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How to Write a Small Business Plan (4 Key Elements to Include)

When you have a brilliant business idea, it’s tempting to dive straight into making your dream a reality. However, without a plan, you may struggle to motivate your new employees, attract the best partners, or secure investor capital.

This is where a business plan comes in.

By taking the time to create this formal document, you can transform your idea into something tangible, and convince everyone to get behind your organization.

In this post, we’ll explore what a business plan is and why every company should have one. We’ll then discuss the four essential elements of any effective small business strategy. Let’s get started!

An Introduction to Small Business Plans (And Why They’re Important)

At a high level, a business plan is a written document that defines what your company is, the activities it performs, its core objectives, and how you’re going to achieve those objectives.

Many startups create this document before beginning operations, to help them explore whether their brilliant idea might actually become a viable business.

This plan can be used internally, but also externally. If you’re seeking investment from third parties, an effective business plan can help you secure funding even if you don't have a proven track record:

An example small business plan.

Although they’re useful tools for startups, many established companies treat their business plans as internal road maps.

By constantly referring to this document, you can evaluate whether you’re on track to achieving your goals, or whether you might need to adjust your operations. For this reason, we recommend that all companies maintain an up-to-date business plan.

This document may also help you realize that your goals have evolved, and that you need to adjust your approach as a result. It’s not uncommon for an established company to create an entirely new business plan to reflect a change of direction.

How to Write a Small Business Plan (4 Key Elements to Include)

Before we get to the list, we thought we'd throw you an idea. While you can save money creating your business plan on your own, it might be worth it in the long run to consult with an expert.

Platforms like Fiverr are a great place to find someone who can help you make sure you're starting out on the right foot.

That said, no two business plans are identical. However, there are some common elements that you’ll typically include in your plan. To help you structure this important document, here are four key elements you may want to incorporate.

1. Executive Summary

This section outlines your company and its mission statement. It’s also a good idea to provide information about your products and services, plus an overview of your leadership, employees, operations, and location.

If you plan to ask for financial backing, you may also want to include a high-level overview of your growth plans and some basic financial information:

An executive summary.

Although all parts of your business plan are important, we recommend prioritizing the executive summary.

This is because busy investors, banks, and potential business partners may decide whether to study your business plan in more detail based on the executive summary alone.

As the saying goes: “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”. Therefore, if your summary doesn’t contain exactly the information a person is looking for, they may dismiss your plan from the first page.

2. Products, Services, and Market Analysis

Next, you can go into detail about your products and services. You’ll typically want to include pricing, benefits to the customer, and your unique selling point (USP).

And if you’re performing any research and development, now is the time to mention it:

A small business plan.

It’s also smart to disclose your plans for intellectual property, such as copyright or patent filings. For some industries, it may also make sense to go into detail regarding the production and manufacturing process.

In addition to defining what your business has to offer, it’s important to demonstrate an understanding of where your products and services will fit within the industry.

This means exploring the competition, their strengths and weaknesses, and how challenging it will be to acquire part of their market share. Throughout this section, it’s also smart to communicate an understanding of the expected demand for your particular products and services.

3. Financial Planning and Budget

Financial planning and future projections are an essential part of any business plan. Even if the document is for internal use only, this section can help you budget and balance your cash flow:

Financial planning and budgeting information.

As part of your financial planning, we recommend including staffing, development, manufacturing, and marketing costs.

If you’re seeking outside investment, you may want to go into more detail, and provide targets and estimates spanning the first few years of your business:

Projected financial data.

While you may feel passionate about your new venture, it’s important to be realistic. An overly optimistic business plan that ignores weaknesses, potential pitfalls, and threats is unlikely to be well-received by potential investors and business partners.

Even worse, if you overestimate your revenue, this can lead to increased overheads and perhaps even a cash flow crisis.

To help keep your plan grounded in reality, only make claims that you can support with hard evidence. You might weave this proof into your business plan or include it as part of an appendix.

As an alternative, you might simply have this data on hand in case a potential investor requests more information. The only rule is that this evidence must exist.

4. An Appendix

An effective business plan will strike a balance between providing enough detail and remaining focused on what the reader needs to know.

Creating a comprehensive, detailed, and extensive plan may feel like you’re setting your business up for success.

However, lengthy documents are notoriously difficult to maintain. By creating an exhaustive business plan now, you may find that this plan is rarely used in practice.

While creating the document, it’s wise to constantly ask yourself whether each piece of information might be better suited to an appendix. In particular, detailed financial forecasts, market research data, product literature, and technical specifications are usually better included in an index.

This ensures that detailed information is on hand for readers who want to delve into the finer points, without distracting from the flow of the document.

Conclusion

We’re not going to pretend that starting a business is easy. However, with some careful planning, you can maximize your chances of turning your brilliant idea into a world-class business.

To set you on the road to success, let’s recap four things to include in your small business plan:

  1. Executive summary
  2. Products, services, and market analysis
  3. Financial planning and budget
  4. An appendix

Do you have any questions about how to write an effective small business plan? Let us know in the comments section below!

If you liked this post, be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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4 Top Tools for Small Businesses Just Starting Out

Finding the right tools is the best way to set your company up for growth and success. However, as a small business, it can feel like your options are limited.

Fortunately, there are plenty of world-class tools that cater to the unique needs (and budgets) of brand-new businesses. By being a savvy shopper, there’s no reason you can’t access the same features and firepower as established enterprises.

In this post, we’ll share advice on how to find the best software for your startup. We’ll then suggest four of our favorite tools for small businesses just starting out. Let’s dive in!

How to Choose the Best Tools for Your Small Business

As a new business, it’s essential that you catch the attention of potential new customers, convert them into qualified leads, and ultimately secure your first sales. To achieve all of this, you’ll need the right tools.

However, as a brand-new business, you may initially be working to a tight budget. To minimize your running costs, you might want to try free software over premium options. Some proprietary tools even offer entry-level or free plans with usage restrictions.

For example, the popular Mailchimp marketing automation platform is free for up to 2,000 contacts:

Mailchimp's range of subscription plans.

Another example is the Hootsuite social media management platform. This marketing tool has a single-user plan that’s perfect for solo entrepreneurs.

For small businesses just starting out, these plans provide access to professional tools without requiring you to pay top dollar for features you don’t currently need.

And the majority of these tools are scalable. As your business grows, you can upgrade to a more expensive plan without the added stress and worry associated with learning a new tool or migrating all of your data.

With almost 31.7 million small businesses in the U.S., it’s no surprise there are plenty of tools specifically catering to startups. To make sure you’re getting exactly the features you need, you may want to opt for tools that target smaller businesses rather than a general user base.

4 Top Tools for Small Businesses Just Starting Out

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 20% of startups don’t make it to their first birthdays. Let’s give your business the best possible chance of bucking the trend!

Here are four tools that can set your brand-new venture up for success.

1. Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO is a top tool for small businesses just starting out.

When you launch a business website, your traffic will be a flat zero. The quickest way to get off the starting block is to appeal to search engines.

With over 53% of all web traffic originating from organic search, a solid search engine optimization (SEO) strategy can take you from zero to hundreds (or even thousands) of eager customers.

Yoast SEO has everything you need to optimize your business website for those all-important search engines. Every time you add a new page or post, you can use Yoast SEO to specify the keyword(s) that you want this content to rank for:

The Yoast SEO tool for small businesses.

Yoast will then provide actionable advice on how to optimize the web page for the specified keyword or phrase. In this way, Yoast SEO can increase your chances of scoring Google’s coveted number-one spot.

Features:

  • Readability and SEO analysis
  • Tools to optimize your Google previews
  • Automated technical SEO improvements
  • Ability to boost your branding with title and meta description templating
  • Full control over your site’s breadcrumbs

Pricing: The plugin is free, with a premium version available.

2. Mailchimp

Top tools for small businesses include the Mailchimp platform.

The number of email users is forecast to reach 4.6 billion by 2025, and those people are spending a lot of time in their inboxes.

According to Adobe, the average American spends over five hours a day checking their inboxes. This makes email marketing a powerful way to promote your startup.

You can use Mailchimp to design beautiful, engaging messages using a straightforward drag-and-drop editor. This is ideal if you don’t have access to a graphic designer or a programmer:

The Mailchimp email editor.

You can also use Mailchimp to create automated email campaigns. This can be a life-saver for busy small business owners, who may not have the time to send a personalized message to every contact.

Features:

Pricing: Various subscriptions are available, including a free plan that’s perfect for small businesses.

3. Google Analytics

The Google Analytics platform.

Google Analytics provides detailed insight into the people who are visiting your website. This can be invaluable for understanding your audience and the kind of content that generates the most engagement.

Armed with this information, you can fine-tune your marketing and advertising strategies, and optimize every part of your site to drive conversions:

The top tools for small businesses include Google Analytics.

Google Analytics can also reveal how people find your site (for example, via organic search or by following a referral link). You can then focus your efforts on the channels that are proving the most lucrative.

Alternatively, you might decide that it makes more sense to focus on the channels that are currently underperforming.

Features:

  • Custom reports
  • Event tracking
  • Site speed report
  • Site search tracking
  • Ecommerce tracking

Pricing: The core Google Analytics platform is free. There’s also a premium Analytics 360 subscription available.

4. Buy Now Plus

Buy Now Plus is one of the top tools for small businesses.


In 2020, worldwide ecommerce sales totaled $4.28 trillion. If you want to tap into this lucrative market, you should aim for a seamless shopping experience.

Buy now buttons can be powerful tools for providing a stress-free purchasing journey and boosting your sales. Today, these simple-but-effective buttons are widely used by some of the biggest companies in the world, including Amazon:

A buy now button on the Amazon website.

If you want to learn from Amazon’s success, you may want to take a look at Buy Now Plus. You can use our free service to quickly and easily create an Amazon-style buy now button:

The Buy Now Plus dashboard.

You can then deploy this button across multiple platforms. This includes all of your social media accounts and your email marketing messages.

Features:

Pricing: You can sign up for free. Note that Buy Now Plus charges a minimal 2% fee for each sale.

Conclusion

Starting a new business is never easy. However, the right tools can help you secure those all-important first customers and sales, and set your business on the path to success.

If you’re not sure where to start, let’s quickly recap our top four tools for small businesses that are just starting out:

  1. Yoast SEO: Make sure your site is appearing in relevant search results with this free WordPress plugin.
  2. Mailchimp: Use a popular mailing platform with a focus on automation that is perfect for the busy small business owner.
  3. Google Analytics: Get insight into your audience and learn how to drive more people to your site with this widely-used analytics service.
  4. Buy Now Plus: Ensure that the purchasing process feels effortless by creating buy now buttons for your website, social media accounts, and email marketing campaigns.

Do you have questions about any of the tools mentioned on this list? Let us know in the comments section below!

If you liked this post, be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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How to Start Your Own Affiliate Marketing Program (In 3 Steps)

It might seem like influencers are everywhere these days. However, you're not just seeing things – working with these representatives is a popular and effective way to promote a brand.

You might be wondering how to leverage this power by starting your own affiliate marketing program.

Fortunately, the process doesn't have to be difficult. By following a few best practices and focusing on the essential elements, you can build a profitable affiliate program for your brand.

In this article, we'll cover a few reasons you might want to consider starting an affiliate marketing program. Then we'll show you how to create your own in three simple steps. Let's get to it!

Why You Might Want to Start an Affiliate Marketing Program

An affiliate marketing program is a network of influencers. You connect with respected people within your niche, and they promote your products to their followers. In return, you pay them a commission from any resulting sales.

There are many benefits to running an affiliate program. For one thing, it's a simple way to spread the word about your products. You also don't have to pay unless a sale is made, so using influencers is cost-effective.

Influencers also get a lucrative deal. On top of commissions, affiliate links can be a passive and flexible income stream.

That means these marketers can promote your content even if they've shifted to remote work. Additionally, the influencer's audience might appreciate an informed recommendation.

With advantages for all parties, it's no wonder that affiliate marketing is a booming business. Statistics show that this market is expected to reach a value of nearly $8.2 billion by 2022. That means getting started now will be an investment in your brand's future.

