Why Small Businesses Can – and Should Embrace Technology Trends in 2020

You can either follow a trend or go against it. The choice is yours. The truth is, nonetheless, that if you fall behind, your competitors may overcome you – steal your customers and offer a better service or product. Knowing that being a business owner is a tough job, technology is sometimes considered too hard to implement because it is costly to hire a strategic partner or IT support or time-consuming to learn new tactics yourself. These myths may not apply for your business – today's tools are made to be easy to implement and understood by non-technical individuals.


Technology influences every aspect of your business – IT, finances, logistics, sales, support or marketing. New approaches teach us constantly how to become more efficient at what we do. Saving money or time, increasing the scalability of our businesses or inventing new products and business models is backed by the evolution of technology. On the other hand, not everything that glitters is gold… We've written an article about the difference between trend and hype. Watch carefully what's going on in your industry and what your customers need or require (which is definitely the most important factor of all), but don't jump on every train that goes around. Not everyone will make it to the final station. There is a difference between what influences your business and what doesn't.


We will cover some trends for 2020 below, but before we jump into that, let's speak about the context. In 2018, 50% of the world's population was online. Today in 2019, it's more than 54%. Now, most people have jumped into the information age, where everything is moving at an unbelievable pace. Not only are things (goods and services) changing on a daily basis, but their costs are constantly decreasing. Imagine you bought a 3D printer 12 years ago. 40,000 USD is what you'd have paid. Today, the cheapest 3D printers cost around 100 USD. Yes, your math skills are up to par: 400x less.

Number of Internet Users Around the World
Everything changes. We either accept it and do our best, or die.

The goal of this article is to encourage you to follow the trend and embrace the newest technology in 2020, not to speak about morbid scenarios. 


Going back to where we began: YOU CAN EMBRACE TECHNOLOGY IN 2020, because it is meant to be available for you. When running a local business, you focus on what's really important, right? You don't want to spend time doing things that don't positively affect your bottom line. Being an entrepreneur, there are two key factors to go after:


  1. You want to generate more money with the assets you currently have.
  2. You want to save time and money.


To achieve one or the other, you might try tactics you haven't tried yet. To understand them, let's dive into a few trends to follow in 2020:


Marketing automation

We are bringing you our marketing knowledge, not necessarily the overall business strategy. You know your business best, but we know what saves you time and generates more money when it comes to marketing. Automating routine tasks and delegating the costly work, that you or your agency needs to do, to tools like groost. allows you to manage your online campaign effectively and for a fraction of the price. If you rely on your sales team, CRM systems like Hubspot or Pipedrive strive to help you automate follow up emails or customer retention activities. There is a plethora of tools to use, which we have covered in this article.


"For more than 30% of small businesses is marketing the number one challenge” by Mailchimp

Focus on your customer

We keep repeating this, I know. But it simply is the Holy Grail – always put the customer in the center of your (not only marketing) activities. I can assure you this won't be relevant only in 2020, but will last for decades. The times in which Henry Ford kept saying “You can have any color as long as it's black” is over. In today's era, your customers' desires and preferences are what should keep you awake at night. 


Does this apply to marketing only? Not at all. Imagine you market your product so that hundreds of people are waiting in line to buy from you. Once they approach the cashier they turn back and never come again – unwillingness to serve your customers nicely by one of your employees can be very costly. To give another example, say you run an ecommerce project. Everything from marketing to IT works great, until your logistics crash and the customer does not get what she ordered. Is this something that can badly harm your business? Absolutely! Customers have many touch points when dealing with your business – make sure every one of them is as customer-friendly as possible.

Henry Ford's Famous Statement

Don't rely on your organic reach

Let's stay in the marketing field for now. You probably run your profile on social media. Having 1,000 page likes brings you nothing if you only reach 20% of them. The organic reach is – and will be – decreasing constantly which we covered in our latest article. You will have no other choice, but to create truly engaging content that resonates with your audience and to invest in paid advertising. What you need to focus on is:

  • Keeping your target audience in mind.
  • Calculating the ROI for every campaign you run.


According to the Deloitte Small business technology trends, 80% of small businesses aren't taking full advantage of digital tools. Be the 20% of them.


