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10 Small Business Apps, Services And Tech Platforms Every Entrepreneur Should Know About

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If you want to know the best place to keep up with technology for your business, follow my weekly tech roundups for entrepreneurs each week. You’ll learn because I’m always learning.

So what have I learned? Businesses that invest in the right technologies are assuring future growth and success.  I’ve also learned that there are a few apps, services and technologies – about ten categories in all – that are critical for small businesses in 2019. So in honor of National Small Business Week, I thought it would be helpful to share.

Customer Relationship Management

Don’t be fooled by CRM. People like to complicate this stuff and it’s not that complicated. It’s just a database of every person and company who you do business with – from prospects and customers to vendors, suppliers and partners. A great CRM system will integrate with your email and calendars and ensure that nothing falls the cracks and everyone in your company is sharing the right information. It will be mobile, include workflows and automation and integrates with tons of other great apps to do marketing and other functions. If implemented the right way (which is easier said than done) it will be an instrumental asset to your organization. There are many great CRMs for small businesses. I recommend looking at Salesforce.comMicrosoft Dynamics and Zoho CRM.

Managed Service Providers

If your inventory, order entry or other business critical application is older or located on your internal server you need to move it out of your office and into the hands of a managed service provider. Well-managed service providers will ensure that your data is secured as best possible and will likely have better security tools that you have internally. Your applications can be accessed by your team from anywhere and on any device. Many of them rely on public cloud services from Amazon, Google and Microsoft and that’s fine. With internet speeds hitting 5G, a well-managed service provider will deliver the performance, reliability and accessibility of your data at a cost that makes sense. Recommended providers include Right NetworksCloudJumper or any number of information technology firms.

Cloud Accounting

If your accounting application is located on your server, it won’t be for long. That’s because most accounting vendors are moving quickly to the cloud. It makes sense for them, and for you. You pay a monthly fee and they get a revenue stream. In return, the software provider can provide faster support, upgrades and technical services. Cloud applications are also much easier to integrate with each other. Today’s cloud accounting apps provide the added benefit of doing invoicing, cash receipts or retrieving reports from any device, anywhere. It’s a crowded field of cloud accounting options so do your due diligence and lean towards good companies with big communities. I see QuickBooks OnlineXero, and FreshBooks being used often by business owners.

Back in the day, there wasn’t much you could do with a scanned invoice or document other than file it away. But with today’s Optical Character Recognition technology there’s a growing crop of applications that can extract data from any scanned document – from vendor invoices to airline receipts – and put it in a format so that someone in your office can easily review and then import into most popular accounting applications. This saves time, improves accuracy and cuts overhead. Recommended applications: Bill.com, EntryLessExpensify.

Human Resources

HR platforms are exploding and, in my opinion, any company with more than five employees should have one. Why? Because they’re affordable and with a good HR platform your employees will be able to – usually through a mobile app – track payroll, update forms, schedule vacation, alert for sick days and even manage their performance reviews. The more your employees use the application, the less administrative time will be needed by your office staff – and that means less overhead and more productivity. Check out: PaychexGusto and BambooHR.

Office Collaboration

Back in the day, there were telephone calls, instant messaging, text messaging, emailing and lots and lots of yelling. Yes, we’re still yelling. But the good news is that today’s office applications have brought all those other things together under one umbrella so that your employees can conduct their communication, document management and collaboration activities – including video calls, file storage and sharing, messaging as well as alerting and reminders – from any device and wherever they are. Not only that, but today’s collaboration and communication systems have powerful searching tools to find old conversations and exchanges. The systems can even be configured for outsiders to access too. Applications that focus on collaboration include Microsoft Office 365Google G-SuiteBox.

Virtual Phones

Our company, like many small businesses, uses contractors and employees who frequently work out of the office. The thought of maintaining an on-premise phone system seems expensive…because it is. That’s why, for the past ten years, we’ve been using a virtual phone service. Our service provides a toll-free number, dial by name directory, voicemail for all users including transcription and archive recordings and…well, you get it: a total phone system (even hardware) that makes my small business look like a big business. I pay by the mailbox (about $12 per month) and love it. Recommended applications: GrasshopperVirtualPBX and Ooma.