How to Start Your Own Affiliate Marketing Program (In 3 Steps)

We'll now use this simple guide as a kickstart for affiliate marketing. If you're interested in promoting your business with affiliate marketing, chances are you already have a website up and running.

If not, you'll need a basic WordPress site ready before you get started with the Easy Affiliate plugin, which we'll be using in this tutorial.

Step 1: Install and Activate Easy Affiliate

Starting an affiliate marketing program can be a bit complex. It can be hard to juggle links, payments, and ads.

That's why we highly recommend you use an affiliate program management product, such as Easy Affiliate, to take care of everything for you:

Easy Affiliate homepage.

Easy Affiliate enables you to host your affiliate program on a WordPress site. It's a simple way to integrate referral marketing infrastructure into your page.

Some other powerful features that you'll unlock with Easy Affiliate include:

  • Detailed progress reports to help you perfect your approach
  • Email marketing to spread the word about your program
  • One-click payouts to make commissions easy for you and your influencers

Additionally, Easy Affiliate doesn't charge any transaction fees. Once you purchase your plan, there are no additional hidden costs. The only per-transaction fee you'll pay is to PayPal, which the plugin uses to process payments.

The program also carries a 14-day money-back guarantee, so it's safe to give it a try if you're on the fence.

First you'll want to decide on your pricing plan. The options are Basic, Plus, and Pro. We suggest starting with Basic if you're new to affiliate marketing. However, Plus and Pro might also be worth considering if you have a few sites.

After you've made your choice, download Easy Affiliate. Be sure to grab your license key as well, because you'll need it to receive crucial plugin updates. Then install and activate the plugin.

You might also want to take some time at this point to consider your strategy. Understanding the essential elements for affiliate beginners can set you up for success.

Step 2: Customize Your Main Settings

Before you get started, there are a few settings you'll want to adjust. We'll take you through the most important ones. However, you might want to thumb through Easy Affiliate's helpful articles for more information.

Let's begin with the basic settings. You can find them in your WordPress dashboard under Easy Affiliate > Settings. Your screen will differ slightly depending on your plan:

The main settings for Easy Affiliate.

If you'd rather use the built-in setup wizard, simply scroll down to the bottom of the page to find that option. You can also add elements such as your basic business info.

If you keep scrolling, you'll find an option to decide which pages will act as your affiliate pages. These pages will generate automatically when you add Easy Affiliate. However, you can also edit them from this area.

Next up, we'll take a look at the Commissions tab:

The Easy Affiliate commissions tab under settings..

Here you'll decide on your affiliate program commission structure.

You can choose to pay out commissions as a percentage of sales or as a fixed rate. Your payout settings are also in this tab. Feel free to take your time here – payments are essential for both you and your influencers.

If you want to add integrations, check out the Ecommerce and Integrations tabs. For example, you can set up one-click PayPal functions under Ecommerce.

Finally, head over over to the Advanced tab:

The Easy Affiliate advanced settings tab.

It has several useful fields, but we'll focus on the essentials for now. We encourage you to set up email notifications to keep affiliates in the loop.

Additionally, you'll need to adjust international settings if you work on a global level.

Step 3: Prepare Resources for Your Affiliates

Finally, let's get to the heart of your program: your affiliates! Supporting your influencers is the best way to help them succeed.

On top of showing them how to do things like accept credit cards without a website, you can also provide other resources.

Remain on the page from the last step. This time, navigate to the Affiliates tab:

The Affiliate tab for Easy Affiliates.

First up is Registration Type. This is where you'll determine whether affiliates can join automatically, will need to apply, or will need direct administrative approval.

For your first program, we recommend requiring an application. This will help you screen for the best candidates directly.

The Form Fields section enables you to decide what information you'll collect from influencers. You can also make it so that users are automatically added as affiliates – which is perfect if you've built your WordPress site solely for your program.

Finally, you can change the affiliate dashboard. We suggest that you take the time to add your brand's colors and a custom welcome message. Doing so is a simple yet essential part of any new website branding checklist.

Next up, we'll change gears. Easy Affiliate enables you to expand your brand with professional-looking links and banners. Go to Easy Affiliate > Creatives > Add New:

The creative creation screen for Easy Affiliates.

Simply fill in the fields to create your new link. If you'd like to add a visual element, choose Banner from the Type drop-down menu. You'll then see an option to upload an image.

Try to make several links and banners. This can help make your marketing varied yet consistent. Once you've made a few creative assets, you can provide them to affiliates so they can advertise your business in places such as their social media accounts.

Conclusion

Affiliate marketing spending is on the rise. That means there's a lot of potential for using influencers to advertise your company. Fortunately, starting your own affiliate marketing program can be simple with the right tools.

In this article, we showed you three steps to begin your affiliate program:

  1. Choose and install a pricing plan from Easy Affiliate.
  2. Customize the main settings, such as the commission structure.
  3. Help your influencers succeed with a clear structure and dynamic assets.

Do you have any questions about starting your own affiliate marketing program? Let us know in the comments section below!

If you liked this post, be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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How to Start a Membership Business (In 3 Steps)

If you sell products online, you can benefit from a strong, dedicated customer base. One of the best ways to do this is by creating your own membership site. However, you might not fully understand what that undertaking involves.

Fortunately, this format can be quite simple and accessible even to beginners. By understanding the basic format of a membership site and using the right tools, you can get your own business up and running in no time.

In this article, we’ll cover a few reasons you might want to start your own membership business. Then we’ll take you through three steps to help you begin with confidence. Let’s get started!

Why You Might Want to Start a Membership Business

A membership site is any website that has member-exclusive content. They make a profit by charging users to become members. One example of this kind of page is You Are Nourished by Lauren Gayfer:

An image of Lauren Gayfer's membership site, You Are Nourished.

Gayfer offers food-focused advice to help people live healthier lives. Her customers pay a membership fee to access the expert content and advice.

However, you can use a membership site to sell virtually any kind of content including physical items, online courses, podcasts, even a personal blog! As long as you have an audience that's interested in your content, the potential is nearly limitless.

You probably won't be surprised to know, then, that this model comes with a range of benefits. One of the major advantages is that running a membership site can enable you to be own boss and pursue your passions.

In addition to this, starting a membership business can put you in touch with other enthusiasts in your niche. Membership sites can be a great way to build an online community and network with like-minded individuals.

Finally, for business owners there's one obvious benefit: profit. Membership sites can be extremely lucrative. For example, a recent study showed that 85% of people are willing to pay for a dating membership that fits their needs. Moreover, nearly a quarter of respondents are willing to pay over $25.

For all these reasons and more, membership sites are an effective way to do what you love and make a living from it.

How to Start a Membership Business (In 3 Steps)

Starting a membership site can be a great way to make money, and it doesn't have to be complicated. The steps below should give you a general idea of how to get started.

Most importantly, you'll need a basic WordPress website set up before you begin.

Step 1: Choose a Profitable Niche

A niche is your area of focus. This is the field in which you'll offer expertise or products. With so many options available to your customers, it's a good idea to fully embrace your niche right from the beginning.

We highly recommend choosing a focus that you have a real passion for. This will make it easier to produce the large volumes of high-quality content that members may expect. However, there are other considerations as well.

It's important to consider how profitable your niche is. Even if you love something and put out stellar content, you'll need an audience that's willing to pay for it. A smart way to gauge interest is to see how many affiliate programs exist for your niche.

Moreover, it's also important to set yourself apart from competitors in your niche. Try to think of why a customer should choose your membership site over another.

For example, the popular code-learning site Codecademy offers a membership model based on computer languages. However, its landing page also emphasizes how the service will help users with the learning process:

The Codecademy membership site home page.

Codecademy also offers value in terms of user growth. This service offers multiple different coding languages. So, a user doesn't have to find a new membership site once they complete a course.

Also, consider going with a niche that is fairly broad and can be easily scaled up. Doing so may provide opportunities for business growth and increased profits in the future.

Step 2: Establish Your Membership Plans

Once you've chosen your niche, you can start thinking about your membership offerings. Most membership sites offer several pricing plans in different tiers. This system gives your audience the option to pay more for additional content.

It can also be helpful if your niche is skill-based. This is because you'll be able to target different people based on their expertise.

Alternatively, you might create tiers based on how long users will gain access to your content. The piano learning program Pianu demonstrates this approach with its pricing plans:

Pricing tiers for the membership site Pianu.

Multiple membership plans also enable you to cross-sell and upsell. As long as you don't overwhelm your audience, more tiers can mean more profit potential.

Nevertheless, a freemium model can be equally powerful. With a freemium site, you provide some of your content free of charge. Other content is placed behind a paywall.

Free content can give interested customers an idea of what your membership site is like. If you're not ready for multiple pricing plans, consider offering only one that includes a freemium element.

However you decide to organize your plans, the most important part is also the hardest: setting a price. The aim is to strike a balance between good value and healthy profits, which isn't always easy. Try keeping the anchoring effect in mind to find the perfect balance.

Step 3: Install and Set Up MemberPress

While our Buy Now Plus tool can help you accept online payments without a dedicated page, you'll also want to download a tool that can help you to set up your site for members. Fortunately, there's a powerful WordPress plugin that makes this easy – MemberPress:

The MemberPress homepage.

MemberPress is the all-in-one solution for starting your membership site business. You'll have access to all the infrastructure you need, including:

  • Fine-grained control over who has access to what content
  • The ability to sell everything from online courses to digital downloads
  • A long list of integrations to help you leverage your favorite tools

MemberPress is also user-friendly. There's no need to worry if you're not a tech whiz – that won't stop you from starting an excellent membership site business.

First, you'll need to choose your pricing plan. Each option has different features and limitations, so we recommend you read through each one closely.

Afterward, you can download the plugin, then install and activate it on your WordPress website. When the program is ready, there are a few main steps that you may want to take care of first, such as:

  • Establishing a payment method
  • Adding restricted access rules
  • Creating a registration page

For more information on how to perform these tasks, we highly recommend following the MemberPress setup guide. This document can help you start your membership site business in as few as five minutes.

Conclusion

Starting a membership site business can seem like an overwhelming task. Between the technology involved and the planning required, you might feel like it's too much to keep track of. Fortunately, you can simplify the process by taking the right approach.

In this article, we covered three steps to help you get started with a membership website:

  1. Select a niche that is both enjoyable and profitable.
  2. Lay out your membership plan structure.
  3. Choose powerful software such as MemberPress to equip your website.

Do you have any questions about starting a membership site business? Let us know in the comments section below!

If you liked this post, be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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4 Tips From Successful Small Business Owners

Many people dream of becoming their own boss. However, with 31.7 million small businesses in the U.S., your new venture will likely face some stiff competition.

By making smart decisions early on, you can give your business the best possible chance of finding a place in today’s crowded market.

Regardless of your entrepreneurial idea, there are several universal best practices that can set you up for success.

In this post, we’ll share four tips from successful small business owners. We’ll look at how to drive more customers to your website, reduce those sky-high cart abandonment rates, and even explore how your closest competitors can actually help your business succeed. Let’s get started! 

1. Prioritize Customer Support

Customer service is the direct connection between you and your customers. Get it right, and you’ll have no problem transforming one-time buyers into loyal repeat customers.

When it comes to delivering five star customer service, speed is everything. According to research, 66% of shoppers state that valuing their time is the most important factor in customer service. In fact, when they reach out for help, 82% of consumers expect a response in ten minutes or less. 

If you’re going to meet these expectations, it’s vital that you make customer service a priority. However, as a busy business owner, it may not always be feasible to respond to support requests immediately, especially if you don’t have a large customer service department. 

If the ten-minutes-or-less rule feels impossible, a chatbot may be the answer. With the help of a bot, your customers will have instant access to support at any time of the day or night. 

These bots can be a lifesaver for overstretched small businesses, but they also appear to be popular among consumers. According to research, over 67% of shoppers used a chatbot in 2019. 

There are various WordPress chatbots to choose from, including the Tidio plugin. This popular chatbot is customizable, so you can update its User Interface (UI) to reflect your company’s branding:

Many small business owners choose to use a chatbot plugin.

Alternatively, you can create your own chatbot. This may sound complex, but there are services to help you build your bot, including the Botsify platform and HubSpot’s marketing plugin:

The HubSpot WordPress plugin.

