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4 Investments SMBs Should Make During COVID to Ensure Continuity

As COVID cases continue to increase across the country, many small business leaders have chosen to work remotely indefinitely. And, even though some have since returned to the office, 57% of SMB owners who increased remote working during the pandemic said they will likely continue to operate remotely post-COVID. 

As business owners adjust to these new working conditions, they must have sufficient human capital, as well as the right tools and technology in order to remain productive and profitable. 

Funding Resources

For SMBs, investing in the necessary resources could be a significant financial undertaking, especially when finances are already rocky due to the pandemic. However, allocating money to the right resources could greatly benefit your business in the long run. 

As cash reserves run dry, business owners have looked to new financial sources to continue investing and keep afloat during the pandemic. PPP loans, lines of credit, and small business loans have all provided financial relief for small companies in the last few months. Some have even turned to their personal savings or tapped into their home equity to come up with the additional funds to keep conducting business. 

Of course, you’ll still need to be strategic with your spending. However, by investing in the necessary resources, you can better support your workforce and keep moving business forward. Here are four smart investments to consider as you navigate this new way of business:

  1. Technology 

The pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation, making it essential for small businesses to continue adopting new technologies to remain competitive. Keeping up with emerging technology trends should remain a top priority for business leaders, especially while their teams are remote.

As your business continues to evolve, you must invest in digitizing processes to ensure resilience and continuity during the pandemic and beyond. Implementing intuitive management software, updating legacy systems, and folding artificial intelligence (AI) tools into your operations could help expand your digital capacity and improve your team’s ability to work efficiently. 

  1. Flexible Workforce

In the past, many businesses limited themselves to their full-time workforce. However, with most employees now working from home, the pandemic has presented the opportunity to build a flexible workforce. This could mean outsourcing work to part-time employees, temps, contractors, or freelancers who specialize in specific aspects of your operations.

A flexible workforce may be more budget-friendly for businesses that don’t have the capacity to add to their payroll. However, outsourcing can still be costly. When considering a flexible workforce, you must first evaluate your budget and then prioritize projects that require skills your team lacks. For instance, if you need to redesign your website but don’t have the capacity, you could save both time and energy by hiring a web designer and paying out-of-pocket for similar self-contained projects.

  1. Training and Reskilling

In the era of remote work, business leaders need to ensure their teams continue to develop their skills and capabilities. As business needs continue to change the required skills for remote teams, skill gaps have become a concern for SMB leaders. However, by investing more in online training and reskilling, you can develop a resilient workforce that’s capable of navigating changes to the business landscape.

Onboarding new full-time employees or even outsourcing talent isn’t always financially feasible for small businesses, which is why you may want to place a greater focus on improving your current workforce. Providing your employees with the proper training materials and resources to conduct their jobs will ensure they are agile and adaptive during and after COVID. 

  1. Marketing Tactics 

Investing in outdoor advertising won’t yield as much return as most people are still self-isolating. However, you can still amplify your online presence and build customer loyalty through your digital marketing efforts. The pandemic has presented a unique opportunity for you to revisit your marketing strategy and reallocate your spending toward digital promotion. 

Small businesses should put an emphasis on search engine optimization, social media campaigns, and external communication efforts to boost their online presence. This enables business owners to reach a broader audience and keep at the top of their current customers’ minds. Investing additional time and money into your marketing can help you better understand your target audience and stay relevant within your industry. 

While the pandemic has presented financial challenges to small businesses, it has also presented new opportunities for growth and development. As you continue to nativage these uncharted waters, keep these investments top-of-mind for both short and long term success. 

Commerce and Customer Care Driving New Business and Building Loyalty

Commerce and Customer Care: Driving New Business and Building Loyalty

The business landscape today has shifted heavily toward the internet and to generating web traffic instead of foot traffic. But many of the principles of good business are as valid as ever: Attract customers with an appealing storefront, sell them products and services they love, and provide world-class customer service. If you can do that, along with learning to operate virtually and finding needed funding during COVID-19, you’ll turn plenty of new customers into loyal, long-time shoppers.

A standout storefront

If your website isn’t eye-catching and easy to use, you’ll lose a lot of potential business. People surfing the web for good deals and cool stuff don’t spend more than about 7 seconds on each site. That means you need a visually arresting design and compelling message to get them to stay a while to investigate your product offerings, prices, delivery details, and more. It’s the e-commerce version of window shopping, and it’s crucial for making a lasting impression. 

If you’re not practiced at the art of website design, consider hiring Web Guy Nick to make sure yours is an easily navigable site. A slow-loading, clunky, and aesthetically unappealing storefront puts you at a considerable disadvantage. Web Guy Nick is proud to offer cutting edge solutions in custom web design to help small businesses stand out.

Products people want

If you’re looking to dropship your products, do plenty of research to determine which products and niches are the best fit for you. Dropshipping is a dynamic way to expand your business and reach new customers, especially if your physical facilities are somewhat limited. For example, if you sell shoes, you might look into dropshipping complementary clothing products, which could include anything from socks to belts. The more you can diversify your niche, the more customers you’ll reach. 

The beauty of “free”

One of the best ways to attract new customers and build loyalty is to offer something for free. The word has a powerful psychological appeal to online shoppers who get a visceral thrill from the idea that they’ve gotten something for free, whatever it is. If yours is a new e-commerce business, offer free shipping, two words that online shoppers always love to see. There are plenty of reasons customers cancel a purchase, and shipping fees is one of them. Offer free shipping on purchases of $50 or more and see how many customers start spending a little more money with you to get something “for free.” 

