Category Archives: Guide

How to Build Brand Awareness

Think about the last time you needed a tissue, did you ask for a ‘tissue’ or for Kleenex? What about when you have a cut? Do you look for a ‘plastic bandage’ or a Band-Aid?

These are a few examples of proprietary eponyms, and they represent the peak of brand awareness. These brands have become so synonymous with their product that their brand name has replaced the product’s generic name.

It can take decades to reach this level of awareness, but all these brands have something in common, they worked hard to establish their brand. Establishing a strong brand presence is what makes your business stand out from the crowd and what gives your customers that split-second recognition that can make or break a sale.

Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to become a household name, but there are some tried and true techniques you can use to help launch (and continue) your brand building efforts.

Here are four ways to build you brand this year.

Join Forces With Another Business

Join forces with another business

One of the best ways to build a network of customers is to work with a business that already has one. Take a look for another other business (or two) that already has an established customer base in the same sector as you, but isn’t directly competing with your product. You’ll be amazed what joining marketing efforts can do for a business.

For example, if you’re a company that offers custom car modifications, try offering an exclusive discount for people who shop at a particular dealership. For you, it’s a great way to attract new customers and for the dealership it’s a way to reward their customers at no cost and with minimal effort.

Leverage Paid Social

Leverage Paid Social Advertising

Organic social marketing is more challenging than ever and the odds of reaching the desired audience is relatively low in today’s social landscape. This has led more and more business to consider paid advertising on social media. Facebook is currently one of the most dominant forces in this space, but both LinkedIn and Instagram are starting to show their strengths.

Whether or not users convert immediately isn’t necessarily the point with social ads, it’s more about creating a familiarity with your brand. Every time a user sees your brand they become more comfortable with it and this can make all the difference when users finally are ready to make a purchase.

Multi Dirtections

Try Influencer Marketing

Having friends that are popular amongst your target audience is another great way to boost your brand’s overall awareness. Take some time and find out who your customers are following online, then reach out and propose a partnership.

Similar to partnering with another business, this strategy lets you use an influencer’s network to promote your brand. Just don’t expected to get something for free, influencers are starting to understand their value and will likely want something in exchange for their services.

LinkedIn

Use LinkedIn Publishing

Finally, one of the best ways to get your brand in front of the right audience is to create great content. A blog is the traditional starting point, but LinkedIn also offers a great feature that lets users publish posts right to LinkedIn.

What’s nice about using LinkedIn’s publishing tool is that, if your post attracts some of the right people it has a high probability of reaching LinkedIn users on their home stream.

What strategies do you use to grow your brand’s awareness? Have you tried any of the above tips and had success? Let us know in the comment below and be sure to follow the PAYFORT twitter account for the latest updates.

Growth Hacking 101: Strategies You Can Try Today

If you’re reading this article, we bet you’re wondering what a growth hacker actually does and how you can become one. From our experience the best way to learn about growth hacking is to do growth hacking and that’s why this week we’re sharing 4 growth hacking strategies you can test out today.

What Exactly is Growth Hacking?

Before we dive into the techniques, it’s worth taking some time to really understand what growth hacking is. Growth hacking is a new style of marketing that utilises task automation, smart user retention strategies, and effective integration with third-party platforms such as social media to grow a business quickly.

They do this by ensuring that a website is, at its core, both useful and shareable all while inspiring word of mouth referrals between new and existing customers.

Link Building

1. Claim broken links.

A great way to improve your website’s authority (and as a result its organic rankings) is to hunt out resources like blog posts and how-to guides with broken links. Try to find content that matches the theme of your business or the products you sell as these will refer users that are already interested in what you do.

Once you’ve located a few pieces of content, use a tool like W3C’s link checker and hunt for broken links. If you find a link that no longer works, contact the webmaster or post author and suggest your website as an alternative link.

Another approach to link reclamation is to scan for broken links on high authority websites and develop content that perfectly replaces the original link. Blog authors appreciate flagging broken links as it helps keep their post relevant and you get the added benefit of a fresh link to your site.

Understand Data

2. Take the time to understand your data.

Now you might be thinking that because growth hacking has the word “hack” in it, that the overall process might be random or unorganized, but the reality is that the whole process is driven by research and lots of data. Take time to research what Key Performance Indicators are relevant for your business and read up on how to best evaluate them.

If you want to get the most out of your growth hacking efforts, you’ll need to learn a fresh set of jargony terms and get comfortable using excel but we promise it’s a useful skill. Modern analytics companies have gotten better at streamlining and presenting data, but you’ll get a lot more out it when you understand exactly what the raw numbers mean.

Sign Ups

3. Make your signups visible early.

You don’t want to make people search high and low to find a subscription or signup options, so be sure to keep your CTAs visible on (almost) every page of your website.

The best way to capture your audience’s attention is to put your CTA near the top of your pages and having a signup button as part of your navigation bar is a great way to make sure users can join your site anytime no matter where they are.

Experience

4. Create a great experience for new users.

One aspect of growing a business that is often overlooked is that new customers have very different needs from returning ones and they are likely to be far more critical of everything of your site.

Win them over by creating a specific ‘on boarding’ process for new customers that guides them through your services and answers frequently asked questions. This not only helps to nudge them towards their first purchase but also has been shown to increase referral rates.

Do you know any other growth hacking techniques we didn’t cover here? Do you want to learn more about the process and grow your own business? Let us know in the comments below and if you’re not already checkout the PAYFORT Twitter for more great updates!

Repurposing Old Content for A New Audience

If you’ve spent any time in marketing, you probably know that it’s almost always easier to sell to an existing customer than trying to acquire a new one. Well the same rule applies to the content you produce.

Everything you’ve created on your website has value, it’s a representation of your brand and most importantly it has the potential to rank in search engines, get shared on social media, and convert prospective customers. Fresh content will always be important, but if you’ve been producing content for an extended period of time, you may want to consider repurposing some of your biggest hits to create something new.

Check out some of our favourite ways to reimagine the old, to create something new.

Video

1. Convert it to a Video

There’s a fairly good chance that some of your best performing content is both research and copy (text) heavy. This is great and its exactly what search engines look for in terms of content, but the reality is it can also be a barrier to entry for some users.

A great way to break down this barrier is to use that text heavy piece as inspiration for video content. This technique is becoming more and more common and is a very effective way to give proven content another chance to shine.

Now you may already have the content, but creating a video can still be challenging, so here’s one of our favourite techniques. Turn the blog into a presentation and present into the camera. You can use a whiteboard and projector for supporting visuals, and even use screen capture footage to show users live examples of what you are talking about.

Once the video is complete, upload it to a free service like YouTube, Vimeo, or even Facebook and start your promotion. Share it on social media, send out a newsletter, and be sure to embed the video on the original post.

Slide Share

2. Make a SlideShare Presentation

SlideShare is one of the most underused platform in the world of digital marketing, but the reality is, it’s a really great tool for updating the look and feel of some of your business’ older content.

Presentations are great because like a video, you can pack a lot of information into a package that is less daunting than a lengthy article. Great presentations cut out the unneeded language and get straight to the key points, backing them up with stats, visuals, and charts.

SlideShare presentations also have a huge benefit of being embeddable and sharable, meaning that it’s very easy for users to circulate your content and even expand on it in their own blog.

Podcast

3. Start a Podcast

If you’re looking for the easiest way to repurpose content, your best bet is definitely a podcast. They’ve become very popular with content marketers for one simple reason; they let you boost your brand while people are occupied with another task, like driving or working out.

It’s easy and inexpensive to get started as well, all you really need is an audio recording device and enough time to read one of your old posts. With that said, you should keep in mind the value of a “good radio voice”. If you don’t have one yourself, consider hiring someone (people on Fiverr will happily do voice over work for $5) to give an added touch of professionalism.

Ebook

4. Aggregate Related Posts into an E-Book

If you’re looking to become an authority in your industry an e-book is a great way to do it. And the best part? If you write a blog, the book might already be written, all you need to do is compile it.

Take some time and sort through your past content looking for posts that share a common theme. Once you have a few related articles, structure them so that each post is its own chapter and just like that you’ve just written 90% of your e-book. See how easy that was?

Now you’ll still need to take some additional time to make your e-book look attractive and add some fresh supporting visuals but the hardest part is behind you.

Webinar

5. Turn it into a Webinar

Another popular trend is creating a webinar series where you expand on the content you’ve written about on your blog. If you’ve got a particularly popular and informative article on that your audience is engaging with (comments, shares, email signups), consider turning it into a webinar.

A webinar is a live lecture that encourages users to watch your company cover a topic. It’s more engaging than the previous examples, providing an excellent opportunity to take questions from your audience and learn more about the types of content they like.

The key to a successful webinar is in how you promote it. Consider the audience carefully and try using sources beyond your company’s email list (such as Google Display or Facebook Ads) to help get the word out.

So there you have it, five techniques you can use to take your old blog content and give it another chance to impress your audience. Have you had success repurposing content on your own site? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to sign up for the PAYFORT newsletter to stay up to date on the latest news.

How to Optimize Your Website for Signups

One of the biggest assets for any website is its users; particularly those who have taken the time to sign up for your website’s services. If you want to start building that asset on your own website, you’re going to need to build a signup form.

Whether you’re running an e-commerce website or a simple blog, the final goal for all signup forms will be the same – you want users to register! Creating the perfect form takes time, but you can save yourself a lot of headache by following these tried and tested techniques.

Here are 5 best practices to help you optimize your website’s signup form.

01_tip

1. Make Your Call to Action Clear

No matter what you want the user to do, the call to action (CTA) will be the single most important part of your signup process. Without it, the page will fail, plain and simple. And while this may seem obvious, you would be amazed at how many websites get it wrong.

CTAs that blend into the background, fail to stand out, and even confuse the user about what they’re signing up for, can be found all across the web. Here are a few things you can do to avoid common mistakes.

  • Make sure that your call to action is differentiated from the rest of your page. Use contrasting colors, a larger font, and prominent positioning for the best results.

signup-forms-0

  • Make sure the call to action matches the theme and tone of voice of your page. The signup process needs to feel like steady journey so take some to think about what language your potential users want to hear.
  • Test your call to action, and test it often. Some phrases might convert better than others, some color scheme might double your conversion rate. But you will never know unless you try them out on your users.

02_tip

2. Keep The Process Short and Simple

The last thing you want to see when you’re signing up for something is long form that doesn’t have a clear purpose.

As much as you’d like to collect every little detail about a user, the initial signup is very rarely the place to do it. Instead focus on the bare minimum and ask for those extra details once you’ve built up some trust.

With that said, there are some situations where more information is going to be needed. If that’s your case, consider dividing the registration over multiple pages and providing the user a clear easy to understand progress bar.

signup-forms-2

This helps to prevent your form from overwhelming the user and adds an element of gamification to the signup process (people are more likely to complete tasks when they can see the finish line).

03_tip

3. Use Popup Forms Where Possible

Taking the user to a new page can make the signup process seem like a bigger commitment than it is. Using something lighter like a popup window often has the opposite effect, signalling to the user that “signing up isn’t really a big deal, you don’t even have to leave this page to do it”.

signup-forms-3

A popup window can also help to minimize distractions by greying out all the background content. This helps reduce the risk that your users get distracted half way through the form and abandon it before completion.

04_tip

4. Guide Your Audience Through Each Step

There are few things more frustrating than taking the time to complete a form, clicking the next button, then being told you did it wrong, especially when you didn’t have all the details in the first place. You don’t ever want your users to feel this way, so be clear about what you want your user to do at every stage of the signup.

