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[INFOGRAPHIC] Web Design Trends In 2019

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Web Design Trends - MyStartupLand

It’s difficult to keep up with the trends in today’s ever-changing digital world. If you want the best for your company, however, falling behind can come at a cost. Customers have higher than ever expectations when it comes to user experience. A good-looking and highly-functioning website is a must. Investing in a quality website design is a wise business decision for any company.

Nonetheless, how and what you can do to increase your online traffic and boost your credibility is often a question of debate.

Why Is Web Design A Crucial Business Choice?

DesignAdvisor has put together an insightful infographic on why investing in website design is the right business choice. It aims to put an end to some of these dilemmas by summarizing the fourteen most important web design trends of 2019.

The trends illustrated showcase studies with the aim of helping website owners get one step closer to create an online presence the audience is happy with. Having a website is not enough anymore. A corporate webpage is part of the brand identity of a company and it should not be ignored.

The collected data range from tips on how to improve your company’s contact information section to advise on how to increase the speed of your website.

The infographic lists real-life examples of companies which have implemented these trends, and the results that followed. For example, one company noticed an increase in mobile traffic by 40%, organic search by 19%, and social referrals by an incredible 1,624% just by improving the website user experience. Another one increased users time spent on-page by 56.19% by optimizing the website for mobile.

Each one of the trends highlighted are a must for companies that get most of their clients online. Implementing one or more of these tips will increase your chances to succeed.

What Makes Business Partners Crucial For Success?

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Advantages Of Business Partners - MyStartupLand

Sole traders, solopreneurs or sole proprietors – whatever you like to call them, a business person who is running their operation alone certainly has some guts.

There are obvious advantages of full control. First and foremost, no one to clash with. On the other hand, however, there are also upsides for those who decide to share the workload with a business partner.

The team at so-sure wanted to find out what kind of relationships exist behind the co-founders of these top startups and the advantage to have a partner.

We asked each one of them one question and got their point of view.

What Are The Benefits Of Working With Business Partners?

Katie Buckett |OneFifty Consultancy - MyStartupLand

Katie Buckett |OneFifty Consultancy

Katie is a digital brand communications expert, with experience working for both global and UK organizations. She and her co-founder, Alex Pearmain, set up OneFifty together in 2015

“I would find it very difficult to do it on my own because entrepreneurship it is quite a lonely place. There is loads of pressure – the highs are highs and lows are low. No one else can quite appreciate those highs and lows. The only person is Alex. It’s quite a special thing to share these moments with someone. It’s also just quite practical, if you can’t make it to a meeting, there is a bit more flexibility if your partner can step in for you.”

Pip Wilson | amicable - MyStartupLand

Pip Wilson | amicable

Pip Wilson is the co-founder of amicable. She is an entrepreneur and technology expert who is passionate about using technology to tackle social issues. She founded amicable with her business partner, Kate Daly.

“It’s good to have someone to bounce ideas off. amicable’s first year started slowly as I was still tying up a few loose ends from the sale of my previous company. Kate had been working for her own business. For the first year we were prototyping and refining the idea and it was just the two of us. It would have been so lonely if it had just been one individual. The advantage is that you have someone else to work with who is just as passionate about the idea as you, so that keeps you motivated. You also benefit from having different ways of looking at things.”

Lilia Stoyanov | Transformify - MyStartupLand

Lilia Stoyanov | Transformify

A chief executive officer and angel investor at Transformify. Lilia is a FinTech and digital transformation expert. She is also a professor at Zigurat Business School and expert evaluator Horizon 2020 at the European Commission. She founded Transformify in 2015 with her business partner and CTO, Desislav Kamenov.

“We bounce off each other. We have very different backgrounds and this helps us when we need to see the big picture. The different points of view add creativity and criticism which are much needed for the success of any project.”

Rachel Hugh | The Vurger Co - MyStartupLand

Rachel Hugh | The Vurger Co

Rachel, alongside co-founder Neil Potts, founded The Vurger Co in 2016. The Vurger Co’s mission is to revolutionise fast food forever through the power of plants.

“Definitely trust! When you know and trust your partner, it’s super easy to rely on one another for everything. Nothing is too much to ask, and no challenge is insurmountable. It’s also pretty special to build a business with your partner in life and business. “

Alex Bodini | Spinbrands - MyStartupLand

Alex Bodini | Spinbrands

Alex is co-founder of Spin Brands, a social and digital marketing agency specialising in SMEs & Startups. Having previously worked in large agencies, Alex met his co-founder in more entrepreneurial ventures and created Spin Brands to serve a huge gap in the market.

“It genuinely does feel like 1+1 = 3 when there is a good partnership. You feel three times as strong, as resilient and capable of making the right decisions. Sharing successes and high points with someone else too is extremely valuable.”

Gauthier Van Malderen | Perlego - MyStartupLand

Gauthier Van Malderen | Perlego

Gauthier is the co-founder of London-based Perlego which aims to tackle one of the biggest pain points for students with its e-book subscription service for textbooks. He and his co-founder Matthew Davis set up Perlego in 2016.

“We have several core members in the team but by being in a team, when I’m having a bad day Matt can lift me up and vice versa. Plus, you live the highs and the lows together. Doing it by yourself would be quite a lonely thing. You’re sharing that burden with someone else.”

Matthew de la Hey | Inploi - MyStartupLand

Matthew de la Hey | Inploi

Matthew is co-founder & CEO of inploi, a cutting-edge recruitment/HR-tech platform based in London. He set up inploi with Alex Hanson-Smith, and Chris Mackie in 2015.

“It would have been impossible to do this alone! You are taking on a pretty insane task with a lot of things stacked against you and a lot to learn along the way. Having to do that alone would have been very difficult. Often times, if you’re having a bad day the other person is not and you can pick each other up. The advantages are also that you can have another set of perspectives and look at solutions or problems from a different angle that you might not have thought about. Lastly, it’s good to have someone to share the burden and have fun with.”

Tessa Clarke | OLIO - MyStartupLand

Tessa Clarke | OLIO

Tessa and Saasha Celestial-One are the co-founders of OLIO, a free app which harnesses the power of mobile technology and the sharing economy to provide a revolutionary new solution to the problem of food waste. 

“To be honest I see only upsides of working with a co-founder! Together we’re able to cover a far broader range of skill sets and bring a more diverse set of experiences and perspectives to the table. All this ultimately makes the business far stronger. Plus, having someone who is on the same startup rollercoaster as yourself is absolutely invaluable in terms of mental and emotional support. When it comes to strategy, product development and marketing initiatives for example, it’s incredible helpful having a sparring partner to bounce ideas off. Finally, it can sometimes feel a bit like a super-power having a business partner because you can ‘clone’ yourself and be in two places at the same time, which is incredibly handy and powerful!”

Alice Holden | Attollo Lingerie - MyStartupLand

Alice Holden | Attollo Lingerie

Alice is this director and co-founder of Attollo Lingerie which caters for D+ cupped figures. She runs the business with co-founder, Fleurette Mulcahy. 

“It’s someone to share the experience with. When we first left university none of our friends could really relate to the fact that we were running off to meet the CEO of banks, or meet managing directors of massive multinational companies; running board meetings, pitching for investment, controlling shareholders. It was a very abnormal environment to be in from quite a young age with very little experience but we had each other to share that with. We know other business owners who have founded on their own and have said that they wish they had had a partner to share everything with. So I guess that’s a big benefit that we’ve enjoyed.”

Jasmine Eilfield | Expocart  - MyStartupLand

Jasmine Eilfield | Expocart 

Jasmine is the co-founder of ExpoCart which she set up with Ryan Farquson. The startup is on a one-way mission to reinvent the way people discover, hire and buy products for their exhibitions. 

“Running a business can be extremely isolating. Having someone to work with helps balance the pressure, especially when difficult decisions need to be made. Having someone to bounce it around and talk through in detail when they know the business so well is crucial.”

Do you work with a business partner? What advantages do you see that otherwise you wouldn’t? Share your experiences in the comment section below.

6 Ways To Start Building Relationships With Prospects

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Building Relationships With Prospects - MyStartupLand

Trust has always been the basis of building relationships with prospects. If you are not able to win prospects’ trust then you won’t be able to close deals and create long-term partnerships. Trust, however, is built over time and it requires efforts from both parties. After all, it is well known that:

People buy people, not products.

Salespeople often think that having a better pitch or fancier deck or a more comprehensive objection handling process is the key to close more deals. The reality is, however, very different.

Buyers couldn’t care less about the way your deck looks or how well you can pitch your company. Marketing materials support your activities, they don’t replace them. Prospects receive tons of cold emails and calls on a daily basis with, guess what, a sales pitch about the “leading company in the industry” or “the best solution in the market”. On average buyers receive about 140 emails from different vendors in a day with a “unique selling proposition”. Do yourself (and your prospect) a favor, stop wasting everyone’s time and start focusing on what matters.

