product-ideas

Finding Ecommerce Product Ideas for the Nigerian Market

With the ecommerce space becoming populated in Nigeria, chances are you may need more than low prices to drive traffic to your site. One of the ways to maintain relevance is by your unique product offerings. So how do you come up with a product idea? The first thing to note is that coming up with a great idea for a product to sell online will occasionally strike when you least expect it. Many times though, it’s something you need to be proactively on the lookout for. The internet contains a wealth of ideas and inspiration, but as a new entrepreneur, where do you begin? We have compiled a list of some of the best places to get product ideas. However, it is important to note these two points;

  • Look beyond the Product: while searching for new product ideas, make sure to look beyond the products themselves. There is heavy competition in the most common and popular product categories, if you go to Jumia or Konga, you’d see almost exactly the same product categories, no difference. Choosing a different or unique angle can be instrumental to your success. Try not to just look at products, rather look for potential in the product category. Consider new markets, new features and new ways to use the products. 
  • Smaller Product Categories: Don't be afraid to look at smaller product categories and niches. A niche product might get small traffic, that's granted. But it makes up for that by way of less competitors and a more targeted audience. Less competition makes it easier to get to the top of Google, and is usually more cost effective and efficient to advertise to your customers.

Once you’ve got these two points factored in, here’s what you need to do next!

Start With What You Have

Before you begin searching the depths of the internet and the ends of the earth for product and niche ideas, it’s always best to start with the ideas you already have. Maybe it’s a product or idea you have had for years. Maybe it exists in a half written business plan sitting in a folder somewhere on your computer. You can simply start by asking yourself one question; what products, niches or industry are you and your friends particularly passionate about or interested in?

Local Community

Sometimes, you don’t need a new idea at all. Traditional brick and mortar businesses have been around much longer than their ecommerce counterparts. Paying attention to trends in brick and mortar retail and adapting them to ecommerce can be just the ticket you need to create a profitable and unique business. Look around your community and take note of what new or interesting retail concepts people are talking about. Take Debra's Grace for example

Debra's Grace, Yaba

PHOTO CREDIT: amillionstyles.com

Online Consumer Trend Publications

A great place to start your search for product ideas is to look at some top consumer product trend publications. Following trend publications is great way to begin getting a sense of the direction consumer products are going and the ideas other entrepreneurs are introducing to the market. These publications can also expose you to new product categories and industries that you previously didn’t know about. It can helps you to dream up new goods, services and experiences for your online business. There are several popular trend publications online to follow, like Techpoint if you’re into Technology; StyleVitae if you’re into Fashion, and a host of others.

Here's a post on Osaze's website for example, that talks about some of the most popular products being searched for on the web. Here's a small snippet from that infographic

infographics

 

Industry Leaders

If you know the industry or niche you would like to be in you can use various tools to discover the influencers in the industry. Following the right people on social media can help inspire new ideas via a constant stream of carefully curated content from the people in the know. It’s up to you to uncover the opportunities. Our digital sphere in Nigeria is pretty much enclosed, so it’s easy to follow anyone across their channels.

Product and Trend Discovery Review Sites

Product review and discovery sites can also be a fantastic source of ideas and inspiration. Sites like Techcabal (technology) and StyleMeAfrica (female fashion) are great ways to see new curated product trends daily. What better way to get inspired than to get a daily glimpse into the new and interesting products other entrepreneurs are bringing to the market. Here's an idea from TechCabal, it kinda suggests that the Note 3 is probably in trend now

techcabal

 

Online Consumer Marketplaces

Another rich source for product ideas are online consumer marketplaces, like jiji.ng, OLX, Efritin, Jumia Market, etc. You’d find millions of products on these sites so you may want to begin your search with some of the popular and trending items and branch out into other interesting categories that catch your eye from there. Here's an example from Jiji

trending-on-jiji

 

Instagram

Instagram isn’t just pictures of food and dogs, it is also an interesting option for inspiring product ideas. Because it’s photo based, it makes it easy to scan through many ideas and photos quickly. There are a few ways you can use Instagram to search for product and niche ideas:

  • Hashtags: Once again, if you have a particular interest in a product category or industry, you can try searching for applicable hashtags. Another great option is to do a search on Instagram for applicable hashtags that insinuate buyer interest and intent like #want and #buy. Here's an example of what I get when I search for #iwant
    instagram-hashtag
  • Product Curation Accounts: There are many accounts on Instagram that post curated product content. Like many other examples above, you'll likely want to search for and find accounts within the niches you are particularly interested in. As an example, there are food blogs all over IG, may be worth keeping an eye on if you’re into the Food industry, it might just provide the idea or spark for your next product.

Go through this list and you're sure to get at least one idea that's in trend. Do you have any other way to get product ideas? Let us know


social-media-calendar

How to Create a Social Media Calendar + Free Template

Managing your social media page can be challenging! Building an audience and keeping them engaged is even more challenging but definitely not impossible. You just have to find a way to make it work. And one of the most efficient ways is through a social media calendar. A social media calendar is not the solution to all your content management problems but it will definitely help you get a clear handle on things as well as give you a clear direction. It also helps if you need someone senior to approve your content.

A social media calendar is a pre-planned line up of your daily conversation starters for the various social platforms you have a presence on. It is built for the duration of one week or one month depending on the agreed frequency of post and relevance. The aim is to carefully craft your post in advance so that you can always have content ready to share and with very little or no errors because it will have gone through editing and proofreading.