If you label fields as “username” and “password” but the username can’t use special characters and the password requires numbers and a capital letter, tell users about it, and do it before they click next and get an error message.

signup-forms-1

There are different ways to do this and two of the best are to place the instructions in the unfilled field or place a small question mark next the field that explains things when hovered over.

05_tip

5. Provide a Special Signup Form for Mobile Users

In 2015, mobile browsing surpassed all other platforms to become the most common way users access the web. And while it’s great to see more users online, we all know that the mobile web has constraints (touch screen, smaller screen, longer load times) when compared with the desktop counterpart.

signup-forms-4

When designing your signup form consider a separate version for mobile. Focus on streamlining the information you require even further, add the ability to sign up with Facebook or other social media, and making sure your form uses the right types of keyboards.

signup-forms-5

Do you have any tips on how to improve user’s signup process? Be sure to let us know in the comment below. And if you looking to stay up to date on the latest news consider signing up for the PAYFORT newsletter. You’ll receive a new post each week and be the first to know the latest PAYFORT news.

How to Handle Comments to Keep Your Ecommerce Audience Happy

Nowadays, everyone (and everything) is starting to realize the value of social media. Getting on social media is a great way to promote yourself and spread your business’ message across the web. For ecommerce stores a few social shares can quickly snowball into unbelievable success.

Unlike, brick and mortar stores, ecommerce has the benefit of being available 24/7. Whether your customers are shopping on a holiday or at 2AM in the morning the store is open for business. But this accessibility is a 2-way street; you customers can shop anytime, but they can also send feedback and share comments at all hours of the day.

This problem is amplified if your ecommerce has a social media account on any of the major social media networks (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, etc.). In that case your business is exposed to an entire planet of opinion.

Having a comments section can provide a number of benefits, but also can come with a lot of headache for a business owner. Believe it or not many businesses have been brought to their knees after a barrage of negative feedback. broken down/shut down as a result of huge number of negative comments by their consumer.

“First rule of business: Stay out of mine” – Nathalie Goodwill

The often ignored big picture is the fact that negative comments can actually help build a better business if they are heard and the get the attention they deserve. Here are 3 ways comments can help your business progress:

Improving your products and services

1. Improving your products and services:

By taking the time to read your customers feedback, you’ll better understand what people like and dislike about your organization. Getting positive and happy comments? That’s great, keep it up and don’t get lazy J If you getting negative comments, think about the issues that your customers have and do you best to alleviate those pain points.

“The successful man is the one who finds out what is the matter with his business before his competitors do.” Roy L. Smith

Building a relationship

2. Building a relationship:

When you take the time to respond to your customer’s feedback (especially the negative feedback) it helps builds a strong relationship between you and your customers. They feel important and part of your business. This leads higher customer loyalty and can even lead to word of mouth recommendations (see below).

Free shout outs through word of mouth

3. Free shout outs through word of mouth:

Responding to comments (both negative and positive) should be part of your overall business strategy. Doing so demonstrates that you are involved with your business and care about the feedback you receive. Sometimes, with a well thought out response can take a harsh and angry comment, and turn it into a viral publicity stunt that shows off your business.

So the question is… how should you respond to comments?

positive comments

1. Dealing with positive comments.

There is nothing better than receiving a little positive feedback. This means you’re doing something right but you shouldn’t just sit back and revel in your own awesomeness. Instead share the love! Taking a couple minutes to send a quick thank you will do wonders for your brand.

If you have a core customer base who have stayed loyal or are providing consistent good feedback, don’t be afraid to send them a free sample or two; we promise you it will pay off big time.

negative comments

2. Dealing with negative comments.

No these can be a little trickier… If you’re a normal human being, these comments will hurt. It’s no secret the internet can be a mean place, but even in the face of a truly scathing comment remember this; kill em with kindness.

Tackle each negative comment as they come in and sift through the anger to find the truly valuable feedback. If a negative commenter has a point, let your customers know that you are sorry and that you are doing your best to find a solution.

But don’t leave it there, the best business WILL find a way to make their customer happy. So find that solution, share it with the upset consumer, and reply to the original comment to left future customers know you are there to support them.

BONUS: As with a good customer who sends love; sometimes a free sample or two can help sway the opinion of a once scorned customer. Giving away a little something for free can often save even the most tarnished relationships.

Managing Negative Comments

Finally, if you feel you’re being trolled or that a customer truly isn’t being reasonable, try to handle the situation with humor. If you’re doing a good job your customer base should stick up for you and help deal with someone who is trying to mess with you.

6 Tips for Creating a Better Customer Survey

Customer surveys are a powerful tool that can help you learn about your industry and your target audience. When designed well, they allow you to collect a large volume of data quickly and gain valuable insight about your market.

Unfortunately, creating an effective customer survey isn’t always a simple task. It requires careful planning and a clear understanding of your goals. Trying to create a survey without a clear game plan can be waste of time and resources.

Today we’ll share a six tips that you can use to make sure your survey provides reliable data and insightful customer information.

Keep It Simple

1. KISS (Keep It Short and Simple)

The traditional KISS principle is a staple in business, sport, and even day to day life. The above variation is a great way to ensure your survey accomplishes your goals.

When it comes to individual questions focus on asking your question in the shortest way possible. It might take a bit of practice but clear and simple questions will drastically improve completion rates. As for the overall survey, the same concept applies, shorter is almost always better so try to cut out any questions that aren’t critical.

Think about it, would you take the time to complete a 50 question survey?

Keep It Simple

2. Ask one question at a time

We’ve all seen surveys that try to chain together multiple questions: “How did you find our website?”, “Do you like the layout? Why or why not?” This is a common mistake and it can really impact your survey results.

If you want meaningful responses, you need give people time to think about each question individually and avoid confusion. Make things easy for your participants by sticking to one core idea at a time.

Consistant

3. Make rating scales consistent

Even the most common rating scales can become confusing if it’s not used consistently. For example, if you initially use a 1 – 5 rating scale where 1 = Disagree and 5 = Agree, don’t switch to a scale later in the survey where 1 becomes the “most important” and 5 becomes the “least important”.

Changing 5 from “positive” to the “negative” half way through the survey is incredibly confusing and can lead to inaccurate answers from participants completely by accident.

Yes No Questions

4. Make use of Yes/No questions

If you are asking a question that will have a simple answer, do your best to phrase it in a Yes/No format. A study by Survey Monkey showed that this close-ended style of question are a perfect way to start your survey as they are easy to understand and quick to complete.

Avoid Assumptions

5. Avoid assumptions

Unless you are surveying a very targeted audience, avoid questions that assume the participant is knowledgeable about something.

One way assumptions can creep into your survey is through industry specific language and terminology. As a rule, cut out acronyms, jargon, and subtle industry references.

Incentivise

6. Incentivise survey participants

If you are struggling to get participants, it might be necessary to offer some type of incentive to push them towards completion. A simple offer such as a discount, a giveaway, or an account credit can boost completion rates by as much as 20%.

Before you launch your incentive program, make sure that incentive is something your business can support financially. You don’t want a simple survey costing more than the data you collect is worth.

Do you use customer surveys in your business? Are there any tips that you’d recommend to the PAYFORT audience? Let us know in the comments below or reach out via Twitter. And if you’re looking for more great content be sure to check out our Best of 2016 post here!

The 5 Ways to Become a Better Leader

There is no doubt that some people are born leaders. They are almost always in sync with people on their team and are constantly on the lookout for opportunities to improve themselves. But just because it comes natural to some, doesn’t mean that only a select few can become leaders in our world. The truth is there are few simple things you can do to become a better leader, and you can start doing them today!

Checkout our list of 5 ways to become a better leader below:

Be-a-Positive

1. Be a positive role model.

As a leader, the way you behave sets the tone for your team and the broader organization. An effective leader conducts themselves in the same way they want their employees to behave, no exceptions for being in charge.

If you establish rules of conduct for your team but act in a way that goes against them, you’ll leave team members confused and potentially resentful. The best way to encourage good habits is to correctly and precisely demonstrate these behaviours yourself.

02_communication

2. Practice effective communication.

A good leader will make it a priority to ensure their team knows they can openly discuss any issues they have. This mean being approachable giving team member your full attention as they speak.

Beyond day to day interactions, make sure your team knows what you expect from them. If you are vague about roles and responsibilities you’ll end up with a lot of overlap and worse, frustrated team members. Above all, focus on keeping your team up to date and minimizing misunderstandings.

03_Be-emotionally-aware

3. Be emotionally aware.

Business is, at its core, interactions between people. As much as we would like to think that people are always rational the truth is emotions come onto play on every team.

Great leaders learn to acknowledge different opinions and consider the nuances of a given to situation to better understand those around them. Emotions usually reveal the deeper, more important points of personal interactions, so ensuring you’re in tune with them will earn you a lot of respect.

04_Think-positive

4. Think positive.

It is easy to be positive when everything is going well, but true leaders will remain confident even when times are tough. They embrace failures as opportunities to learn, and try to encourage their team to reflect on all events in a positive way.

In general, a positive outlook will help your team stay encouraged and creative, all while maintaining an upbeat environment. Thinking and acting positive go hand-in-hand so try to avoid negativity and do your best to stop it before it gets out of hand.

05_Study-past-leaders

5. Study past leaders.

As often as possible take some time to look back at people who have held similar positions to yours. Examine the areas where they failed and more importantly look at where they succeeded. Try to be aware of common mistakes made in you field and make proactive choices to avoid them.

Your leadership style doesn’t have to be the same as a previous leader but taking the time to study how they performed is a great way to build a strong foundation.

How do you work to improve your leadership skills? Is there a tip that changed how you lead? Let us know in the comments below and if you haven’t already, be sure to check out the PAYFORT Twitter page for daily updates!

No Money, No Problem – Starting a Business on a Budget

Just because times are tough and the money isn’t rolling in the way it used to doesn’t mean that your dream of starting your own business needs to take a back seat. In fact, believe it or not, when times are tight it might actually be the perfect time to take that idea you’ve been sitting on, and make it a reality.

The truth is, the best time to start your business isn’t tomorrow, in a week, or next year… it’s right now. Still having doubts? Check out our five reasons why lack of budget is no longer an obstacle for starting as business.

1. Knowledge is (mostly) free.

Before the internet became widely used, the business world was a secret club where only a few select individuals had the keys to success. In order to have a chance at understanding the intricacies of a particular business, you’d need to spend a lot of money to attend seminars and buy some potentially expensive books.

Today these options are still available but the truth is that the same information is largely available online and for free. With just a little bit of time, you can find real world stories of success (and failure) and the insights as to why things happened the way they did.

Many free webinars offer detailed instructions about how to lay the necessary ground work for your business and are completely free. Add to this the wealth of communities that are happy to help and you’ll be amazed at how much information is out there for you.

2. ‘Cloud’ storage and web apps cut overhead.

Even as recently as the mid 2000’s, if you wanted to start a business you’d need to shell out some serious cash for software and hardware just to get things up and running. Depending on your idea, you could need hundreds of thousands of dollars just to test an idea.

This has all changed with the advent of cloud computing and a slew of open source and low cost software. Now you can launch a website, sell products or services online, and manage your inventory and finances for less than the cost of a coffee per day.

3. Distance is no longer an obstacle.

Long gone are the days of needing a local office and regional presence to enter a market. If you have an idea that you think would work well in Norway, you can bring it to life, regardless of where you’re located.

