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TripAdvisor: The key to your success or, the key to your demise?

For businesses with largely transient customer bases like tourists, understanding what TripAdvisor is and how to manage it can be a make or break factor for their success. Transient customers by their nature cannot be repeat customers, so new customers must always be found. TripAdvisor and its counterparts are increasingly one of the largest factors that influence the flow of these new customers.

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Are you running your business’s online presence blind?

An effective business comes down to effective decision-making but what drives those decisions? For a lot of startups, it is guesswork, replication of competitors or sometimes even ego.

But the right answer is that all decision-making should be informed by data and nothing else. In the absence of data, it’s just guesswork, which means trial and error over and over. Often until cash flow and motivation is all but depleted.

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Your Business Needs A Mailing List & Here’s Why

Are you experiencing lackluster results with your social media marketing? We look at a possible cause of the problem and provide an alternative.

Why start a mailing list?

To understand why your business needs a mailing list you need to understand why Facebook and alike are becoming less effective.

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Find New Customers & Grow Your Business With Google AdWords

Every month, AIC Technologies helps businesses by creating websites for them. But, often these businesses falter when it comes to developing effective strategies for driving traffic to their new websites. It’s true that a website can result in extra sales on its own, and this is part of what is called passive marketing. But for small businesses who are not producing regular content on and off site, this is not a viable option.

In reality, for most businesses, a website is a tool that helps them sell better with their existing and future marketing activities. Again, a website does increase a business’s exposure to new customers. But for all but the most niche services, this will not sustain a business alone in a predictable fashion.

In marketing terms, what I am alluding to is the need for a sales funnel, in which leads are introduced at the top, and sales are generated at the bottom. The first step of any successful sales funnel is to introduce an adequate volume of leads at the top. Google Adwords is one such method of achieving this in a quick, measurable and predictable fashion.

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AdWords is an active (as opposed to passive) form of driving traffic to your website on a Pay Per Click (PPC) basis. This is achieving by paying to place your website in search results at the top of the page. This is of course done on relevant search terms. The benefit being that people that are searching for a product that you offer are either in a research or buy phase of their purchase journey. This is an important differentiation from where you otherwise might allocate your advertising budget. As advertising in a local paper or on Facebook, for example, allows you to reach consumers but not when they have a known intent to purchase. This means that instead of selling them your service, you have to focus on educating them on why they need your product or service to begin with.

Google AdWords is something that I have wanted to introduce to my existing client for some time. However, up until now, I have not had an effective pricing structure to offer it on a small scale. Indeed, some clients pay AIC Technologies more than $1000 a month to manage their advertising spend on Adwords.

My new basic advertising package is designed to offer clients excellent value and to serve as an introduction to AdWords. Why an introduction? The greater the spend the more complex the management becomes, and so the less effective this package would be.

Pricing for this basic package is $113 to setup, and then $37.50 every 3 months to review performance and adjust accordingly. On top of management fees, clients will also need to decide on an advertising spend. The amount that I would recommend is going to depend on a variety of factors specific to your business. Indeed, this service may not be right for your business if it’s volume oriented or low margin. An ideal fit would be a business that offers a product or service where the Life Time Value (LTV) of a customer is significant and a relatively high acquisition cost can be justified. But, if this all sounds too technical, I will be offering a free 20-minute phone consultation to help you decide if the service is right for you.

In essence, the viability of the service goes back to the sales funnel concept, where leads are introduced at the top and sales come out the bottom. This is called the conversation rate.

Using my business as an example, if I send 100 paid hits to my website at a cost of $1 each, and only 2 of those customers convert to customers, then I would have spent $100 to create $3000 in revenue since an average client spend is $1500. In this example, I assume that I have a 2% conversion rate, but the conversation rate depends on a variety of factors and can be as high as 30%. However, the Pay Per Click (PPC) can also vary significantly particularly in highly competitive high-value industries like real estate.

In conclusion, every business with an online presence should at the very least evaluate Google Adwords as a tool to finding new customers. It’s not going to be right for every business, particularly at a small scale but the opportunity for some businesses is incredible.

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How can a website help a florist grow & succeed?

Every business should have a website. But the value to a florist is particularly high. This is because a website is the perfect fit for the needs of their customers. Of course, a website also helps their businesses be discovered by customers. But that is only half of the equation, it can also provide meaningful value to customers creating a competitive edge. In this blog post, I will explain how this is possible.

