Tuesday, 21st May 2019 | Marketing,Management
Google reviews: Why you should request reviews from your customers (and how to make the ask)
Google is by far the largest search engine on Earth so you want to be prominent in their listings. Showing up on Google’s results pages is important but there’s another Google tool being used to attract customers: Google reviews. Read on to discover why Google reviews are the new marketing must-do for small businesses.
Google is by far the largest search engine on Earth so you want to be prominent in their listings. Showing up on Google’s results pages is important but there’s another Google tool being used to attract customers: Google reviews. Reviews are a way for potential buyers to determine if they want to do business with you. If you aren't currently asking every customer to review you on Google, you’re missing out on a valuable marketing tool. Read on to discover why Google reviews are the new marketing must-do for small businesses, and to learn how to request and manage them to strengthen your business.
Why you should ask for Google reviews
Customer reviews on Google may just be the most undervalued marketing tool out there. They’re free to obtain and post, and their benefit is threefold:
Google reviews act as unbiased third-party testimonials
Your website and marketing materials may be expertly written and persuasive but potential customers know they’re biased. Google reviews come from real customers whose only opinion comes from their experience with your business. This is more valuable that you might expect. A recent study of online reviews showed 40% of consumers read one to three reviews to form an opinion about a business, and 23% visit the business premises after the reading positive reviews.
Reviews help guide you in identifying what is and is not working in your business
Nobody likes receiving a lukewarm or negative review but remember that all feedback is business intelligence. For example, if you’re seeing great comments on your products but complaints about customer service, you know where to focus your energies. Additionally, these reviews can actually lend credibility (consumers overwhelmingly suspect fake reviews or censorship if they see no bad scores) and offer an opportunity to build trust with a well-handled response.
Google reviews boost your brand and encourage clicks on the world’s most popular search engine.
When people need to find a business they Google it. Reviews will help increase your profile on the popular search engine and encourage visitors. Businesses with star ratings have shown an increased click-through rate (CTR) of as much as 20%.
All customer reviews—even the negative ones—are an opportunity to raise your profile and grow your business. You should be asking each and every one of your customers to leave a Google review.
How-tos of requesting reviews
Before approaching anyone for a review, make sure your Google My Business (GMB) account is properly set up. GMB is free from Google, but priceless in terms of its benefits. Google My Business increases your visibility, serves you valuable analytics, and helps you connect with customers. It’s also where Google displays your customer reviews.
Once you’re ready to start, these tips will help increase your chances of successfully building a robust Google review portfolio.
- Ask. Customers will certainly leave reviews of their own accord but you could increase your online feedback exponentially by simply asking. Increase your chances by crafting personalized emails to long-time customers, and leave a sign at your cash register or at the exit.
- Simplify. Make the process of leaving a review as simple as possible. Create a Google review link that takes users directly to the review interface for your business. Put this link on your website, in your email signatures, and in your social media profiles. To get it, click “write a review” from your Google My Business profile and copy the URL.
- Educate. If a customer doesn’t know how to leave a review on Google, they are less likely to do so. Educate them on the process in person, in email, and online. (All they have to do is click the link you give them, choose a star rating and enter their comments—it’s easy.)
- Plan. Timing is everything. Find the sweet spot between when a customer has had the chance to try your products or service and when their experience has faded from memory. Once you’ve figured the optimal window, train your staff on when and how to ask. Use reminder apps, your CRM or organizational calendar.
- Integrate. Use your existing campaigns like emails to ask for reviews by embedding a link and a call-to-action.
- Managing your reviews. Congratulations! You’ve got Google reviews. Now you’ll need to know how to manage them. Follow these tips to maximize their power.
- Respond regularly. Make a habit of responding to all customer feedback, positive and negative. The practice makes reviewers feel that their opinions are important, and encourages others to leave their reviews. It also shows potential customers that you’re a company that’s engaged with its customer base. A full 26% of respondents to a recent survey said that it’s important that local businesses respond to reviews.
- Keep it simple. Keep your responses brief, polite, and positive. Thank all reviewers for their feedback.
- Turn negatives into positives. Dealing with negative reviews can be tricky but done right, it can actually improve your reputation. Best practices include inviting one-to-one contact via email or business phone, offering to investigate, maintaining honesty, and apologizing for mistakes. Be courteous, calm, and helpful, and strive to offer a personal touch by signing off with a name or initials. Customers who had negative experiences but a positive customer service follow-up will sometimes leave a follow-up review. From a business perspective, this is gold. It shows that your company can be trusted when it comes to customer care.
