By carefully selecting the change-driving behaviors that are right for your organization, and the mechanisms to spread them, you can drive cultural evolution. For further insights, read “Make Your Company’s Culture Go Viral.”
Microloans are small loans which are issued to businesses by individuals opposed to credit unions or banks. The concept of microcredit originated in the developing world, as a means of helping people in smaller economics have the ability to launch their own business. Microlending subsequently took off around the world, and today, small business microloans are an effective way to lend entrepreneurs and small businesses in the U.S. with the funds they need to start and develop their business.
General Terms of Microloans
The maximum amount a microloan will typically lend is up to $35,000. However, in some instances, lenders will lend up to $50,000. The average amount microloans lend is around $10,000. Businesses can use microloans to borrow as little as $500, making these types of loans a good option for small businesses needing to get their hands on smaller funds.
One of the key attractions of a microloan is that they are generally easier to qualify for than a traditional small business loan. Specific eligibility criteria vary from lender to lender, and can be influenced by the type of industry the business operates in.
Rather than being solely about credit scores, microloans work more closely with the small business owner applying for the loan, to find out about the business and its goals and objectives. The lender uses such information to determine whether they will lend the applicant the funds.
The maximum repayment terms for small business microloans is generally six years, giving small businesses sufficient time to pay back the loan whilst they get their business up and running and make it profitable.
Why Small Businesses Might Need a Microloan
This type of loan is usually borrowed by a startup to help them fund the items required to get the venture up and running, such as equipment, the lease of an office, or employees’ salaries.
Microloans are also sometimes used to provide small businesses with working capital to enable them to manage cash flow more proficiently, such as to cover outgoings as they wait for invoices to be paid, to develop a comprehensive marketing program, or to stock up on inventory when it is at a reduced price or in time for a busy holiday season.
How Your Small Business Can Get a Microloan
Before applying for a microloan, you should carry out some research and shop around to see the different criteria of the different microlenders to help determine which lender might be most suitable for your specific requirements and objectives. Check that your small business is likely to be eligible for the microloan. Look for certified and reputable lenders that come with praiseworthy testimonials from other small business owners.
It would help if you draw up a comprehensive business plan , which defines how you plan to use the loan. Once you believe you meet the criteria of the loan, you should make the application, which can typically be done online. Answer the questions as accurately and honestly as possible. The lender will then decide whether to proceed and lend you the funds you are looking for.
To give you a helping hand in your quest to find a reputable microloan lender to provide the finance you need for your small business, here are three credible microloan lenders in the U.S.
Microloan.org is dedicated to enriching communities by providing small businesses with the funds they need to create a high-quality business development, which creates sustaining jobs for the community. If you are looking for a strategic partner to help you find the best borrowing option to help your business grow, Microloan.org would be a good place to start.
Kiva is an international non-profit based in San Francisco. Kiva offers microloans which are crowdfunded, where backers can donate as little as $25 to borrowers. Kiva’s microloans are typically used to start or grow a small business. You would repay the lenders the money back through Kiva.
Accion USA is a non-profit organization that provides microloans of up to $50,000 to low and moderate-income entrepreneurs. Accion looks at a business owner’s individual circumstances and strengths to determine whether to provide them with a microloan.
Photo via Shutterstock
This article, “What is a Microloan and Where Can You Get One for Your Small Business?” was first published on Small Business Trends
Use business live streaming to share successes and failures and become part of a growing trend. Audiences want to see live streams where businesses reveal major mistakes and solutions. As humorist Sam Levenson said, “You must learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t possibly live long enough to make them all yourself.”
As always, don’t be trendy for the sake of being trendy. Common business wisdom is to tie every decision to a larger goal — or a call-to-action no matter how small. Small Business Trends spoke with a Broadway producer who knows there should be a point to every livestream.
Business Live Streaming Shares Successes and Failures
Though he’s won multiple Tony Awards, Ken Davenport says structured learning wasn’t exactly available when he was new to the world of Broadway, at least not in the modern ways he’s packaged it. Today he can provide experienced guidance to his network through exclusive masterminds and even conferences.
* * * * *
Davenport is an award-winning producer of “Godspell” and “Kinky Boots” fame, most recently heard accepting the 2018 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical for “Once On This Island.” An early adopter of tech tools, he was the first person to crowdfund a Broadway production almost a decade ago. Davenport has supported the Broadway ecosystem through a number of his own subsidiary businesses and is also the Executive Producer for North America of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group. Davenport was named one of Crain’s “40 Under Forty,” and is one of the co-founders of TEDxBroadway. Upcoming projects include his original musical “Gettin’ The Band Back Together.” His unique approaches have led to media coverage in the NY Times, MSNBC, Rock Center, Fox News, BBC, and a mention in Jay Leno’s monologue on “The Tonight Show.”
Video Length Depends On The Goal
Small Business Trends: Hi Ken, I’m shocked that you have time to do a daily Facebook Live for your audience. Have you been able to stick with it daily? What are the longer town hall videos for?