Here's how to Prepare a Social Media Calendar

Create Broad Categories

If you’ve not already identified categories or content pillars you want to work with, then it’s time to start doing so. It is helpful to come up with a list of post types that you would like to share on a regular basis, especially if you share many different types of updates. Here are some post categories you can use:

  • Conversation starters, Lifestyles
  • Fashion, style and entertainment
  • Blog Post
  • Re-shares of interesting content
  • Quotes and Tips
  • Images/Videos — Various Multimedia Content
  • Promotion and Brand talk
  • Announcements and Events

Category Placement

Now that you have a list of the categories you want to talk about, it is good to streamline this to about 5 or 6. That will help make sure you are not just talking about everything and anything, and you also won’t run out of content fast.  You have to decide when (what days/times) you would like to share them. For example events on Mondays, Blog post on Tuesday, quote and tips on Wednesday, conversation starters on Thursdays and so on. Decide what goes where by studying the various platforms.

Update Copies

Come up with all the content you will be sharing under the various categories in the coming weeks. Also remember that your update copy will vary on different platforms. Although you’ll be saying the same thing, it can't be the same for twitter because if its character limit and the short live span of a tweet.  So if you post once or twice a day on Facebook you should post at least 4 times on twitter. Saying the same thing but in a different way.

Special Events

In addition to regular posts, the year is full of special events. It might be great to plan ahead for them so you can make sure not to miss them and create as much excitement and opportunities around them. Some android and apple calendars provide the international holidays and days worth mentioning like International Youth day or Mothers day. You also have National holidays like Independence Day, New yam festivals and so on (the date may vary) but try to accommodate this holidays so you don’t skip them or start running around on those days

Content of a Social Calendar

I mentioned earlier that your calendar can be weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. Depending on the frequency of post; if you post as much as the example above which is GTB’s social media calendar, then you might want to do it weekly or bi-weekly because it'll require some time. It’s best to keep it to bi-weekly if you post at this rate. No matter what format you choose to present your calendar there are certain items to be included, which are:

  • Date
  • Time
  • Update copy
  • Creative copy (the text on your visuals)
  • Link (if need be)
  • Character count  

That way anybody can post if the social media manager is not around and also for consistency in the pattern of post. This also makes it easier, because if every single post you prepare contains all this information, then all that’s left for you to do is copy/paste it all.

What To Track/ Evaluate

Once you have your calendar all set and have gotten into a posting rhythm, another element that you might want to add to your calendar is a way to track performances for your posts so that you can update your sharing plans accordingly. Although the various platforms offer insights and analytics on your page activities, but it’s a lot of stress having to go from one platform to another. There are third party tools that show you all of the actionable insights in one dashboard. As a social media manager, the insights you should be bothered with are:

  • Gender of your followers

    If you have 80% male followers and 20% female that should determine the type of content you should put out there, also the age group (are they your right Target Audience (TA) or not).

  • Reach

    Sometimes the time of posting affects the reach. Take time to study the various times you post and see which has the best reach and engagement. So experiment with posting at different times before you pick the best pattern.

  • Tools

    Two popular tools to create social media calendars are Microsoft Excel and Google sheets (works just like excel).That been said, it’s not easy having to go from one platform to another to post daily or schedule post. What happens on Friday night when you are out with friends or on Tuesday mornings when you are stuck in traffic? You need a tool that not only schedules, but also monitor posts on various platforms at the same time. There are a lot of them, some are paid tools while other offer free services. Here are some few popular ones;

Part of the time-consuming aspect of sharing on social media outside of coming up with the updates themselves is finding the perfect images, GIFs, or videos to share. If you have a creative team, then ensure you have like a week’s creative ahead of  time. If you have all the images, save them in a folder for easy access. Ensure you name the folder right so you don't post a different image for a different update copy

Are you in need of a social media calendar template for your brand? You are just in luck fill out this form to download your free social media calendar template!


how-to-drive-customers-engagement

Why Unhappy Customers Are One of Your Most Valuable Resources

Unhappy customers can be of great value to your business. To have Happy customers or clients is a very important factor or metric for the success of your business. Happy customers patronize your business and they work as influencers and advocates for your brand. Their testimonials and reviews also go a long way. It gives your business the social proof, trust and relevance it needs in a highly competitive market. When your customers are happy they remain loyal, which is very valuable for your business in terms of awareness and sales yielding to a high revenue turn over.

It’s quite obvious that happy satisfied customers is what increases sales and keeps your business on track. But what about the other guys, the unhappy customers :( who necessarily don’t think your product or brand is so fantastic. Well believe it or not, unhappy customers are equally as useful and valuable for the growth and success of your business.

One thing to keep in mind about these unhappy customers is that they're unhappy because you let them down. Think back to when you were little, there some uncles and aunts that came by the house and you didn't expect jack shit. So you were never let down when they came empty handed. But that one uncle that always brought candy and biscuits was the most memorable. And you were probably really excited when you heard he'd be passing by. And on the days he came empty, you didn't even remember that he probably brought you a ton of free stuff last week, you felt let down.

That;s exactly the same way to think about unhappy customers. The guy who expresses deep dissatisfaction was expecting a lot more from you. Which is a good thing. Because immediately you show him he was right all along, he starts to sing praises for your brand.