Modern companies, even the big ones, now work with people all over the world. The ability to access customers from anywhere is an attractive opportunity. Just think about all the businesses around you that were able to succeed with a fraction of that audience.

4. Content Marketing Costs Nothing but Time.

In the word of digital content, you no longer need a large advertising budget to make your way to the top. With a little research and some hard work, you can use modern techniques such as SEO (search engine optimization) and social marketing to build a brand.

Using the power of blogging, social networking, and even word of mouth can often get a viable business the traction it needs to get going.

5. Finding customers is easier than ever

In order for your business to succeed you need to connect with the right audience and get in front of viable clients. Like the other points we’ve discussed, in the pre internet era accomplishing this goal did require considerable investment.

Today there are communities for virtually any niche imaginable, provide a rich resource you can tap into and start networking immediately. If you can’t find a community for your specific niche, it’s also never been easier to create one. Tools such as reddit allow you to build communities quickly and effectively and can often be used as a launching pad for good ideas.

Starting a business in never an easy process, but with so many of the barriers to entry disappearing as technology evolves, the financial burden is now longer an excuse. So if you’ve got an idea that you think might be the next big thing, dive in and don’t let a lack of budget stop you.

What changes have you seen in the entrepreneur world over the past 10 years. Do you agree that it’s easier to start a business today? Let us know in the comment below or reach out on Twitter for the latest PAYFORT news.

6 Popular Misconceptions About Ecommerce Stores

Are you ready to embark on your ecommerce adventure? Perhaps you’re in the process of setting up your online store? Before you do, check you’re not harboring any of these unhelpful misconceptions about ecommerce that could harm you and your business further down the line.

There’s not much work involved

This is a lot to do with having the wrong mindset to start a business. Any business – whatever platform – requires work. Taking the path of least resistance because it seems like the easy option is no way to start. Running an ecommerce business requires as much motivation, focus and effort as a traditional business, with a solid business plan and marketing strategy in place. Don’t make the mistake of jumping in half-heartedly, or it won’t work out.

Build it and they will come

Setting up a beautiful website with all the fancy bells and whistles is not enough to guarantee customers and sales. You cannot simply sit back and wait for people to find it, because the chances are they won’t – not without a little help. Promotion will be key to the success of your online store. First, you should learn about search engine optimization (SEO). This determines how well your store will rank in search engines. If it doesn’t rank well, then it will be difficult for potential customers to come across your site when they are searching for the products you sell.

Another option alongside building organic SEO is to use pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns, which are essentially Google adverts – they appear at the top of the page and you are charged for every click, as the name suggests. This is a good way to build visibility, at least in the beginning. You should also look to network and build relationships with: customers, trade organisations, social media users and even online directories. Let people know you exist.

SEO is cheap and easy

The thing is: it’s not. If it were, then SEO agencies would all be out of a job. SEO is actually very competitive, with multiple businesses all competing to rank in the coveted first page for their top business keywords. Your content is sitting in an already-packed digital world, so to stand out requires effort. More specifically, it necessitates an ongoing strategy of effective networking, content creation and link building to boost your business relevance and authority in a crowded virtual marketplace. Follow these 6 steps to creating a successful SEO strategy.

Making money on the web is easy!
Making money on the web is impossible!

We’ve all seen the ads that promise amazing ways to make unbelievable money online, all from the comfort of your very own home. Most of these extraordinary claims sound too good to be true, because they are. ‘Get rich quick’ schemes on the web are famously shady and prey on desperate people – so don’t be lured in by them.

We can all learn lessons from the hard-working companies who have carefully built up their online businesses and enabled them to thrive. They are the proof that setting up a lucrative online store can pay off, which should silence the naysayers who claim it is impossible to make a living from an online income. There are thousands of people doing just that all over the world.

So of course it’s possible – you just have to be prepared. Starting an online business should be treated with the same level of commitment as any business start-up and not ventured as a quick money-making scheme. Patience is your friend.

You don’t need a strategy

You do! As I’ve already mentioned, you should treat your online business just like any other business. Your strategy is vital: it underpins your goals for the company, where it’s going and how it will grow and succeed. Right at the outset, you should have in mind a clear view of your target market, what your customers are looking for and what will turn them off. You website should be formed and designed around the needs of your customers to ensure that the experience is one they will want to repeat. Get some inspiration with Forbes’ 12 E-Commerce Strategies To Grow Your Business.

Omnichannel is an unnecessary luxury

You won’t get away from this one. All modern consumers will expect you to offer a seamless customer journey across all channels. It takes time and effort to build up a customer’s good opinion of your business, all of which can be swept away with one bad experience.

Consumers today will often start their purchase journey on one device, and finish it on another. In the world of ecommerce, you go omnichannel or you go home. Luckily, most good online ecommerce platforms offer a seamless experience across every channel that is already built into the site framework, which makes creating an online store with omnichannel functionality easier than ever. So there are really no excuses not to incorporate it! Trust me – your customers will thank you.

Many of these myths are hangovers from when ecommerce first came about. But the world has moved on since then thanks to affordable enterprise ecommerce platforms, which have helped to make the entering the world of ecommerce more accessible. Banish these nuisance nonsense-nuggets from your business mindset, and watch your ecommerce venture flourish.

Think you’re ready to move your business online? Get started.

How to Maximize the Q4 Sale Season

Last year, Q4 shopping events continued to grow with events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday increasing (in terms of sales) by 15% and 12% respectively. While this trend is most pronounced in western countries, increasingly Q4 has become globally recognized as the most important quarter for the retail and ecommerce industries.

Ecommerce in particular is becoming a focus of many organizations as more people become comfortable with online shopping and choose to forego physical stores for their end of year purchases.

So with a larger and larger portion of shoppers moving online, how can you position your business to maximize Q4 profits? How can you capitalize on that increasing traffic and reach more users? And how can you help your customers find that perfect end of year item?

This week we’re hoping to answer those questions! Take a look at our list of 4 helpful tips to help you maximize the end of year shopping spree.

01_Setup-a-Landing-Page-in-Advance-and-Promote-It

Tease: Setup a Landing Page in Advance and Promote It

A report by AdWords in late 2015 indicated that over 60% of Q4 shoppers start searching online for products in mid-November. You want to do as much as possible to capture the attention of those users and prime them for shopping with you.

Your first consideration should be building a page that is SEO friendly and contains information that is relevant to your customers. Try to create an ‘evergreen’ page template that can be updated year on year rather than starting from scratch. If you create a new page each year, you will lose all the SEO benefit you gained from the previous year’s campaign.

Also consider running a paid pre-sale campaign to drive users to that landing page and signup for your business’ newsletter. This allows you to build a database of customers that have expressed interest in your upcoming sale and are primed to shop when the deals go live.

02_landing-page-needs-to-look-awesome-on-any-device

Key Tip!

Your landing page needs to look awesome on any device. What’s growing faster than online shoppers? Online shoppers who use their mobile device to do it! Keep that in mind when designing your page, slow loading times or device compatibility issues can frustrate shoppers and derail a campaign.

03_Send-Out-an-Email

Announce: Send Out an Email Blast to Your Users

When the day arrives and you’re finally ready to go live with your sale, start with an email blast to past shoppers as well as the users whose data you collected during the pre-sale campaign.

You might be thinking that social media is the wave of the future (and it should play a role in overall digital strategy) but trust us, email marketing is a time-tested tool that expands both your sales and your active customer base.

04_How-to-Maximize-the-End-of-Year-Shopping-Spree

Launch: Create a Sale Page That Builds Excitement

Now that you’ve built the hype and activated your user base, you’ll want to make sure that the sale page gets them excited. Your page should have the look and feel of a flash sale, that highlights your best deals and conveys a sense of urgency to users.

When implemented correctly, a well-designed sale page can increase traffic via referrals as well as social media and ultimately push users towards conversion. Getting the look and feel just right can be tricky, so take some time to test different designs and as much as possible test them with sample audiences.

05_Don’t-hide-‘sold-out’-products

Key Tip!

Don’t hide ‘sold-out’ products. The products that you’ve sold-out of during a sale should be front and centre on your page. This helps to remind customers that the product they’re looking at may soon be unavailable, so if they want to capitalize they’ll need to act quickly.

06_Keep-Your-Customers-Engaged-

Sustain: Keep Your Customers Engaged

Recommendations and customer referrals are without a doubt the most valuable form of advertising. If you believe you’ve provided a good experience to your customers, follow-up with them and request a testimonial.

You can take this concept one step further and push user the user to share their experience with you on social media during or after checkout. A great tool for this is to provide a small gift or incentive during checkout for a share on social media.

Do you have any secrets for a successful Q4 sale? Let us know in the comments below and we just might feature you in an upcoming post. And be sure to follow us on Twitter for more great updates as the Q4 sale season begins!

Drop Shipping: A Beginners Guide

There’s no doubt the internet has transformed the way people access their favourite merchandise and services. Products in particular, are cheaper and more available than ever before and drop shipping has played a big role in driving down those costs.

This week we’ll be answering some of the most common questions about drop shipping and give you the information you need to get started in this competitive market place. Check out our answers to some of the industries common questions below.

What is drop shipping?

For a lot of people this is going to be their first question. Basically, drop shipping is an innovative way to fulfil customer orders. It works by allowing businesses to access smaller quantities of a product from wholesalers then ship them directly to your customers; all without ever taking ownership of the merchandise.

Rather than taking the risk of purchasing a large inventory, you partner with a drop shipper and list their merchandise as if it was your own. When you receive an order via your website, you simply forward the details to your partner for fulfilment. The supplier then ships the product directly from their warehouse to your customer allowing you to keep the mark up.

What are the benefits of drop shipping?

As you can imagine, drop shipping has some distinct advantages over traditional online retail models:

Low (or even no) capital requirement

The nature of drop shipping means there’s no need to invest large sums of money to buy your initial inventory. You only purchase a product once it’s been sold, lowering risk and allowing for experimentation.

Unlimited product selection

With the need to pre-purchase your items eliminated, there are virtually no restrictions on what you can sell. You’ll likely want to start with a clear niche, but you’ll be able to offer a large selection right out of the gate, no matter what type of product you choose.

Work from anywhere

No big inventory to manage means you don’t need to worry about logistics or running a warehouse. A drop shipping business can be run from anywhere, you just need a laptop and an internet connection.

Scale quickly with low risk

Orders double in a month? No problem. As long as you stay on top of your drop shippers inventory (they can help you with this) you can grow rapidly and reap the benefits.

Is drop shipping a profitable business model?

At this point you’re probably seeing $$$ in your eyes and wondering if a drop shipping business can be profitable. The answer to that question is, like all businesses, dependant on a range of variables.

When done correctly, the answer is a definite yes! If you take the time to research the right products, develop a great site, and invest in some smart marketing, it’s possible to create a highly profitable online business through the use of drop shippers.

With that said, you shouldn’t think that drop shipping is some type of magic key to success. If it was easy everyone would be doing it, so be prepared to put in long hours and lots of hard work if you want to succeed.

What do the profit margins look like if you use drop shippers?

Profit margins are very much dependent on the niche you operate within and will vary greatly from product to product. For expensive items, such as electronics or home appliances you’ll be looking at small margins in the 5% to 15% range, with the lower end being far more common. Low-priced accessories or cables can fetch margins that are much higher, with mark ups of 100% or more, even mark ups of 1000% are not unheard of.

