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Stop letting your Competitor Win; Unveil your Company’s Online Curb Appeal with These 4 Secrets

(WARNING: If you’re not a reader, click here to instantly view the four secrets to creating an unmatched online curb appeal! If you’re new to this, we encourage you to keep reading.)

Be honest with yourself for a minute. 

Have you ever wondered why your competitor’s website is more successful than yours?

Well… There’s a reason for that. They are doing something that you are not.

That’s a loaded question considering that means you have to look at your website and its downfalls. Most people struggle with gaining traffic, attracting reviews, or securing sales. If you can relate to those struggles, you may have already tried to justify why you don’t have consistent traffic to your website. You might feel as though you have tried everything possible and your competitor is still beating you. Does this sound familiar? In this scenario, you should be thinking, “What are they doing that I am not doing?” because the answer is simple. 

People cannot visit your website if they cannot find it on the internet. By that I mean, your business needs to “pop up” when they search for you. For example, let’s say that you own a coffee business named Coffee Craze. If a consumer searches “Best coffee places near me” and Coffee Craze does not show up, then how do you expect your customers to find you? That might seem like a wild accusation, but it is equal to buying a house and expecting everybody to know where it is, without you mentioning it. You might even be thinking, “Well, wait. Why didn’t my business show up?”. Don’t worry, I’ll get to that later.

What if I told you that the reason you are not gaining traction to your website is that your online presence is virtually nonexistent. You might be thinking, “That is so untrue! I post to social media every day!” or “I have a website… doesn’t that count?”

The answer is no. You are not doing enough. If there is one thing you can do for yourself, it is to recognize that your company’s Curb Appeal is the most important part of your business and you are neglecting it. 

No, I am not talking about the visual aesthetic of the building that your business resides in. Let me explain.

Nowadays, only utilizing a web hosting provider is not enough. You need an online presence and marketing plan that will ultimately “revamp” your company’s curb appeal. I can already tell that you are wondering, “Okay, why is this important?”. 

You might recognize the term Curb Appeal as the initial appeal of a property to prospective buyers. For example, you visit a coffee shop and the first things you notice are the lights strung above the outdoor tables, the plants in the window, and the trendy aesthetic of the building. It is fair to say that the first thing that caught your eye was the external appeal of the building! It would be difficult not to be mesmerized by an appeal that piques your interest. Although a company’s exterior appeal is important, that is not what we are talking about. Your company’s Curb Appeal has nothing to do with the external attractiveness of your business property. Instead, it focuses on the attractiveness of your business’s online presence.

Your online presence ultimately determines how successful your business will be. 

Let’s keep the vision going. Imagine that a consumer searches “Coffee shops near me” on their internet browser. Behind the scenes, Google is compiling several options and lists them at the top of the page for them. The first thing the consumer sees is your competitor topping the page with numerous five-star reviews. Meanwhile, your coffee shop is nowhere to be found. After looking through the reviews and ratings, the consumer is sold and searches directions to your competitor’s coffee shop. You just lost a sale because your business did not show up in the search results. Wait a second… How did that even happen? Cases like these are exactly why your online presence makes or breaks your business. 

We have heard it all before: You cannot have success without failure. Letting your competitor steal your customers is a temporary failure for your company. You cannot let your competitor “out-business” you. Success takes time and patience. But, it’s not very often that the keys to success are literally handed to you.

If you have not yet picked up on it, you need much more than just a website to be successful as a business. As I said before, it is just like having a house and expecting everyone to know where it is without you telling them. If you gain anything from this article, let it be the value of having an active online presence. An online presence will allow you to stay relevant, consistent, and easily accessible.  

To be honest, we (meaning us here at Hostirian) want to see you succeed. That is why we are sharing with you Four Secrets to an Attractive Website.  These four secrets are your road map to perfecting your company’s Curb Appeal. Follow these four steps and watch your business grow like you have never seen before.