Cutting through the noise, as a salesperson, is not simple but there are ways to do it if you are willing to change the way you approach the sales process.

1. Have A Customer-Centric Approach

Too often, salespeople forget that is the buyer the one making the decision. Inexperienced sales reps get too focused on their pitch and stories, forgetting about the most important part of the equation, the customer.

For example, when talking with a prospect, how much time do you spend pitching your company? Or presenting your solutions? Or making assumptions on why the prospect needs you? Or simply not letting the prospect know what’s going to happen? How much time do you hold the mic? It has been shown that in successful calls there are about 77% more speaker switches than in unsuccessful ones.

Stop putting yourself at the center of the conversation. Start listening to your prospects. Ask questions and listen to what they have to say. This is the so-called sales disconnect between sellers and buyers that affects how successful you will be at building relationships with prospects.

Are you sure to be tuned in the same radio station as your buyer?

As a sales rep, your job is to understand the prospect’s needs. Yet, 69% of buyers think that salespeople are not listening to their needs at all. That’s a third of buyers out there thinking you are listening to what they have to say.

2. Be Genuinely Curious

When approaching prospects, salespeople should be genuine interested in their situation and curious about what issues they are experiencing. Trying to be in the prospect’s shoes should be part of your daily activities.

Even though your prospects might all have the same characteristics, each one of them has a different need that has to be addressed differently. Once again, it’s important to listen to what they have to say and stop making assumptions about their needs.

Objections should also arise curiosity in salespeople. Sales reps tend to treat objections as an obstacle to overcome, rather than an opportunity. Sales managers usually prepare their teams with an objection handling document, teaching them the best ways to go through those rough moments without addressing the real issue.

Learning how to turn objections into useful questions is what will make you stand out from the crowd. When a prospect is objecting to your statements take the time to unveil the truth behind those doubts. Don’t run away. If you redirect your curiosity back at the objection, you are in control of the conversation. By doing so, you will increase the possibility to win the prospect’s trust.

3. Understand The Prospect Fit

In a perfect world, companies would like every prospect to be a good customer. The reality, however, is that there are good and bad customers in terms of ROI. Each prospect is driven by a different set of values and needs that might or might not meet the company capabilities to deliver the results wanted.

Closing a deal is not good enough anymore. Some managers think that the more deals you close, the better off your business will be. However, there’s nothing more wrong than that.

What is the cost of having to deal with an unhappy customer? What are the repercussions of on-boarding a prospect, whose needs cannot be met? How much time will your team have to spend on trying to figure out what to do next? And lastly, how easily will you fire that bad client?

The reality is that many businesses tend to accept any client their sales team bring in because they are afraid of missing out an opportunity. The thought that any customer is a good customer is insane and can harm your company growth. The ideal prospect fit is a method developed to take only valuable customer down the funnel with a carefully planned lead qualification process. You cannot please everyone and you better understand that sooner rather than later. Having tougher on-boarding rules will help your company focusing on building relationships with prospects that matter.

4. Be Honest & Work Together With The Prospects

Honesty is probably the last thing that the common person associates with salespeople. Unfortunately, we have built a name for our profession that is not reputable, to say the least. We are known to bend reality and make things look better than they are as far as we can get someone’s money out of their pocket.

If you want to make a difference and create a long-term relationship with prospects, you need to be honest and work together with them. Honesty, however, is not just about saying things as they are.

For example, when a prospect asks you “Why should I choose you instead of a competitor?”, what do you say?

Most salespeople, as they have been trained to such basic objection, will jump on it and start pitching all the different USPs their product, service or company has against all different competitors in the market. However, doing so will just raise barriers from the prospect perspective. As seen previously, by tackling an objection, you won’t be uncovering the real truth.

Have you thought about why the prospect is asking such a question?

If you get asked what makes your company different in the market, be honest and address that with curiosity. Ask them what problems they are currently facing and try to understand why they are asking this question. You might have the best solution or product in the market (for real) but the reality is that you don’t know if that will suit your prospect’s needs. You are assuming that it will and you might be wrong.

Being honest and showing your prospect vulnerability will increase the chances to build trust and long-term partnerships.

5. Become An Expert

Too many times, salespeople make up stuff just because they don’t know what they are talking about. As a consequence, buyers tend to have little trust in sales reps.

Salesforce reported that 79% of buyers want their sales reps to be trusted advisors. Customers are looking for consultants. Building relationships with prospects is a lot like personal relationships. Buyers are looking for a long-term relationship, not a one-night stand!

Together with this finding, it has been shown that buyers want more than just a sales counterpart. As a sales rep, you need to know the ins and outs of your product or service offerings and understand the market. All of this can be achieved only by becoming an expert in your field.

State Of Connected Customer

Depending on the industry you operate in, it might be easier to stand out if you know just a little bit better than your competitors the market and how things work for your potential customers.

Invest time in researching the market. Schedule personal development time during your working day to learn about what’s going in the industry. Organize with your team “discussion times” to share knowledge and build confidence. Lastly, connect more often with people within the organization who could help you get a higher than average understanding of what your product USPs are.

6. Follow Your Values As A Person

At the beginning of this article, I wrote that “People buy people, not products”. This means that you need to related to your buyers as a person. In sales, you are quite often told to avoid talking about personal things with prospects as “things could get messy”. You might not want to get involved in political talks. However, keeping a distance with your counterpart will not benefit anyone in building a long-term relationship.

The best salespersons I have met during my career are those who are able to connect with prospects just about anything. Understanding that who you have in front is not only a buyer but also a person, it’s crucial to how successful you will be. Get to know them and share a genuine interest in opening up yourself.

In-person communication is crucial to building truthful relationships. I often see too many salespeople spending so much time in front of the laptop or on the phone, ignoring the value that in-person meetings have. In case geographical limitations don’t allow you to visit prospects with flexibility, have a weekly catch up with prospects that are the most valuable to you.

Conclusion

Sales is a challenging but crucial role in any organization. As industries evolve, so do buyers. Salespeople need to adapt to changes and move away from old tricks. In today’s environment, prospects rely on salespeople who are trustworthy and know what they are talking about. Don’t get stacked with the average Joe. You can’t control the product delivery or other people’s behaviours or market conditions, however, you can control what you do and what you stand for.

The Best WordPress Instagram Themes To Boost Brand Visibility

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WordPress Instagram Themes

Instagram is undoubtedly the most popular visual networking platform. It is famous for its application based design and the look. According to Hootsuite, 4.2 billion posts are liked on Instagram each day. This platform has been successful in creating a great name for itself and the traffic capable of making everyone shine overnight.

If companies are not on Instagram, it is time to reevaluate the decision. Instagram is popular amongst celebrities as well as the general audience. The platform has over a billion users, which clearly displays the potential for businesses to promote their brands. Business owners should also consider integrating their WordPress website with their Instagram account.

Read Also: How Instagram Stories Can Help Your Startup Growth

To facilitate this, we collected the best WordPress Instagram themes available on the market.

Carrie

Most of the businesses are constantly hunting for stylish, elegant, as well as a powerful blog theme, capable of serving various purposes. Carrie is undoubtedly the best for those running personal blogs.

This theme is renowned for its unique design and various features, including changing fonts, colors, post views, layouts, and a lot more. The theme also comes with the built-in slider, perfect for displaying the Instagram content in numerous ways.

Alpha-Blog

This is a WordPress Instagram theme, crafted with a lot of attention to various tiny details. This theme is perfect for both personal as well as corporate use. The design is timeless and the layout is known to feature customizer options. This allows the user to customize the layout, the colors, and the typography for personalization. This theme is free from any bloats, and you will be able to customize it easily.

The coding of the theme ensures that it is compatible with most of the plugins. You will be able to create and share all your favorite content with this theme and it is only going to cost $24.

Brooklyn Indie Band

If you are looking for a modern and elegant theme, that is not only clean but also pretty, the Brooklyn Indie Band is definitely for you. It is perfect to make represent bands and works also great to display products and services.

This is not just a theme; it is also known to offer diverse assets for making the band site look ideal. This theme is known to include the best possible features and it is going to cost you $39.

New York

Various businesses and bloggers use this theme. It features a clean and fast design, which is minimal and helps in promoting content greatly. This helps to captivate the attention of the readers.

Usage reports have revealed that this theme compared to other feels less messy and extremely easy for use. There are three styles along with great features and you can get it for only $19.

Jarsen

Jarsen is unique in comparison to the various other blog themes because of the classic and simple style that follows. This theme is well known and widely used because it offers numerous possibilities, optimization, and responsiveness.

The template is retina ready, great for displaying images and videos on new devices. You can customize this theme in a simple and easy way. The cost is only $49.

