Can Facebook advertising really boost my business?

Can Facebook advertising really boost my business?

Facebook has the biggest user base of any social media platform out there, with approximately 2 billion monthly active users. Over and above this, in the second quarter of this year Facebook made 19.6 billion in ad revenue. What is interesting to note off the back of these stats is that there are still business owners who claim that they don’t use Facebook ads because they don’t work, or are a waste of money.

The truth is, Facebook ads can work if there is an understanding of how to build a proper Facebook strategy and assess the ad performance to adjust this strategy accordingly over time. Because small business owners are usually wearing a lot of hats, and managing their marketing on top of their already busy schedules, not taking the time to spend developing a strategy is the biggest culprit to failed Facebook ad campaigns.

Facebook ads can work for virtually any business, all it takes is a bit of know-how, a plan and clear goals and objectives. To help small business owners blow up their business using Facebook ads we’ve put together a few effective ways to go about this.

1. Have a clear strategy

 One of the biggest mistakes that business owners make when developing a Facebook ad campaign, is getting going without a strategy. You need to have a plan and you need to make sure that the money you are putting in is actually going to pay off. This is the number one reason some people don’t think Facebook ads work, they put money into Facebook ads without a plan, and are disappointed when they don’t see any returns.

You need to be clear on how much you are looking to spend, how long you want your campaign to run and what results you are wanting to see. This strategy should include who exactly you are wanting to target, what message you are wanting to communicate to them and what action you want them to take in the end.

There are so many companies today who do not give targeting the time and thought it deserves. You need to really think about who you’re targeting, instead of just creating a generic “we sell cycling gear so we target cycler’s.” Spend some time studying your target audience and focus on more than just gender, age and location.

This detail influences how you will be setting up your campaign and what type of Facebook advertising you’ll be using. So, take some time to understand their beliefs, values, interests and lifestyles. You need to really know who you are marketing to when creating ads. This should all be clear in your mind before you launch a campaign.

Once you have launched your campaign make sure you are regularly assessing how it has performed and determine whether you need to make changes such as optimizing the placement of your ad or the message, otherwise you will just keep throwing money into these ads in the hopes that they will eventually work.

2. Know your KPIs

 If you don’t know what your goals and objectives are it is going to be very difficult to know whether your ad campaigns are successful or not. Similarly, if you haven’t been taking note of the metrics that are important to your business, and have nothing to compare your campaign results to, it will also make it difficult to get a holistic picture of the performance of your ad campaigns and the impact that they are having on your business.

Always ensure that you are clear on what you want to achieve and make adjustments to your ads if they are not performing or helping you achieve the desired results.

 

 

Here are some examples to give you an idea of what we mean:

Example 1: If you want to increase your website traffic take note of your current weekly/monthly visits and determine what percentage increase you want to see. Be sure to calculate how much a new visitor is worth to you so that this can also help guide your campaign budget. I.e. How much are you willing to spend/pay for a new visitor to your website?

Example 2: If you want to see more newsletter sign-ups take note of your current number of subscribers and the number of new subscribers you want to see by the end of the campaign. Again, having an indication of how much you are willing to spend on a new subscriber will help you plan your budget. In this case a subscriber might be worth more than just a website visitor. This might mean that you’re willing to put more budget behind this campaign as opposed to example 1.

Example 3: If you are focused on lead generation and website conversions make sure you have a conversion rate in mind so that you can aim to meet that goal. Conversions usually mean revenue and new business. Here it is helpful to ask yourself how much you would be willing to spend to acquire a new customer, a metric known as cost per acquisition (CPA).

3. Tailor your ads to your audience

 Understanding your target market is only half the battle. When it comes time to create Facebook ads, you will see a little box known as Audience Definition. This box tells you who this specific ad will be targeting. One of the best things you can do when focusing on Audience Definition is to think quality over quantity. It can be really tempting to see that your ad could potentially reach 1 billion people, but that is not what you want. You want to focus specifically on your niche to begin with. So, narrow down your audience details.

