The Rise of Mobile Shopping, Tips for Small Business Saturday, Is PR Really Effective? and Other Things Entrepreneurs Need to Know

Date posted: October 17, 2016

entrepreneurs

17 Things Entrepreneurs Need to Know

By Rieva Lesonsky

1—How Email Marketing Helps You Reap What You Sow

To celebrate the harvest season, email marketing company Campaigner has created a fall-themed guidebook, filled with tips and best practices for email marketers. Among other things, the guide tells you how to weed out inactive subscribers, hand pick personalized offers for top customers and re-plant seeds of successful campaigns for future effectiveness. The infographic below has more information, as does this tip sheet.

ContactListHygiene-CRCAMP-1724

 

2—Holiday Hiring

According to Snagajob’s proprietary annual report on Holiday Hiring:

  • 90%of employers plan to hire this holiday season, up 10% from 2015
  • 86%of employers are likely to hire their temporary workers after the holidays
  • Employers plans to offer their workers 27 hours per weekduring the holiday season, up 17% from 2014 and up 8% from 2015

Expected hourly wages by industry:

  • Retail: $13.90, up 45%from 2015
  • Hospitality: $11.50, up 5%from 2015
  • Food service: $10.60, up 14%from 2015

Hourly workers make up 70% of America’s workforce, so this data has implications for millions of Americans and their families on both sides of the hiring process. The bulk of holiday hiring will take place this month—so you need to hustle if you want to find the best employees. You can check out the full report here and the infographic below.

holiday-hiring

 

3—Small Business & Marketing Budgets

Small business lender National Funding gathered some interesting stats about SMBs and their marketing budgets. For instance, SMBs spend an average of $300 per month on online marketing. For more information, see the infographic below and check out the free ebook from National Funding.

marketing-ideas

 

4—Mobile Shopping on the Rise

While online sales continue to outpace overall retail growth, mobile shopping (m-commerce) is growing even more quickly. The new Mobile Data Report from Clarus Commerce, a leader in e-commerce and subscription commerce solutions, looks at some of the consumer trends and behaviors behind this movement; examines mobile data from its flagship e-commerce portal, FreeShipping.com; and offers some concluding thoughts, including some advice for the upcoming Black Friday shopping holiday.

Smartphones and Apps Are Driving M-Commerce Growth

By February 2016, 198.9 million Americans owned a smartphone, an 89% increase from 2012. A study from Demandware shows there’s more retail traffic from smartphones than from desktops and laptops. The study also shows:

  • M-commerce revenue has nearly tripled in under three years
  • Smartphones were used in 45% of visits to online retailers in Q1 2016
  • Smartphone traffic will likely comprise 60% of all e-commerce traffic by the end of 2017

M-Commerce Is Already Influencing Consumers and Retailers

Mobile shopping is expected to soar in the future. A Payvision survey found 79% of retailers worldwide saw major m-commerce growth in 2015, and eMarketer says 59% of global retailers planned to make mobile a top digital priority this year. While the U.S. generally lags behind other countries in m-commerce activity, mobile sales already make up 30% of all U.S. e-commerce sales, per Internet Retailer, and smartphones are now vital tools for many U.S. consumers. Per a Google survey that asked shoppers how they used their smartphones during a recent purchase decision:

  • 43% said they used it to look for ideas and inspiration
  • 36% said they compared choices
  • 35% said they sought opinions, reviews, or advice
  • 32% said they prepared for an offline purchase (e.g., by searching for store locations)

Clarus says, “The evidence is overwhelming: Retailers can no longer afford to treat mobile shopping as a secondary concern. [Your] initial steps should include creating responsive mobile sites and developing user-friendly, high-value shopping apps. In the long run, retailers will need to focus on continually optimizing their omnichannel efforts. The ultimate goal is to provide customers with a seamless experience, whether they’re shopping via desktop or laptop, smartphone or tablet, in stores—or some or all of the above.”

 

5—Get Google Smart

Google just introduced Academy for Ads, a new digital training platform designed to help marketers learn how to use Google’s ad products in a mobile-first world. The program was built to promote learning on-the-go, whether on a laptop, a desktop, or a mobile device.

Academy for Ads courses cover the topics that matter most to Google advertisers—from AdWords basics and the essentials of campaign management to bid strategies, reporting, optimization, and more ways to successfully advertise with Google.

You can read more about it in this blog post.

 

6—Shop Small

Small Business Saturday, the day communities band together to support local businesses, is November 26th this year. And to help small business owners get a head start and make the most of the day, American Express is offering a number of free turnkey tools and resources, including customizable materials and educational content. Small businesses can take advantage of:

Shop Small Studio: In just a few clicks, small business owners can now create customizable print and digital marketing assets and download them for free to promote their businesses and Small Business Saturday events at ShopSmall.com.