Donald Arch

Donald is one of the most responsive blog themes in the market. It is perfect for sharing knowledge, displaying personal achievements or usable also as an online web diary. This is a premium blog template and it is convenient for building the various types of professional and personal blog websites. It is based on the CSS framework of Bootstrap and it costs only $19.

Everly

This is the go-to-theme by a number of people, interested in creating personal blogs. Its design is clean and bold. The trendy layout and the elegance of this template add value to the website you would build.

It offers various features, including the sidebar layout as well as the layout with full width. You can get four different layouts when purchasing the theme for $39.

Winston

In case you are looking to displaying content in an elegant and modern style, this template is one of the best Instagram WordPress themes that you will come across. It features a slider, a header, a carousel, a user-friendly panel and it also has various other amazing features.

This theme offers various layouts and post options along with numerous Google fonts. The setup and installation of the theme are extremely simple. The price is $49.

Read Also: 6 Ways To Use IGTV For Great Brand Story-Telling

Conclusion

There are several options when it comes to WordPress Instagram themes. It is certainly difficult to pick one among the many, however, the above suggestions should make your life easier. The most important thing when considering a WordPress theme is to first consider your own needs and then look for what matches the best these. Many templates offer a free version to try out.

What theme did you choose to display in the best way your Instagram profiles? Would you recommend anything else that is not here? Share your suggestions in the comment section below.

How To Keep Your Employees Happy And Productive

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Employees Happy And Productive

Having a happy workforce automatically guarantees they will be productive, too. After all, it’s much easier to get work done when you feel like you are at the top of the world. Of course, it’s as tricky to keep the level of motivation up as it is to bring it up. If you want to be a good and caring boss, you’ll need to realize that this is a permanent job. The changes you implement will have to last permanently, not just for a period of time. Keeping employees happy and productive is what will drive your company to success.

1. Always Give Them Something To Do

Employees Happy And Productive

People aren’t happy unless they are working. As soon as they don’t have anything to do at the job, they start thinking how pointless it is to even go there. This in no way means that you should overwork your employees and burden them with extra work, just that you should always have projects planned ahead. A little breather between projects is fine, even welcomed, but be sure to start the next phase shortly. 

This keeps the mindset of having to work hard ever-present and helps your employees feel like they’re making a difference. In truth, those two components are essential for their mental health, happiness, and productivity. You can even have several projects planned out ahead and then let your employees decide which one they want to work on. This way, you can divide your workforce and have people work on something they’re genuinely interested in. That factor enhances the level of their productivity and happiness all the while leaving them with a purpose.

2. Come Up With A Reward System

The more people go unrewarded for their good work, the less they’re willing to try. After all, what’s the point of working hard if it doesn’t seem to earn you anything than what the others have? Where’s the justice in contributing twice as more without being recognized for it? To counter these thoughts and avoid an inevitable decrease in productivity, you should create a reward system. It can be anything from days off, a raise, or a massage.

In fact, sometimes a kind word is more than enough. This will show your workforce that you take an active interest in what they do and appreciate the work they put in for your company. A simple “you’re doing a great job, keep it up”, will be enough to make anyone’s day.

Of course, real rewards will have a longer lasting effect and will make your employees much more productive and happier. You can start small and then go up to bigger rewards so as to keep things new and fresh and keep the productivity up. Another idea is to ask your team what they would appreciate most as their reward to keep them happy and productive.

3. Encourage Work Harmony

Team building and work harmony are the essence of keeping your employees happy and productive. If they feel like they belong to something bigger than themselves, they’ll feel like they have to do their part to aid the system. It will also give them a purpose in your firm. You can easily achieve this effect by encouraging your employees to socialize and engage with each other. Make them see they’re welcomed and have friends in the office.

Of course, this should be done subtly, not directly. There’s nothing more awkward than your boss forcing you to interact with others. The easiest way to do this is to give them something they all have in common- coffee. Acquire a Blue Pod coffee machine and watch the conversation flow easily during every break. It may start with small talk, but even that’s enough to warm your employees up to one another. In the long run, a simple thing like chatting while drinking your coffee will bring them together
and make the work environment healthier and more pleasant for everyone.

4. Make An Effort To Listen

A happy and productive employee is one who is heard and listened to. It’s often the case that bosses just nod their heads to their employees’ ideas, not really caring about them at all. Even more so, we see cases where the boss flat out discourages the employee from being creative by putting down their idea. This leads to frustration and will inevitably lead to negligence of office duties. Don’t be that boss.

When your team is brainstorming, encourage them to come up with as many ideas as they can. They don’t even have to be all good, the important thing is that they’re actively participating. Challenge them to think and change their opinions and steer them towards one vision. They’ll all have something interesting to contribute, that’s guaranteed. Praise the good ideas and make sure to give credit where it’s due. This way your employees feel both heard and appreciated.

There’s nothing more than a warm feeling in their hearts and a smile on their faces. Everyone likes being valued.

Conclusion

As you can see, keeping your employees happy as well as productive is no easy task. Still, we’re confident that you’ll be able to do a proper job due to your dedication to the workplace. Your hard work is bound to go noticed, too. When employees see how much you’re trying to keep them happy and motivated, they’ll have even more reason to keep giving excellent results. In truth, being more conscious of your work environment and how you can improve it can and will prove to be beneficial for everyone involved.

Why Following Up With Prospects Will Help You Win More Business

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Following Up With Prospects - MyStartupLand

Small businesses tend to be a little resistant when it comes to following up with prospects. Many business owners are afraid to come off as too pushy. If you let your own apprehension take over and not follow up, you are literally leaving money on the table. Are you really willing to forgo business growth?

While coaching might help some people, it will be well worth it, in the end, to be able to make those follow-ups with your potential customers. Doing so will give you a much better chance to make them returning and loyal customers. But first, let’s get to the bottom of the common misconceptions when and why you should follow up with prospects.

Misconceptions About Follow-ups

Thinking that you’re a lot busier than your potential customers is false. You should change the perception of your time. Everyone is busy. Period. Just as you accidentally looked over an important email one day and forgot to respond, the same is true for your prospects.

It’s not always the case that someone is ignoring you. Prospects could honestly just be overlooking your message or thinking they’ll eventually find the time to respond. In these cases, not following up with prospects means throwing away an opportunity.

Over 80% of sales require five follow up calls according to statistics. If you never follow up in the first place, you are not even trying. Knowing this, there’s really no excuse for not consistently following up with potential customers.

Benefits Of Following Up With Prospects

The list of benefits could go on forever. Here, we take a look at three very key ones to keep in mind.

1. Shows That You Don’t Take Customers For Granted

By following up with prospects consistently, you show that you value them and are looking to establish a long-term relationship. Intermittent calls and emails do little to build rapport. While following up, be sure to summarize your previous contacts. Show that you’re detail oriented and focused on their business.

2. Establishes Rapport

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are most sales. In most cases, you won’t be the only potential sales person that the prospect is dealing with. If you follow up consistently, however, you could be establishing a rapport with prospects and become part of their routine. Relationships matter in business. Taking the time to establish a good rapport with regular follow-ups can go a long way toward helping them decide who they want to do business with.

3. Potential To Boost Sales

This one’s a no brainer. While many salespeople give up after one or two follow-ups, those who excel in sales know that persistence literally pays. Who wouldn’t like to boost sales just by making a simple follow up call with a prospect? Well, it’s really that simple! Sometimes you just need some evidence to know that follow-ups work.

Tips For Successful Follow-ups

Once you’ve understood why following up with prospects is crucial for your business growth, you should learn the best practices. There are several prospecting sales tools available on the market, for this reason, it can be very simple to create routine follow-ups.

Read Also: The Ultimate List Of (FREE) Sales Prospecting Tools

1. Use Multiple Channels To Reach Out

There are many sales follow-up channels that can be utilized and even tailored to your specific business needs. You should be using a mix of different channels rather than just choosing one and hoping for success.

A few of the most popular channels include email, phone calls, and texting. If phone calls aren’t your cup of tea, you can create an automatic follow-up email cadence that is sent to a prospect after a call. All this can be edited to meet each prospect needs. Try mixing up channels by sending out a follow-up text message after you get off a call with a prospect.

According to statistics, this approach has a conversion rate of 40% higher than other channels. This multi-channel approach is an effective way to perform follow-ups.

2. Use Templates

There are an abundance of resources including follow-up templates out there, so use them to your advantage. You can customize templates that fit your preferred channel to ensure success. You can choose to create a single template to send to all prospects or to customize a template based on the individual.

Customization can become crucial in email follow-ups as 33% of email recipients open emails based on subject line alone. Templates can also be used for sending out text messages to prospects after a phone call or interaction.