Ken Davenport: My “every day” Facebook Live isn’t daily actually; the name I gave it, #EveryDayIsDifferent, is more about how each day has a new challenge or obstacle, and about how each project is uniquely its own. Each year I host a Town Hall for the Broadway community where they can ask me their burning questions about the business of Broadway. This year’s Town Hall was one of my favorites and I received some interesting questions about raising money, pitching your show to investors, out-of-town tryouts, how to collaborate with directors and more.
— CBS (@CBS) June 11, 2018
Doing the Town Hall on Facebook Live is a way for anyone to preview our Mastermind Program, which has been an essential part of a success plan for our members who want fast results.
Small Business Trends: I love masterminds, and I know different types exist. How does your mastermind work?
Ken Davenport: It’s an exclusive community of professionals we heavily screen through our application process. These people are the best of the best and will help guide you along the path to production. Everyone in the Mastermind is unique in skill, experience and connections. By interacting and sharing your challenges, it’s almost certain that someone in the Mastermind will have a solution for you, and you may also be able to offer a solution, connection or tactic to help someone in the group. Admission into our Mastermind opens only once per year. I also have a membership-based portal for online training called The Producer’s Perspective PRO with monthly Live Office Hours Calls, weekly tips, monthly industry newsletters, and in-person events like mixers, breakfasts and workshops.
I wish these things had existed for me when I was starting out. In just about every show I’ve ever produced, there have been derailments and moments of feeling stuck. This is common in the entertainment industry due to its collaborative nature. You need many, many people to make a musical or a film. The more people who are involved, the more stumbling blocks you’re going to encounter. It’s a fact. So prepare for it and know you have the ability to get through it.
Small Business Trends: You’re producing a musical about inventor and HSN star Joy Mangano’s life?
Ken Davenport: Yes, Joy Mangano started as a single mom and turned a small business into big business! She has an extraordinary life story. But expect more announcements in 2019; producing for Broadway is a very long process of small and large steps. As I say in one of my books, How to Succeed in the Arts… Or in Anything, accomplishing something small puts you on the path to accomplish something great.
“The Awesome 80s Prom” was a tiny Off Broadway show of mine that ran for one night a week. It was capitalized for only $120,000, in other words its production budget, but it quickly became New York’s number one bachelorette party and sweet 16 destination. And to think, I almost didn’t go ahead with it because I felt it wasn’t important enough. The Prom ran for 10 years and returned about 500% to its investors.
Small Business Trends: What are some fun facts that underscore your work ethic?
Ken Davenport: The morning after “Once On This Island” won the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical, we weren’t sleeping in. We had ad meetings, and an evening performance! On top of this, my new show, “Gettin’ The Band Back Together,” started rehearsals at 10 AM sharp. Even after decades working on Broadway and off, I still consider myself a student.
Small Business Trends: Where can people see what you’re working on, including watching your Facebook videos?
Ken Davenport: Visit my blog at TheProducersPerspective.com. There you’ll find a link explaining our Mastermind. For Facebook, go to facebook.com/KenDavenport. Like my page and you should get a notification for my live videos and replays.
This article, “Broadway Entrepreneur Uses Business Live Steaming to Help Others” was first published on Small Business Trends
Do you want your small business to be able to compete against big box retailers and online stores?
Barry Moltz will draw on his two plus decades of experience to tell you the threats your small business faces from big business and ecommerce sites.
The 30 minute webinar is going to be held on Wednesday, July 25 from 1 to 1:30 PM EST.
During the webinar, Moltz will provide insights to better help you compete even when you think it is impossible.
Barry will show you what you can do when you can’t compete on price and choice. He will also show you how to use the advantages small businesses have over large outfits. These include maintaining personal relationships with customers to boost sales and creating winning experiences.
Don’t miss this short but information packed webinar. Click on the box below and register.
Featured Events, Contests and Awards
WEBINAR: How to Compete Against Big Box Retailers and Online Stores
July 25, 2018, Online
Join small business expert Barry Moltz on July 25th at 1p.m. EST for a 30-minute conversation. Grasp the very real threat big businesses and e-commerce sites pose for small business, and how you can compete. In this webinar, Barry will answer questions like what can you do when you can’t compete on price and choice? How can you use customer requirements to create winning experiences? What’s the best way to maintain a personal relationship with customers to boost sales? And much more. Register today!
WEBINAR August 15, 2PM ET (11AM PT): How Mobile Ate the Web – and 7 Ways Small Businesses Can Capitalize
August 15, 2018, Online
Browsing via mobile devices has overtaken and now exceeds desktop computer browsing. Sadly, most marketers and business owners still look at their company web presence using desktop devices – but that’s not what most of their visitors are seeing! Visitors are seeing it through mobile devices. In this webinar we’ll explore how users find and get to businesses using mobile devices. We’ll look at the latest trends, and whether your business needs them or should ignore them, including:
AMP (accelerated mobile pages), progressive Web apps vs true mobile apps, mobile templates vs responsive websites, the search engine “knowledge panel” for your business, the mobile-first Google index, leveraging third party reviews and their impact on mobile visitors, and much more. Join us on August 15, 2PM ET (11AM PT) by registering today!
