5 Reasons You Should Send Clients Handwritten Notes

5 Reasons You Should Send Clients Handwritten Notes

Two things – email and direct mail – often get deleted or trashed without being opened. In fact, stats bear that out. The average “open” rate for those is barely above 20%.

Rick Elmore was in a college marketing class listening to a professor relate those facts. He has always remembered what the professor said.

“You know, what really works is a handwritten note,” the professor said. “But who has time?”

Flash forward a few years. Elmore is CEO of Simply Noted, a company he founded.

Simply Noted is an automated handwritten letter company. Through the company’s advanced technology, it is easy for anyone to create simple, scalable, powerful, and meaningful real pen-written communication.

Simply Noted combines technology with a personal touch, putting real pen and ink to paper to create beautifully crafted products for every occasion.

5 Reasons to Write Handwritten Notes to Clients

You should send a handwritten note because it’s more likely to get opened and read. Remember that 20% “open” email or direct mail stat? Well, compare that to the handwritten note, opened at a 99% rate. That’s right, 99%!

“It’s a tool to get in touch with clients, and a way to stand out to customers, partners and employees,” Elmore said. “There’s an even stronger need for that in the Covid era.”

“This is especially true in businesses that are relationship driven, such as insurance, real estate, non-profits and others,” he added.

Elmore said that handwritten letters are a way to stand out from the competition and add personal connection to your communications and customer service outreach. Many adults have returned to handwritten letters during the pandemic to keep in touch with friends and loved ones, and the same practice can be applied to business.

If you own a business, Elmore named 5 reasons to use handwritten communications:

Mailed Letters Get Opened

Compared to email marketing’s average open rate of 22.7%, handwritten letters enjoy a 99% open rate. You can safely assume that the letter’s recipient will open a handwritten letter that’s been delivered to them.

Handwritten Letters are Rare

According to the U.S. Postal Regulatory Commission, the average American received only 10 pieces of personal mail for the year in 2017. Handwritten mail stands out.

Handwritten Letters Stand Out

Customers recognize that email is extremely economical and simple to generate. Likewise, mass-printed direct mail pieces need only be designed once and then they can be printed by the thousands. Compared to the “junk” mail an average person receives, a handwritten note stands out and gets noticed.

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Cards and Letters are Often Kept

People keep handwritten letters because they are not just a letter. They are a gift. The longer that note sits atop your customer’s desk, the more likely they are to remember you and think positively of you.

Handwritten Notes are Inherently Personal

Emails are impersonal. Texts have about as much value as the time it takes to generate them. Handwritten letters, on the other hand, show you care. If you are trying to build a positive relationship, there’s no substitute for the power of the pen.

How Does Simply Noted Do It?

Anyone savvy on a computer can play around with fonts and look at various print styles. Simply Noted is much more involved, in fact, the technology is very advanced.

Not to mention, really cool.

“We took a lot of time perfecting the technology,” Elmore said. “We took the unique characteristics from handwriting.”

Simply Noted has 21 handwriting samples to view on its website, but that’s just a small showcase of what’s available. There are about 900 versions of writing styles available.

There will be some style that looks just like your handwriting. Or, there will be some style that really appeals to you, that you’d like to use.

“Everybody uses it (Simply Noted) so differently,” Elmore said. “One of the most popular uses has been for Announcements, to draw attention to an event, or a change of location.”

“Customers might use us for a basic Thank You note, or they might include a Come Back note and include a promotional code,” he said. “Nonprofits like it because it adds a personal touch.”

“The possibilities are endless,” he said. “All of our customers are either repeat customers or referrals.”

Elmore said that handwritten notes can also be effective doing outreach to a brand-new business prospect or sending a thank you to a longtime customer.

“Especially as we continue to navigate the business and social implications of the coronavirus pandemic, the extra personal touch of a handwritten letter can go a long way,” Elmore said.

About Simply Noted

Designs, handwriting samples, and pricing is available at simplynoted.com.

Image: Depositphotos.com

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Best Affiliate Programs – And the Highest Paying

Best Affiliate Programs – And the Highest Paying

If you buy something through our links, we may earn money from our affiliate partners. Learn more.

As a website owner, writer, blogger or social media influencer you work hard creating quality content. Chances are you dream of finding the best ways to make money from your efforts — and that includes the best affiliate programs.

Savvy content creators look for the highest earning opportunities that are relevant to their audience. That way they can earn cash at the same time as they serve their readers, by highlighting products and services they’ve taken the time to investigate and carefully select.

The great news is that even people with small social followings or the owners of small blogs can make money from their content. With affiliate marketing you can literally earn while you sleep — waking up to see a nice juicy commission in your dashboard. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

The only problem is, there are thousands of affiliate earning opportunities. How do you find the top affiliate programs? That’s where this article can be your guide. We help you focus on choosing the best programs and networks for your needs.

What is an Affiliate Program?

An affiliate program is a program set up by a merchant to pay other parties for each new lead or sale they bring in. The party bringing in the lead or sale is usually a website publisher, content creator or blogger, called an “affiliate.” From the merchant’s standpoint, the model is attractive because the merchant only pays if a defined action occurs leading to increased sales.

Marketing affiliates like this business model because they make money by serving their readers with great suggestions for products and services. And they don’t have to create their own products to sell — they simply insert affiliate links in their content. Creators can focus on content and maintaining good relations with their audience — while the merchant handles sales, invoicing, delivery and customer support process.

Finding the Best Affiliate Programs

With so many programs to choose from, it’s daunting to select a handful to promote. So we’ve curated a list of what we consider the best affiliate programs for entrepreneurs, small business owners, creators and bloggers. We further broke down the list by popular categories that may be attractive to you.

Not every category will be relevant to your audience. Focus on finding the best programs covering offerings your audience cares about. Likewise, you should have a passion for the offerings you are going to promote. If you are not interested in them, then skip over them — because your lack of interest will be obvious.

Last but certainly not least, choose from among the affiliate programs that will pay you more. After all, you’re going to work hard on your content to serve your audience. So you should be paid well.

Best Recurring Commission Affiliate Program

Recurring commission affiliate programs are where you earn repeat commissions from the same sale, over time. For example, let’s say a reader uses your affiliate ID to sign up for a monthly software service at $20.00 per month. You earn a 30% commission initially — or $6.00 (20 x .30 = 6). But in this case, you would also earn 30% or $6.00 every month thereafter as a recurring commission, as long as the reader continues to use that service. In a year, you would make $72.00.

That’s just from one affiliate sale. Imagine over time that you make 100 sales. That would bring you up to $7,200 a year (72 x 100 = 7,200). See the potential? Here are the best recurring revenue affiliate programs:


SEMush’s affiliate program Berush, offers up to 40% in lifetime commission from SEMRUSH subscription sales. This follows a revenue-sharing model where the affiliate promotes SEMrush and gets a commission on every sale made in return. The process takes three simple steps: join BeRush; advertise and start earning commissions. BeRush comes with pre-designed banners, landing pages, links to SEMrush with affiliate’s unique reference ID and SEMrush widgets. Commissions are paid twice a month on the 10th and 25th of each month.


The Leadpages Affiliate Partner Program offers a suite of lead generation tools. With this affiliate program you get 30% monthly commissions for the lifetime of the customer. It also provides a 50% recurring commission on all sales generated, for as long as the referrals remain customers. This also expands to renewals and upgrades of their Leadpages plan.  Leadpages comes with free hosting on a Leadpages domain, more than 200 mobile responsive landing pages templates, text-to-Opt-in comes/ SMS campaigns and much more.


Aweber’s affiliate program is an email opt-in marketing tool. Its templates simplify the process for creating visually attractive email marketing campaigns and the reporting dashboard provides insights on visitors and sales statistics. It comes with newsletters emailing, auto responding, and RSS-to-email converting features as well. This affiliate program give a commission rate of 30% for recurring referral payments.


Wwith Ezoic, an affiliate can earn 3% of a publisher’s total revenue on all traffic they send through Ezoic for the lifetime they use the Ezoic platform. Referrers also receive direct help from Ezoic to support their introduction to new website owners and publishers. The minimum threshold for payment however is $20 and you must have at least one conversion. Conversion takes place when a publisher starts generating revenue through Ezoic’s platform.


GetResponse affiliate program provides marketing automation, landing pages, opt-in forms, webinars, customer relationship management and more. GetResponse offers two programs. An affiliate bounty program offering $100 for every sale referred and affiliate recurring program which pays 33% for every sale referred. The programs also offer free promotional materials including banners, videos and sales copy.


Pabbly offers a commission rate of 30% for recurring sales. Pabbly subscription plans start at $19.00 a month and there is a free version as well. The program gives you two functional dashboards to manage both traders and developers’ campaigns. The merchant dashboard offers affiliate settings, commissions, and click results. While the affiliate dashboard provides information related to subscription, invoice, transaction, profile and affiliate information.


Kajabi affiliate partners can earn a 30% lifetime commission for any new member they sign up that stays active past two years. This comes with special rewards package as you bring in more revenues. Kajabi’s partner dashboard allows users to track your rewards, trailing referrals, earnings and total campaigns.


Unbounce’s Affiliate program provides the opportunity to earn 20% of the recurring revenue for every customer they refer to Unbounce. This landing page platform helps users design converting landing pages for SaaS businesses, e-commerce sites, and agencies. Furthermore, site visitors or social media followers get 20% off their first three months using Unbounce. All these come with support tools that include a Partner coach, a dashboard to track progress, and training and promotional materials.


Teachable is an online course platform that allows bloggers and website owners to build their classes to sell to their students. They offer a 30% commission for every signup done within 90 days. Its platform program gives you access to A/B tested funnels containing information about Teachable’s target audience.


ConvertKit comes with a visual automation builder and can create triggers based on website actions and actions inside of emails. They offer a 30% commission per month. The company does not cut-off the revenue of an affiliate as long as they are active and paying.


Kinsta’s affiliate program starts by paying an initial commission, followed by a recurring 10% monthly payment. They can earn up to $500 initially, depending on the type of plan the referral has purchased. Plans include Starter ($30); Pro ($100), Business ($150) and Enterprise ($500). Support also comes by way of a custom-made affiliate dashboard that allows real-time tracking of subscriptions, analytics and payments.

Best Loan Affiliate Marketing Programs

These are programs that help you become an affiliate marketer for a lending platform and start generating a secondary stream of income. The following is a brief list of the top loan programs in the market that you could consider joining.


BlueVine is an online lender that provides multiple financing products for small-business owners. BlueVine offers invoice factoring, where the company purchases your unpaid invoices at a discount. It allows partners to refer their unqualified or declined deal-flow to BlueVine for invoice financing up to $5 million and lines of credit up to $250,000. For referrals, it provides support and residual commissions.

Credibly Business Loans

Credibly’s Referral Partners send leads to Credibly and receive a commission on the deals that fund. The sales process is handled internally by Credibly’s Customer Success Team and provides reports on which leads have been successfully funded. Businesses are generally funded in fewer than 48 hours from approval. Credibly works with referral partners in various industries and has incentives ranging from straight commissions to bonus miles and others.


SmartBiz’s marketing partner program is ideal for alternative lenders, financial consultants, accounting firms and small business aggregators. Its dedicated online portal helps an affiliate refer loans as well as track the status of the sale.


As a Kabbage affiliate, you can get $250 for every referred customer who qualifies for the loan, and they get an additional $50 when the referral gets approved. Each small business referred to Kabbage will also receive one $50 gift card once they’re approved by Kabbage. There is no limit to the number of referrals one can make or the amount they can receive. Kabbage’s program is supported by APIs to put the power of growth directly into the hands of small business owners


OnDeck is an online small business lender and offers two types of business loans: short term loans and revolving lines of credit. Payouts are set at 2% for advertising performance campaigns to your audience on your blog, website, newsletter, search landing page.


Fundbox helps each affiliate to integrate its solutions into their platform to send over referrals to them. Affiliate partners can have their customers join Fundbox’s B2B credit and payments network by either integrating it into your workflow or through a referral link. Its partner portal dashboard provides easy status updates on your referrals, commission structure and renewals.