Self-help resources can be another way to provide around-the-clock support. Online documentation, FAQs, knowledge bases, and video tutorials are all popular self-help methods.

2. Learn From Your Customers

No matter how much time and effort you invest into your small business, there’s always room for improvement. To keep moving forward, you'll need to be willing to learn from your customers.

This may involve asking consumers for their feedback. Wherever possible, it’s smart to integrate these feedback requests into your normal workflows. For example, you might use your email automation software to request a product review every time a customer makes a purchase. 

Some customer-focused tools can even request feedback automatically. For instance, it’s not uncommon for chatbots to ask the customer to rate their interaction when they try to exit the chat window. This can generate valuable information, which you can then use to improve your small business. 

However, this information can be biased. Humans are subconsciously influenced by social conventions, and may tailor their feedback to align with the expected response. 

For this reason, you may also want to monitor your audience using a tool such as Google Analytics. This can provide an insight into subconscious customer behavior, and how users respond to your content and campaigns:

Many small business owners use a tool such as Google Analytics.

By deploying these two techniques simultaneously, you can gain a deeper understanding of your target audience. This is essential for improving the overall customer experience and optimizing your business website.

3. Spy on Other Small Business Owners

Chances are your business has several close competitors. While these organizations may feel like the bane of your existence, they can also be a valuable learning tool. 

With over 40% of revenue for most stores originating from organic traffic, it’s important to get your SEO right. You can set yourself up for SEO success by using a tool such as Keyword Explorer to discover the terms your competitors are ranking for.

You can then analyze those high-performing keywords and identify any that are relevant to your business:

The Moz Keyword Explorer tool.

By targeting these keywords, you may be able to improve your search engine rankings.

Backlinks are another valuable way to boost your traffic and secure extra sales. You can identify competitor content that has generated lots of backlinks using a tool such as Link Explorer:

Link Explorer can be a useful tool for small business owners.

This can help you pinpoint topics that generate the most buzz. If you can produce similar content to a higher standard, then you stand a good chance of earning valuable backlinks.

Once you’ve refined your SEO and content marketing strategies, it’s time to turn your attention to social media. With over 2.7 billion monthly active users, Facebook can be an effective way to reach new customers.  

If you’ve created a Facebook page for your small business, you’re off to a good start. However, it’s not enough to simply post content and hope for the best. It’s also important to identify the days and times your customers are online, and the content that generates the most engagement.

You can use Facebook’s Pages to Watch to record when your competitors post, how often they post, and the subsequent engagement. You can then use this data to create a more effective social media strategy, without having to learn through trial and error.

4. Simplify the Purchasing Process

Cart abandonment rates are a serious problem for online businesses. Some industries even report a 96.88% abandonment rate! There’s also evidence to suggest that some customers may fill their baskets with no intention of completing the purchase, making it the digital equivalent of window shopping

This is where buy now buttons come in. These simple-but-effective buttons completely eliminate the add to basket stage, and whisk the customer directly to the checkout. This gives the consumer less time to reconsider their purchase, which is great news for your conversion rates:

Am example of a Buy Now button.

You can create a range of high-converting buy now buttons using our free Buy Now Plus service.

To create your first buy now button, just register for a free Buy Now Plus account. If you already a existing Stripe account, you'll be prompted to connect the two accounts in the sign up process. If you don't have Stripe yet, you can automatically create a new one during the signup process.

Then, just create your buy now first button to publish on your online store, website, or even your social media platform. One of the best things about Buy Now Plus is that you don't even have to run a website to use it!

Conclusion 

Launching a new business isn’t easy, and the line between success and failure can be fine. However, with the right tools, techniques, and know-how, you can achieve start-up success.

Let’s quickly recap four tips from successful small business owners: 

  1. Prioritize customer support by using chatbots.
  2. Learn from your customers by requesting feedback.
  3. Spy on other small business owners by doing keyword research.
  4. Simplify the purchasing process by using Buy Now Plus.

Do you have any questions about how to grow your small business? Let us know in the comments section below!

If you liked this post, be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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How to Keep It Simple and Keep Your Customers (3 Tips)

In today’s always on, always connected world, you have more opportunities than ever to communicate with your customers. However, you also have more chances to overwhelm and even alienate your target audience.

With the typical internet user suffering from information overload, you may be able to stand out from the crowd by doing less. By stripping your marketing down to its essentials, you can help even the most overwhelmed shopper make a smart purchasing decision and inspire customer loyalty. 

In this post, we’ll discuss why keeping it simple may be the key to retaining your customers. We’ll then share three tips on how to do less while achieving more. Let’s get started! 

Why Keeping It Simple May Be the Key to Retaining Your Customers

When trying to appeal to today’s tech-savvy consumer, more isn’t always better. There’s a misconception that the more content you provide, the greater your chances will be of holding the customer’s attention.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that a constant stream of marketing campaigns is the only way to grow your audience. However, this may not always work.

For many shoppers, the sheer amount of online content can be completely overwhelming. If you bombard people with even more information, you may be putting them off rather than drawing them in.

With this in mind, it makes sense to focus on decision simplicity. This is where you provide your customers with just enough data to make an informed purchasing decision – and no more.

For people who are already feeling overwhelmed, this can make your business far more appealing than a competitor who is pumping out content 24/7. 

How to Keep It Simple and Keep Your Customers (3 Tips)

While it’s tempting to try and wow the customer, information overload is a very real phenomenon. By taking a less-is-more approach, you can cut through all of the noise and help your audience make stress-free purchasing decisions.

Let's take a look at how to keep it simple and keep your customers, in three easy steps. 

1. Personalize the Customer Experience

When you’re trying to appeal to your entire customer base, it’s easy to overwhelm the individual with irrelevant information. Instead of taking a one-size-fits-all approach, you may want to focus on delivering a personalized experience.

This can help minimize the amount of content the visitor has to deal with, which can simplify the purchasing decision. 

If you want to provide a personalized shopping experience, it might make sense to offer customers a membership service. This is often essential for creating a complete record of the individual’s preferences, habits, and behavior.

All of this data is invaluable for delivering a highly personalized, highly persuasive customer experience.

There are a number of membership plugins available for WordPress, but MemberPress is leading option

Keep your customers, using a membership plugin such as MemberPress.

You can use this plugin to display different content depending on the shopper’s role and capabilities. This can be a quick and easy way to hide information that’s irrelevant to the individual, and prioritize the content that’s more likely to make them convert. 

Meanwhile, if you’re using the popular WooCommerce ecommerce platform, there are a number of add-ons that can help you tailor your website to each user. This includes WooCommerce Customer History:

The WooCommerce History add-on can help you keep your customers.

The Customer History add-on records how each visitor browses your store, and maintains a full purchase history log. You can then use this information to strip out all the unnecessary content and create a more streamlined purchasing journey. 

2. Simplify the Purchasing Journey

By reducing the number of screens the shopper has to navigate, you can reduce the amount of information they come into contact with. This is where a buy now button can be your secret weapon. 

These call to action (CTA) buttons promise to simplify the purchasing journey by transporting the customer directly to the checkout page. You can quickly and easily create this button using our free Buy Now Plus service.

Simply connect Buy Now Plus to your existing Stripe account, or create a new free Stripe account right in the Buy Now Plus setup process. Then you’re ready to create a wide range of high-converting buy now buttons:

The Buy Now Plus dashboard.

After creating a button, you can even deploy it across multiple platforms. This helps you provide a consistent and seamless experience regardless of whether the customer is making a purchase from your website, social media accounts, or marketing emails.

By providing this kind of omnichannel shopping experience, you can make the purchasing process feel effortless and intuitive across multiple platforms. This can help you improve your customer retention rates. 

3. Segment Your Email Campaigns

According to Adobe’s Email Usage Study, Americans spend over five hours a day checking their emails. That’s a huge window of time where you could be promoting your products.

However, most businesses are fully aware of this opportunity, so your typical shopper is probably already drowning in marketing emails. If you add to the pressure, it’s unlikely to end well. The consumer might ignore your messages or unsubscribe from your email list.

Therefore, it’s important to minimize the number of times you contact the customer, while still using email marketing to drive conversions. The best way to achieve this tricky balancing act is by using segmentation. 

A segmented email campaign is where you send targeted messages to your subscribers based on their characteristics or actions, such as their purchase histories. This enables you to replace multiple generic messages with a single email that speaks to the individual shopper’s needs. 

Even if the customer is feeling swamped, highly-targeted messages can still spark a positive reaction. In fact, segmented email campaigns experience 74.53% higher click rates compared to non-segmented campaigns, and companies report a 760% increase in revenue from segmented emails.

All of the major email automation programs support segmentation. Many WordPress plugins also have built-in support for targeted emails, including the free MailPoet plugin:

The MailPoet plugin can help you send targeted emails.

MailPoet comes with an easy-to-use newsletter builder and a selection of responsive templates. It also enables you to send automatic WooCommerce emails.

For instance, you can welcome your new customers, send emails to shoppers who purchased a particular product, and reach out to those who abandoned their carts.

Conclusion 

When it comes to selling your products, the customer needs just enough information to make an informed purchasing decision – and not a single word more.

While it’s tempting to try to dazzle your audience, your typical internet user is already suffering from information overload and won’t thank you for adding to it.

Let’s quickly recap how you can avoid overwhelming your customers: 

  1. Personalize the shopping experience by creating a membership site with MemberPress.
  2. Simplify the purchasing journey by using buy now buttons with Buy Now Plus.
  3. Segment your email campaigns by using a WordPress plugin like MailPoet.

Do you have any questions about how to keep it simple and keep your customers? Let us know in the comments section below!

If you liked this post, be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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How Stripe Protects You From Fraud (5 Ways)

Enabling debit and credit card payments is one of the most effective ways to sell products online. However, it can also put your business at risk for fraudulent purchases.

Fortunately, you can use a reliable ecommerce platform like Stripe to ensure that you and your customers are safe. Stripe has many checks and balances in place that can help prevent fraud and alert you to suspicious activity.

In this guide, we'll take a closer look at Stripe and how it works with Buy Now Plus. We'll then look at five ways Stripe protects you against fraudulent payments. Let's get started!

An Introduction to Stripe

Stripe is one of the most popular ecommerce payment platforms on the market. It offers a complete suite that enables you to receive payments, send invoices, track your business analytics, and access financing:

Stripe homepage

Stripe is also very flexible, and you can use it with most application programming interfaces (APIs). It has pre-built integrations with leading ecommerce systems, so you can easily adapt it to your business' needs.

Buy Now Plus actually runs on Stripe. That means when you use it, you get access to all of the fraud protection and secure payments Stripe offers. Additionally, Buy Now Plus has a 2% flat fee for transactions and is incredibly user-friendly.

To get rolling, all you need to do is click “Start Selling” on the homepage.

Buy Now Plus homepage

When you enter the signup process, you'll get the option to login to your existing Stripe account, or you can create a new free Stripe account, all from within the BNP signup interface.

Getting back to the point at hand… online payment fraud is unfortunately common. In 2020, ecommerce businesses worldwide lost approximately $17.5 billion due to fraud. In addition, experts predict this amount will increase to more than $20 billion in 2021. Therefore, it's in the best interests of your business to choose a platform with fraud protection, like Stripe.

How Stripe Protects You From Fraud (5 Ways)

As we've seen, Stripe helps protect your business against fraudulent payments. Next, let's look at the strategies that it uses to do this.

1. Stripe Chargeback Protection

Stripe Chargeback Protection can be an essential tool for ecommerce sites. This service can protect your business if a customer issues a payment dispute:

Stripe Chargeback Protection page

For example, a customer may claim that you have falsely charged them or overcharged them. Whether the claim is fraudulent or not, Stripe can cover the disputed amount and any associated fees.

As a bonus, Stripe doesn't require you to submit evidence against chargeback requests. This means that you won't need to waste time or money on resolving these issues.

Stripe can thus protect your business against fraudulent claims. In turn, it can prevent you from losing money on legitimate transactions. You can add Stripe Chargeback Protection by enabling it in your Stripe Checkout.