Small Business Saturday 101 (“SBS 101”): This multi-media content hub, features how-to guides, tips and insights from small business owners and influencers. “SBS 101” is designed to educate, prepare and inspire small business owners to participate in Small Business Saturday through videos, articles, infographics and more.

Hands-on Boot Camps around the U.S.: New this year, American Express will host three Small Business Saturday Boot Camps throughout October in New York City, Chicago and San Francisco. Each Boot Camp focuses on how small business owners can excite their customers and market their business on Small Business Saturday to maximize their presence throughout the entire holiday shopping season. You can sign up for the events at ShopSmall.com.

Neighborhood Champions: The Neighborhood Champion Program encourages small business owners, individuals, and community organizations to work with their local small businesses to organize and host events on Small Business Saturday each year. Neighborhood Champions can get free Shop Small branded merchandise while supplies last to help promote and draw attention to their Small Business Saturday events.

More information can be found here.

 

7—Be a Smarter Entrepreneur

Thousands of small business owners across the country have learned how to smartly grow their businesses by participating in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program. The deadline for applying to be part of the Spring 2017 National Cohort is November 3rd. It takes less than 10 minutes for you to fill out the initial part of the application.

To learn more there you can attend a webinar to be held on October 18th, October 27th, and November 4th at 2pm Eastern Time.  You can register here.

Program qualifications include:

  • The applicant must be the owner, co-owner, or key decision maker of a business
  • The business must be in operation for at least 2 years and have at least 4 employees
  • The business must have at least $150,000 in revenue in the last fiscal year (or over $150,000 in revenue to date)

The Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses is free and helps entrepreneurs create jobs and economic opportunity by providing them with greater access to education, financial capital, and a supportive network of advisors & peers.

Within 6 months of graduating from the program, 69% of attendees reported increasing revenues and 48% added new jobs.

The program is offered at 13 local sites across the country, but is also available through a national blended learning program. Businesses in all the 50 states and U.S. territories can participate.

 

8—Get Smart About Payment Security

Tokenization—the process of substituting valuable data with a token made up of random alphanumeric characters—has the potential to be a payments security game-changer due to its ability to protect sensitive account data for in-store and online transactions. Want to learn more about tokenization and how to implement? You can at the Smart Card Alliance one-hour webinar, EMV Tokenization, on November 3, 1pm ET (10am PT). You can register here.

The webinar will offer a crash course on tokenization, and will:

  • Provide an overview of EMVCo tokenization and distinguish EMV payment tokens from other types of tokens
  • Identify the benefits derived from tokenization and encryption
  • Review the rules, requirements and standards for token service providers
  • Discuss tokenization methods used in digital wallets like Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Android Pay, as well as in-app purchases
  • Address tokenization implementation and security considerations

The webinar was created by the Smart Card Alliance Mobile Council.

 

9—Taking an Elevator Ride with Marcus Lemonis

For most of us, riding in an elevator is a way to reach our destination. But for nine small business owners, an elevator ride puts them in the hot seat, gives them an opportunity to get one-on-one advice from serial entrepreneur and host of CNBC’s The Profit Marcus Lemonis and compete for $10,000 in The UPS Store Elevator Pitch. On The UPS Store YouTube channel, you can see the three-episode mini-series bring the “elevator pitch” concept to life.

In each episode, three small business owners offer their most compelling, yet concise elevator pitch—in an actual elevator. Each contestant has just 24 floors to deliver their pitch. No stranger to providing advice on what works and what doesn’t for small business success, Lemonis listens to each pitch, asks questions and when they arrive at the top floor, their ride and time is up.

In a recent survey, The UPS Store found 85% of small business owners believe a good elevator pitch is a must-have for success. In fact, many regularly review and edit their pitches to ensure it is fresh and relevant to their businesses.

“Be concise, be organized and let your passion and your idea come through during your elevator pitch,” advises Lemonis. “Small business owners never know who they are going to meet, or opportunities that may arise. Having a strong, passionate elevator pitch can be an important tool for entrepreneurs as they meet potential customers, business partners and investors.”

In true reality TV fashion, the Elevator Pitch series includes Lemonis sharing his expert advice and strong critiques with the audience, unbeknownst to the contestants. At the end of each episode, one lucky contestant is chosen as the winner and receives $10,000 to grow their business and a Small Business Toolkit from The UPS Store to help them further their business.

 

10—Workplace Benefits

The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, one of the nation’s largest mutual life insurers and a leading provider of employee benefits, recently released A Crack in the Foundation, the first set of findings from the fourth annual Guardian Workplace Benefits Study. The research reveals more businesses are offering their employees high deductible health plans (HDHPs), but consumers require more support and education in the workplace to understand their options and to mitigate longer-term health risks.