1. List your Business Information Online

Although this may not seem important, it totally is! Your online listings are websites that hold all of your business information, such as your business name, phone number, address, email, and operation hours. Some Online Directories that you might have seen before are 411, CitySpace, Yahoo, Bing, Foursquare, and Alexa. Trust me, there are many more! The key to success is to get into as many online listings as possible and to make sure all of that information is accurate. Only being listed on websites such as City Space or Yahoo is not enough. Your business information needs to be accurate. That piece is so important. The reason for this is so that search engines can trust you.

Let me say it again: The point of online listings is not to attract customers. It is to earn a search engine’s trust. Are you wondering, “Why is it important that a search engine trusts you? Why does that matter?”. It matters because that is how businesses end up at the top of the search results page, or better yet, the Google 3 pack! Below is an example of how your business, Coffee Craze, is displayed on five different online directories. Pay close attention to each listing.

  • 411: Coffee Craze 123-456-7890, 123 Main Street
  • CitySpace: coffee Craze 1234567890, 123 Main Street
  • Yahoo: Coffee craze 123-456-7890, 123 maine street
  • Bing: Coffee Craze Inc. 1234567890, 123 Main St.
  • Alexa: Coffee craze inc. 123-456-7890, 123 main st. 

Do you notice the difference? 

As you can see, the examples above are all inconsistent. There is not one listing that matches the other. This is a problem. If this is what your online listings look like, you might as well kiss the top of the search results page GOODBYE! Search engines, such as Google, will not have any reason to trust you. You cannot expect Google to trust you if you can’t even get your business information to match online. The perfect combination is utilizing the hundreds of online listing websites available and inputting your information correctly on all of them. Choose one consistent way to list your business information and stick with it. 

If you list your information similar to how it looks above, then you will never see your business show up at the top of the search results page. In addition to utilizing the online listings, you also need to make sure that your results are up to date. If you change the information on one listing and not the other, then you have created an inaccurate message. If all of your listings send the same message, then it is easier for search engines to confirm that you are who you say you are! Earlier I mentioned that you should want your business in the Google 3 Pack! It is also known as Google Maps, Google Local Pack, and the Snack Pack! Below is an example of what the Google 3 Pack looks like!

Nearly all searches on Google have local intent. This means that the first three businesses that pop up in Google search results are local businesses. Most people do not scroll past the first three results. In that case, your goal is to get into that Google 3 Pack! A question most asked in this industry is, Where is the best place to hide a dead body? 

Can you guess? 

The best place is on the second page of the search results because nobody looks there! You do not want your website to show up on the second page of results. The takeaway is to make sure your business information is listed on numerous online directories, make sure your information is correct across the board, and that your information is up-to-date.

2. Be Active on Social Media 

There are so many benefits to having a social media account for your business! I could go on for hours about why your business needs a social media account. If you already have some type of social media account, then you need to be more active on it and create a consistent posting schedule. One of the most important things to remember about your business is to make sure that you are where your customers are. Read that again. If your customers are on social media, then you need to be on social media. But let’s be real, it is absolutely ridiculous to think that your customers are not on social media. More than 4 out of 5 Americans have a social media account, which might include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, or YouTube. The easier that you make it for your customers to see you, the more your business will be noticed. 

By sporting your company on social media, you are increasing your brand awareness. People are not on social media to connect with brands that they already know. People are always looking for other businesses to connect with, at least that’s what 60% of Instagram users say! Your social media pages are also establishing your brand as a credible leader. You want your company to be known as the “go-to source of information” on topics that explore your business niche. 

If you still do not think that your social media is important, then hear me out! It is proven that social media will increase your website traffic, help generate leads, and boost sales as long as you have your website link on your social media pages. Social media also gives businesses the opportunity to partner with influencers, which would expand beyond their “normal” audience. Utilizing those social media posts and ads are a simple way to drive traffic to your site. 