3. Timing Is Important

Timing is a crucial element when it comes to being successful with follow-ups. The perfect message that’s sent at the wrong time only ends in a waste of your own time.  There are many different factors that play into the “right” time to send out a follow-up. While there is no perfect time of day to send out a follow-up, the rule of thumb is to follow-up with someone 48 hours after your initial interaction. 

Conclusion

There’s no need to attach negative connotations to follow-ups, the truth is they’re effective and should serve as a cornerstone of any sales process. Once you’ve developed a routine for sending follow-ups, don’t neglect to measure the success of the different tactics employed.

There are many different metrics you can use to measure your success rate. Don’t keep avoiding following-up with potential customers and start boosting your sales today. 

Top 5 Marketing Automation Tools To Convert Online Visitors Into Prospects

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Marketing automation is at the basis of creating a successful B2B company. When growing, organizations need to automate marketing activities to unite both the marketing and sales departments. By doing so, the growth will be faster.

One of the key questions many business owners have is how to convert online visitors into prospects. This is one of the most difficult tasks ahead of any online business owner. It’s important to remember that a visitor is an unknown person with no data attached to it.

A visitor becomes a prospect the moment an email address is shared, either on a landing page or a contact form.

How To Convert Online Visitors Into Prospects?

Marketing automation together with funnel management can help business owners maximize their online activities. Turning more online visitors into prospects and hence increasing business is the bottom line for any company.

User Funnel - MyStartupLand

Any online user of a B2B organization goes through specific steps of the user funnel. To increase active customers, business owners need to master the art of user conversion funnel management.

What Are The Steps In The User Conversion Funnel?

If your business operates online, the conversion funnel is something that you cannot ignore. Thinking about the steps a user undertakes to become a prospect and from a prospect to a lead is fundamental.

There are 5 steps to keep in mind:

  1. Demand (or Lead) Generation: The act of creating interest in your products or services through marketing efforts.
  2. Conversion: When a visitor gives his/her own contact information to a business through a contact form or customized landing page.
  3. Lead Nurturing: Once a visitor becomes a prospect, there’s a need to engage with her/him in a targeted way. Communication should happen at specific intervals based on their actions and whether or not they have met certain qualifying criteria.
  4. Lead Qualification: This step is crucial to skim through the noise of all prospects. Remember that not all prospects are created equally. Lead scoring helps define better the value of prospects.

Most marketing automation tools offer already ways to optimize and customize the funnel to meet organizational needs.

Here below we take a look at the top 5 marketing automation tools to convert online visitors into prospects.

#1 Pardot by Salesforce

Pardot is a marketing automation tool developed by Salesforce. It integrates smoothly with one of the most well-spread CRM in the world.

Pardot empowers marketing and sales teams to work together to find and nurture leads, close more deals, and maximize ROI. It has several functions that simplify the lives of many business owners.

For example, through Pardot, you can create custom landing pages to convert visitors into prospects. At the same time, you can use the pre-built lead qualification tools for prospects scoring and grading.

Pardot’s lead management features CRM integration, email marketing, lead nurturing, lead scoring, and ROI reporting. All these help both marketing and sales teams qualify sales leads, shorten sales cycles, and track marketing ROI.

#2 Marketo

Marketo is one of the leading platform for marketing automation and sales effectiveness. Its Engagement Platform uniquely provides an easy-to-use, powerful and complete marketing software. The tool helps small companies and global enterprises to grow faster.

The platform includes the first social marketing automation tool, which helps business owners and marketers streamline processes and deliver results for their marketing campaigns.

Marketo offers a wide variety of tools to help guide visitors through your website and turn them into active prospects. There are SEO tools to get noticed while potential prospects perform research online. There are also advertising tools to target the right audience by enriching the data through Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, and other platforms.

#3 HubSpot

HubSpot is an award-winning marketing and sales platform. It helps organizations attracts more visitors, generate leads, and ultimately turn the right prospects into customers.

HubSpot offers a full stack of products, similar to others. It is possible to use some of them stand-alone or all together. Its inbound marketing software has been designed to launch effective marketing campaigns to turn online visitors into prospects and eventually happy customers.

Hubspot Suite - MyStartupLand

The main advantage is that HubSpot can be used as a unique solution rather than having different platforms.

#4 ActiveCampaign

ActiveCampaign is an all-in-one marketing platform that helps organizations scale business with email automation and sales tools. Its marketing automation tool supports business owners understanding what each contact wants.

The tool also helps in lead nurturing campaigns by sending automated targeted messages to improve conversion from prospect to active customer. All this is possible through automated workflows based on unique interests.

ActiveCampaign - MyStartupLand

ActiveCampaign also helps marketers to find the most engage leads by setting lead scoring and engagement tagging to simplify the qualification process.

#5 Act-On

Act-On is a comprehensive marketing automation tool thought to offer a complete suite of applications for business owners and marketers. It includes email marketing, website visitor tracking, lead management, social media management, reporting, and analytics, as well as integrations with webinar and event planning.

Like other automation tools, Act-On helps marketers attract and convert ideal buyers. The suite of applications connects visitors to the products a company offers enabling a higher conversion rate to active customers.

Act-On enables business owners to prove the success of marketing programs and campaigns by showing which channels directly impact the organization’s revenue and growth goals.

Conclusion

As the organization grows and the number of online visitors increases, it is crucial to understand what is the best automation tool. There are many options out in the market and for this reason, having an in-dept research can speed up the decision. However, depending on how quickly the business grows, it might be a good option to look for experts in technology implementation to foster growth.

[INFOGRAPHIC] What Startups Can Learn From Transportation Disruptors

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Transportation Startups - MyStartupLand

The transportation industry is one of the biggest that has been flipped upside-down by startups. From rideshare services like Uber and Lyft to scooters like Bird and Lime, these transportation startups are changing the culture of how we move. And they’re doing it on a global scale. The rideshare industry revenue was over $60B in 2018 and the scooter industry revenue was $15B.

By 2023 these figures will be the double of today.

We know that innovation does not have to break entirely new ground. Many new and successful business models stem from new ways to consider established industries. Industry disruptors are those who find a novel way to approach a service or product.

For example, let’s take a look at the transportation industry. Ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft have disrupted the established norm of taxi and limo services. They provide cheaper options and app-driven functionality for payment and hailing. Tesla is another great example, forcing the auto industry to adapt to electric vehicle technology.

A disruptor starts with a good understanding of the marketplace needs. Then, it searches for where there are issues with the user experience. Lastly, it capitalizes on making improvements. In this case, to disrupt the industry, ride-share services discovered parts of the well-worn travel system that could be repurposed and made more user-friendly through technological advancement.

Even if your business is not in the transportation space, you can still learn a lot.  Check out the below infographic, to find out about funding and successful strategies used to disrup an industry.

[INFOGRAPHIC] 15 Reasons Why Local SEO Matters

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Local SEO - MyStartupLand

Engaging with local customers is always one of the top questions of many business owners. Often times, you’ll host events at your brick and mortar shop or promote yourself within the community to gain local exposure. But when 71% of potential customers search on Google for a local business, you have to expand your reach!

For this reason, local businesses need to be aware of what Local SEO is and why it matters for their growth.

Why Should You Have A Local SEO Strategy?

Having a strong local SEO strategy will directly impact traffic to your website, and subsequently, increase potential leads. Local SEO is all about ensuring your SEO strategy encompasses your geographic location and brings your business to a potential customer, the second they’re searching for you.

Think about when you search for “vintage clothing near me”. If you own a vintage clothing store in the same geographical area as the searcher, you definitely want to be in what’s called the “snack pack” or at the top of the proceeding organic results.

But how do you get there?

Here are 5 ways to improve your local SEO, further ensuring your customers will find you:

  1. Local on-page optimization (Making sure your website content is optimized for local search)
  2. Localized content (Is your content relevant to your location?)
  3. Google My Business optimization
  4. Build local citations (Apple Maps, Yelp, Bing, Review Sites, etc.)
  5. Local link-building (Connecting to local assets through content)
Local SEO Strategy

[INFOGRAPHIC] Is It Time To Hire Your First Employee?

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Hire Your First Employee

Running a startup, you’re likely used to working long hours and putting in extra work throughout the week. With so much on your plate, it can be hard to know when the time is right to hire your first employee.

If you’re turning down work just as often as you’re taking it on, however, it could be a strong sign that you are ready for a new person to join your startup. Because it takes a huge investment in time, resources, and capital to bring someone new on to the team, it’s important to thoroughly consider whether you’re ready for a new hire.

Every startup will grow differently but the things to consider are similar.

Do You Have Enough Time To Do Everything?

While 50 hour weeks may come more often than not in the world of small businesses, it’s important to make sure that you’re not overworking yourself.