A Health Savings Account (HSA) offered in conjunction with an HDHP enables employees to set aside pre-tax dollars to cover out-of-pocket medical expenses. Employers may also contribute to their employees’ HSA to provide a base level of funding. However, 60% of employers don’t offer an HSA alongside their high deductible plans. This is especially true of businesses with fewer than 50 employees, a group that accounts for almost 30% of all working Americans.

Even when employees have access to an HSA, many don’t fully understand how to fund or utilize it. The study says effective employee education and communication about properly using an HSA is important to ensure that your staff can cover their medical bills. Three in five workers are unable to pay a $3,000 out-of-pocket medical expense. Faced with such an expense, the study found:

  • 37% would make a deal with the provider to pay over time
  • 34% would pay the bill by credit card
  • 9% would ask for a loan from friends/family
  • 6% would get a bank loan

What’s worse, due to the financial stress Americans take risks with their health, including ignoring medical advice or neglecting their own health care. One in three employees with an HDHP state that because of the high out-of-pocket costs they did at least one of the following in the past year:

  • Skipped a doctor visit
  • Delayed a recommended procedure/surgery
  • Failed to fill a prescription
  • Avoided a blood test or x-rays

Finally, business owners might consider offering supplemental health benefits, such as hospital indemnity insurance, accident insurance, or critical illness insurance, which can also help to offset certain costs associated with medical care not covered under an employee’s health plan.

For more information about Guardian’s Workplace Benefits or to obtain a copy of A Crack in the Foundation from The Guardian Workplace Benefits Study SM: Fourth Annual 2016, go here.

 

11—Guide to Yelp for Mobile Tradesmen

Everyone knows Yelp helps many small businesses. Breezeworks wanted to find out if it and other review sites helps those in the mobile trades, including plumbing, HVAC, handymen and general contractors. Based on analysis of hundreds of Yelp reviews across four verticals, and five regions, Breezeworks study identified a number of patterns and trends that are of great importance to mobile tradesmen, including:

  • The importance of online reviews to mobile businesses
  • Best practices to prevent your business being “hidden” by Yelps! Search algorithms
  • Top customer complaints that result in bad reviews and lost business
  • Commonly overlooked business practices that can prevent remove complaints

As a result of the study, Breezeworks will be developing and releasing a series of best practices that will be released to its customers and the public. These will help Breezeworks customers combine the magic of Breezeworks with the customer acquisition power of discovery sites, while avoiding the pitfalls.

The Breezeworks study also uncovered a number of seemingly counter-intuitive patterns and trends that can also have a large impact on small business operations. Highlights include:

  • 43% of complaints directly result in lost
  • Almost all businesses (more than 99%) are hidden when Yelp users sort by “highest rated” or “most reviewed”
  • Scheduling is the #1 complaint for small companies,
  • Pricing transparency was a frequent complaint leading to customers feeling “scammed”

 

12—How Effective is PR?

Bospar, a boutique PR firm, specializing in helping tech companies recently announced the results of its Bospar Consumer PR Effectiveness Study, which studied how likely people were to visit a tech company’s website based on media coverage.

They discovered, “In this noisy media landscape, we discovered that there were certain early adopter demographics that marketers can expect to visit a company’s web or mobile site immediately after seeing the first stories post.”

By Gender: A majority of American men will check out a tech company’s site after repeatedly seeing media placements, with nearly 1 in 5 saying they will visit a site the very first time they see an article. A smaller group of men (16%), will head to a company site after seeing 2-5 media placements. Nearly 1 in 4 men will visit a company site after seeing a story more than five times.

Women are a harder win: 41% say if they keep seeing a tech company in the media, they will eventually visit the company’s site, but only 13% will visit a site after seeing a single placement and only another 11% will be convinced after seeing 2-5 placements.

By Age: Gen Xers (age 35-44) were most likely to visit a tech company website after just one press story (24%) and 20% of Millennials (age 18-34) were most likely to visit a site after seeing the company in the news 2-5 times, while seniors (those 65+) were the least likely to visit a company site after seeing it in the media.

By Income and Locale: Those who make between $75K-$99K are most likely to visit a tech company’s site the first time a story posted (29%). However, more stories again yielded more compelling results: 40% of those making $150K+, along with 29% of those making $100K-$150K and 18% of those earning $50K-$75K say they’d visit a company’s site after seeing 2-5 pieces of coverage.

By Region: Southerners were most likely to visit a company’s website after seeing a single placement (19%), while the sweet spot for the Northeasters was 2-5 placements (16%).

 

13—Getting the Most Out of Twitter for Business

Want to get more out of Twitter for you small business? Check out this interactive infographic from designhill.

