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How to sell on Etsy: A beginner’s guide

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From idea to store

Etsy is the home for original, handcrafted, or vintage products sold by regular people. Selling on Etsy is a great idea — it’s the sixth-largest online marketplace in the world, with over 46 million users. Putting your product on Etsy thrusts it into the limelight, practically guaranteeing eyes on your listing from across the globe. But do you know how to sell on Etsy?

Now is a great time to begin selling on Etsy because people are excited to support small businesses. There has been a lot of media focus on the effect of the pandemic on small businesses, and the community’s support could be a great launching point for a new Etsy shop.

Whether you’re looking for a part-time gig or intend to make Etsy your full-time job, we can help guide you through the process of how to sell on Etsy, setting up your Etsy store and selling your first product in just 10 steps.

Step 1: Create your brand

Before you log on to Etsy, take a day to create your brand — the name of your shop, your logo, and your brand’s personality.

Choose a unique and eye-catching name

Choosing your store name can be tricky, but it’s one of the most important aspects of the setup process.

Your store name should evoke a feeling that you want to be associated with your store and products.

Keep in mind what the primary draw of your Etsy store is when choosing a moniker. If it’s handcrafted, organic or vintage, try to include that in your brand name.

Before deciding on a name, be sure you search Etsy and/or Google for similar names, and make sure it’s not taken or potentially confusing to customers who might run into a different shop with a similar name. At the same time, you don’t want your name to be so generic that it won’t ever turn up during a search.

In addition to evoking a feeling and providing some information about your product, the name of your store should be unique and memorable but also legible and sensible so it’s easy to find.

Maeven on etsy
Maeven Vingtage

Maeven Vintage is a great example of a shop name that works. “Vintage” is useful — it describes the products being sold. And “Maeven” is a unique form of “Maven,” which literally means “expert or connoisseur” and adds a dash of elegance and panache.

Invest in logo design

Similarly, your logo should be simple and clear, but also captivating and memorable. This is when it’s best to contact a designer on Fiverr or another gig website who can help come up with a professionally designed logo.

The logo is the first image associated with your brand and is an important first impression. It is your first communication to the customer about your brand.

We’ll call out Maeven again, because, hey, we’re here. That is a clean, simple logo that oozes “vintage art deco,” with a feeling of sharpness and speed that evokes modern design.

Maeven logoMaeven logo
Maeven Vingtage

The way the words seem to be fading also suggests a memory, but the crisp lines suggest that the memory has been well preserved.

Related: How to design a logo in 12 steps — A DIY guide

Create a communication strategy

You’ll want to decide in advance what your brand’s voice is. Don’t get too deep into the weeds here, but make a plan for how you plan to communicate with customers, and keep it consistent.

When you communicate directly with customers, you will, of course, want to be professional, but Etsy thrives on the personal touch, so keeping some of your personality in communications with customers is important.

The first way to do that is through your messages or emails with customers: answer their questions in a timely manner. Take the time to thank them for their question or purchase, and ask if they’re satisfied with the product.

Many Etsy sellers also include a thank-you card or small thank-you “gift,” such as a sample product — one that a customer might later buy in full-size — when they send their products.

Step 2: Create your Etsy account

On day two, once your brand is in order, it’s time to make your Etsy account and start setting up your Etsy store.

Set up your account

We recommend using a desktop or laptop to initially create your Etsy store. After the store is made, it can be managed via Etsy’s app later on.

To set up a shop, you will need an Etsy account. If you’ve purchased from Etsy in the past, you can use that same account and just click “Sell with Etsy” near the top middle-right of any page.

sell on etsy screenshot

sell on etsy screenshot

If you do not yet have an Etsy account, you will need to create one. Simply go to Etsy.com, click “Sign In” at the top-right corner of the screen, and click “Register” in the new pop-up. From there, follow the prompts to enter your email and new password, then confirm your account.

Fill out your Etsy profile

Once your Etsy account/store is created, you can start incorporating personality by creating an opening announcement and filling out some info in your profile.

Your opening announcement should include your shop banner and logo. This will make a clear statement to customers and fellow retailers about what your shop/brand is about.

Your profile allows you to add a lot of personality: you should include a nice photo of yourself, along with an engaging story. How did your business get started? What inspired you to create/find these unique products? You may also include a video to reach customers, explaining how your product is made. People love passion — share yours.