Work on inbound marketing

There are two main communication strategies: inbound & outbound. Inbound makes the potential customer discover you by the content that you create – be it articles on your website, videos on your Youtube channel or podcasts on Spotify. Outbound is focused on push or disruptive strategies – you reach your potential customers while they scroll on their social media feeds, watch videos on Youtube or read articles. Working on your content brings you long-term results. Educating your audience, providing valuable content (and boosting your inbound marketing) is something you should be focused on throughout not only 2020, but every upcoming year.



We've come across a few basic tips to leverage technology in 2020. As stated, even small businesses can – and should embrace the latest technology (not only in 2020, but beyond).

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How Digital Advertising and Ad Pricing Works

The world around us has become digital. More than half of the people living on Earth are connected to the internet. That's almost 4.5 billion people. The interesting thing is that this all happened in only 28 years. Yes, 1991 was the year, when the World Wide Web, today's internet, was publicly launched.

Digital Around The World (Hootsuite)

But the biggest internet usage increase came with the arrival of social media platforms. 80% of internet users (January 2019, Hootsuite) are also active social media users. The leading platform, with 32% market share is Facebook. Combined with ownership of Instagram and WhatsApp, it makes 66% market share. Globally. In any case, YouTube, with 27% market share can be considered the second largest platform.

Popular Social Media Platforms

Facebook's market capitalization was 632.43B USD as of January 16th, 2020. This number makes Facebook the 5th biggest company in the world by the market cap. Even bigger, is the Alphabet (Google). It took 3rd place with a 1000.7 USD market cap.

You might ask, why are these companies so big, when their products are mostly free to use? The answer is advertising. Google and Facebook are the world's biggest advertising platforms. Companies spent around 170 billion dollars on Facebook and Google Ads in 2019 alone, and this number is still growing.

Major Global Digital Ad Sellers (eMarketer)

The fundamental difference between traditional and digital media is given by data that these platforms are generating. They capture every interaction of its users, so they know every user in detail. It allows targeting ads with many options, such as gender, age, location, relationship, income, home, interests, connections, generation, life events, ethnic affinity and much more.

Online Behaviors

You and your business can take advantage of it and use this platform to advertise your services or products to a very specific audience for a reasonable price. Usually a lower price (compared with traditional “offline” ads media) brings digital advertising closer to small businesses and freelancers.

Unlike traditional media, advertisers only pay for interactions. There are many cost structures digital advertising platforms are using and these are based on marketing objectives and overall campaign goals. 

CPC

Cost Per Click is the most common cost model used by almost all digital advertising platforms. It charges you, as an advertiser, for every single click completed by a user. It means that your ad contains an external link that redirects users to your website. The average CPC on Facebook is 1.72USD, but it varies across industries.

CPV

Cost Per View is a model built for video ads. You, as an advertiser, are charged every time a Facebook user sees your video. Keep in mind that Facebook considers a video as “viewed” after only 3 seconds.

The average CPV price is relatively low, somewhere between 1c to 15c, but it varies across industries. Price per view should always be compared with other metrics, like CTR, to see if it is effective.


CPM

Cost Per Mille is a pricing model, where you are charged per 1,000 impressions. An impression is when an ad is delivered to a user’s feed. If you are looking for an increase in brand awareness, this is how you will be charged.

CPA

Cost Per Action (Acquisition) is similar to CPC. You are not charged per single click, but for a specific action a user completes on your website. It can be form filling, an app install, event registration or for scheduling a meeting.

The average cost per acquisition on Facebook is 18.68 USD.

CPL

Cost Per Like is a cost model used for gaining business page likes. It is good for building brand awareness. It is usually low cost, so this could be a cheap way to promote your business page. Keep in mind, that this is effective only when your page is active and publishing content consistently.


At first glance, it might look complicated and confusing. But at the end of the day, this is what you and your business needs. It is a groundbreaking feature, because you can focus on reaching your target audience and through that, you can make your campaigns more cost-effective.

How is ad cost determined?

I mentioned several times that ad cost varies across industries and platforms. There is no fixed price per click/action, it is the subject of many conditions. Now, I will explain to you how it works, so you can create better and cheaper ads.

Google

Google's advertising platform, Google Ads, is a keyword-based PPC platform. It shows ads in a search based on the keyword the user is searching. It means, that if a user is searching “family car”, Google will show ads related to this keyword. If you're selling family cars, your ad shows up right in front of the user’s eyes. 