Unhappy customers play one of the most critical roles in the success or total ruin of a business. However when unsatisfied or unhappy customers are properly attended to and managed, a large percentage of these sects turn out to be extremely valuable to your business. Here are some ways unhappy customers can make your business even better

1. Unhappy customers provide you with honest insight on how your business can improve.

Don't let the criticism and negative feedback weigh you down. One way to stay relevant in a highly competitive business world is to continually innovate and focus your change on things that cater to your customers need. The feedback gives you real insights on how to improve your products and services. Some spark up innovative ideas which can be game changers for your business. Also, data collated from customer feedback can be used to make important decisions to spur the growth of your business.

*Note if many of your customers are complaining about the same things, you should quickly do something about it.

2. Unhappy customers provides you with an opportunity to improve your customer service skills

If you're a business owner, there's one thing I'm certain you've experienced. You would at some point have a disgruntled customer who swears heaven and earth not to use your product again, and promises to give you bad PR. Now, how do you deal with this kind of angry customer?

Most businesses just choose to ignore out of not knowing what to say or do which is really dangerous if the customer really keeps to his word to escalate. Anytime a customer offers you negative feedback, it’s an opportunity to turn that negative experience into a positive one. I must say, it is easier said than done,  but it’s also going to be a learning process for your business' customer service team.  Put practices and processes in place to deal with the these kinds of customers, this would give you an impressive customer care culture that shines.

*The key to calming angry customers is to let them know you're on their side. If you just listen to the customer and calmly explain the problem and solution, you'd be shocked that most of them apologize for their outburst. We're all humans in the end, we're not wired to be rude to one another, we just need to be sure that the person on the other end of the line understands out pain.

3. Unhappy customers help you manage and improve your reputation online

An angry or unsatisfied customer is sure to go on social media or review and feedback forums to vent. When you tools like Google alert to get notified of feedback like this, take the time to reach out to customer on these forums. If you do, other online users know your brand takes customer satisfaction seriously.

Also go a step further to reach out to the customer personally, i.e outside of the forum and make sure you go beyond fixing their problems, offer discounts and offers they cannot decline, give them free tickets to shows and events. Or just have drinks.

Anything to show your business is really sorry for any inconvenience caused. Your customer service effort would go a long way in this world of social virility, everyone would see, including potential and future customer.

In Conclusion

*I remember one case at a logistics company in Nigeria where a guy ordered for his engagement ring from the US. The company's job was simple, get the ring in before D-Day. But customs operations can be disappointing. The delivery got delayed and he didn't have a ring hours before the proposal was to be made.

The customer service team at this company took it on themselves to salvage the situation. They personally  ensured that the item came out quickly from the customs office same day, stayed back at work till about 8PM to sort out items received and get the ring. Then took it to the venue of the event, all without management's knowledge. That's going above and beyond for your customer

It's almost inevitable for a business to have  no negative feedback from unhappy customers. But every negative situation can be worked out to become useful for your business, take advantage of the feedback, renovate and keep getting better.

Have you had a good experience with any Nigerian customer service team? Let us know in the comment box below.


How to create the Perfect Content Marketing Strategy

How to create the Perfect Content Marketing Strategy

Content marketing goes beyond written words which is the first thing that comes to the mind of new business owners. Content is an umbrella word for every piece of information you dish out for the purpose of marketing your brand. So it needs to be strategic and carefully thought out. Depending on the goal of your business you should ask yourself what you want to achieve based on the type of content you push out. That brings me to giving out a few tips that can help you make a very effective content marketing strategy:

The Golden Circle by Simon Sinek

The Golden Circle consist of 3 basic questions. Why, How and What. Let’s address each of these questions

  • Why (The Purpose): Very few organizations know why they do what they do. Why is not about making money. It's about the vision or purpose which is the very reason your organization exist in the first place.
  • How (The Process): Some organizations know how to get stuff done. These are the things that make them special or set them apart from their competition.
  • What (The Result): Every organization on the planet knows what they do. These are the products they sell or the services they offer

Answering these 3 questions clearly determines the nature and priority of your business. The idea of answering these questions also helps you come up with content aligned with your goal. So if the content you create is to help raise awareness about your brand/business or help increase sale, you know which section of the golden circle you need to tap into.

Type of Content

Depending on the message you want to pass, think about how best to catch the attention of the audience. As earlier stated content does not necessary have to be a history lesson (boring). It could be represented in a number of different ways which include:

  • Infographics
  • Videos
  • Animations
  • Newsletters
  • Blog post
  • Webinars
  • Case studies
  • Pictures and so on

 Getting the best from your content

Content marketing isn’t a one man job. It requires a full creative team or a genius. But usually you need a team including a graphic designer, blogger, copywriter, community manager, SEO specialist, and a web designer. Each member of your team is required to use their expertise to contribute immensely on the best way to push out content and what content goes out. Basically you have to make sure each member is competent and understand their roles in creating a good content. Sometimes one member of the team is OK to push the content other times you need every member of the team.

How, When & Where to distribute Content

Creating great content is the first step of a thousand miles. The real challenge is in the distribution of your content. Knowing the perfect time to share them, the best performing channel for your content (putting into consideration your target market), number of page views and engagement rate. You need to work out a plan to make sure your content meets its KPI (Key Performance Indicator).