Free marketing

Social media began as a way for people to interact cheaply and in real time, but it’s also been a major asset for e-businesses, the savviest of whom make effective use of social media for marketing purposes. Publishing ads on Facebook may cost you, but you can drum up plenty of business for nothing with regular posts touting your promotions and new products. (Some of the most successful e-businesses encourage loyal customers to blog about their experience with your business.) 

Post regularly, establish an ongoing dialogue with customers, and focus more heavily on Facebook and Pinterest, which drive the most business to online stores. And don’t forget to include product images with your posts. 

Be responsive

When it comes to customer service, there’s no substitute for being timely, courteous, and dependable. Answer all inquiries and questions as soon as possible, definitely within 24 hours, and you’ll impress a lot of people. Being treated well is crucial to customers, so never underestimate this critically important aspect of your business. 

A huge part of dependable customer service is effective order fulfillment. An optimized order fulfillment process can enable you to respond quickly to consumer demands and get your orders out faster, and you may be able to save on shipping costs. 

A visually compelling e-storefront, products that appeal to customers, and promos or discounts are key to winning new business. Consider establishing a loyalty program to make sure they come back for more, and always make outstanding customer service a top priority. 

For cutting-edge solutions in custom web design for your small business, contact Web Guy Nick today!

Courtesy of Pixabay.com.

How To Log Your Emails With WordPress

How To Log Your Emails With WordPress

Emails are an important communication tool, and many times the only communication tool on websites. A majority of website owners assume that emails are being delivered as expected but sadly this is not always the case. Logging your email communication in your WordPress database has several benefits including: 

  • Know for sure that emails are being sent out to your customers or clients,
  • Email notifications can help you debug other features on your website including online orders, form submissions, and user profile features,
  • Logging emails helps you detect unauthorized communication or misuse by plugins and other entities. Email logging has been especially useful to detect spam/malware injection where the offending malware uses your system to send out emails

Plugin Installation

The plugin we'll use for logging emails is the WP Mail SMTP. WP Mail SMTP has many functions including enabling SMTP email settings for better email delivery. If you're not using SMTP to send out emails then I highly recommend you do so using this plugin.

First, head over to your WordPress admin and look for Plugins -> Add New. On the next page that opens up, enter the phrase ‘WP Mail SMTP' on the top right search box and hit enter.

When the search results are presented to you, click on the install button next to the WP Mail SMTP listing then activate it. Now we're ready to customize the plugin.

Email Log Settings

Now that the WP Mail SMTP plugin is active, let's go ahead and enable logging. To do this, go to the WP Mail SMTP settings tab (find menu tab at the lower left of the admin page) and click on Email Logs tab at the top.

Check the box next to the Email Log heading and this enables all the basic details of each email. Additionally, you can choose to store the contents of the email. Just remember that if you choose this option, you may be storing sensitive or personal information which may pose a security risk.

By default, WP Mail SMTP records this information and stores in the database: 

  • Email timestamp (when email was sent),
  • Subject line,
  • Status of email,
  • Email from, to, Ccc, Bcc,
  • Email technical details (for debugging)

View Email Logs 

You can view emails logged by going back to the WP Mail SMTP menu section and clicking on Email Logs. The display of email logs follows the same pattern as WordPress posts such that the latest emails are at the top. Click on each email log to view details about that particular log. 

Conclusion

Logging emails is an important task for effectively managing your website. I have outlined the process of enabling email logs using WP Mail SMTP and hope you'll find this guide useful.

How To Accept Donations On WordPress Website With WPForms

Accepting donations on your WordPress website can be a challenge if you don't know the right tools to use. In this article, I'll show you how to use WPForms plugin to create the form of a simple donation, customize it, and link up with a payments account so you start collecting donations.

WPForms is one of the best form builder plugins for WordPress. Its intuitive drag and drop interface makes creating forms a breeze. The WPForms plugin was built and is maintained by the team behind WPBeginner, the leading WordPress blog so you know you're in good company.

Step #1: Install and activate WPForms

WPForms

Head over to your dashboard and scroll down to Plugins -> Add New. In the search box on the top right, type the word WPForms and hit enter. You'll be presented with search results. Find WPForms and click to install, then activate. Once you've activated, move on to the next step.

Step #2: Create a form

You have 2 choices here: you can create a form from scratch using the drag and drop feature or you can select a form template then edit the fields you need. Either way, you'll be working on the fields tab section as shown below.

Step3: Add payments fields

In addition to basic fields such as name and email, you need to add a payment field where users will enter the amount they want to give. WPForms gives you options to set the payments fields as a single field or multiple fields, which comes in handy when you have multiple projects that users can donate to.

Step #4: Integrate payment account

WPForms allows you to collect donations using either Paypal or Stripe. Decide on which one you'll be using and click on it then follow the instructions to connect to the respective account.

Step #5: Set confirmations and notifications

Finally, you need to set up confirmation and notification options to finish off this project. You'll find these settings under the Settings tab as shown below. Confirmation options give the user feedback that the donation has been received successfully. Notification settings will alert you (and any other person you choose) when a donation has been submitted. It's also recommended that you send the user a notification with a summary of what they entered as a record for them.

Conclusion

Having a way to collect donations on your non-profit website is important to the growth of your organization. I've shown you how easy it is to use WPForms to collect donations and hope that you'll give it a try. When you do give it a try let me know how well you did or any issues that you came across.