E-Commerce and Payment

If you’re in retail then please pay attention to this word: convergence. It means getting a point of sale system that not only works in your store but works online too. That’s because you want to sell your products both from your store and over the web because that’s what successful retailers are doing to thrive. The best point of sale systems not only use tablets (a must for good customer service) and integrate with popular payment services, but they also provide the ability of setting up an ecommerce site that relies on the very same database you’re using in-store. Recommended applications: Paypal, SquareShopify, Magento.

Yeah, yeah, I’m leaving some stuff out. Like email apps (but don’t we all have them by now?) and project management solutions such as Basecamp and Asana.

Cloud Storage

There was once a time when everyone in my company would be saving multiple versions of multiple documents and spreadsheets on their laptops, desktops and our servers. That…was a mess. But not today. Today, we all save to a cloud storage service which synchronizes the files (that we choose) to our respective devices. Everything is updated and I no longer fear what happens if someone leaves their device on the subway. To me, a business without a cloud storage service is a business that’s losing money. Applications that focus on this space: Dropbox, Microsoft OneDriveGoogle Drive.

Security

Ransomware has become a billion-dollar business and that makes sense: it’s finally a way for clever hackers to actually make money with their malware. We read about the stories of hotels, transit systems and city governments brought to their knees by security breaches like this, but we don’t hear of the thousands of small businesses that are also affected. To protect yourself you need to use a good cloud backup service, keep your operating systems updated and use a good security application in your company.  Recommended applications: Carbonite (for backup), Malware Bytes,Barracuda.

What else am I missing? You tell me and maybe I can expand this list in a future column.  In the meantime, take a moment to review the techs, services and apps you’re using in your business. Have you got all the bases covered?

Author’s Note: I have not been compensated by any of the companies listed above to be mentioned in this article. 

 

Gene Marks owns The Marks Group PC, a 10-person technology consulting firm and is also a small business expert, speaker and columnist at other major outlets.

I was a former senior manager at KPMG and since 1994 the owner of the Marks Group PC, a 10-person customer relationship management consulting firm based outside Philadel

 

Source: 10 Small Business Apps, Services And Tech Platforms Every Entrepreneur Should Know About

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Which Company Could Be The Next Permian Basin Acquisition Target?

Following the news that Chevron had agreed to pay a nearly 40% premium to acquire Anadarko Petroleum, investors quickly bid up the shares of other potential acquisition targets.

As I argued in the previous article, I believe the Permian was the key to the Anadarko acquisition, but there are plenty of other targets in the region. There are also several companies with the capability of making acquisitions.

In recent years, the few mergers and acquisitions in the oil and gas industry have been largely focused on the Permian Basin. The supermajor integrated oil and gas companies have been increasingly making forays into the Permian.

In addition to Chevron’s new acquisition, in 2017 ExxonMobil paid $6.6 billion to acquire Permian acreage from the Bass family of Fort Worth, Texas. ExxonMobil also spent $41 billion in 2009 to acquire XTO, which has a major presence in the Permian.

Permian Players

Today major acreage holders in the Permian Basin include the supermajors Chevron and ExxonMobil, as well as Occidental, Apache and Concho Resources. Occidental, in fact, reportedly attempted to acquire Anadarko prior to Chevron sealing the deal. But Occidental may now find itself in the crosshairs of a bigger player looking to shore up their Permian portfolio.

But there are many other major producers in the region, including ConocoPhillips, EOG Resources, Pioneer Natural Resources, Noble Energy, Devon Energy, and Diamondback Energy. Smaller producers in the region include WPX Energy, Parsley Energy, Cimarex Energy, Callon Petroleum, Centennial Resource Development, Jagged Peak Energy and Laredo Petroleum.

Let’s first take a look at the largest companies operating in the Permian according to enterprise value. This metric is preferred over market capitalization, because it includes a company’s debt. In the case of a potential acquisition, the acquiring company would be responsible for this debt in addition to the purchase price. Hence, it is a more comprehensive representation of a company’s market value.

I have included the integrated supermajors that could have the ability to make major acquisitions, three of the larger exploration and production companies (which could make an acquisition or be a target themselves), and Anadarko for comparison. All data were retrieved from the S&P Capital IQ database.