This is a great time to include information on the unique process of product creation or to outline details such as ingredients being organic or practices focusing on sustainability. The information you include in your profile when you create your Etsy account will help customers and the Etsy community learn more about you and your business.

Step 3: Study the Etsy policies relevant to your store

Opening a store of any kind, online or otherwise, comes with its own set of rules and regulations. Familiarize yourself with Etsy’s policies to better understand how your shop works, how you get paid, and how your store is protected.

Etsy charges per listing

Etsy sets a fee of $.20 per listing when the listing is created, regardless of whether the product sells.

But that’s not the end of it: listings for most products expire after four months. Etsy does provide an auto-renew feature that enables sellers to easily keep their listings active longer than four months.

Once the four months is up, you will automatically be charged the $.20 to renew your listing. This is a helpful way to keep track of inventory without having to recreate listings.

You do not have to pay a listing fee if you are editing a preexisting listing. There are slightly different rules for creating a private listing for certain types of products, but this limits your customer exposure on Etsy.

Reviews can make or break your shop

Reviews are very important on Etsy. They determine not only whether or not a customer will choose your shop over similar shops but also how many eyes Etsy will put on your shop.

Etsy employs a five-star rating system that customers can use once their product is marked as “delivered.”

Now, here’s the rub: reviews expire after 100 calendar days. This is done by Etsy to provide up-to-date quality information for new customers, but it also means you can’t rest on your laurels. Consider adding “please review your experience” or a similar message at the end of all of your customer communication and confirmation emails.

Ensuring that customer service and shipping are hassle-free will help manage the kind of bad reviews that are focused on the process rather than on the product itself. It is helpful to include up-to-date shipping information in your listings and purchases so that people who feel their item arrived late don’t leave a negative review.

You can see their reviews by going into the “Shop Manager,” clicking the name of the shop in “Sales Channels,” and then clicking on “Reviews.” You can also find your rating there. A high rating not only adds to your shop’s authority but also determines whether or not you have access to Etsy’s Seller Protection Policy.

Etsy’s seller protection policy helps resolve disputes

Etsy does have a seller protection policy, which most shops will qualify for and which requires no outside application policy. In order to qualify for the seller protection policy, your shop must be in good standing and use basic features, such as Etsypay.

The protection policy allows for the seller to receive help from Etsy corporate if there is a case that needs to be resolved. This generally means helping to mediate disputes between buyers and sellers over product quality concerns, shipping issues, chargebacks, and other payment disagreements.

Step 4: Visit the Etsy forums

Creating and managing an online store can be a lonely business — take advantage of the Etsy community to learn from the pros and maybe create a network of helpful contacts.

Forums are a great way to get questions answered, especially for an Etsy newbie. Forums can include almost anything, from latest trends with your products to expert tips from sellers. The Etsy forum community is diverse and knowledgeable; exploring forums when you create your shop will undoubtedly lead you to some useful information.

Be sure to contact other sellers for cross-promotion. The sellers you choose to cross-promote should provide something similar to your product, but one that you do not provide yourself.

For instance, if your Etsy shop includes antiques from the Depression period, but a customer is looking for something mid-century modern, it would be great to link a fellow antique dealer who specializes in mid-mod. They can cross-promote your shop as well, which will lead to a wider buyer base for both of you. You can use Etsy Teams to meet similar sellers.

Step 5: Take a crash course in SEO to perfect your copy

Your next step is to spend a day learning about SEO — search engine optimization. The text on your website — also called copy — is crawled by Google, which then uses that information to guide users toward or away from your site. Making your copy as search-engine-friendly as possible is paramount.

You don’t have time to become an SEO expert in a day, but a few quick lessons can help Google (and future customers) find your Etsy store.

Find your keywords

One of the most basic principles of SEO is to find a useful, descriptive keyword that people are proved to be searching for.

If you’re selling furniture, keywords to look for might be “couch,” “reclining chair,” or “end table.” For custom jewelry, it might be “crystals,” “homemade jewelry,” or (surprise) “custom jewelry.”

There are free tools that can help you do a little keyword research beforehand. Wordtracker, Google Trends and Keyword Generator can tell you whether people are searching for your terms, and even how hard it might be to grab Google’s attention with your own products.

explore what the world is searching

explore what the world is searching

Plug some keywords about your product into these research tools and see what they turn up. Then, you can adjust your writing accordingly, adding those keywords into all of your product descriptions and marketing material.