Funding Circle

FundingCircle is a business that allows anybody to lend small amounts of money to businesses in return for interest. It offers partnership opportunities through the landing page where you leverage FundingCircle’s brand API integration.

Fora Financial

As a Fora Financial affiliate partner, you can earn money online through commissions on all new deals and renewals. Additionally, Fora Financial’s account management team will be part of your support team.


Fundera is a business funding matchmaker who will match businesses with funders. Any time you refer a small business using their unique affiliate link they get $1,000. However, you have to sign up for the referral program.


LendingClub offers each affiliate the opportunity to drive traffic to LendingClub and get commissions. It will provide commissions from referrals for its loans, investment accounts and auto refinance loans through banners and links.

Best Gaming Affiliate Marketing Programs

For content creators who stream or review games on their site or through YouTube, the following gaming affiliate programs are the best:


Alienware is a subsidiary of Dell. The PC gaming company provides sales commissions ranging from 1-6%. The affiliate program provides banners as well as a 90-day cookies. It also helps you earn $71.86 through Earnings Per Click (EPC).


HP is offering influencers to partner with who have audiences that are passionate about gaming, imaging, entertainment, or business technology. Through this program each time a visitor from your site clicks through to the HP online Store and makes a qualifying purchase, you earn a sales commission. Orders are tracked and sales credited to your site through the use of cookie technology.


Microsoft 365 for business Affiliate Program allows an affiliate to start earning money online through commissions on Microsoft 365 referrals. There are no limits on the amount of commission you can earn and comes with a referral window of 30 days.


PlayStation Store offers affiliate marketing to earn commissions by referring new customers to PlayStation Store. Through online marketing, an affiliate can earn a commission rate of 5% on all sales generated by their links.

Best Buy

Best Buy offers the opportunity to start earning money by directing visitors to BestBuy.com. Every time your visitors click on Best Buy’s content and make a qualifying purchase, you earn a commission. The program includes all your necessary online marketing offerings like banners, text links, and copy aimed to improve conversion rates.


GameStop is a retailer providing video games, consoles, digital goods, and electronics. Its affiliate program pays a commission rate of 5% on all goods with a 1% commission on select goods. For gaming fanatics, this offers opportunities to earn a commission for click-throughs and purchases on GameStop.


each time a visitor signs up for a free trial and becomes a paying member on Gamefly you can earn commissions. On average commissions are $15 with a $20 commission for those able to refer 500+ sign ups a month. A 5% commission rate is earned for new game consoles as well as further improving affiliate earnings.


Newegg helps you earn money when your website or blog refers a customer to them. In addition, when your audience makes a purchase, you earn a commission. Support comes by way of text and banner links, support team, product catalog, RSS feeds and more.

Tiger Direct

Tiger Direct is an online retailer dealing in electronics. It offers up to a 3% commission rate for sales of its products. You can add links to your site and access reports online so you can see how well you’re doing as an affiliate.

Best Web Hosting Affiliate Marketing Programs

Web hosting affiliate programs are one of the most popular categories. Is your audience interested in places to host a blog or website? Do you cater to do-it-yourselfers or developers who need to find hosting? Then web hosting affiliates are worth exploring as they one of the highest commissions.


Bluehost’s affiliate program includes banner ads on your site to drive interested readers to Bluehost’s products. This comes with easy-to-use instructions and widgets, by simply embedding an HTML code you can add banners to your website. Plans start at $2.95 per month with one-time payouts starting at $65 for each qualified web hosting plan purchase. Considered among the highest paying affiliate programs, payments are processed between 45 and 60 days after the sales are made.


Using HostGator’s new signup custom coupon codes and tracking links you can start getting commissions per signup. Hostgator is also another affiliate program with one of the highest payouts. It offers up to $100 per signup, a flexible commission structure, co-branded landing pages and others offers. Payouts are tiered starting from $65 and can go up to $125 for more than 21 sign-ups.


GreekGeeks is a web hosting service that has support for WordPress websites, offering reseller and VPS hosting for your websites or applications. Through its partner program, it offers a reward of $50 per sale, placing it among the highest paying affiliate programs. It has a cookie 30 days and the platform will immediately track the sale back to you and generate the equivalent commission.


Through Flywheel’s referral program you can earn 300% of the first month’s payment on any plan up to $500 for every referral. By using Flywheel’s custom referral links to promote Flywheel on your blog, your social media channels or sites get paid per referral. However, if your customers use a promotional code or coupon, payouts will be adjusted accordingly.


By placing a Namecheap affiliate link on your site you can start generating commissions. Namecheap will provide you banners and text links for your referral offers. You can earn revenues for every new customer along with real-time reporting on their earnings.


Dreamhost offers a $120 commission per signup for customers looking for a web hosting service. Referrals can reach up to $200. It offers a variety of ready-to-use banners and tracks URLS to ensure that every person that signs up through your affiliate link is tracked. Its dashboard also helps you track of the high commissions the company pays out.

Best Website Tool Affiliate Marketing Programs

These are affiliate programs that allow you to join programs under categories like web hosting, website builders, VPNs and technology.


Fiverr is great if you are into promotion. It has over 250 categories to promote and include logo design, writing, programming, WordPress and business services. Its Cost Per Action goes of up to $150 and this comes with no referral limit along with lifetime attribution. Another benefit of the Fiverr program is its user-friendly dashboard, as well as the portfolio of creative resources that you can use to promote Fiverr.


Wix offers unlimited payouts with minimum effort. This site builder has over 100 million users and offers $100 per premium referral. Wix’s support includes links, banners and multi-language landing pages. However, there is a minimum sales target of $ 300 per month.

Constant Contact

Constant Contact offers unlimited commissions through its email marketing platforms. Partners earn $5 for each referral that signs up to free trial and get an additional $105 when referrals pay for a full account.


Affiliate partners can earn payouts for every website or commerce subscription that you drive from a first-time Squarespace customer. They are also eligible to receive commissions as long as their audience is converting.


WordPress affiliate programs allow partners to promote WordPress.com, Jetpack, and WooCommerce to earn referral rewards. The program was created for WordPress professionals including site and plugin developers, designers, theme creators, and others who are part of the WordPress ecosystem and its associated products. Because the program is only open to a select number of partners, specifically those who can deliver demonstrated new traffic and sign-ups to WordPress.com, Jetpack, and WooCommerce. Partners who have less than $100 in accrued rewards on a consistent basis will be removed from the program.


GoDaddy offers a 40% commission in addition visitors who click through to GoDaddy from ads are considered referrals as well. If they make a qualified purchase, you can automatically earn a commission. Its cookies last for 45 days and average commissions range from 10-15% per sale. GoDaddy offers over 1,000 affiliate links including banners.

Best eCommerce Affiliate Marketing Programs

Ecommerce platforms have become very popular, and some offer excellent affiliate programs. With many working towards working with affiliates. Here are some examples:


BigCommerce lets you earn 200% of the customer’s first monthly payment or $1,500 per enterprise customer. Promotions can be made through referral links, pre-made banners, emails and other marketing tools. BigCommerce’s dashboard allows users insights on clicks, trials, sales and commissions. As an affiliate, you can also use it to track earnings, performance and also receive support from a dedicated account manager.


The world’s most popular e-commerce website builder boasts of having over 500,000 merchants and a substantial 200% commission on paid stores. When referrals sign up for a Shopify Plus account, they get paid a flat $2,000 bounty payment. Once you are an affiliate, you can get support for your own Shopify store, as well as free Shopify content to use for promotion.


3dcart is another eCommerce platform that hosts its own program and offers a 300% commission for paid conversions. It focuses on SEO and provides tools to build, promote, and grow the online store of an affiliate. The affiliate program runs on both the Commission Junction and ShareASale networks, and both offer the same commission and 120-days cookie life.


Volusion’s e-commerce solution helps small businesses to create, manage, and expand their online stores. It provides customers with support for domain purchase, web design, cart integration, SEO, and security. It offers commission for clients that you refer to Volusion with back end marketing support. With it, you can earn a 200% one-time commission payment of your client’s monthly hosting plan. visitors who arrive at Volusion through your referral link are yours.


Weebly is a website builder with over 45 million users. Its drag and drop interface make it easy to build a quick site. In its affiliate program, it offers a 30% recurring commission for as long as the customer is active, and features a 120-day cookie window. Through its third-party affiliate, ShareASale provides an affiliate with third-party tracking, real-time reporting, and monthly commission checks.

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Flippa’s makes it possible to make 15% on all and any successful site, store, app or digital property sale referrals. They also have the option to further earn another 15% on all and any site, store, app or digital property listing referrals.

Best Big Box Store Affiliate Programs

Well known big retail websites can be very lucrative because of the value of each sale. Think big screen TVs, electronics, home improvement products and more. One of the biggest challenges with the companies in this category is going to through the product list. We’ve combined them all here under the banner “big box stores.”


Through its affiliate program, Amazon provides commissions between 1% and 10%, depending on the category of the product purchased. The most lucrative items to promote are clothes and luxury beauty products, both of which can earn a 10% cut on the price. If visitors end up on Amazon through your link and buys something other than what your content links you get a commission on the shopper’s entire cart. To be a member of Amazon Associates, you must have an active site, blog, app, or YouTube channel

Bloggers, publishers and creators with a qualifying site or mobile app can participate in the Amazon Associates Program. Amazon also has a separate influencer program.


Walmart’s Affiliate Program allows participants to earn commission by placing banner ads or text links on their site and referring customers. They can earn money each time a visitor follows a link and then completes a qualifying purchase. Commissions are between 1-4% of the item’s sale amount or $10.00 per item. One of the biggest challenges with the likes of Walmart and the others in this category is going to through the product list.


Enjoying over one billion listings from a wide range of product categories, eBay’s affiliate program offers high conversion rates and a diverse selection of products.

Through its partner network, it pays out commissions of 50% to 70% of auction fees. This means that for each item sold, eBay gets a cut by charging the seller an auction fee. An affiliate can then earn a percentage of the revenue eBay earns from that purchase, based on the product category. Items such as parts, accessories and fashion often generate good commissions.


Target’s affiliate program allows users to place links via banners, widgets, text links and other tools on websites. In return, visitors are tracked within a 7-day cookie window until they place orders. There are no charges to join the Target affiliate program. The program has four categories for earning commission for affiliates. These include apparel & accessories; home & outdoor living; baby gear & furniture; and health & Beauty. These commissions range from 1% to 8%, depending on the category the sales affiliates

Best Buy

Advertise Best Buy products on your social media, your blog or site, and get a commission from every product sold via your link. Best Buy offers free tools, content, and weekly banner ads to add to your site.

Home Depot

Affiliates who join Home Depot’s affiliate program can start earning revenues on every qualified sale they refer to homedepot.com. They will receive support by way of text links, display banners, project and buyer guides. Commissions include 1% on products, mobile, and buy online pick up in-store orders, 1% on appliances, and 8% on select home decor merchandise.


Lowe’s affiliate program is managed by Commission Junction (CJ). To be eligible as an affiliate you have to have a website and be focused on home improvement, construction, design and similar areas. Lowe’s pays 2% in commissions and cookies last for one day.


You can earn commissions as an affiliate marketer by referring new customers to Costco through Skimlinks and Commission Junky.

Sam’s Club

Sam’s Club offers commissions on sale when visitors click on a SamsClub.com ad from your site and complete a qualifying sale through SamsClub.com. Just like the other big box stores this is a company with a lot of products in its inventory. So there is a great opportunity to earn commissions.

Best Office Supply Affiliate Marketing Programs

Office supply chains in the digital and physical world are highly competitive. One of the ways they stay on top is by using affiliates and their digital presence. Here are the top office supply affiliate programs.

Office Depot

Through the Office Depot affiliate program, you can earn income by placing text links, product links, and graphic banners from OfficeDepot.com directly to your site. Each transaction made through these links from your site earns you a percentage from the transaction of the item. For example, office accessories such as binders commissions are set at 6% while a 4% commission is available for paper, inkjet cartridges and toners.


With the Staples affiliate program you have a choice thousands of office supplies. By referring your visitors to Staples and having them purchase items you can receive commissions between 1-5% in sales commission.