Metrics for major oil companies operating in the Permian Basin.

Metrics for major oil companies operating in the Permian Basin.

Robert Rapier

  • EV – Enterprise value at the close on April 12, 2019 in billions of U.S. dollars
  • EBITDA – TTM earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization in billions of U.S. dollars
  • TTM – Trailing 12 months
  • FCF – Free cash flow in billions of U.S. dollars
  • Debt – Net debt at the end of the previous fiscal quarter
  • 2018 Res – Total proved oil and gas reserves in billion barrels of oil equivalent at year-end 2018
  • EV/Res – The value of the company divided by its proved reserves

Potential Buyers

Based on their size and debt metrics, ExxonMobil and Chevron still appear to be the most capable of pulling off a major deal. Shell has been moving in the direction of becoming a natural gas company, and has already made major capital expenditures in this area in recent years. Further, in 2016 they made their own major acquisition — a $70 billion deal for BG Group.  Meanwhile, Total hasn’t shown much interest in the Permian.

BP may not have an appetite for an acquisition as it continues to be weighed down by its obligations from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. As an aside, the continued fallout from that disaster has also resulted in BP having the cheapest reserves on the books by far of any company listed in the table. Also note that the EV/Res metric for integrated supermajors isn’t directly comparable to pure oil producers like Anadarko, as the former also have midstream and refining assets.

ConocoPhillips appears to be the most attractive target for an acquisition from a pure valuation perspective, but as the largest pure oil company it would be a large bite for even ExxonMobil. With respect to making an acquisition, ConocoPhillips CEO Ryan Lance stated earlier this year that the company isn’t feeling any pressure to do so.

Occidental also falls into the category of potentially making an acquisition or of being acquired. On a relative basis, they are more expensive than ConocoPhillips, but on an absolute basis the price would be more manageable.

What about smaller players like Parsley, WPX Energy, or Cimarex Energy? Based on the price movement following the announcement of the Chevron-Anadarko deal, investors are clearly betting that more deals will follow. Below are some of the metrics of potential acquisition targets (with Anadarko for comparison), including some of the large players listed in the previous table:

Metrics for smaller oil companies operating in the Permian Basin.

Metrics for smaller oil companies operating in the Permian Basin.

Robert Rapier

  • 1-Day Change – Change in share price on April 12, 2019, the day the Chevron-Anadarko deal was announced

Note that the double-digit gains of both Pioneer Natural Resources and Parley Energy imply that investors believe they could be next on the acquisition list. Parsley looks attractively priced according to its enterprise value and total reserves. Several other companies stand out, such as Devon Energy and Cimarex, although all of these companies outspent their cash flow in 2018. An acquisition by one of the larger players could give them the efficiencies and economies of scale to rectify that.

Another name on the list that stands out is Diamondback Energy, which has long been one of my favorite Permian Basin oil companies. Diamondback has been an outstanding performer in recent years, but now looks to be the most richly valued according to several metrics following its 2018 acquisition of Energen.

The biggest challenge with the smaller players is that they may not have enough reserves to really move the profit needle for the biggest players. Laredo Petroleum’s 200+ million barrels of oil and gas reserves might not be sufficiently appealing to ExxonMobil, which had 24 billion barrels of reserves at the end of 2018. But it could be appealing to a company like EOG Resources, which closed the year with 2.8 billion barrels of reserves.

Ultimately, price and valuation are only part of the equation. Anadarko wasn’t the cheapest acquisition target for Chevron, but Chevron liked the synergies of Anadarko’s locations. Thus, every major operator in the Permian is more likely to acquire companies whose properties are adjacent to their own. A deeper dive thus becomes an exercise in not only value, but in studying maps of the Permian producers — large and small.

Robert Rapier has over 25 years of experience in the energy industry as an engineer and an investor. Follow him on Twitter @rrapier or at Investing Daily.

Robert Rapier is a chemical engineer in the energy industry. Robert has 25 years of international engineering experience in the chemicals, oil and gas, and renewable ene…

Source: Which Company Could Be The Next Permian Basin Acquisition Target?