2. Device Characteristic Signals

Stripe has an in-built fraud detection service called Radar. It uses machine learning to analyze billions of data points on payments made across the globe. By doing so, it can identify potentially fraudulent transactions:

Stripe Radar feature

Device characteristic signals are some of the key data that Radar analyzes. This information refers to signals that come from customers' internet browsers, screens, and mobile devices.

This device characteristic data can tell Stripe what typical browsing behavior is for users. If a transaction and its associated signals fall outside of this behavior, it could signal fraudulent activity.

Radar collects this data continually in order to improve its understanding of consumer behavior. If it notices a high-risk fraudulent purchase, it blocks it automatically. With elevated risk payments, the payment goes into a review process for further investigation.

3. Activity Indicator Signals

Stripe's Radar also analyzes activity indicator signals. This data looks at how long users spend on pages, and how long they take to complete transactions or fill out the information in forms.

For example, a bot can navigate pages a lot faster than the average person, and often inserts card details with the copy-paste function. If Stripe picks up that a potential purchase is being processed too quickly, it can identify that it is a bot and not a real person.

Like with device characteristic signals, Stripe's Radar continually collects and analyzes activity indicator data. In this way, it can identify new patterns and protect your business from fraud.

4. Card Verification Code Checks

Cards have various details that a customer must provide in order to complete a purchase. One of these is the Card Verification Code (CVC), which you can find on the back of a debit or credit card. Customers need to enter this number when they complete a transaction, as well as the card account number and expiry date.

Radar protects against fraudulent purchases by automatically denying any transactions that have the incorrect CVC. Therefore, it can stop payments made from leaked card information.

5. Address Verification Checks

Stripe's Radar also verifies the address attached to a card account. It checks the data held by the card issuer and determines if the postcode and street address are consistent with the account details.

Radar automatically denies payments that don't have the correct postcode. It can thus prevent fraudulent payments with stolen cards.

It may also block legitimate purchases where the customer has entered the address incorrectly. You can opt-in or out of this verification check by enabling or disabling it on your Stripe dashboard.

Conclusion

Stripe is one of the most secure ecommerce platforms available. It has various checks and balances to prevent fraud and notify you of suspicious purchases. Moreover, Buy Now Plus is totally powered by Stripe.

Let's quickly recap the five ways that Stripe can protect your business:

  1. It prevents fraudulent chargebacks with Stripe Chargeback Protection.
  2. It identifies unusual browsing behavior.
  3. It analyzes activity indicators and identifies bots.
  4. It runs CVC checks.
  5. It performs address verification checks.

Do you have any questions about using Stripe with Buy Now Plus? Let us know in the comments section below!

If you liked this post, be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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5 Small Businesses You Can Start for Under $200

If you're tired of working for an employer, you may be looking to start your own business. However, this can be expensive, with many small businesses costing at least $2,000 to set up. If you don't have that kind of capital, you may be looking for more affordable options.

Fortunately, there are plenty of business ventures you can explore without spending a lot of money. You can tap into your creative side, share your professional expertise, or coach other people. By identifying your skills and strengths, you can monetize them and start generating income.

In this guide, we'll take a look at five different small businesses that you can start for under $200. We'll also outline the skills and resources you will need for each one. Let's get started!

1. Consulting

Many companies hire experts to help them with their business strategies. If you have expertise in a particular area, like finance or law, you can offer your consulting services to different companies in your industry.

For instance, Bain & Company is an international consulting firm that works with organizations in various industries, including finance, healthcare, and retail:

Homepage of a consulting company called Bain & Company

In the United States, freelance consultants make an average salary of $78,922. Therefore, if you have the skills and knowledge to offer, you could potentially set up a very profitable business.

To get started, you'll need to set up a website to promote your services. WordPress equipped with a membership plugin is a great option.

You'll also have to spend some money on a domain name and web hosting service. However, many hosting companies offer very affordable plans for first-time buyers.

2. Tutoring

Tutoring can be a lucrative business if you're qualified in a particular field. For example, you could teach a foreign language to students or professionals.

Tutors make an average of $18 per hour. However, if you have a degree you may be able to charge much more.

To get started, you can sign up with an established tutoring company, such as Tutor.com:

Homepage of tutoring website Tutor.com

You could also create your own website to advertise your services. Remember that you'll need to pay for a domain name and a hosting service to keep it running.

As a tutor, you can create your own lesson plans and host your lessons online or in person. You don't need a large investment to set up this business, and you can purchase additional resources like textbooks as your company grows.

3. Freelancing

Freelancing is one of the most flexible businesses you can start. Rather than working for one company, you can deal directly with different clients and work on your own terms.

There are many freelancing options, including writing, blogging, graphic design, programming, and working as a personal assistant. You can also draw upon your skills and experience from previous jobs .

Freelancers make an average of $21 per hour. However, if you are an expert in your field, you may be able to charge much higher rates.

There are various ways to find jobs as a freelancer. For instance, you can join an established freelancing marketplace like Upwork:

The Upwork homepage

Alternatively, you could try to source your own clients through advertising and reaching out to your personal network. You might also want to set up a LinkedIn account and pitch your services to potential clients.

4. Selling eBooks and Other Digital Products

If you have writing talents and great ideas, you could make money by publishing e-books or other digital material. You can write in any genre, from short novels to travel guides, depending on your interests.

As the creator, you can set your own prices for your ebooks. In 2020, customers purchased more than 191 million ebooks in the United States, so there is a large market for this material:

The eBooks homepage

Creating and selling ebooks doesn't have to be expensive. You can create the template for free through an application like Canva. Then you can approach publishers or use a self-publishing service like Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing.

Alternatively, you could sell your digital products on your site. We recommend using our Buy Now Plus service to add high-converting buy now buttons to your product pages:

The Buy Now Plus homepage

Our program is free to use and very easy to install. Moreover, Buy Now Plus is powered by Stripe and charges a flat 2% fee on your transactions.

If you want to maximize your ebook sales on the cheap, you might want to consider setting up an affiliate program. To do this, you can use a plugin like Easy Affiliate, which helps you create a self-hosted affiliate program and manage your affiliates from a user-friendly dashboard.

5. Fitness Coaching

If you love fitness or have professional accreditation, you could create an online fitness program. For example, you could upload videos of yoga routines and workouts:

The Glo fitness website homepage

At the end of 2019, the online fitness market was worth approximately $6 million. Analysts predict it will grow in value to $59 million by 2027, so there is an opportunity to make significant profits in this industry.

An effective way to make money from your online courses is to build a fitness membership site.

With this type of site, you can upload instructional videos and customize your subscription settings so that only paid members can access this content. Additionally, you can offer a discounted or free trial period to attract new business.

Conclusion

Starting your own business doesn’t need to cost a fortune. By capitalizing on your existing skills and interests, you could quickly set up a small business and start making money.

Let's recap our main ideas for starting a business for under $200:

  1. Offer your consulting services to other companies.
  2. Give online lessons to students and professionals.
  3. Freelance in your area of expertise, such as web design and photography.
  4. Write e-books and sell them on your site, using Buy Now Plus.
  5. Create an online fitness program and set up a membership site.

Do you have any questions about starting your own business? Let us know in the comments section below!

If you liked this post, be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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Join the Great Resignation (Start Your Ecommerce Business in 3 Steps)

In 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a record number of resignations. You may dream of joining the great resignation, but quitting your job is never a decision to take lightly.

Fortunately, there is an industry that’s going from strength to strength. By starting your own ecommerce business in 2021, you can finally become your own boss without feeling like you’re taking a massive gamble.

In this post, we’ll look at why more people are quitting their jobs than ever before. We’ll then show you how to start your ecommerce business in three easy (and affordable) steps. Let’s get started!

An Overview of the Great Resignation (And Why You May Want to Join It)

The number of people quitting their jobs is on the rise. There are many reasons why so many employees are joining the great resignation, including burnout.

While exhaustion has always been an issue within the workforce, 67% of employees feel that burnout has worsened over the course of the pandemic. For tired and overworked employees, a change of career may seem like the perfect solution. 

The seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic has inspired many people to re-evaluate their lives, including their jobs. The historic rise in resignations could signify that employees are taking actionable steps to improve their work situation. 

Whatever the reasons for it, this trend shows no signs of slowing down. The job site Monster reports that 95% of US employees are currently considering a career change. If you’re one of these people, then it may be time to start your own ecommerce business. 

While the pandemic forced many physical stores to close their doors, it also sparked an online shopping revolution. In 2021, over 2.14 billion people are forecast to purchase goods and services online. That’s a lot of potential customers for your new venture.

In fact, with the global population expected to reach 7.87 billion people in 2021, these figures suggest you could be promoting your online products and services to around 27% of the world’s inhabitants. 

If you already run a website, you could add ecommerce functionality to your existing content. For example, if you run a successful membership site, you might consider creating a members-only store. This can be a way to monetize your audience and turn all of your hard work into profit. 

Join the Great Resignation (Start Your Ecommerce Business in 3 Steps)

According to Microsoft, 41% of people plan to change jobs in 2021. If you’re eager to join them, then starting your own ecommerce business may be the answer. Here’s how to become your own boss in three easy steps.

Step 1: Find Your Niche

Running an ecommerce business offers many opportunities, but there’s also lots of competition. With more and more online stores opening every day, you may get the best results by focusing on a specific niche. 

Choosing a niche immediately reduces the competition and gives you a stronger brand identity. In particular, it helps differentiate your venture from ecommerce giants such as Amazon, which already excels at being all things to all people:

The Amazon ecommerce site.

By promoting products that have huge appeal to a very specific audience, you can often achieve more conversions and a higher Return On Investment (ROI). With this niche approach, you can also tailor every part of your business to speak to the deep needs of your target audience

If you don’t already have a niche in mind, then the next step is identifying some products that you’re passionate about.

By specializing in items that you’re genuinely interested in, you can tap into an authentic drive and enthusiasm that will influence your business. For example, this passion can enhance your marketing and advertising campaigns.

While it’s a good idea to keep your business tightly focused, it’s important to find a big enough niche to generate healthy revenue.

Here, you can use tools such as Google Trends to evaluate the level of interest in the products you’re considering stocking:

The Google Trends dashboard can help you join the great resignation.

When crunching these numbers, keep in mind that you’ll want to grow your business over time. This means there should be enough interest to support your future expansion. 

Step 2: Create a Business Plan

A business plan is a written document that defines what your ecommerce business is, the activities it’ll perform, and its core objectives. It also details how you’re going to achieve those aims. 

By creating a business plan now, you can verify that your grand idea has the potential to be a viable ecommerce company before you start pouring time and money into it.

This document can also help you secure funding without a proven track record if you're seeking external investment. 

Every business plan is different, but most documents start with an executive summary. This outlines your ecommerce business and its mission statement. 

Next, you’ll detail your products and pricing, how your business benefits the customer, and your Unique Selling Point (USP). If you’re focusing on a niche, this is the place to stress that you’re offering a specialist, focused service.

This is also the perfect opportunity to demonstrate a deep understanding of your target audience and prove the demand for your products.

Even if this document is for internal use only, it’s a good idea to include a section on financial planning. This can help you budget and balance your cash flow. Otherwise, you risk negative cash flow completely derailing your operation.

3. Generate Buy Now Buttons

It’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming that your new ecommerce venture requires a website. While many successful businesses do operate an online store, this isn’t a necessity. 

Designing, developing, and launching a digital shop requires a significant amount of financial investment. This includes purchasing web hosting, securing a domain name, and potentially even hiring specialist designers and developers.

If you want to minimize your running costs, then you can operate an entire ecommerce business and sell anything from anywhere, thanks to Buy Now Plus:

The Buy Now Plus dashboard.

You can use our free online service to generate a wide range of buy now buttons. Buy Now Plus operates on top of the popular Stripe payment gateway, so you can even accept credit card payments without an online store:

The Stripe checkout can be useful tool for joining the great resignation.

After creating these buttons, you can post them to any location that accepts text, including all major social media platforms.

You can even sign up for an email automation service such as ActiveCampagn, and run email campaigns featuring your buy now buttons.

Conclusion

Quitting your job is never a decision to take lightly. However, if you’ve always dreamed of running your own ecommerce business, then now may be the perfect opportunity. 