Startup for success
14—The Small Business Revolution has Arrived

Check out this inspirational, eight-episode online series streaming at SmallBusinessRevolution.org, which shows how experts from Deluxe Corporation and Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavec provided a boost to the city of Wabash, Indiana and its businesses. And now you can nominate your favorite small town for a chance to win the next $500,000 revitalization.

The eight-episode “Small Business Revolution on Main Street” series chronicles how Deluxe and Herjavec helped bring a $500,000 revitalization to Wabash. The entire series is available starting today on Hulu.

In each episode, Brinkman and Herjavec tackle marketing, business and personal issues facing small business owners in Wabash. The series captures the struggle to run a business in a small town along with the triumph of a community coming together.

Deluxe launched the Small Business Revolution on Main Street program earlier this year to shine a spotlight on the importance of small businesses in small towns across America.

 

15—Help End Domestic Violence

Meathead Movers, a California-based student athlete moving company, recently announced  the launch of #MoveToEndDV as a nonprofit organization aimed to help shelters and individuals around the world facing domestic violence situations. It all started when, as a community service, Meathead Movers moved victims of domestic violence for free—and it quickly became an international movement to encourage and inspire businesses around the world to step up and provide free products and services to shelters, victims and survivors of domestic violence.

The mission of the nonprofit, known as #MoveToEndDV,  is to “encourage at least 10,000 businesses across the globe to pledge free products and/or services for domestic violence shelters, victims and survivors to help put an end to domestic abuse once and for all.”

The company is also introducing a volunteer Ambassador program, which will send #MoveToEndDV-vetted Ambassadors into their communities to obtain a list of needs from the shelters, and fulfill those needs by connecting shelters with pledging businesses.

An early supporter of the #MoveToEndDV organization is the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV). Through its partnership, NCADV provides training and resources to #MoveToEndDV staff, Ambassadors and pledging businesses to ensure the needs of shelters, victims and survivors of domestic violence are met. Both organizations will work together through speaking engagements, awareness events, advocacy, and policy changes to further the support of victims and survivors of domestic violence.

Corporations interested in joining the movement through sponsorship opportunities are encouraged to contact info@movetoenddv.org. For more information about the #MoveToEndDV campaign and to learn how to get involved as a pledging business, Ambassador volunteer, or donor, visit www.movetoenddv.org.

 

Cool Tools

 

16—Get Local Market Insights

1010data recently launched Local Market Insights (LMI), a browser-based tool that enables merchants to measure business performance against their local competitors.

Almost any direct-to-consumer business can use LMI to identify performance drivers and take action to improve their businesses or generate incremental growth.

Key features of LMI include:

  • Market share change and other key sales metrics by major metropolitan market
  • Consumer transaction information, including basket and trip metrics
  • Store location data that provides a targeted, localized view of business performance
  • Ability to view the data by demographic and socioeconomic attributes, such as age, gender breakout and household income
  • Monthly refreshes of the consumer panel for the latest, most relevant information

Using actual consumer spending behavior, demographic, and store location data, 1010data LMI enables users to view business KPIs such as market share, basket size and trip-related metrics by MSA (metropolitan statistical area) for their business as well as a custom competitive set of their choosing.

 

17—Help is at Hand

Looking for some smart tech products and services to help you open a new or revamp your current office? There are a variety of tech-focused services that can help you get you up and running, and manage your time accordingly.

These tools are simple to use and make it easier for employees to communicate internally and externally in order to stay ahead of competitors.  Why not check them out?

Do you have too much on your hands and not enough time to finish? It takes a lot of time and effort to grow a business, and with a small number of employees, it’s tough to get all the work done. Try UpWork, a premier platform for companies to hire and work with talented independent professionals. Virtual assistants are a great way to outsource monotonous tasks and save money—from web developers, writers, designers, to sales and marketing guru’s.

A safe business is a successful business. The internet is an amazing space, and having the ability to always be connected helps business owners worry less. Vimtag, a leading provider of IP Cameras, can give you some peace of mind with their compatible indoor and outdoor security camera systems—all of which let you check in on your property in real time, and connect you to the cloud. The P1 Smart Cloud IP camera is a compact and convenient device to keep an eye out on your business while you’re away. The camera has a fully controllable pan and tilt functionality for 360 views, motion triggered push notifications, and hi-fidelity sound and hi-def video recording. With its smartphone app, owners and employees have the ability to remain connected to their space.

Whether in or out of the office, the Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat will help manage your office’s comfort and energy use, accessing by either smartphone or computer from any remote location, and notifies you with alerts if anything goes astray.

Keeping your office afloat. Need an office assistant? WhenIWork is an online platform that simplifies employee scheduling and communications. It sends employees instant updates on their schedules, which helps save time and money and improves accountability. QuickBooks offers a handy set of software solutions, available for mobile and desktop, and designed to manage the finances of a business and monitor expenses, create invoices and reports, track job status and manage inventory.

 

 

 

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