Don’t be afraid to brag about your expertise

Another principle of SEO is called “EAT,” or “Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness.”

In your product copy, your store description, and your marketing, you need to at least touch on all three pillars. It wouldn’t be unwise to start a blog as well, with personal or product-related topics that sneakily improve your shop and brand’s SEO.

You should showcase your expertise — why are you selling or making this product and why should we care? Authority is a little tougher when you’re starting out; this is basically a measurement of your clout, your established credentials, or how beloved your brand or product is. You’ll be working on that. Third is Trustworthiness; this is where reviews and testimonials come in.

Some high-quality pictures can at least showcase how expertly made or sourced your product is, which can help with all three pillars.

Day 6: Take high-quality product photos

A product photo provides shoppers with a first impression, so make it a good one. Most visitors to your shop will look at the product image before they read anything but the name. We have a few basic tips to help you get the most out of basic lighting and even just a camera phone for photography.

Invest in lighting

It is helpful for pictures to look consistent (same lighting/background) and even include matching labels to look professional.

Early-morning light or even outdoor light helps showcase products, but you can also purchase a ring light so that you can create listings indoors at any time.

Listing photos should be well-lit and clear. Avoid shadows or blurriness. If you’re using a camera phone, be sure to adjust your settings to avoid things like flash or panoramic views. Flash will generally wash a product out, flattening all details and making it look two-dimensional. In fact, when lighting any product, try to light it from multiple angles to soften hard shadows, to help the product stand out from the background, and to make it appear more three-dimensional.

In addition, you can purchase lighting and backdrop equipment for a reasonable price if you prefer a clean white background and professional-looking lighting.

Up your photography game

Your phone’s camera will work fine if you have decent lighting and a little patience, but you can improve your photography dramatically with a few reasonably priced accessories. There are several lenses you can purchase for a camera phone, depending on the look you want for your product listing. Moment, Olloclip, and Nelomo make excellent and affordable lenses that snap right onto your current phone.

If you want to provide clarity on the size of your product, you can include a photo “to scale” with something the consumer can reference, like a quarter. So if you’re selling lip balm in one-ounce tins, including a quarter next to the tin in the listing picture will help the customer get a good idea of how much product your listing includes.

If you don’t want to become an expert on product photography, you can also hire an expert to touch up your basic photos for minimal costs. They can be found pretty easily on sites like Fiverr, Upwork, and Freelancer. This will ensure a professional look without as much work on your part.

Step 7: Create your listings

On the seventh day, you won’t be resting. Instead, you’ll be doing one of the most important steps — creating the listings for selling on Etsy.

To create a listing, you must have a photo, choose a price, describe your product, and determine shipping details. Sign on to your account, click “Shop Manager” and then “Listings” to start adding your product listings.

stock your shop etsy screenshot

stock your shop etsy screenshot

If you have more than one product photo, you must choose a thumbnail photo, which will be the photo that appears when customers search for your product.

add a photo etsy screenshot

add a photo etsy screenshot

Price your product

Research Etsy and Google to see what other sellers are asking for products similar to yours, and then gauge yours accordingly. You may want to offer special pricing or introductory sale pricing to get your shop more traffic at first.

inventory and pricing screenshot

inventory and pricing screenshot

Name, categorize and describe your product

First, give your listing a title — the name of your product. Then, choose the appropriate category — just begin typing your category (“women’s shoes” or “custom jewelry”) and the box will suggest relevant categories.

Describe your product

This is another opportunity for your personality to show and to describe any details for the products that buyers might find helpful. For instance, if you’re selling plants, are the plants rooted, or are they cuttings? This transparency increases the likelihood customers will trust your shop.

listing details etsy

listing details etsy

Set up shipping

This is available in the “Settings” section under “Shop Manager” and then “Shipping.” There are lots of options based on size and weight and international versus domestic. If you have questions about which type of shipping would work best for your shop, it’s a great time to consult forums and ask fellow Etsy sellers.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

There are lots of tools available to help your listings go further or to help you handle the more complex aspects of listing, such as Etsy’s taxonomic structure. Services like Sellbrite offer multiple listing platforms (googleshop +etsy) or listings integrated with other apps specific to your business.

Step 8: Download the Etsy mobile app

The Etsy mobile app isn’t just for buyers — you can manage your entire store from a phone or tablet.

