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The Smashing Business Blog

The Blog from Smashingbusiness.co.uk. We're all about helping you run a "Smashing Business." Whatever your niche, we hope you find some inspiration or help here. If you'd like us to feature a particular topic just email us at hello@smashingbusiness.co.uk

Website Statistics: Why constantly checking your Stats can harm your Online Business.

Ben Lumley - Monday, December 21, 2009
Everyone likes to constantly check their website stats. I know I do. It's a daily routine that depending on which site I'm checking, could happen many times a day just to see if that latest post or latest update or tweet is attracting more people to visit. Whether you check the inbuilt stats on your Business-Catalyst powered website or through a third party provider like Google Analytics, keeping up to date with the traffic movements of your online business can actually be harming your site and sales.

Here's why.

What are you checking? 

There's an abundance of statistics out there that you can check. From total visitors, page views, and entry pages, to search results, traffic sources and exit pages; all designed to give you a great idea about what people are doing on your site. The problem is people don't always look at the more important statistics and are just obsessed with the total number of visitors on any given day, while some even become so obsessed with stats that they are constantly changing what they do just to bring the numbers up. 

The problem with constant stat checking is that it makes you super unproductive. Think about it, if you spend 2 mins every half an hour checking your site's traffic that's 4 minutes over an hour right? Doesn't  seem like much. That's also the same as 96mins every 24 hrs but when do you every work for 24hrs straight? Very rarely. So say you're like me you work on your sites for around 15 hours a day. If you check your stats for an average of 4 mins an hour, now you're looking at around an hour in lost work time. That's more than enough time to write a blog post, catch up on emails, fix that bug on your homepage, spend more time interacting with potential customers on social networking sites or even making an hour's worth of sales! Can you afford to loose an hour a day? Think about all the sales you could be missing out on. 

Here are two of the stats that I think are useful for you to check from time to time during the day / week / month (depending on your level on desire to keep checking) 

Referral Sources: 

This will give you a really good idea about where the visitors to your site are coming from. Knowing where people are coming from can direct effect your marketing strategy because if you know that a large percentage of visitors are being referred to you via Twitter, or Google Search or some other site, then it's probably a good idea to try and promote your business there a bit more often. 

Exit Pages: 

Most website owners will probably disagree with me here but I think it's important to know which pages your visitors are leaving from. Are they all leaving on your pricing page? Maybe your pricing structure is turning them off or the prices you are giving aren't competitive enough. Is everyone leaving via your blog? This might mean that your blog content is poor and that your visitors are becoming disinterested or maybe you haven't provided them with enough call-to-action buttons to take them to other areas of your website. 

Don't worry about the quiet days 

There's really no need to worry about quiet days. I know lots of small online business owners do, it's just like having a bricks and mortar shop and having no one come in for the day. It's not ideal but it's just one of those things. No need to worry too much. Granted if you have a very quiet week when no one comes in at all then maybe it's time to investigate a little bit but if it's just a quiet day thats just part of business.Try to not fret about your stats and instead worry more about making those sales. 

What website stats do you regularly have to check?

How to Promote Your Brand on the Biggest Social Network Around, Facebook

Ben Lumley - Monday, December 07, 2009
One of, if not THE biggest player in the Social Media / Web 2.0 world is Facebook. With over 350,000, 000 active users on the books and with over 50% of them accessing their accounts on a daily basis, Facebook is a platform that as a small business owner, you simply can’t ignore.

If you’re actively promoting your online business on somewhere like Twitter and you’re not doing a similar thing on Facebook then you’re potentially missing out on a massive market. I can’t stress how important Facebook can be to your website and business marketing strategy. 

As a person or as a Business? 

When trying to promote something through Facebook there are two ways that you can do it. Promote from your personal account as you or promote through a Fanpage? It’s a personal choice really and will depend on your business but here are a few things to remember. 

1. If you are going to promote your online business through your personal Facebook account (if you have one) then you have to consider how your existing friends, people you might have known for many years, will react to you promoting your business. Most may not mind but you don’t want to alienate an old school friend you’ve just reconnected with after 15 years by pushing your product on them. 

2. If you’re going to do it from your personal account you also need to consider your customers and how they will access the information you’re providing. Take a look at the Smashing Business account on Facebook for example. Because it’s not attached to my personal page anyone in the world with a Facebook account can access it, they don’t have to send me a friend request personally to follow us. Also if you go check out the Smashing Business page right now you will see stuff about us not my embarrassing holiday pictures from last summer.

3. If you are you’re brand and business e.g. davidsmith.com then promoting your products and services via your personal account might be a good thing. I have a friend who runs a site called The Infopreneur (I reviewed his site recently in our new series Great Sites That You Just Can't Put Down) and his personal Facebook page is his business. He makes a great success of it so it is possible to be able to promote your business off a personal account. 

My choice. 

My personal preference would be for a Fanpage however. 

My thinking for this is simple. It provides a more professional look and can allow anyone to follow your updates via Facebook. You can post photos, videos and links to your Fanpage just like you can on a personal profile, allowing you to spread the word about your business out to your community.

Here are some ideas for making the most of Facebook as a tool to promote your business. 

1. Link from your website.

At the bottom of this site is a link to our Facebook Fanpage and there’s also one at the bottom of each post. Over promotion? Well maybe but it does mean that there are regular reminders to readers of the this blog that they can follow us on Facebook and stay updated with all of the latest news and blog posts. 

By linking on your site you allow people to know that you have an area of Facebook that is your own and that they can access it. By advertising the fact you are part of one of the biggest social networks around you are more likely to add to your community, gain followers, and potentially convert followers into sales. 