Unfortunately, it's not that simple, because you are probably far from being the only one who is selling family cars and advertising it. Google needs to decide whose ad to show. This process is called Ad Ranking. It takes your maximum CPC bid and multiplies it with the quality score.

Ad Rank = CPC bid * Quality Score

CPC bid

A maximum price you are willing to pay per a single click. This setting is completely in your hands.

Quality Score

Google's rating of the quality and relevance of both your keywords and PPC ads. It depends on multiple factors…

  • Click Through Rate – if your ad has a lot of views, but only a few clicks, it is a sign that your ad might be irrelevant
  • Landing Page Quality – if you are advertising “family cars,” but your landing page is focused on a sports car, Google will decrease your Quality Score
  • Relevance of your ad text
  • Relevance of keywords
  • Historical Google Ads performance

The higher the Quality Score is, the better price per click you will get. 

CPC = (Ad Rank of ad below you / Quality Score) + 0.01USD

CPC Calculation

Facebook

Facebook and Instagram ads, unlike Google's Search ads, aren't based on keywords, as these social media platforms work on slightly different principles.

Factors, that influence the cost of Facebook Ads are:

  • Ad objective
  • Bidding 
  • Audience
  • Ad quality
  • Industry

Ad objective

An ad objective is a clear and specific aim of an ad. It determines who Facebook shows your ad to. This can have an extreme affect on its cost. There are 3 main objective types that are divided into specific actions.

Awareness

Ads with the Awareness objective lead to increasing brand and local awareness, as well as gaining a higher reach and interest in your product or service.

Consideration

If your goal is to get people thinking about your product, drive more traffic to your web or generate leads, you should focus on this category.

Conversions

If your goal is to convert Facebook users to customers, then these types of objectives are for you.


Campaign Objectives

Bidding

The next factor that influences ad price is the maximum amount of money you are willing to pay. It's called bidding. You set a maximum price manually (or automatically, where Facebook calculates the best price for you) and then it competes with other advertisers in an auction. Take note that a higher price doesn't guarantee that your ad shows up. Facebook considers ad quality and user experience.

Audience

An audience, or target audience, is a group of people you aim your ad at. There are over 350 audience attributes to choose from, so you can be very specific.

Ad quality

Facebook is a visual platform and is considered to be a personal space for its users, where they are looking for creative and interesting content. So your ads should be, of course, creative and interesting. They should also be visually appealing, able to evoke emotions and they should match users' interests. This is what Facebook considers when scoring your ad.

Industry

As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, ad pricing varies across industries. Here is a table that you can use as a benchmark and with which you can compare your results.

The Cost of a Click

How can you lower your Facebook price?

Optimizing an ad price isn't an easy process. There are thousands and thousands of combinations and it can take years to find the right formula. You basically have 3 options to optimize your costs.

Become an online advertising specialist

That's perfect advice, right? I know, this is probably not the best way to go for most people, because it takes a lot of time and energy to become a specialist. Being a social media specialist is a regular full time job, so if you are not ready to quit your current job, then this is probably not the way you want to go. 

Hire someone, who is already an advertising specialist

Hiring a freelance specialist or agency can be a way to effectively advertise. This option is usually more expensive, especially if you are a one-man-show and your marketing budget is tight.

Use marketing automation tools that make it easy for you!

There are dozens of marketing automation tools on the market. These tools simplify the whole campaign creation process for people, who have no time to learn everything necessary and don't have a sufficient budget. That's why we created  app. It helps small businesses run their campaigns without extra knowledge needed. Try it here, it's free!

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Why Having a Website Will Help Your Business Grow

If you are running your own small business, it is only right to have a website. With everyone being on the internet it is almost impossible not to take advantage of it. Unless you do not want your business to grow and succeed it is essential to build up your online presence and having a website is one of the ways to do it. Thanks to the evolution of technology and free website builders like Webflow, building your own personal website has never been easier. You do not need to be a computer engineer or know computer programing. Free website builders enable you to build a personal website to your liking. There are so many positives to having your own business website.

 

So, here are the benefits and advantages of having your own website:

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How Much Does Facebook Advertising Cost?