Let’s quickly recap how to launch your own ecommerce venture and join the great resignation:

  1. Find your niche.
  2. Create a business plan.
  3. Generate buy now buttons, using a tool such as Buy Now Plus.

Do you have any other questions about how to start a successful ecommerce business? Let us know in the comments section below!

If you liked this post, be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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4 Ways Accepting Cash Can Cost Your Business

Statistics show that modern consumers overwhelmingly prefer to pay by card, yet millions of small businesses still only accept cash. As a result, these businesses are missing out on an estimated 11.8 million customers.

For many retailers, the decision to operate on a cash-only policy is based on the belief that it will save them money. They assume it will enable them to avoid hefty card payment processing fees.

However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. On the contrary, accepting cash can actually hurt your bottom line.

In this article, we’ll reveal four ways that accepting cash can cost your business money. Then we’ll discuss how you can avoid these risks by going cashless with the help of Buy Now Plus. Let’s get started!

1. It Can Lead to Revenue Loss

According to recent research, 73% of customers said they’d leave a store without making a purchase if there were no card payment terminal and they didn’t have cash on hand. This is especially significant now, given that people are carrying less cash than they were pre-pandemic.

Not only that, but nearly half of Australians feel inconvenienced if they can’t pay by card. The upshot of this is clear: if you’re not offering a card payment option, you’re not giving your customers what they want.

This can indirectly impact your revenue, since customers who feel they’ve had a negative experience are less likely to act as brand advocates for your business. They might even leave a negative review, thus deterring other customers from doing business with you.

Even those customers who are happy to pay with cash tend to spend less when doing so, as they feel more connected to the purchase. Physically handing over cash feels a lot more “real” than just touching a piece of plastic to a payment terminal.

2. It Exposes You to Increased Security Risks

Accepting cash can expose you to additional security risks that may cost your business money. These include:

  • Accidental acceptance of counterfeit notes. Providing your staff with adequate training to detect and reject counterfeit notes takes time, which increases labor costs.
  • Internal theft. Accepting cash and holding it on your premises puts you at risk of internal theft by your team members.
  • Change scams. Some customers may attempt “change scams”, in which they try to confuse you or your staff into giving them more change than they’re entitled to.
  • Break-ins/robberies. Holding cash makes your premises a more attractive target for burglars. This doesn’t just put you and your staff in physical danger; it also exposes you to significant financial risks.

Aside from the above. you may also have to spend more money on security-related costs, such as:

  • Theft-prevention measures. This includes CCTV, alarms, theft prevention officers/security guards, etc.
  • Courier costs. Cash deposits of large amounts need to be handled securely. In many cases, this means paying a secure courier to transport it safely to the bank.
  • Higher insurance costs. Handling cash may increase your business' insurance premiums.

Not accepting cash payments minimizes the above risks or avoids them completely. A recent report shows that the risk of robberies decreases with the use of digital payments.

3. There Are Hidden Costs of Handling Cash

The idea that accepting cash is cheap is a myth. Many business owners think that accepting card payments is expensive. However, the reality is that handling cash costs a lot more.

Credit card processing fees typically range from 1–3%, whereas cash handling costs around 5–15%, according to research from IHL Group. These hidden costs of cash handling come from:

  • Higher labor costs. Labor is one of the biggest costs of handling cash. Employees must spend time giving out change, calculating floats, keeping records, and performing other banking-related tasks.
  • Working capital tied up in business cash floats. This could be reduced significantly if transactions were handled electronically.
  • Administrative errors. Humans aren’t perfect – we all make mistakes from time to time. Unfortunately, simple administrative errors can cost your business money.
  • Bank fees for cash deposits. Some banks charge business customers fees for large cash deposits.

These costs quickly add up. However, once again, you can avoid all of them by offering digital payment methods instead of cash.

4. It Leads to Operational Inefficiencies

Finally, accepting cash can also lead to operational inefficiencies that eat into your potential profits. For example, dealing with cash at checkout takes much longer than processing contactless transactions.

This can lead to longer lines and limit your ability to serve as many customers as possible – and fewer customers served means fewer sales.

If you don’t have enough change on-hand in your store, you might have to temporarily close the store (or at least, leave it understaffed) while you go out to get some. In the time you’re closed, you might miss out on potential sales.

How to Go Cashless Using Buy Now Buttons

Businesses can avoid the drawbacks of accepting cash by going cashless. However, if you’re a small business owner, the prospect of implementing cashless payment technology may seem a little daunting.

Don’t worry – it’s not as complicated or costly as you might think.

If you want to start accepting digital payments online, the simplest way to do so is by using Buy Now Plus to add a buy now button to your business website or social pages:

Screenshot of the Buy Now Plus homepage

Our Buy Now Plus service makes it easy to sell your products or services anywhere on the internet through stylish buy now buttons. It offers super-low fees, and only takes a few minutes to set up.

All you have to do is sign up for free. If you already have a free Stripe account, it will be connected during the signup process automatically. And if you don't have a free Stripe account, the signup process will automatically set you up with one.

Image of Buy Now Plus sign up page in which the user connects their account to Stripe

After that, you can create your buy now button and add it to any compatible platform using the provided embed code:

The 'create a new button' interface on Buy Now Plus

To start accepting card payments in-store, you'll most likely want to use a (POS) card payment terminal. There are many different POS suppliers on the market, so you'll have to shop around to find the best deal.

Most will quote you a basic rate for credit and debit card transactions. This might be a percentage of the transaction value (e.g. 2%) or a fixed rate.

Conclusion

Accepting cash might seem like a smart business move, but it can actually hurt your bottom line. Fortunately, going cashless isn’t as hard as you might think.

You can use Buy Now Plus to add buttons to your website or social pages, and start accepting payments online in minutes.

Let’s quickly recap the main ways accepting cash can cost your business money:

  1. It can lead to revenue loss.
  2. It exposes you to increased security risks.
  3. There are hidden costs of handling cash.
  4. It can lead to operational inefficiencies.

Does your business plan on going cashless this year? Let us know in the comments section below!

If you liked this post, be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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4 Ways to Increase Sales That Might Surprise You

When it comes to increasing your sales, you’ll find plenty of advice online. However, the key to grabbing people’s attention is often catching them off guard. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to achieve this when everyone’s using the same techniques.

The good news is there are many ways you can get creative with your marketing, or put a fresh spin on a familiar sales technique.

By stepping outside the box, you can immediately stand out from the competition, and perhaps even secure some additional conversions in the process.

In this post, we’ll share four ways to increase sales that might surprise you. We’ll also discuss tips for implementing each of these techniques, so you can be confident that you’re getting the most out of your marketing activities. Let’s get started! 

1. Monitor Your Competitors on Social Media

With over 2.7 billion monthly active users, Facebook offers an opportunity to promote your products and services to a huge audience. Creating a Facebook Business Page is a great start, but it’s not enough to simply post content and hope for the best. 

To get the maximum return on investment (ROI), you should identify the days and times when your target audience is online. You may also want to look at the type of content that your audience responds most positively to. 

While you could learn from trial and error, you can get a head start by monitoring your closest competitors. Facebook’s Pages to Watch feature can record when your competitors post, how often they post, and their engagement:

Increase sales with Facebook's Pages to Watch feature.

You can then use this data to inform your own social media activities. For example, if content posted on Monday morning generates the most engagement, then it may make sense to publish your own content at this time. 

To start spying on the competition, head over to your Facebook Business Page and select Insights > Overview. Then scroll to the Pages to Watch section: 

Facebook's Pages to Watch feature.

Next, select Add Pages. In the popup, type the first page that you want to monitor and select it:

The Facebook Insights dashboard can help you increase sales.

You can add several brands to your watch list. When you're ready, click on Done. Facebook will now spy on these pages for you, and display all of their activities in your Insights dashboard.

2. Run a User Generated Content (UGC) Contest 

Running a contest is a great way to create buzz around your products. However, to get the maximum ROI, you may want to base your competitions around user generated content (UGC). This is content like product reviews and customer testimonials created by someone outside your business.

There are different ways you can put a competitive slant on UGC. For instance, you could challenge your customers to take the most creative photos featuring your products.

You could ask your social media followers to submit content based on a theme, such as photos of their furry friends on National Pet Day:

A UGC-focused contest.

Alternatively, you could post a photo and ask your followers to come up with a funny caption: 

An example of a caption contest.

This is already a great opportunity to interact with your audience. However, you can take this engagement to the next level by picking a shortlist of potential winners, and then asking your followers to vote by liking, sharing, or commenting on their favorite entries. 

This approach can transform your nominees into temporary brand advocates. That's because they'll probably encourage their friends and family to interact with your content in order to secure more votes.

This exposure and engagement can have a positive impact on your sales. To get started quickly, consider adding a plugin like RafflePress to your site. 

RafflePress plugin homepage

RafflePress makes it super easy to create and manage contests and giveaways. It has pre-built templates and a drag-and-drop builder, so you can quickly build your contest's landing page.

It also has fraud protection, so you don't have to worry about cheating. What's really great is that the free version of RafflePress includes a feature that helps you set up contest rules.

With paid plans, you get more features like email marketing and CRM integrations, viral sharing, polls and surveys, and image submission entries.

3. Generate Large Amounts of Content, Fast

With experts attributing over 40% of revenue to organic traffic, it’s impossible to overestimate the importance of search engine optimization (SEO). Having a publishing schedule is an essential part of an effective SEO strategy.

Content may be king, but it can be difficult to publish a steady stream of new material. Thankfully, there are ways to quickly generate content without compromising on quality. 

In addition to running UGC contests, you could accept guest posts or partner with third parties who can provide you with valuable content in exchange for backlinks.

You could also collect interesting statistics on a subject matter related to your industry, and then publish them as a post.

Data-driven content can be quick to write, and people love to share it:

An example of a statistics blog.

Another option is to interview thought leaders and experts in your industry, then publish this content in multiple formats.

For example, you might post the video to your YouTube channel, include snippets in your podcast, or turn the conversation into an engaging article.

If you already have a library of content, it’s always worth looking for opportunities to refresh and republish old posts.

This might involve updating the information in an article, or adding new images. Putting a fresh spin on older posts can be quicker and easier than creating entirely new content.

4. Leverage the Power of Buy Now Buttons

Just because a customer adds an item to their cart doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed a sale. Every step in the purchasing process is another opportunity for this person to change their mind and abandon their shopping basket. In fact, 69% of customers fail to complete the checkout process.

That’s where buy now buttons come in. These enable customers to jump straight to your checkout page, leaving them with less time to rethink their purchases:

Increase sales with a Buy Now button.

You can create these powerful calls to action (CTAs) using a flexible service such as Buy Now Plus. You'll also be able to post the same button across multiple platforms, including social media.

To get started, simply connect your Stripe account to the free Buy Now Plus service. You can then create a wide range of high-converting buy now buttons without having to write a single line of code:

The Buy Now Plus dashboard.

Buy Now Plus provides everything you need to embed these buttons into your site, add them to your email marketing campaigns, and post them across social media.

For more information on how to drive conversions with buy now buttons, you can check out our complete guide.

Conclusion 

Creativity can change the way people see your brand, which is a huge benefit when you’re trying to make a powerful impression.

By putting a fresh spin on well-worn marketing techniques, you may be able to convince potential customers to choose your business over the competition.

Let’s quickly recap four unique ways to increase your sales: 

  1. Monitor your competitors on social media.
  2. Run a user generated content (UGC) contest.
  3. Generate large amounts of content, fast.
  4. Leverage the power of buy now buttons, using a service such as Buy Now Plus.

Do you have any questions about boosting sales by thinking outside the box? Ask us in the comments section below!

If you liked this post, be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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How to Get Customer Testimonials (3 Easy Ways)

Marketing and advertising are essential for raising brand awareness and securing sales. However, the modern consumer is naturally suspicious of everything that business owners have to say about their own products.

This is where customer testimonials come in. If a third party speaks highly about their experience with your business, then shoppers are more likely to pay attention – and maybe even act on that recommendation. 

In this post, we’ll explore what testimonials are and why they’re so prized by online businesses. We’ll then share three easy ways to generate all the testimonials you need to win over even the most suspicious customer. Let’s get started! 