The consequences of burnout can cost you more time and money than you’re saving by not hiring someone new. A properly supported team can work more efficiently and stress-free when they don’t have to worry about how everything is going to get done.

In some situations, you may be overworked but not need a new employee. You may find that you simply need a more efficient method of communication, or simply to outsource accounting and HR tasks to larger firms. Explore all your options before signing any contract.

Can You Afford To Hire Your First Employee?

Logistically, it will require consistent and reliable profit in order to pay the salary of a new employee. In addition, you will need to have enough saved or coming in to cover the loss in profit you’ll take from recruiting efforts, onboarding, and training.

Hiring too quickly without considering the costs associated can quickly sink a small operation, so do the math. If you’re working more than full time, yet can’t seem to find room in the budget to outsource any tasks, that may be an issue. Consider raising your rates or cutting back on expenses.

What Profile Will You Need?

With the proper resources, the next step is to determine their exact role. Will you need a specialist to take on the tasks that you’re not an expert at? Or will you take on a jack-of-all-trades to help out a little bit everywhere?

Before you put the word out that you’re looking to hire, create a job description. Include daily tasks, competencies, and monthly goals. Vet this list to ensure that these tasks make sense together and that they will create enough revenue to justify the employee’s pay. If they don’t, they should at least free you up enough to generate more revenue.

Taking the health of your business and the projects required you are sure to find the right employee for your startup. Growing a business and a team can be incredibly difficult, but also very rewarding. Check out the infographic below for a list of signs that it’s time to hire your first employee.

Time To Hire Your First Employee

Are you considering hiring your first employee for your startup? What are the important things you prioritize? Share your experience in the comment section below.

15 Ways To Increase Website Traffic Today For Free

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Ways To Increase Website Traffic Today For Free

In a digital world with 152 million blogs, questioning the value of investing resources and time in building yet another one is a fair doubt. In 2019, however, content creation should not be seen as just regurgitating some ideas with no value into the web. Marketers, as well as entrepreneurs, should understand that having a B2B blog can increase your website traffic overall.

Organic traffic accounts for 51% of the traffic a website gets. It doesn’t matter how much money you spend on advertising or time on social media platforms, creating content and sharing insightful articles will get you far better results over time.

Website Traffic Share - MyStartupLand
https://www.brightedge.com

But, How Much More Are We Talking About?

Websites with a blog tend to have 434% more indexed pages than others that don’t. Having a wider presence on search engines will let more users find your business online.

Being found online while searching for specific keywords can create the right intent in the users’ mind. Getting a user to read your content online is the first step of a successful lead nurturing strategy. As a matter of fact, organic traffic capture 40% of revenues generated online.

It Won’t Be An Easy Journey

Having a blog, however, doesn’t translate into immediate results. If you are looking for sudden spikes in traffic to your website, you are better off investing in paid advertising. Be aware though that paid marketing campaigns can generate traffic as far as you are spending. The moment you stop, things go back to reality.

Blogging is by no mean an easy task. You need to take into consideration that :

  1. You need to be consistent with publishing content
  2. You need to diversify the format of the content you publish
  3. You will need to wait some time before enjoying the results

Blogging is a lot like a healthy diet, not just any diet. It requires efforts, pain, and commitment. You will be losing weight but slowly, maybe a couple of kilos every 2 weeks. There will also be times when you will actually gain back some of the kilos you lost and you will feel demoralized and that all the efforts you put in were just a big waste of time. Yes, that’s blogging. However, if you keep being consistent, your body will react differently to food, your metabolism will adjust and then the change will be permanent.

This is what content creation for results is about. It takes time and you will hardly see improvements immediately. Once you cross that bridge, however, organic traffic will be consistent compared to any paid advertising activity.

In this article, I will focus on 15 ways to increase website traffic today for free. The only 2 things you will need are time and effort.

1. Understand Your Audience’s Preferences

Understanding your audience’s preferences is something crucial to start building a blog that lasts and add value to your uers’ lives. When working on content marketing, many companies feel like they need to add an article just for the sake of having something online. That’s wrong!

At the beginning, you should test different formats and understand how your audience reacts to each one of these. Take notes and learn. A way to learn even faster is to take a look at what competitors are doing. If you have competitors that have been actively blogging for a long time, you should be able to see what their audience engages the most with.

TIP: Remember that just copying what your competitors are doing won’t add any value to your audience. Be creative, brainstorm with your team. Take a look at the same topic in a different way. Be bold, don’t be boring. Your prospects have limited time, they won’t be reading twice the same thing.

2. Make The Most Of Social Channels

Creating content and waiting for your prospects to find it online won’t make it. You need to actively engage on social media channels with your audience. Each social media platform serves your audience in a different way. For example, if you are targeting B2B prospects, Instagram won’t really get you customers. Companies, however, can engage with the audience on this channel to share how’s the life in their company to attract potential candidates.

Social media platforms need a social media marketing strategy. Content needs to be adjusted and thought for each channel. Sharing the same content across all different platforms won’t get you the results you want.

You need to think also about the under-served format on specific platforms. For example, videos on LinkedIn gets priority in the feed compared to normal posts, as the platform seeks to compete with Youtube and Facebook for video content. If you don’t trust me, just check how an average video performs on LinkedIn in terms of views, and then check the same on Facebook or Youtube. The number of views you will get on LinkedIn is easily 10x of other platforms.

TIP: Remember that customizing your content for social media channels can potentially lead to get your post viral. The more shares and interactions your post gets, the more traffic your website will receive.

3. Don’t Be Boring, Mix It Up

An important thing to understand when launching your company blog is that you cannot create the same type of content over and over again. Depending on what you want to communicate to your audience, you need to mix the type of content you put out there.

However, we need to be realistic. Unless blogging is your main business, you won’t be able to publish every single time in-depth articles or have a wide variety of formats, such as white papers, infographics or videos. You need to find a good balance for your audience to digest the content you add online. However, remember that writing 500 words blog posts won’t get you anywhere. Top-ranked articles have on average between 1140 and 1285 words.

MarketingProfs

TIP: It’s usually a good idea to have every 2-3 weeks an in-depth article, maybe about some research you have done or with some best practices. Long articles get a lot more attention, shares and the time spent on it reading it is usually longer, hence increasing on-page engagement.

4. Work On Headlines

Every day, there are about 2 millions blog posts shared online. Your chances to get a click on your articles are extremely low. Working on compelling headlines can, however, increases your possibilities.

When thinking about headlines, don’t go for the first thing that comes to your mind. Write down several options and then pick the one you believe could stimulate a reader to click on your blog post. Here’s an article that could give you some ideas.

TIP: Remember that when it comes to headlines you shouldn’t limit yourself to the title of your article. Think about that the blog post you wrote will be shared on social media platforms. This means that you need to think of a headline also for that.

5. Update Old Blog Posts

This is a very simple action that you should take on a regular basis. Depending on the amount of articles you write, you want to go back on those written a while back and update them.

The way you should update old articles is relatively simple:

  1. Make sure that all the websites you linked to are still working (if not, change them)
  2. Update images and graphs to make it relevant to today, not yesterday
  3. Modify the content to be relevant to today (again), i.e. if you wrote something that was true in 2017, but it’s not in 2019, get rid of it

TIP: Do this only when you have enough content on your website. There’s no need for you to go over 4 articles and update these. The more content you generate, the more opportunities you will have to take advantage of this step.

6. Beware Of On-Page SEO

SEO is not dead and never will. Online you can find different opinions on this matter but if you want to increase organic traffic to your website, you need to focus on SEO.

On-page SEO is the practice of optimizing individual web pages in order to rank higher and earn more relevant traffic in search engines, as Moz puts it. You should not ignore this factor as it is crucial. Note that, on-page SEO is constantly evolving, so you need to make sure that when you research for it, you look for updated resources.

TIP: If you run your company blog on WordPress, there’s a very good plugin, Yoast SEO, that help you optimize your content for important on-page SEO factors, and of course, it has a free version.

7. Focus On Long-Tail Keywords & Similar Keywords

http://divemagazine.co.uk/travel/7334-threshers-in-all-their-glory

When creating content for your blog, on top of making sure the on-page SEO is spot on, you need to focus on long-tail keywords.

Long-tail keywords are specific, long and “unpopular” keywords that convert extremely well. The reason you should focus on these is very simple. The less popular (but specific) a keyword is, the less competition and more relevant to the researcher the results will be. Ahref, after analyzing 1.9 billion keywords found that 92.42% of them get less than 10 searches per month.

When you work on both on-page and off-page SEO, try to improve the ranking for long-tail keywords. These will bring to your website very targeted users.

There are several ways to find long-tail keywords and Google is here to help you.

First of all, go to the Google Search bar and start with a broad term, then look at the autocomplete suggestions by Google.

