5 Things Consumers Want From Your Business in 2015

Looking for ways to increase sales and customer satisfaction? A recent report by Yodle has revealed the changes consumers want to see from small businesses in the next 12 months:  

1.) An improved website

Your customers want information about your business at the click of a button, and it’s your job to give it to them. Two-thirds of consumers say that whether a website is created, updated, or optimized for mobile, your business needs to improve its presence on the web.

2.) Competitive pricing

When customers feel that they’re getting the best deal by purchasing from your business, they’re not only more likely to become a loyal customer, but are also more likely to spread the word to families and friends. By checking your competitors’ prices regularly to make sure you offer a competitive deal, you give your business the advantage it needs to attract more customers, and more money.

3.) Specials, deals, and offers

Does your business provide loyal customers with discounts, or incentivize new customers to visit your store with daily specials? Creating seasonal sales or offering happy hour deals is another way to drive revenue, as over half of consumers surveyed are interested in seeing local businesses add specials, deals, and offers for the products and services they offer.

4.) Focus on customer service

Although this may be a no-brainer, consumers want your business practice to focus more on their experience. By putting your customers first and showing them the ways that your business does, you have the opportunity to make more money for your business in both the short and long-term, as those customers will be more likely to not only purchase from your business again, but recommend others purchase as well.

5.) Security of personal information

Consumers need the security of knowing that when they shop with you, the information they provide isn’t going to be compromised in any way. By taking measures to implement and update security features in your business, you give customers peace of mind when purchasing from you.

To find out how SinglePlatform can help you improve your website, update your pricing, and announce the specials and deals your business offers, click here.

Mobilegeddon and the Push for a Mobile-Friendly Experience

For the small business owners who prepared for ‘mobilegeddon,’ or the release of Google’s new mobile-friendly search algorithm back in April, you unknowingly put your business at yet another advantage with search engine optimization. Bing, the search engine created by Microsoft, has just announced that it will also be adopting a mobile-friendly search algorithm, favoring sites optimized for mobile by pushing them higher up in search results, while penalizing those that aren’t by pushing them down in the rankings.

Instead of completely penalizing sites that aren’t mobile-friendly in search results like Google’s algorithm does, Bing has resolved to leave the top mobile search results for any given keyword unaffected by the new algorithm, whether the sites are mobile-friendly or not. Their goal is to favor user experience by continuing to provide them with the top results for their query, as opposed to only displaying mobile optimized sites in the search results.

Both consumers and small businesses with mobile-friendly sites benefit from the algorithm change; consumers searching on the go will be provided with easier access to the information they need on the devices they’re searching on, and small businesses with mobile-friendly sites will be pushed up higher in the search results, leading to increased discoverability by potential customers.

So just how does Bing classify if a site is mobile-friendly or not?

According to their blog, there are four criteria that a site must meet in order to be considered mobile-friendly:

 1.) Site Navigation: How easy is it to navigate the site on a smaller touchscreen? Are the buttons far enough apart that the user can easily click on a link without clicking on something else accidentally?

2.) Readability: is the font large enough that it doesn’t require the user to zoom in or scroll to access the specific information they’re looking for?

 3.) Scrolling: The site content should fit to the width of the device being used – scrolling up and down is considered acceptable, but scrolling horizontally makes content harder to digest and access.

4.) Compatibility: Is the content on the site compatible with the device? Some plug-ins are inaccessible on mobile, making it harder for users to view and access content on the site.

Considering over half of consumers are more likely to purchase from a mobile-optimized site, ensuring that your site meets these requirements will give your business a better chance at being discovered by consumers searching on the go, increasing the likelihood that they will choose to purchase from you.

As search engine giants continue to tailor the online search experience to be compatible with mobile, making your business’ site mobile-friendly will ultimately result in a greater number of potential customers discovering your business.