Growth & Success Con
September 17, 2018, Online
This small business virtual conference is dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs at all stages who are stuck in the daily grind of building their businesses and struggle to get solid advice and guidance. An amazing panel of experts in various disciplines and business coaches will share tips & tricks on topics including Growth, Marketing, Management & Business Building for Success. Register today!
- 2018 Annual City Club Business Tech Conference and Expo
July 18, 2018, Los Angeles
- [Free Seminar – July 19] Essential Cybersecurity Protections for your business
July 19, 2018, Chicago, IL
- 5 Keys To Successful Influencer Marketing
July 19, 2018, Online
- Business & Entrepreneur Networking Mixer
July 25, 2018, New York City
- WASHINGTON DC BLOCKCHAIN CONFERENCE 2018
July 26, 2018, Washington, DC
- NEW YORK FINTECH WEEK 2018
July 31, 2018, New York City
- 2018 #FlipMyFunnel B2B Marketing and Sales Conference
August 08, 2018, Online
- Small Business Expo 2018 – SAN FRANCISCO
August 09, 2018, San Mateo, Calif.
- SILICON VALLEY FINTECH WEEK 2018
August 13, 2018, Online
- Nashville Lifestyles Women in Business
August 14, 2018, Nashville, Tenn.
- TECHSPO Singapore 2018
August 19, 2018, Singapore
- National Ergonomics Conference and ErgoExpo – August 2018 – Paris Las Vegas
August 21, 2018, Las Vegas, Nev.
- TECHSPO Sydney 2018
August 22, 2018, Sydney
- DigiMarCon New Zealand 2018 – Digital Marketing Conference
August 22, 2018, Sydney
- DigiMarCon Australia 2018 – Digital Marketing Conference
August 22, 2018, Sydney
- The Sales Development Conference San Francisco August 30th 2018 Tenbound
August 30, 2018, San Francisco, Calif.
- TECHSPO London 2018
September 05, 2018, London
- DigiMarCon Europe 2018 – Digital Marketing Conference
September 05, 2018, London
- DigiMarCon UK 2018 – Digital Marketing Conference
September 05, 2018, London
- HR Technology Conference and Exposition
September 11, 2018, Online
- Public Vote to Crown America’s Most Unique Small Business Underway
November 08, 2018
This weekly listing of small business events, contests and awards is provided as a community service by Small Business Trends.
You can see a full list of events, contest and award listings or post your own events by visiting the Small Business Events Calendar.
Have you heard?
Monday is the start of Amazon Prime Day 2018.
The day’s become somewhat of a true shopping holiday and surely brings in a lot of revenue for Amazon. But this week, Amazon let us all know what impact Prime Day is having for small businesses, too.
Amazon Prime Day 2018
In this latest edition of This Week in Small Business, I was joined again by John “Colderice” Lawson and we immediately dove in deeper on some of the numbers Amazon released this week. The figures focus on the success that small businesses who sell on Amazon are realizing today.
Check out our conversation to find out how many products small businesses sold on Prime Day 2017. And Amazon also says that selling on Amazon has turned those smal businesses in to job creators, too.
John and I also took a fun look at another article that appeared on Small Business Trends this week, the list of top apps for BlackBerry phones.
Honestly, we were both surprised to see this list this week … in 2018 but we also realize we may be in a bit of a bubble here. We invite the BlackBerry user community to weigh in on this one.
Be sure to check out what else was happening this week for small businesses in the Small Business Trends news roundup below. Also, be sure to subscribe to the Small Business Trends YouTube channel to get notifications when the next This Week in Small Business is live.
Looming Trade War Worries Experts, Could Your Small Business be Affected?
Some U.S. businesses are putting capital projects on hold due to the uncertainty over the Trump administration’s tariffs, according to the Federal Reserve.
Job Market Remains Tight Despite Swelling Labor Force, SBE Council Reports
With an average monthly job creation of 215,000 for the first half of 2018, a gain of 213,000 jobs for June was better than expected. The high number has also encouraged those who have been out of the labor market to come back in.
Small Businesses Add 29,000 Jobs to U.S. Economy in June – Lowest Growth in 4 Previous Months
According to the June 2018 ADP (NASDAQ:ADP) National Employment Report, private sector employment increased by 177,000 jobs for the month — but only 29,000 of those were at small businesses. June 2018 ADP Small Business Report This is a much lower number than the 47,000, 62,000, 38,000, and 38,000 jobs small businesses created in February, March, April and May respectively.
Over 700,000 Teens Are Looking for Work This Summer! Could Your Small Business Benefit?
When summer rolls around, America’s teens — those 16 to 19 years old — usually get a job until they go back to school. But according to the latest Pew Research, only 35% percent of teens had a job last summer, which is well below pre-2000 levels.
23% of Employees Decide Where to Work Based on the Office Environment, Survey Finds
In today’s business environment, the workplace can be anywhere. But when employees are working in an office, how the office is designed carries a lot of weight. A new report by Continental Office reveals 23% of the workforce say the physical environment affects their decision to stay with or leave an organization.
Small Businesses Sold More Than 40 Million Items During Last Amazon Prime Day, Company Says
When Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) introduced Prime Day in 2015, the goal was to increase sales at one of the slowest shopping times of the season. But the event has done much more than that because according to the company, it has also created 900,000 jobs in the countries that participate in Prime Day.