Quill’s affiliate program allows influencers to promote Quill products by using links to divert traffic to its site and earn a commission per sale. Through VigLink technology, it automatically monetizes terms by transforming them into revenue generating hyperlinks whose destinations are determined in real-time auctions. Quill’s solutions work across sites, apps, and social networks.

Best Furniture Affiliate Marketing Programs

These are paying affiliate programs that feature furniture retailers. They come in handy if you as an influencer or website owner have a strong following in interior design, home furnishing and related topics.


Wayfair affiliates program allows websites and blog owners to promote Wayfair through affiliate links and earn commission on orders from those links. Wayfair offers thousands of items across all major home categories, giving affiliates more choices and opportunities. Affiliates in return get dedicated in-house management, 7% commissions, and a 7-day referral period.


Overstock is an online retailer offering commissions with deals on designer brands and home goods. Affiliates can earn 6% on commissions on all items, a 14-day referral period and paid media opportunities. Overstock partners with CJ affiliate for tracking, reporting, and payment for its affiliate partner program.

West Elm

West Elm is a retailer for modern furniture and home decor featuring inspiring designs and colors.  Affiliate marketers can earn 3% commissions of sales through the VigiLink platform.


Houzz is a platform for home remodeling and design. Its affiliate program provides commissions of up to 5% per sales, a 30 day cookie duration and a catalogue of 9 million products available for purchase.


Anthropologie needs affiliates to showcase its ads, banners and links on its site. In return, they receive a 6% commission on net sales, real-time reporting and sales tracking, a 30 day cookie window and other perks.

Best Educational Affiliate Marketing Programs

Help your audience increase their skills and education levels — and earn at the same time. Online courses and remote learning have become tremendously popular during the CVOID-19 pandemic, and are likely to continue long beyond that. Here are course or educational affiliates.


As a Kajabi affiliate marketer, you can receive a 30% recurring commission for any new member you sign up and stays active past their trial period. If you sign up one member who sticks around for two years that means you made around $1,000. Kajabi’s dashboard helps you track clicks, form submissions, conversions and conversion rates.


Through its paying affiliate marketing program, this online learning platform offers between 20-45% in commissions with a cookie life of 30 days. Coursera has over 4,000 courses on offer and makes the generous commission worth exploring.


Teachable is an online course platform that allows bloggers and website owners to build their classes to sell to their students. They offer a 30% commission for every signup done within 90 days. Its platform program gives you access to A/B tested funnels containing information about Teachable’s target audience.


Udemy is probably the skill-learning platform that has the highest number of courses. It boasts of offering 150,000 courses and having 24 million students. It offers a baseline commission of 20% with a 7-day cookie.


Skillshare is another learning platform that provides 29,000 online and video classes. It offers a fixed commission of $7 for every new customer you refer to it with a 30-day cookie life. Each affiliate creates a custom account through Impact Radius that tracks their referrals in real-time.


DIY’s influencer program allows you to earn money by promoting memberships to it creative online community. It hosts courses targeting children, and commissions are given per converted sign-up or for each trial you refer to.

Best Cosmetic and Makeup Affiliate Programs

Do you run a site or blog in the beauty niche? Are you an influencer on social media who often shares makeup tips and product ideas? These cosmetic affiliate programs are for you. These programs are really good for those who have a makeup tutorial or beauty YouTube channel. The category often includes something called influencer programs.

As an influencer, you can tap into your social media following, blog or website to review products or help promote them. By joining an influencer program you use your creativity to create compelling content with advertisers to reach out to your audiences.


Murad the skincare products for acne, anti-aging, cellulite, age spot treatments has an affiliate program. Website owners can help promote special Murad deals and special promotions. It offers commission on sales of their products starting from 6%.


Jane is a boutique marketplace featuring women’s fashion, home decor, and children’s clothing. Through the ShareSale affiliate network it provides opportunities for bloggers working in baby products, home goods, clothing and other opportunities to earn revenue. With Jane commissions from new customers are 9% and for returning customers it is set at 8%.

Yves Rocher

Yves Rocher offers a selection of beauty products, including skin and body care. It offers a 15% commission with a 30-day cookie duration.


Scentbird has an n affiliate program for those interested in perfumes. The company helps affiliates earn $14 per sale or subscription generated through your link. This means for just 1 subscription sign up per day affiliates could earn $420 a month. Scentbird has a 45-day cookie and provides text links, product links and banners.

BH Cosmetics

Through BH Cosmetics affiliate program each time you direct a visitor to BHCosmetics.com and they make a purchase within 60 days of their visit, you earn an 8% commission rate on that order. Additional perks include bonuses, personalized creative content for your website and much more.


Mac is a cosmetics company globally recognized as one off the leading brands in the industry. It offers affiliate marketing opportunities through Skimlinks where websites or blogs owners can send traffic to them using tracked links. Sales that are generated from that link will earn the affiliate a commission rate.

ULTA Beauty

The Ulta affiliate program simply places links, promotional banners and available products on your website to start making commissions. Additional incentive offers include free shipping, exclusive free gifts with qualifying purchases, buy one and get one free promotion, affiliate special offers and more.

Sally Beauty

Sally Beauty’s program will help you earn a commission rate on every transaction referred from your site. As one of the biggest suppliers in the industry, the company has a lot of merchanidise. As a matter of fact, it has more than 6,000 hair, skin, and nail products for customers to choose from.

Best Affiliate Networks

A merchant is the or advertiser and is often the creator of the product or services. While an affiliate network acts as an intermediary between the merchant and the affiliate marketer. They help merchants find affiliate marketers to help them make sales and conduct marketing campaigns. Their job as matchmakers is to help businesses select affiliate marketers which is a good fit or them.

For affiliate marketers they help provide you with a portfolio of companies and products that can meet your niche. Very often affiliate networks work around a specific industry thus offering specialized expertise for businesses. This includes identifying the best influencers, blogs or websites that can best leverage a product or products and services.

Impact Radius

Impact Radius manages a number of affiliate programs, and by joining their marketplace as a media partner you gain access to these advertisers. These include merchants such as Best Buy, Door Dash, Cabela’s, Kohl’s, McAfee, Walmart, Lenovo and Adidas.

Using multi-layered tracking methodologies, it claims to be able to combat cookie blocking and deliver close to 100% tracking accuracy thus yielding 17% in higher revenues on the same traffic.

Commission Junction CJ

Commission Junction (CJ) like other affiliate networks helps affiliates earn commissions by driving traffic and conversion to advertisers through websites or blogs. CJ affiliate offers a pay-per-call solution enabling the promotion of advertisers’ products or services through traceable distribution channels. CJ affiliate clients include Blue Apron, Acer, AT&T Samsung, Dell, Canon and others.


ClickBank is an affiliate network for merchants that affiliates can choose to promote based on the interest of their audience. It offers a product database that helps to navigate and find to promote. ClickBank is one of the biggest brands in this segment and the company has a lot of products. To date, ClickBank has paid more than $4.2 billion in commissions from the sale of its product line.


ShareASale is an affiliate network that houses affiliate programs for more than 4,500 merchants for affiliates to choose from. Some of their clients include Freshbooks, Reebok, Etsy, Weebly and Sally Beauty along with many other products and services to choose from. With the ShareASale dashboard you can sign up to all these merchants, generate links, view your statistics and earn commissions. However, you are required to individually apply to the merchants and get approved by each.

Commission Factory

Commission Factory works with affiliates that have ave a website, blog, mobile app or a social media presence. Affiliates can take advantage of the tools it offers to easily generate revenue through links, banners, click-less tracking, coupon codes and its API. It represents over 600 small and large brands and many items to choose from.


Rakuten is an online store stocking everything from high-end electronics to clothing. Here affiliates can apply to each individual brand they want to promote. The consumer insights it provides measures decisions based on impressions, clicks and other metrics.

Sovrn Commerce (Formerly VigLink)

Sovern’s affiliate program allows food bloggers to draw traffic to its clients’ sites. It works on Cost-Per-Thousand system where an affiliate gets paid for every thousand ads that are viewed. It has over 70,000 merchants and it can automatically route your links to the highest bidder who wants their product or service promoted.


When signing up on Skimlinks you earn commissions through link referrals. When an affiliate signs up, they are required to simply copy and paste a short line of code into the footer of their site once. Links that you add from merchants that are signed up with the Skimlinks network will then earn you a commission rate when a reader clicks through the affiliate link and makes a purchase.


ShopHer is an affiliate program for women bloggers. This program helps female bloggers earn revenue through referrals to ShopHer’s network members. It provides affiliate links, sponsored posts and customized video female bloggers.

AWin (Affiliate Window)

Awin is another popular affiliate network that gives you access to over 13,000 different merchants. Some of the notable brands carried by AWin include Etsy, AliExpress, HP and Under Armour. They have a user-friendly system and offer twice-monthly payments with small minimum requirements in multiple currencies.


PeerFly is hailed as being the fastest-growing affiliate network program in the world. The program is a Cost-Per-Action (CPA) based affiliate ad network which means they are paid for their ads when those who view it complete the desired action. PeerFly has over 2,000 live offers and guarantees top pay-outs. In addition, it offers access to its rewards program and contests as an affiliate.


MaxBounty is a performance marketing network which connects trusted affiliate marketers with high paying advertisers. For adverts placed on your site, this affiliate marketing program provides monetized rewards on a Cost-Per-Action basis.


Webgains allows advertisers and publishing partners to generate additional revenue through its affiliate program. They offer support in terms of training to create content to drive clicks to brands, convert to sales and get paid. They cover industries that include technology, sports performance, lifestyle, travel and leisure, and more.


Pepperjam allows an affiliate to help run promotions for its clients and earn revenues through commissions. Through its ascend platform it offers advanced tracking, robust reporting and payment flexibility.


AvantLink works with affiliate marketers on CPA and lead marketing. It offers multi-channel analytics and referral tracking for its affiliate marketers. Payouts are made through commissions, bonuses, paid placement earnings and cost-per-click earnings.

Reward Style

With Reward Style your job as an affiliate marketer is to bring new clients from external traffic sources to Reward Style’s network of clients. There are 5,000 retail partners and a higher number of products to choose from. As an influencer, you are required to generate mobile-first content that’s immediately shoppable and even applies on platforms like Instagram and Snapchat.


Flexoffers provides programs from well-known brands and niche markets alike. As an affiliate marketer you have over 12,000 programs including JCPenney, Hulu, Microsoft, Lego, Gamefly, Lenovo, Nike, L.L. Bean, Xfinity.  With its FlexRev-$hare program, you can refer as many publishers as possible and earn up to 50% of the FlexOffers.com profit.

10 Criteria to Select Affiliate Programs

When selecting an affiliate program to promote on your website or blog, the following factors matter the most:

  • Relevance to your audience: who your audience is will help determine what products and services they will be more willing to purchase or use. For you to get started in affiliate marketing you will need to understand and segment your audience to leverage them for businesses that are looking for promotional partners. This will require an understanding of who your audience is, what products or services might be of interest to them. A large and engaged audience will raise your chances of generating higher revenue.
  • Commission rate: Commissions for market affiliates are often paid on a monthly basis. Some commissions for electronics such as PCs and smartphones can go as low as 1. %. Others offer high commissions and can go up by 200% for specialized services such as loans, health care, or web hosting.
  • Average order value: Average Order Value (AoV) calculates the average dollar amount a customer places on order on a website or mobile application. This helps determine the long term value a customer brings to the business rather than focus on individual purchases. Simply explained it is about the quality of customers you bring rather than the numbers. Customers with high AoV indicate you are driving high volume sales which means you earn more in commissions as well as bonuses and incentives from the advertisers.
  • Cookie length: also known as cookie life it is the amount of time when all actions made by a user, directed by you from your site, are commissioned to you. This is all about referred customers not deciding to move into action quickly. Some businesses offer a week others offer a 90 day period. The longer the cookie length it increases the window where you receive commissions and rewards in the event the customer decides to make the purchase or take action.
  • Recurring commissions: also called lifetime commission it is an offering that pays every month the customer is active with the companies product or service. This is often offered among software companies and membership programs.
  • Dashboard, data, and support: are important for you to measure progress on your promotional efforts. Unless you measure it, it will be difficult to know where you excel and where you need to improve. It is also important to have good and responsive marketing collateral to bring more impact to your marketing efforts. Support also should come in terms of offering incentives and reward packages for good performers to recognize their work and encourage them to do more.
  • Payout threshold: refers to the minimum amount of money you need to make for you to receive payment. Some merchants or networks require a minimum of $100. This is in a bid to encourage more sales as well as avoid transaction and processing costs for small payments.
  • Fair merchants: As an affiliate in marketing you are a promotions partner for the merchant. For your services, you require compensation in terms of commissions and rewards. Some merchants look for ways to avoid paying commissions per sale after the fact and don’t treat their partners fairly. To avoid such conflicts it is important that you as an affiliate make sure to do your due diligence to see if the merchants have a fair paying affiliate program offers.
  • Link generators – An affiliate referral link is used to promote a merchant’s website or products. It has the affiliate’s ID or username appended to the URL so a specific affiliate can be tracked when a visitor or customer visits your website. If the customer successfully completes an action a referral will be generated and the affiliate will be awarded a commission. They can also generate their own referral URL from the merchant by pasting the page URL.
  • Restrictions – Some merchants do not allow an affiliate to use coupon sites or discount pages. This might be because they do not want to have a lot of bargain seekers. Others will not give you commissions if your referrals opt to use discount codes for their product.
  • Discounts – Does the merchant offer discounts, free trials, or special offers to your affiliate? These will do a lot to help speed up conversions as people will automatically take on the impression their risk has been somewhat reduced as a consequence of the offer.