If the content is based on a trend, season or event then its best shared around that time unlike content that is evergreen.  An example is “how to save your phone battery” This type of content will be relevant any day anytime. That brings us to

Metrics to look out for

There are four (4) types of metrics to look out for when setting the KPI for a content marketing strategy. They are consumption, sharing, lead generation and sales metrics.

  • Consumption Metrics: This measures how many people saw your content and engaged with it. Statistics on consumption comes in page views, link clicks, video views, downloads, sign up, time on page, behavior on page and so on.
  • Sharing Metrics: This measures how many of those who consumed your content reacted to it. This metrics includes likes, shares, retweets, +1’s, pins, repost, forwards and inbound links.
  • Lead Generation: This is a measure of how many people can be re-marketed to or looks like potentials for a future purchase. This is measured by form downloads and form completion, email subscriptions, blog comments and conversion rate.
  • Sales Metrics: Did you make any money based on the content? Measure this by online sales, offline sales with a discount code unique to the content you shared. E.g Sales that have promo codes like IG234 says consumer is making purchase based on the content on they saw on instagram and BB123 says purchase is based on content on bill boards etc.

Measure and analyse

The rate of engagement on your content is what determines its failure or success. So there is need for you to measure and analyse your content to give a clear picture If your strategy was good and how to re-strategize and make it better. Measuring and analyzing helps you keep track of your content to ensure you are not just putting out great content that nobody is seeing or can relate to either because you are reaching out to the wrong people in the right way or talking to the right people in the wrong way.

Evaluate and Re-strategize

In a simple sentence “if it worked make it better, if did not work then find a way to make it work”. After measuring and analyzing, draw up a conclusion as to whether your content did well or not and in most cases do a SWOT analysis. If it’s the latter, find out the reasons why based on type, target audience, time, and platform. And if it’s the former focus more on your strength and maximize it, see how you can improve your weaknesses, what open opportunities are you not exploring and finally see how you can minimize your threat since you can completely eliminate it.

Content marketing is not a campaign you run for a while and stop. It is a continuous commitment. And it doesn’t have to be difficult. Set up a system that works for you and use available tools to make it easier to track your success and failures. Get them!

How do you currently create your content marketing strategy? Let us know in the comment box below.


Good customer support service

Customer Service Tips for Small Business Owners

Small business owners encounter several struggles in the course of running their business. Unlike the big companies who have the luxury of making decisions at the flick of a switch and still maintain the core of their business. Small businesses are not afforded that kind of luxury, as even the smallest decisions can have a huge impact on their business. Despite the obvious advantages big companies have over small businesses, research has shown that customers keep coming back to small businesses rather than the big ones. Why? Customer Service!

Small businesses are known for treating customers as individuals rather than numbers, with the latter akin to bigger businesses and companies. One of the major keys to success as a small business owner is your Customer Service. The success of your business is directly tied to how you treat your customers, for small business owners struggling to offer top notch customer service, follow these laid out tips which would set you on the right path!

Technology

Technological innovations in the business world are becoming more cost effective and very efficient. Today, your small business can offer a lot of benefits that previously had been affordable only for large companies. The aim of using technology is to make life easier for your customers. POS machines make sales quicker and swifter, a digitized inventory system reduces the mental strain on your staff. Be careful though not to complicate issues, if you must adopt technology, go all the way in!

Technology

Avoid offering your customers a cashless payment option and then tell them to pay cash or make them stand in queues. Digitize your business as much as possible, it helps your staff become even more productive. Keep looking for ways to evolve with technology, that way you keep your customers satisfied.

 Personalized Feedback

Another problem with most small businesses is that they keep placing square pegs in round holes; this is excruciating as they end up spending their meager resources on unnecessary things. Don’t do stuff because your “competition” is doing the same thing. Most businesses don’t know where to focus their efforts at improvement on their own.

One of the ways to resolve this is by getting personalized feedback from customers. Feedback from customers is the best way to know which changes might be the most productive. This shouldn’t be a problem as customers are well known to enjoy being asked for feedback. It makes them feel “involved”.  Make the feedback personal! You could do it face to face, via a phone call or via a personalized email; note the word “personalized”. People avoid spam mails. Asking questions shouldn’t be the end of your support, also ensure you acknowledge a customer’s response and be sure to act on their responses and effect the relevant changes immediately.

Make an appearance

Until recently, Bill Gates was involved in the day-to-day running of activities at Microsoft, even Dangote attends business meetings himself. Don’t start running your business as a Donald Trump-style boss, at least not in your early days. Avoid the temptation to hide behind your employees. Customers love the ability to reach management easily with their questions, complaints, and concerns. Appearing in person in your physical store shows a dedication to your business and the quality of customer experience you embody. You should be involved in your firm’s day-to-day operations, both for your customers’ and your employees’ sake. Failing to appear can make you seem aloof.

 Hire people who care (and treat them well)

Many small businesses have a high turnover rate for employees, and don’t tend to hire people who care about their products or their business, they just go for the cheaper options most times as they are desperately trying to reduce their capital expenditures. This makes some sense; I mean, you’re a small business, you don’t want the bulk of your revenues going back into your staff. I totally get that, but I can assure you that in the long run, that method becomes counterproductive.