Food for Thought: FDA Announces Ban on Trans Fat

As consumer groups and political figures continue to lobby for increased awareness about the ingredients and nutrition facts of foods sold to the public for consumption, a long-fought battle has just been won: the FDA officially announced on Tuesday that the food industry has until 2018 to phase out trans fat from their products.
Linked to heart disease and the occurrence of fatal heart attacks, partially hydrogenated oils, the source of trans fat, were initially deemed unsafe for consumption by the FDA in 2013. Found in processed food products like bakery items, frozen foods, microwave popcorn, and pizza, trans fat is responsible for 50,000 fatal heart attacks every year.

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In an effort to reduce the number of fatalities caused by trans fat and promote a healthier lifestyle in the United States, Susan Mayne, the Director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, says that the ban on trans fat “goes hand in hand with other FDA initiatives to improve the health of Americans.”

The food industry has three years to completely rid food products of trans fat, or petition for permission from the FDA to use it in foods in small amounts.

The ban on trans fat isn’t the only health initiative the FDA is taking to improve the American lifestyle. They plan to roll out a regulation that requires chain restaurants to list the nutrition facts of their menu items in December of 2015.

By complying with the new regulations sooner, rather than later, the food industry can do Americans the favor of good food, and even better health.

Why Small Businesses Must Have Integrated Content

For small business owners with an infinite amount of tasks to complete and as many people to please, it is normal to feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to keep up with it all. Ensuring that your content is up-to-date and integrated across the web will benefit your business, (and your wallet), exponentially in both the short and long-term. Here are a few reasons why:

1.) Three words: Search Engine Optimization

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It’s not as complicated as it sounds. Basically, every search engine has a special algorithm that indexes information in order to deliver the best search results for the search query. Why does this matter for your business? It’s simple. When search engines index information, they take into account how current that information is. Therefore, the more frequently you update your content online, the higher that it will appear in the search results. Furthermore, when a consumer does an online search for a product or service that is similar to yours, they are more likely to discover your business.

2.) Consumers are making informed purchases

Before people are committing to a purchase, they are first spending time online researching the product or service that will be best suited for their needs. To be exact, 93% of consumers research a business online before buying their product or service. If your content is outdated and irrelevant to their current needs, they’re going to go elsewhere, and take their business with them. Dedicating a few hours a week to updating information or posting about the business across the web makes a huge difference in the impression that your business gives consumers online.

3.) Consumers are bombarded with information

When making a purchase decision, consumers are using an average of 10.4 online information sources to help them choose the best product or service for them. If they are comparing businesses that provide the same product or service as you, and your business has the most updated content online, the decision for them will be easy – they will likely choose to buy from you. However, if the information about your business on the web isn’t current, or up-to-par with your competitors, it’s more likely that your business will lose that sale.

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4.) Consumers are mobile

The world is going mobile, and your business needs to be too. People are attached to their smartphones and digital devices, relying on this technology to make decisions for them, answer their every question, and keep them connected with the world around them. Making your business’ site mobile-friendly is imperative – 64% of Americans own smartphones, and 63% use their phones to go online. Of the 63% of smartphone users searching online, almost half of them are using the web to get recommendations for the businesses, products, and services around them. By being mobile-friendly, you enable your business to be accessible by those looking to purchase, and purchase now.

By making frequent updates to your content, you increase your discoverability by potential customers, ultimately resulting in more sales for your business, and satisfaction for your customers. To learn more about SinglePlatform and how we can help with content integration for your business, contact us here.

A Real Food Fight: Restaurant sales beat out grocery store sales for first time ever

It’s December 2014, and the U.S Census Bureau has just reported that for the first time on record, monthly restaurant sales have exceeded monthly grocery store sales. Fast forward to April of 2015, and restaurant sales are continuing to exceed those of grocery stores.In fact, from July of 2014 to April of 2015, a $3.1 billion dollar shift in sales from grocery stores to restaurants occurred, which is almost as much as the last 4.5 years combined.
The billion-dollar question many people are asking, is what, or who, is to blame (or thank) for the dramatic shift in sales? Here are a few specific factors as to why people are getting the check, and ditching the cart:

1.) Lower Gas Prices

Believe it or not, less pain at the pump has resulted in a willingness to spend that money elsewhere – particularly on dining out. In fact, almost half of people surveyed attribute their willingness to purchase meals, snacks, or beverages from restaurants, fast food places, and coffee shops to lower gas prices, according to the National Restaurant Association.