What is the best affiliate program to join?

It’s hard to pick just one “best affiliate program” because it depends on your audience and their interests, as well as your own interest in promoting an offering. Instead of looking for a single best program, make sure what is best for you and get started. The list herein broken down by categories should help you pick the best affiliate marketing solution for your situation.

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10 Tips for Making a Positive First Impression and Building a Strong Brand

10 Tips for Making a Positive First Impression and Building a Strong Brand

Customers’ first impression of your brand can make a major impact on whether they choose to buy from you. Making a good first impression requires lots of work. You need to create valuable content on your blog and social media. You need to build a personal brand. And you may even need to learn about new options for starting a business. Check out the tips below from members of the online small business community to help you make a positive impression.

Make a Great First Impression with These Techniques

You only get one chance to make a good first impression on potential customers. So you need to carefully plan what you want customers to take from their initial interaction with your brand. The techniques in this Crowdspring post by Katie Lundin can help your business stand out.

Justify Your Price to Customers

Price is often one of the first things consumers look for when considering your products or services. If you want to charge enough to cover your costs and earn a profit, you need to justify it to customers. Ivana Taylor explains how in this DIY Marketers post.

Make Use of Google “People Cards”

Your personal brand can make a big impact on people’s impression of your business. Many people perform a simple Google search when researching a company or founder. So a new feature called “people cards” may help you make an impression. Learn more in this Search Engine Land post by George Nguyen.

Build a Personal Brand

If you have yet to build much of a brand for yourself online or off, doing so many help your business. In this Biz Epic post, Ivan Widjaya discusses the benefits for building a personal brand.

Use Blogging to Build Your Personal Brand

In fact, blogging is one of the best ways to build a brand for yourself online. For those interested, Rachel Strella of Strella Social Media offers thoughts here. You can see more conversation surrounding the post over on BizSugar.

Get in Front of People on Instagram

Instagram can be an effective way to get new eyes on your brand. Once you’ve created an image that can help you make a positive impression, it’s time to get it out to as many people as possible. Learn more in this Social Media Examiner post by Marly Broudie.

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Start Microblogging on Instagram

One of the best ways to make a positive impression once you grab attention on Instagram is through captions. In fact, you can basically use Instagram as a microblog to share useful content. Moss Clement of Moss Media elaborates here. And BizSugar members joined the conversation here.

Learn How Franchising Works

Franchising can be a great way for new entrepreneurs to jump into the business world. But understanding the ins and outs of the business is a must before you get started. Joel Libava of The Franchise King offers some insights here.

Make the Most of Email Marketing

Email is often one of the first methods you use to communicate with customers. If your business is relatively new, the beginner’s guide in this GetResponse post by Irek Klimczak may help.

Launch a Successful Blog

A blog can be a business in and of itself. Or it can be a marketing channel to help you make a good first impression on potential customers. Regardless of your reasons for starting, proper planning is a must. Check out the tips in this Blogging Brute post by Mike Allton for more.

If you’d like to suggest your favorite small business content to be considered for an upcoming community roundup, please send your news tips to: sbtips@gmail.com.

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Secrets of International Marketing Revealed

Secrets of International Marketing Revealed

Taking your small business global sounds like a huge undertaking. However, even small businesses can realize the benefits of selling in international markets. This type of expansion can help you increase profits, build sustainable operations, and increase your brand recognition around the globe. To do this, you have to take into account what goes into international marketing.

Expanding internationally isn’t right for every business. It’s important to carefully consider the pros and cons before jumping in. And then you need to learn the steps involved before you dedicate all of your efforts toward managing trade relationships and foreign marketing. If you decide that going global is right for your small business, finding the right tools and guidance is a must. This can help you maximize your international marketing and multinational strategy.

If you’re ready to learn how to take your business global, here are some extra tips to help you make the leap into international markets.

Taking Your Small Business Global

1. Consider the Benefits

There are plenty of reasons to expand your business into global markets. It can get your product in front of new types of customers. It can lead to a sense of accomplishment. You can be forced to learn about new cultures and worldwide consumers. Still, the biggest reason for most businesses is that global expansion can lead to a major increase in profitability.

Before jumping in and creating an international trade strategy, consider your goals for this expansion. If the benefits above aren’t relevant to your business, global marketing may not be right for you. But if you are interested in growing internationally, having a clearly outlined goal can help you stay focused throughout the initiative.

2. Only Expand if You’re Comfortable

Unfortunately, a desire to increase profits isn’t enough to find success in an international market. Your business also needs to be poised to grow in this manner. If you’re successful in your current business and have a solid domestic marketing plan, you’ll be better equipped to expand. If you’re already stressed about delivering your products and services to customers stateside, then you should work on improving those processes before thinking about taking them to a foreign market.

Laurel Delaney, founder of GlobeTrade explains in an interview with Small Business Trends, “You have to be able to service your customers’ needs domestically. If you don’t have all your ducks in a row with your products or services when you go to export, it is highly unlikely that you’ll be successful.”

3. Be Able to Fill Large Orders

When it comes to international trade, it makes the most financial sense to ship large amounts of goods together. Fulfilling small ecommerce orders internationally may be fine for small retailers. However, if you want to break into a new foreign market in a big way, you should have the bandwidth to fill large orders. If you can’t do this when selling to your domestic market, work on that first before expanding.

Basically, before deciding to expand, your business should be able to produce large volumes of items fairly quickly and easily. You also need to be able to manage order fulfillment efficiently, either on your own or through outsourcing.

4. Start Slow

Taking your business global doesn’t mean you have to jump right into a fully global market. According to Delaney, it makes more sense for most small businesses to choose one country or international market to focus on first. Then you can eventually grow from there.

This allows you to really shore up your processes and make sure you can handle the extra workload before expanding further. Additionally, international marketing can vary dramatically from country to country. As a result, expanding intentionally one country at a time allows you to make marketing decisions that are targeted to customers in a specific country.

5. Find a Market for Your Product

To choose your first international market, do some research to find what countries have a strong interest in your product or offering. Look at other businesses in your niche and determine which markets have a strong interest without being oversaturated.

For example, you might find a country that generally has an interest in American products but doesn’t have much of your specific offering. Then you can create a marketing strategy centered around their interest in U.S. goods. And you can position your items against others in their market to make them really stand out.

6. Utilize Trade Shows

Trade shows can be a great resource for both learning about global markets and meeting people who can help you expand. They allow you to confer with your target market, network with international marketers, and even consider joint ventures with other small businesses.

Marc Schulman used this technique to take his business, Eli’s Cheesecake Company, into global markets. He says in an interview with Small Business Trends, “If you’re in the early stages of running a business, you can walk the trade show and just talk to people and learn. And then once you grow, you can be an exhibitor and that gives you the opportunity to meet people like agents and importers who can help get your products into those markets.”

7. Do Your Homework Online

As with most types of research, looking online can be an easy first step in finding new international markets for your products. Even a simple Google search can lead you to information about exporting your particular product and point you in the right direction of industry resources.

Start by looking into international trade rules for the foreign country or market you’re interested in expanding to. You can also look into specific international marketing strategies and do some market research into the customers in the countries you’re looking to expand to.

8. Utilize Export Tools and Services

There are also several agencies and organizations that offer specific services aimed at helping small businesses get into exporting. Delaney suggests looking into the Small Business Administration’s resources and various city and state-based groups. But she also says that the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Gold Key Service can be a major help. The paid service helps connect business owners with overseas agents and distributors in their respective industries.

These resources can help you access expertise and set up meetings with stakeholders in the international markets you’re looking to enter. Instead of wondering where to start, you can work with people who understand the market right away. This also gives you a better chance of finding the right marketers international customers will appreciate.

9. Meet the Right People

Getting in touch with your agents and distributors is an important step in the process. However, Schulman cautions against just going with the first people you meet before actually finding out what they can offer your business. Specifically, since Eli’s products are perishable food items, he had to find out if each distributor had the proper freezers, trucks, and other equipment to keep his products at peak freshness.

Before moving forward with your international expansion, understand exactly what you need to deliver your goods and services. Make a list of the features and services your partners need to have to work efficiently. If you need to set up multiple meetings with distributors and international marketing agencies, do so. It’s better to take your time expanding than to go with partners that aren’t a proper fit.

10. Be Willing to Travel

Unsurprisingly, exporting goods and services to a new international market often requires that you travel to that country. It may be necessary to travel there to meet with distributors or potential customers. However, it can also be beneficial to travel there for trade shows and similar events. Find events and set up meetings in your new market of choice.

You might even set up multiple trips to really get a feel for your new customer base. This can ultimately benefit your international marketing strategy. You may even work with an international marketer to create a tailored message that’s perfect for promoting your goods and services to a new market.

11. Use Technology Whenever Possible

However, too much back and forth traveling can stretch your schedule and your budget. While you should always be willing to travel if an agent or distributor requires it, try and schedule discussions via Skype or similar online tools whenever possible.

Ideally, you might travel early in the process to meet with stakeholders or international marketing agencies. However, once you choose the partners that are right for your business and make those initial connections, take your interactions online.

12. Focus on Relationships

Whether you deal with agents and distributors mainly in person or using technology, it’s imperative that you build strong relationships with them. If they’re going to represent your business in any way in your new market, they have to understand what you expect from them and vice versa.

For example, your global marketing agency should have a solid handle on the marketing principles necessary to promote your goods and services in a foreign market. From building or editing your company website to creating targeted ads, take note of how they engage in various marketing activities. Keep the lines of communication open. If they aren’t responsive or open to communicating new ideas, they may not be the best fit for your company.

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13. Ensure You’ll Be Paid for Your Exports

As with any other business transaction, it’s essential for you to have a set contract and guidelines about how payments and order fulfillment will proceed. Make sure that you will be paid for any products that you export, especially since taking legal action in a foreign market can be complicated, if not impossible.

In fact, you may benefit from working with a legal expert who focuses on contracts in whatever foreign country you plan on entering. Since each market has different rules and regulations, finding someone to handle the fine print can save you time and help you avoid problems down the road.

14. Get Ready for Paperwork

Every country that you might consider for expansion comes with its own set of rules and qualifications. That often means that you have a lot of paperwork to complete in order to do business in various other countries. From entering joint ventures with other companies to finding the right international marketing partners, you’ll need tons of contracts and agreements.

When planning for your expansion and international marketing strategy, make sure you factor this in. Set aside enough time or bring in experts who can help you sort through the specifics.

15. Achieve Success Before Moving On

Once you’ve officially started selling your goods and services in an international market, it can be tempting to try and expand again right away. However, just as you should achieve relative success in a domestic market before going international, you should also find some success in your new market before moving on. Wait until your processes are solid, your international marketing activities are running smoothly, and you have a significant market share in your current markets. Then you can dedicate enough time and effort to entering a new international market.