2. Ask your Facebook friends to join the party.

When I created the Smashing Business page on Facebook after the site launched the first thing I did was invited all of my friends on my personal account to become fans of the page. I instantly gained a few fans and the page has continued to slowly grow since then.

Every once in a while I send a update to our fans to thank them for following us on Facebook and I also ask them if they know of anyone who would find the page or the site useful to invite them on our behalf. You’ll never get anything if you don’t ask. 

3. Don’t use it like Twitter. Facebook is a different animal

With Twitter it’s more acceptable to repeatedly promote something by repeatedly posting the same tweets over a long period of time. The kind of people who use Twitter are desensitized to that, as long as it’s not overdone, and you can therefore promote things more often through that channel. Facebook is different. 

People who use Facebook don’t want to see the same Status Updates repeated 40 times over a 7day period from the same person trying to sell their business. Facebook is better used when you simply post something once and create an ongoing stream of content. Users want to see what you’re promoting just once not over and over again. Bear that in mind when you’re updating your Facebook status for your business.

Note: You can advertise on Facebook via your Fanpage but as it’s something that we don’t currently do here a Smashing Business, so I didn’t feel it was suitable for me to discuss how that works having no personal experience of it. I will though in time. If you have experience of advertising on Facebook why not lets us know in the comments. 

How do you promote your online business on Facebook?

Introducing our New Service

Ben Lumley - Sunday, November 15, 2009
We've launched a new service this week that we thought you'd like to know about.

For many of you, you may already be following Smashing Business on Twitter @smashbiz

Well we've now started @smashbizlinks from where we're posting out just links that we find that you may find useful as a small business owner.

So if you want in on some great content that we find from all over the internet then why not follow @smashbizlinks

3 ways to better sales and how they can impact not only your business but your customers

Ben Lumley - Friday, November 13, 2009

Getting your customers and users to pay attention to your business is harder than ever. People have an infinite number of choices compared to 2 or 3 years ago and a lot less time. By taking a different approach to selling and marketing you can begin to make more enquires and more sales.

For regular readers, you’ll have noticed that I’ve talked about marketing guru Seth Godin before (even reposting articles direct from his own blog). Seth attracts many followers for his insightful take on modern marketing and is not afraid to be a bit controversial. I highly recommend anyone to check out his blog or videos.

My 3 ways to better sales is inspired by some of Seth’s ideas that I really dig and think you guys will get a lot out of.

Be on the fringes

Many small businesses play safe when they’re approaching things. They follow the crowd when it comes to things like marketing, branding, sales and customer services. They do what they see others doing as they see it as being safe. But no one says you have to play it safe.

Do things differently to others. Approach your strategies from a different angle and make your customers sit up and take notice.

10 years ago in the era of mass marketing playing safe was the safe thing to do because everyone listened. Now people (your potential customers) don’t have to time to sit through the ads and listen. Now you have to be on fringes to be noticed.

Be Remarkable

You get on the fringes in business by being remarkable. By becoming something or someone that people want to make a remark about you can create a buzz around you and your business. When they have something to say about your product or service they tell someone else. They’ll want to share the story.

That doesn’t mean you have to come up with a new product or service that is out of this world, just that maybe you need to do something that is remarkable with what you have.

When Google announced Google Wave earlier in the year they did something that was remarkable with their marketing. They only opened it up to a handful of developers. If you didn’t get an invite first off, you desperately wanted one. The buzz about Wave and the fact it was a limited invite-only spread like wildfire to the point where now they haven’t even fully released it yet and people are trading invites on eBay for crazy sums of money.

By taking a remarkable approach you can get your future customers to sit up and take notice.

Sell to those who are listening

With a massive choice and not a lot of time, consumers don’t have to listen to everyone that tries to sell them something anymore but they’ll most certainly buy from someone they already listen to.

Why waste your time and effort (and maybe even money) trying to sell to the large percentage of people who aren’t listening or aren’t interested? What’s the point?

Apple doesn’t try to sell its stuff to the non-tech savvy customers. It aims the majority of its marketing to the geeks, the fashion conscious, the tech savvy, the trend-setters and to those who appreciate great design because they know that they’ll be the one’s listening.

Talk to the people who are listening and you’ll be able to sell to them far better than those who couldn’t care less. 

Should I use Social Media to help me sell more products?

Ben Lumley - Monday, November 09, 2009

No! This is where most businesses get it wrong.

Whether you’re running a bricks and mortar company with office space coming out of your eyeballs or a funky online store that comprises of you in your back room working until late at night the going off to your regular job, the answer is always no.

Social Media is not about selling. It’s not about whoring yourself and your business out on Twitter or Facebook or on your blog to make more money; it’s about a whole lot more. If you treat Social Media like another member of your sale teams, who’s constantly trying to sell every product that you have to anyone who will listen is just bad business. You’re about 5 years behind the trends if you do that. Wake up!

Social Media is about Customer Service. It’s about listening to what people have to say and what people want and helping them out. It’s about solving problems when you can with not asking for anything in return. Social Media connects you with your customers but that doesn’t give you the permission to assault them at every turn with the hard sell.

Try listening and not selling through Social Media. The people who sell for you through Social Media are your customers, who by word of mouth recommendations will bring new customers to you. 

Branding Yourself and your Company Online

Ben Lumley - Friday, October 23, 2009
Following on from the video last week by Kevin Rose on Taking Your Site from One to One Million taken from this year FOWA conference today's article is a talk also given at this year's confernece by Alex Hunter (formerly off Virgin).

It's a talk aimed particularly at Web App developers, obviously, but if you watch it and take what you hear on a very general business level you'll end up taking a lot of great thoughts and ideas away from it about how brand your business as well as yourself.

This is a good one. Enjoy

 

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