5 Tips to Attract Millennial Parents and Why You Need These Customers
If you’re an online or off-line retailer, why are millennial parents such important customers for you? The short answer is, “Because there are so many of them.” Half of all children in the U.S. have millennial parents, according to The National Retail Federation’s Spring Consumer View. Every year, more than 1 million millennial women have children.
Small Business Loans
California Small Business Loan Demand Up 80% Since 2017, Lendio Reports
Data from small business lending platform Lendio shows demand for small business funding in California has increased 80% year-over-year from 2017 to 2018. The Rise in Demand for Small Business Loans in California In the case of Lendio, the company loaned close to $120 million to 5,000 California-based small businesses in less than five years.
44% of Businesses Can’t Adequately Measure Social Media Impact, Report Says (INFOGRAPHIC)
More businesses are using social media in their marketing mix, and for some, it is the only platform they use. But how do you evaluate your return on investment or ROI when you decide to use social media marketing? An infographic from MDG Advertising titled, “The ROI of Social Media” looks at the effectiveness of social media marketing and asks whether it is worth the investment.
Apply These 10 Insider Tips for Using Instagram Stories to Make Sales
Instagram is currently rolling out a new feature within Instagram Stories that lets businesses tag products so that customers can shop directly within the app. Susan Buckner Rose, Director of Product Marketing, Instagram Business Platform said in an email to Small Business Trends, “The Shopping in Stories feature allows people to shop products directly from their Instagram Stories.
Report Highlights Importance of Adaptability Quotient for Business Survival
A new study released by Advantage|ForbesBooks, is putting a spotlight on Adaptability Quotient (AQ), a concept many businesses may not be aware of. Titled “Adapt or Die: Why Corporate Giants Failed, How to Make Sure You Don’t,” it offers insights into how the AQ of a company plays a critical role in its long-term survivability.
Wilson Electronics Introduces Cell Booster to Connect Your Business Fleet
When the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published the new electronic logging device (ELD) rules, it meant fleets had to install more reliable communications technologies. weBoost Drive 4G-X Fleet The launch of the new weBoost Drive 4G-X Fleet by Wilson Electronics is going to ensure fleet vehicles will have reliable cellular communication.
New Nokia X5 Phone May be Perfectly Priced for Budget Conscious Small Businesses
Nokia (NYSE: NOK) may soon be in the news again with a new low-priced phone perfect for budget minded small businesses. HMD Global has started licensing the brand with a view toward providing more affordable devices. The Nokia X5 or Nokia 5.1 Plus is the latest budget smartphone looking to make a splash in a crowded segment.
Microsoft Surface Go Delivers Affordable Tablet Technology to Small Businesses
At a starting price of $399, the new Surface Go from Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) is the most affordable PC from the popular line. At half the price of the cheapest Surface Pro tablet, this move by Microsoft will give small businesses as well as individuals, and even enterprises, access to a very popular device running Office applications.
This article, “This Week in Small Business, How Will Your Small Business Fair on Amazon Prime Day?” was first published on Small Business Trends
No one’s doubting the power of a good customer testimonial. They’re among the most trusted forms of advertising your business can offer; they cost nothing on your part; and customers who write them for you are all the more likely to remain loyal to your business for having done so.
Of course, what makes testimonials so powerful is the fact that they’re written by people who have no financial stake whatsoever in your business. And the lack of bias that presumes is refreshing. It’s why we all turn to platforms like Yelp or read online reviews before we head to that restaurant for lunch or purchase that next gadget.
But what about the testimonials on your company’s website?
Those testimonials are only going to serve you if they meet certain criteria and are skillfully placed on your site. If they do and are, they’ll make a world of difference to your site’s conversions.
How to Boost Conversions With Website Testimonials
Here’s how to make that happen:
1. Know What Makes a Good Testimonial
Stellar testimonials contain these four essential elements:
- They offer specifics (think numbers, percentages, pain points, benefits, and outcomes).
- They use those details to tell a before-and-after story (“Thanks to Karen, we saw a 35% increase in revenue this year”; “After six months of working with Jabir, I’m no longer taking pain medications”).
- They raise and then dispel objections (“We had concerns about employee training; but the system took virtually no time to implement”).
- They look and sound authentic (i.e. they’re accompanied by the writer’s name, company, title, Gravatar, and social media handles).
2. Know Where to Look
It’s possible that some of the best “testimonials” you can offer didn’t begin as testimonials at all. Rather, they’re embedded in the correspondence you’ve had with customers over the years, or they’re scattered across the web. So it’s time to shift your assumption that a testimonial is only a testimonial if the writer intended it to be one.
Search your inbox for emails from your most loyal customers, or from those who benefit most from your business. Did they write about their transformation or their experience of your product or service? If so, extract those lines, write to your customer, and ask permission to use them.
There’s likely also a breadcrumb trail of testimonial material in comments customers have left on your company blog, on their own blogs, on public review sites, and on social media. There are many platforms out there that let you track mentions of your company on the web. Make use of these! Don’t let those exceptional comments about your company linger in the black hole of internet oblivion.