Delaney says, “I always say it’s better to diversify later after you achieve some reasonable success. If you are stable in your current markets, then your whole global strategy won’t fall apart when one thing goes wrong.”

16. Look to Congruent Markets

Once you’ve determined that it is time to expand further, looking to countries next to where you already do business can make the process easier. Your existing contacts may be able to put you in touch with people in nearby markets for joint ventures or international marketing partnerships. The processes for exporting goods and services are likely to be similar as well.

Start by researching nearby countries and then ask your existing contacts for references. They may be able to put you in contact with other distributors, partners, or international marketing agencies. Some of them may even provide goods or services to those additional markets as well. You can use your existing relationships to expand into another foreign country.

17. Learn About Your New Customers

When doing business in other countries, you have to consider the different customs and cultural aspects that might impact transactions. You can do your own research about the culture of your new market. However, you can also rely on your agents or distributors to guide you in the right direction if you’ve built solid relationships with them.

The cultural differences between your domestic market and a new international market may seem small. But they can impact all of your marketing decisions, from tweaks to your company website to building international ad campaigns.

18. Adjust Your Marketing Efforts

Expanding your customer base can also have an impact on your marketing activities. Specifically, marketing internationally often means creating new messages for each individual market. You might create a new website and social media accounts for your customers in a new foreign country. You could also simply include messages that are relevant to them in your current marketing channels.

When you’re only focusing on domestic marketing, all of your messages are tailored to customers in your home country. So as you expand, your marketing mix needs to get more diverse. This may require hiring an international marketing department or management team in your new market. Or you could work with a business consultant who specializes in your new market to guide your existing marketing team.

19. Enjoy Your Success

One of the benefits of selling in international markets is seeing your products being sold all around the world. So once you’ve expanded to those markets, it’s important to enjoy that success. This isn’t just important on a personal level. It can also help you reflect on the international marketing principles and strategies you used to build a successful global operation.

Schulman says, “We take a lot of pride in our international business. When I see the Eli’s Cheesecake name and logo in leading restaurants in England, I feel a real sense of accomplishment.”

What is International Marketing?

International marketing means creating marketing messages that are applicable in more than one country. This generally means diversifying the content in your domestic marketing materials to make it more relevant to people across cultures and markets.

When you think of international marketing, your brain might go right to large firms like Coca-Cola or General Motors. But small businesses can succeed at international marketing as well. For example, a small textile company can start by researching markets where their goods are in demand. They might decide to work with distributors in South America first. So their international marketing efforts would focus on distributors in those countries. They might even create a new website or page to share relevant information and facilitate discussions with relevant stakeholders. Then they can provide those distributors with materials that are targeted to consumers in their area.

What are the Challenges of International Marketing?

International marketing can be incredibly worthwhile. However, it also comes with its fair share of challenges, especially for small businesses with limited budgets and market share. Here are some of the challenges you must overcome if you want your international marketing efforts to be successful:

  • Lack of understanding of new markets
  • Cultural differences that could impact buying decisions
  • Language barriers
  • Lack of brand recognition internationally
  • Decreased need for specific goods and services in certain markets
  • Varying compliance issues
  • Decreased purchasing power with international vendors
  • Ability to find reliable partners
  • Communication issues with vendors and distributors
  • Increased competition from international firms
  • Diluted marketing messages due to generic campaigns
  • Lack of resources in new markets
  • Different performance data and metrics to consider
  • Varied marketing channels in new markets

Overcoming these barriers requires a lot of research and expertise. You can do some preliminary exploration on your own. But you may eventually need to make a direct investment into international marketing managers or experts in your specific market.

Is International Marketing Right for My Business?

International marketing is right for businesses that are already solid in their domestic market and who want to grow on a global scale. However, it may not be a good idea for those that are struggling to manage their domestic operations. It can also be tough for those who have products that are only relevant to a very specific customer base. Here are some things to consider before jumping into international marketing.

Pros of international marketing:

  • Increased revenue opportunities
  • Ability to reach a wider target audience
  • Some markets may have increased need for your goods or services
  • Competitive advantage over others in your industry
  • Increased brand visibility
  • Ability to create new relationships around the globe
  • Greater stability in case there are economic issues or disasters in one country

Cons of international marketing:

  • Difficulty tailoring messages to specific consumers
  • More expensive order fulfillment
  • Different regulations in different markets
  • There can be barriers to entry
  • Decreased need for your product in some markets
  • Requires a lot of research
  • New competition from companies in your new foreign market

How Do I Build an International Marketing Strategy?

Creating an international marketing plan starts with research about your new market. Consider customer needs and buying habits in your country of choice. This should include market trends in your industry to give you an idea of how and why consumers purchase similar goods.

From there, you need to craft international marketing messages that position your offerings favorably against the competition. This is similar to how you’d position your brand when marketing to domestic customers. However, the preferences of those in your new market may vary. For example, if you usually use low prices as a differentiating factor in the U.S., it may not be as relevant to consumers in another country. Depending on your market, you may want to promote the quality and craftsmanship of your made-in-the-U.S. goods or how the style of your items stands out from what’s currently available in another country.

Finally, you need to find channels that are relevant to your target customers in each country you enter. Marketing online tends to be popular in most countries. However, some countries may not be as reliant on the social media sites and search engines that are used widely in the U.S. Consumers in some countries may also be more likely to pay attention to traditional ads or media. See where your target customers spend time before investing your international marketing budget in the same old platforms.

What Are My Options for Breaking Into New Markets?

There are tons of different ways you can structure your expansion into foreign markets. Some small companies may simply offer their goods online. Product businesses can find international distributors and ship their goods overseas to online shoppers. Service companies can offer a virtual service using formats like video consultations or online courses.

Alternatively, you can partner with other companies or stakeholders in your new territory to deliver your offerings without taking on tons of extra work. For example, you could offer franchising opportunities to overseas business owners. You could license your goods or services. You could also sell to distributors who then sell your items on a wider scale.

How Do I Choose the Right Market for My Expansion?

This answer is different for every small business. Start by researching multiple markets that seem to have a need for your goods or services and talking to stakeholders in those markets. Consider the following questions when making your decision:

  • What laws or regulations could impact my business? Each country has different restrictions on things like imports and business partnerships. Make sure the market you’re considering doesn’t include significant barriers to entry that could prevent your operation from moving forward.
  • Is there a need for my product or service? Do customers in the foreign country you’re considering actually use what you have to sell? For example, if you’re offering tech consulting for startups, it’s probably beneficial to look for markets with a significant number of those types of businesses.
  • What is the level of competition? On the other hand, some markets may already be saturated with the product or service you’re offering. For example, a company selling cell phones may not be able to compete with the giants in many developed countries. However, other locations still need those goods and may not have as much access to them from other suppliers.
  • How is this market similar to my existing markets? It’s often easier to start your international pursuits by expanding to markets you’re somewhat familiar with. If you mainly sell to customers in the U.S., this may mean starting with Canada or countries in Western Europe. There are still differences to consider. However, trade tends to be fairly straightforward and language and customs aren’t as different as they may be elsewhere?
  • How is this market different than my existing markets? Even opting for countries that seem similar to your home market or the other countries you sell to can come with challenges. Don’t make assumptions before you’ve done thorough research. Even selling to Canada in addition to the U.S. may require new processes and international marketing messages. In some cases, you may want to opt for markets that are very different if there’s increased demand for your product or service there.
  • What extra costs are involved? Delivering goods or services to a new area often comes with extra expenses. Consider the extra shipping costs along with whatever fees and labor may be required to facilitate your expansion. Don’t forget about the additional international marketing efforts you’ll need to put forth to attract new customers. Make sure all those expenses fit within your budget before getting started. If you’re not able to take on the expense, wait to expand or look for a market that comes with fewer expenses.
  • What international marketing strategies are necessary for getting my message out? Once you have a product or service to sell and a market to sell it to, it’s time to craft your international marketing messages. When you’re speaking to customers from other countries, you may need to use different terms or strategies. There may also be different platforms that are popular with your target customers in other countries. Your global marketing plan is likely to vary with each foreign country you add to your mix. So never get too attached to doing things in one certain way.

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Getting to Know Your Customers: 13 Most Valuable Bits of Data to Collect

Getting to Know Your Customers: 13 Most Valuable Bits of Data to Collect

One of the most significant elements in helping a business get to know its customers is their data. Over recent years, consumers have started to take notice of how businesses use their data. While many aren’t bothered, a few are against a company getting its hands on their information. As a result, they are averse to sharing access to their data.

By limiting the data you collect to just the most pertinent pieces, you will still be able to extract useful knowledge about clients while also earning their trust. To help businesses wondering what kind of data to collect, we asked 13 professionals from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) the following question:

“Getting to know your customers is wildly useful in better meeting their needs. What would you say is one of the best pieces of consumer data to collect from your customers, and why is it so valuable?”

Here’s what YEC community members had to say:

1. Communication Preferences

“Find out how they like to receive communication. Your audience likely uses streamlined media sources and in order to best serve them you want to communicate on their platform of choice. If you send emails to a group that lives primarily online via video apps, you are going to lose them. Know where they like to receive communication and what consistency they are comfortable with.” ~ Matthew Podolsky, Florida Law Advisers, P.A.

2. Contact Information

“Get their contact information. Believe it or not, email addresses and phone numbers and other points of contact change often. Put together a program where your customers can update their contact information and encourage them to do so in order to be able to reach them. If you can’t, your sales opportunities are essentially lost.” ~ Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance

3. Their Pain Points

“Understand the pain points that your customers are experiencing and, more importantly, how much money they are willing to spend in order to solve those problems. This is one of the most financially smart pieces of data that you can get directly from your prospects.” ~ Nicole Munoz, Nicole Munoz Consulting, Inc.

4. User or Customer Intent

“User intent or customer intent is extremely valuable when trying to build good content and to rank for a specific keyword on search engines. When you understand what users are looking for and why, you’ll be better placed to help them get it through your business. Using analytics and other tools like customer relationship management software can help you understand customer intent and serve them better.” ~ Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

5. What They Value

“In my field, one of the greatest pieces to understand more than price point or budget is what customers value the most. This is gathered through questioning to identify their pain points and get deep on what they look for to feel safe, and what would provide them happiness.” ~ Julian Montoya, JM11 Investments

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6. Their Perception

“Perception is key. Despite having great reports, scientific findings and rising revenues — none of that matters if it doesn’t resonate with the customer’s view of success in the transaction. Ask them how they feel about the product, and what they perceive is important in either pivoting your messaging or improving the visibility of the value you bring to the table.” ~ Richard Fong, Ready Green

7. Consumer Sentiment

“Sentiment — the qualitative approach most people don’t value enough. Too many marketers rely on surveys, which show good data, but they fail to do good qualitative research. Do actual customer interviews and listen to the emotions behind their responses, as this will tell you a lot about how they really think. For instance, did they get excited when you shared the ‘secret sauce’ of your product?” ~ Andy Karuza, LitPic

8. The Latest Changes

“Ask the question, ‘What has changed since we last spoke?’ We are a content marketing agency so understanding the frequent changes in our customers’ businesses is important, and without a doubt there is always an answer to that question that affects our content strategy plans for the account.” ~ Kelsey Raymond, Influence & Co.

9. Everyday Feedback

“Everyday feedback regarding our product is the most helpful piece of consumer data that we collect from our customers. By making it easy for users to contact us via our app and website, we receive daily feedback from them. This feedback has helped us improve our product and identify any tech issues quickly over the years.” ~ Brian David Crane, Caller Smart Inc.