Reclusive Millionaire Warns: “Get Out of Cash Now”

Something strange is going on in the financial system. And according to The Financial Times, it’s about to send a massive flood of cash into the pockets of the most prepared Americans. What exactly is going on and what does it mean for your money? I recently met up with former hedge fund manager, Dr. Steve Sjuggerud — one of the most widely-followed financial analysts in the world. Today, he shuns the spotlight and lives on a remote island off the Florida coast. And he’s built a new life… and a substantial fortune… by sharing a series of eerie predictions. Many of which have proven correct…….

Source: Investing Outlook

Apply These 10 Cool Techniques to Increase Sales and Marketing ROI for your Small Business

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There isn’t just one correct way for small businesses to make sales. You can use social media, content marketing, or even good old fashioned phone calls. No matter what tactics you use, it’s important to have a plan and a way to measure results. Here are some techniques suggested by members of the online small business community for increasing sales and marketing ROI.

Uncover Your Best LinkedIn Prospects

If you use LinkedIn for sales, then you need to know how to uncover the most relevant prospects on the platform. A recent Social Media Examiner post by Josh Turner features tips to help you use LinkedIn’s Advanced People Search to find results and make more sales.

Take Advantage of This New Google My Business Feature

Google offers plenty of tools to help your local business get found. But if you ultimately want to get those customers on the phone so you can make sales, a new “call now” button on Google My Business could be another great solution. Learn more in a recent Search Engine Journal post by Matt Southern.

Quantify Marketing ROI with These Metrics

In order to determine which marketing and sales activities are worth your time and investment, you need a way to quantify ROI. In this Startup Professionals Musings post by Martin Zwilling, you can see some of the top demand generation methods to help you make those important decisions. Then you can see what BizSugar members have to say as well.

Automate Your Sales with Chatbots

AI offers plenty of opportunity for small businesses to automate processes. Chatbots in particular can help you make more sales by answering common questions quickly and concisely. In a recent CorpNet post, Samantha Engman outlines some of the chatbots with the best ROI for businesses.

Use These Marketing Tips to Increase Back to School Sales

Back to school season offers plenty of opportunities for some businesses to really increase their sales. But you need to have a solid marketing plan in place early. To kick off the season right, check out the tips in a recent Biz Epic post by Chad Stewart.

Don’t Waste Time Creating Content That’s Too In-Depth

Content marketing can help you reach more customers and potentially make more sales. And in-depth content has an even better chance of getting you noticed. However, there comes a point where your time spent creating content might not be worth it, as Neil Patel discusses in a recent post.

Build Your Own Customer Support with Wix Answers

Customer service is absolutely essential to any effective sales strategy. And setting up a process for answering customers quickly online doesn’t have to be difficult. In a recent Smallbiztechnology.com post, Ramon Ray details how you can use Wix Answers to provide customer support.

Value These Successful Business Traits

Whether you’re looking to increase sales, build a team or complete any other important business tasks, you need to have strong instincts and leadership traits. In a recent post, Takis Athanassiou outlines some of the most important traits successful businesses have in common. You can also check out the commentary from members of the BizSugar community here.

Rally Around ROI and Prioritize Your Marketing Efforts

At some point in running your business, you might have to make budget cuts or prioritize certain tasks over others. In those cases, it’s important to keep ROI in mind. A recent TopRank Marketing post by Alexis Hall goes into some of the ways you can make the most of your marketing budget.

Don’t Believe These Myths Keeping You from Winning on Amazon

If you’re looking to increase sales on Amazon, you could have some long-held beliefs holding you back. You can read about some of those myths and learn the truth about succeeding with the online retail giant in a recent Marketing Land post by Andrew Waber.

Your kindly Donations would be so effective in order to fulfill our future research and endeavors – Thank you

22 Facebook Marketing Tips for Small Businesses on a Budget – Lisa Smith

Image result for 22 Facebook Marketing Tips for Small Businesses on a Budget
Via: http://acceleratedgrowthmarketing.com

As Facebook seeks to deliver the content its users will enjoy most and find most relevant, organic reach has been on the decline. In fact, some say it is downright dead.

This presents a particular challenge for small businesses: You don’t have the same budgets as bigger advertisers to pour into paid posts to compensate.