Pick a few areas you want to target, pick an age range, and even pick some more targeting features like interests, education or relationship status. Ideally, you want your campaign to reach 5,000 to 15,000 people. While it doesn’t sound as exciting as reaching 1 billion people, you are now targeting the right people who are most likely to buy or take action on your product offerings or services.

4. Create compelling text or banner ads

Delivering the right offer, to the right audience, with the right message can be really powerful and persuasive. Some people believe that the ad copy or graphics aren’t an important factor. However, in an online world where people are bombarded by thousands of messages a day, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Hundreds, or thousands, of businesses and marketer’s are trying to compete for your attention every minute of every day. That’s the world we live in and you have to stand out from the generic messages that your potential customers are glossing over.

This means creating an engaging headline that will draw people in. Keep the body of your text simple and get straight to the point. Because you only have a few words to work with you need to make them count. Don’t waste your space trying to be super creative. Make it easy to understand and compelling. Your text body should include two things: more details about your offer and then a call to action.

Similarly, with banner advertising, ensure that it’s personalised and that your image reiterates the points you are trying to make in your ad copy. A powerful image can be memorable and engages your audience in a way that text ads simply can’t.

 

Here’s one of our favourite examples:

In one image and some cleverly crafted short copy, Slack has communicated the common pain point of business meetings and that their tool is a solution to better communication and efficiency. They have also depicted the benefit of having that time freed up in a fun, playful way and added a clear call to action so that their target audience knows exactly what to do if they want to find out more about Slack.

5. Run A/B Testing regularly

Once your ad is launched, your work’s not done. You also need to focus some time and energy into split testing. You should typically know within 200 clicks how an ad is doing and whether or not you should adjust the ads. This allows you to launch multiple variations of an ad and quickly figure out which ones are generating the best success rate. At the same time, don’t pull the plug on an ad too soon if you don’t see immediate results. The goal is to not give up too early when split testing, and to give it time.

 

5 email campaigns that those in the hospitality industry need to be sending

5 email campaigns that those in the hospitality industry need to be sending

No matter what motivates anyone to travel (whether it’s business or pleasure) hotel owners, bed and breakfasts, or self-catering accommodation are an indispensable part of travel arrangements. For the small business owner, the challenge is to get in front of those who are looking to make a booking and to build relationships with those who have visited before who could become loyal, repeat customers.

One way to market to new or existing customers and make an impression is to use email marketing. There are tools out there that make email marketing quick and easy, so you ensure that you don’t miss out on opportunities to get in front of travellers. Getting standardised templates for each of these and sending them out at appropriate times can make a difference to your marketing strategy.

Here are some examples of the types of emails that can make an impact to those who have enquired or made a booking with you.

1. Welcome emails

These are usually followed by bookings that have been made and include a thank you message so that the customer aware that their business is appreciated, but also that their booking was successful and you have confirmed the details of their arrival and stay.

But you don’t have to stop there – this is a great opportunity to highlight specials that are coming up, or to share some extra information like a map on how to find your business when coming from the airport. You can even include which transport services to use that offer the best rates. Those coming from out of town, especially from another country, would find this sort of information useful and appreciate you taking some of the stress out of travelling.

Find tips or advice for your guests that suit their reason for travelling. If it’s for business purposes those clients might find it more beneficial to be notified of nice restaurants in the area to take clients to while they are in town, and less interested in how to get to your establishment. Whatever the case, be sure to include information that is helpful in your welcome email – by doing this you go a step further for your clients and leave an impression as you address some of their other travel needs.

2.Recommendation emails

Alternatively, you can use recommendation emails to include helpful tit bits for your customers to know about the area and the city you are located in. Once someone has checked in they may be interested in finding out more about the local attractions in and around the city. This is a great time to send them an email with what they can do in the area, how they get there, the best way to book for tourist attractions, what the most popular restaurants or on-goings are, or even just highlight the services offered at your hotel or bed and breakfast. For example, if you have a pool and other amenities, or you offer a laundry service during their stay it’s a great way to make your customers aware of this on their arrival.

