Small Business Marketing & Ecommerce Strategy(412) 228.0504


 

How to Track Phone Call Leads for Business

 

how to track phone call leads for businessWhere are your phone leads coming from? Do you know? Whether you are placing an advertisement in your local newspaper or promoting your business on Facebook, it’s not always clear exactly where your leads are coming from and, without knowing, it’s impossible to maximize your ad spend and measure your marketing campaign effectiveness.

Ask “How Did You Hear About Us?”

One of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to get a sense of where any new leads and calls are coming from. When you’re speaking with callers, look for an opportunity to ask them how they heard about you. You can create a quick checklist in Excel to track responses. One potential drawback—customers don’t always remember where they found you. They might group a Facebook ad and googling your business into “online” which ultimately won’t be of as much value of knowing exactly how they found you.

Call Tracking Software

For as little as $19 per month, you can use call tracking software such as CallTrackingMetrics. Instead of having to ask (and possibly annoy) every new customer and caller, with call tracking software you can quickly and easily track calls from every one of your marketing campaigns by creating custom phone numbers that are unique to each campaign. Beyond the conversion data which is already worth its wait in gold, the other great thing about call tracking software is the ability to listen to calls—helping you identify opportunities to improve customer service.

Call Extensions in Google AdWords

Similar to call tracking software, Google AdWords call extensions allow you to include a forwarding number on your website and a call extension in your ads so you’re able to draw a direct line between Google AdWords conversions and actual phone calls to your business. You can even set the duration of the call based on when you consider it a lead (ex. 30 seconds, 60 seconds, etc.)

Click-to-Call Buttons

If you’re advertising on Facebook, consider experimenting with a click-to-call button as your primary call-to-action for your social ad. This is especially great when you’re trying to reach mobile shoppers. Although your cost-per-click and cost-per-conversion will likely be higher than a post focused on engagement and social shares, anyone clicking on the call button has more intent on taking the desired action—in this case a phone call.

Tracking Phone Call Leads from Social Media

Whatever method you choose, it’s crucially important for you to be able to track any and all phone call leads. Once you have an accurate idea of where your calls are coming from, you’ll have a more complete look at your marketing campaign performance and can focus your budget on the channels that are generating the most calls. 

As a disclaimer, I use affiliate links for some of the products listed. They are all products I absolutely love and trust and would recommend regardless of whether they have an affiliate program.



Leave a Comment »

Shopify Versus BigCommerce Customer Review

 

shopify versus bigcommerce customer reviewLooking for an ecommerce platform for your online store? We interviewed a business owner with experience using Shopify and BigCommerce and asked to them to share their experiences. Here is a look at the pros and cons of both options.  

Introduce your business and tell us your story.

SKINourishment is a 100% plant-based cruelty free all-natural skin care company based outside of Austin, Texas. We make all of our own products right here in the United States and develop our own recipes. SKINourishment started back in 1996 with the invention with what today is known as the climbOn Bar and has now expanded to the climbOn, crossFIXE, POLYN and RIDICULIOUS skin care lines. We are a women-owned B-corporation and continue to expand beyond our current 30 plus countries. We can also be found at Whole Foods, REI, Central Market, Jet.com, Amazon.com and hundreds of local retailers.

How did you decide on the best ecommerce platform for your small business: Which solutions (BigCommerce, Volusion, Shopify, etc.) did you consider and what features and factors were most important?

We decided on Shopify's ecommerce platform after considering many of the options available. Originally our site was run on a custom PHP shopping cart software that was very intense to use and didn’t have many features. One of the key parts of our new site was to make it easy to use for our customers and for us to update on the back-end.

In our consideration we looked at WordPress with WooCommerce and even started development on a site and quickly found out that for a site of our size, 50+ skus that was not in our best interest. There were too many moving parts and points of failure for the site. Even during the development as WordPress was updated the custom features we built continually broke.

As a key decision maker in this process I ran a site on BigCommerce and found that BigCommerce was a greater starter site for me as a smaller brand. It didn’t tick many of the options that Shopify did. One of the key parts about Shopify reminds me very much of Apple and the developer community that surrounds both of these platforms.

Shopify has a large community of full service to one-time developers willing to lend you a hand at nearly any hour in addition to their incredible customer support. (More about their support later) In addition to the developer community these developers have created hundreds of out-of-the-box solutions to provide you with nearly any feature you would need on your store. From reviews to email marketing, upselling, to return management there is an app for that. We found at the time competitor app stores were either non-existent or severely lacking. I still feel Shopify leads in the app store by far from their competitors.

At the time we were choosing and moving to our new site we were also launching a rebrand and we knew that were going to expand our reach. Therefore we did consider a more advanced tool such as Magento, what we found was Magento truly needed a full-time individual dedicated to managing it and the setup was far beyond any of the other platforms to get started.