“The harsh reality of Facebook today is that only about 1 out of 50 people who are already fans of your page will see any single post you make on your Facebook business page,” said Sam Underwood, director of business strategy at digital agency Futurety. “Long gone are the days of posting and knowing that many, if not most, of your fans will see that content.”

But fear not small businesses—there is hope. Here are 22 tips for how to find the right audience and offer up content and experiences they’ll value, even with a limited budget.

1. Post with intent.

According to Christina Hager, head of social media strategy and distribution at media company Overflow Storytelling Lab, small businesses need to be more mindful of how they communicate with their audiences.

You can’t just throw things onto Facebook and hope someone sees them,” she said. “You need to post with intention and then decide what you are going to do with that post”—in other words, whether you are going to boost it with budget.

To do so, Vicki Anzmann, chief creative officer at marketing agency Creativation Marketing, said to use Facebook Insights to help determine a good posting rhythm and content mix.

2. Try to blend in.

“Find ways to convey your brand by being funny, out-of-the-box, informational or unique,” said Eric Johnson, SEO specialist and digital marketer at web design, SEO and marketing firm FeedbackWrench. “Do that, and you’ll be sure to reach a large crowd on Facebook.”

Look at grocery chain Meijer.

image: https://cdn.business2community.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/bad-facebook-ad-for-small-business-622×900.jpg

facebook ad for small businessPer Johnson, this post shows below average results because both the design element and the copy strongly suggest a promotional angle.

“When coupled with a link to buy the product, Facebook’s algorithm was likely able to easily determine the overtly promotional approach that this post took on,” he said. “Due to this, the post was, overall, a failed effort.”

Meijer’s other sunscreen post, however, had more than 15 times the interaction because it exists purely for the entertainment value of reminiscing.

image: https://cdn.business2community.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/facebook-ad-tips-for-small-businesses.jpg

native facebook ad“Since there was no overtly promotional angle here, the post reached a much larger audience and garnered tons of engagements that got the Meijer brand noticed a lot more effectively than a direct sales approach,” Johnson added.

3. Don’t post without a content calendar.

In order to plan effectively, implement a content calendar.

image: https://cdn.business2community.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/facebook-content-calendar-600×401.jpg

content calendar for facebook marketing

Via Falcon.io

“A content calendar is the most effective way to maximize your efforts while minimizing the time spent on Facebook marketing,” said Dan Towers, senior manager of digital marketing at marketing and advertising firm Arcane.

“You can plan out content at one time and by using a scheduling program, like Buffer or Sprout Social, you are able set it and forget it,” he added. “But don’t actually forget it—still monitor your posts and focus on community management. Your customers will appreciate it.”

4. Optimize your profile page.

Because tabs serve as the navigation bar for your Facebook business page, it is important to make sure they are well organized and improve the audience’s ability to find information. By optimizing tabs, restructuring their hierarchy and including or removing important tabs, you provide the user with a smoother experience, said Mackenzie Maher, social media account manager at digital marketing agency Power Digital Marketing.

“If you are a service-based business, make sure your review tab is turned on. If you add tabs that link to your other social pages, make sure these are all grouped together. If you’re promoting an event or hiring for a new position, make sure these tabs are also turned on and advertise your information here,” she said.

 

facebook business page tabs

Via HubSpot

“It is simple, yet seemingly obvious tweaks like these that are often overlooked but can make or break the user’s experience. They should never have to look that hard to find the information they need.”

5. Establish a community page.

Ben Taylor, founder of freelance advice portal HomeWorkingClub.com, said community pages tend to give more organic reach than commercial business pages on Facebook.

“If you make the page invitation-only it makes customers feel special and is a good place to maintain relationships with them, one on one,” he added.

Taylor said he got the idea from the NicheHacks private mastermind group, which discusses affiliate marketing, and then set up his own advice group for HomeWorkingClub.com, which gains about 25 to 40 new members per week.

image: https://cdn.business2community.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/facebook-community-for-small-business.jpg

how to start a facebook community“When people sign up to my email list, they’re invited to join the group,” he said.