3. Know How to Ask
Once you’ve exhausted your virtual search, it may be time to make an ask. Here’s how:
- Send an email to your customers asking if they’d be willing to plug your business on a review site. Include links to those sites, and offer an example or two of a stellar testimonial. This gives customers a sense of what you’re looking for; but it also shows that others have already written for you. Customers will be all the more likely to jump on the review bandwagon thanks to this form of social proof.
- Put your customer satisfaction survey to a dual use. You’re already using one, right? Insert a checkbox into the survey that clients can check if they’re willing to have you excerpt their responses for testimonials.
- Ask your most longstanding customers if they’d write you “a testimonial.” There’s a perception that writing a testimonial is more labor-intensive than writing a review; so you may want to save this word for the customers you know are willing to put that kind of work in. Your long-term customers may even be willing to make a video testimonial for you. Gauge your ask based on the strength of your relationship.
- Give visitors the opportunity to submit a testimonial on your website. This could be as simple as placing a link on your homepage that says “How are we doing?” and leads to a submission form. Again, place an exemplary testimonial near that link: It sets the bar; it serves as social proof; and it makes that testimonial more believable.
- Initiate a “testimonial swap” with a business tangential to yours. This will be a business you’re already in a relationship of some kind with (perhaps you’re cross-referring clients, for example); so you know that business’ strengths, values, and accomplishments — and they know yours.
4. Know What to Ask
Remember the elements of a good testimonial: You’ll want to pose questions that ensure customers are giving you numbers, details, initial doubts, and narratives. Otherwise you’ll get a handful of testimonials about how “awesome” you are — and you probably are! — but nothing of substance to show your prospects. Questions bound to produce strong testimonials include:
- Did you have any hesitations about our offering; and what happened to those hesitations after you used our product or hired our service?
- What was the nature of the problem you had when you contacted our company; and how was that problem ultimately solved for you?
- What feature or benefit of our offering made you choose us above the competition? Had you tried other solutions before us?
- What specific outcomes or improvements have you experienced as a result of our product or service?
You get the picture. Pose your questions so that customers have no choice but to offer you the juicy details in response.
5. Strive for Variety
You’ve been on the internet long enough to know that prospects will be more compelled by moving images than they will by consecutive blocks of testimonial text. So give them some eye candy.
Video testimonials do wonders for conversions; so do images of any kind. Offer before-and-after shots of transformations you’ve actualized for your clients. Show your customers in their natural habitat, as they benefit from your product. Include company logos, audio, graphs, and graphics. Keep asking the question: How can I make the experience of consuming testimonials enjoyable for my prospect?
This is your think-outside-the-box moment. Have at it.
6. Keep a Dedicated Testimonials Page on your Site
This strategy will be particularly valuable if your product or service requires a heavy financial investment on your prospects’ parts. The more assurance your prospects will need, the more social proof you should have ready for them.
Consider offering a sorting feature so users can quickly locate the testimonials they’ll most resonate with. Include a CTA and an unmissable link to your product page or landing page. Remember, prospects may be clicking into your testimonials page for that last bit of positive reassurance. Many of them might make the decision to purchase while on that page. Don’t make it difficult for them to do so.
7. Place Testimonials at Friction Points
A friction point is any place on your website where a prospect is likely to feel resistant to converting. This means all CTA buttons. (Every call to action asks users to make the switch from passive consumers of information to active responders; resistance is strong there.) This also means your pricing page, your checkout page… and any page that involves a form.
Reminding prospects about the benefits of your offering at precisely these sites of resistance ultimately means less resistance.
8. Use Design to Draw Users’ Eyes to your Testimonials
What this means for your testimonials page is that you should give each testimonial the royal treatment it deserves. Use whitespace, images, or graphics to separate testimonials from each other, so that each has its own pride of place. No matter how good the praise is, no one is going to skim through a mass of continuous text to find the testimonials most relevant to them.
For those testimonials dispersed elsewhere on your site? The same rules apply. Whitespace, color, or surrounding images will draw visitors’ eyes to exactly the text you want them to see.
After all, a testimonial can only convert once it’s been seen and read.
It might be valuable for you to see some stellar testimonials in action; if so, check out these examples. And of course, testimonials are only one small (but significant!) element of your business website. Zoho Academy’s Roadmap to Your Best Business Website is packed with tips, tricks, recommendations, and best practices for whatever other elements you may be working through.
Photo via Shutterstock
This article, “Apply These 8 Secret Techniques to Turn Your Website Testimonials into Conversion Generators” was first published on Small Business Trends
Your FAQ exists for one purpose: to stand in for the human who would be present and available if your website was a brick-and-mortar shop. When done well, it clarifies concepts, dispels confusion, addresses concerns, reduces frustration, and — perhaps most importantly — removes your prospects’ obstacles to conversion. Ultimately, it means you’re fielding fewer calls and responding to fewer emails while seeing more sales.
How to Make a Great FAQ Page
Not a bad trade-off, right? And yet, that trade-off only happens when an FAQ is done well. Here’s what a great FAQ does:
1. It Takes the “F” in FAQ Seriously
“F” is the most important letter in that acronym… because it alerts you to precisely which questions you should include in your FAQ. What this excludes are: 1) The questions you prefer your prospects were asking; 2) The questions you cleverly concoct to create demand for your product; and 3) The questions about your product, service, or business that are most important to you.