When searching on Google, you often see a box in the result page, named “People Also Ask“. Here you can find some more ideas as well.

TIP: These 2 methods can require quite some time to find the right long-tail keywords. If you want to speed up the process, there are also a bunch of tools online both for free and paid.

8. Start Guest Blogging Today

Guest blogging is a great way to share your knowledge, get noticed, and potentially get bak links to your website. These 3 factors have separate benefits for your company blog.

If you start reaching out to other blogs and share your knowledge for “free”, you are establishing yourself as an expert in your topic. The advantages are numerous, one above all others is that you gain exposure to someone else’s audience, which is great for your company. On top of that, most blogs will allow you to add a short Author Bio, in which you can have a link to your website and of course also your social media channels.

Another thing to keep in mind is that when reaching out to other bloggers you can establish a mutual collaboration. Basically, you can also ask them to write on your website and share their knowledge. You should be open to guest blog posts (see next point) as it increases the content on your company blog and adds another expert’s point of view on what your audience cares the most. The great thing about this type of collaboration is that you can have mutual do-follow back links.

Do-follow back links are a crucial part of your off-page SEO activities. Search engines use these types of links to follow quality content around the web. The more you have pointing at your website, the more authority your website will gain.

TIP: To find bloggers who are willing to allow you to post on their blog, you need to find people in your niche. The research can be done easily on Google or, for example, I use Moz Free Link Explorer and check for competitors’ websites and who is linking to them. Here’s a list that could be useful.

9. Allow Guest Blog Posts On Your Website

Having other people writing on your website, especially if you run a business can be difficult to accept. However, as seen above, content creation needs to be consistent over time. If you don’t have the time to write every week, allowing others to guest post is a great alternative.

I found this myself as I was trying to grow MyStartupLand. Adding a “Write For Us” section, saved me a lot of time and allowed me to find also collaboration opportunities with bloggers and companies in my niche.

TIP: When opening for guest blog posts make sure you set some ground rules. One above everything should be the quality of content. Once you have this option available on your website, you might get a lot of requests and, sometimes, these are people who are looking for merely a do-follow backlink to their website. After few trials and errors, I now allow only links to other websites in the Author Bio and there is a minimum word count guest bloggers need to write.

10. Re-publish Your Content Across The Web

There was a period when Google would penalize duplicated content. Today this is not anymore the case. This means that you can take advantage of higher authority websites, such as LinkedIn, Quora, or Medium to get links back to your website.

Although your website won’t get penalized, there is still a risk for your ranking. If you re-publish content on other websites with better authority, you might find your blog ranking lower than these. A way to avoid this unpleasant situation is to use the rel=canonical attribute, which tells the search engine to treat that page as a copy of the original.

TIP: I usually wait a couple of weeks to re-publish my content on other platforms. Quora is a great platform to answer questions with your content that people around the web might have. The trick here is to basically copy and paste your article and tweak it to fit the question asked. I use it every now and then and, as you can see from the screenshot below, the spikes in views are clear when you answer something in details.

11. Make Your Website Responsive

I wasn’t sure whether to add this point to this list as today this should be a given. However, I still come across non-responsive websites when searching something on-the-go. Yes, in 2019, there are still website owners who don’t understand the value of mobile optimized pages.

It has been reported that in 2018, 52.2% of websites visits were from a mobile device. On top of the fact that today website visitors are using their mobile devices to access content online, Google has announced that it will rank first the mobile version of your website. This means that if you haven’t optimized your website for mobile devices, you are going to lose a lot of traffic.

TIP: If you want to find out how your website is doing, you can use a free tool by Google, called, surprise surprise, Mobile-Friendly Test. You just need to add your website URL and wait that Google analyzes it. What you want to see, after the test, is something like this:

Another good thing to do is to connect your website to Google Search Console. Here, Google will send you alerts when there’s something wrong with your pages. It is helpful as, most likely, you won’t be checking your website constantly from a mobile device.

12. Improve Your Website Speed

Website speed is crucial for user experience as well as ranking well on Google. As a matter of fact, if your website loads slowly, Google won’t rank it well. It has been shown that users who need to wait more than 3 seconds for a page to load (on a mobile device) will leave that page.

Speed is difficult to manage, especially if you are not a tech expert. You will need to optimize both the desktop and mobile version of your website. This is probably where you might want to outsource, in case you can’t find your way around it.

TIP: Google provides another free tool, PageSpeed Insights, to give you feedback on page speed.

13. Comment On Other Websites

You are probably visiting several other websites in your niche. Unless it’s a competitor’s website, take the time to comment. Adding insightful comments on others’ blogs can contribute to your image.

Some blogs allow you to add also a link that states your website (win-win to get some links back). However, when commenting on the web, you shouldn’t be spammy. Always offer something interesting for the blog owner to actually add your comment to their blog post. As you will see, most websites have an “approval” process in the comment section.

Commenting on other people’s website won’t result in immediate traffic, however, will help you build a name for yourself.

TIP: Take the time to add lengthy comments on other people blog posts. In this way, you can add value to the content shared. It’s also useful to be the first one to comment, as this will give you more exposure. Quality and relevance are key when commenting, don’t forget that.

14. Steal Your Competitors Traffic

As seen in point 8, you can gain some advantages by analyzing your competitors’ activities. You can learn which websites are linking to them and you can “steal” that traffic.

Understanding referrals to your competitors’ websites can give you insights on what topics get linked the most and where you can easily go and ask for a referral as well.

TIP: Use tools such as SimilarWeb or Moz Link Explorer to understand who is linking to your competitors.

15. Host Podcasts or Webinars

The advantage that you have as a business is that you can gather experts and share insights on industry trends or specific topics. Podcasts, especially, have gained a lot of momentum lately. However, also webinars can help your business blog get more attention on the web.

Both podcasts and webinars are great means to share knowledge and people love learning new stuff!

TIP: If you don’t time to put together a podcast or a webinar, what about attending someone else’s? This is, again, a great way to get your name out there and increase your authority. On top of that, you usually get a link back to your website.

Conclusion

There are tons of ways in which you can increase organic traffic to your website. Having a blog is a great way to differentiate the way you talk with your prospects and customers. The above-mentioned 15 tips are all free and can be implemented today.

If you want to speed up your organic growth, you can obviously add some paid activities. The combination will lead to better and faster results.

Do you have any other free way to increase traffic to your website? Share your ideas in the comment section below.

Community Management – Zapnito

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Zapnito - MyStartupLand

Zapnito is a community software platform built to showcase expertise.

Zapnito is the platform for creating expert networks, which promote thought leadership and foster collaboration, connecting brands, and their communities to build engagement and trust.

Location: United Kingdom

Funded: 2013

Languages Supported: English, French

Website

Starting Price: Not stated on the website

Free Version: No

Deployment: Cloud, SaaS, Web

Support: Online, Business Hours

Who Is Zapnito For? 

This tool is for publishing, Media, Events, Membership organizations, Societies, Associations, Institutes, Agencies, Content marketing, Professional services, Education, Not for profit, Life sciences, Pharmaceutical.

What Does It Include? 

This tool allows companies to create custom online communities. It includes:

  1. Content Management & Moderation
  2. Event Management
  3. Group Management
  4. Membership Management
  5. Social Media Management
  6. Ideation/Crowdsourcing

How Much Does It Cost? 

There is a free demo. There is no price on the website.

Community Management – Hivebrite

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Hivebrite - MyStartupLand

Hivebrite Is The Online Community Platform.

Unlock the potential of your community with Hivebrite, the most advanced all-in-one community management and engagement platform.

Location: France

Funded: 2012

Languages Supported: English, French

Website

Starting Price: Not stated on the website

Free Version: No

Deployment: Cloud, SaaS, Web

Support: Online, Business Hours

Who Is Hivebrite For? 

This tool is for professional communities, Alumni networks, Incubators, Interest-based communities of all sizes from all countries, and all languages.

What Does It Include? 

This tool allows companies to scale large brand community thanks to its structure. It includes:

  1. Content Management & Moderation
  2. Event Management
  3. Group Management
  4. Membership Management
  5. Social Media Management

How Much Does It Cost? 

There is a free demo. There is no price on the website.

Community Management – CMNTY

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NodeBB - MyStartupLand

CMNTY Is The Community Software That Breathes Insights.

CMNTY is a powerful online platform used by today’s most innovative brands and marketing research agencies to build customer insights communities.

Location: United States

Funded: 2007

Languages Supported: English

Website

Starting Price: $1250/month

Free Version: No

Deployment: Cloud, SaaS, Web

Support: Online, Business Hours, 24/7

Who Is CMNTY For? 

This tool is for customer communities, marketing, research, and innovation communities. 

What Does It Include? 

