Archive for the ‘small business’ tag
No matter what your business offers, building an online presence is an essential part of becoming a global brand. Any business owner can put up a website with little trouble. However, you need a lot more than a simple HTML page to make an impact on the crowded stage of the Internet. Engaging content, elegant designs and a willingness to embrace the latest changes in technology and social networking can help your business website stand out.
Your website’s content can have a major impact on your audience and your search engine ranking. Evergreen content, which refers to content that is almost always relevant regardless of when a visitor views it, can continue to serve your website well for years. Time-sensitive content, such as a special event guide from three years ago, will not rank highly with search engines after the event has passed. Take the time needed to go through your website’s content, retiring old content and updating pages that are still useful.
Strong Presence on Social Media
Social media networks are not going away anytime soon. Finding your own voice on social media is a great way to gain a wide audience of customers. Some businesses choose to do the bare minimum with social media, such as tweeting the occasional new product or posting on Facebook every other month. This approach may not win you too many followers, however. If you want to take an active approach instead, start by interacting directly with your customers. If someone tweets a question about a product that you make or sell, respond as soon as you can. Every time you post a new blog entry, share it on Facebook.
Fast Website with a Responsive Design
Desktop computers were once the primary method of browsing the Internet. Today, people can view the web through a long list of devices, including video game consoles, smartphones and tablets. If your website only has a desktop design, customers using other methods to browse may have significant trouble reading or interacting with your website. A responsive design offers an ideal solution; the design cleverly adjusts to best fit the screen of the user, no matter how big or small.
Multiple Methods of Contact
Your customers have their own preferences for how they like to get in touch with companies. Customers who are versatile with smartphones and social media may prefer to contact you through Twitter. Other customers may want to stick with email or use a form on your website. Make sure your website is equipped with a simple page detailing all of the methods of contact available. A live chat feature is another great way to connect with your customers and quickly solve minor issues; if this method of contact makes sense for your business, be sure to include it.
A Blog with Regular Updates
Blogs are powerful tools that let you connect with customers, offer useful information and build your search engine ranking. Even if you don’t consider yourself an expert writer, you can still make a meaningful impact through your blog. Write about topics that are closely related to your business and offer something of value to your readers. If you sell gym equipment through your website, for example, your blog should include articles about eating healthy and new exercises to try. It’s not a bad idea to post blogs that address timely issues, but you should focus on writing blog entries that will generate search traffic throughout the year.
A Comprehensive Branding Strategy
Developing a brand for your online presence is a good way to build recognition for your company. Start by unifying all of your online profiles, including your social media accounts. Each profile should use the same imagery so that your audience can instantly recognize your company whenever you post. Your branding should reflect your website through either the use of logos or color scheme. If possible, use the same username across all of your profiles, and opt for a username that is simple and memorable. Once you’ve built your brand, you can work on boosting your brand’s reputation through positive reviews and good customer outreach.
There are many ways to market your company online, including some that won’t cost you a dime. Dutifully building your brand through tweets and Facebook shares will net you some customers, but it may take some time to see the full benefit of your labors. Targeted advertising can help you generate customers more quickly. You can use a number of methods to achieve this, including soliciting bloggers to post about your company and paying for banner advertising on popular websites. You can also produce videos and other multimedia content about your company’s products and services to improve your online presence and build customer loyalty.
Improve Your Search Engine Rankings
A good search engine ranking will help you become the popular choice when customers are searching for your product or service. Optimizing for search engines can be done through a variety of means, including building organic links with other companies or individuals. For example, you could ask bloggers to become brand ambassadors for you in order to get your links on their websites. Fresh content can also be a big boost for your ranking; updating your blog regularly can help with this. Keeping your social media profiles updated with frequent links to your fresh content can also help. If you produce videos, make sure that your video posts link back to your website as well.
The strength of your company’s website and online presence can help drive your success. A winning online strategy helps your company to live where your customers are. Putting time and money into developing a quality online brand will generate long-term returns on your investment and help your company to thrive in today’s competitive economy.
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In today’s increasingly digital environment, everyone has literally become a critic. Taking to websites such as Yelp, Amazon and Google to air grievances, modern consumers are pulling no punches when it comes to their concerns. If your business delivers less-than-stellar service on any particular day, you can expect to hear about it. Back in the old days of even the 1990s, this wasn’t the case. You could afford to make little mistakes without having the entire universe hear about them. However, this is no longer the world in which we live, and every business owner needs to develop a strategy for dealing with their online reviews.