Well, that’s a tricky question – there are so many variables at play. Depending on your situation, the cost of your Facebook ads could be as much as $10 per click, or as little as 40 cents.

The most important factor is efficiency and performance. Your ads might be super cheap, but if they do not bring any results, it's a waste of money. Define the purpose (the goal) of the ad and what is your cost limit to label the ad as efficient. Many businesses measure success by the number of sold products, leads generated, or potential customers engaged.

There is no rule or benchmark for this, each business is different with different needs and circumstances. Someone might be satisfied with a new lead for $45 and another might not go over $10. One person might consider a $3 cost per click as successful and another would not want to pay more than $2. Calculate the revenue you can get from the lead and think about how much you want to spend per action, this way you can always check whether your ads perform well or not. 

Before you spend a lot of money, try to set up your daily budget for $5 a day. (We will talk about how to set your budget later). Monitor your results. If the ad performance meets your ideas and you have money to raise the daily budget, do it. And do it again, if the ad is bringing you results.

Remember: If your ad is comical, visually appealing, engaging, or all of these combined, people will like, comment or share it more often than they would with some boring copy with a blurry image. If you really want the most from your paid ads, they have to be great to make the people share them and so the ads will be also spread organically. Deciding how much to spend is a good place to start, but always make sure each dollar goes as far as it possibly can. The key is the visual, the text, as well as targeting. Regarding your content creation, read my article about buyer personas, because you should tailor-make it for your ideal customers and you can also find more helpful info in this article about tools for creating visual content.

So, how can you get an idea of how much Facebook advertising costs before diving in?


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How to Define The Optimal Budget for Your Marketing Campaign

All small businesses need a good marketing plan to help it reach its targets and aspirations. With every marketing plan comes a marketing budget. You can say they go hand in hand. Creating the optimal marketing budget will ensure you spend the right amount of money in the right places to achieve your marketing goals. Creating a marketing budget used to involve a lot of trial and error which can lead to unnecessary expenses and ineffectiveness. But nowadays with everything becoming easier thanks to the amount of information available on the internet, so is creating the optimal marketing budget, everyone can do it.

Small business owners are finding new ways and techniques to plan out their strategies and design successful marketing budgets. It all comes down to how much are you willing to spend to acquire new customers and increase your brand awareness.

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How to Define Your Buyer Persona

Do you know who you should have in mind as your ideal buyer? What are their needs, what do they desire, how and when do they like to consume content, and through which channels? To answer these questions, it's extremely helpful to create buyer personas. The personas are developed based on a combination of customers' behavior and your understanding of their motivations and challenges. In the process of creating these personas, you’ll gain insights into how your audience thinks and discover what they want. You will find out the communication style that works for them, and the ways in which they like to consume content. Also, you can find out the ideal price they are most likely to pay for your product or what features the product should have.


For your business, it is crucial to define your buyer persona (aka marketing persona). What are buyer personas? Imagine them as a representation of the demographic where you can find your ideal customer. Creating them helps you understand your customers' needs, while online marketing gives you the ability to target groups or individuals according to specific aspects you can define by creating the personas. Your result? A more efficient and effective marketing campaign.


The challenge of current operating businesses is whether or not to take time out of your already busy day in order to spend time on a persona project. But so much information and knowledge can be gained and your marketing can really improve by doing it flawlessly. And remember, personas are also crucial to getting your 5 marketing Ps right


How do you start? 


1. Ask questions!

To elaborate your personas you need to determine what their goals and attitudes are. You have to ask yourself, what do they know? What do they respond to? What are their behaviors? What do they need? Where are they?


Do qualitative research to gather this knowledge. Ask them. Watch them. Follow them. 


Try to create one or more buyer personas. Developing personas helps you understand your buyers as much as possible. It can provide insights into the different roles in companies or families, as well as into an individuals' life.  This information may eventually factor into a customers’ decision to make a purchase. 


Basically, personas are a comprehensive kind of map of your customers’ minds and personalities, helping you see the world from their perspective. With this X-ray super power, you can find and tailor your ideas to fill in the gaps, meet their needs, and ensure that your content is interesting and relevant to them.


2. How do you get this information? 

Well, you are an entrepreneur, you know nothing is easy. The best source of information is interviews and surveys! Do you see your customers in person? Ask them! Do you have a sales or customer support team? Ask them about the customers. Once you determine your personas, you can schedule user interviews that last about 20 minutes or send them a survey. Make sure they get a little reward afterwards :)


A good source of information is also statistics and reliable broad research done by companies. 