A customer’s lifetime value can be significant if managed correctly. This is because flowers can be sold for almost any occasion. Often, these sales opportunities are extremely predictable i.e. Mother’s Day. In contrast, most industries cannot say the same. If a business is selling TVs, they cannot say that on a specific date everybody is going to want a new TV for example.

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Contrast this with your industry. For example, every male in the country is a potential customer on the day before valentines day. The challenge is to reach them before they find a competitor or a substitute (i.e. jewelry). You then want to have the least amount of purchase friction as possible. These are the biggest failings that florists make with their websites. A florist’s site should provide customers with the greatest amount of convenience at the same time as providing expertise.

Despite this, a common approach to a florist’s website is to add dozens if not 100s of bouquets etc on a limited set of pages. This is likely the result of imitating online-only competitors. Why is it bad? Because it assumes that flower arrangements are simple commodity products. The 2nd aspect of this is that a florist should not confuse itself for selling products, they sell a service. This service has a physical aspect, of course, but it’s also about selling expertise.

Selling these dozens or hundreds of products on a website invites customers to decision fatigue and frustration. At the same time, florists that have this approach are reduced to competing with convenience stores and discount online florists. But it’s worse than that because of the process involved in this purchase scenario. They go to the same store they go to every day, and they are presented with 2 or 3 arrangements. The decision is simple because the options are limited while the purchase process is convenient.

The interplay between this and the reality that a florist’s website should be seasonal oriented is excellent. As it’s going to result in higher sales while also being accepting of the nature of the average florist business. Maintaining a website with 30+ arrangements that reflect what your suppliers are able to give you at any given time invites burnout. In addition to unnecessary cost, all while creating decision fatigue for customers.

So what is the right approach? It sounds intimidating, but it starts with proper Customer Relationship Management. A florist’s website should be designed to remember customer details, and serve buyers with timed marketing. For example, if a customer buys flowers two days before Mother’s Day one year, they will likely do the same next year. So imagine the opportunities of a website that sends a message to a customer 3 days before Mother’s Day reminding them.

When they go onto the site and choose Mother’s Day flowers. They are presented with 4 choices, each one priced on a scale to fit their budget. Because of this it’s a straightforward decision, there is no guess work. The customer then clicks on their choice and buys it. This whole process is designed to provide value to the customer, and to have the least amount of purchase friction. While the florist has provided value through convenience, and expertise because they have curated the options to the needs of their customers and helped save them time.

This is just a snapshot of a much larger well thought out approach to designing a website for a florist’s website.

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What is Google Analytics & Why is it Important?

Google Analytics is a free service provided by Google that allows businesses to track the performance of their website and their marketing efforts. While there are alternatives to Google’s service, it is perhaps the industry standard in part because it is free and integrated with other Google products.

At the simplest level of use, Google Analytics allows you to track the volume of traffic to your site and its source i.e. a Facebook link or being listed in search results for a keyword.

Using Google Analytics should be a core component of even the simplest of marketing plans for any small business. This is because it provides decision makers with accurate data to help make better-informed decisions and helps to direct energy to where it is most required.

For example, if you place an advert in a local paper your capacity to measure its effectiveness is limited if you have no method for tracking hits to your website. In contrast, with the use of Google Analytics you can observe any increases in traffic to your website i.e. 24% when compared to last month’s traffic to the site. This allows you to evaluate the effectiveness of the advert and if your advertising resources could be better utilised elsewhere.

You can also see things like the drop off rate, this is where a user loads your website but does not interact with the website beyond the homepage. While a good drop off rate varies between industries, anything above 50% is considered to be high. Keeping with the example of the advert in the local paper, imagine if the advert costs $400 and drives 70 people to your site, if the drop off rate is above 50% you are essentially wasting half your advertising spend. The purpose of this example is to emphasise that using Google Analytics is critical to a successful digital presence.

If you have a website hosted with us Google Analytics it is normally pre-configured and has been collecting data since your website’s launch. If you would like access please let me know and I will send through one or more sets of login credentials for you and your staff.

If you do not have a website hosted with us, we would be happy to install it on your website free of charge. Alternatively, you can ask your current web developer to install and configure it for you. One thing to consider is that it is a requirement to update your website’s privacy policy to let users know that you are using Google Analytics, often this requirement is overlooked putting your web site in violation of Google’s Terms of Service and often local privacy laws.

AIC Technologies provides businesses looking to succeed online with a complete one-stop shop from website design, social media management and hosting, and everything in between.

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