Don’t Take It Personally—The First Rule of Dealing with a Negative Review
Businesses have bad days, but so do customers. Unless you know the client personally, you cannot assume that they weren’t also having a bad day. When you’re both having a bad day, then sometimes this negative energy can amplify, resulting in a negative review. Seeing a one-star review is enough to make any business owner’s blood pressure rise. Keep in mind that the first negative review hurts the most; it will become easier. However, if your business is going to be successful by any measure, it is imperative that you create a strategy for dealing with negative reviews.
A Silver Lining to Every Bad Review
Anytime a customer reviews your product or service, you have an opportunity to take in feedback that you wouldn’t have received otherwise. Maybe you own a boutique and one of your employees could be doing a better job. Obviously, he’s not going to tell you that he’s behaving in an unprofessional manner when consumers walk through the door. While it can be easy to write off reviewers as crazy or irrational, take time to digest whatever was troubling them. Is it possible that there could be some truth in it? How can your business absorb this feedback in a productive way and move on?
While some reviewers will do a “drive-by” one star and not really tell you what was bothering them, others will offer nuanced feedback that can help you to improve your business. Some review sites will allow you to click on the customer’s profile and see the other reviews they’ve written. This helpful tool will allow you to see if they are just a disgruntled person in general. If you see that they reviewer has lambasted other companies without much to back them up, then this is a review you probably shouldn’t take as seriously. However, if yours is the only one-star review amid a selection of glowing reviews that the consumer left for other businesses, then perhaps you should take a closer look.
Your default position should always be to assume that customers are leaving legitimate reviews and telling the truth. If, however, you suddenly notice a spate of targeted reviews that seem engineered to take you down, then it’s time to report them to the website. Although sites such as Yelp have put up safeguards to protect business owners from this type of online harassment, not every method is foolproof. If you believe that something may be awry, then reach out to the review site with your specific concerns.
Keep in mind that they receive complaints like this all day, and state your case succinctly. Most websites will investigate the issue and then get back to you within 24-48 hours. Although they may be able to rule in your favor from time to time, you should always assume that the review is going to remain. To protect free speech, many sites tend to lean on the liberal side when analyzing reviews. Also, remember that reviews are their business. Unless something is patently offensive, it’s usually not advantageous for them to remove reviews.
Decide What Your Reply Policy Is
Some people, such as self-published authors on Amazon, generally make it a rule not to reply to bad reviews. In this case, writing back can often be seen as antagonistic—and just may win you even more online critics in the long run. But if you’re running a restaurant that just received a complaint about unsanitary conditions, then it will look extremely unprofessional for you not to reply.
Some business owners will choose to reply with their email address, reaching out to the customer in an attempt to resolve the situation. If they make the appropriate kind of apology—and perhaps offer something in return—many customers will change their reviews and praise the company for addressing the problem. There is a fine line with this kind of customer service, though. You’ll want to make sure that you’re not giving away products because of extortion-type reviews. Carefully examine each particular situation, and see if there’s any way that you can make it better. When future customers see that the business pays attention to reviews—and goes out of its way to address challenges—they are often very impressed.
Your Product or Service Isn’t for Everyone
One thing to keep in mind is that your business can’t possibly please everyone on the planet; it’s impossible. Even the best companies in the world have some awful reviews, as do some of the best novels ever written. If you’ve ever wondered about this, then look up your favorite novel on Amazon. You will realize that you are in excellent company when you see that even Jane Austen and Ernest Hemingway have some awful online reviews critiquing their famous books.
The fact of the matter is that negative reviews are going to happen. Try not to react emotionally, and move forward with the information that has been provided to you. Eventually, if you know that seeing such reviews can be a trigger, you may decide that you only want to read your reviews every few months or so. Develop a plan for addressing this part of your business, and then execute it. Since some negative reviews are practically a certainty, realize that it is how you respond to them that will determine your company’s ultimate success.
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Businesses are more agile in the cloud…
Agility in business operations is made possible through the use of effective and efficient tools. These tools ultimately help make a business or work environment strong. Cloud technology is built on certain business strategies. For example, understanding service-level agreements (SLA’s) and developing various strategies to better understand the business as a whole. The steps of these strategies can then be analyzed—as well as improvised—in order to keep the business running smoothly, and this is all made easier with cloud technology.
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Hey there, everybody who has been playing our weekly Disaster Recovery Trivia Challenge! Hey, also, everybody who should be! If you’re confused, you should read this article, explaining what the Disaster Recovery Trivia Challenge is. Trust us, it’s not something you’ll want to miss out on. Especially if you like T-shirts and/or United States Dollars in quantities of one hundred.
Now that you’re up to speed and that we’ve gotten the more unfortunate news out of the way, we can proceed to the purpose of this article.