What’s interesting to us is that nearly 71% of small business owners manage their own digital marketing. That is a large percentage of small business owners. Are you a part of that statistic? Oftentimes small business owners have so much on their plate that it can be easy to lose sight of their social media and neglect the one thing that really matters. Do you think you are holding yourself back from having a successful business? Social media is so important to maintain because your business can not move forward without it. You need to constantly be inviting more people to explore it. You’ll notice that once you have a solid and active presence on social media, you will start to attract more people to your website.

If you are too tied up in your business to worry about online listings or keeping up with all your social media platforms, then don’t worry! All exceptional web hosting providers offer a marketing and online presence package that will cover online directories, social media, and much more! Basically, they do all of the difficult stuff for you. If you are a business owner with little time on your hands, it is definitely worth looking in to.

3. Leave a POSITIVE First Impression: Have a Website

Whether you recognize it or not, we are always forming first impressions of the people around us. First impressions are so important because they make or break potential friendships, relationships, clients, customers, interviews and so much more. Think of your website as your chance at forming that first impression with the world. Did you know that 75% of consumers admit to judging companies without a website? Consumers are literally forming their first impression of a company based on whether or not they have a website! If you do not have a website, you are neglecting the opportunity to grow and expand. If we were to stick with this “first impressions” metaphor, you would be leaving a sour taste in the mouth of the consumer. Unless you are completely okay with your business not growing, you need a website. 

Have you noticed thus far how each step ties back into having a website? That’s because your website is your home base! It is your most important marketing asset. Without one, it would be difficult to grow your business. In today’s modern world, people turn to Google to research the product they want before they purchase. In fact, 93% of business purchase decisions start with a Google search. If you already have a website, make sure your website is attractive enough so that somebody wants to stop and look at it. Those online directories that we talked about earlier will help your website appear at the top of the search results page.

A website builds trust and credibility with web users, it boosts sales, allows you to tell your story, creates your brand, and improves your chances of being discovered by new customers. 

Although having a website is extremely important, it does not mean that it will automatically bring paying customers to your door. It just improves your chances of drawing in new customers and gives you a platform to push your brand. Without a website, you cannot have an effective call-to-action. (Which, by the way, is SUPER important when getting people to buy your product). 

Want to know something interesting? There are over 40,000 online searches every second. When you consider that number, it is hard to believe that your website won’t be found online! Let’s look at some other statistics. Nearly 30% of consumers will not consider a business without a website. That means, if you did not have a website, 30% of people would not even consider buying from you! Did you also know that Americans spend an average of 23.6 hours a week online? Wait a second… The average American is spending almost an entire day online every week? Ask yourself: How in the world would consumers NOT find your website if you gave them the tools to find it? Consumers expect companies to have an online presence. Fulfill that expectation and grow your business while you’re at it.

4. Ask for Reviews 

If there’s one thing we know, it’s that online reviews are hard to get. What’s even more difficult to get? …Good reviews. The ironic thing is that reviews are essential for your online business. So… if reviews are hard to get, then how does a business go about getting them? 

Studies show that 70 to 80% of people research a company online before making a purchase. Studies also show that nearly 9 out of 10 consumers think that online reviews are important. This means that people will first look at reviews when researching a product online. Reviews, whether good or poor, have a way of spreading quickly to consumers. Reviews are important because you need them to get ratings. 

There are countless other reasons why reviews are important. First of all, reviews are GREAT for social proof. People are more likely to purchase a product if it has been publicly decided that buying that product was a good idea. Social proof has proven to impact sales. In fact, most people read about 7 to 10 reviews before they make a purchase. Reviews make your business more visible, they help build trust, expand the conversation to other social media outlets, aid in consumer decision making, and give you an easy way to start a conversation with a customer about their experience. 

You might be thinking, “What if I already have a website and I’m struggling to get online reviews?” Do not worry. As mentioned at the beginning of this step, getting reviews can be hard. But, don’t be afraid to ask your customers for reviews! Physically asking someone to write a review can go a long way. The truth is, most people are happy to leave a review if you ask them to. Unless a customer had a beyond “normal” experience (meaning an incredible or terrible experience) at a business, they do not think to write one. Do you think about leaving a review for every business you have ever been to? I would venture to say no, but you may think differently. All it takes is a little push and you will have online reviews coming in no time. 