But beyond mark ups, your margins are going to depend on what value you bring to your customers. The more value (think free returns, instalments, protection plans, etc.) you provide the high the premium you can charge.

So there you have it, a quick intro to the world of drop shipping. Are you interested in getting started with a drop shipping business of you own? Check out our recent post on how to do market research to see if your idea has what it takes! And if you want more information about drop shipping let us know in the comments; we’ll add a part two!

What Not to Do at a Networking Event

If you’ve ever been to networking events you’ve probably experienced at least one ‘bad networker’. You all know the type, they corner you, start their pitch, and don’t let you go until they get a name, number, and promise you’ll call. The reality is, you’re never going to be able to avoid awkward networking situations entirely, but you can take steps to make sure that you aren’t that person.

In this post we’ll outline some of the major networking event don’ts that you should avoid at all costs. By avoiding these all too common mistakes, you’ll be focused and better capitalize on the limited face time.

Don't Go With Friends

Don’t go to networking events with friends.

In many situations, people are nervous about attending networking events. These nerves lead them to rely on a friend to get them through the event. This would all be fine except for 9 time out of 10, they then spend the whole event talking with their friend.

As much as possible, you should try to attend networking events on your own. This will force you to branch out, meet new people, and build better connections with the other guests.

Don't Interupt

Don’t interrupt. Ever.

Have you ever been interrupted? Didn’t feel good did it? The last thing you want is someone thinking of you when they’re asked those same questions.

Actively and patiently listening during conversations helps to communicate that you respect others and are willing to give them your attention. People can tell if your listening or just waiting for your turn to talk, so be engaged, be patient, and be involved in the conversation.

Don't Be a Card Spammer

Don’t be a card spammer.

In general, it’s never a good strategy to network by handing out your card too quickly (unless you want those cards to end up in the trash bin). Instead, try to build a rapport with someone and push for a future meeting. Once they’re engaged, you can focus on exchanging contact details.

Don't Be Subtle

Don’t be subtle.

In a space with a lot of people, you may be nervous to step up and accomplish what you came for. But the truth is, if you’re subtle you’ll probably be forgotten.

Try to think of it from the other side; when people are clear with you and say exactly what they want, you know if you can help and remember them. If they try to be subtle, you don’t know if you can help and will lose interest quickly.

At networking events time is precious so get to the point quickly, trust us, whoever your talking with will appreciate every minute saved.

Don't Focus on The Speaker

Don’t focus solely on the speakers.

Speakers get a lot of attention at networking events, but many times the people who can offer you the most are not on the stage.

Don’t ignore the people sitting next to you, they might be the exact connection you’ve been looking for (and they’re probably a lot more accessible.)

Don't Forget To Follow Up

Don’t forget to follow up.

Like everyone at the event, you’ll probably be swamped with new contacts after all is said and done. If you’re looking to stand out, be sure to send a follow-up email or even a call.

Just make sure that you don’t turn into a stalker; if you don’t hear back right away, give it some time before a second follow-up.

Do you have any networking advise? Be sure to share your experiences in the comments below! And if you’re looking for more great tips, why not check out our post on how to maintain your LinkedIn profile.

Seven Tips to Improve Your Workplace Productivity

With only so many hours in the day, improving workplace productivity is something many of us strive towards. When you break it down, there are really only two options when it comes to being more efficient; either put in more time OR work smarter. We don’t know about you, but in our office we prefer the second choice.

Being more productive at work isn’t brain surgery, but it does require discipline and an awareness of how you are spending you time. In this week’s post we’re going to be walking you through seven simple strategies you can implement to increase your productivity and make your work day more efficient.

track your time

1. Track your time and limit how much you spend on a single task.

You probably think you’re pretty good at judging how much time you’ve spent on a project don’t you? Unfortunately, if you’re like the majority of the human population, you’re not as good as you think.

Research suggests that only 1 in 5 people are able to accurately estimate the passage of time. Taking a few extra seconds to note when you start and stop a particular task can make a big difference in how you track time.

Once you understand what tasks you’re doing well and which are taking longer than expected, you can start to make the necessary changes.

take breaks

2. Take regular breaks.

To a lot of people this one might seem counterintuitive, but there is substantial research that shows taking scheduled breaks helps to improve concentration and refresh your creative juices.

Taking a short break during long tasks might mean that 10 mins passes with no work being completed, but by keeping your overall performance higher, this lost time can be quickly recouped.

Say_no_Meetings

3. Say no to meetings.

Another surprising time killer in most offices are meetings. Believe it or not most employees cite meetings as one of their biggest time-sinks and yet we continue to book them. According to Atlassian, the average office worker spends a quarter of their work month in meetings that they feel are unproductive.

So before you book your next meeting, take a couple extra minutes to ask whether you can achieve the solution using email, phone, or a web-based tool; if the answer is yes, cancel that meeting.

set deadlines

4. Set self-imposed deadlines.

Stress is often viewed as a negative in many work environments and even day to day life, but the truth is, a manageable level of ‘self-imposed stress’ can actually help to provide focus, prioritize tasks, and meet goals.

If you find yourself working on an open-ended project, try setting a personal deadline and work hard to stick to it. It might surprise you to discover how focused you can be when you have to watch the clock.

avoid multitasking

5. Avoid multitasking.

While you might think that the ability to multitask is important to improving efficiency, the reality for most is actually the opposite.

Research suggests that for the majority of the population attempting to do several tasks at the same time results in lower productivity and lower quality work. Instead of trying to juggle everything at once, take the time set priorities and stick to a single task before moving on to the next.

turn off notifications

6. Turn off notifications.

The fact is humans are not able to effectively resist the allure of a new email, social media notification, or text message. Rather than fight your natural instincts to pick up you phone every time it ‘dings’, turn off notifications during work hours.

Instead, schedule a block of time during your day to check in on personal emails, social media and texts. Having a consistent routine will help to limit these distractions.

scheduling your work

7. Schedule your work in 90-minute intervals.

Research has shown that elite performers across a range of different fields (think athletes, musicians, entrepreneurs, etc.) who limit themselves to work intervals of 90 minutes or less, are actually more productive than those who grind and push beyond 90 minutes.

The same researchers found that across nearly every task studied, the top performers tended to work no more than 4.5 hours per day. So if you feel like you need to give your productivity a boost, resist the temptation to work longer hours. Instead, step back, and try implementing the above strategies to work smarter, not harder.

Looking for more productivity tips? Be sure to follow us on the PAYFORT social media channel to get the latest updates. And if you have any productivity tips of you own, reach out in the comments below, we’re always happy to hear from our readers!

How to do Market Research? – Understanding Your Customer

No matter what opportunity you’re pursuing, market research is a fundamental tool to ensure your business has a solid foundation. Good research gives you detailed picture of the products and services you need to offer and what gaps in the market can be exploited.

Taking a little time to understand the specific questions customers ask allows you to provide the most appropriate products, offer the best customer service, and even identify opportunities for expansion that your competitors might be missing.

Despite how important market research is to any business; a surprising amount of people don’t take the time to do it. And even when they do, they often end up asking the wrong questions or even the wrong people. That’s why this week we wanted to share a quick guide on the basics of market research and how you can apply them to your business strategy.

Here are some market-research tips that can help get you started.

Types of Market Research

Before you dive in and start your research it’s useful to understand the two types of research you’ll be doing; Primary and Secondary.

Primary research involves collecting first hand data, such as analysing current sales or evaluating the effectiveness of current business practices. Carrying out primary research often involves questionnaires, consumer surveys, and even interviews.

This type research provides some of the most interesting insight about you consumers and overall business viability. We’ve provided a few sample questions you can ask below:

  • What impacts your decision to purchase (insert your product or service)?
  • What do you like or dislike about current products or services currently on the market?
  • What would make your shopping experience/ interaction better?
  • How much would you be willing to pay for (insert your product or service)?

Secondary research is all about analysing data and insights that have already been collected and shared. These sources are very useful for identifying your competitors, setting realistic business goals and categorising your audience.

A common misconception is that primary research provides ‘better’ or ‘more accurate’ data about a sector, but this isn’t necessarily true. Any good market research effort needs to combine both primary and secondary sources to get a complete picture.

collect data

How to Collect Data

No business, whether it’s big or small, can succeed without understanding its customers, its product, and the marketplace. In sectors such as ecommerce, competition is fierce, and attempting to run a successful business without having the necessary data leaves you exposed to your competitors. As with types of research, there are two categories of data you’ll be working with, quantitative and qualitative.

Quantitative data relies on mathematical analysis and quantifiable metrics while qualitative data is about understanding the less tangible elements of your business or the marketplace.

The two data types generally complement each other and together they help to identify problems and manage customers’ opinions and concerns.

common marketing mistakes

Common Marketing Mistakes

In the early stages of setting up a business you’ll likely be strapped for time and cash, but don’t take shortcuts, if you do they’ll come back to haunt you. Here are three pitfalls to avoid:

web resources

Using only web resources

Web resources are open to everyone, including your competition. If you want to gain a competitive edge try tapping some deeper resources such as your local library, college campus, or small-business centre.

market research survey

Surveying only the people you know

It can be very tempting to reach out to friends and family for input when you’re starting a business, but in many cases they are not the most honest survey candidates. To get the most useful and accurate information, you need to tap into your real customer base and understand their requirements and expectations.

Do you have any tips for completing market research? Share them in the comments below. And if you haven’t already, be sure to follow our social media channels for more tips on how to get your business up and running.

Identity Theft: Keep Your Personal Information Personal

Your identity is quite possibly your most valuable resource in today’s interconnected world and you should be protecting it. More than ever, who you are shared across the internet leaving your identity susceptible to fraudsters.

At PAYFORT we take security very seriously but unfortunately many users don’t. You may be surprised how easy it can be for hackers to gain access to your personal information and what they can do once they have it.

This week we’ll be talking about identity theft and fraud. We’ll be explaining exactly what identity theft is and more importantly what you can do to protect yourself from becoming a victim.

What is Identity Theft

Identity theft occurs when a fraudster gains enough personal information to convincingly impersonate their victim. Common outcomes include purchasing products on the victim’s credit cards or even taking out substantial loans in the victim’s name. As these attacks primarily take place in the digital space many victims won’t know they have been targeted until a suspicious bill arrives or they check their credit score.

Every case of identity theft revolves around a single common theme; gaining access to personal information. Information such as names, date of birth, address all play an important role in identifying who you are, and sharing your information in insecure ways is a recipe for disaster.

Fraudsters can capture this information in a range of ways but some of the most common include hacking and data loss, crawling social media, and setting up malicious Wi-Fi hotspots.

How Can You Protect Yourself

As we described above, most identify thieves obtain the personal information needed to commit their crime in a number of ways. To prevent yourself from becoming a victim you need to understand the fraudsters techniques and take the necessary precautions.

Now we’re not saying you should abandon the web and give up online shopping, banking, or socialising – but you should do these things in a responsible way. Here are a few examples of simple things you can do to make it much more difficult to steal your identity.

Social media

Social media profiles are an absolute goldmine of personal information. For a fraudster it may contain everything they need to start the process of stealing your identity. Make sure you frequently review your privacy settings and have them set to private.

Personal devices

More and more we seem to be running our lives out of our phones and laptops making these devices critical points of entry for potential identity thieves. Follow these tips to stay safe:

Password-protect-your-devices-en

Password protect your devices – You don’t want to make accessing your life as easy as swiping a screen, so make sure your devices are password protected.