This tool allows companies to scale large brand community thanks to its structure. It includes:

  1. Content Management & Moderation
  2. Event Management
  3. Group Management
  4. Membership Management

How Much Does It Cost? 

There is a free demo. The price starts at $1250/month.

Community Management – NodeBB

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NodeBB - MyStartupLand

NodeBB Creates A Better Community Platform For The Modern Web.

NodeBB is modern forum software. It is highly customizable, and combines all the advantages of today’s mobile and social web with the deep community engagement of classic Internet bulletin boards.

Location: Canada

Funded: 2014

Languages Supported: English

Website

Starting Price: $250/month

Free Version: No

Deployment: Cloud, SaaS, Web

Support: Online, Business Hours, 24/7

Who Is NodeBB For? 

This tool is for gaming companies, hardware and software firms, entertainment and education providers, and more. Our customers include Bethesda Games, Opera Software, Funimation Studios, ITPro TV and many others.

What Does It Include? 

This tool allows companies to scale large brand community thanks to its structure. It includes:

  1. Content Management & Moderation
  2. Forums
  3. Group Management
  4. Membership Management

How Much Does It Cost? 

There is a free demo of the platform but no free trial. The starting cost is at $250/month.

The Ultimate Guide To A Successful Lead Nurturing Strategy

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Lead Nurturing Strategy

With more companies adopting inbound marketing as a strategy to effectively increase sales, lead nurturing becomes a must-do activity for every marketer. The reality is that the majority of leads when acquired are not ready to buy. For this reason, having a lead nurturing strategy is essential for your company’s growth.

Lead nurturing is like dating. You know someone and you find him attractive. You might also start thinking that he might be the one. However, you know for a fact that before commitment happens from the other side, there will need to pass some time. He will need to know you better and understand the type of person you are.

The same happens with new leads. They go through a similar process in terms of assessing your business. They are scared to be scammed, so they need to trust your company before making the big step: buying. The process of knowing and trusting your business is what lead nurturing is about.

What Is Lead Nurturing?

Marketo has a great definition:

Lead nurturing is the process of developing a relationship with buyers at every stage of the sales funnel and through every step of the buyer’s journey.

Implementing a well-planned lead nurturing strategy will help your startup score more business.

Inbound Marketing & Lead Nurturing Strategy, Some Hard Facts

lead nurturing

Here below you can find some stats about lead nurturing that will make you change your point of view on this strategy.

  • 75% of marketing leads are not ready to buy (MarketingSherpa)
  • Yet, 65% of B2B marketers are not implementing any lead nurturing strategy (MarketingSherpa)
  • However, it has been reported that implementing this process can increase sales of 15-20% of those leads that are not ready to buy yet (Gleanster)
  • On top of that, having a lead nurturing strategy in place can increase the purchase size of about 47% (Annuitas Group)
  • Companies that excel in this process can generate 50% more of sales leads at a 33% lower cost per lead (DemandGen Report)
  • And have a sales cycle that is on average 23% shorter (Market2Lead)
  • If that’s not enough, lead nurturing helps your company establishing better communication with leads, as lead nurturing emails have a 3-4 times higher response rate, compared to normal email makreting campaigns (DemandGen Report)

Lead nurturing should be considered as an omni-channel approach. Of course, emails are one of the most used means for communication; however, your content marketing and social media strategy should also be aligned. Everything that you put out there should have a clear goal in mind, converting more leads into customers.

Implementing A Successful Lead Nurturing Strategy

Here below we summarise the best practice to implement a successful lead nurturing strategy in your day-to-day activities. It is important to note, however, that this should not replace your existing marketing strategy, rather adapt to it.

For sure, there are already things that are working well within your marketing activities and you shouldn’t change them. Lead nurturing should neither replace nor be a static add-on to your activities. You will need to constantly evaluate and adapt it to the results you get.

1. Personalize Your Communication

When implementing a lead nurturing strategy, all your email communication with leads should be personalized. Tailoring the emails to behavior, demographics and also geographics will allow you to connect much fast with those leads.

When capturing leads, make sure to ask name, company and anything else you believe could be relevant for establishing a stronger relationship. Then, when sending emails, segment the leads according to important metrics to create user cohorts with the same interests or behaviors.

Email personalization has proven positive effects:

2. Match The Content With The Customer Journey

customer journey

As part of the personalization activities, matching the content you share with where the prospects are in their purchasing journey is crucial. When thinking about what content to send in your email communication, make sure you sit down and analyze where that cohort is at.

Generally speaking, you can identify 3 phases:

  1. Awareness – To successfully move the lead down the funnel you should inform them about industry trends and statistics. The lead is thirsty for knowledge, don’t give them a product demo.
  2. Consideration – At this stage, the lead is thinking whether your solution is the right one for them. Now it’s the time to invite them for a webinar or a product demo.
  3. Decision – Here the lead wants to be reassured your solution has provided value to others. Share case studies and success stories.

Matching the content alone, however, won’t make a big difference. You need to make sure that you associate a strong (and studied) CTA for every stage that the lead is in. Do not overlook this part while matching your communication style.

3. Don’t Forget To Optimize

Once you start implementing a lead nurturing strategy, you should not forget what you have done until that day. As said earlier, you have already been engaging with your leads to a certain extent and there should be something that works. Like any other marketing activity, to succeed, you will need to A/B test and check on performance.

What said above is true also for your new type of communication. Testing CTAs, content and combining communication types with different audiences become crucial for improving your results. You should not be extremely granular in your segmentation but you can customize and test to get better results.

Audience segmentation, as seen in step 1, is fundamental when it comes to lead nurturing. You should have already created buyer personas, so going through a lead segmentation shouldn’t take you too long.

4. Apply The Sales Cycle To Email Timeline

Your business has a specific sales cycle and your lead nurturing strategy should follow that timeline. Aligning when you send out an email to what you expect from a lead can help you achieve greater results.

During a lead nurturing campaign, according to HubSpot, is good practice to have 2-3 touch points with the lead. So let’s say that your sales cycle is 3 months, you should plan to send out emails at the end of month 1, month 2 and then month 3.

Implementing email automation can help out in this point.

5. Re-Engage But Don’t Push It

re-engage

To be successful with this strategy you need to be patient. It’s important to remember that you can’t rush the sale. There’s a funnel and the lead needs to go through it.

In case you notice that leads don’t engage (or open) your emails, re-engaging with them is also something you should keep in mind. To do so in a successful way, you should

  • Ask for feedback
  • Offer something unique, perhaps a discount or incentive

6. Email Is Not Everything

When implementing a lead nurturing strategy, email is not your only mean of communication with the leads. As said, it goes without saying that the content should be aligned with the ultimate goal to convert a lead, however, that is not the end.

The website should also reflect your efforts on nurturing leads. Having static messaging won’t help leads convert when visiting your website. Think to implement dynamic calls-to-action, basically targeting the CTA for the visitor.

7. Score Leads To Increase Effectiveness

Scoring inbound leads is a common practice when it comes to inbound marketing. Your company should implement this step in the nurturing process as you want to make sure to feed the sales team only with relevant leads.

The more irrelevant leads you bring down the sales funnel, the more time you will waste trying to close the wrong clients for your business. It will be even worse if you actually onboard clients you shouldn’t.

Aligning marketing activities with your sales effort is crucial for the success of your business. For this reason, developing a proper lead scoring system is fundamental to maximize results of your activities.

The first important question for scoring leads is to ask about their fit to your business. The ideal prospect fit is a status that your business should try to reach to drastically increase the revenue and value you bring to prospects and clients.

There are two clear advantages in scoring leads:

  1. You will be able to onboard only clients that according to your standard can perform best with the current resources.
  2. You will waste less time chasing leads that cannot add any value to your bottom line

Increase The Effectiveness Of Your Lead Nurturing Strategy

As briefly pointed out earlier, automation is key to increase the effectiveness of your strategy. Timing is essential to hit the lead with the right messaging. Keep in mind that 79% of the top successful companies have been using marketing automation for more than 3 years

Success is not the only part of the equation here (although not the smallest one). Your time is also very valuable. It doesn’t matter if you are a marketer or a startup founder, you have limited time to do everything and time saving is listed as the biggest benefit of marketing automation.

Marketing automation is a technology solution that allows brands to streamline and automate their marketing efforts across various channels, to improve efficiency and drive more sales.

Conclusion

Implementing a lead nurturing strategy can sound very complicated and time consuming. Like anything else in marketing (or in business for that matters), it takes time to get everything sorted and correctly implemented. However, once you get everything in place, you will see leads conversion increasing dramatically.

Success doesn’t come with sweating, you know that already. Taking your business to the next level, thanks to new strategies, won’t be easy as well. The results, however, will amaze you, if you follow these steps.

Have you implemented a lead nurturing strategy in your business? What actions have you taken to engage with leads during the customer journey? Have you seen any improvement after you implemented such a strategy? Share you experiences in the comment section below.