When hiring, you should be on the lookout for only employees who buy into what your business is all about. Clients should see how much your workers care about the business, the product, and customer experience. And ensure to pay your employees well and treat them with respect to ensure their commitment to your success. If you’re struggling as a business, don’t make the treatment of your employees low priority. You need them, and you need the best they can offer. Your employees should be happy to work for you. Be interested in their well-being beyond the job; create mentoring programs to allow for personal advancement within your business.

 Don’t neglect your Internet presence

One major similar trait about big businesses is their heavy investments towards having a dominant web presence, and we can all understand why. In today’s business environment, small businesses must have a strong internet presence as well in order to reach their target market. I mean, that’s where you're bound to find of them in this digital age – everyone’s on the internet! You can always create a social media account and build a full website.

If you choose to build a website, your website must be user friendly and provide basic information your customers want. Your website is often the first face a new customer will see of your company. Don’t just have a website sitting dormant out there, creating high quality content is important as well, regardless of what your business is about. Your business should also have a social media presence, most of your customers spend their time on social media, go get them!

Overcompensate for mistakes

The fact is “awufu dey run belle” hasn’t stopped us from enjoying any awufu that comes our way. Every customer should leave your store happy. If you or a staff member makes a mistake, the customer should still be satisfied. It’s your obligation to overcompensate – resist the urge to act defensive. Many customers want nothing more than to vent their complaints. Listen patiently and offer sincere apologies. As a small business, you are trying to build a customer base so always consider the way employees and clients like to be treated, and don’t neglect vendor interactions. Happier employees are infinitely more likely to provide stellar customer service, so make it your goal to treat everyone the way you would like to be treated, ultimately, you’ll provide better business across the board.

Was this article helpful? Share your comment in the box below.


conference-confident

How to prepare for conferences: Kick off with startup Friday

The Startup Friday is a regular startup conference that brings together investors, mentors, co-founders, entrepreneurs, and policy makers. It’s an initiative of the Office for ICT Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIIE) and it’s quickly becoming one of the biggest startup events in Nigeria.

Over the course of four editions (February, March, April and July), 984 co-founders and 75 investors have attended, 30 startup pitches have been delivered, and N57m in direct and indirect investment has been put into startups that were at the events. This fifth edition of the startup Friday would be happening on the 23rd of September 2016.

Conferences like the startup Friday holds promises of lots of new information, networking, and problem solving. Conferences like this should be prepared for, whether you are a delegate, speaker or an attendee. Some people will have little or no problem getting along at a conference, party, new office or wherever they find themselves. Extroverts are usually the life of the party, they ask the most questions in class stupid or intelligent and get away with almost everything. But for some who spend most of their time alone or behind a screen, entering a crowded room can be a little intimidating.

If you fall in the latter category, it is best you prepare yourself before the day. Don’t wait until you are at the door before you prepare yourself. Especially if you are presenting or planning to pitch in. Some basic steps to help you prepare beforehand are:

Identify your goals:

What are you attending the conference for? Identify one or two goals you hope to achieve at the end of the day. Some goals in this case are:

  • Learn something new: what skill are you hoping to add to what you have or what insights can help you be improve what you do. 
  • Network: What type of people are you looking to meet at the conference e.g investors, co-founders, or government officials, and if you do meet them, what exactly you want to discuss.
  • Sales: are the people in attendance the TA for your products? How can you connect with them? And how best can you pitch the sales of your product.
  • To find a vendor: if so make sure there are more than one of them attending. Then find out which one offers the solution to what you need at the best price.

Network

One of the major reasons for conferences is to meet and greet with other attendees (they could have just sent a copy of their speech to your email). Distribute your card, join the conversation on social media with the hashtag and spark up conversations.

Be prepared for conversation

You know the theme of the conference you are going for, so read up on possible topics that might be raised. This will also help improve your chit chat. Other conversation starters are:

  •    How are you enjoying the conference?
  •    Who was your favourite speaker?
  •    Have you been to the conference before?
  •    Do you agree with what XYZ speaker said?

Once you have all of this before the event you are good to go. While at the event you need to also do some couple of things which are:

Be friendly

If you are nervous, remember nobody is a professional conference man. Look for others who came solo, make a confident introduction and kick off conversations.

Participate online

If they are live tweeting or posting real time pictures and video on social media platforms, join the conversation, comment, take pictures and tag the official conference handle and add the hashtag.

Eat

Common who doesn’t like food, even if its just small chops, people like to chit chat while waiting in-line for food or while eating. So do some eating and chat with people while you are at it.

Exchange Business cards

You really should not be attending conferences without your cards. Don’t forget to use them. Give some out and collect from people too. What better way to keep in touch without actually being in touch.

Create authentic relationships

If you are not comfortable meeting too many people at once then focus on really getting to know one or two people. This gives more value than just a stack of cards you might not need. So focus on the person you really want to work with (investor, founder, vendor, associate or whatever) and make the most of it.

Now that the conference is over when you leave don’t close the book on the conference. You can

Create content

Use that as an opportunity to write about your experience at the conference and share with your audience if it’s something they will be interested in.

Follow-up

Depending on what your goals were for attending the conference, its time to follow up on the leads you got from the event and see how they can be converted into customers or whatever you intend to convert them into.

Are you interested in attending the startup Friday? Register here. And don't forget, this applies for any conference you might attend.