Install-anti-virus-software-en

Install anti-virus software – Virus are notorious for leaking personal information to a range of source from advertisers to criminals. Protect yourself by running up to date anti-virus software on all your computers.

Be-cautious-on-public-Wi-Fi-en

Be cautious on public Wi-Fi – Fraudsters can easily set up fake networks designed to capture your information. When on public Wi-Fi avoid using sensitive apps such as mobile banking.

Keep-your-device-up-to-date-en

Keep your device up to date – If your device prompts you to update to latest version of software or operating system, do it! These updates often add enhanced security features and close exploits.

Offline

Don’t forget to think about your offline habits as well. Even though 86% of identity theft occurs online, if you leave critical documents like utility bills or credit card applications out in the open your putting yourself at risk.

Do you have any experience with identity theft? Share your stories in the comments below and if you’re not already be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for the latest news.

Use YouTube to Improve Your Video Advertising

The term ‘cord cutters’ has been used for the past few years to describe a generation of consumers choosing to ditch their cable providers and make the jump to online streaming exclusively. In 2016 a new term, ‘cord nevers’, is becoming increasingly applicable to millennials who will likely never subscribe to a traditional television service.

In a recent survey of over 32,000 people, it was found that roughly 18% of the population has never signed up for cable and predicted that in less than a decade half of viewers younger than 32 will not pay for a television subscription. In fact by the end of last, viewers were already watching as much video online as on television. At the same time, hours spent on YouTube increased by 44%, with a large portion of that time coming from mobile devices.

So, if YouTube is the where consumers are spending their time, how can you adapt your media strategy? In this post we’ll share four techniques you can use to maximize your video’s ROI and help you rethink how YouTube fits into your media plan.

#1: Pique Curiosity with Unconventional Videos

People aren’t going to click on your videos so they can watch glorified infomercial. They may be willing to tolerate a tutorial style video if it offers unique advice that they won’t find elsewhere. However, the most successful YouTube videos tell an intriguing and original story that viewers haven’t seen before. This ad from Android is a great example:

#2: Support Customer Research with Keywords

When marketing on YouTube, it’s critical to understand where viewers are in your sales funnel. Trying to cold-sell to customers who ‘might’ be interested in your products can be effective in certain scenarios, but often viewers are in the discovery stage and aren’t ready to commit to a purchase.

For this reason, it’s important to use relevant keywords for your videos that let your content be found by the people you want to sell to. You’ll want to consider words and phrases that are relevant to both your industry and the products you are selling.

#3: Qualify Leads with YouTube Video

The goal of your ad should be to introduce new viewers to your product and most importantly send interested leads to your website. Once on you site it becomes much easier to share important information and convert leads to customers.

So what can you do to drive qualified prospects to your site? Try closing your video with a strong call to action, something like: “Want to learn more about this product? Visit our yourbranddomain.com for a detailed overview and more information.”

#4: Optimize Your Channel Page to Drive Traffic

While most viewers will come across your videos first, there’s a very good chance that at some point they’ll also be looking at your YouTube channel page. You can actually take advantage of those channel page views and drive traffic to your other online properties.

Make sure you include links to your website and your other social profiles on your YouTube channel page and provide as much relevant information about your company as possible.

Conclusion

To determine which YouTube advertising and marketing strategies will work for you, it’s important to test your campaigns and collect data on what techniques are most effective. Trial and error play a key role in YouTube advertising, so take some time to brainstorm different ideas and be prepared to evaluate your campaigns using a range metrics.

Do you have experience with video advertising? Let us know what techniques you use to get your videos noticed on YouTube and if you have any questions be sure to reach out on our Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

5 Simple Tips to Keep Your LinkedIn Profile Fresh

Been a while since you tidied up your LinkedIn profile, hasn’t it? Maybe not getting the traffic you want? As a young entrepreneur, you should probably fix that. Your online presence is an important element in building your social network and job hunting. Fortunately, you can follow these quick, easy steps to make sure your LinkedIn always looks bright, shiny, and new.

1. THE PROFILE PIC

LinkedIn Profile Picture

Make sure you choose a sharp, clear picture. Make sure your face is centered and zoomed in just right. Go for a simple background. And above all, make sure you’re dressed professionally in the picture.

2. THE BACKGROUND PIC

LinkedIn Background Photo

Like an introduction, choose something that grabs attention. Select a picture that highlights your skills, something professional that you’re proud of. An event or accomplishment works well. Along with the profile pic, these two images are the first impression you make on a potential employer or business contact.

3. THE INTRODUCTION SUMMARY

LinkedIn Introduction Summary

Go ahead and talk about yourself in first person. Keep it brief, but highlight your experiences, accomplishments, and goals. Again, talk about the things you are proud of. And remember, keep it genuine and keep it simple.

4. THE PORTFOLIO

LinkedIn Portfolio

Your work history and folio, do you have uploads? Have you attached files and examples? Add as much as you can: publications, images, PDFs, external links. Show concrete evidence of the things you’ve done. Specific examples always look best.

5. THE REFERENCES

LinkedIn References

Send messages to every LinkedIn contact you think will help you. Ask them to recommend you. Build up those +1’s. Ask them to leave a brief comment or note giving credibility to your skills. You’ll be able to approve everything before comments go public. It never hurts to have too many references, and that sort of interconnection is at the heart of LinkedIn and social networking.

You can do all of these fixes in a short amount of time and the improvement to your LinkedIn profile will be very noticeable. The job hunt will be half way done. With luck, you’ll be preparing for more than a few job interviews.

Want to stay up to date on the latest social news? Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for the latest updates and business related articles.

5 Ways to make Money out of your ebook

Ebooks are a rising trend in online media. Opening a Word document and starting to write content, has become as easy as making microwave popcorn. Surely you have your own unique idea for your ebook. Common topics ideas today are writing a biography, a story, an experience, or a guide. It’s no issue what your ebook will be about. The more important issue is where do I get paid?

To make the most out of your ebook, it’s best to sell it through different channels. The only downside of selling through different channels is that it requires you to format it appropriately for each. This post will look at the top 5 ways to make money out of your ebook.

Sell on Apple iBookstore

ibookstore

Apple iBookstore is one of the most authentic stores today, accepting e-Pub and PDF file formats for ebooks. Registration is free, and you receive 70% royalties out of each sale. It is Apple’s reputation to be strict with submission approvals – so take no surprise. At the end, this store has serious buyers that you should target.

Sell through Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing)

amazon-kdp-gr

Through Amazon KDP, you can publish your ePub or PDF ebook to Amazon’s international Kindle stores. Registration is free and two royalty options exists: 35% or 70%, with different requirements for each. See: https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=A301WJ6XCJ8KW0.

Sell through ebook aggregators

Aggregators make the job easy for you by doing automatic submissions to many online ebook retailers, such as the latter, in addition to many others: Kobo, Nook press, Google Books, etc. In return, they charge you a fee or sales commissions. The three most popular aggregators are:

 

  • BookBaby charges you a fixed fee of $299 to have your book formatted and handled from start to finish. They do not take any commissions out of your sales. Your ebook is distributed to major retailers, including BookBaby’s own store.

     

    BookBaby-logo1

  • Smashwords have been in business for a long time, and distribute to tens of ebook retailers across the world, including their own Smashwords store. Smashwords offers free registration, but takes 40% commissions of ebook sales. For ebooks sold through their own store, they take 20% commission.

     

    SW_Horz_Color

     

  • BookTango, although appeared much later than the offers, offers the most attractive package. Free registration and zero commissions. The company makes their revenue out of selling premium ebook services that complement their free offering.

    Booktango

Sell through app stores

Kotobee Author
Especially if you will be creating interactive ebooks, or ebooks with custom functionality, creating an app may be more appropriate than ePub or PDF. You can find many applications that can convert your e-Pub or PDF into ready-made apps, like our company’s Kotobee Author. App stores have a larger user base than ebook stores, which is a point worth considering, not to mention more trust towards apps.

The Google Play store charges a one-time fee of $25 for registration and takes 30% commission over app sales. Apple’s app store charges an annual $99 and 30% commission over app sales.

Sell through download store sites

Similarly like apps, if you decide to turn your ebook into an installable desktop application, you have a large number of sites to sell downloads through, such as selz.com, sellfy.com, pulley.com, instamojo.com, or payloadz.com.

Now you know how to make money out of your ebook. So, if you haven’t started so already, start writing!

Four Secrets to Creating the Perfect Two Minute Pitch

An Elevator pitch takes two minutes or less. You need to sum up everything in a few short paragraphs, nothing more. Selling the complexity of your entire startup idea in the time it takes to brush your teeth isn’t easy, even for some of the greatest minds. The first time George Lucas pitched the idea that would later become Star Wars, the producer handed him a copy of Joseph Campbell, told him to read it, and come back later.

So then how do you do it in the business world? How do you filter all of your exciting ideas into one clear vision? There are whole educational courses set up around doing this effectively, helping you learn how to act and what to say in the space of two minutes, but you need some guidance now. This article will serve as a brief guide to the whole process and help to make the idea of an elevator pitch seem a little less daunting.  Before diving into this article, make sure you double check the basics of pitching here.

Be Positive!

Offer your investor the opportunity directly, and phrase it accordingly, not problem and solution. They want to make money, and you’ve discovered a way they can do it; you don’t want them to have to ask.

Be Organized!

Don’t sell your investors on a dream. Have your business model ready. Be precise when describing your idea. Have your terminology ready. Being specific goes right into #3 …

Be Minimalist!

Tell them how much you need from them. Tell them exactly what you’ll do. Tell them what you’ve already accomplished. Tell them the things you hope to accomplish … all, of course, in the most succinct organized fashion possible. Proverbially speaking, “No bells and whistles. Just get down to business.”

Be Prepared!

They’re going to have questions when you’re finished. And if you’ve done your pitch well, they’ll be asking the questions you want them to, questions about the finer points of your idea. Be ready to answer and discuss the questions they’ll have.

And there you have it, the two minute guide to two minute pitches. (Say it three times fast.) If you liked this post you can always find more by following us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

The Anatomy of an Optimized Webpage

Whether you’re just starting out or running an established business, an optimized webpage will play an important role for your organization. It not only needs to look good and have all the information your customers are looking for, it also needs to be easy to find.

Optimizing your website properly is a crucial to getting your site ranked in search engines and most importantly seen by customers. It will help your website to be found at the most critical steps in the buying process when people need your site.

So how can you build your website in a way that pleases your visitors and search engines? What are search engines even looking for?  And most importantly, how can SEO (Search Engine Optimization) help your company become more profitable? To answer these questions we’ve created a visual guide that you can use to start building a better site today.

Share you experiences with SEO in the comments below and if you have any questions, be sure to reach out on Twitter.

Download the Infographic

The Anatomy of an Optimized Webpage

Download the Infographic

How to Optimize a Landing Page

There are few things that will impact your user’s first impression more than your campaigns landing page. So a question every marketer should be asking is what makes a landing page great?

Beyond a simple design and a clear call to action, landing pages need to carefully combine persuasive content with attractive offers a do it all within a “visually pleasing” design.

What are landing pages?

Before we dive into how to optimize a landing page, it’s important to understand their purpose and how they fit into your overall site.

Traditionally landing pages are focused on achieving one single objective; they provide your users with highly specific information and push them towards conversion. Depending on your goals, a conversion might be immediate, part of a sales funnel, or more gradual through lead generation.