Call Recording – Callnote

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Callnote - MyStartupLand

Callnote The Best Call Recorder For Skype, Hangouts, GoToMeeting, and many more. 

Callnote records multiple audio tracks from different communication tools and lets you store these recordings in a safe directory.

Location: United States

Funded: 1993

Languages Supported: English

Website

Starting Price: $39.95/year

Free Version: Yes

Deployment: Mac & Windows Desktop

Support: Online

Who Is Callnote For? 

This tool is for writers, journalists, and bloggers Educators and students Legal practices Small businesses Financial services Healthcare Administration Social care

What Does It Include? 

This tool allows companies to optimize your business relationships with its candidates and clients while maximizing the power of the CRM system:

  1. Call Sharing
  2. Archiving
  3. File Transfer
  4. Screen Activity Recording
  5. Video Call Recording

How Much Does It Cost? 

There is a free version. The paid version starts at $39.95 per year.

6 Ways To Use IGTV For Great Brand Story-Telling

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Brand Story-Telling

The Instagram Television (IGTV) that launched on June 20 2018 has been an object of curiosity and experiment among users. There’s a lot going on there with most brands still quite clueless about how to use IGTV to their advantage. 

IGTV is a long-form vertical video platform on Instagram app where you can add videos of 15 seconds to 10 minutes long. Verified accounts with large follower count can even upload videos of up to 60 minutes. Even with just 10 minutes of engagement, here’s an opportunity waiting to be tapped.

The reason why the IGTV is better than Insta Stories and usual video posts is that they have a better chance of engagement and visibility. The Insta Stories disappear within 24 hours while video feed posts can get lost in the feed quite easily and quickly. IGTV, however, gives out notifications to every follower the minute a video is uploaded and the IGTV feeds are as of now less crowded.

This is precisely why, as a business, you need to focus on Instagram Television – the new age vertical television that most mobile phone users are watching today. The reason Instagram marketing and IGTV are important for businesses is because 80% Instagram accounts follow at least one business account. Instagram reports that 500 million+ Instagram accounts are active every day worldwide while 1 billion+ Instagram accounts worldwide are active every single month.

How’s IGTV Video Different From Usual Videos?

IGTV Brand Story-Telling
  • Length: 15 seconds to 10 minutes for any account; 15 seconds to 60 minutes for verified accounts with a large following
  • Video format: MP4
  • Size: 650MB for videos less than 10 minutes; 3.6GB for videos up to 60 minutes
  • Orientation: vertical (also known as portrait mode)
  • Aspect ratio: a minimum of 4:5 and a maximum of 9:16

Before I enlist how to use IGTV video to your marketing advantage, let’s talk a little about the nitty-gritty of actually shooting and editing an IGTV video. This is important because the format is different, the results look different and hence the video production is different too. These are some technical specifications that might help:

What Are The Challenges?

It’s very important to get the aspect ratio right when shooting a vertical video. You must have observed how videos look crystal clear on a video post but sort of becoming blur or miss out characters or backgrounds on IGTV. One of the easiest ways to get this right is to shoot on your smartphone (if shot vertically, it records on 9:16). If you have shot on a DSLR or any professional video camera, you will need to crop or edit your video during the post-production stage in order to get the correct aspect ratio for better clarity and vision.  

Tips To Use IGTV Videos For Great Brand Story-Telling

Remember that IGTV has not changed the definition of brand story-telling. It has only provided a wider medium that’s more appealing to today’s customers. If tapped correctly and quickly, IGTV can become an integral platform for your customers to feel entertained and become brand loyal.

Here’s how to use this medium for a great brand story-telling:

# 1 Pick Your Audience Before Your Story

Audience IGTV

You may have observed by now that several Instagram accounts simply post relatable IGTV videos that are not directly related to their brands. They actually serve ‘content’ to their audience as clickbait. Once that audience lands on their IGTV channel, they start to serve branding gradually.

Note that it’s crucial to keep your branding for later. First, invite and attract this audience to what they truly like. When you create your user profiles for Instagram TV, make sure it’s a large demographic that’s interested in buying or making purchase decisions online. One great example of this is how Netflix just created a fun inaugural IGTV video on Jughead Jones (Cole Sprouse) – a protagonist from one of their highest rated shows ‘Riverdale’. All he did in that video was eat burger.  Align your audience with your humour, fun and entertainment value first, then bring in your branding story.

# 2 Use Video Length Wisely

I would start with saying edit your videos very well. Just because you have a 10-minute slot available should not mean you should use it all on your first video.

Start with shorter videos first. They may just be a re-visit and edit of an already viral video on IGTV with your own branding twist. This is like testing the waters. Short, crisp and beautiful – that’s how your video length should be.

I personally recommend brands going in for less than one minute videos in order to engage audience. This does not mean long-form videos are not working. A report from Businesswire states that long-form videos (20+ minutes) exceeded 50% of the time watched on every device and screen. Make sure the video justifies its length. 

# 3 Use Instagram Story To Spill Teasers Of IGTV

Another fun aspect of brand story-telling on IGTV is the way you can use Insta Stories to create curiosity about your brand. If you are launching a new product, you can simply use just 16 seconds of your main IGTV video in your Insta Story. Create several Insta Stories on the video you are about to launch and tell those stories too in a form of step-by-step events. Now Instagram is allowing users to land on IGTV channel directly from Insta Stories, so this will only extend the curiosity and climax you are aiming at.

# 4 Be Choosy, Curate Your Channel Well

Video Channel

IGTV is like a YouTube channel. The videos will remain there until you decided to delete them. Make sure you upload only those videos that work in the longer scheme of your brand story-telling. While it’s wise to use occasions such as Thanksgiving or New Year’s to use IGTV, it’s also equally important that you don’t get carried away by just uploading videos even when you have nothing new to say.

Also, if you have uploaded some videos which you now feel no longer fit your brand story-telling, do not hesitate to take them down. We have often advised our clients to think it through before even launching their own IGTV channel. It only takes a few days of study and considering user-profiles to come up with a winning IGTV strategy. 

# 5 Use Relevant Hashtags

Again, refrain from click bait here. Use only a few carefully chosen hashtags that are relevant to the traffic you want to attract. For instance, if your brand story has Paris as a location, do not use #francetourism unless you have a travel product.

# 6 Consider User-Generated Content

I absolutely loved what Spotify recently did with some of its IGTV videos. It’s a great lesson in aligning your brand with your audience. There’s a series Spotify recently ran on IGTV called ’60 second concert’ where artists were asked to perform shorter versions or unplugged versions of their major hits. That way, both the artists as well as Spotify could make each of their IGTV videos viral easily on Instagram along with telling a great brand story.

Being in the business of video production company, I personally see IGTV as a goldmine. It’s a channel that’s designed in the way customers of any kind are watching videos. If you get this right, it’s probably the only medium you will need for your branding.

Call Recording – CloudCall

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CloudCall - MyStartupLand

CloudCall Unified Communications for CRMs in One Intuitive Interface.

CloudCall is a leading software and telecommunications solution which helps business enhance their communications.

Location: United Kingdom

Funded: 2011

Languages Supported: English

Website

Starting Price: Not Stated On Website

Free Version: No

Deployment: Cloud, SaaS, Web, Mobile (iOS & Android)

Support: Online, Business Hours

Who Is CloudCall For? 

This tool is for any company wishing to maximize the investment in their CRM while boosting calls and improving productivity.

What Does It Include? 

This tool allows companies to optimize your business relationships with its candidates and clients while maximizing the power of the CRM system:

  1. Call Sharing
  2. Distributed Call Recording
  3. On-Demand Recording
  4. Record Bookmarking

How Much Does It Cost? 

There is a free demo of the platform but no free trial

Call Recording – Atmos

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Atmos - Call Recording

Atmos – Call Recording & Agent Evaluation Tool.

Atmos is a world-class fully compliant cloud-based Call Recording and Quality Management solution.

Location: US

Funded: 2007

Languages Supported: English

Website

Starting Price: Not Stated On Website

Free Version: Yes

Deployment: Cloud, SaaS, Web, Mobile (iOS & Android)

Support: Online, Business Hours, 24/7 (Live Rep)

Who Is Atmos For? 

This tool is for Network Operators ITSPs and MSPs Financial Sector Collection Agencies Government Automotive Industry Healthcare Education Energy and Utility Organisations Call Centers/Helpdesks Online Retail.

What Does It Include? 

This tool allows companies to take customer experiences to the next level. It includes:

  1. Call Sharing and Video Call Recording
  2. Distributed Call Recording
  3. On-Demand Recording
  4. Event-Triggered Recording
  5. Instant Retrieval

How Much Does It Cost? 

There is 1-month free trial.