Go to the App Store or Google Play on your device, and download the Etsy mobile app for free.

etsy on smartphone

etsy on smartphone

Sign in to your seller account; from there, you can manage listings, reviews, and orders, as well as increase your social media presence for your shop.

The mobile app allows for notifications so that you can respond to buyers or questions instantly, ensuring that you have solid customer service at your shop. Fast response time to customer questions will also boost your good standing.

Step 9: Launch your shop

It’s time for you to officially launch your Etsy shop — to send your new child into kindergarten and hope they make friends.

If your profile and listings are ready to go, and you’re happy with how everything looks, it’s time to open your shop. To make your shop “live,” simply sign in to your seller account and click “Open Your Shop.” A successful launch is not only based on having all of your ducks in a row but also usually includes some social media and marketing. Be sure that those campaigns are in place to create a buzz and help customers find your shop.

Opening your shop means you are live and ready to sell your wares. Customers can contact or buy once the shop is open, so make sure you are opening at a time when you’re ready to take on the commitment of regular customers.

Step 10: Market your Etsy shop everywhere

And now, the real selling starts — selling your brand, selling your products, and, most importantly, selling yourself. Now it’s time to channel your inner Don Draper and get to marketing.

There are many easy, effective ways to promote your shop on social media.

Share your best products on social media

If you’re looking to employ social media marketing yourself, you’ll want to choose some of your most impressive products as well as a create a brief description of your shop to share on social media. Most of the keywords you chose for your SEO campaign can be used as a hashtag on Instagram.

Consider buying ads

Social media marketing can consist of buying ads and setting up a campaign with social media providers or services. Facebook ads and Twitter ads are extremely easy to set up, and you can set any level of budget (per day or per click) you want to make sure you don’t get surprised with a huge bill.

Join the community

There are also lots of communities on social media for small-business owners. Find one based on your area, product, or socioeconomic background to link up with other businesses. Look for hashtags related to your product or industry, and peruse them for frequent posters.

Use video on social media

And of course, don’t neglect the power of video on social media. Consider creating videos for your most striking products — even five-second clips with some dynamic editing and fun music.

Launching your shop isn’t the end

In just 10 steps, you can learn all of the basics of selling on Etsy, creating your brand, and launching both your store and your marketing campaign.

What happens next is up to you (and a little bit of fate). You never know until you try. Your Etsy shop could be the seed of an ecommerce empire. Good luck in the days ahead.

The rest of your journey is up to you.



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Growing a Business

In Business, Image Matters. How to Improve Yours?

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Your business may boast of excellent products and/or services. However, nowadays, excellent products and services simply aren’t enough to help a business survive and thrive in the long run. What your business also needs is a strong image – one that can help it stand out from its competitors.

But how exactly do you go about improving the image of your business? To know the answer to this question, read on as we take you through all the steps you can and must take to take your business forward towards success.

photo credit: August de Richeliu / Pexels

1. Face-to-face interactions with people

We may be living in the digital age, but nothing can beat face-to-face interactions when it comes to telling people about your business. Here are some ways through which you can inform people about your business and what it’s all about:

Meet people and start conversations

It’s unrealistic to expect that people will know about your business if you don’t reach out to them. So, start going out and attending events.

Business-centric open meetings and conferences would be the best place to start. At these events, you’ll run into several businessmen like yourself. You should make the most of these opportunities to start conversations with others from the world of business. This will gradually let people know about your business and the products and/or services it has to offer.

Prepare a pitch

When you meet potential customers, you have to be prepared to speak spontaneously about your business. At this juncture, it’s important that you don’t fumble or sound unconfident. After all, what you tell people about your business will form impressions in their minds – and you’d want those impressions to be positive, wouldn’t you?

This is where preparing a pitch can come in incredibly handy. Write it down first and then keep practicing it out loud, and make changes where necessary.

Participate in community events

Your local community is the first pillar of support for your business. So, get out there and try playing a role in all community events. At these events, you should promote your business in a friendly and welcoming manner.

This should encourage members of your local community to take an interest in your business and what it has to offer. Sure, this may not result in immediate sales, but it will definitely improve your business’s public visibility.

Businessman in a fancy coffee shop

2. Make your business appear professional

A surprising fact is that the modern-day consumer values professionalism more than the quality of products and services. Of course, product and service quality is important, but if your business lacks professionalism, it will lose out on customers.