Creating a perfect landing page won’t be easy, but we’ve put together a quick guide to get you started with some of the basic tools you’ll need to start improving your site.

1. Use Strong Headlines

Good landing pages use language that converts, and that all begins with a strong headline. Your headline needs match and build on the promises made in the link that brought the visitor to your landing page, without being complex or vague.

It’s important to craft your headline according to your audience’s level of sophistication. A good rule to follow is to use your headline to make a clear promise, and then explain the mechanism of delivery in the page’s subtext.

2 .Bold Call to Action

Excluding your page’s headline, the call to action (CTA) will be the most important element of your landing page. With the exception of e-commerce landing pages, a good CTA should be designed to convert, rather than direct users further into the conversion funnel.

You’ll find that minor changes to both your headline and CTA can have a big impact your conversion rate. These two elements undergo a lot of testing in landing page optimization; things to consider when testing your CTA include:

  • Buttons: Test variations in size, colour, wording and placement. The wording of your CTA should be relevant to the offer and convey value.
  • Registration Form: Keep forms as simple as possible. Only ask for information you actually need as the more fields a visitor needs to complete the less likely they are to convert.

3. Be Clear on Value

When it comes to landing pages, you will convert more visitors if your value proposition is stated clearly. Use bold statements and don’t be afraid to highlight value multiple times within the pages subheadings, captions and bullet points.

Show credibility by being as specific as possible – if what you are offering can save your audience time or money, state how much.

Focus on writing your copy in the second person, using ‘You and Your’ and eliminating We, Our and Your Company’s Name wherever possible.

And above all else, be honest with your customers.

4. Keep you landing page clean and get rid of unnecessary elements

Your landing page does not need to mirror your website, so when your designing a new one start by eliminating all distracting elements. Don’t be afraid to get rid of navigation links, sidebars and footers.

Ideally the only navigation options readily available should be a Submit button, for capturing user details, and an opt-out link for users not interested in your offer. Both the Submit button and the opt-out link should redirect to an appropriate page on your company’s website.

It will sometimes be necessary to include off-page links such as Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy or social sharing buttons; when required be sure to place them out of the way of your user’s journey.

5. Use a Guiding Layout

The sole purpose of your landing page is always to convert your visitor; whether that be into a lead or customer. With that in mind, the way you layout your page should guide your visitor towards your call to action.

You can have the perfect copy, but if the layout of your landing page is confusing to users it’s not going to convert. When designing landing pages, you’ll have more freedom than similar style print ads, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore best practise. You need to be mindful of how people like to read and structure your page to match these habits.

Conclusion

While working on your landing page, it’s important to remember that there are very few ‘perfect’ landing pages. Those few pages that are perfect, resulted from months (in some cases years) of extensive testing.

That same level of discipline and rigour should be applied to your own landing pages. Always be prepared to adjust and tweak page elements, you never know when a simply change could bring about big improvements.

Do you have any experience optimizing landing pages on your site? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments below.

If you’re looking for more guides be sure to check out the rest of the PAYFORT blog and if you’re not already follow us on Twitter.

Startup Marketing: How to Set Your Budget

So where should your money go? How can you determine an effective marketing budget? 
Starting a new company isn’t easy; it requires discipline, creativity, a lot of luck. One obstacle almost every startup will come across is financing and while there’s no doubt getting initial funding is difficult, but the truth is the next steps aren’t any easier.

When it comes time to allocating money within the business you’ll come across a common paradox faced by every new startup; you need to grow your brand to make money but have zero money.

So where should your money go? How can you determine an effective marketing budget? And most importantly, what’s can you expect as a return on investment (ROI)? As you can imagine trying to figure all this out is enough to make you head spin, that’s why we’ve put together a simple guide to help you set the perfect budget for you business.

If we assume the best way to determine your marketing budget is as a percentage your startup’s projected gross revenue we can find a solid starting point. It is often recommended that companies that have been in business for 1-5 years should allocate 12-20% of their gross revenue or projected revenue on marketing for the year, whereas a startup should spend more simply because they need to create buzz and carve out a market share.

Now that we have a rough estimate of the money you need to set aside, it’s time to break down the budget; technology costs, paid advertising, and even content marketing all need to be considered. For startups or brands looking to shake up the landscape of their industry, these are all essential factors (and general costs) you need to account for. Of course, many of these ‘essential’ costs will still depend upon your actually budget, so take this advice with a grain of salt.

Note: we’re referring to USD for all of the figures below.

Branding

From business cards to the homepage of you website, branding is the face of your business and will have a big impact on how it’s perceived. You should think about branding as an investment for the future of your company and as such you should be prepared to spend to achieve the perfect look.

A small design agency may charge between $4,000-5,000 for branding, but cheaper alternatives exist; just remember this is your company’s first impression so you’ll want to make it count.

Website

If you’re a web savvy entrepreneur you make think setting up your website is going to be easy. However, if you’d like your website to radiate a polished look and match the rest of your branding, don’t be afraid to bring in some extra help.

Generally, an all-inclusive website can cost $3,500-$5,000 if you go to the professionals. Depending on what you want your business to become, you’ll need to consider website tone of voice, layout, SEO, onsite content, and upkeep fees.

Finally make sure the site mobile-friendly; search engines are placing more and more importance on the mobile web and if your site doesn’t have a responsive design you’ll be behind from launch.

Social Media

You’ll often hear that if you want to succeed in social media, you need to be on every single platform—Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+, Snapchat, WhatsApp, etc. As you’ll quickly find out however, for new businesses this simply isn’t possible.

If you’re just starting, try to select few social media platforms (2-3) that you feel will give you best chance to reach your audience and set a social savvy intern or staff member to handle updates.

If you don’t have anyone internally that can handle the work expect to shell out $1,000-$2,500 a month on a freelance community manager or small agency, plus the tools needed to succeed in social media and community management (Hootsuite for example).

Content Marketing

What is the driving force that keeps the internet going? The answer is content. To stay competitive you need to be creating high-quality content that attracts traffic and converts visitors into customers.

We all know Google likes content, and as it’s their algorithms that control how easy it is to find your business, it’s a no brainer then that content creation needs to be part of your budget. You may be tempted to assign ‘content creation’ to a single team member and call it a day, but if you want to create an effective strategy you’ll need to be prepared to spend a little more.

Though content marketing may take up a small portion of your initial budget, you should be prepared to increase it in the future as your business grows. The right content marketing agencies will scale with your budget, typically starting at $2,000 a month for basic content strategy and production.

Traditional Advertising and Events

Traditional advertising isn’t as precise or accurate as internet marketing, but it remains essential across a range of industries. For this type of traditional full-scaled advertising—including print, outdoor, and media — you can expect to pay at least $3,000 per month.

Finally, you want your business to grow you’re going to need to network. Attending other company’s events is a great way to get started; however holding events will be essential in many industries, and as such you should set aside some budget for functions. For a small scale event, allocate at least $5,000 and scale it up as your networking needs grow.

Conclusion For Setting your Marketing Budget

It’s important to remember that this is a top level guide and you can expect some fluctuations in costs depending on your specific needs and the evolving marketing landscape. For example content marketing is expected to grow, with 55% of companies (startups and established companies alike) saying they will increase their content marketing budget in 2016.

How do you tackle the issue of budget allocation within your business? Share your tips in the comments below or let us know on social media via Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

[Free Guide]: Create your own Payment Stack

Nowadays, the payment industry is filled with hundreds of service providers whom seems to be offering the same service which is making the choice decision more difficult to pick one over another. But that’s what we’re here for.

For new business owners who want a simple, user-friendly way to accept credit cards, a full-stack platform like START, Stripe or PayPal is the way to go. However, as your business grows, you might want to move to a merchant account with a separate gateway that offers multi and dynamic payment stack options that will boost your business and customer satisfaction.

From roughly the beginning of time until now, merchants would get their gateways and merchant accounts from different vendors, then connect them. However, the last few years have seen a boom in 3-in-1 ‘full stack’ payment platforms.

Here is a free guide we prepared for you to start creating your own Payment Stack, where you will find answers to all your questions:

What is PAYMENT STACK?

“Payment stack” used to mean every technology or backend that is utilized to move money from your customer to you.

This might be as complex as a recurring billing front end + a payment gateway + fraud tools + a merchant account

You might even have more than one flow.  For example, you might have shopping cart + credit card payment + tokenization

There’s also a term that’s similar known as “full stack” which simply means a one stop shop for most everything payment related. This would include START, Stripe, PayPal and others.

Most of the payment gateways makes for a lot of different services offering different variations of the same thing, However, PAYMENT STACK helps merchant to cover all options and services to choose dynamically also help merchants to take the right decisions with minimum effort and high efficiency

5 Proven Benefits by having Payment Stack in place

No Hidden Fees

Some companies will slip in charges for bounced payments or hit you with obscene cancellation fees if you decide to leave. Be wary of platforms that don’t openly publish their prices – they’re usually trying to hide them for a reason. And as always, be on the lookout for asterisks, especially when their connected footnotes are hidden on another page.

By having your own payment stack you will be able to list all fees and control your bill will be paid to the payment gateway.

@PAYFORT we have clear fees plan with NO hidden fees by giving the merchants full access to what features to be included in their payment stack.

FREE Consultation

Most of the merchants find them self’s in a hassle what features they should use and why, what is the long term relationship in place with them after going live with the chosen payment gateway? and how to increase their acceptance ratio? what other payment options will fit for their business model?

@PAYFORT builds a trust communication with its merchants to help them grow their businesses and collecting their feedback either of the service level PAYFORT provide or apply latest techniques to solve the payment challenges in the Arab world.
Our dedicated consultation team always follow up with the merchants and keep an eye of their payments acceptance status also giving recommendations and suggestions to our merchants before and after going live by providing a full payment strategy for the merchant using our dynamic payment stack options.

ONE API ONE INTEGRATION

“The secret to success lies in careful preparation followed by speedy and decisive execution ~ Napoleon”

A Key problem merchant always facing during connecting to another services or integrating a payment gateway is the SUPPORT, so the more you spend time to complete the cycle the more success chance you will reach.

We have solved this @PAYFORT by having a ONE INTEGRATION that covers all payment stack options which selected by the merchant, having a new payment option will not require any change from the merchant side also activating a feature in the payment stack the ecosystem which PAYFORT offers to its merchants will automatically adjust the payment flow to include all options and features merchants choose to be in their payment stack

Alternative Local Payment options

PAYFORT State of payment report shows that only 18% of Arabs being banked, alternative payments like pre-paid and BILL presentment play a vital role in facilitating payments of online virtual services and digital goods.

Pre-paid cards are a convenient way for customers to pay online without having a credit card or even a bank account. For customers who do have bank accounts and credit cards, pre-paid cards also consumers a safer method for paying online, without risking credit card data theft.

Additionally, pre-paid payment methods are becoming popular budget management tools, with 27% of consumers stating that they use pre-paid cards for controlling credit card spending habits.

Bill presentment is most popularly used by the population in Kuwait with K-NET with a 241% usage per-capita. SADAD in Saudi Arabia and Fawry in Egypt meanwhile have a 48% and 41% per-capita usage. In terms of monthly transactions, Fawry transacts over 36,000,000 a month, SADAD with 27,500,00, and K-NET with 8,000,000

Most of the payment gateways offers a standard payment options VISA, MASTERCARD and AMEX …etc., well this is good but what’s the customer really need? What’s the local payment options?