6. Create a Facebook group.

Maria Mora, content director at digital marketing agency Big Sea, said to create a Facebook Group, not for promotional purposes, but to allow for an exchange of information related to a given business.

“For example, if you sell essential oils, you can create a Facebook group specifically about pet owners trying aromatherapy,” she said. “The key is to find a niche within your customers’ interests and give them a space to connect. As that group grows, you can sparingly share your content, such as relevant articles or whitepapers.”

She pointed to the Ethical Aromatherapy group, which is moderated by essential oil retailer Stillpoint Aromatics, and has more than 13,000 members. Mora said it was created as a resource for consumers to discuss where essential oils are sourced and how to use them safely and it grew organically through members inviting their friends.

However, she warned not to use the group to promote sales or calls to action. The Ethical Aromatherapy page, for example, allows discussion and recommendation of other essential oil importers.

7. Be strategic about your group name.

When creating a group, marketing consultant Ron Stefanski recommended naming it after something people will actually search for in Facebook to increase the odds users will find it. He used this tactic when creating a Facebook group for his website, BengalCatClub.com, which has since gained over 10,000 followers.

“I personally think this tactic could work for any business in any area/industry—Facebook groups do really well to further the awareness of the brand,” he said. “I feel like it’s a good idea that most people aren’t using.”

8. Keep adding to your Facebook story.

According to Bernie Clark, founder of digital marketing and advertising agency Majux Marketing, Facebook Stories make posting often to Facebook much more casual.

“Stories don’t even necessarily have to pertain to company-specific news, they could be anything from fun questions to interesting links, anything to keep your audience engaged and cause a higher likelihood for a click on your profile,” he said.

image: https://cdn.business2community.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/facebook-stories-tips-for-small-businesses-600×487.jpg

small business facebook stories marketingNedelina Payaneva, digital marketing specialist at translation services firm Asian Absolute agreed, adding Facebook Stories don’t require slick production value either.

“This type of content has a casual, on-the-go feel,” she said. “Users feel like they are behind the scenes and that works. Similarly, Live feeds are increasing in popularity. From makeup tutorials to studio tours, brands can go live and interact with fans. These can be saved and shared, and have value on the replay side, too.”

9. Don’t obsess over vanity metrics.

Per Tommy Baykov, marketing manager at WordPress hosting services WPX Hosting, small businesses tend to have more limited marketing budgets, which is why they should focus on the things that make a difference to their bottom lines—and not the ones that make them temporarily feel good, like likes.

image: https://cdn.business2community.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/facebook-ads-average-click-through-rate-graphic-600×520.png

“Depending on your business and strategy, CTR, 50% video views [and] messages received are just some of the much more meaningful and actionable metrics,” he added.

10. Use Facebook for customer service.

Rafi Bitchakdjian, head of social media at marketing firm Cue Marketing, said smaller brands can lean on Facebook to help them deal with any customer service issues that arise much as corporations use bots to communicate with clients online.

“Audiences expect replies within minutes and Facebook is the ideal on-the-go platform to use when wanting to solve an issue or even just thank a customer for their positive review,” he said.

11. Post with a (small) budget.

Underwood recommends adding a paid budget—even a small one—to ensure reach.

“Try experimenting with different types of content, messaging, imagery and times of day, and use Facebook’s built-in A/B testing system to see what can help stretch your ad dollars to the max,” he said. “Posting without a paid budget is now officially a waste of time—you’re much better off posting just occasionally with a small budget to ensure that content gets in front of your valuable customers and prospects.”

Underwood said one national restaurant chain client has a per-post reach of 1.06% of its total likes on Facebook over the past several weeks—and another Midwest-based food client has seen its per-post reach drop to less than 7% in the last several weeks.

“Both of these are representative of what we’re seeing across all of our client pages recently,” he added.

Keri Lindenmuth, marketing manager at web design and software development firm KDG, agreed Facebook ads are effective because they allow you to custom-tailor the audience by location, age and more.

Recommended for YouWebcast, August 9th: Improving B2B Paid Marketing Campaign Effectiveness Through Pipeline Measurement

“Sometimes it is best if these ads look and sound no different than a regular Facebook post,” she added. “We have found that promoted video and image posts work best.”