10 blogging mistakes

7 blogging mistakes you need to avoid as a business

"It's not what you say that matters, it's what they hear." Frank Luntz

Many small businesses have turned to blogging as a way to engage and further connect with customers. Which is exciting. It’s a good strategy as it helps you interact with your customers from a casual angle. Blogging for your business is important, but doing it wrong can cost you your customers and your reputation. Consumers can be retained or lost simply from your blogging efforts, so it’s vital to avoid the following mistakes;

Bad Writing

I shouldn’t have to say much about this. There’s no excuse for poorly constructed sentences and wrong grammar. Displaying them in a public setting like a blog, looks even worse. There's a good chance that if the blog isn't written well, your customers will think a little less of you, or at least of your marketing team. There many ways to avoiding a poorly written blog post. You can hire a copywriter. Or get your members of your staff to write periodic articles (which will all be crosschecked and edited by the content guy of course). It gives your blog itself different voices for customers to relate to. And it also makes the employees feel better about themselves and their overall contributions to the organization.

Conversation NOT Presentation

Good blog posts are those that inspire conversation and drive readers to comment, share, or engage with the content. Rather than thinking about a blog post as a dissertation, think about it more as an opinion on a hot topic. Stick to that one opinion or point of view and defend it, then open the floor to readers to respond. In blogging, it's important to blog about a particular topic without being complete. If it's conversational as a blog is supposed to be, you get a chance to say one thing or one idea, and then it's your customers' turn to talk or respond.

Is this an Ad Site or a Blog?

Don’t get it twisted. Often the best way to promote your business is to be seen as a resource and not a PR outlet. If you try to sell a customer a product too early in the relationship, before you've really gotten to know each other or learned to trust one another, you'll often scare them off. Rather, establishing a blog that provides regularly interesting, useful and informational (not promotional) content will make customers more likely to make purchasing decisions.

Focus on the Readers

In most cases, companies are starting blogs as a means to connect further with their customers and in the end sell more products. But the message is unsuccessful if the person on the other end, in this case the reader, can't understand or can't relate to what you are saying. Good writers know it's about the people and not about the words. In other words, they care what their audience thinks and they are learners, so they come to it with a beginner's mind and aren't afraid to say I'm learning as they talk to others and improve.

No Clear Strategy

Have a central theme! While variety is great in a blog because it keeps it from becoming boring, you need to be clear about what users can expect when they visit it. Your aim should always be to keep your readers glued. Showcase your passion through your posts, people should be able to feel and tap into your passion just by reading your posts, keep them excited and they’d want to read more.

Share your Personal Eexperiences

What makes your perspective unique and different from the millions of other blogs that are out there? Why should readers trust your voice? If you are a business owner, it's rare to start a blog before you've established customers. So clearly, you have experience in your field of business. Just like you tap into your passion with the overall strategy, make the most out of your experience and be sure to offer a unique perspective. Don't just say what everyone else is saying. Often, disruption can breed success. Always appear as humanely human as possible.

Embrace Technology…fully

I know the fact you run a blog means you’ve embraced technology, but don’t just stop there. Don’t be stereotyped. Consider varied content types, whether it's a standard text blog, video interviews, podcasts or an infographic. Beyond that, make sure you are utilizing all of the sharing tools available, from an RSS feed to social sharing abilities. And more importantly, use an analytics service to track what posts perform well, how users are finding you and more. There are many tools out there to help you track how your blog is performing. Take advantage of them.

Creating and promoting quality content as part of your marketing strategy wouldn’t only get you quality leads and users, but also positions you as a thought leader in your specific industry.

Have some blogging questions? Drop your questions in the comment box below.


diy-twitter-ads

Marketing for Beginners: Setup Twitter ads in under 30 minutes

PHOTO CREDIT: FORBES.COM

Are you thinking about running Twitter ads?

Wondering how to go about it without paying a digital strategist? This article will be of help.

Twitter advertising isn’t difficult to set up. And even if we know twitter ads are more expensive than Facebook ads, it can also provide an additional stream of traffic, customers and revenue.

In today’s article, we will discuss three cost-effective ways to advertise on Twitter.

1. Promote your account

Follower campaign ads are designed to increase visibility and grow your followers. They are the promoted accounts you see in the who to follow boxes on the home page and search results page, sometimes you also see the tweets on your timeline.

  • To create a Promoted Account campaign, go to Twitter Ads. If this is your first time in Twitter Ads, you’ll be prompted to enter your country, time zone and payment details.
  • Next, choose Followers from the Select a Campaign Objective menu, and give your new campaign a name
  • Set the campaign dates and select the target audience for your campaign.
  • Enter the demography and language of your target audience also include the people you want to reach and the devices you want your ads to appear on.
  • You can further target your audience by the people they follow, their interests, behaviors and demographics, the events they’re interested in and even the pets they have.

The more targeted your audience is, the easier it is to see which ads are performing and which are not. Attain your goals one campaign to another. If there’s a number of things you want to target, it’s better to break them into separate campaigns so you can measure the results more effectively.

2. Determine your budget

Like I said earlier Facebook ad is cheaper than Twitter so to control the cost of your campaign and minimize your risk of overs spend, set a total and daily budget. This means you’ll have to prioritize on the number of followers, lead or click-through to your website you plan to get at the end of the campaign.

Divide your total budget by the number of days you’re going to run your campaign (say seven or fourteen days); to get your daily maximum budget.