An Introduction to Customer Testimonials (And Why They’re Important)

Consumer testimonials are recommendations from happy partners and customers who can confirm the value of your products and services. This customer feedback can take the form of lengthy case studies that are sometimes produced together by the client and the company:

An example of a customer testimonial.

In some cases, happy customers simply share their feedback. Many businesses pick their favorite reviews and present them as quotes on their sites and product listings: 

How to get more customer testimonials.

This third-party feedback can be a powerful tool for boosting your sales. According to a report from the Spiegel Research Center, people are 270% more likely to purchase a product that has reviews, as compared to a product that has none.

There’s also evidence to suggest that customer testimonials are more persuasive than any in-house marketing materials. In one study, TurnTo Networks discovered that 90% of consumers are more influenced by user-generated content such as testimonials than email marketing and search engine results.

Your bottom line is influenced by your total number of sales, but also your profit margins. If you ever need to increase your prices, customer testimonials might be the answer. In fact, data from Podium shows that 68% of customers are happy to pay up to 15% more for the same product or service if they’re confident that they’ll have a better experience. 

3 Easy Ways to Get Customer Testimonials

Positive testimonials could be the key to boosting your sales, securing new customers, and potentially increasing your prices. Here are three techniques for ensuring that your business gets the feedback it needs to thrive. 

1. Make It Easy for Customers to Leave Reviews

There’s no such thing as too much positive feedback. However, there is evidence that the first five reviews have the biggest impact on conversions. This means that you may experience an uptick in sales after just a handful of reviews.

You can use a WordPress plugin like WPForms to create a feedback form that's easy for customers to use. The plugin comes with several forms that work great for gathering feedback. One we really like is the survey form.

This form is available in the Surveys and Polls addon:

WPForms Survey Form settings

The template is pre-set, and includes fields like the Rating field and Paragraph Text field. You can even use conditional logic in these fields so that they appear only if a customer rates you below a set threshold.

2. Ask for Customer Testimonials

According to Bright Local, 76% of consumers are happy to leave a review – all you need to do is ask. To increase your chances of receiving positive reviews, it’s smart to approach the customer when their behavior indicates that they’re happy with their experience. 

If a client contacts you about renewing their subscription or leaves a positive comment on your Facebook page, that may be the ideal time to request a review. However, for busy business owners this kind of one-on-one interaction isn’t always possible.

Fortunately, there are ways to automate these requests. Many companies use email software to remind customers that they’ve recently made a purchase, and that you’d appreciate a review:

An example of a review request email.

There’s a chance that automatically contacting everyone may result in some dissatisfied customers leaving negative feedback. However, when it comes to reviews, quantity is key. 

Over half of consumers are more likely to purchase a product that has a large number of reviews and an average rating, compared to a product that has a small number of reviews and an excellent rating.

This suggests that it may be worth risking the occasional poor review, so long as it’s outnumbered by positive feedback.

If you do attract negative reviews, then we always recommend publicly responding to the person, and trying to bring their complaint to a positive conclusion.

If people see you interact with unhappy customers in a polite, helpful manner, they may feel confident that you listen to your audience and always strive to provide a good experience. This could have a positive impact on your sales.

3. Register With Popular Consumer Review Sites

When Canvas8 asked customers which sources they trust to provide honest reviews, third-party sites ranked second. Even when your audience is free to post reviews on your site, there's always the suspicion that you may be moderating this content in some way.

However, you have no control over third-party sites, which makes them a powerful tool for proving the quality of your products:

How to get customer testimonials via your Facebook Page.

If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to register your business with all of the major consumer review platforms. This includes Facebook, Tripadvisor, Yelp, and Google My Business:

Get customer testimonials for your Google listing.

Once you’re registered, we recommend monitoring these platforms carefully, as some consumer review sites highlight businesses that are responsive. This may earn you some additional reviews.

Since these review sites carry so much authority, it’s smart to show people all the platforms where your business is registered. Many developers have created plugins that make it easy to embed this third-party content on your WordPress website. This includes Reviews and Rating, which provides a widget and shortcode for your Google My Business content.

Reviews and Rating WordPress Plugin

Conclusion 

Customer testimonials are one of the most powerful forms of marketing. Research suggests that if you can secure as few as five positive reviews, you might experience an uptick in sales.

To help you set up a steady stream of positive testimonials, we’ve shared the following tips:

  1. Make it easy for customers to leave reviews, using a plugin like WPForms.
  2. Ask customers for testimonials by emailing them after they make a purchase. 
  3. Register your business with popular consumer review sites, such as Tripadvisor and Yelp.

Do you have any questions about how to secure more customer testimonials? Ask us in the comments section below!

If you liked this post, be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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How to Grow Your Profits With 3 Sales Tips From Neuroscience

As an online store owner, you’ll find plenty of advice on how to convince potential customers that your products are the best on the market. However, people don’t make purchasing decisions based on logic – they hit that buy now button due to an emotional reaction.

Thankfully, there’s an entire science dedicated to understanding the way people think and feel. By applying cutting-edge neuroscientific principles to your ecommerce site, you can create an experience where the customer feels compelled to make a purchase. 

In this post, we’ll discuss what neuroscience is and the role it can play in boosting your profits. We’ll then share three tips on how to leverage the power of the human brain in order to secure more sales. Let’s get started! 

An Introduction to Neuroscience (And How It Can Boost Your Sales)

There are various ways to gather information about your target audience. For example, you might ask customers for their feedback, perform interviews, or conduct a survey:

WPForms survey builder
With the WPForms survey builder, you can customize your customer surveys.

However, people have a tendency to seek approval by providing socially-acceptable answers. This can reduce the accuracy and usefulness of your data.

There are also many impulses, emotions, and motivations that happen subconsciously. Since your target audience isn’t aware of how these factors influence their decisions, they rarely feature in the input gathered from surveys and other popular methods of customer research.

This is where neuroscience can give you an advantage over the competition. Neuroscience is the multidisciplinary, scientific study of the brain and its impact on cognitive functions and behavior, including subconscious decision-making.

Essentially, it’s the study of how people think, which makes it a powerful tool for understanding your audience and what truly pushes them to convert.

Neuroscience teaches us that people make decisions emotionally. Armed with this information, you can optimize your marketing strategies in order to inspire an emotional reaction that will encourage conversions and maximize your profits

How to Grow Your Profits With 3 Sales Tips From Neuroscience

Sales is often referred to as an art, but it’s also a science. Using scientific principles in your business strategies can help you tap into powerful psychological and emotional cues.

Here are our top three tips for growing your profits using the power of the human brain. 

1. Become an Influencer 

Humans are wired to make decisions emotionally, and then attempt to justify those decisions with reason. According to Dan Hill in Emotionomics: “Emotions process sensory input in only one-fifth the time our conscious, cognitive brain takes to assimilate that same input.”

This means that the best way to close a sale is to trigger a positive reaction among your target audience.

Influential people tend to inspire more powerful emotional responses. However, this doesn’t mean you need to turn into an Instagram sensation or launch your own YouTube channel (although depending on your brand and your target audience, those things may help).

Instead, we recommend building a reputation as a trusted source by consistently creating useful content

A blog can be a great way to position yourself as an authority in your chosen field. Once you’re regularly publishing five-star content, you can use this to deepen your relationship with your audience.

Responding to blog comments is a good start, but it’s also smart to actively seek out online communities and platforms where your target audience already congregates. 

Different social media platforms appeal to different people. For example 80.9% of LinkedIn users are aged 24 or over. By contrast, 41% of TikTok users are aged between 16 and 24. When you’ve identified which platforms your target audience prefers, you can post your content to those networks:

The LinkedIn social network.

By performing these simple actions, you can create the public perception that you’re a helpful, engaged, and approachable business. This can ensure that when your target audience does encounter one of your products or services, their initial reaction is a positive one. 

2. Encourage Impulse Purchases 

The average American spends more than $2,100 a year on impulse purchases. This spending peaks during the holiday season, when one in three purchases are spontaneous. 

Physiologically, humans are prone to buying products and services on a whim. However, cart abandonment rates are also high, with evidence suggesting that 69% of customers fail to complete the checkout process.

Although customers are psychologically primed to add items to their basket, it seems that they’re just as prone to changing their mind.

To capitalize on this psychological phenomenon, it helps to simplify the checkout process. By giving customers fewer opportunities to rethink their purchases, you can harness the full financial potential of impulse buying. 

This is where a buy now button can be your secret weapon. You can create high-converting buttons using a service such as Buy Now Plus, and then deploy these buttons across your website: 

The Buy Now Plus dashboard.

You may even want to add your Buy Now Plus buttons across third-party platforms, using the provided sharing buttons and embed codes. This includes time-sensitive sites such as Twitter, where the additional pressure can further encourage impulse shopping.

3. Sell the Benefits, Not the Features

Many organizations fall into the trap of selling their products and services based on their features. However, as we've previously mentioned, decisions are initially influenced by emotions, not logic.

To trigger a stronger emotional response, it's important to focus on the benefits of your product.

Although benefits and features are related, they aren’t interchangeable. Features are what your product can do. For example, a security camera might automatically upload recordings to the cloud. But the benefit is what the customer can do with the product, such as keep their family safe:

The sales tips from neuroscience encourage you to focus on the benefits.

If you’re unsure which benefits to promote, you can first try to identify your audience’s pain points. Then, you can position your product or service as the solution.

To really tap into those emotional triggers, make sure you emphasize how much better the customer will feel after investing in your product and receiving the associated benefits.

Conclusion 

Neuroscience reveals that people initially make purchasing decisions based purely on emotions, and only later try to justify their choices with logic. By leveraging the power of this subconscious decision-making, you can create a persuasive, high-converting online store. 

To help grow your profits, let’s quickly recap three sales tips taken directly from neuroscience: 

  1. Became an influencer.
  2. Encourage impulse purchases, using a service such as Buy Now Plus
  3. Sell the benefits, not the features.

Do you have any questions about how to boost your revenue with the power of neuroscience? Ask us in the comments section below!

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How to Improve Sales With Social Media Content (4 Tips)

Social media represents a huge opportunity for any business owner. After all, there are over 2.7 billion monthly active Facebook users and 69.3 million Twitter users in the US alone. However, if you don’t plan your social activities carefully, it’s easy to let that opportunity go to waste.

Fortunately, there are tried-and-tested methods and tips proven to help improve your sales with social media content. By leveraging this advice, you can ensure that the time you spend on these platforms has a direct, positive impact on your profits.

In this post, we’ll discuss why social selling is more than simply posting your products across Facebook and Twitter. We’ll then share four actionable tips that you can implement today to maximize your profits. Let’s get started! 

An Introduction to Social Selling (And Why It’s Important)

Despite its name, social selling isn’t always about posting your products and services to social media. While it’s smart to keep your followers in the loop regarding new launches, discounts, and other product-related developments, this is only part of a successful social strategy. 

If you really want to smash your sales targets, we recommend using these platforms to build brand awareness and connect with prospects. You can also develop relationships with both new and existing customers by responding to their comments on platforms such as Twitter:

An example of a brand interacting with clients on social media

By actively engaging with your target audience in a positive and helpful way, you can increase the chances that yours is the first company that person considers when they’re ready to make a purchase.

Social selling can also be an effective way to keep existing customers engaged and encourage them to remain loyal to your business, rather than defecting to your competitors. 

How to Improve Sales With Social Media Content (4 Tips)

Social media has grown into a powerful marketing tool. If you’re ready to improve your sales, then here are our top tips for success:

1. Do Your Research

Today, there are countless social media platforms. With so many channels to choose from, it’s difficult to maintain a presence across every single site. 

To achieve the highest number of conversions, it’s smart to focus on the platforms where your target audience is most active. Some platforms are more popular with certain demographics. For example 41% of TikTok users are aged between 16 and 24. By contrast, 80.9% of LinkedIn users are aged 24 or over.

If you’re unsure about your target demographic, you can learn more about the people who are visiting your site and purchasing your products using a tool such as Google Analytics:

The Google Analytics dashboard.

Once you know where your audience is spending the majority of their time, you can focus all of your efforts on those platforms. This should have the greatest impact on your sales.