10. Their Performance Evaluators

“In a business-to-business environment, knowing your customer’s performance evaluators can be crucial to success. It will allow you to hone your presentation in on the factors that will most influence their decision, whether it be cost, quality, etc. Equally important, you won’t waste your time promoting features and benefits that are impressive to you, but are inconsequential to the purchase decision.” ~ Charles Bogoian, Kenai Sports

11. Website Analytics

“Knowing where visitors spend the most time on your website tells you what they’re interested in and enjoy the most. This helps you refine your conversion strategy to produce content and products that specifically cater to their needs. Likewise, it’s important to pay attention to your bounce rate so you know what to avoid in the future.” ~ Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms

12. Customer Support Call Volume

“Customer support call volume is very useful to a business because it tells you whether your products are meeting customer needs and whether your training or onboarding materials are adequate, and it gives you insight into the gaps you need to close in the future. That data can help multiple teams in your organization, including marketing, sales, support and customer success.” ~ Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster

13. Physical Location

“It’s always a good idea to find out where your audience lives. You can make smart decisions when publishing content and pushing out updates if you know your primary audience resides in a different time zone. As an added bonus, you can use this information to create personalized marketing that targets users based on their location.” ~ John Turner, SeedProd LLC

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What is a Focus Group and What Do They Cost?

What is a Focus Group and What Do They Cost?

Sometimes surveys and second hand research are not enough to understand what’s going on in people’s minds. That’s when you need to get a group of target customers in a room to hold a focus group. But to the uninitiated, doing this could seem more challenging than it is. In this article we look at what a focus group is, consider its pros and cons and look at the challenges you will face.

What is a Focus Group?

A focus group is a marketing research method involving a small group of diverse people tasked with experiencing and discussing a particular product, service or subject. The reactions of the focus group participants form qualitative data that can be analyzed and extrapolated to predict how said product or service may be perceived by the larger population.

When to Use Focus Groups

The best time to use focus groups is when in-person, social-oriented feedback is most important. For example:

  • Seeing and handling a product is essential: Customers experiencing a new product firsthand may have questions you wouldn’t otherwise think to address.
  • When body language is as important as what’s said: One, not everyone is comfortable saying negative things, and two, others may have difficulty expressing themselves, so gauging body language is very useful.
  • Knowing how a group dynamic differs: Individuals have different priorities and expectations, but they will also have their own personal perspectives influenced by others, so focus groups reveal the group dynamic.
  • Exploring consumer language: Studying a focusing group gives you insight into how people will talk about your product or service.
  • Insight into a target demographic: A group focus with specific types of people can provide beneficial insight into how their particular demographic will react to your product, service or subject.

Advantages of Focus Groups

Focus group research possesses several advantages over other research methods. There are a variety of great benefits to using focus groups in your research. This variety of benefits provides a wide scope of advantages that include:

Quick Results

Focus groups deliver results in a much quicker time frame than other marketing research methods. After all, your research will come directly from your group when they meet. As a result, it will be collected all at once. You decide when the group is to take place and you will start receiving useful data as soon as the focus group begins.

Great Insights

Not only is the data collected quickly, but it is real life data acquired using discussion that provides genuine insight into how real people react to your product or service. Questionnaires can be unreliable as you do not witness the input of data, yet you get to witness, record and analyze all the reactions during focus group research. This gives your research with a focus group an immediacy and authenticity unavailable through other methods.

Unexpected Data

There’s something else this approach will give you that other forms of research simply cannot. The dynamic produces unpredictable results which can turn out to be the most useful data of all. This might not always be the case (see the disadvantages below), but individuals can get locked into a particular mindset, while groups will influence and inspire each other to ever more interesting thoughts and opinions.

Cost Effectiveness

Compared to other types of marketing and research methods, focus group research is relatively inexpensive and easy to conduct. You’ll need a place for your group to meet and perhaps some refreshments depending on the amount of time your session will take. But unlike questionnaires which may require online software and a marketing campaign to collect the right information, simply invite some of your best customers.


The trouble with questionnaires is that they depend on you knowing the right questions to ask. By contrast, focus group participants will use their own language to describe how they feel about your product or service. Thus they result in more accurate data that isn’t restricted by predetermined answers or prompts.

Disadvantages of Focus Groups

There are some potential disadvantages to using focus groups which you should be aware of before deciding to go this route. Most of these can be avoided by setting the group up correctly, though this is in itself something many people might find difficult. Disadvantages when you use a focus group for market research include:

Bad Influences

While a positive group dynamic can inspire group participants to be more expressive and descriptive of their feelings about a subject, a negative group dynamic can have the opposite effect. It is important that there are no domineering personalities who might overly impact the results.

Unreliable Data?

It is also true that not all data acquired through group interviews can be extrapolated to a wider population. This presents some obvious challenges. It is very possible that focus group participants do not reveal exactly how the wider populace will react to a product or service.

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Poorly Chosen Groups

Identifying one suitable focus group participant can be difficult enough, let alone an entire selection who can provide the relevant insight you need! This is especially true if you are new to the process and do not have experience in who to contact and how. Take the example of a new business without the customer base or industry contacts from which to draw.

Loss of Control

Certain market research methods afford you lots of control over how people react and the answers they give to certain prompts. This type of research has its place but it is very restricted. The price of losing those restrictions is an equivalent loss of control over how the group participants behave.

Moderating group interviews and discussions takes a particular set of skills and this can be a problem if there is no one who knows how and when to get involved to nudge the group discussion along in a useful direction.

Frequently Asked Questions About Focus Groups

So what are some of the most important concerns small business owners have about this form of research? Here are a couple of the most frequently asked questions, starting with the most frequently asked of all.

How much do focus groups cost?

Focus groups can come in all shapes and sizes and so their costs will be varied and determined by a variety of factors. Funds will have to be made available for recruitment of the group’s participants, with costs increasing for more specialized recruits. They’ll also need travel expenses, food and refreshments. Then there’s the facility costs such as room rental and transport or operation of any necessary equipment. Add on top of that the fees of a professional moderator, and an ordinary market research focus group will end up costing somewhere between $4,000 and $12,000.

Smaller businesses will obviously want to aim for the lower end of that scale or even lower if possible, and there are several ways you can achieve this. One advantage smaller businesses have when using focus groups is that they are unlikely to need multiple groups across several cities and states, which is definitely a good way of keeping the costs down. Using just one group might not be useful, but two from the same area will not increase your costs too much.

You can also keep the size of the groups and the length of time they are required to a minimum. Another tip is to seek out facilities where you can conduct the focus group for free. Look for community libraries, or even consider setting up your own office as a makeshift focus group room.

You can also minimize your costs by taking on much of the organizational and moderation responsibilities yourself. For a relatively small investment, a tool like the Focus Group Kit can walk you through the entire process of organizing a focus group.

Can you have online focus groups?

Yes you can have online focus groups. Two approaches include:

  1. Using specific online platforms and services: There is plenty of focus group software available online, so try out the likes of Collabito, Focus Vision or Focus Group It and see which one best suits your focus group purposes.
  2. Using online video tools to take a DIY approach: Take advantage of modern video conferencing technology by hosting your own DIY focus group via Zoom, Skype or Google Hangouts. Again there are a few differences between the options, so check them all out and see which meets your needs best.


Focus groups can be a brilliant marketing research strategy that can save you a lot of time as well as a lot of money if they are organized according to a budget. It might seem a daunting challenge at first, but once you know what to do, they can elevate your marketing strategy to a whole new level.

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10 Tips to Help Small Businesses Build and Promote Strong Brands

10 Tips to Help Small Businesses Build and Promote Strong Brands

Building a strong brand requires businesses to use lots of different outlets and strategies. Your brand should be consistent across your website, social media, online content, and more. So if you want to create a stronger brand image, check out the tips below from members of the online small business community.

Learn How to Brand Build with Web Design

Your website can be a huge part of your brand. So if you don’t have a strong design that’s communicated online, check out the insights in this DIY Marketers post by Alma Causey to learn how you can build a better brand.

Highlight Your Competitive Clout

When positioning a brand to potential customers, you need to show them how you stand out from your competitors. There are several strategies for doing this, as Martin Zwilling of Startup Professionals goes over in this blog post.

Boost Your Instagram Marketing Efforts

Instagram can be a powerful tool for building and promoting a brand. If you’re already on the platform but want to create a more impactful strategy, consider the tips in this Social Media Today post by Ann Smarty. Then head to the BizSugar community to see what members are saying.

Focus on Building Local Links

If you’re trying to promote a local brand online, it can help to have some websites that are relevant to your community link to your site. So how can you go about doing this? Gyi Tsakalakis offers some pointers in this post on the Bright Local blog.

Transition Your Brick and Mortar Business to an Online Business

Today, many businesses are considering adopting more of a digital model to cope with the challenges of COVID-19. But such a huge shift could potentially make a big impact on your brand. To navigate the transition gracefully, see the tips in this Smallbiztechnology.com post by Itai Elizur.

Consider a Mobile App for Your Retail Store

Mobile technology has made a huge impact on so many industries, but it’s especially changed the way people shop. If you want to build a successful retail brand, a mobile app may help you appeal to more customers and create substantial loyalty. Learn more in this SMB CEO post by Ivan Widjaya.

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Adjust Your Content Marketing During Times of Disruption

Content marketing can be an effective way to promote a brand in any market. However, when larger conversations are taking place, keeping the same strategy may make your brand seem out of touch. In this Marketing Land post, George Nguyen discusses content marketing during times of disruption.

Execute a Comprehensive Content Audit

Sometimes, your old content or strategies may no longer serve the brand you want to build going forward. That’s why a simple audit may be necessary to periodically check in on your content. In this Search Engine Journal post, Krisopher Jones shares a guide to this process.

Create Amazing Infographics

Visuals can help you create a consistent brand design while sharing information in an easily digestible way. If you want to try this strategy, check out the tools and tips in this Philipscom post by Philip Verghese Ariel. Then see what members of the BizSugar community had to say.

Consider a Social Media Detox

If you’re feeling worn down by your social media strategy, a break may be in order. Though the idea of a social media detox may be more prevalent to individuals than it is to businesses, the individuals who run your accounts may benefit from taking some time away and passing the reins to someone else for a bit so they can come back with fresh new ideas. See more discussion in this Social Media HQ post by Christian Zilles.

If you’d like to suggest your favorite small business content to be considered for an upcoming community roundup, please send your news tips to: sbtips@gmail.com.

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Small Team? 15 Tips for Expanding Your Marketing Efforts With Limited Resources

Small Team? 15 Tips for Expanding Your Marketing Efforts With Limited Resources

Employees who work on small teams may need to play multiple roles to ensure everything runs smoothly. That sometimes means, with such limited resources, that that same small company may not be able to have a dedicated full-time marketing person to help them reach their full potential as a brand. That’s why we asked members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC)  the following question:

“When you have a small team, you may be limited in the amount of work you can put out. What’s one strategy you have for expanding marketing efforts with limited resources and a small number of employees?”

Marketing with Limited Resources

Here’s what YEC community members had to say:

1. Create a Culture That Encourages Referrals

“Create a culture worth talking about. The best referrals come from people you know. Who should know you better than your own employees? Ensure they love the work they do and they will become your biggest champions, sharing your story and your work through social, during business events and over dinner.” ~ Britt Fero, PB&

2. Strategically Consolidate Your Team Roles

“Many roles that would be divided up among several people at most agencies have been strategically consolidated, allowing us to maximize efficiency and workflow. With expert producers in project management positions, it increases efficiency and gives our clients a streamlined experience with a focus on the campaign. We can effectively compete and win business against agencies much larger than us.” ~ Justin Lefkovitch, Mirrored Media

3. Focus on One Channel at a Time

“Focus on one channel and double down until you hit a peak. Small teams overextend themselves with an omnichannel approach. Failing to maintain a dozen channels simultaneously harms the brand more than it helps. Instead, find the best channel your prospects rely on and ensure the whole team is laser-focused there. Once you scale enough, add a second one to the mix.” ~ Mario Peshev, DevriX

4. Create a Content Calendar

“Create a content calendar for your blog and social media presence. Though it’s a lot of work to create a year-long content calendar, the payoff in overall time saved, optimized content creation and the sharing it will result in makes it worth it. Creating the calendar will help you meet deadlines, take advantage of relevant dates and optimize your content sharing.” ~ Brian David Crane, Caller Smart Inc.