  • Click on Show Advanced Options to see your pricing options. Set either a target bid, or a maximum bid, depending on how much a new follower is worth to you.
  • Next, create some tweets that will show in mobile and web timelines. In your tweets, include the words “Follow us” and tell people why they should follow you. I recommend that you don’t include an image or any links, as they’ll be distracted from the Follow button. Also make sure your CTA (Call To Action) is very catchy.

Remember, this is your first attempts at Twitter advertising. Your first attempt should be viewed as an experiment. It’s an investment in figuring out the winning formula for your business

3. Make your creative

Create variations of your tweets so you can see which perform best. The next step is to save and launch your campaign. It will go live once it’s been approved by the Twitter advertising team.

Twitter ads can be relatively effective, especially for awareness / engagement ads. And in one case, one of our Subject Matter Experts saw as little as $0.04 per follower for a highly targeted campaign (females with expressed interest in food). Try out Twitter for your brand today and let us know what you think.

If you already run Twitter ads, let us know what your experience has been like in the comment box below.


ecommerce usability

Check these 6 things to make your ecommerce site user friendly

Ecommerce is a very competitive field because your rival is no more than a click away. Especially in Nigeria where we have hundreds of e-commerce sites all with the same range of product and service offering. If a customer doesn’t like your site, he simply looks for another ecommerce site to buy products from. If you want to gain more customers and attract attention, you want to make sure that your website is as usable and as customer friendly as possible. You want to ensure customers STAY on your site.

It doesn’t matter if your prices are very low or you have the best products in the market, because if customers get confused navigating your website, checking out will likely be difficult. Usability means that you have to make the buying process as quick and as easy as possible. These tips will let you create a more usable ecommerce website that can create higher conversion rates.

1. Sign-up Buttons

With tools like OpenID, you can afford customers the opportunity to register with their social media profile. Avoid lengthy signup forms that can take a few pages or so before visitors can successfully register to your site. Buyers don’t like going through stress especially when money is involved. As with some current E-commerce sites, all they require from you is a phone number, and they’d call you to get your details. The idea is to make the experience as stress free as possible for the customer.

social logging inUsers should be allowed to checkout without registering. If registration is optional, it will most likely increase your sales and reduce cart abandonment. However, if you need customers to fully signup as part of some marketing strategy or target, then be creative with it. Create Call-to-action buttons that will entice users. Give them free coupons for registering, add incentives.

2. Functional Search Bar

Search functionality helps customers to find what they are looking for, making their shopping experience more satisfying than frustrating. Who would want to go from one page to another, read the description of every product you have in your online store, just to find what they are looking for these days? This is highly recommended for an ecommerce site that has a wide variety of products sold, and if it is added with category refinement, the search process can be even quicker, allowing buyers to find what they are looking for.

In the picture below notice how elaborate the search bar is on konga.com

search konga3. Shopping Cart Security

No ecommerce website is complete without proper content management and personal detail security. Shoppers should feel confident in buying products at your ecommerce site, so you need to assure them that your site is a reputable site that has features to protect the privacy of your customers. Get a trust certificate like Hacker Safe or VeriSign and an updated SSL certificate to build up customer trust and offer better shopping security. Or like Konga just did, create a personal mobile wallet for your customers.

4. Suggest Related Items

When you buy a laptop for example from Jumia or Konga, they suggest related items, like batteries, accessories and peripheral products for you too. This not only helps save the customer’s time but also helps increase revenue and customer retention on your ecommerce site.

konga related products

5. No Hidden Charges

Customers hate agreeing to the price of a product only to find out that it is going to cost them 2% more when it is time to share their credit card details. Make sure that you display prices, taxes, shipping charges, discounts early, so that buyers know the final sum they will be forking out. If you present your customers with a lot of unexplained costs, they will more likely abandon their purchase, and even worse, their trust in your site will be broken.

6. Quick product overview

A quick product overview – is a convenient feature, offering the customer a chance to quickly scan the catalogue, paying attention to the products of interest, with details of the product stated. The quick overview function allows users to look at the product without leaving the category page. Even if the user sees the same product page but in light box with darker background, not in the separate tab, it is considered as quick overview. It is better however to fill the light box with something between product card and full product page.

ecommerce quick view lightbox

If you consider all these points, you'd likely notice that your best ecommerce stores execute them really well. Look through your ecommerce website taking all these points into consideration and see how you can make it better. Remember that if the customer loves your site, its one more reason for them to shop with you.

Do you have an ecommerce website? Drop a link to it in the comment box below so we can take a look.


share ad preview with client

Marketing for Beginners: Search Network Vs Display Network

People often get confused when planning a campaign. Figuring out the difference between search network and display network because they are both generally referred to as “Google ads”. For a PPC novice, its gets more confusing when he is setting up a campaign and he sees the Search Network with Display Select (SNDS). Before I go into details of the differences between search and display let me run you through what SNDS is about briefly.

SNDS allows advertisers to opt their search campaigns into the GDN in a limited fashion. Although, AdWords claims that it will use “improved signals and methods of predicting where your ads are likely to perform best” to ensure that display ads are only shown in locations that are highly relevant to the advertisers’ “ideal” user. For example, a search ad might show on punchng.com

Here's a video to explain this a bit more

This ad option pushes advertisers to expand their reach and appeal to a broader range of customers. For less savvy PPCers who have limited time to dedicate to account management or optimization, this option is good because it passes all the bulk of the work to auto pilot. That been said it comes with a price. So, if you an avid advertiser, I strongly recommend sticking with the traditional practice of managing search and display networks as separate campaigns.