2. Avoid the Hard Sell

While it may sound counter-intuitive, it’s a bad idea to focus solely on driving sales. If you treat social media as an advertising channel, then you’ll probably struggle to attract a following.

Instead, we recommend building your social strategy around sharing valuable content. Ideally, you’ll already have a company blog.

These posts are great material for your accounts, but you can also create content solely for social media, such as infographics that you post directly to Twitter, Facebook, and other popular sites.

You might also share the occasional third-party resource, such as informative blog posts written by industry experts. 

With social media, the clue is in the name. Therefore, it's a good idea to always look for opportunities to engage with your audience. This may involve liking and sharing customers' posts, answering questions, or responding to comments: 

An example of a brand engaging on social media.

All of these activities can position you as a helpful, valuable person to follow on social media. Then, when you do post purely sales-focused content, your audience should be far more receptive to your message. 

3. Partner With Relevant Influencers

An online influencer is someone who has a significant digital following. Similar to a traditional celebrity endorsement, an influencer can promote your business to their fans and followers.

This can be a very effective sales strategy, with around 34% of Instagram users admitting to purchasing something due to an online influencer:

An example of an influencer partnership, which may help improve sales.

The key to a successful partnership is finding the right influencer. Ideally, there will be an overlap between the person’s fanbase and your target audience.

In addition, when there’s a relevant link between the influencer and the content they’re promoting, you can capitalize on the assumption that they only promote products they genuinely like. This can further increase your sales. 

Although it’s easy to get star-struck by the large follower numbers of social media’s heavy hitters, it’s worth noting that micro-influencers often have higher engagement rates.

This is most notable on TikTok, where micro-influencers receive 17.96% engagement, compared to 4.96% for mega-influencers. If you can identify a micro-influencer who appeals to your target audience, then you may be on to a winner.

One great way to recruit and manage social media influencers is to start your own affiliate marketing program. There are several tools that allow you to do this easily. One of our favorites is Easy Affiliate, a WordPress plugin that works beautifully with all kinds of membership and ecommerce sites.

Easy Affiliate WordPress plugin homepage

4. Leverage the Power of Buy Now Buttons

Although it shouldn’t form the core of your social content, you’ll want to spend some time promoting your products and services. However, even if a follower decides to make a purchase, they’ll still need to click through to your store in order to start the process. 

This gives the customer plenty of time to change their mind. In fact, studies show that 69% of customers abandon their shopping carts. Therefore, it’s important that you simplify the purchasing process in order to encourage people to complete an order.

This is where buy now buttons come in. When you create a button using a flexible service like Buy Now Plus, you can post them across all major social media platforms:

You can improve sales by posting Buy Now buttons to social media.

Your followers can then access the checkout process directly from their favorite social networks.

To create your first buy now button, simply connect Buy Now Plus to Stripe, then follow the onscreen instructions:

The Buy Now Plus dashboard.

We’ll also provide everything you need to post your buy now button across your social media networks. This includes dedicated Share to Facebook and Share to Twitter buttons. 

Conclusion 

Social media is a powerful platform for promoting your products and services. However, it’s important to use it wisely in order to maximize your conversions.

Let’s quickly recap four ways to improve your sales with social media content:

  1. Choose the right platform for your business, based on your target audience.
  2. Share valuable content and avoid hard selling.
  3. Partner with relevant influencers to reach more people.
  4. Add buy now buttons on your social media pages, using Buy Now Plus.

Do you have any questions about how to improve sales and engage with potential customers on social media? Ask us in the comments section below!

If you liked this post, be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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How to Sell Anything from Anywhere with Buy Now Buttons

As an online store owner, there are lots of different places you can promote your products. However, by default, customers have to navigate to your store to purchase the products featured in your social media posts, marketing emails, and other locations.

Here's where buy now buttons can be the secret to driving conversions. That's because they allow customers to jump straight to the checkout stage with the click of a button. Using these simple but effective call to action (CTA) buttons, you can sell anything from anywhere. You don't even need a website.

In this post, we’ll discuss why every business and online store can benefit from buy now buttons, and show you how to create one within minutes. Then we'll explore four places where you can use your new buy now button for maximum sales. Let’s get started! 

How to Create a Buy Now Button (And Why You Should)

Typically, whenever a customer wants to make a purchase, they’ll add that item to their basket and then navigate to your checkout page. Depending on how your store is set up, there may even be additional steps, such as creating an account and reviewing the items in their basket. 

Every step in the payment process is another opportunity for the customer to change their mind and abandon the purchase. This is where buy now buttons come in. These powerful button can reduce cart abandonment rates and drive conversions by allowing customers to jump straight to checkout:

An example of a buy now button on the Amazon website.

If you create these powerful CTAs using a flexible service like Buy Now Plus, you can post the same button across multiple platforms. In this way, you can transform external platforms into additional revenue streams and sell anything from anywhere. 

To create your first buy now button, all you have to do is register for a free Buy Now Plus account. If you already have a Stripe account, you'll be able to connect the two automatically in the sign up process. If you don't have a Stripe account, you'll automatically create a new one during sign up.

Once you're all set, go to your Buy Now Plus dashboard and select Add New:

How to sell anything from anywhere with Buy Now buttons.

You can now create a high-converting button by completing the form. When you’re happy with the information you’ve entered, click on Create:

The Buy Now Plus dashboard.

On the main Buy Now Plus dashboard, find the button in question and click on the Share icon. This opens a little popup that contains everything you need to sell your items.

How to Sell Anything From Anywhere (4 Ways to Use Your Buy Now Buttons)

In 2020, ecommerce sales surpassed $4.2 trillion. With more people purchasing online than ever before, there’s huge potential to boost your profits. Here’s how you can seize this opportunity by posting your buy now buttons across your site and the wider web.

1. Add Your Button to Any Page or Post

You can add your Buy Now Plus button to any page or post using the supplied embed code. Many online stores choose to feature this button on their product pages, alongside their regular Add To Cart buttons. This gives customers the choice to continue shopping or jump straight to checkout. 

You can also add a buy now button to locations where you mention a specific product. For example, you might write a guide to using a new product or share five top picks for the summer. By providing easy access to a buy now button, you can encourage the reader to purchase the featured products: 

An example of how to sell anything from anywhere with Buy Now buttons.

In the Buy Now Plus popup, copy the embed code and then switch over to your WordPress dashboard. You can then navigate to the page or post where you want to feature this button. Open the page for editing, and create a new shortcode block:

How to sell anything from anywhere using the WordPress shortcode widget.

Now, simply paste the embed code into this block and save your changes. This buy now button will now appear on this page in the exact location specified by you. 

2. Feature Buy Now Buttons Across Your Website

To drive conversions, you may want to incorporate a buy now button into your site’s recurring elements. This enables customers to start the checkout process from any page:

Sell anything from anywhere by adding a Buy Now button to the sidebar.

You can achieve this by adding your button to a Text widget. Once again, copy the embed code, but this time navigate to Appearance > Widget in your WordPress dashboard:

The WordPress widgets dashboard.

You can now grab a Text widget and drag it to the area where you want to feature your button. Then select the Text tab and paste your embed code:

The WordPress widgets screen.

Switch back to the Visual tab. If you’re happy with your button’s appearance, you can save your changes. This button will now appear across your website. 

3. Post CTAs to Your Social Media

With over 2.7 billion monthly active Facebook users and 69.3 million Twitter users in the US, social media is a powerful platform for promoting your products. By posting your buy now buttons directly to social media, your followers can start the checkout process directly from their favorite networking sites.

This can also be a way to encourage impulse purchases. A customer who’s scrolling through their timeline might spot your product, complete with a convenient buy now button, and decide to make a purchase on a whim.

Our popup has sharing buttons for Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Simply click on this button, and Buy Now Plus will auto-generate a post for your chosen platform:

A Buy Now link posted to Twitter.

However, there are dozens of social networks out there. That’s why we also provide a link that you can copy and paste into any social platform that accepts text input.

4. Include a CTA in Your Next Email Marketing Campaign

According to the 2019 Adobe Email Usage Study, Americans spend over five hours per day checking their work and personal emails. That’s five hours when you could be promoting your products. 

For example, you might email your entire list about an upcoming sale or recommend products based on the customer’s purchase history. If the recipient decides to covert, including a buy now button in your email can help nudge them over the finishing line:

An example of Buy Now buttons inside an email.

Our popup contains an email button that you can use to generate a message containing your buy now link. Alternatively, you can copy and paste the link directly into your next email campaign:

An example of a buy now link in an email.

Depending on your choice of mailing software, you might even be able to paste our embed code directly into your email. ActiveCampaign is one platform that we now allows embedding buttons (because we use it!).

For more information about whether your provider supports embed code, we recommend referring to their official documentation.

Conclusion

Platforms such as social media and email can be excellent places to promote your products. However, requiring customers to navigate to your store and then search for items isn’t going to deliver the best conversion rates. 

Fortunately, buy now buttons can be the key to selling anything from anywhere. Let’s quickly recap four places where you can use these powerful CTAs: 

  1. Add your button to any page or post.
  2. Feature buy now buttons across your website.
  3. Post CTAs to your social media.
  4. Include a CTA in your next email marketing campaign.

Do you have any questions about how to sell anything from anywhere with buy now buttons? Let us know in the comments section below!

If you liked this post, be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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How to Accept Credit Cards Without a Website

Would you like to accept credit cards from your customers, but you don't have a website? No problem! As long as you have a social media account and a bank account, you can take credit card payments with Buy Now Plus.

In this post, we’ll discuss why accepting credit cards is crucial to running a successful business. Then we’ll show you how easy it is to use this payment method with Buy Now Plus. Let’s get started! 

Why It’s Important to Accept Credit Card Payments

Credit cards are the most popular payment method in the United States. If your business doesn’t accept card payments, then you could be alienating the majority of your audience and losing potential sales.

If your customers can't make a purchase using their preferred payment methods, they may go elsewhere. To maximize your sales, it’s important to support as many different payment methods as possible.

The method we always recommend prioritizing? Credit cards.

Many e-commerce sites accept credit card payments.

Despite the popularity of paying by credit card, some businesses may be reluctant to support card payments due to the associated fees. For every credit card transaction, you’ll have to pay interchange fees, assessment or service fees, and the payment processor’s markup.

These transaction fees can seem off-putting, particularly for small businesses and startups that may be operating on tighter budgets. However, if you don’t accept credit cards, you're shrinking your customer pool.

It’s far better to sacrifice a percentage of a successful sale than to lose out on that sale entirely. Plus, if your checkout process is more accessible, you're more likely to boost your profits, grow your customer base, and secure repeat sales.

How to Accept Credit Card Payments Without a Website Using Buy Now Plus

Buy Now Plus is a free service you can use to accept payments without purchasing and installing SSL certificates. You only get charged if you make a sale. And that charge is only 2% – super low compared to the industry standard for similar services, which is between 4% and 5%.

The best part is that it works right on top of the Stripe payment processor. That means to get set up, all you have to do is head to BuyNowPlus.com, and click the Start Selling button:

Buy Now Plus homepage

Clicking the Start Selling button will open the Getting Started form. If you already have a Stripe account, you'll be able to login and connect it to Buy Now Plus.

If you don't have a Stripe account, just enter your email and click Next to get your free account set up:

Get started with Stripe in Buy Now Plus

On the next page, create a password for your new Stripe account, and click Next:

create a free Stripe account in Buy Now Plus

In the next step, you'll secure your account by adding your cell phone number:

Secure your Stripe account in Buy Now Plus

You'll get a text with a special code, which you'll then enter for verfication:

Enter the code from your device in buy now plus

If verification is successful, you'll get a confirmation that your new Stripe account is secured. The confirmation will also include an emergency backup code you can use if your device is lost or stolen. You'll definitely want to copy that code and keep it in a safe place.

Once you've got your backup code stored away safely, click Next:

Stripe account is secured in Buy Now Plus

In this step, you'll give some basic information about your business. If your business doesn't have a physical address, just enter your home address, then click Next:

Tell us about your business in Buy Now Plus

Now you'll enter a few additional details about your business. The first field asks for your business website. But don't worry. You can enter your social media profile address if you don't have a business website.

