7 reasons why your blog needs a well-defined audience

Blogging Audience

One of the truisms that floats around the internet marketing landscape is the idea that in order to be successful, you need to choose a “unique topic.” But, it turns out, this isn’t always true. In fact, as often as not, it can actually work against you.

What you really need to do is define who your audience is. And audiences care about more than subjects. They care about problems and values. In fact, those speak more to who somebody is than the subjects they are interested in.

Let’s talk about why you need to define who your audience is, and why you need to do it now.

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E-Commerce Roundup: Lowering bounce rates, converting with chat, bootstrapping and more

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Happy Friday! Ready to catch up on your e-commerce and marketing reading for the week? Here are five new posts that you shouldn’t miss. 

  • Unbounce featured a case study from ViralSweep on how one store drove $15,000 in conversions with one giveaway. Use this post as a checklist for how to run your next sweepstakes or giveaway the right way.
  • Is it time to rebrand your social accounts? Learn how Moz rebranded their social media last year to plan and execute a seamless transition.
  • Quicksprout has a new infographic on how to decrease your bounce rate. In addition to sharing industry benchmarks  — blogs typically have a bounce rate of 70 to 98 percent while e-commerce sites are usually around 20 to 40 percent — Neil Patel outlines design, content and usability improvements you can make to lower yours.
  • Live chat can be a great way to replicate an in-store experience on your e-commerce site. If you already have live chat or are thinking about adding it, don’t miss these 25 customer chat tips from Kevin Gao for KISSMetrics.
  • When it comes to building an e-commerce business, Andrew Youderian has been there and successful done that. His case for boostrapping your business is a must-read if you are facing funding decisions.

What were your favorite reads this week? Leave a comment and let us know!

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17 marketing blogs every small business owner should read

Small business marketing blogs

Marketing is one of the most important yet least understood topics required to turn a small business into a big business. There are many different channels you can use to grow your reach, both free and paid, but a great marketing plan starts with a strategy and understanding your options.

To help, we’ve compiled a list of great marketing blogs every small business owner should read. You can use an app like Feedly to subscribe to these blogs and really start to boost your marketing knowledge. Whether you have a big budget or not, investing time to understand the right way to market your business is the one of the key factors that will determine your success.

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How your personality could be holding back your business – understanding DISC

DISC personality profile

When it comes to running a small business, it’s important to understand topics like finance, marketing, product development, culture, hiring, leadership, etc. But something equally as important is understanding your personality profile and how it can help (or hinder) the growth of your business.

Getting to know your own personality is a great way to understand how you can build a supporting cast to help you be even better at the things you need to focus on to drive growth in your business. And one of the best ways to understand your own personality is with a DISC assessment.

DISC stands for Dominance, Influence, Submission, Compliance — 4 distinct personality characteristics that are measured for a person on a scale from low to high. There are combinations of DISC that make for great leaders and of course combinations that don’t.

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The 10 minute accounting primer (that could save your business)

The beginner's guide to accounting

You’ve finally gone and started that business you’ve been dreaming about for years. The revenue and expenses have started flowing in and you’re not quite sure what to do next with that shoebox (or inbox) full of receipts you’ve been collecting. If you don’t have something in place already, it’s time to get a solid accounting system in place.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, 50 percent of small businesses fail within the first five years and the main reasons for failure revolve around poor financial management. But you don’t just want to avoid failure, you want your business to thrive — and making that happen requires a well-managed accounting system that lets you easily keep track of your revenue and expenses while providing metrics you can use to measure the health and growth of your business.

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8 ways to create a blog everyone wants to read (with real examples)

Better blogging

Your blog provides you with the ability to share your point of view, provide information to customers and above all, be helpful. It can expose you to new customers, amplify the reach of your site and help to build your credibility as a brand. But when it comes down to it 85% of corporate blogs have less than 5 posts and many company blogs post so sporadically that readers will never be sure if there is new content.

So what does it take to produce great blog content and keep your readers engaged? I’ve put together 8 tips you can use to get started blogging. They’ll help you not only create better content, but also help you drive more readers and ultimately drive more sales as you start to build up a base of great blog posts.

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The small business owner’s guide to doubling productivity

How to double your productivity

One of the biggest challenges for small business owners, and especially solopreneurs, isn’t necessarily knowing how to do the things it takes to run their business, but having the time to actually do them.

This can (and usually does) include handling a variety of tasks in the areas of customer service, store management, and marketing. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help reduce the overwhelm you feel and continue to get all of the essentials done. Here’s the five-step plan you need to follow to double your productivity and get more done.

1. Decide what’s vital versus what’s nice to do

First off, you need to prioritize your tasks. Start by making lists of tasks you do on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis. This can include small things like checking email, to large things like doing your taxes. You might be surprised by exactly how much you do on a regular basis.

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How these 5 businesses raised almost $3M on Kickstarter & Indiegogo

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In less than five years Kickstarter has helped entrepreneurs raise over $1B  to fund more than 59,000 creative projects thanks to almost 6 million contributors. Indiegogo’s numbers aren’t too shabby either; in July 2013 they launched the most ambitious campaign to date – the Ubuntu Edge smartphone campaign, aiming to raise $32 million through crowdfunding.

How do ambitious startups succeed through crowdfunding platforms? What compels people back entrepreneurs they’ve never met, to create products they’ve never seen?  Here are five amazing examples of startups that have smashed all expectations to succeed through crowdfunding.

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46 quick tips to increase the conversion rate of your online store

Conversion optimization tips
  1. Never leave unanswered emails for more than 48 hours, or your customer is gone.
  2. Let the customer see the shipping charge without registering.
  3. If you’ve got a country drop-down box, list the countries in alphabetical order.
  4. Take a picture of your office and add it to your contact us page with your company phone number on it.
  5. Keep your initial products pages light and clean with beautiful, large photos.
  6. Build your site for the shopper, not the search engines.
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How to write a return policy that increases your conversion rate (with examples)

How to write a return policy

Return policies are extremely important when selling online. If you’re just starting out then they’ll help you generate trust with shoppers more easily, because they’ll know they can return anything easily if they need to.

In this post we’ll look at a few things which should be included in your return policy. We’ll then see some real examples of return policies designed not just to make return easier for customers, but that also increase conversion rates significantly as well.

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