I am sure you have heard that some companies even hire trained anthropologists to watch what people do and how they behave. Your research can be as deep as you want. Just do not bother your clients for too long. 

3. How do you create the personas? 

Once you’ve collected your responses, comb through your research to identify the common threads, concerns, hopes, desires, and challenges people face. Sometimes, you may notice a common theme or even phrase in your responses. These are incredibly valuable.


Have you gathered all of your data from research? Now you can start developing your unique segments. Divide the people by:


a) Demographic

b) Location

c) Interests

d) Behaviour

e) Whatever is relevant for you e. g. job title


4. Finalize them!

Once you have your “rough” personas, it’s time to polish it all. Make sure you have a name for each, and circulate your personas for feedback from relevant people (e.g., your sales team). Once refined, memorialize these in a Google Doc or Excel spreadsheet that is easily accessible. Use these finalized personas to brainstorm content. Going forward, you should be able to identify: Which persona will be interested in your product, service or idea. Why will that persona be interested in it? Make sure to regularly review and update personas, as well.


The more detailed your personas are, the better your marketing targeting can be. You should be able to imagine them or draw them. You should be able to simulate an interview with them, to know what tone you should use, and what their interests are. Imagine that you are selling something to them personally and play with your new imaginary customers. 


You know you did a good job if your personas are: Divergent from each other, feel real, and are easy to explain. Create files for each one, so you don't forget anything about them, hang pictures of them around the office, so you feel they are present. If you have coworkers, they all should know these personas perfectly. Your aim is for the company to culturally adopt the concept of talking about these personas as real people.

How can personas help create content?

Audience insights: 

Your created personas will help you understand your audience’s concerns, preferences, and goals. When you know these, you are able to create content your buyers will find engaging, relevant, entertaining and valuable. Personas help you determine that very sort of content you will need. If you divide your current content down by persona, you can simply see which personas are getting enough content - they are nurtured, and which personas need more or a different kind of content.


Communication styles: 

Because you already know who you are talking to, set the tone, style, and delivery strategies for your content according to your personas. For example, some buyers respond best to a friendly, conversational voice, with some jokes and questions, while others trust a more formal tone and serious negotiation. By creating your personas, you’ll determine the best tone and style for your content. You can even target the topics you should be writing about for each persona. 


Content preferences: 

At the end of the day, personas tell you where buyers prefer to get their information. Are they like bookworms? Do they like to sink their teeth into 100-page guides, or do they prefer short, concise texts and easy graphics? This information will help you set the way you create your content for each persona and how your buyers will discover it. It's the same for your creatives. Some people won't watch a video, some will only respond to a colorful picture and some only to a call to action post. Create content that will engage your buyers more effectively. 

Note: The delivery strategies for your content may or may not be the same for all your buyer personas. It is also okay to have only one or to have many buyer personas, it's up to you!


How can you target those personas via online advertising platforms?

Besides demography e.g. age, location and sex, each platform gives us a different way to target the customers. 


LinkedIn, as an employment platform, allows us to target people based on their job title, their knowledge, education, abilities, their current employer, as well as companies they have been employed by or their level of seniority. 


Facebook is more informal and fun, so you can target people according to their interest, pages they like, devices they use, travel plans or according to an upcoming birthday in their friend list. There are a vast number of options you can select to describe your persona(s) as precisely as possible. If you take an interest in this topic, you can read more about Facebook targeting according to interests , as well as location


To sum it all up…

Create a comprehensive list of your personas. 

One campaign should target one persona, for a more effective strategy.

Smaller campaigns, with an in-depth target, are more effective with an individual persona.


Having said this, buyer personas are something you REALLY need to run your business and use the online platforms effectively. Got any questions? Don't hesitate to contact us! 

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How to Market Real Estate on Social Media

One of the main problems of real estate agents, is getting listings. To make it work, you shouldn’t just focus on your website. Social media and the online world, overall, could be a marvelous extension of the brand you present yourself as offline. If you take advantage of its options, you’ll reach more people, build trust and most importantly - sell.


Here are a few things you should know about social media marketing for real estate. 


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