So, to make your business appear professional, you can put the following steps into practice:

Invest in a business website

The internet is arguably the biggest platform for businesses nowadays, which is why you should invest in a dedicated website for your business. We recommend hiring professional web developers and designers to curate your business website. This will ensure that your website looks and feels professional.

Apart from setting up a website, you should also pay attention to its content. Quite simply, it should have all the information that your target audience may want to know, i.e., contact information and information about the business. Your business website should also have a blog with consistent posts. This can go a long way towards ensuring your expertise within your niche.

Set up a dedicated email account for your business

Using your personal email account as your business’s email account is nothing short of a criminal offense. That’s why you should set up a dedicated business email account. It’ll help you achieve consistency with your branding, and it’ll also allow your business to look professional to the people who subscribe to your business newsletters.

To set up a business email account, you need to first create a domain name and then get in touch with an email provider. Two of the best email providers out there include Office 365 for Business and Google Apps for Business. Both options provide business-class email along with features such as online storage and document editing. The best thing about these options is that they’re quite inexpensive.

Provide 24/7 Customer Service

These days, consumers expect the companies they buy products and services from to be available for them 24/7. Fortunately, the widely availble virtual assistant and reception services such as those provided by www.virtualreception.com.au can do that for you – both on and off office hours – to any types and sizes of business, from freelancing digital nomads to multinational corporations.

Social media manager

3. Set up your social media for success

Social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook are excellent places to market your business and its products. Here are a few ways to make your business succeed on social media:

Create business profiles

On all major social media platforms, you have the option of setting up personal profiles and business profiles. It’s best to create the latter type of profile as it is designed specifically for business purposes.

During the setup process, make sure that you include relevant info in the bio sections. Don’t forget to add links to your official website and other social media handles as well.

Post relevant content regularly

All social media algorithms tend to favor accounts that post relevant content on a consistent basis. So, irrespective of the social media platforms you’re active on, make sure that you’re posting new content as much as possible.

Not posting regularly can limit your business account’s reach and stall its growth on social media.

Keep branding elements consistent across all platforms

If your Instagram page looks drastically different from your Facebook page, your target audience is bound to get confused. That’s why it’s vital to use similar branding elements across all social media platforms.

The branding elements you should focus on keeping consistent include your business’s logo, its imagery, and its voice, i.e., the tone of communicating with your audience.

Encourage users to engage with you on social media and interact with them: Through the use of call-to-action (CTA) messages, you can encourage your followers on social media to engage with your posts. You should also spare time to respond to your followers’ comments.

Business owner in the Portugal-based office
photo credit: Fauxels / Pexels

Takeaway

There are quite some things to consider in your endeavor to increase your buisness image. However, focusing on the three above is more than sufficient to get started: Meet people and tell the about your business; make an effort to be professional, especially in your online presence; and lastly, make use of social media platforms to your advantage.

Be sure to do a lot of trials-and-errors so that you can form the best practices for your company.

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5 Ways to Control Your Inventory So It Doesn’t Control You

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Managing inventory is a task that can make or break your small business. With too much inventory, profits suffer and storerooms overflow. With too little, items get back-ordered, customers get frustrated and business is lost. And striking a balance is hard, especially with disruptions to the global supply chain in the last few years causing delayed deliveries.

While you can’t control the supply chain, you can take steps to prevent common problems like product shortages and excess stock. Here’s how.

1. Stick to the story

Donna Daniel owns and operates three connected small businesses in Claremont, California: The Grove Clothing, The Grove Home and The Outdoor Store, which sell women’s clothing, home goods and unisex adventure-themed gear, respectively. To run all three of her stores, Daniel needs to keep an impressive variety and quantity of inventory in stock — and ensure it moves quickly to make room for seasonal items and new shipments.

To keep her inventory cohesive within each store, she arranges it in themed displays — or what she calls “stories” — which tie together dozens of different items to appeal to a color, season or activity.

“I don’t buy anything outside of the stories,” she says, which helps her collect data on sales and seasonal trends, and keeps her stock to what’s most likely to sell.

She keeps most of her inventory on the shop floor, with stock in each store’s backroom and larger items in a nearby storage unit. In the backrooms and warehouse, she stores items according to product type and size — not by story — so employees can easily restock displays and substitute a similar item if necessary.