If you don’t feel comfortable asking your customers directly, then encourage them at the bottom of their receipt or through an email. You can also gain reviews by spreading positive things about your business through word of mouth. As we all know, word of mouth travels just as quickly. 

Encouraging consumers to review your business will help expand your company’s reach! Another way to keep those reviews coming is to always respond to them. It does not matter if the customer tore your business apart by detailing their terrible experience or if they wrote a glowing review; it is so important that you respond. If someone left you a good review and you ignored it, that is the equivalent of ignoring someone attempting to give you a high five! That would not be cool, AT ALL!

Here is what you need to know: A 1-star increase results in approximately 9% annual revenue increase. Another interesting fact is that two-thirds of all purchases are made based on what people have read online. So…basically your sales will increase with more positive reviews. Remember, reviews are also FREE Marketing. Cherish your reviews and make your customers feel valued by always responding! They took the time to write it, so don’t leave them hanging!

Sit back and think about your business and the four secrets that I have just shared with you. Do you think your company’s Curb Appeal is as good as it could be? Are you currently implementing any one of these areas into your business’s online presence? 

If you are not actively using these steps to better your online presence, do you now realize why it is important that you need to? Think about what you have done for your website in the past and why it has not been working for you. 

You’ll notice that this whole process is interconnected. When you have an outstanding online presence, your business will be positively impacted in so many different ways. Your online presence is the most important element of a successful business. Reconsider those four secrets that I shared with you. If you can accurately list your business information, be active on social media, leave a positive first impression with your website, and ask for reviews, then you are headed in a great direction.

By investing in your company’s Curb Appeal, you are setting yourself up to grow and expand in ways that you may have never imagined! You are not only doing yourself a favor, but you are also doing your customers a favor. Success takes patience. Your business will not grow and expand overnight. By following these four steps, you are setting yourself up to improve your business and accepting the change that comes with it. Be willing to work hard for that success. It will come sooner than you think. 

How to Build an Online Store Using a Free WP Plugin

If you have been looking for a way to sell your products or services online, then look no further! The process is much easier than you might think.

Setting up an online store is one of the most valuable things that you can do for your business. Expanding your store to reach online customers will increase your customer growth and overall revenue. But, in order to sell your products or services online, you need to have a website that can handle an online store. As much as we talk about WordPress, it might not surprise you to hear that WordPress can do that too. Cool, right?

While setting up an online store may seem difficult and time-consuming, it is a very easy process. The free plugin that you will need to install is called WooCommerce (which we will show you how to do later). This site was created to allow store managers to run an eCommerce site without having to utilize a web developer.

WooCommerce is a free, flexible, and customizable plugin that will allow you to build a web store, quickly and effectively. This plugin is fantastic for those who are launching their own business, designing sites for clients, or revamping an existing site. WooCommerce also allows its users to keep track of incoming sales, reviews, and stock levels. It comes with shipping and payment options such as Paypal Standard, BACS, and cash on delivery. 

WooCommerce is completely customizable. It will allow you to choose your website design, enhance your store with free and paid extensions, modify the core plugin code, leverage hooks and filters, modify functions, and build on top of the API and webhooks. WooCommerce also comes in the form of a mobile app that you can download to manage your store on the go! 

To get started, you will need a WordPress website and some products or services that you want to sell. 