This gives PAYFORT the initiative to create services like Pay@Home, PAY@Store and INSTALLMENTS all are services aims to provide innovative solutions to assist Arabs with online buying, also to connect to local payment options to provide a variety of payment options to its merchants and the Arab world.

Security and maintenance 

Having multi connection from the merchant side to different systems will raise the risk of having effort working on different services and options activated by the merchant also increase the security risk of having one of the connections to the third parties or payment options insecure to a level that affect merchant application or damage the trust with the merchant customers experience.

Having a unique and ONE INTEGRATION with one payment service provider will solve all those issues for the merchant as we are @PAYFORT working hard to create a seamless easy way to connect merchant application and ZERO effort to be done by the merchant to activate any feature/option in the payment stack.

The future is bright for payments in the Arab World

With the number of cash-based transactions decreasing year-over-year and the number of convenient consumer payment options developing exponentially. In the next five years, we will see a greater shift towards some of the payment options such as bill-presentment and pre-paid, but also into other unexplored territories like mobile point-of-sale, INSTALLMENTS, and mobile payments.

We expect these new payment methods to have a significant impact on the future of the Arab World and we aspire to continue to observe and anticipate the influence these new technologies have on the people in our Mena region.

Whether you’re a government organization, a newly funded start-up, or a consumer, we believe everyone can benefit from a better understanding of online payments; so let’s work together to make the best for our region and start building your own PAYMENT STACK.

References:

How To Create An Effective Teaser Campaign

Whether you’re looking to launch a new website, a new product or even a new company, getting the word out is a critical first step and it will likely be your most difficult marketing challenge.

This week we’re going to be talking about teaser campaigns and how you can leverage excitement and secrecy to get the most out of your launch. A teaser campaign revolves around engaging with customers and can be a powerful tool to grab attention and generate anticipation.

To help your new idea launch successfully, we’ve put together 3 tips you can use to plan the perfect teaser campaign; check out the list below.

Develop a campaign with some mystery

As the name implies, a good teaser campaign is all about giving a little without spoiling the surprise. Some companies end up treating their teaser as the reveal and actually end up damaging their launch.

Whether you’re launching a new product, website, or business try to focus on the impact it will have, rather than the product itself. The above example is a teaser video for Microsoft’s HoloLens that does exactly that. Note how the video limits specific details and instead encourages viewer to imagine their lives with the product. When done correctly a good teaser can produce movie-premier type atmospheres.

Be aggressive across multiple channels

How you share your campaign will depend on the resources you have available, but it is important to be active across as many channels as possible. Social media has become a particularly powerful tool for sharing teaser campaigns as it allows for large reach and lots of interaction. Email is also a long-time favourite allowing you to share even more details with users that take the time to sign up for updates.

adwords multiple channels
If you want to get more tactical, you can look into using Google Adwords to promote your campaign. This type of advertising allows you to place you campaign in front of highly target users who are already searching for topics related to your launch. Take the above example which sees Samsung stealing some of the spotlight away from Apple’s iPhone 6S.

Finally content marketing (blogs, infographics, microsites, etc.) can be an excellent addition to you teaser campaign providing additional assets that can be shared with your audience.

Be unique… but don’t ignore what works

When working on a teaser campaign (or any marketing campaign for that matter) it’s important to be unique and focus on creating a story that is relevant to your brand and to your upcoming launch.

With that said, don’t be afraid to do some research and find out what has worked for other organizations in the past. For every successful marketing campaign there are dozens that didn’t perform well; understanding why the failures failed can save you a lot of time and effort.

So there you have it, three simple tips you can use to get your audience excited about your up and coming launches. Let us know if you’ve run a successful teaser campaign and if you haven’t already, be sure to follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

Understanding Ecommerce Gamification

We’ve said it many times before and we’ll say it again here; ecommerce is competitive. If you want to succeed you need to be able to offer you customers something more than just product.

In a previous post we discussed how great customer can help set your online store apart and today we’re going to share another tool you can use to improve your customers’ shopping experience. Gamification refers to the use of ‘game thinking’ and ‘game mechanics’ within non-game contexts to engage users and increase customer loyalty.

On an ecommerce site, gamification is a great tool for making the shopping process more entertaining. Incorporating a range of motivators, some hidden and some visible, can completely change how your customers interact with the site.

The Psychology of Gamification

Gamification takes advantage of a common human trait; the love of finishing tasks. Whether it’s getting points, beating other customers, or collecting coupons, people love to complete a challenge and by incorporating this thinking into your ecommerce store you’ll increase loyalty and consumer engagement.

The Three Core Elements of Gamification

To help you get started we’ve broken down the 3 main components of any good gamification strategy:

01_(2)

Clearly Defined Challenge – This is the critical, you want to keep your challenge straight forward and easy to understand without being boring. Remember users need to get motivated and excited before they’ll take part in your game so try to think like your audience and understand what they are willing to work towards.

02_(4)

Instruction – Like any game, if the instructions aren’t clear it’s not going to be very enjoyable. Be sure to provide detailed instructions that explain how to participate and what the results can be. At the same time avoid writing a 1000-word description; keep it as simple as possible while still be informative.

03_(5)

Reward – This is where it all pays off and a user gets what they’ve been working towards. Try to understand you audience and entice them with something that’s appealing to them. When possible allow them to share their accomplishments on social media; this is great for you brand and allows you to congratulate them in a public space.

Each time a user completes the process above, encourage them to repeat the challenge again. Good gamification constantly reminds users that there is an opportunity to be faster or better and receive even more. Remember your main goal is not to create a popular game in the traditional sense, but rather to build trust and loyalty that can be leveraged to improve sales.

Finally be sure design your gamification around what’s relevant for your store and don’t be afraid of testing new ideas. It will take a lot of time and effort but when you see the enjoyment customers get from engaging with your brand it will all be worth it.

Have you used gamification to improve you user‘s experience? Let us know in the comments below and if you’re not already be sure to follow us on Twitter.

How to Design the Perfect Ecommerce Checkout Page

In the world of ecommerce, businesses are constantly looking for opportunities to outperform their competitors. A few weeks ago we talked about the importance customer support and how it can set you apart. This week we’re focusing on how you can improve your checkout process, avoiding some of the common road blocks that lead to an abandoned cart.

Here are eight tips you can use to improve the checkout experience on your site.

Focus on Easy Navigation and Simple Forms

Checkout-Banners-01

A well optimized checkout page should feature a simple and easy to understand navigation that keeps the customer focused on checkout. To help keep the process as streamlined as possible avoid forms that require unnecessary information.

Any distractions in the checkout process can result in your customers losing interest so it’s best to remove as many obstacles as possible. Be sure to clear the page of unneeded links or form elements and present your customers with the simplest page possible.

Visual Progress Elements

Checkout-Banners-02

Depending on you products and the information you require, your checkout process will likely involve several steps to complete. For many customers, particularly new ones, this leaves them wondering exactly how much more they need to do to complete the purchase.

Adding a visual indicator is an excellent way to reassure customers that they are nearly there, and if your process has more than two steps, an indicator helps keep customers from becoming frustrated and abandoning their carts.

One important note to consider is that when presented with an indicator that shows a large number of steps, customers can become intimidated resulting in premature abandonment, so plan your indicator carefully.

Multiple Payment Options

Checkout-Banners-03

Forcing your customers to use traditional credit card transactions can have a major impact on your conversion rate. In today’s ecommerce environment your customers are much more likely to complete their transaction if they are given choices on how to pay.

Digital payments (Google Wallet, PayPal, and Apple Pay) are starting to gain popularity around the world and if you don’t have them on your site, you could be losing business.

“Continue as Guest” Option

Checkout-Banners-04

While collecting customer data may seem critical, asking visitors to register for your site as part of the checkout process has been known to turn people off. Allowing customers to continue through the checkout process as a guest, rather than forcing sign-up, can be the difference between a completed purchase and an abandoned cart.

The leads you generate through forced registration will likely be less valuable then the lost sale. Consider asking customers to sign up after the transaction is complete or from within the receipt email.

Free Shipping

Checkout-Banners-05

A shocking number of abandoned carts (some estimates are as high as 50%) are the result of unexpected costs for shipping and handling.  One of the best ways to avoid this problem is to simply offer free shipping.

Whether you decide on conditional free shipping (orders over $50 for instance) or include the cost of ‘free’ shipping in the item’s price, avoiding price-shock in the final stages of a purchase is a great way to reduce cart abandonment.

Security Certificates

Checkout-Banners-11

Many people (especially those in the Middle East) become nervous when completing online transactions. If your security credentials aren’t prominently displayed this adds to the anxiety and can stop a transaction in its tracks.

Your checkout page should always highlight your site’s security certifications so your customers know they are dealing with as reputable business. Sharing customer testimonials and offing product guarantees can also be very helpful in establishing trust with your customers.

Product Suggestions

Checkout-Banners-12

As we described earlier a clean and easy to navigate checkout page is extremely important, but your checkout page does offers some interesting opportunities to cross-sell products that relate to your customer’s purchase.

The key to an effective product suggestion is to share small accessories or add-ons (below the cost of the initial item in the cart) and offer a simple ‘Add to Cart’ button. The suggestions should not interfere with the checkout process but should instead feel like an added service or reminder.

Done correctly, offering additional products might even result in grateful customers (“I forgot I needed cables!”) and increased sales.

Post-Purchase Interactions

Checkout-Banners-13

Once a customer has completed their transaction you might think the process is complete, but from a customer’s perspective they may have no idea what the next steps will be. Be sure to offer a friendly thank you and provide a clear confirmation of their purchase. Adding post-purchase messages to your checkout page is a great way to reassure customers and alleviate any fears.

Bonus: Social Sharing

Checkout-Banners-14

In today’s social world, people love to share and allowing your customers to share their recent purchase on social media sites is an effective (and free) form of advertising. Incorporate popular sharing buttons on your confirmation page to help customers share their latest purchase.

A lot of people overlook checkout pages when it comes to optimization simply because it’s commonly accepted that if your visitor gets to the checkout page, they’re going to be a customer. Unfortunately, this is not always the case and in reality you need to consider your checkout page as the final barrier, not the finish line. Take the time to experiment with different designs and try to incorporate as many of the above tips as possible. We promise it will make a difference.

Looking for inspiration? We’ve prepared a template to help you start designing the perfect checkout page.

Payment_Page_Design_Template

Download

Have you ever abandoned a purchase because of an awful checkout page? Be sure to share your story below in the comments or reach out to on twitter @PAYFORT.

8 Tips for the Perfect Interview


In the majority of organizations an interview will be the single most important step in securing a job. Even a great resume and cover letter can only get you so far, and odds are if you bomb the interview that’s where your journey will end.

At PAYFORT we’re constantly looking for opportunities to help you grow your career, that’s why this week we’ve pulled together our top 8 interview tips. While nothing is a sure thing, if you follow this advice you’re sure to make a good impression.

Always do your research

Tips_En-01

You might have the skills to do the job but do you know how the company operates? Before you go into your interview make sure you check the ‘About Us’ link on the company website and read their mission statement.

Taking the time to learn about who the competition are and how you align with the company’s values will give you great talking points throughout the interview.

Get there on time

Tips_En-02

Unless you have a very good (and we mean VERY good) excuse, avoid showing up late at all costs. Arriving late to your interview will immediately cast doubt about your professionalism and can undermine even the best application.

When you have an interview don’t leave things to chance, know where you’ll be interviewing and pick a café or restaurant nearby. Arrive a few minutes and use that time for some last minute practice.