2. Double down on your reliable inventory

“Just-in-time inventory is much more difficult to do today,” says Mark Baxa, president and CEO of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals, a global trade association for supply chain professionals. Baxa adds that since the supply chain is less stable than it was pre-pandemic, businesses may need to lean on their most reliable products and vendors.

Courtney Cowan, owner and founder of Los Angeles bakery Milk Jar Cookies, keeps supply needs and consumer demand stable with a very consistent product line. Her 16-flavor menu has “changed very little” in the bakery’s nine-year history, though she leaves room for a rare seasonal standout to join the rotation. Since her store pre-mixes and preserves dough in a deep freezer, she can ensure that her bestsellers are always in stock.

Though some businesses may prefer a bit more variety, in uncertain times — over-ordering on go-to products with a dependable profit margin can help fill the gaps and keep sales steady.

3. Keep products moving

Longtime retailers know that while running out of inventory is bad, having too much can be worse. “Too much backstock eats up all your capital,” Daniel says. She prevents this from happening by planning ahead and using sales sections to make room for new merchandise.

Daniel reorders seasonal inventory as far as a year ahead by using recent sales reports as a baseline. But with this commitment to hundreds of new products arriving every month, she makes sure that items don’t sit on shelves for more than a few weeks.

“I do not like merchandise hanging around,” she says, explaining that if an item isn’t clearing out quickly enough, she’ll move it to the sales rack and discount it until it’s gone.

Though selling an item for a fraction of its original price may seem painful, it may be worth doing to keep inventory moving and keep customers coming back for new products.

4. Get to know your supply chain

Especially in periods of supply chain disruption, getting to know your vendors can make a big difference in your day-to-day operations. “Hold your supplier base accountable,” Baxa says. He suggests finding the “shortest path” possible, including finding local and sustainable suppliers, to help ensure consistent, reliable supply.

Daniel follows the same principle, sourcing her inventory from mostly local vendors so she can pick up items instead of shipping. She weighs several factors, including production time, available quantity and shelf life to figure out how much to order and how often.

Cowan’s inventory is perishable, so she needs her wholesale ingredients to arrive on a tight schedule. Her bakery receives truck deliveries directly from the restaurant supplier Sysco and wholesale store Costco, which keeps her supply chain close to home.

“We keep it as centralized as possible,” Cowan says. For special ingredients like nuts and candy, she places advance orders with small online vendors.

Clear communication with vendors can help business owners figure out limitations, plan ahead and mitigate risk.

5. Use a point-of-sale system with inventory management tools

For the past five years, Daniel has been using Lightspeed, a POS system with standout inventory management tools. The software can track her inventory across all three of her stores, and it generates reports that help her analyze seasonal sales data and follow her businesses’ growth.

This data is essential for her to plan reorder points and determine which items will reliably sell. Especially with a small staff and multiple locations, an all-in-one POS system can help minimize costs and labor.

Best POS for inventory management

Lightspeed Retail POS

Cost: Software $69 per month (billed annually) and up. Hardware quote-based.

Lightspeed’s retail point-of-sale system is built for inventory management. It can keep detailed records of your products across multiple locations and set automatic reorder points, so you don’t run out. The software also offers employee and customer relationship management tools, as well as advanced analytics features on its higher-priced plans.

You have the option to use a third-party payment processor, or Lightspeed’s in-house processor with per-transaction fees at 2.6% plus 10 cents for swipe, dip and contactless payments and 2.6% plus 30 cents for keyed-in transactions.

Square for Retail

Cost: Software free and up. Hardware from free card reader to $799 terminal and up.

Square’s retail-specific POS software offers inventory management tools and multi-location capabilities as well. The free version has a variety of other useful features including reporting tools, customer and employee management. Email marketing, loyalty programs and payroll are available with a higher-priced plan or as a paid add-on.

Though its inventory management isn’t quite as deep as Lightspeed’s, Square’s user-friendly interface and accessible pricing make it a great choice for most retail businesses. Payment processing fees vary per plan, but with the free retail plan, costs are 2.6% plus 10 cents per in-person transaction, 2.9% plus 30 cents per online transaction and 3.5% plus 15 cents per keyed transaction.

Shopify POS

Cost: Software $29 to $299 and up. Hardware $49 and up.

Shopify’s point-of-sale system is geared for businesses that primarily sell online. The software tracks inventory, hides out-of-stock products on your website and offers basic inventory analysis. It also facilitates drop-shipping, curbside pickup and local delivery options, plus access to vendors and third-party applications.