2.) Financial Security

As the economy continues to show signs of post-recession growth, people are feeling more comfortable opening their wallets and swiping their credit cards, especially when it comes to eating out. In fact, one-third of people say they are patronizing restaurants more often now than they were one year ago.

3.) Higher Wages

With unemployment rates falling and campaigns for a higher minimum wage plaguing major U.S cities, people are earning more money, and investing it in the restaurant industry. In fact, Americans ages 15 to 24 saw their household income rise 10.5 percent in 2013, the age group that also happens to spend the most money on dining out.

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First reported in an article by Bloomberg, there is one stipulation to consider when comparing the sales of restaurants and grocery stores; the data doesn’t include the sales of big-box stores like Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Target Corporation, and Costco Wholesale Corporation.

Although these stores have been excluded from the study, the data serves as an example of the evolution that has occurred in American eating habits, and how the grocery industry is going to have to adjust to accommodate the change in lifestyle across different generations.

Using Social Media to Attract New Customers

As the digital world is becoming increasingly populated with consumers searching for the next best product or service to enhance their daily lives, it is crucial that your business is a step ahead, ready to provide these potential customers with your product when they need it, and where they’re searching for it.

How social media marketing can benefit your business

Let’s put the digital world into perspective: three billion people have Internet access worldwide. In the United States, 86.75% of the total population has Internet access.

Of the 86.75% of Americans with access to the web, 74% of them are using social media sites, and 45% of these users are checking their accounts multiple times a day, according to Pew Research Center.

What these statistics mean for your business

Taking into account these staggering statistics, it is clear to see that your business could be at a huge disadvantage if you are not promoting it across the various social media platforms that consumers are using everyday.

According to a recent article on Business2Community, 63% of consumers who search for products and services online are more likely to use businesses that have their information on social media sites than those who don’t. Simply providing information about the products and services you offer on different social media sites allows your business the ability to satisfy new customers, as well as to keep them coming back.

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Not only does putting information about your business on social media sites entice new customers to try your product or service, it also tends to create loyal customers that can potentially serve as ambassadors for your product in the future. In a recent report by HubSpot, it was reported that 69% or more of the businesses that used social media to attract new customers also found the sites useful in establishing and maintaining a loyal customer base.

Social media that is best for your business

With so many different social media platforms at your disposal, it may be hard to distinguish which ones will be the most successful for your business.

With Facebook announcing that the site has 1.35 billion active users in 2014, and 91% of consumers in the U.S using Facebook to search for local businesses, this social media site is a quick and easy way to begin promoting your business online.

Not only does Facebook increase traffic to your business’ website and support greater awareness of your product, Twitter also plays a huge role in educating consumers about your brand.

In 2015, the average Twitter user followed five or more businesses, and 37% of those users will buy from one of the businesses they follow.

By interacting with potential customers on Twitter and regularly posting updated, relevant information about your brand, you’re not only enabling new customers to find your business, but also increasing the likelihood that these new customers will choose to purchase from you.

Social media: the unpaid employee

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For starters, social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are completely cost-free; all they require is your time. According to HubSpot, 95% of business owners who use social media at least 6 hours per week indicated their social media efforts increased exposure for their businesses. Dedicating a few hours a week to update information, post about deals or sales going on, and announce special events happening at your business on social media platforms can ultimately result in increased sales and a continuously growing customer base.

Jumping on the social media bandwagon sooner, rather than later, may also result in greater success for your business. The more you interact with consumers on social media sites, the more likely it is that your business will show up higher in the search results when a customer completes a search query for products or services similar to yours. This is especially important, as many analysts have predicted a 600% increase of information available on the Internet by the year 2020.

By actively engaging with social media sites now, your business will be protected from being lost in a sea of information, ultimately preventing you from losing new customers.

Success and growth potential with social media

As today’s world operates in a digital sphere, getting your business out there on all social media platforms is crucial to the overall success and growth of your business. To find out how SinglePlatform can help you manage your online presence across the web, contact us here.

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