share Instagram images, it’s time to upgrade. The popular photo-editing and sharing app now offers accounts just for business. Unlike its personal accounts, Instagram business accounts allow you to run analytics. In addition to your own posts, you’ll also be able to purchase ad space when you make the switch.

Tweet it up

Twitter is heating up among teens and tweens who want to escape a Facebook landscape increasingly inhabited by their parents and grandparents. Its user base had reached 313 million by the second quarter of 2016, which can easily be targeted using hashtags.  While sponsored hashtags for specific topics or events are available, anyone can create one at no cost. All it takes is a hot topic, a good network of followers and your message can be retweeted around the globe.

Scope it out

Periscope, an offshoot of Twitter, is no longer just for virtual voyeurism. Kind of. You still get to watch whatever someone else decides to live stream. You still get to post comments in real time. Unless marked with the hashtag #save, content disappears within 24 hours.

Only now, in addition to people broadcasting random content, marketing-savvy business owners are using the platform to share content featuring everything from tutorials for hairdressers on the latest cuts and styles to messaging on how they can brand or marketing your business.

Of course, social media is ever-changing and constantly growing. Keeping current is a must. Unless you want to hang out alone.

Check out SCORE’s classes on Social Media and online marketing presented regularly.

About the Author: RuthAnn Hogue, GoDaddy

Based in Arizona, RuthAnn Hogue is the owner and founder of Whiptail Publisher’s Syndicate, a published nonfiction author and a contributor to the GoDaddy blog. The recovering journalist occasionally breaks out her 1979 Gibson Les Paul Custom Deluxe Silverburst rock ‘n’ roll guitar when she wants to let loose. A devoted fur mother, RuthAnn makes time to spoil all four of her Jack Russell terriers when she is not tweeting from @MyWhiptail or posting on Facebook @whiptailpublishing.

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3 Ways to Make Money with Your Business Blog

3 ways to monetize your business blogDo you run a blog for your small business? Blogs are a great way to humanize your company while drawing in new customers, engaging with returning clientele, and offering need-to-know details about your products or services. But what else can your business blog do for you?

Blogging can be a great source of additional income. Even if you aren’t familiar with writing for profit, you can still monetize your blog in a way that speaks to your brand. Here are three ways to stir up funds while still staying true to your audience.

  1. Write for your niche.

They say the best writers start by writing what they know — and the same should go for your business blog. If you’re a printing shop that focuses on creating custom T-shirt designs, you wouldn’t blog about the scrumptious lava cake recipe you found on Pinterest. Why? Because your followers aren’t looking to you for baking advice. They want the latest trends in printing and screening, where to buy new clothing, or tips for creating a fun and unique design.

Pro tip: Stay true to your business and keep your audience in mind — once you find your niche, you can create content that boosts engagement and leads to profit.

Take the time to flesh out every concept. One topic about T-shirts could turn into 20 posts about where to buy, how to shop, and best practices for custom graphics. This type of hyper-specific content is profitable because it speaks to your audience directly. You can link to individual products or services, driving your readers down appropriate marketing channels and boosting revenue.

  1. Secure sponsored posts.

Once you have an established presence online, you might be asked to write guest articles for outside sites (or you can even approach businesses of your own volition). Sponsored posts are a great way to earn extra income while still promoting your company or brand.

If you already have an established business presence, you’ll bring loads of knowledge and accountability to the table — not to mention a strong potential for followers. When it comes to blogging, making connections across the board is vital.

Pro tip: Take the time to develop and foster relationships with others in your industry, and seed your interests over time.

Don’t randomly approach someone with no prior affiliation — they’ll likely turn you down. But if you work toward a solid relationship and create content specific to your target audience, you’ll be in a position to successfully pitch your articles to those around you. And don’t forget to link back to your site!

  1. Don’t be afraid of ads.

Ads are a sticky topic. Most business owners don’t want to bog down their sites with advertisements that could potentially detract from the authenticity of the content. I get that. But in all reality, it’s your site. Your blog. You are the one in control of your content and layout. If you feel like there are too many ads, then scale it back a bit. But don’t avoid them entirely.

Pro tip: You might not know when your blog traffic is going to spike — but if it does and you don’t have ads in place, you’ll miss out on some serious cash.

Pick and choose ads to your liking. Align yourself with other small businesses or companies that you feel speak to your brand. There’s no hard-fast rule saying you have to use one ad over the other, so continue to control your space by being selective. That way, you’re not distracting your readers from the purpose of your blog while still giving yourself the opportunity to make a little extra. Next time a big traffic spike hits, your bank account will thank you.

Taking some money home

There are plenty of ways to engage your customers while monetizing your business blog. And when you’re a small business owner looking for extra ways to bring in a little cash, turning your thoughts into profit is a good way to go. Don’t have a blog yet? No worries — they’re pretty easy to start. And if you’ve got a blog in the works but need a little help boosting your traffic, you can check out these tips to get your business booming. Happy blogging!