When To Use Search Network

Advertising on Search Network is the most common and well-known form of PPC advertising. With this network selection, your ads will be eligible to appear on the first page of Google’s search engine result page otherwise known SERP. You have an option to choose Google search only or Google search partners which include AOL and Ask.com. That means when someone searches for one of your keywords AOL or Ask then your ad might pop up.

Typically before getting to this phase you must have done your keyword research, fix your landing page (responsive) and also must have a budget in mind. When you set your ad and it’s been approved (usually less than 24hrs), your ad is good to go.

Then comes the question of ad ranking. Ad rank determines where on the Search Results Page your ad shows up. Competitors are also using the same keywords as you because you sell the same product or offer the same services, so how does Google get to decide to show your ad over theirs or vice versa? Google uses an algorithm called Ad Rank. A value that is used to determine your ad position and whether your ads will show at all. Ad rank is calculated using your bid amount, the components of quality score (expected CTR, ad relevance, and landing page experience), expected impact of ad extensions and other ad formats.

Here's a video explaining Google's Ad Rank

KPI's for search Network includes

  • Clicks
  • Conversion Rate
  • Cost per acquisition
  • Impression
  • Click Through Rate (CTR)
  • Ad Rank
  • Calls
  • ROI

You should be running a Search Network campaign if:

  • You’re working with a limited budget: In general, when clients are restricted to a small budget, I recommend starting with the Search Network. This format is more likely to drive direct conversions, making it easier to measure and justify your PPC efforts. Once you’ve mastered Search, it may be advisable to expand to the Display Network, which can boost visibility, leading to an uptick in search volume for your business.
  • You sell an “emergency” product: If your product or service offering is something that users look for on a when-needed basis (party planners, saloon, restaurants), you should be advertising on the Search Network. For these industries, it is imperative that your ad appears when the searcher is in need of your services.

When To Use Display Network

In addition to search advertising, Google also gives advertisers the opportunity to place their ads on a variety of sites across the internet. This collection of websites, which ranges from blogs to online newspapers, emails, in apps, YouTube and other Google ads enabled website known as partners, is referred to as the Google Display Network (GDN). According to Google, the GDN includes over 2 million sites that reach over 90% of global internet users. Given the expansive audience of this network, it is incredibly appealing to advertisers who are looking to widen their visibility online.

When users are on the GDN, they may not necessarily be in “shopping mode.” Instead, they are going about their daily internet activities. Catching up on news, reading blog posts, watching video clips, etc. In order to gain traction on the GDN, your ads must attract the users’ attention and entice them enough to click through to your site, leaving the content that they were originally engaged with. Accomplishing this is no easy feat—even with top-notch ad creative, it’s tough to draw users to click on ads while they are surfing the net.

But don’t write the GDN off yet—while clicks may be scarce, ad space on the network is plentiful. It is the ideal space to promote brand awareness and its vast reach is appealing to advertisers who are looking to broaden their fan bases. By increasing your brand’s visibility, you may reap more clicks on organic listings or see an uptick in brand-specific searches. The clicks on GDN are also sometimes cheaper than clicks on the search network.

KPI’s for Display Network include

  • Impression/reach
  • Click Through Rate (CTR)
  • Impact on brand search
  • Top of mind awareness (although this can’t be measured directly on long term basis this as variation sticks to our subconscious)

You should be running a Display Network campaign if:

  • You want to familiarize people with your brand: Many advertisers leverage the Display Network to promote brand awareness. Since the GDN is so expansive, it offers many opportunities for advertisers to connect with their audiences. AdWords provides a variety of targeting options, ranging from managed placements (specific sites selected by the advertiser) to website groupings based on audience characteristics and more. By appearing on reputable sites that are popular amongst your target audience, you can quickly familiarize these people with your brand.
  • You have a lengthy sales process: If you sell a product or service that consumers are not likely to purchase immediately, you need to ensure that your brand stays top-of-mind for prospects as they consider making a purchase. To do this, we recommend utilizing remarketing, through the GDN. This strategy allows you to show ads to anyone who has visited your site in the past, encouraging them to return and convert. For example, when you check a red skirt on Jumia or Konga and you leave without buying it. You start seeing the skirt on other websites you visit and a top that will fit nicely with the skirt or shoes to match even if you buy they show you other things you might like.
  • You have an attractive product: Since the GDN allows advertisers to display image ads, it is ideal for advertisers who sell luxury products whose ads are enticing to the eye. Since display advertising relies largely on distraction, it’s helpful to have an appealing product to promote.

In Conclusion

To truly reap the benefits of each network, break them into separate, network-specific campaigns. From a strategic standpoint, this will allow you to craft your messaging based on the scenario in which your consumers are viewing your ad. This segmentation is critical, not only does it allow you to set specific budgets and bids per network, but it will keep your data “clean” and make it easier when optimizing.

Let’s take CTR for example, ads on the Display Network typically get lower CTRs than Search Network (which comes as no surprise, given the context in which they are shown). If the campaigns are not segmented, the CTR data can be too much, making it really difficult to analyze performance.

What's your experience with using Google Search and Display ads so far?