12. Narrow your audience.

George Schildge, CEO of digital marketing agency Matrix Marketing Group, said the objective is to narrow down audiences and test to see which will produce the most results for a given objective.

“Think about it as if we were running TV ads and testing in different cities,” he said.

So, for example, for small batch coffee roaster EspressoLuv.com, he narrowed down Facebook users to those who like roaster Blue Bottle Coffee. From there, he can research what else these demographics like.

facebook targeting strategies small business“I’ll do this until I have about 30 other pages to begin narrowing my target audience before I start testing my ad creative,” Schildge added.

13. Consider boosted posts.

Per Greg Bullock, marketing manager at migraine relief company TheraSpecs, Facebook’s boost post feature allows users to expand the audience for their posts exponentially and target highly engaged and relevant prospects—with very little budget.

“Not only can it help you recoup lost organic reach from ongoing algorithmic changes, but it can increase visibility that ultimately generates traffic to your content and/or purchases for your product or service,” he said. “In fact, we have seen our most popular posts generate thousands of clicks for literally two or three pennies per click.”

And while Bullock noted there is tremendous value to setting up a larger campaign in Ads Manager, “sometimes you really only want a few clicks to get going. With boosted posts, you just set your target audience, your budget and you’re off and running.”

He pointed to this boosted post from TheraSpecs, which received nearly 1600 paid clicks at $0.02 per click.

facebook boosted postsTommy Burns, marketing specialist at digital agency Bluehouse Group, however, warned that small businesses have to be even more careful about how they spend their budgets and boosted posts have less targeting, bidding and pricing options.

“Ultimately, that means you’re getting less bang for your buck on each advertisement placement,” he said. “Small businesses use boosted posts because they’re quick and they’re busy. Unfortunately, they are giving up control over the advertisements their audience sees.”

14. Use boosted posts to optimize ads.

For his part, Kevin Namaky, founder of marketing education company Gurulocity, suggested using Facebook ads and boosted posts in sequence.

By creating two ads and giving both a small boost of around $50 to drive initial engagement, small businesses can see which ad generates the most engagement, such as likes, shares and comments. Then, Namaky said, advertisers can create a Facebook ad in Ads Manager with their conversion goal, but instead of recreating the ad, they can reuse the exact boosted post as their creative, complete with likes and shares already on the post.

“This will help your ad convert better than if you ran a new cold piece of creative with no likes or shares on it to begin with,” he added.

To run the exact same post with the social proof, go to your business page, scroll to find the boosted post and click on the date and time at the top of the post. The URL has a unique post number, which you can copy and paste when creating the ad by clicking on ‘use existing post’ and entering the ID under Creative,” Namaky added.

15. Learn how to use Facebook’s Power Editor tool.

If you’re serious about Facebook advertising, Burns suggested learning Facebook’s Power Editor tool to promote posts.

“It allows you to set up A/B test campaigns, create custom audiences based on conversion pixels and use advanced bidding models,” he said.

16. Use Facebook’s product catalog ads.

Kevin Simonson, CEO of performance marketing agency Metric Digital, called not using Facebook’s product catalog ads a “wasted opportunity.”

“This template is a surefire way to create a rich browsing experience for shoppers, encouraging greater product discovery and engagement,” he said. “It’s also the perfect tool for implementing dynamic retargeting. Not to mention, it allows you to connect an existing catalog from another platform, such as Google.”

One ecommerce client saw sales from Facebook remarketing increase by about 300% after implementing Facebook’s product catalog.

“Their ROAS went from 600 to 3000% and their CPA dropped from $45 to $9,” he added.

17. Structure your pixel strategically.

Scott Selenow, president of marketing agency Immerse Agency, said the Facebook pixel collects data about who is visiting your website and allows you to retarget those consumers later.

Facebook also has a lookalike feature, which allows you to target people who have similar online habits as your site visitors.

“The next ad campaign you set up can be all that more successful if you are able to specifically target folks you know have a propensity to interact with your campaign,” he said. “This pixel can help you maximize that intelligent targeting.”

However, if your Facebook pixel is poorly executed, you’ll lose because you’re not getting the data you need, Simonson added.