  1. Log in to your WordPress website. Before you do anything, you will first need to install WooCommerce. Remember- this is a FREE plugin! Look for Plugins on the left-hand panel on your screen and press Add New. In the search bar on the top right-hand corner, search for WooCommerce and click Install Now. The correct plugin’s author will be listed as Automattic. You can see it listed in the box in blue. You might have to wait a few minutes for the plugin to install. Once it has installed, press Activate.
  1. That plugin is now active on your website- Cool! You will now have access to the WooCommerce Setup Wizard. The Setup Wizard will help you configure your web store’s settings such as location information, the types of products that you are selling, and payment and shipping methods. The great thing about the Setup Wizard is that things are not permanent! You can always go back later and change your information if it changes. It will first ask you to enter information about your store’s address, the currency you accept, and whether you will be selling digital or physical products. 
  1. Next, you will need to detail which payments you will be accepting using your online store. It will automatically offer the option for you to use Stripe or Paypal, but you can also choose to accept other forms of payment such as checks or cash. All you really need to do is select the options that you would like to use and WooCommerce will set them up for you. There are more extensions that you can add that will allow you to add payment processing.
  1. Next, you will need to choose a shipping method. You can also control how customers will be charged for shipping. This section all depends on how you would like to set things up. You can set one rate for your specific business area or other rates for people outside of your business area. 
  1. After you have configured some of the basic settings, you can now review additional add-ons. These add-ons are not necessary to operate your store but the add-ons can simplify some aspects of setting up your store. 
  1. You are almost done! Before you complete your setup process, you have the option to enable JetPack. Jetpack is another WordPress plugin with unique features that can help with setting up and operating your store. This plugin is not required, however, due to recent legal changes, U.S. citizens will want to enable Jetpack. It enables better security, store monitoring, store stats, and product promotion. 

WOOHOO! You have just installed and set up your online store! If you have completed all of the steps above, then your store is ready to us. You can start adding products once you have gotten to this point. After installing WooCommerce, you will see two new tabs available on your dashboard’s side menu: WooCommerce and Products. WooCommerce contains your store’s settings and Products contain your product settings. 

You can continue modifying the features and options to fit your liking. Once you have started adding your products, you are ready to start selling! Don’t be afraid to blast your eStore on social media to grow your customer base! You can thank us later… Get to sellin’!

How to Build a Social Network Using a Free WP Plugin

Did you know that it’s possible to create a social network on your WordPress site? Well… it is! You can literally turn your WordPress into a social networking platform by using the free WordPress plugin, BuddyPress! 

Why would you want such a plugin on your website? The better question is, why would you not want to install this plugin? If you would like to turn your site into a community of users, add social media features, or attempt to build an entire social media platform with WordPress, then this is the plugin for you!

BuddyPress will allow you to take your site beyond the typical blog or business page. In recent years, BuddyPress has been used as a campus-wide social networking platform for universities, as an internal communication tool for companies, as a niche social networking for very specific interest groups, and for focused communities for products and services. It is also integrated with bbPress to enhance community forms. 

By following just a few easy steps, you can gain all the social media features that you have come to know and love from your favorite social media platforms. BuddyPress comes with multiple social media elements that can integrate directly into your site. Some of those elements include detailed user profiles, published updates, the opportunity to join groups, private messaging, group messaging and so much more. It allows website visitors to network with each other, stay updated on new information, and stay in touch with things going on in the community. This social networking plugin allows you to build your own online platform for any online or offline community!

One of the coolest things about BuddyPress is that there are over 500 plugins available to help you add unique features to your site. But, you do not have to use them! If you only want to use a select few, BuddyPress will adapt to that and only show the menu items and pages for the features you have enabled. Did we mention it is FREE?

This multi-feature packed plugin is easy to integrate into your website and it is very easy to get started! BuddyPress can be installed on your site directly from the WordPress plugin directory.  Are you ready to Install?

  1. To begin, log in to your WordPress website’s admin area and find Plugins on the left-hand panel on your screen. Hover your mouse over Plugins. You will see that you have a choice between Installed Plugins or Add New. Press Add New. On the right-hand side, you’ll see a search bar that will allow you to search for options. In that bar, search for BuddyPress. 