So where do you find the inquiries your business most commonly gets? Here are some great starting places:
- your email correspondence
- your customer support tickets
- the employees who regularly interact with your prospects and customers (sales team, customer support team, front-of-house staff, etc)
- your social media pages
- the feedback form on your website
- customer surveys (maybe you even create a survey explicitly for customer assistance with your FAQ)
The most valuable questions you can include in your FAQ are already written by your prospects and customers. The good news? This means less work for you. The bad news? This means letting go of your opinion of what a “good” question is.
2. It Answers the Questions it would Rather not Answer
“Why is your service so expensive?” “Why’d you stop making my favorite product?” “Why don’t you offer a money-back guarantee?” Insert the question you don’t want to answer about your own business here.
So what about question you’d prefer not to answer?
Is it frequently asked?
Then answer it.
Here’s why: If you evade the negative or difficult questions, your visitors won’t simply decide they’re not important questions. Instead, they’ll turn to social media… and we don’t have to tell you that’s a goldmine of conjecture, misinformation, and erroneous answers.
Best to avoid that predicament. Instead, find a way to frame those questions in a positive light, and provide answers that are real, honest… and maybe even imbued with humor.
Discuss your product’s unique features, or describe its ethically-sourced ingredients or its careful production process, to explain why it costs more than your competitor’s product. Honestly state your geographical, material, or financial limitations — and then remind prospects what your business is capable of. Point toward a future where you hope to be able to offer the things they’re asking for. And so on.
Your prospects will see the integrity in your forthrightness; and you’ll only gain their trust when they see you’re willing to answer the more delicate questions.
3. It Sounds Human
This means a few things. It means using the same language your prospects and customers use to answer their questions (which means cutting the jargon). It means writing your FAQ as though it were a conversation taking place in real-time, in which the questions are posed in the first person (“What do I do if…?”) and the answers are written from the perspective of your business (“You should …”). It means considering how you speak to your prospects and customers in real time, and injecting that same personality into your answers. It means avoiding long-windedness.
Essentially, it means writing answers that sound like you. Record yourself speaking the answers, and/or read them aloud once you’ve written them. We think you’ll recognize the difference between what sounds authentically like you… and what doesn’t.
4. It’s a Breeze to Navigate
Straightforward, intuitive, seamless navigation means these things:
- Your FAQ is prominently placed on — or linked to from — your homepage, as well as every other page on your website,
- Its questions are logically categorized (by product, audience type, stage in the buyer’s journey, and so on), so that users know instinctively how to get to the question they have,
- The questions couched in each category are displayed from basic to more complex,
- You’ve set up your page architecture (jump links, hyperlinks, an accordion interface) so that users don’t have to scroll through every answer to get to the question relevant to them,
- You’ve enabled a search feature specific to your FAQs (separate from your site-wide search feature.)
5. It Goes Beyond Text-Based Answers
Video! Screenshots! Charts! Infographics! Your site visitors will love you for including these things in your FAQ.
Don’t restrict yourself — and your users — to text: Many of the questions you receive may be better answered through another medium. Where you have to explain a concept, describe a process, or detail instructions, consider your users’ states of mind. Would a visual communicate what you want to say better, faster, or with more clarity than a wordy description? If so, go that route. We’re a visual generation, after all, with a diminishing patience for words. Simply speaking, a multimedia FAQ means great UX.
6. It’s Always Thinking about Conversions
Your prospects know as well as you do that the primary reason your website exists is to convert leads to customers. This goes for your FAQ as well as any other page on your site.
What’s more, prospects are likely only reading your FAQ because they’re somewhere in the consideration stage. So give them the opportunity to take the next step — and keep in mind that the “next step” will depend upon the question they’re asking. If they’ve clicked into a question about one of your products, include links to its product page in your answer. If they’ve clicked into a question about your process or method, offer them a CTA to request a quote. And so on.
The challenge here is to think carefully about where in their journey a user is for each particular question… and then lead them to the logical next step.
7. It Invites Contacts and Feedback
Your FAQ isn’t all-inclusive; and there will be visitors who come to it with questions that it simply doesn’t cover.
Don’t leave those visitors hanging. Display your company’s contact details as conspicuously as possible — and give them as many options has you have (phone number, email, social media handles, maybe even a live chat feature). This way, users can contact you in the moment, while their questions are still front-of-mind and pressing. And they can choose the method of contact they’re most comfortable with.
What’s more, let your FAQ visitors tell you how useful your answers are. This may be as simple as asking “Was this answer helpful?” and offering “Yes” and “No” buttons for users to respond — though you might also offer them a form to input verbal feedback. The point is to show your users that you value their time, and that you’re willing to iterate to offer them the most valuable FAQ possible.
8. It’s Current
We’ll keep this one short: If your business is growing and evolving (and hopefully it is!), then your prospects’ and customers’ concerns are evolving with it. Your FAQ should always reflect the questions being frequently asked in this moment. This may mean removing questions that visitors are suddenly asking less frequently. And it certainly means introducing the new ones they’ve begun to ask.