Facebook conversion tracking Time Spent on Site audience“Smart brands do everything it takes to make conversion tracking, optimization and remarketing easier. Pixel is the perfect tool for doing so,” he said. “It’s what helps you find new customers who are similar to your website visitors. And, shockingly, many of the companies we audit don’t have it set up.”

A small business client was able to turn Facebook into a channel that drove eight figures in spend, which is more than any of its other paid channels.

“Without having their pixel in order, that never would have happened,” Simonson added.

18. Use Facebook Custom Audiences to retarget users who have watched your videos.

Per Andrew Schutt, founder of internet marketing firm Elevated Web Marketing, one of the most consistently effective strategies is using video ads to retarget warm audiences.

“One of the great things about the Facebook Ads Manager is the ability to create custom audiences for your ads based on how long people watch your videos,” he said. “For example, a dentist might run a video advertisement to a cold audience talking about how important teeth cleanings are. After the teeth cleaning video has been running for a few days, we could then set up a retargeting ad that offers a discounted teeth cleaning to new patients.”

But, Schutt said, that dentist can choose to show the ad only to people who have watched over 50% of the teeth cleaning video.

“That way, we know they’re interested in teeth cleanings already, so our ad is going to be much more relevant and effective,” he added. “Whereas if we were to just serve that discount teeth cleaning ad to a cold audience, the engagement rate on the offer would be much lower.”

Schutt said he’s used this strategy with a solar panel installation company and a chiropractor to help generate leads.

“What makes this strategy so effective is that we only show that free offer to people who watched over 75% of the first video. So we know they’re interested in the benefits of chiropractic—we’ve already prequalified them, to a degree,” he said. “In a single week, with minimal ad spend, we generated 18 leads for [a] free [chiropractic adjustment].”

19. Create saved audiences.

Unlike Custom Audiences, Saved Audiences are those you configure through the standard Facebook Ads targeting options. But instead of configuring your audience each time you create an ad or want to boost a post, you can create saved audiences that you can use each time you start an ad campaign, said Chris Smith, co-founder of digital marketing and sales coaching company Curaytor.

 

facebook saved audience

Via Udonis

“This is a great option to use if you plan on targeting similar audiences each time you create specific ads or boost posts from your page,” he said. “Especially when you start creating ads in mass quantity and boost posts regularly, it will save you a lot of time and money.”

20. Test different bidding strategies.

Stacy Caprio, founder of marketing firm Accelerated Growth Marketing, said her #1 tip is to test different bidding strategies, including amount of bid and type.

“You can create four or five different ad groups for an identical ad with different bid amounts and types, let it run for a week or two, then kill off the underperforming ad sets and let the best bid results continue to run,” she said.

In addition, Simonson said Metric Digital has audited more than 1000 small businesses since 2013 and has noticed some companies use conversion bidding, but don’t have enough events tracked to optimize.

“Facebook insists that an ad set needs to generate 15 to 25 conversions per week at minimum to provide enough data to be successful,” he said. “Now, this could be difficult to reach if your company has just started advertising and your budget is small. In our audits, we will often see conversion bidding used on ad sets that are getting far less than this number of conversions. Meaning, if your ad sets can’t hit 25 purchases per week, you can try setting your conversion event to add-to-carts, or another event closer to the top of the funnel.”

21. Don’t forget to test ad placements.

Try both the Newsfeed and right-hand-side ads to see what performs best. That’s according to Namrata Arya, head of digital marketing for domain portfolio registry Radix, who added, “The right-hand side ads, while cheaper than newsfeed ads, may not get you the desired amount of clicks or conversions.”

22. Capitalize on link retargeting.

If you’re using Facebook retargeting ads to boost conversions and attract visitors to your website, you should use link retargeting, too. That’s according to Louisa McGrath, content manager at link management tool Rebrandly, who said this allows you to build out your retargeting lists and reach audiences that haven’t visited your website before, but which have been influenced by your brand on social media.

“Basically link retargeting allows you to add Facebook retargeting pixels to your short link when sharing curated content. Anyone who clicks on this content can be retargeted with relevant ads,” she said. “So you can retarget people who’ve clicked on media coverage, reviews or industry news related to your business, even if the link led to a third-party website.”

 

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