3.Post stay emails

Once your customers have left it’s always good to get feedback and find out how their stay was while thanking them for their business. This is an opportunity for you to learn about what areas you can improve on to ensure you have happy customers coming and going throughout the year.

4.Birthdays and anniversary emails

You can really wow your customers with this one. By wishing them a happy birthday or remembering an anniversary you can offer existing customers special deals around this time. This can encourage them to come back and makes them feel special that you remembered these small details. It makes quite an impression as a brand and shows that you care and value them as much as their business.

5.Sales emails

If you’re running winter specials to get feet through the door then make sure that you communicate this to your database. If existing customers are aware of exciting deals they are more likely to cash in because let’s be honest, everyone likes a good deal. It’s a clever way to entice them or remind them of your business as they plan their annual holidays.

If you’re looking for tools that can help you with these sorts of email campaigns, MailChimp is a great place to start. They make it easy to manage your email marketing and come with standard templates that you can customise to create visually appealing emails that can stand out. Email marketing is a smart way to reach your customers and can impact your business sales while building meaningful relationships with your client base. If you haven’t considered it, think about the missed opportunities that you can now take advantage of.

At Lulalend we know that not all marketing efforts are cheap and easy. So we ensure that we are there to help businesses capitalise on marketing efforts when they need to. We do this by providing small business funding that can help you create some room for a marketing budget when cash flow is tight. Everybody knows that if people don’t know about your business they’re not going to use your business. If you don’t have a marketing budget or need to increase your current budget to get in front of your potential clients, contact us to find out how we can help you with small business funding quickly and easily.

 

Odette Bester

Digital Marketing Manager

Passionately interested in digital marketing and helping businesses focus on building a strong digital strategy through a well rounded and strategic inbound and outbound marketing approach.

 

Top business hashtags you should follow

Top business hashtags you should follow

Once better known as the pound sign or being synonymous with a game of tic tac toe, the hashtag has caused a buzz in the online world. The power and status of the mighty hashtag in recent times cannot be denied. Twitter and Instagram, in particular, have become the popular place to use, or abuse, hashtags and garner attention for them. But for the small business owner hashtags can be a great way to search for information on relevant topics and business news. Gathering information that can help you learn more about business practices is a good way to gain experience and learn from others.

Finding the right hashtags can be tricky so we’ve made a list of the ones worth following or adding to your lists and scroll through on a daily basis.

Hashtags to follow:

 

#Smallbusiness #smallbiz

These two might seem like an obvious choice, but the simplest place is sometimes the best place to start. You won’t go wrong by following these hashtags, they offer useful links to all kinds of resources for small businesses. The hashtag also includes things like SEO tips for small businesses, tools, and apps SMEs can take advantage of, and some motivational quotes to keep you fired up.

#business

Similar to the hashtags mentioned above, this one gives an all-inclusive view of what it really means to be in business. Though this tackles topics for all business sizes, from enterprise to a one-man show, you’ll still find relevant tips from how to create a responsive business website to more general topics on how to grow your business.

#businessowner

 Like-minded individuals will understand what you are experiencing as a business owner because they are experiencing it themselves. This hashtag includes content from a community with common interests and concerns around how to turn their business into a successful company.

#Biztips

We all need a push now and then to get our business off the ground. With links to helpful articles this hashtag also offers bite-size information on the best business practices, decision making and more.

#SMEs #SME #SMB

If you have a small business then it only makes sense to stay in touch with what other small businesses are doing. These hashtags can help you do exactly that. Useful titbits like “Things you may not know about accepting card payment” will get you well on your way to becoming a force to be reckoned with in the business world.