5. Develop and Optimize Standard Operating Procedures

“Create standard operating procedures and see where steps can be automated. Automating outreach and client acquisition is much easier with the heavy weaponry we have in the marketing SaaS space. Having a lead qualifier through an outsourced virtual assistant closes the loop and makes marketing effective, cheap and scalable.” ~ Richard Fong, Ready Green

6. Repurpose Your Content Pieces

“One of the best ways to expand your marketing efforts with limited resources is to recycle old content. Be aware of all of the formatting requirements in the beginning. For instance, you can turn a blog post into a newsletter, social media posts, a video series or even a webinar. Be smart and strategic with the resources you have.” ~ Kristin Kimberly Marquet, Marquet Media, LLC

7. Add a Chatbot to Your Website

“If you want to improve your marketing efforts, consider adding chatbots to your website. Many business owners fall into a trap and hire a big support team, and other areas of the company suffer. You can use chatbots to handle simple customer requests, like password changes. You’ll also have the added benefit of the chatbot instantly contacting new users, which frees your team up for other tasks.” ~ John Turner, SeedProd LLC

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8. Stay Focused on Daily Activities

“Business owners with small teams should focus on daily activities if they want to see their sales and conversions increase. Large teams can easily plan months in advance and work through the various marketing platforms at their disposal. You could benefit from looking at your campaigns and prioritizing your small team to handle various daily tasks that help you advance your marketing goals.” ~ Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights

9. Develop a Podcast

“Podcasts are still a very new space and many brands have yet to join the ranks. So if you can develop a great podcast for your niche and invite great guests, you can provide great content to your customer base and prospects, and also leverage the network of your guests as they promote you to their audience.” ~ Rishi Sharma, Mallama

10. Work With a Marketing Agency

“Work with an agency that can act as an extension of your team. My company works with plenty of companies that have two- to four-person marketing teams and utilize our agency as an extension of the team. It’s lower risk than hiring five new people, and an agency should bring additional expertise, technology and relationships to the team.” ~ Kelsey Raymond, Influence & Co.

11. Follow the Pareto Principle

“The good old Pareto principle says 80% of results come from 20% of efforts. If you have very limited resources, identify your 20% and direct your best efforts on this chunk. Later on, when you are able to afford more people on board, you will go back to all the things that you left behind and make them work as well.” ~ Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

12. Hire Freelancers to Fill in the Gaps

“An easy way to expand your marketing efforts on limited resources is to use a third-party platform like Upwork to hire and engage awesome freelancers. You’ll find well-reviewed contractors who can work with different budget constraints to achieve your goals. I grew my small business initially using virtual assistants until I could hire someone.” ~ Rachel Beider, PRESS Modern Massage

13. Leverage Influencer Marketing

“A useful strategy is influencer marketing, which is partnerships that are generated in exchange for products or services. This represents an opportunity to manage marketing without investing large amounts of resources.” ~ Kevin Leyes, Leyes Media & Team Leyes, by Leyes Enterprises

14. Automate Your Marketing Processes

“Marketing automation helps businesses automate their processes so they don’t have to perform those actions manually. It saves time and resources and makes customers happy because you get to them faster. Even with a small team, you can use automation to improve operations and grow little by little.” ~ Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms

15. Invest in an Integrated Sales and Marketing Platform

“One strategy for expanding marketing efforts with limited resources is to invest in an integrated sales and marketing platform. If you have everything in one place, it will be easy for your team to automate processes such as email sequences, paid campaigns, assigning leads, reporting, etc. This will allow your team to cover more tasks. It’s all about working smarter and not harder.” ~ Alfredo Atanacio, Uassist.ME


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16 Survey Questions to Ask Customers

16 Survey Questions to Ask Customers

There are several reasons why survey questions are important to marketing research. They can:

  • Give your business a good idea about who your target market is
  • Supply a clear answer of how well your branding is working
  • Help to grow sales by boosting foot and online traffic.

Keeon Yazdani, Chief Marketing Officer WE R CBD, supplies some other advantages.

“Surveys are extremely important to market research,” Yazdani writes. “That’s because they allow a business to receive feedback on how consumers feel about their products and customer service. Product feedback gathered from customer surveys can help a business make the adjustments needed to improve their products.”

This article will cover the different survey question types and when to use each. It will also cover what you’ll need to avoid when putting together survey questions. Finally, the last section will supply answers to the most frequently asked questions. Getting this right is important for keeping customers happy and developing good products and services.

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Types of Survey Questions

So what types of survey questions should you use? There’s a few things you’ll need to consider here including coming up with a diverse set of questions. It’s important to keep them different and to not ask two things at once. Take some time with the questions so they are neutral and not leading.

In the end, the survey question types depend on the time frame, goals and audience of your survey.

“Keep question text concise.,” writes Nicole R Rodriguez, Director at Interdependence Public Relations . “Get to the point and don’t use a lot of words to make your point or explain directions. Keep answer lists short to reduce the bias of long lists that don’t fit on the screen.

1. Open-Ended Survey Questions

Open-ended questions are common. These allow respondents to answer in a free forum way. These don’t rely on stats and there are no set response options. They are open and subjective survey questions . The type of answer here leaves the door open for more questions.

In a nutshell, open-ended questions leave room for wider answer options. These can’t be answered with a simple yes or no. They involve questions like: “What do you like most about working for your manager?”Or, a question like “How do you determine your company’s needs? This works for  sales teams .

When to Use Open-Ended Questions

These question types are most effective when you know how to use them. Here’s a few examples of when to use these questions for survey purposes.

They work well when you first begin surveying. A new company or startup needs to learn about customer needs. The open ended answer options help you to improve customer satisfaction. These types of questions also shine a light on where you need to improve.

Survey questions like this have a down side.

  • They take more effort to answer. Remember there are no set answer choices and no scale questions. The answer options here require more thought. Respondents tend to shy away from these for that reason.
  • The answers you get back take longer to analyze than the multiple choice variety.

Morgan Molnar ,Director of Product Marketing, SurveyMonkey Market Research Solutions ,offered a few other examples.

2. Screening Questions

“When you need to reach a specific target audience with your survey,screening questions are your best friend,” he writes. “Most survey platforms allow you to add disqualification logic to kick out people who aren’t relevant for your survey.

A good example is :

  • “Can you tell me about your experience?”

When to Use Screening Questions

“They are always at the very beginning of your market research survey,” Molnar says.

3. Firmographic Questions

“When doing B2B research, you’ll want to include firmographic questions to understand things like job title, job level, department, company size, or industry of your respondents,” Molnar says.

4. Close-Ended Survey Questions

There are other types of survey questions to consider. Closed-ended questions are a simpler option to use . These involve more defined answer options. The type of answer found here is often multiple choice. However, they can involve:

  • Rating scale questions. It’s best to include a few positive and a few negative options. These are pretty much multiple choice questions. A common example would ask respondents to choose on a rating scale from one to ten.
  • Nominal questions. These are good for graphs because there’s only a few answer choices. An example of this type of question might be: What is your favourite browser? This has a number of multiple choice options like Google, Safari or Chrome.

One of these might be:

  • Did you find our service useful?

When to Use Closed- Ended Survey Questions

These are good at the beginning of surveys. They are easy to answer and motivate people to go through the rest of the survey. These are good when you’re looking for stats to create graphs.

5. The Rating Scale Survey Question

Rating scale questions have a numerical value. A good example are questions that ask you to rate customer service from 1 to 10. These are great for uncovering trends. Getting people to answer questions such as these improves engagement.

When to Use The Rating Scale Survey Question

The net promoter score is important. It’s a customer satisfaction and loyalty tool that’s based on these types of scale questions and answers.

6. A Likert Scale Survey Question

There are different scales available here. They range from four point all the way up to seven point and above.These give you the ability to find out what people are thinking about your goods and services

These are used to gauge how respondents feel. The often ask if they disagree or agree with comments. These scales can ask whether someone “Strongly disagrees, Disagrees, Agrees,  or Strongly agrees” with a statement. And they add the numerical values.

When to Use Likert Survey Questions

This is a good survey to use when you’re looking for popular opinion. You can also use them to gauge a respondents beliefs and attitudes. These are important metrics when you’re looking to tweak your goods and services.

7. Multiple Choice Survey Questions

Scot Chrisman, CEO at The Media House explains why he likes to use these questions.

“Multiple choice questions are the most common type of question we use. This is because they give us a definite answer, which makes them easier to analyze.”

There are single answer and multiple answers choices. For example :

  • What is your favorite salad dressing ? You get several choices but respondents only check off one.
  • What salad dressing do you like ? This question type allows respondents to provide several answers.

When to Use Multiple Choice Survey Questions

These questions are another good way to find out how customers like what you’ve got to sell. The single answer questions help define a net promoter score. This is a way that you can gauge how well you are engaging your target audience.

8. Picture Choice Survey Questions

These survey questions have been called the visual version of multiple choice. Respondents here can pick from two or more images. A question might be something like the following example :

“What type face do you prefer?”

You can usually either upload an image offered or copy and paste a url from your device.

When to Use Picture Choice Surveys Questions

These are engaging and fun at the same time. This survey format works well when your respondents are diverse.

9. Slider Survey Questions

You can let people respond on a sliding scale with these. The bonus here is answering the questions is fun. It makes it easier to put the answers together in an aggregate too.

Here’s an example: How would you rate our software’s usefulness on a scale of 1 to 10?”

When to Use Slider Survey Questions

These are the way to go when you’re looking to gauge customer opinions on an individual and group level.

Demographic Survey Questions

Putting together any questions in a survey template has a goal. That’s to find out about your target market. The respondents are the people you want to sell to. The demographic survey question is designed to tell you who they are.

What is you age? Is a common example that’s followed up with several boxes to check. You can also ask another question about gender and one about race.

When to Use This Question Type

It’s best to be clear how you’re using the information before you get respondents to answer these. This type of question type is good for breaking down your target market too.

10. Matrix Survey Questions

This question type involves putting the Likert and rating scale questions together. Here’s an example of how these work for a computer company.

The left side has a question list with topics like ” Ease of learning” and “Quality of technical support ” stacked on top of each other. Respondents can check off boxes ranging from “Very Good” all the way down to “Poor”

When to Use The Matrix Question Survey

These are great for large scale surveys. At the same time, they can be a little confusing for mobile devices.

11. Customer Satisfaction Survey Questions

Polly Kay, Senior Marketing Manager at English Blinds , explains how these mix and match different types

“A customer satisfaction survey is best with multiple choice questions in the main part. A final section for respondents to provide any further information works too .”

That open-ended question at the end supplies good personal information.

When to Use The Customer Satisfaction Question Survey

These are good before you launch a new product. Using this question template tells you what needs to be tweaked with the old one.

12. The Yes or No Survey Question

This type is all about simplicity. A common question is about a company’s service. This example is one that you’ve seen before.

“Did you find what you’re looking for?”

When to Use This Type of Question

These are good when you’re trying to figure out why sales are low. Asking respondents to explain themselves in a follow-up question works.

13. The Dropdown Question

These questions let your respondents click on the menu and select through the choices that drop-down.. When you’ve got a lot of choices, using these menus can give your respondents some perspective.

When to Use Dropdown Question

These are basically multiple-choice questions when you’ve got a lot of answers you want respondents to choose from. When respondents have different choices, the list doesn’t look overwhelming.

A good example might be asking someone their age. Letting them choose from different categories like 18 to 24, 25 to 30 and so on breaks the choices down.

14. After Purchase Questions

You can drill deep into this one and ask a bunch of different things. However, two questions generally get the job done.

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  • Why did you buy the items in your cart?
  • What other products should we offer?

 When to Use The After Purchase Question

These are excellent for small businesses looking to tweak their inventory. They offer an excellent chance to connect with buying customers and your target market.

15. The Trial User Survey Question

Like the name suggests, these are designed to get trial users to sign up. Some of the questions include: What stopped you from signing up today? Another example might be: ” What might convince you to sign up right now?”

When to Use The Trial User Question Survey

These are useful at the end of any trial period you’re offering. Small businesses use these to try and convince trial users to stay on and by the subscription or product.

16. The Benchmark Survey Question

These compare your answers to similar surveys from other companies. You’ll need to do a little research here. Making up questions means taking a look at some of the other surveys that were done on the same subject. Or, you can use a service like SurveyMonkey. They have a set of these questions ready to go that you can plug in.

When to Use The Benchmark Survey Question

These are an excellent way to compare results from survey to survey. It’s a great way to get some cross referenced data. The benchmark survey question allows you to narrow down the accuracy of your results by comparing them..