9. It isn’t (Necessarily) “a Page”
Yep; we saved the surprise for our final point. If you’ve been imagining that your FAQ page must be a single, dedicated page that answers all your visitors’ questions in one place, we’re giving you permission here to imagine other options.
Remember that visitors are going to have questions about your business and its offering no matter what page of your website they’re on. So while a single, overarching FAQ page is a great idea, it may do your conversions good to include shorter, page-specific FAQs.
If you run an online shop, for instance, your checkout page might include an FAQ that answers questions specific to shipping, refunds, and returns policies. You might maintain separate FAQs for prospects and for current subscribers on separate landing pages. If your business offers diverse services, you might have an FAQ specific to each one. And so on.
The point is to get into your users’ heads and imagine the kinds of questions each page on your site will provoke.
Because if you can answer their questions before they lift a finger to click? That’s some exceptional UX.
So there you have it. If you want to see some FAQs in action, check out these three pretty stellar FAQ pages. And if you’re creating—or overhauling — not only your FAQ, but also other aspects of your website, Zoho Academy’s Roadmap to Your Best Business Website might be your new best friend. We’ve got recommendations and best practices on everything from homepages, to online shops, to testimonials, to CTA buttons… and more.
Photo via Shutterstock
This article, “9 Characteristics of an Awesome FAQ Page” was first published on Small Business Trends
According to the June 2018 ADP (NASDAQ:ADP) National Employment Report, private sector employment increased by 177,000 jobs for the month — but only 29,000 of those were at small businesses.
June 2018 ADP Small Business Report
This is a much lower number than the 47,000, 62,000, 38,000, and 38,000 jobs small businesses created in February, March, April and May respectively. With small businesses seen as one of the biggest drivers of the US economy, time will tell if this number means anything moving forward.
This is not to say the US economy is not doing well. After all, it is still producing numbers the envy of the rest of the world. And the number of jobs being created continues to exceed the expectation of economists.
The ADP National Employment Report is generated from the company’s payroll data along with the collaboration of Moody’s Analytics and the ADP Research Institute. The numbers are derived by measuring the change in the total nonfarm private employment each month on a seasonally-adjusted basis.
Across-the-board, service providing businesses generated the most jobs, about 148,000 of the 177,000 reported for the month. Of these, education and health services created 46,000 jobs, followed by health care and social assistance at 37,000. Meanwhile, professional and business services and leisure and hospitality created an equal number of jobs at 33,000.
Total U.S. Nonfarm Private Employment
This month the total number of jobs came out to 177,000, with medium-sized businesses employing 50 to 499 workers contributing the highest number of jobs with 80,000. Large businesses added another 69,000 and small businesses came up with 29,000 jobs.
The 29,000 jobs in the small business segment were divided between companies with 1 to 49 employees. Those with 1 to 19 employees produced more jobs this month at 16,000, with the remaining 13,000 coming from businesses with 20 to 49 employees.
June 2018 ADP National Franchise Report
Compared to the previous month, there was a 13,800 change in the number of jobs for June. Overall the franchise segment has been performing well over the last two years. According to ADP, it has been generating an average of 22,900 jobs.
Most of the franchise jobs come from restaurants followed by auto parts and dealers, and business services rounding up the top three.
The Job Numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics
While the ADP job number came up with 177,000 for the month of June, the BLS reported a much better number at 213,000 jobs. This number was better than the 195,000 economists predicted for the month.
The BLS also reported more Americans are entering the workforce and it revised the numbers for March and April higher by adding another 37,000 jobs.
More businesses are using social media in their marketing mix, and for some, it is the only platform they use. But how do you evaluate your return on investment or ROI when you decide to use social media marketing?
An infographic from MDG Advertising titled, “The ROI of Social Media” looks at the effectiveness of social media marketing and asks whether it is worth the investment.
Social Media ROI Statistics
In the report accompanying the infographic, the company writes, “It’s hard to see how much revenue a Facebook post has brought in, or whether a tweet has increased your bottom line. Instead of focusing on likes, shares, and followers, marketers must find meaningful data that reveals whether their content is working.”
According to MDG, 44% of businesses are not able to measure the impact of social media on their business, with only 20% saying they were able to quantify the success of the social media efforts. But it gets more convoluted as 36% stated they have a qualitative sense of the impact of social media without being able to translate it into solid figures.
Saying brands are struggling to quantify their social media ROI is an understatement. However, the problem also extends to marketing agencies as 28% also faced difficulties when determining the impact of social media efforts. Over half, or 55% of these agencies, say they can somewhat measure social media ROI, while only 17 percent say they can accurately quantify it.
Why is it so Challenging to Measure Social Media ROI?
The report says difficulties arise from the fact social media is still a relatively new marketing channel, making it hard to figure out its impact on revenue. Additionally, the report says businesses find it difficult to see how social media fits into the big picture.
When looking at social media impact, what exactly are marketers measuring? Seventy-three percent of businesses say they regularly track their social media efforts with limited analyzed metrics. And marketers are not looking at overall sales. Instead, they are focusing on likes, comments and other engagement statistics.