#sales

An important part of any business is to bring in new customers, whether you’re product or service focused. If you’re looking for tips on how to attract new customer or retain existing ones, this hashtag highlights sales advice to fine-tune your sales cycle, use content to drive sales or strategies to help convert customers.

#entrepreneurs

This is a hashtag dedicated to people seeking to strike out on their own. It addresses everything from the habits of successful entrepreneurs, what to do with failure, and how to make strategic business decisions. With useful articles like “The 3 Rules of Successful Business as Taught by Seth Godin (and Your Mother)” by Inc, you will get helpful advice to guide you in your entrepreneurial journey.

#management

At some point in your business journey you are going to wind up managing people. This hashtag rounds up tweets on best management practices, advice, and resources.  Sound management skills are precisely what you need to build a lasting and successful relationship with employees and a strong business. This is a good place to brush up on your management skills and learn more about what makes a good manager.

Hashtags have become such a game changer in the digital arena. As a business owner, you need to both use these hashtags in your Twitter campaigns and follow them for some much-needed business advice. It’s always good to know what other entrepreneurs out there are doing to make their business a success, and it gives you an upper hand because you can also get a crash course in ‘what not to do’ as an entrepreneur.

While these hashtags are useful and can help you make better business decisions, sometimes what a business needs is easy access to funding for cash flow or working capital, marketing campaigns, renovations, inventory purchases or a host of other needs. Lulalend can help you access this funding quickly and easily. We provide SMEs with the funds they need to assist their business and the application process is done entirely online in a matter of minutes. With hundreds of businesses using us as the alternative lender, maybe it’s time you checked us out.

 

Winter is coming: How to prepare your restaurant for the seasonal slump

Winter is coming: How to prepare your restaurant for the seasonal slump

Winter is upon us which, for some, means rainfall and icy winter chills. Most people would rather hibernate when the season approaches than brave the cold outside for a bite to eat. This means your restaurant is competing against one of its greatest enemies: the bitter winter chill. And as you well know, this can influence your sales.

But, there are things you can do to draw in foodies this winter. Take a look at some ideas to up sales and help customers warm to the idea of heading out for something to eat this winter.

1. Give them a reason to brave the cold

Use the cold weather to your advantage by ensuring you have a seasonal menu with winter classics like hot, creamy soups, hearty stews and warm desserts like sticky toffee pudding. But don’t stop there. People love discounts or freebies. Create 2-for-1 specials, offer a free glass of wine with any main meal, create a winter loyalty card where members get a stamp for every meal and make the fifth one free. There are a host of different ways you can attract customers with the right deal. Once you’ve figured out how to entice your customers, make sure they know about it.

Promote special offers on online market places like Hyperli. This website allows customers to search for various special offers, including restaurant deals. Use online directories like Where2Eat to list your business and make it easy to find online. If you have your own website, and social channels, promote special offers here too.

2. Think of ways to combat the cold

Offer blankets or invest in some down heaters or wall mounted heaters – especially if you have an outside area where people like to sit. A fireplace is also a charm, it offers warmth and ambiance.

Some nights people just aren’t going to venture out, even when you’ve done all you can do. And that’s okay. But you know the saying, “if the mountain won’t come to Muhammad then Muhammad must go to the mountain”? Well there is some wisdom in it for local restaurateurs. Consider offering a convenient delivery service or partnering with UberEats or Mr Delivery in winter to drop off meals on their doorstep. Delivery management software like GetSwift can also make it easy for you to plan and retain full control of the logistics of deliveries. The last thing you want is to upset your customers with late deliveries and ice cold food.

3. Cultivate relationships with regulars

Every restaurant has the good ole faithful’s that love your spot and keep coming back each week or month. Don’t neglect to build relationships with these loyal customers. They are the ones who are probably recommending your restaurant to family and friends, and the one’s you’re going to see come rain or shine. Let them know you appreciate their business, treat them to an unexpected glass of wine on the house and make the effort to catch up with them when they pop in.