Shopify helps businesses manage inventory across online and in-store locations. Its Pro version can create purchase orders, run inventory counts, perform advanced inventory analysis and generate low-stock reports. However, it’s not ideal for a business that only sells in store. Payment processing varies by plan, with in-person fees starting at 2.4% with Shopify POS Lite.

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14 community management tips for meaningful connections with customers

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Community building blocks

The idea for sharing community management tips came to me about a year ago. That’s when I synced up with the GoDaddy Community team to host a webinar for small business owners. As hundreds of attendees rolled into the Zoom, I had a realization: “GoDaddy has a strong community.”

Behind every good brand and business, there’s a solid community of supporters, stakeholders, and sometimes, even haters.

But building a community and maintaining connections is one of the most misunderstood and least talked about topics within the small business world. For a business with fewer than five employees and a handful of customers, community building might seem like just another marketing tactic that is just out of reach.

To help small businesses build and manage an online community, I asked other business owners and marketers what community management tips they had for creating meaningful connections with customers.

14 community management tips to create meaningful customer connections

Given that creating and maintaining a strong community can help retain and attract customers, consider following these 14 community management tips:

  1. Be quick to address negative experiences
  2. Filter out spam
  3. Showcase success
  4. Send a postcard
  5. Get your customers involved in important decisions
  6. Bring Up topics that encourage engagement
  7. Provide talking points and engage with your community
  8. Engage regularly
  9. Be the face of your brand
  10. Choose a channel that works
  11. Create content that addresses customers’ specific needs
  12. Consider a brand ambassador program
  13. Reward loyalty
  14. Recognize the importance of inclusivity

Read on to learn more.

1. Be quick to address negative experiences

A bad customer experience can quickly escalate to a brand reputation crisis, and the company’s response must be fast to revert the situation.

Monitoring social channel mentions is an easy way to keep an eye on conversations surrounding your brand and detect potential concerns.

Once a customer posts a comment that threatens your brand reputation, listen, honestly apologize and be willing to solve the issue in the best possible way. Your unsatisfied customer will feel appreciated and perhaps even become a brand advocate.

-Rebeca Sena, GetSpace.digital

2. Filter out spam

The most important thing you should be doing in regards to community management is interacting with your community, and you cannot do that properly if you have to work through a bunch of spam. There are many programs out there, even some within the different social media sites, that can filter out spam in your comments and messages so you can focus on addressing your community. Plus, getting rid of the spam and moderating harmful comments creates a better space for your community to contact you through.

-Jacob Dayan, Community Tax

3. Showcase success

Develop case studies from your successful community members. This is a practical way of propagating the core values of your online community and encouraging new users to join your community.

The more these members contribute to the community, the more impact these case studies have. You can start by creating basic reports to identify the members who are actively contributing high-quality content, assisting other members, and elevating the community.

-Hasan Farahani, Yocale

4. Send a postcard

postcard with other travel items

Many of my customers spend $15–$20K on medical care in Latin America. I send my customers handwritten postcards to remind them of their journey, thank them for their business, and to stay engaged while they recover from procedures like dental implants or plastic surgery.

The cost in time and money is very low, but a human touch in the healthcare space is increasingly rare.

-Wesley Jacobs, Apollo Medical Travel

5. Get your customers involved in important decisions

Taking the time to follow up with your most active customers and getting their insights on important decisions makes them feel like their opinions are truly valued and cared for.

In the long run, this forges a strong connection between you and your audience that relies on more than simply a transaction.

An added benefit of doing this is that you may even get some eye-opening suggestions and creative ideas that could end up benefiting your business.

-Harry Morton, Lower Street 

6. Bring up topics that encourage engagement

Meaningful connections need to originate from a common source that offers a moment of relatability, which can further build brand trust. Social platforms offer numerous opportunities for these types of exchanges. When managing your social community, bring up topics that encourage engagement so you can connect on a level that goes beyond the basic company/customer relationship. In doing so, the consumer will feel more at ease to comment, ask questions and even provide more detailed feedback.

-Lindsay McCormick, Bite 

7. Provide talking points and engage with your community

It’s important to recognize that community management is an ongoing responsibility. If you want to see your community thrive, you must create opportunities for customers to voice their opinion, communicate with other community members and provide you with feedback. Finding success is contingent on your ability to encourage participation from users, so you must provide talking points and give them plenty of avenues to stay involved.