About the Author:

Maxym Martineau Maxym Martineau is a content writer for Professional Web Services at GoDaddy and a freelance writer based out of Arizona. She’s an avid reader with a love for social media and blogging. Connect with Maxym on Google+. The world’s largest domain name registrar and Web hosting provider, GoDaddy gives small business owners the tools to name their idea, build a beautiful online presence, attract customers and manage their business. To get more tips for your small business—including articles, videos and webinars—check out the GoDaddy Training Hub.

 

 

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3 Tips to Help you get Paid like a Pro with your e-commerce site 1 Aug

eCommerce: 3 Tips to Help you get Paid like a Pro

Collecting payment online through an eCommerce site has never been easier!

Making sales online without a way to get paid immediately is like opening a corner market and asking people to mail in a check — then waiting for it to clear before they can take home their fresh tomatoes. They want their produce now, and so do people who want to download your eBook or buy your product or service.

In short, in an era of instant gratification, businesses need to be able to serve up what’s on the menu before customers leave your store.

That’s great, you might say, but just exactly how does someone who’s just starting out take online payments? Doesn’t it require a merchant account with a major bank? Well, yes—and no.

That’s because at times a merchant account is the perfect solution. We’ll come back to it shortly. First, let’s talk about how to get paid when you’re new to the eCommerce game.

The all-in-one solution

Let’s say you sell T-shirts. They come in various styles, colors and sizes. You know you can’t just post a list of what you have on a web page and ask people to send an email outlining what they want, along with a personal check. That might work for a limited, one-time distribution for a specific event. But it would not be a practical way to run your business.

Fortunately, many ready-made online store options are available, including GoDaddy’s Online Store. In addition to providing a place to showcase your T-shirts, you are immediately able to collect payment through PayPal and all major credits cards. Funds will automatically transfer into your bank accounts.

By using this type of all-in-one eCommerce solution, you get a seamless way to collect payment.

For those entrepreneurs who prefer to let someone else get their hands dirty in site development, look for a reputable company that offers professionally built eCommerce solutions that include baked-on payment process (like GoDaddy’s Web Store Design Service).  Either way, you’ll have an automated way to collect money — so you can get paid.

The point-of-sale solution

We get it. Not all sales take place online. Whether you set up shop at ever-changing weekend festivals or showcase your T-shirts at the same mall kiosk day in and day out, you need a dependable way to accept a variety of payment types. Enter the point-of-sale (POS) solution.

From mobile credit card readers and apps like Square and PayPal to robust online bookkeeping tools with mobile payment capabilities, you’ve got plenty of POS options. Just be sure whatever point-of-sale solution you choose includes the following features:

  • Affordable. Look at costs including monthly fees and swipe rates.
  • Easy to use.
  • E-commerce integration.
  • 24/7 customer support.

As a busy business owner you’ll likely also benefit from time-saving features such as inventory management and industry-specific functionality like bill splitting for restaurants. It’s worth a bit of extra time to settle on a solution that’s the right fit for your and your business.

The CMS solution

Maybe you want to sell products from a website built on a Content Management System (CMS)  such as WordPress. In that case, you’ll need a few special parts:

  • Reliable web hosting, where you can install your CMS software. Be sure to choose a hosting provider (like GoDaddy for Managed WordPress) that guarantees uptime, keeps a close eye on security, and offers outstanding customer support.
  • The right theme. WordPress, in particular, offers myriad eCommerce themes. You want to choose a well-designed theme that features the functionality you need. Again, make sure there will be solid support available if you need it.
  • The right eCommerce plugin. Most themes don’t have baked-in eCommerce functionality; instead, they’re designed to work with an eCommerce plugin like WooCommerce for WordPress or Eshop for Joomla!.

Now, back to the business of getting paid.

In these types of cases, you’ll need to line up a merchant account or payment gateway. Stripe offers just such solutions for Joomla! and Simple Pay Lite for WordPress. Of course, there are others as well. The takeaway here is that before you can get paid, you’ll need to collect.

And with a store built using a content management system, you’ll need to integrate a way to do so.

Finally, you’ll want to secure your store with an SSL certificate to make sure your payments are accepted safely.

Before long, you just might be need to upgrade, and start the whole process over again to handle booming sales. We have a feeling you won’t mind.

About the Author: RuthAnn Hogue, GoDaddy

Based in Arizona, RuthAnn Hogue is the owner and founder of Whiptail Publisher’s Syndicate, a published nonfiction author and a contributor to the GoDaddy blog. The recovering journalist occasionally breaks out her 1979 Gibson Les Paul Custom Deluxe Silverburst rock ‘n’ roll guitar when she wants to let loose. A devoted fur mother, RuthAnn makes time to spoil all four of her Jack Russell terriers when she is not tweeting from @MyWhiptail or posting on Facebook @whiptailpublishing.

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