Creating more sales opportunities for your restaurant is more than doable if you think of creative, compelling ways to draw in new customers. If you’re preparing to hunker down for the winter months but are still trying to find the funds to purchase heaters, hire delivery drivers, market your specials or purchase winter produce – Lulalend can help. We offer short term business funding of up to R500 000 so that you can do all the things you need to do to see your business through the slow seasons. Our application process is quick, easy and completely online so with winter already upon us you can get fast access to make immediate preparations.

 

What no-one tells you about marketing your professional services business

What no-one tells you about marketing your professional services business

Reputation is everything in the professional services sector and has an influence on attracting new business. A big part of maintaining a positive reputation involves not only the work and results you produce but the relationships of existing customers you nurture.

You probably spend a large part of your week meeting one-on-one with clients and feel like you don’t have extra time to give to market your business. But what if meeting with clients was part of marketing your business?

The assumption that most small business owners make is that marketing is a separate business function that they need to pour energy into, or an added extra they have to make time for. But marketing can fit into your schedule and day-to-day business functions. You just have to put a little thought into it and be smart about how you can accomplish this.

To help you get started here are some thoughts and smart hacks that can help you achieve marketing and sales goals while still running a successful practice or firm.

1. Be smart about referral marketing

You spend a lot of time with existing clients and they know what it’s like to work with you. They know how you make their lives easier and how your services add value. They’ve gotten to know you and how you operate, and they have first-hand experience. So, what better way to get your business out there than to encourage them to refer you.

A referral program can be a great way to use existing relationships to get new business. Statistics show that word of mouth and online peer reviews carry a lot of weight when customers are making decisions about a purchase or service. In fact a study by Nielsen Global Survey of Trust in Advertising found that 84% trust recommendations by family or friends.

Referral marketing will require a little thought but once that is up and running it can work for itself. You’ll need to put some thought into what you can offer your client as an incentive to motivate them to ‘market your business’. Some businesses offer discounted rates for one or more referrals, others offer commission or a reward based system. Consider what kind of offer would be compelling enough for them, and what you are able to offer. Then be sure to communicate this with existing clients via an email campaign or when you meet with them, so that they understand that they benefit from sending new business your way.

Just be sure to have clear terms and conditions laid out so that you don’t run into any issues later down the line.

2. Be smart about your business website

The upside of a business website is that it can generate a steady stream of leads and doesn’t require your time each day. An effective website is user friendly and easy to navigate. Using a booking form on your website can help potential customers get in touch with you, schedule a meeting or ask questions and queries. If you don’t use an online form for prospects to contact you then make sure your contact details are easy to find on your website so that they can call in or email. Prevent barriers for new business by making it easy to find and contact you.

Also, be sure to include your website URL on business cards, invoices, email signatures and other forms of communication. This way it is always visible and easy for someone to click through and find you online. For more website tips, read our blog on how to create an effective website on a budget.

3. Be smart about the time you spend on email

You probably spend a fair amount of time on email, who doesn’t these days. It’s one of the biggest forms of communication for businesses. So, while you’re responding to emails or scheduling meetings, draft a customised email that you can send out once or twice a month updating your database on specials, your referral marketing or business news.

In this way, you are touching base with your customers, or new contacts and you’re doing it in the time you’d be using to catch up on emails anyway. Outlook, Gmail and other email tools can make it difficult to send out bulk emails to your database but a tool like MailChimp can make this easy. And if you’re checking and sending emails on a weekly basis you can make it a habit to include this in your email practices.

Marketing your business is important. It’s not a nice to have, it’s a necessity. But it doesn’t have to take all your time or cost your business a significant amount. There are clever ways to fit marketing into your daily schedule and make it a part of what you are already doing, and there are clever ways to take advantage of free marketing tools that can lend a hand. But, if you have the luxury of dedicating time to marketing your business or a team that can do that, there are also clever ways to finance your marketing campaigns with small business funding offered by Lulalend.