Google reviews are a free and easy way to strengthen your company’s reputation, drive traffic, and monitor your services. Dedicating just a little bit of attention to your reviews can translate into massive business gains. Learn the art of the ask (and the art of the follow-up) for the best results.
What is a bad debt expense, and how to calculate it?
What is a bad debt expense?
When a buyer doesn’t pay in full, you can make a note of the amount you’re unable to recover in your business’ financial record. This is a bad debt expense.
Unfortunately, dealing with non-paying buyers is a common problem among small- and medium-sized businesses in Canada. The best way to protect yourself is to accurately record your losses to contain the damage.
Why should I keep track of bad debt expenses?
When you invoice a buyer for their purchase, it’s recorded as a sale in your books. If you’re not paid for that transaction, your overall revenue is actually less than indicated by your accounts–and you have to pay tax on your revenue. When you record unrecovered income as a bad debt expense, you officially remove all or part of that sale from your revenue which means that you won’t have to pay tax on it. This is entirely fair and legal–you don’t pay tax on income earnings you never received.
How to calculate your bad debt expenses
There are two ways to calculate bad debt expenses: the direct write-off method and the allowance method.
With the direct write-off method, you simply charge the amount of the unpaid invoice to the bad debt expense. This removes the amount from your accounts receivable, reducing your taxable income. This is the simpler method and the most commonly used by Canadian businesses.
5 Strategies for Growing your Business
What can I do to start developing a plan for growth?
Deciding to grow your business is a big step, so take a moment to congratulate yourself. Now, let’s get to work. The first thing to do is to develop a plan, and these five strategies can help.
1. Take care of your cash flow
Just for everyday operations, businesses need to have a steady flow of capital coming in and going out, but the importance of your cash flow intensifies when you’re planning to expand.
Survey your income and expense reports to determine your current cash flow, and identify trends so you can estimate how much you’ll have in the future. Don’t stop there. Make sure that you return to this information regularly to ensure you remain on the right path.
Should you find yourself in a cash flow crunch, you can consider a business line of credit so you can continue to take care of your responsibilities. Alternatively, you can take out a small business loan.
2. Invest in marketing and sales
It’s common for sales and marketing costs to fall to the bottom of a small business’ priority list, but they’re an absolutely crucial investment, especially if you’re expanding. Bear in mind that marketing and sales strategies and tactics can be tailored to your business’ unique needs, so you’ve got a variety of options to choose from–all with different budgets. Consider your audience, sales goals, and business forecast to build regular (think monthly) marketing efforts into your long-term plan. Marketing your business is an investment in its success.
3. Attend to your core audience while attracting new customers
Expansion often involves courting new customers, weather from different market segments or simply additional regions. It’s important that during the growth process resources and attention aren’t stolen from your core customers. They’re the ones who got you here, after all.
One way to give everyone the attention they deserve is to break your audience (and marketing dollars) into distinct segments and sell each according to their wants. Be open to different configurations. For example, depending on the situation you might want to serve everyone under a single brand, or develop distinct brands for different segments.
4. Confirm your supply
Few things can turn customers away faster than hearing you don’t have the products or services they need. Supply chain issues and slow delivery since the pandemic have put an increasing number of businesses in a precarious position when it comes to meeting customer demands, so your expansion plans should include the establishment of relationships with multiple reliable suppliers. Your efforts in advance demonstrate good business practices and respect for your customers. Plus, positive relationships with multiple suppliers can help you with your expansion goals.
5. Ensure quality and consistency
It should go without saying, but the last thing you want to happen when you expand is to have your quality or customer experience decline. Plan against this by establishing production, operations, and customer service standards. .
You have a better chance of expanding successfully if you plan carefully in advance. Attend to your finances, marketing, suppliers, and customers in advance to make sure you’re growing on a solid foundation.
Speak to an iCapital advisor about small business loans or lines of credit to ensure steady cash flow during your expansion process.
Marketing ,Accounting ,Management
What Is Working Capital and Why It’s Important In Your Business
What Is Working Capital?
When your company needs products or services in the short-term, you use working capital to pay for it. Unlike cash flow, which refers to money going in and out of the company, working capital is a snapshot of a company’s financial health. You can figure out what your company’s working capital is by looking at the value of your company’s assets minus your liabilities. This is the amount of money you have on hand to meet immediate expenses–in other words, your working capital.
Why is it important?
It’s obvious that a company should have the working capital it needs to pay its employees and purchase inventory, but your available working capital is also a good measure of your company’s overall financial picture. If you have access to sufficient or even plentiful working capital, you can rest assured that you have the resources to manage your upcoming expenses. If your working capital is low, you can run into problems.