2. You will see that BuddyPress shows up on the left-hand side of the screen. In the BuddyPress box, press Install Now. BuddyPress then installs into your system and you will see the option to activate. Press Activate

3. After you have pressed activate, you will see this popup. 

4. The picture above is basically welcoming you to the newly activated plugin and letting you know about the recently updated version of BuddyPress. From there, you can click the X in the top right-hand corner and mess with the settings on the newly installed BuddyPress menu, located under the settings sidebar menu. 

5. You can individually activate or disable any component. This makes BuddyPress extremely beneficial for those who only want to add a few of the many social networking elements to their website.

6. Under Components, check any element that you think would fit nicely into your site. You can also uncheck elements that you do not think would look good on your site. This is really where you can add all of your social networking elements.  As you can see, the tabs next to components are Options, Pages, and Credits. The Options button allows you to access the toolbar. The Pages tab allows you to configure the pages that are using the BuddyPress plugin to show member information and their activity. You can also set up the registration and activation Pages in the Pages tab as well.  

This is what your page will look like if you do not yet have any members on your site. The down arrow next to members will allow you to associate a WordPress page with each BuddyPress component directory. Use the down arrow to view the list and choose. The options range from live web chat, to blog, to test page, to set an appointment, and much more.

From there, you can begin adding people to your social network! In addition, the visitors to your site can register to become members! Feel free to play with the different features available to see what you like the best!

Wasn’t this process easier than you anticipated? Are you ready to start your own social network? Go get ’em!

How to Embed Calendly into WordPress

Calendly is a gem in a coal mine for busy people looking to schedule meetings, book appointments, and keep their loaded schedule on track. Scheduling meetings or appointments can oftentimes be difficult, as people have contrasting schedules and live in different time zones. Instead of sending dozens of emails before you set up a meeting, Calendly makes it easy on website users to schedule meetings using one simple link. Invitees can only pick from time slots based on the calendar that you have created and sent to them. Calendly gives you total control when it comes to scheduling. It connects to all of your online calendars so you will never miss a meeting.

Imagine how much easier your life would be if you could integrate this software into your WordPress website! Technology these days, right? Well, say goodbye to the days of sending multiple emails, waiting days to schedule a good time to meet or giving up completely because your schedules just do not work. You can most definitely integrate Calendly into WordPress!

This functionality is handy to have on your website, as it allows your customers to easily schedule meeting times with you based on what you have available on your schedule. There is not a Calendly plugin for WordPress, which means you will have to create one yourself. 

Thankfully, it is a simple process. 

To get started, either login to your account or create an account with Calendly. 

  1. After you login or create an account, you will see your events on the main page. Click on the gear icon on the event that you’d like to embed into WordPress. 
  1. On the dropdown menu, click Add to Website
  1. After you click Add to Website, Three options will be available to you. 

As you can see, you have the option to choose Inline Embed, Popup Widget and Popup Text.

  • Inline Embed allows its users to load the Calendly scheduling page directly onto their website.
  • The Popup Widget adds a floating button to your site that launches Calendly as a Popup. 
  • Popup Text adds a text link into your site that launches Calendly as a Popup. 
  1. Click on the option that you want and press continue 
  1. As you can see, I clicked Inline Embed. It took me to this page that shows my Embed Code. On the left-hand side, you can customize the background color, the text color and the button and link color. On the bottom right-hand corner, click Copy Code. You can also keep this tab open just in case. 
  1. Open a new tab on your browser and got to your WordPress website. You can embed Calendly onto any individual post or page. All you need to do is press the circled plus sign to add a new block to your page. 
  1. Scroll down through the options and find formatting
  1. Click on Formatting and Click Custom HTML
  1. Paste the Embed Code into the HTML Text box 
  1. Right next to the HTML tab at the top is Preview. Click preview to see Calendly embed in WordPress

If you like the way that looks, press save draft in the corner. If you would like to embed Calendly onto your site as a Popup widget or Popup text, then go back, choose your desired option and follow through the same process. See how easy that was? 

By using this simple tool you can schedule meetings, book appointments, keep it all organized and maintain your sanity! 

What are you waiting for? Go add it to your website! 

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