5 things BnB owners can do to see more business come through the door

5 things BnB owners can do to see more business come through the door

South Africa is a melting pot of different cultures with a diverse range of things to offer tourists. We have the breathtaking Table Mountain, the Kruger National Park that is home to the Big 5, and the warm waters and popular beaches of Durban. All these attractions make South Africa the perfect place to holiday, as a local or a foreigner.

So, with the constant flow of holiday makers and tourists, how do you make sure your BnB is on their radar and you’re getting business through the door? Here are a few tips on what you can do to be noticed by those searching for the perfect place to stay while on holiday.

1. Showcase what clients can expect to get

According to a study conducted by MDG Advertising, 60% of consumers are more inclined to select a business with images in its online listing. In an industry where people are making choices that are based strongly on liking what they see, showcasing your BnB with attractive pictures is a competitive advantage.

Make sure that any flyers, pamphlets or your website itself show off the beauty, functionality and practicality of your facilities. This way your customers can get a better sense of what type of experience they are in for.

Include a gallery on your website that depicts the type of experience they can expect. This can help to communicate whether it has a warm, cozy, homely type of feel to it, or is more of a cosmopolitan, boutique type BnB. If it’s a tranquil cottage by the sea or a cabin in the Drakensburg ,where customers can snuggle up next to a fireplace, make sure you highlight those strengths. People know what type of holiday experience they want, so images can help them decide if your BnB will offer them what they are looking for.

Also, make mention of the amenities and added extras that your BnB has to offer. For example, do you have a pool, are you situated close to restaurants and other night life, do you offer Wi-Fi connectivity or a shuttle services to get around? Of course, price is a big deciding factor but these extra offerings can also help persuade people to book in at your BnB instead of another one down the road

2. Consider advertising on other platforms

Travel websites and online platforms can be a great place for people to find your BnB. Consider using directories like ExpediaBooking.com and Airbnb. These serve as a marketplace for hospitality services and allow holiday makers to find accommodation easily.

These websites act as brokers that receive a percentage of the service fees from guests and hosts for every booking made. Their rates vary depending on the website, so do some research and decide whether you’re willing to pay a percentage of your earnings to market your business there. If it brings in more business it might be worth it, but you need to weigh up your options.

3.   Collect reviews and get ratings

Customer reviews and testimonials are incredibly powerful, particularly in today’s online world. First time customers have no idea what to expect, so they rely heavily on first-hand experience and recommendations from others.

There are various ways to go about collecting reviews. If you’re using online booking websites there are often review sections that customers can complete. But you can also keep a visitor’s book that customers can fill in after their stay or share their thoughts on your website.

Be sure to also leverage social media for reviews. Encourage customers to like your pages, check-in online, leave comments and share pictures of their stay.

4.   Keep the lines of communication open

Just because guests have checked out, doesn’t mean that your relationship with them should end. You’ve done your best to make their stay unforgettable, now make sure you follow up so that they remember you for next time.

Send personalised emails to thank them for their visit and use the opportunity to communicate special deals or discounts in the future. This is also another great way to get reviews. When you send them a courtesy email thanking them for their stay, why not ask for some feedback on what they enjoyed and if there is anything you can improve on to make their next visit even better.

5.   Invite influencers to stay for free

Another way to get your BnB in front of people is to invite online influencers to come and stay and share their experience with their followers. An influencer is someone online who has established credibility in a specific industry and has access to a large audience online. Perhaps you can reach out to a travel writer and offer them a free stay at your BnB in exchange for a short feature or some social sharing.

We mention some great ways for you to start drawing in more customers and getting your BnB noticed, but this doesn’t always come for free. Marketing can cost money. Lulalend can prevent that from being an obstacle by lending a helping hand. With our short-term funding of up to R500 000 you can invest in marketing your BnB. Or, if you’ve already got that covered and are doing all the right things but cash flow is your biggest challenge, we can help you with that too. Whatever the case, Lulalend offers quick, easy access to short term business funding to help your business get more business.