Then enter a short product description and click Next:

Business details in Buy Now Plus

Now you'll choose a bank account where your payments will be deposited. First search for your bank in the search field. If it doesn't pop up, you can enter your bank's details manually by clicking the link at the bottom of the screen.

Once that's all set, click Next:

Select an account for Stripe payouts in Buy Now Plus

The next screen will verify that your bank account is linked to your new Stripe account. If everything looks good, click Next:

bank linked verification page in Buy Now Plus

In this step you'll enter your customer support details. One of these details is a “descriptor” that will appear on a customer's credit card statement to help them identify the charge.

For example, if your business name is ABC Plumbing, you could simply enter “ABC Plumbing” in this field. In the shortened descriptor field, you might enter just “ABC” or “Plumbing”.

Now you'll enter your business address and phone number. Again, just use your home address and cell number if that's what you use for business. Then click Next, and your Stripe account will be all set:

customer support details in Buy Now Plus

On the next page you'll configure your Buy Now Plus settings. Just make sure the form includes your name, email, and company name. Then create a password, and click Update:

Buy Now Plus account settings

That's it! On the next page, you'll be able to create your first button and start selling:

Create a new button in Buy Now Plus

After creating your button, you can add it to any compatible platform using the auto-generated embed code.

Conclusion 

Processing credit cards may sound daunting, but it’s also the preferred payment method for the majority of shoppers. If your business doesn't support credit cards, then you may struggle to make sales.

With Buy Now Plus, incorporating this popular payment method doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive.

Do you have questions about how to add credit card support to your business? Let us know in the comments section below!

If you liked this post, be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Featured

How to Create a PayPal-Style Buy Now Button with Stripe (4 Steps)

Most modern payment gateways support PayPal-style buy now buttons. However, adding these powerful call to action (CTA) buttons to your website isn’t always a straightforward process.

Thankfully, there are tools that can help you create high-converting buy now buttons for your ecommerce store, social media platforms, or any other location where you want to drive sales.

If you opt for a user-friendly tool, it’s even possible to create an engaging CTA without having to write a single line of code.

In this post, we’ll show you how to create a buy now button using the popular Stripe payment gateway. We’ll also look at how to further optimize the checkout process by designing an information-packed Thank You page. Let’s get started! 

An Introduction to Buy Now Buttons (And Why They’re Important)

Payment providers such as PayPal and Stripe are hugely popular with merchants who want to offer customers a quick, easy, and secure way to purchase their products and services.

Supporting a range of payment methods is often essential for driving sales. After all, if customers can't send you a payment using their preferred method, they may go elsewhere!

To really drive conversions and reduce cart abandonment rates, it’s smart to support a range of payment methods, and to make these gateways easily accessible via a buy now button. This is a CTA that bypasses multiple steps in the traditional payment process, and typically takes the shopper directly to your checkout page.

Most payment gateways support these powerful CTA buttons. This includes PayPal, which provide a Pay Now button that enables customers to make a purchase in seconds: 

The PayPal demo.

Stripe also offers a similar payment request button. However, implementing both the PayPal and Stripe buttons is a multi-step process that requires you to write some code. 

At Buy Now Plus we believe that creating your buttons should be just as easy as using them. Thanks to our dashboard and Stripe integration, you can create a PayPal-style buy now button for Stripe with ease – and without code!

How to Create a PayPal-Style Buy Now Button with Stripe (In 4 Easy Steps)

Let’s see how easy it is to create a buy now button. We’re going to assume you already have a Stripe account. If you don’t, then you can register for one at the Stripe website.

Step 1: Connect Stripe and Buy Now Plus

To start, head over to the Buy Now Plus login page. You can then either log in or connect to Stripe: 

The Buy Now Plus login screen.

The Buy Now Plus wizard will then walk you through linking your account to Stripe. As part of the registration process, Stripe will ask you to provide a statement descriptor and shortened descriptor.

This information explains charges and payments on bank statements, invoices, and receipts, which can help you avoid chargebacks:

The Buy Now Plus registration process.

Stripe will also ask for some information about your business, and for a mobile phone number. This adds an extra layer of security to your account. 

After registering, you’ll be automatically redirected to your Buy Now Plus dashboard. You can then get started on your buy now button.

Step 2: Design Your Buy Now Button

To create your first button, select Add New. Next, you'll need to enter some text into the Terms and Description fields. This information will appear on your payment screen:

A Buy Now Plus payment screen.

Then you can decide whether these payments should be fixed or variable. For example, you might create a variable purchase button if you’re accepting donations, or if you’re implementing a “pay what you want” model. You can also specify the currency that you’ll receive payments in.

Next, choose the Stripe account where you’ll accept these payments, using the Stripe Account dropdown. You can access some additional settings by clicking to expand the Advanced Options section.

Here, you can set the text that’ll appear on your button, for example Buy Now or Pay with Stripe.  This is all you need to create a simple buy now button. When you’re done, click on Create.

Step 3: Create an Optional Thank You Page

If the customer is unsure whether the payment has been processed correctly, they may contact your customer service desk or send you a duplicate payment. To avoid confusion, you can create a Thank You page where customers will be redirected following a successful payment.

This page is also an opportunity to provide helpful information, including a summary of the customer’s order and their tracking code. This can improve the customer experience, which may put you in a stronger position to secure repeat sales:

A Thank You page, created using a WordPress plugin.

Buy Now Plus can automatically redirect the customer to a page of your choice following a successful payment. This can be any page or post that you create in the WordPress dashboard.

Step 4: Preview and Post Your Buy Now Button

The main Buy Now Plus dashboard will now display the button you just created.  You can see how this CTA will appear to the customer by clicking on the preview icon under Actions:

Create a PayPal-style Buy Now button with Stripe, in the  Buy Now Plus dashboard.

If you’re happy with your button, you can navigate back to the main dashboard and select the share icon under Actions. This will launch a dialog containing an embed code: 

Buy Now Plus' website embed code.

Now, head over to your WordPress website, and find the page or post where you want to add your button. Open the page editor and create a shortcode block at the exact location where you want to display it:

The WordPress shortcode block.

You can now paste your embed code into this block and save your changes. Alternatively, you may want to add this button to your site’s recurring elements, such as the header, footer, or sidebar. 

Conclusion 

Buy now buttons can be a simple but effective tool for boosting your sales. Although most popular payment gateways support the buy now feature, adding this may require writing some code or installing additional tools. Thanks to Buy Now Plus, you can implement these payment buttons more easily. 

Let’s recap how you create a buy now button in four quick steps: 

  1. Connect Stripe and Buy Now Plus.
  2. Design your buy now button.
  3. Create an optional thank you page.
  4. Preview and post your button PayPal-style buy now button.

Do you have any questions about creating a PayPal-style buy now button with Stripe? Let us know in the comments section below!

Featured

How to Sell on Social Media With Buy Now Buttons (In 3 Steps)

A buy now button can be a powerful addition to your ecommerce site. However, your ability to generate sales is still reliant on people visiting your site.

Fortunately, with the right tools, you can post your buy now button across multiple platforms, including social media. This strategy enables you to turn some of the biggest global social networks into additional revenue streams. 

In this post, we’ll discuss how buy now buttons can help you boost revenue directly from Facebook, Twitter, and other popular social networks. Then we'll show you how to create a buy now button and share it with your followers in three simple steps. Let’s get started! 

An Introduction to Using Buy Now Buttons on Social Media

A buy now button is a call to action (CTA) that brings customers directly to your checkout page. By removing multiple steps from the purchasing process, buy now buttons can be an effective solution for driving conversions:

A Buy Now button on the Amazon website.

If you create your buttons using our Buy Now Plus service, you can use them across multiple channels, including on social media. By incorporating buy now buttons into your social media posts, you can transform these networks into additional revenue streams and monetize your existing followers

Buy now buttons can minimize the time between customers becoming interested in products and entering the checkout process. In other words, this feature can encourage impulse purchases. 

Time-sensitive social media platforms are particularly great for incentivizing spur-of-the-moment decisions. Someone scanning social media may spot your product and use your buy now button to make a purchase on a whim. 

Every time you post on social media, you have the opportunity to introduce your brand to an entirely new audience. With over 2.7 billion monthly active Facebook users and 69.3 million Twitter users in the U.S. alone, social media is a powerful tool for getting your products in front of more people.

However, there's no need to be content with simply raising brand awareness.  By adding a buy now button to your next post, you may be able to immediately convert these new followers into paying customers. 

How to Sell on Social Media With Buy Now Buttons (In 3 Steps)

Now that you understand more about the potential of leveraging social media to increase sales, let's take a look at how to go about it. Below are three steps you can take to create buy now buttons for all your social media accounts.

Step 1: Sign Up for Stripe and Buy Now Plus Accounts

To get started with Buy Now Plus, you’ll need a Stripe account. If you don’t already have one with this popular payment processor, you can create one on the Stripe website:

The Stripe homepage.

After enrolling with Stripe, head over to the Buy Now Plus login page. You can then select either Login with Stripe or Connect to Stripe: 

The Buy Now Plus service.

Follow the on-screen instructions to set up your Buy Now Plus account, which includes securing your account with a mobile number:

How to sell on social media using the Buy Now Plus service.

During the registration process, you’ll be asked to provide a statement descriptor and shortened descriptor. This information will appear in payment statements, invoices, and receipts.

If a customer doesn’t recognize your descriptor, they may request a chargeback. Therefore, it’s important to provide a clear statement and shortened descriptor:

Add your statement and shortened descriptors in the Buy Now Plus dashboard.

After registering with Buy Now Plus, you’ll be transferred to your dashboard. To create your first button, select Add New. 

Step 2: Create a Buy Now Button

To start, enter a value in the Terms field. This is the text that will appear at the top of your payment screen:

The Buy Now Plus checkout screen.

Payments can either be fixed or variable. Variable purchase buttons are useful if you operate on a “pay what you want” model or accept donations.

You can also set the currency and add a description that will display on your payment screen. Next, specify the Stripe account where you’ll accept payments using the Stripe Account drop-down menu.

You can access additional settings by clicking to expand the Advanced Options section. Here, you can enter the button text.

For fixed payments, it often makes sense to display the cost of the purchase or a generic message such as “Buy now”.  Alternatively, if you’re creating a variable button, you might use a label such as “Donate” or “Buy Me a Coffee”:

The Buy Now Plus dashboard.

To provide a better customer experience, you may want to create a dedicated page where customers will be directed following their successful payments.

Similarly, you could point visitors to a different page if they choose to cancel their payments. After building these pages in your WordPress dashboard, you can copy and paste their URLs into the Return URL and Cancel URL fields.

Buy Now Plus has many other settings that are worth exploring in more detail. However, for now, this is all you need to create a simple buy now button. Select Create to continue.

Step 3: Preview and Share Your Button on Social Media

If you navigate to the main Buy Now Plus dashboard, you’ll see the button you just created. You can see how this CTA will appear to customers by clicking on Preview:

Create a Buy Now button, ready to sell on social media.

If you’re happy with your button, you can select the Sharing icon. This will launch a popup containing buttons for all the major social networks, including Facebook and Twitter:

A share button, ready to sell on social media.

Clicking on any of these buttons will create a new draft post containing a link to your Buy Now page. Your followers can send you payments by following this URL:

Sell on social media with Buy Now Plus.

If you’re posting to Twitter, your tweet can easily get lost in the timeline. To help drive conversions, you may want to pin the tweet to the top of your profile: 

Sell on social media with Buy Now buttons.

Buy Now Plus provides dedicated sharing buttons for several social networks. However, if you want to post to an alternative platform, simply click on the sharing icon and copy the provided link. Then you can paste the URL into any location that accepts text, including other social channels. 

Conclusion 

By posting your buy now buttons on social media platforms, you can remove an additional step in the checkout process and enable customers to make purchases without having to explicitly visit your site.

Let’s recap how you can sell on social media in three easy steps: 

  1. Sign up for Stripe and Buy Now Plus accounts.
  2. Create a buy now button.
  3. Preview and share your button on social media.

Do you have any questions about using buy now buttons on social media? Let us know in the comments section below!