Additionally, working capital is essential in helping businesses maintain and grow their operations in the future. With enough working capital, a business can cover its expenses even if there are outstanding payments from customers. In the best-case scenarios, businesses can use extra working capital to reinvest in their operations by buying additional inventory, launching marketing and promotions, and hiring additional staff.
Every business should strive to have ample working capital, but this can be a challenge, particularly in times of economic downturn.
4 Tips To Improve Your Working Capital
1.Get a Cash Flow Forecast
It’s easier to get where you want to be if you have a clear picture of where you are. A cash flow forecast is a financial projection that shows how much money your company can expect to receive and when. Make sure you look at revenue, expenses, and net cash. With this information, you can make better, informed decisions about spending.
2.Automate Business Processes
Your working capital relies on receiving payment, so it makes good business sense to streamline the invoicing process. Using an automatic invoicing system, particularly one that’s tied to the delivery of your product or service, will free up time and, importantly, ensure your invoicing isn’t delayed due to busy employees or time constraints. The ability to track your invoices can make your working capital more predictable, which will allow you to make educated decisions about spending.
If you run a small- or medium-sized business, you’ve experienced late payment, or even worse, no payment at all. Following up with outstanding invoices is time-consuming and frustrating, so it’s smart to bake in incentives for customers, suppliers, and vendors who meet their obligations. Incentives could be monetary or symbolic in nature. The idea is to encourage good business practices while fostering positive relationships.
4.Improve Inventory Management & Avoid Stockpiling
Inventory management is the process of matching your company’s inventory to expected sales. The trick is to make sure you have enough–but not too much. Stockpiling inventory is expensive, and money tied up in overstock can’t be spent on more immediate needs. Consider investing in a digital solution.
Access to sufficient working capital is a great indicator that your business is healthy, and a healthy business is one that’s positioned to grow and take on new opportunities.
Marketing ideas for your business in the new year
As the end of the year approaches, it’s time to revisit your marketing strategy to meet current consumer expectations. Forecasting trends is tricky, but what’s clear is that in 2023, customers value privacy, inclusivity, transparency, and overall authenticity, and it’s your job to show them how your business practices meet these ideals. Read on for six steps you take right now to market your business in 2023.
Understand your changing audience
The first thing you need to do is revisit your market. Review your sales and marketing data to make sure you have a realistic grasp on the size, demographics, and character of your target market. Pay close attention to any changes in your ideal customer and use this updated intel to seek out new opportunities. For example, if your business has grown or taken a new direction in recent years, it might be attracting a new audience. Make sure you’re communicating with the most appropriate market segment.
Update your website
Your website is one of your most valuable marketing assets so it’s crucial that it be in good shape. Review your site to make sure all the content is correct and up-to-date. Check to make sure that it loads quickly and displays correctly across desktop, tablet, and mobile platforms. You probably look at your site regularly so consider getting someone with “fresh eyes” to take a look. Ensure that your site works intuitively and offers a seamless customer experience. A site that’s pleasant to use will help you convert new visitors and retain returning ones.
Maximize the potential of social media
With more than 4.7 billion people using social media, your business cannot afford to ignore it. If you’re just starting out on social platforms, now is the time to claim your presence. Set up accounts for your business on top platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok. Investigate which sites your ideal customers might be using and ensure you’re on them too. Post relevant content, regularly, and make sure that you keep your profiles fresh and current. Try running contests or promotions to boost engagement, and take advantage of the built-in shopping capabilities available on many platforms. You can communicate a lot about your brand values by aligning yourself with other local small businesses through collaborations or sponsorships.
Leverage video content and live streaming
Video content has been a rising trend for the past several years, and is well-suited to businesses who want to increase awareness, improve lead generation and sales, and reduce support calls. Consider how video content might work for your business, keeping in mind that consumers appreciate being entertained. Live streaming is popular and an effective way to connect with your audience in real time. Engage your audience with quality storytelling. Inform them with a clear and concise script. Be creative.
Get interactive with your audience
When was the last time you did an online quiz or game? How about worked with an online calculator or map? Interactive content is engaging, which is why audiences–and marketers–love it. It’s low-cost and can help you increase brand loyalty, generate leads, and drive sales. Think about ways your business can use interactive content to grab your customers’ attention.
Respect consumer privacy
More than ever, consumers are concerned about privacy. Demonstrate respect for your customers’ privacy by compliance with standards like GDPR, by properly acquiring and using user data, and by continually informing your customers of exactly how you’re handling their information.
If you want to stay ahead of your competitors in 2023, now is the time to fine-tune your marketing efforts to communicate your business’ authentic brand and values. Take an inclusive, transparent, privacy-first approach, to reach your target audience.