Essentially, the report says, “Conversion rate takes last priority, despite the firms’ financial investment in the social campaigns.”
Does Social Media Work?
The answer is yes, the report says, but quantifying how much it works is proving to be difficult. And according to marketers, there are several reasons for this.
Some of the top reasons include being unable to tie social media campaigns to business outcomes, lacking analytics expertise and resources, employing inadequate measurement tools and platforms, using inconsistent analytical approaches, relying on poor or unreliable data.
The infographic below has some additional data on some of the other challenges businesses face when trying to make sense of their social media ROI.
Infographic by MDG Advertising
Data from Statista says the North American fitness market had an estimated size of more than $28 billion in 2015, of which 90 percent was attributable to the United States. The U.S. brings in more fitness and health club revenue than anywhere else in the world and has the most active members too.
According to Joel Libava of TheFranchiseKing.com, there are more than 60 different fitness-related franchise opportunities to choose from, as he wrote in an SBA.gov article earlier this month.
If you’re exploring the franchise world, owning a franchise in fitness could be a profitable choice if it’s already your passion. And “fitfluential” customer service strategies might be a key ingredient to long-term success. The word “fitfluencer” is exactly what it sounds like: an influencer (or an influential brand) with a focus on fitness.
In a market as big as this, there’s adequate room for niche specialties, franchises, personal brands and there’s even overlap if you get creative on social. While relationships are important in any business, one-on-one encouragement stands out in fitness and, for small businesses, it can be the difference between having a long-term customer who advocates for your brand and a customer who doesn’t want to renew.
Small Business Trends connected with Shannon Hudson of 9Round kickboxing to get a better sense of the brand and its niche as a fitness franchise.
Shannon “The Cannon” Hudson, founder and CEO of 9Round Franchising, LLC, is the former IKF Light Middleweight Kickboxing Champion of the World. Hudson began martial arts at the age of seven and has continued training ever since, including with legendary boxing trainer Xavier Biggs. He has a 5th degree Black Belt in Japanese Shotokan Karate and a 4th Degree Black Belt under Joe Lewis’s Fighting System JLFS.
After over 70 bouts inside the ring, competing in Canada and Europe, Hudson could not find a place where the average person could learn the training secrets of pro fighters. So, the vision for 9Round was born. Hudson decided to transform the grueling boxing and kickboxing workouts of the pros into a non-intimidating, convenient circuit workout format the average person could enjoy. Now, 10 years later, 9Round has more than 700 locations worldwide. Hudson is still fully involved in the day-to-day operations of the business and constantly works to bring the best support to 9Round franchisees and the best workout experience to 9Round members.
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Small Business Trends: How have fitfluencers and social media affecting the fitness industry?
Shannon Hudson: Both have helped the fitness industry grow by deepening the way we communicate with our audiences. We are now able to continually encourage and guide our community towards their goals both inside and outside of the club. This strengthens our relationships and allows members to see results at a faster pace. In addition, fitfluencers are providing authenticity and widening our audience reach by communicating real results and interacting with followers on their own social channels.
Small Business Trends: What makes a fitness franchise successful?
Shannon Hudson: There are two key elements to making a fitness franchise successful. One is motivation. It’s important our franchise owners are joining 9Round for the right reasons. Our owners must be motivated by their passion for fitness and not just seeking monetary reward. We want our owners to be able to share their health and fitness interests with the community, as well as dedicate their business to helping members reach their goals. Second is relationships. At 9Round, we focus on selling relationships, not just a gym membership, so it’s important our franchise owners love people and see the value in building strong relationships. By interacting with members on a personal level, 9Round sets itself apart from traditional gyms and allows owners to be fully invested in their business.
Small Business Trends: How do your national franchisees differ from your international ones? With over 700 locations worldwide, I assume there are differences.
Shannon Hudson: Typically, 9Round remains exactly the same no matter the country because the workout and business model are easy to adapt. The only subtle differences that may occur would be a result of a cultural or climate difference. For example, in the US, our clubs have a smaller footprint including the workout space, an administrative area, and a bathroom; in the Middle East, locker rooms for changing and showering are required. In Japan, since there is not an obesity concern, like there is here in the US, the program is marketed as a “30 Minute Stress Buster,” rather than for weight loss.
We anticipate small adjustments, like the ones mentioned above, to continue to be adaptations we will have to make as we expand to cultures that differ from our own. However, we plan to remain true to our core product and will not alter that, as it makes sense in every international market we enter.
Small Business Trends: If someone is interested in joining the 9Round franchise family, what are some initial things they should be aware of?
Shannon Hudson: 9Round franchises are a popular investment due to the low startup cost and winning fitness concept. The average total investment is between $91,600 and $133,200, compared to traditional gyms, which typically require expensive equipment, such as treadmills and weight machines. In addition, 9Round only requires a max of four-five employees and operates in a low rent space of 1500 square feet. 9Round appeals to young professionals, fitness enthusiasts, parents and anyone looking for a fast and effective workout. 9Round eliminates class times and time constraints, allowing members to walk into the club whenever they find time and engage in a full-body workout in just 30 minutes.
Images: 9Round Franchising