In the end, Shopify ticked all of our boxes with customer support, developer support, themes, ease of use and customer support. While price was a consideration we reminded ourselves that this site is one of the most important investments in our business and we didn’t want to let $50 or $100 get in our way from making the best choice.

Based on your experiences using both platforms, how would you compare Shopify vs. BigCommerce based on each of the following:

Website design templates/themes

Shopify truly has some of the best developers contributing to the platform. If you really want to dive deep beyond a template you have plenty of support systems.

User interface/setup

If any place Shopify, Volusion, and BigCommerce are similar the user interface and ease of use is it. I don’t find a huge difference between the interfaces between the products on the front end or the back end beyond the slight variances in features you find, it’s all very similar and easy. WordPress/WooCommerce and Magento have more of a learning curve but you also have a lot more ability to really dive into everything with you site.

I often feel when business owners are creating a site they are looking to a create the perfect site. The truth of the matter is your site will never be perfect, it’s a living and working prototype always. Often times the focus because the specific site design and a certain element when it should be making sure the site is easy for you and your customers to use.

Shopping cart functionality

The shopping cart is another area where all of these products are similar. Shopify I have seen continually make improvements like experimenting with different types of checkout pages from single to multi-page and I believe that gives Shopify the edge. If a customer adds something to their cart and starts the checkout process and gets frustrated, you’ve likely just lost that sale. I believe all the products have a clear and easy process with Shopify having a slight edge.

Price

Shopify is certainly pricier than many of the other options available we didn’t want to let a small price difference stop us from choosing the best tool to grow and advance our business. When we were choosing the price of Shopify came up over and over again and today it’s not something that we question at all.

Customer support

The customer support at Shopify is unparalleled. I can not speak for the support of anything other than Shopify and BigCommerce. When we were first choosing platforms and researching I spent over an hour on the phone with a representative from Shopify. The conversation then spilled over into at least another dozen emails considering every aspect of our business.

At BigCommerce my customer service experience were not poor, Shopify just went way above and beyond to earn to what at the time would be $50 a month. The provided options and solutions to problems we were running into and were there to answer any question we had.

The positive customer support with Shopify does not stop with the sale. A few months ago  a group targeted our site for an attack. Shopify notified us of the attack and helped mitigate the attack by quickly moving our site and redirecting traffic.

The only real issue I’ve had and I feel like I have to mention it is we currently have two Shopify stores as we launch a new brand. One day we received notification that our second stores credit process was shut off due to a terms of service violation. Our first and second store sell nearly identical products. The kicker was the shut off was immediate. I got an email notifying us and right away our credit card processing was gone. Shopify simply redirected to their processing partner (Stripe) saying it was their choice and there’s nothing they could do. The irony of the situation  is that site now processes payments directly through Stripe and I asked them to review the site citing the compliance concern and they cited none.

This is a important part of business I try to remember that every partner you choose to work with directly reflects on your business. To your customer they are your business. Therefore, if you install a new email app and it accidentally spams all of your customers, it’s ultimately your fault. In our 5+ years with Shopify this has been our only issue but it  was a big and sudden one.

Tell us about the back-end of your business. What tools and apps do you use to run your online store?

I am not ready to reveal all of our secret juices that make our store run. I am happy to share about some of the tools we use to make everything happen.

  • MailChimp – email marketing with a direct connection to Shopify
  • Recieptiful – Reciepts designed to further market your business. In addition, they have been building out other features such as segmented email lists, smart product suggestion marketing and more.
  • Bold Upsell – Simply upsell products based on products.
  • ShippingEasy – easy create shipping labels for USPS, UPS, FedEx, DHL and more. Compare prices and get the best price.
  • Okendo – A reviews platform that supports photos, text, incentives, and reminders.

What additional advice would you share for someone considering an ecommerce platform?

A key piece not mentioned above that made us seriously consider Shopify is that businesses who used Shopify have appeared on the hit show Shark Tank more times than I can count. Never once have those Shopify sites gone down or experienced any serious issues. Furthermore, Shopify handles the security of your site and it’s ironclad. This are often overlooked and under considered items however site stability in the traffic spike of your big moment, especially if unknown and the security of your site is the upmost importance.   

If you customers can trust you or access your site, how can you earn money?

In conclusion, I consistently see BigCommerce playing catch up to Shopify. That being said, no platform is perfect. Consult a professional, take advantage of the free trials, ask questions.

Written by Will Reynolds Young
@WReynoldsYoung

 

As a disclaimer, we use affiliate links for some of the products listed. They are all products we absolutely love and trust and would recommend regardless of whether they have an affiliate program.



Leave a Comment »

Grasshopper Versus RingCentral Business Phone Comparison

 

grasshopper versus ringcentral phone systemTrying to decide between Grasshopper and RingCentral for your small business?