If you leave your community dormant without your administrative oversight, engagement will start to dwindle as fewer users initiate conversations and take part.

Communities rarely function autonomously, so be sure to play an active role as you connect with and safeguard your community.

This gives you a chance to speak with your customers on a personal level, helping you learn about their likes, dislikes, objections and pain points directly—all of which are crucial in building meaningful connections with customers.

-Mike Grossman, GoodHire

8. Engage regularly

The best community management tip is to engage regularly and don’t neglect questions or threads you didn’t start—even better if they aren’t getting a lot of feedback. If you’re lucky enough to have the opportunity to regularly interact with your customers, make sure you’re commenting often and have a badge next to your name letting them know you’re a moderator or part of the company. That will really cement that feeling of connection and letting members feel heard. Plus, we’ve found that a community manager can really breathe life into a topic by offering input and pushing it to the front of that community for more engagement.

-Sylvia Kang, Mira

9. Be the face of your brand

Revealing the human side of your brand is without a shadow of a doubt an efficient strategy to boost your customers’ connection. It conveys transparency and accountability, building a stronger human bond. Consumers tend to trust people more than a company, and showcasing real people will make you and your brand easier to remember and trust.

-Chiara Sternardi, Passport-photo.online

10. Choose a channel that works

social media apps on iphone

The best way to build an authentic community is to have everyone communicate using the same social media platform. Make that a crucial part of your strategy.

If it’s a professional audience that you’re going after, choose LinkedIn. If it’s a broader audience, use Facebook or Instagram. If it’s a young audience, try Snapchat or WhatsApp. If it’s a politically charged audience, maybe try Twitter.

YouTube is a great way to encourage people to watch videos that provide clear instructions on how a product or service works.

Users flock to YouTube for instructions on everything from how to change batteries on a device to playing scales on a guitar. The comment section can be useful for feedback purposes, and it also can be a way for customers to communicate with one another.

-Joel Jackson, Lifeforce

11. Create content that addresses customers’ specific needs

By creating audience and buyer personas based on different client categories, content marketers can create social content that speaks to people rather than just industries. Learn where your customers hang out online using your social media demographics. Then, narrow those results using audience research to help you define a specific audience and channel. You can then customize communications by researching the LinkedIn profiles of potential customers. Doing so will allow you to identify different stakeholders within the organization and determine their pain points. You can then create better content that addresses their challenges. But it’s all about finding an interesting angle for each segment.

Content that is too broad won’t result in authentic engagement with your followers.

Social media posts that offer helpful information are guaranteed to stand out in your clients’ feeds, resulting in more likes, shares and leads.

-Daniel Tejada, Straight Up Growth

12. Consider a brand ambassador program

A great way to create authentic connections with customers is with an acquisition and advocacy program like a brand ambassador program. For example, if a user can get five people to sign up for a service or product, they become an ambassador.

These brand ambassadors can help your business acquire new users. You can reward them with swag and access to special products or services … maybe even a special event!

-Jennifer Pieniazek, Resume Now

13. Reward loyalty

You can create meaningful connections by rewarding loyal customers to show how much you appreciate them. Just like any relationship, whether it’s personal or professional, people appreciate rewards. Show your customers that they matter and are top of mind in your decision-making. That’s how you create a stronger, more loyal customer base—one that will continue to pay attention for new initiatives and future rewards.

-Alyssa Berman-Waugh, Level Home, Inc.

14. Recognize the importance of inclusivity

To create meaningful connections with customers, recognize and accept diversities within your community. Each of your customers will differ in terms of their culture, orientation, ability and life experience. It’s imperative that you celebrate these differences and welcome input from individuals of all walks of life as you advocate for equity and inclusivity. This will develop your community’s reputation and attract diverse groups in greater numbers.

Communities that cater to just one group of people almost always become echo chambers, creating a suboptimal environment for connections to form and important discussions to take place.

By listening, asking questions, and welcoming input from diverse groups of individuals, you’ll cement your community as a welcoming place for diversity and insight to flourish.

In doing so, your ability to build a rapport and create meaningful, lasting connections with your customers will blossom.

-Patrick Casey, Felix

The community management tips used in this article were gathered using Terkel.
Terkel creates community-driven content featuring expert insights. Sign up at terkel.io to answer questions and get published.



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