Things to Avoid When Writing Survey Questions

The idea behind writing survey questions is to get accurate answers and good data that you can use. Knowing what to avoid can be just as useful as understanding the best practices. The list below will give you some of the more common mistakes.

Using Too Many Questions

Yaniv Masjedi is the CMO at Nextiva. He stresses it’s best to keep things short.

“Don’t ask too many questions,” he writes. “If you ask lots of questions, then readers will become overwhelmed and click away. Just ask a few core questions that you need answers to, otherwise you risk learning nothing.”

Using Leading Words

You want respondents to answer any survey question subjectively . Take a look at the ones you’ve put together. Try to see if they try and slant the answer.

Here’s an example. “Do you think our service is excellent?”

That’s one question that qualifies due to one word. It’s obvious the company thinks their service is excellent and would be happy if you did too. Neutral words and sentences are best. Make sure to leave the questions open ended like:

“How would you rate our services?”


Will Ward, CEO of Assistive Listening HQ , adds survey questions loaded with assumptions . He supplies the example of “How long and informative was the product video?”

“This assumes the product video was ‘long’,” he writes. “This is purely subjective and also implies that long = informative. Instead, companies can opt for more neutral questions such as”Was the product video useful and informative?”

Using More Than One Author

Survey questions need to have the same tone and style. Respondents tune out when the writing style changes.

Michael Janov, partner at Azurite Consulting explains why:

“One tone and style through the survey is important,” He writes. “Multiple authors brings a major chance of multiple styles and languages . It may seem useful to change the style of writing questions . However, that can cause a lack of interest to continue.”

The solution to keep respondents engaged is simple. Use one writer but ask for input from the whole team.

Asking Private Questions

Grant Aldrich, Founder and CEO of OnlineDegree.com explains why these questions are bad.

“Be careful not to ask for private information. High survey open rates coupled with low submission rates is a clear indicator you are asking overly private questions.”

Make sure to stay away from questions such as: “Do you suffer from anxiety?”

The idea is top make sure you don’t include a question for survey purposes that makes respondents feel vulnerable.

“Survey respondents do not want to send this type of information through third parties, or even directly to you,” Aldrich says.

Asking Double-Barreled Questions

Zach Reece from Colony Roofers, LLC explains.

“This is one of the easiest ways to get misleading survey responses,” he writes. “For example, ‘How is our customer service and our response time?”

Reece worked a Deloitte for a time where he prepared survey question templates. He has some other suggestions about the kind of question that works best.

Adding Too Many Survey Question Choices

“Dont include too many choices,” he says. “Four, five at most is all you need.”

Any more and respondents might lose focus and not finish the survey. This applies to ones like multiple choice.

Bias in the Survey Questions

Erik Rivera, CEO of ThriveTalk explains.

” A frequently asked question regarding surveys is how to avoid bias in answers,* he writes. “Randomizing answer order and question order is a good way to help avoid this.”

Mix up the order of the question types. Make sure to ask questions the move from general to specific.

Jargon in the Survey Questions

Scot J. Chrisman is the CEO at the Media House . He suggests simple language.

“Avoid using jargon your audience will not understand,” he writes “That will only lead to inaccurate results. This is because the tendency is to answer the questions according to how they understand them.”

He adds that jargon can confuse people . A team that questions survey results can follow.

Using Absolutes

Morgan Molnar supplies another trap to avoid.

“Don’t use words like “always,” “all,” “every,” “ever,” “never,” etc. in your question text,” he says.

Frequently Asked Questions about Survey Questions

You need to question your survey choices. Understanding what kind of questions you’re going to ask is the beginning. After that, you need to get down to the meat and potatoes and actually put together the words Here’s a few common things people ask about.

What if I’m not sure about a question ?

“If you have a doubt about whether or not a question should be included in a survey, it’s best to remove it,” writes Grant Aldrich, Founder and CEO of OnlineDegree.com.

“Another option is making questions optional. As a final fallback, create a second survey which includes the question in question, split testing your surveys to optimize.”

How long should my survey be?

Corina Burri, Senior Marketing Manager explains:

Don’t conduct surveys that are too long,” she writes. “Concentration spans of customers are short. Get straight to the point.”

Scroll down here to find some useful information

Now that I know the types of questions, what should I ask?

What you ask in your surveys is highly dependent on your goals. Understanding your target market is one of the first steps to getting this right. Getting your survey questions right will help focus your marketing and product development. If you’re a startup, a good survey can even help you define who you are selling to. Here’s some of the questions you’ll want to ask with an example for each.

  1. How did you hear about our goods and services? This is the first example because it’s a very common question. It can help you understand what is working in your marketing toolbox.
  2. How would you rate our customer service? Showing you take this aspect seriously boosts customer loyalty. It’s a good check on how motivated your employees are.
  3. What is it you like about the goods and services we sell? This is a good way to get personal feedback from your target market. It’s a good example of a method to engage your customers
  4. Are there changes you would like to see in our products or services? This is another example of going directly to the source to get feedback.You can follow up here by asking what changes your clients would like to see.
  5. Are you aware of the other products that we have for sale? This is an example of pitching products. It’s another great way of tracking what is working and what isn’t with marketing.

You can have as many or as little questions as you like. However, you don’t want to weigh your clients down with too many. Including somewhere between 10 and 30 questions is the sweet spot according to many experts.

What tool should I use to create my survey?

There are a number of solid platforms you can use to create, distribute, collect, and analyze your surveys. These are some top choices when putting together effective survey questions.


Jacob Sapochnick  is an immigration attorney, and social media influencer . He likes the way you can tailor questions.

“This is a website that allows you to conduct surveys online,” he writes. ” You can set your respondents depending on what your research needs. For me, this is a great help because if your surveys get lost, it has an online backup.”

Another example of why this tool is popular comes from Aldrich:

“A main benefit to SurveyMonkey is that it tracks IPs.,” he writes. “You’ll register unique submissions, adding a layer of security to prevent spam attacks by competitors.”

Get expertly written questions . Choose to track respondents through email and from mobile apps.

Zoho Survey

This tool has several advantages over the competition. It offers more than 25 different types of questions. It also mobilizes each survey so you can get an answer from respondents on any device. There are 250 templates to choose from. It also translates into over 70 different languages.

Use this tool for international survey needs. It works with North American requirements too. However the translation feature separates it from the competition when you’re doing business overseas

Survey Gizmo

Survey respondents don’t always need to be prospects. SurveyGizmo allows you to ask questions that help with workflow at your business through your employees. They offer good integration tools and a free trial. A good example of enterprise software you can use in different ways.

For more options, check out:


A survey is a useful tool for several different reasons. It can help you decide what’s working with marketing and what needs to be tweaked. These are a great way to improve client services. They can even help you add or subtract inventory with the data you’ll get.

Putting together a good survey takes a little time. Getting input from your marketing team and employees will provide excellent results. Keep in mind there are lots of little tricks that you learn along the way. For example, making most of the answers optional is important.

Not all of the people reading the survey will know how to answer a question. Others will feel uncomfortable with some of the things you might be asking. It’s a good idea to make sure they can skip over some questions and continue to answer others.

Surveys are an excellent way for small businesses to gather data. With the numbers they get, they can make important business decisions about marketing, products and how to go forward.

Image: Depositphotos.com

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COVID-19 Crisis and Recovery: Three Key Marketing Trends and How to Adapt

COVID-19 Crisis and Recovery: Three Key Marketing Trends and How to Adapt

A quick spread of COVID-19 has disrupted economies around the world changing the way businesses reach and interact with customers.

As lockdowns are slowly lifted across multiple countries, business owners are discovering that things are not quite going back to normal.

In fact, there’s probably a new normal being created right now, the new way we are going to operate our businesses and do marketing from now on.

COVID Marketing Trends

Is your business ready for that new normal? Here are three key trends you can start adapting to today:

1. Comply with Tightening Safety Rules

Across the globe new workplace safety rules are being created to ensure no further spread of coronavirus.

Business owners are expected to comply with safety and health standards and regulations in order to be able to reopen their operations.

Lots of countries around the world have put together comprehensive safety guidelines for re-opening businesses to reopen, including:

Guidelines vary slightly from country to country but the basic principles remain the same:

  • You need to keep an eye on your employees’ health more than you ever did
  • Your business operations should be adjusted so that person-to-person interactions can be avoided when possible
  • When remote operations are not possible, you need to ensure that employees and / or customers are able to maintain proper social distancing

The good news is, you are not alone in figuring it out. Already there are platforms providing businesses with tools to easily integrate safety mechanisms in their operations.

Yelp is offering business reopening tools enabling local businesses to communicate updates and important safety information to customers.

yelp covid tools
Image source: Yelp

The small business management platform vcita has developed a suite of products for businesses, both online and brick and mortar, to comply with safety guidelines. These include symptom questionnaires, health declaration checkbox, reservation management, touchless transactions, and more. The new scheduling tools vcita added make sure that the capacity of customers is limited based on the new health restrictions, so that your business is never overbooked.

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vcita covid tools
Image source: vcita

2. Make Your Products Available Everywhere

COVID-19 has accelerated digitization of global businesses across lots of niches. Online shopping has grown at an unprecedented rate, and there is a good reason that it is here to stay, even when the crisis is over.

And it is not just about making your products available through a web browser. Online shopping behavior is becoming more diverse.

Spending more time and home and even working from there, consumers are forced to discover new shopping channels, including product comparison apps, voice-assisted devices, etc.

This may actually be good news for most businesses, as more channels means more opportunities to diversify your customer acquisition sources. Here are a few steps in that direction:

  • Think “mobile first”: This includes having a mobile-friendly website as well as creating more mobile assets to better serve customers. These include mobile apps, in-game mobile marketing, location-based mobile ads, SMS marketing, mobile-focused CTAs, etc. For example, Nike’s digital sales in China increased by 30% after the company launched home workouts via its mobile app
  • Have your products listed in Google’s shopping actions, Google’s platform bringing your products in front of shoppers across multiple platforms, including smartphones, voice-activated devices, Google search and more. As shopping becomes increasingly automated, smaller retailers risk getting cut out as bigger brands go directly to consumers. IoT commerce may eliminate the consideration/research phrase for consumers completely making it next to impossible to compete with “default” choice. Google’s project is a solid way for smaller businesses to provide consistent cross-device shopping experience.
shopping actions
Image source: Google

3. Make Your Products Findable and Shoppable by Voice

COVID-19 has been speeding up the adoption of variou technologies, including smart voice assistant usage and consequently voice search. Tom Taylor, senior vice president of the Amazon Alexa unit, has shared that they have seen a huge spike in users of voice commands.

If your site and/or products cannot be discovered by search, you are missing out on a huge market share which has been increasing for several months and shows no signs of shrinking.

To make sure your business is findable by voice, here are a few voice optimization tactics:

  • Since most voice search users are searching for local-based queries, get your local listing in order, i.e. keep it clean and updated. Monitor media and reviews that are being added by your consumer.
  • Optimize for non-branded queries: Over two third of impressions on local searches come from “discovery” or non-branded searches
  • Optimize your site for featured snippets as these are what smart assistants will often read in response to a voice search query:
    • Embrace good old long tail search: Optimize for long-tail queries because they are more likely to trigger featured snippets
    • Add product Q&A and FAQ sections to have your product pages appear in Google Also Ask and Featured boxes
  • Participate in Google’s projects like Google Speakable that allow you to record an audio version of your content for Google to give voice-assisted searchers to get more detailed results.
  • Focus on intent optimization: Voice searchers are usually on the go or in the middle of the task. Unless you give them immediately what they came for, they are likely to move on to a more fitting result. Text Optimizer breaks down what search intent is and help you create a better-optimized copy that prioritizes search intent over keywords:
Text Optimizer
Image source: Text Optimizer


It is a most challenging time for all kinds of business, regardless of size, type or nature of operations. The future is still uncertain, and as smart business owners we have to be prepared for the worst.

Digitalization and embracing new technologies will help your business survive, so use the trends and tactics above to give your company a competitive edge and survive during times of uncertainty.

Image: Depositphotos.com

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