Both are great cloud-based VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone systems offering toll-free and local numbers, department and employee extensions, and 24/7 customer support. Which one is right for you?

Why choose Grasshopper over RingCentral?

Small business/entrepreneur focus. Grasshopper.com is best known for offering virtual business phone systems for entrepreneurs and smaller small businesses. If you’re just starting out and looking for a professional and affordable business phone, Grasshopper can be an attractive option. 

Unlimited minutes. Every Grasshopper plan currently features unlimited minutes which can be incredibly helpful if you’re trying to maximize your budget and you spend more than 500 to 1,000 minutes every month on the phone with your customers. RingCentral plans cap toll-free minutes based on each pricing option.

Multiple phone numbers. With Grasshopper’s “Partner” and “Small Business” plans, you have the option of multiple phone numbers whereas RingCentral charges an additional $4.99 per month per number. 

Equipment. RingCentral Office requires special SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) pre-configured phones which can add an additional expense. Grasshopper phone plans work with any mobile, office, or home phone. 

Why Choose RingCentral over Grasshopper?

Inbound and outbound faxing. RingCentral’s “Standard” “Premium” and “Ultimate” plans all include inbound and outbound fax capabilities whereas Grasshopper currently only offers outbound faxing. 

Team collaboration. Beyond a business phone system, RingCentral also offers tools to help facilitate collaboration within your organization. Features include real-time messaging, shared calendars, video conferencing, and file sharing—great for growing small businesses with more than 10 employees. 

Pricing

Grasshopper and RingCentral both offer affordable business phone systems ranging from $19.99 to $89 per month. It’s hard to make an apples-to-apples comparison without looking at each individual feature based on the unique needs of your business. In both cases, make sure you have a clear understanding of what’s included in their standard packages, where you’d need to upgrade, and what any upgrades are going to cost.

Customer & Industry Reviews

RingCentral was recently named an “Editor’s Choice for the “The Best Business VoIP Providers and Cloud PBX Services of 2018” by PC Mag. Grasshopper customers typically comment on ease of use and affordability.  As you compare both options, spend some time looking Grasshopper reviews and RingCentral reviews hear what businesses like (and potentially don’t like) about each business phone system.

More:
3 Affordable Phone Systems for Small Business
Best Small Business Phone Systems 2018
How to Pick the Best Small Business Phone System

As a disclaimer, I use affiliate links for some of the products listed. They are all products I absolutely love and trust and would recommend regardless of whether they have an affiliate program.



Leave a Comment »

Can You Sell on Amazon with Shopify?

 

can you sell on amazon with shopifyYes. With the Amazon sales channel, you can sell your products on the world’s largest online marketplace using a Shopify account.

If you’re new to listing products on Amazon, you know the process can be time consuming. Creating and uploading tab-delimited text files with information about your items. Navigating Seller Central. And that’s all on top of managing your existing Shopify store.

Shopify's Amazon Integration

Luckily with Shopify’s Amazon integration, you can quickly and easily create Amazon product listings, manage inventory, and fulfill orders in eight product categories including “Beauty and Personal Care,” “Home and Kitchen,” “Patio and Garden,” “Sports and Outdoors,” and “Toys and Games”—all from within Shopify.

Benefits of Selling on Amazon With Shopify

  • Sync product details and images to your Amazon Seller Central account
  • Fulfill Amazon orders directly from Shopify
  • Create new Amazon listings from your Shopify account
  • Track performance and revenue from Amazon sales using Shopify reporting

Reaching New Online Shoppers

If you’re looking for new ways to reach shoppers who aren’t already familiar with your brand, Amazon can be an incredibly powerful platform—but you have to have the right products. For example, if you’re selling the same exact items that already exist on the Amazon marketplace you’re either going to 1) face constant pressure to be the “lowest cost” option or 2) need to find a way to differentiate your product by offering shoppers something extra.

Next Steps

Sound interesting? Be sure to check out the Shopify 14-day free trial. You can also learn more about how to set up your Amazon sales channel with Shopify here

As a disclaimer, I use affiliate links for some of the products listed. They are all products I absolutely love and trust and would recommend regardless of whether they have an affiliate program.



Leave a Comment »

Best Small Business Phone Systems 2018

 

best small business phone systems 2018

Updated May 18, 2018

Best Small Business Phone Systems

Looking for an affordable small business phone system? We’ve researched the best options for 2018 based on price, features, customer service, reliability, innovation, and overall value. 

Best Virtual Phone System: Grasshopper

Grasshopper was one of the first companies to put VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) phone systems on the map, and their focus on small businesses and startups continues to makes them a popular choice--boasting more than 300,000 customers.