Dress smart

Tips_En-03

Smart casual may be the current trend, but when it comes to interviews professional attire is almost always expected. An interviewer will never fault you for dressing up, but if you show up in jeans and a T-shirt they may not be that forgiving.

Be confident and avoid fidgeting with unnecessary props

Tips_En-04 (1)

Confidence matters everywhere in business but particularly in any interview setting; if you don’t look like you deserve the job, you won’t get it. Eye contact, good posture, a cheerful demeanour and a firm handshake will carry you a long way in an interview.

Also, be sure to avoid fidgeting or playing with props during the interview. This includes mobile phones, nail files, pens or pencils and chewing gum. All this behaviour makes you seem nervous and distracted two things you don’t want to be in an interview.

Provide clear answers and avoid rambling

Tips_En-05

Always take the time to think before you answer questions and be conscious of what you are saying. You want to try your best to avoid awkward pauses in conversation as they can make you seem unsure or even confused.

Speak clearly throughout the interview and if the interviewer asks you to repeat, be prepared to increase the volume for the remainder of the interview.

Never speak negatively about your current (or past) employer

Tips_En-06

This one may seem obvious but you’d be amazed by how many people forget that it is never (NEVER) appropriate to complain or bad mouth employers in an interview. No matter how difficult or incompetent they maybe, badmouthing in an interview will only reflect poorly on one person and that’s you.

Be prepared to ask the right questions

Tips_En-07

Every employer wants to know you’re serious about the job and your interview will be the best chance you get to demonstrate that you are. Having a few simple questions prepared will demonstrate your interest in the company and the questions you ask will often be what the interviewer remembers.

Don’t talk about money or time off

Tips_En-08 (1)

This point is often misunderstood to mean ‘don’t negotiate your salary’ but that is certainly not what is meant. In general, unless you have an offer in front of you it’s often considered inappropriate to talk about your salary or future holidays.

These topics disrupt the flow of the interview and it is very rare that the interviewer will have that information prepared for a first interview. Try to focus on getting that offer; there will be plenty of time to negotiate after you’ve secured the job.

Have you had any interesting interview experiences? Is there a piece of advice we left out? Be sure to share your thoughts with us in the comments below and if you aren’t already, follow us on twitter for the latest PAYFORT news!

Take Control of Your Customer Support – Six Easy to Implement Tips

Recommendations from customers are one of the most valuable tools a company has, and in the highly competitive world of ecommerce they have a huge impact on whether a lead converts to a customer.

For both new and established ecommerce businesses this creates opportunity: if you can’t out-spend your competition, out-support them. When you take the time to provide an incredible shopping experience, you start to see the impact “word of mouth” can have.

Even a small advantage can have a big impact on sales and that’s why we’ve put together six easy to implement tips that will help get your customer support on track.

Provide Information on Your Website

imgs_01

One of the most visited pages for any new business (especially an ecommerce site) is the ‘About Us’ page. When a customer begins their shopping journey, they want to learn as much about your business as possible. Having a well written ‘About us’ page makes your customers feel safer and will allow your support team to focus on higher priority issues.

Your “About Us” page needs to include the following information:

  • When you opened
  • What you sell
  • Your business values
  • Pictures of yourself and your brick-and-mortar shop (if you have one).

If potential customers can find all the above, you’ll avoid a lot inbox clutter asking for information about your company; allowing your support team to focus on support rather than education.

Offer Multiple Contact Channels

imgs_06

Customers love to have choices, and this extends well beyond products. Offering your customers a wide range of contact channels is a great way to make your support more comfortable and convenient.

You will often be limited by resources but you should strive to provide:

  • An email address
  • A phone number for your support centre
  • An onsite live chat service

Make sure all of the contact information is displayed prominently so that your customers can easily reach out, and be sure to communicate expected response times (emails) or availability (phone lines) clearly.

Keep Responses Timely

imgs_03

The expected response time has been slashed in recent years, with most customers expecting an answer by phone or email within four hours; requests on social media are expected even quicker.

Your ability to respond to customers will depend on the resources you have available, but there are a number of strategies you can use to streamline your support process and maximize your results:

  • Identify common issues and develop prewritten responses
  • Make sure you close out complaints – You don’t want the same customer coming back again and again for the same issue
  • Set up effective filtering to prioritize complaints resolve large issues quickly

Finally, remember that speed alone doesn’t mean good customer service. Make sure your responses address you customer’s concern, if more time is require to find a resolution, communicate that clearly in your response.

Monitor and Engage on Social Media

imgs_04

Social media has become a significant component of customer service, especially for online only businesses lacking a ‘brick-and-mortar’ location. 78% of customers believe that social media should be a major component of a company’s support.

As a result you need to include a strong social media management strategy as part of broader customer service plan. By remaining active on all your social channels, you can identify customer complaints and provide solutions quickly.

Engaging with your customers regularly helps to create a customer community, which can often act as a first line of support for future customers. You can even reach out to individuals on your channel to act as ‘brand ambassadors’ to help with customer support and promotion.

Create a Strong Support Centre for Your Customers

imgs_02

One of the most effective and efficient ways to improve your customer service is to help your customers help themselves. 90% of customers go to a company’s support centre before calling or emailing, so give them the answers they need.

When done right, your self-service support page can feel personal even at scale. When developing your support content, it’s helpful to view it as a top-tier reply from your support team made public for all to see and benefit from. Screenshots, videos, styling and more ensure frequently asked questions will get frequently loved answers.

While a robust customer service section will take time to develop, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and the journey to a useful knowledge base starts with your first answer.

Track Your Customer Interactions and Revise Your Support Strategy

imgs_05

An important and often-overlooked issue in support is analytics. In order to provide your customers with the best results you need to be aware of not only the frequency of issues, but also the time it takes to address them.

There’s no point is relying on “It feels like we spend a lot of time on this issue…” or “I think this issue coming up a lot…” when a bit of analysis can take the guesswork out of your customer support.

Set up a procedure that allows you to keep track of all your customer interactions. It should include:

  • Customer ID or name
  • The issue faced
  • Time to resolve
  • Resolution

It’s not enough to just record the information though, set aside time each month to review the data you collect. Overtime it will help you make informed decisions about your business identify where you can improve you service.

Effectively engaging with your customers and helping them to get the most out of your product, gives them a reason to tell others why they love your business. A positive recommendation from a friend can go a long way in separating your business from the competition and making you their brand of choice.

Do you have you any tips for providing the best customer service? Be sure to share them in the comments below and follow us on twitter for even more ecommerce news.

Social advertising is here to stay – How can you take advantage of it?

There was a time when the future of social advertising wasn’t certain. Companies couldn’t yet see the benefits and for many marketers it was simply too new, too unknown, to really capture their attention. (more…)

How To Ease Back Into Work After a Vacation

No matter what industry you’re in, everyone can relate to that feeling of returning to work after a relaxing vacation. It may seem like a simple task, but for many workers coming back to work is a difficult transition.

At PAYFORT we’ve experienced the post vacation blues and we know that they can be productivity killers. That’s why this week we’re bringing you a few time-tested tips to help ease back into the work world. If you want to get the most out of your first days back be sure to keep reading.

Engage in good pre-planning

How you plan for your return will have a big impact on how successful your first day back is going to be. Whenever possible, make contact with a co-worker before returning to your desk and find out what big changes (if any) have occurred while you were away.

Workers who establish clearly defined goals before returning to work have a far better chance of clearing built up work and getting back into their usual routine.

Catch up on communications, but be smart about it

One of the biggest tasks upon returning from a vacation is sorting through the mountain of emails and messages that have piled up in your absence. In many cases there will simply be too much information to give each email your full attention.

Take the time to understand priorities and focus on pulling out the key information.

Take time to enjoy the homecoming

Whether it’s touching base with friends at work, getting updated on new events in the company or reconnecting with a favourite client, coming back from a vacation should be a fun and social event.

Make sure you take advantage of this time to share some stories and relive memories. The human factors are what make returning to work exciting rather than disappointing.

Adjust your work life balance

Another important consideration of returning to work relates to the work life balance, particularly how your personal life affects the workday.

Sleep is the biggest factor: making sure that your sleep schedule matches your work schedule will make the return to work much easier. Along with keeping up on sleep needs, it’s a good idea to plan your meals for your first week.  

Limit access on the first day back

Returning to work will be overwhelming, but making your return incrementally can help. To help with this, clear your first day back and focus on catching up on past events. Limit your incoming phone calls and replying to emails until you’ve caught up on what was missed.

Do you have any tips for those returning from a holiday? Be sure to let us know in the comments below or tweet us @payfort.

Six steps to start your eCommerce Business

The growing success of ecommerce sites around the world has made the entrepreneurial lifestyle more realistic than ever. Whether you are looking to supplement your monthly income, start-up a full time business or just share your products with the world, an ecommerce is the perfect platform to make your dreams come true. (more…)

Six steps to grow your professional network

We’re sure you’ve heard the old saying “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”  While this expression may be true, it doesn’t offer any insight into how you gset to know the right people. Here at Payfort, we’re always on the lookout for that you can use to become more successful and we believe building and maintaining a strong professional network is one of the most important things you can do within business. (more…)

5 Free Tools Every New Business Should Know About

Starting a business isn’t easy. Sleepless nights, long days, and thin budgets are just a few challenges every new business deals with. With money tight and time even tighter, entrepreneurs need all the help they can get. (more…)

Five Books Every Entrepreneur in the GCC Should Read – Part 2

Last month, we took a look through our bookshelf and shared five of our favorite books for entrepreneurs. Another month has passed and we’ve dusted off a few more tomes that we just had to add to the list.   (more…)

State of Payments Teaser

PayFort began in 2013 with a simple goal, connecting businesses and their customers through better payment options.  Since then we have processed billions of dollars in transactions and worked with hundreds of online businesses across the Arab World.

(more…)

Investor Pitch Deck – [Infographic]

Raising money from investors is a crucial step for all startups, but even for experienced founders a great pitch can be challenging.

(more…)

Five Books Every Entrepreneur in the GCC Should Read

A few months ago we started a book club at the Payfort offices, and we reached out on Twitter for suggestions of what to read.

(more…)

Middle East: Investor Heat Map [Infographic]

Startups require a great idea, a talented team and an actionable plan for success. But above all they need money, and without funding even the best concept will falter. (more…)

Earning Trust in the GCC

When we talk to our merchants about the challenges they face in the Arab World the one theme that always resurfaces is trust. Ecommerce companies face an uphill battle gaining trust with consumers and this slows growth across the region. (more…)

The 100 Best Twitter Handles in the Arab World – A List for the Arab Entrepreneur

One of the hallmarks of a strong digital economy is knowledge sharing. A network of conferences and influencers must lead the distribution of information that will help us tackle problems like low credit card adoption that hold back ecommerce in the region. (more…)

A CEO’s Guide to Analytics

Welcome to the second installment of our series on how you can optimize your online platform. In our first post we examined the conversion funnel and how tools can smoothly guide users towards making a purchase. (more…)

Starting Your Business in Dubai – The Infographic

Dubai is the hub of the Arab ecommerce world. It is the most developed market and the home of many of our most successful home-grown companies like Souq and Dubizzle. (more…)

Optimizing Your Platform

For our second installment of the Payfort blog we’ll discuss the importance of optimizing the path your customers take as they move towards making a payment. This will be the start of a series on how to optimize your ecommerce platform. (more…)