Plan $29.00 per month with unlimited minutes. Special Offer:Save $25

What to watch in 2018:

  • Expanded productivity and collaborative tools thanks to Grasshopper’s acquisition by LogMeIn
  • New features such as WiFi calling and Grasshopper’s Desktop app which were launched in 2017
  • New status page to monitor VoIP service status and any planned maintenance updates
  • Continued focus on entrepreneurs and small business owners

One of the new features they added in 2017 that we’re really excited about is WiFi calling. Users are now able to make and receive calls and send text messages using WiFi instead of their cellular network. This can be huge when you’re in an area where your cellphone reception is spotty or not available at all. Their desktop app also makes it super easy to make calls without being tied to your mobile device. You can seamlessly work from your laptop—answering calls, sending and receiving texts, etc. They also offer spam detection so you can identify unwanted calls.

Grasshopper’s small business phone plans feature unlimited minutes, 24/7 customer support, and no long-term contracts. Their acquisition by LogMeIn—one of the largest providers of web and video conferencing on a global basis—also creates some really interesting opportunities over the coming year. As more and more small business phone solutions look to add productivity and collaboration functionality, this could give LogMeIn and Grasshopper a real competitive advantage.

Best Business Phone System: RingCentral

RingCentral continues to be one of the industry leaders in cloud-based VoIP phone systems for small businesses. Winners of multiple “Product of the Year” awards in 2017, their RingCentral Office product offers small businesses a complete cloud phone system that’s incredibly easy to set up and manage.

Plan $24.99 per month with 1,000 minutes. 15-Day Free Trial. 

What to watch in 2018:

  • New collaboration apps and tools to power one-on-one and team messaging
  • Expanded reporting and analytics to monitor call quality and user data
  • Continued integration with voice services such as Amazon Alexa

With the new RingCentral for Amazon Alexa integration, users can ask Alexa to launch and end meetings, play back messages, and place outbound calls. With the growing popularity of voice assistant platforms such as Alexa and Google Home, this functionality will only become more and more useful for small business owners.

Additional integrations also make using RingCentral Office incredibly seamless. RingCentral for Google allows you to make and receive enterprise-quality calls on the same screen as you work, easily fax documents from Google Docs, and listen to voicemails with the RingCentral Chrome extension. RingCentral for Zendesk seamlessly matches incoming callers to existing client records and automatically creates a customer support ticket when a call arrives—improving efficiency and streamlining workflow.

Best Virtual Office Phone System: 8x8

With more than 50,000 businesses operating in over 150 countries, 8x8 is a trusted provider of reliable VoIP-based phone systems.

Plan $25.00 per month

What to watch in 2018:

  • More patents focusing on technology to help companies quickly, seamlessly and effectively manage their communications and customer experience
  • Global expansion. 8x8 recently opened a new support center in Singapore bring their total number of support centers located around the world to seven
  • New features such as Call Flip which allows users to seamlessly move a call from one device to another without having to call the other party back

One of the things that really makes 8x8 stand out is their relentless commitment to innovation. They currently possess 150 patents in the U.S.—a number that continues to grow. Why does that matter for your small business? Greater scalability, rapid deployment, and faster innovative services to power your business.

Integrations with Salesforce, Zendesk, and Netsuite are included with all three of their current 8x8 Virtual Office Editions as are audio and video conferencing and instant messaging. New features such as Call Flip are also going to go a long way to creating a better call experience.  

Choosing the Best Phone Solution for Small Businesses

If you want to boost productivity, improve collaboration, and provide world-class customer service, it all starts with choosing the right phone system. Thanks to virtual business phone systems like Grasshopper, RingCentral, and 8x8, you can have amazing call quality, reporting, and reliability for less than $30 per month.  

In addition to the options highlighted above, we also considered other business phone systems which are listed below.

Fonality. One of the very first options we included in our post on affordable small business phone solutions, Fonality merged with NetFortis in early 2017—creating a more complete cloud communications offering. They offer a number of integrated call management and collaboration features including hold music, personalized call routing features, conference calling, and real-time reporting.

Mitel. Offering business IP phone systems and desktop devices for small, mid-size, and enterprise-level businesses, secure chat, web and video conferencing, and a flexible call attendant console. If you’re looking for mobile collaboration tools, Mitel is definitely an option worth considering.

Ooma. Started to provide a better home phone service option, Ooma’s since expanded their focus to include small business VoIP phone systems. They offer toll-free numbers, unlimited calling in the U.S. and Canada, and virtual receptionist functionality.  

As affordable small business phone solutions continue to evolve, we expect 2018 will be another exciting year for the industry. Stay tuned.

More:
3 Affordable Phone Systems for Small Business 
Picking the Best Phone Solution for Small Businesses
Grasshopper vs. RingCentral Business Phone Comparison

As a disclaimer, I use affiliate links for some of the products listed. They are all products I absolutely love and trust and would recommend regardless of whether they have an affiliate program.



Leave a Comment »

Next Page »