Our Disaster Recovery Trivia Challenge has been such a success, everyone! This is a fact that we are beyond psyched about. However, it’s outgrowing its home on our social sites faster than you can say “Disaster Recovery Trivia Challenge”, so we decided it’s time to relocate it to somewhere it has a little more room to breathe… like our blog, for example.
The game is the same in all other aspects; this is just a relocation of the weekly facts and answer reveals. You can still feel free to chat away on social media, since we–quite obviously–love to.
Here’s a round-up of what has happened so far:
And the winner is… BILL Y.!
And the winner is… NICK J.!
And the winner is… ALEX E.!
And the winner is… Russell G.!
And the winner is… Mike H.!
And the winner is… DARREN C.!
And the winner is… Empty Mirror Books!
Now that we are up to speed, here is this week’s TRUE or FALSE question:
So what do you think? Is it TRUE or FALSE? Tell us, and you could win a T-shirt and a shot at the grand prize of $100! You can post your guess here, or continue the conversation on our Facebook and Twitter pages. We don’t care how, we just want to give away T-shirts! Check back here later in the week to see if you’re our new winner! GOOD LUCK!
Even though the Disaster Recovery Trivia Challenge has a new home, you should still follow our social sites. We’re constantly on the look-out for share-worthy content on a vast array of super-cool topics–everything from hosting to gadgets to sustainability–and we’d love to hear your voice in the crowd.Share : Follow Us :
After the panic that both Hurricane Sandy and Winter Storm Nemo brought about, it has become clear to us that far too many people are uninformed about the importance of being prepared. Back up your data, guys! Prepare for disaster! It’s so, so imperative in running a business successfully, and ensuring its continuity. You wouldn’t drive a car without insurance, would you? Maybe you would, how would I know? But if you do, cut it out.
With that being said, we decided to take action. Introducing: The Disaster Recovery Trivia Challenge!
HOW TO PLAY:
– Read the fact, and decide if you think it’s “True” or “False”.
– Once you’ve made up your mind, tell us what you think! You can submit your guess on Facebook in the comment section of the fact post, or tweet it to us on Twitter. Luckily, both “True” AND “False” are 140 characters or less—for all you little blue birdies out there. Phew!
Casting your guess (when and IF—that’s a big “if”, see?—you “like” us on Facebook or “follow” us on Twitter…or both, if you just really like hanging out with us) automatically earns you an entry to win— DRUM-ROLL, PLEASE…
—A free shirt! As a proud owner of one of these babies and a lover of all items acquired through winning giveaways, I can confidently tell you that you shouldn’t sit this one out.
At the end of every week, also known as Friday, we will not only be revealing the answer, but choosing a winner at random. Did you see I said “every week”? That means that with every new fact that we present, comes another opportunity for you to win. So, if you play and aren’t selected, bet your bottom dollar that the sun will come out next week.
We have 10 disaster recovery facts to talk to you about, so that means there are 10 chances to win. That also means that there will be 10 winners of TurnKey finery when all is said and done. However, we want to have a grand-prize winner, because, well… why not? At the end of this 10-week period, when we’re done making it rain T-shirts on you all, we will draw one grand-prize winner from the pool of weekly winners. That one, final, lucky winner will receive $100! Don’t spend it all in one place! Unless you’re spending it at TurnKey Internet, that is.
So what do you think? Will you play along? At the very least, check in on Fridays for some valuable information that just might end up saving you.
* Recognize this image, anyone? This T-shirt is the answer to this week’s “Guess that photo” puzzle! For those of you who haven’t heard yet, “Guess that Photo” is another game we play on our social sites! Tune in every week for a new picture, and see if you can guess what it is.Share : Follow Us :
Overheard at TurnKey Internet, straight from the CEO: “Attaining the SSAE 16 Type 2 certification was a significant goal and milestone for us. We pride ourselves on our unparalleled reliability, quality of service, and—most importantly—customer satisfaction. This certification not only proves that we are excelling in those areas, but also assures our new and existing clients that they are receiving the best possible service.”
You heard right, ladies and gentlemen! We are proud to add SSAE 16 Type 2 to the list of certifications that our green data center in Upstate NY has attained. “What’s that,” you ask? SSAE (or The Statements on Standards for Attestation Engagements) No. 16 (SSAE 16) Type 2 certification is an internationally recognized compliance certification, that was created by the Auditing Standards Board of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants in April of last year (2012). It replaced the Statement on Auditing Standards No. 70 (SAS 70) to better supplement international auditing standard ISAE 3402.
After a thorough examination, conducted by SOC audit specialists The Moore Group CPA, LLC., our facility was deemed compliant with the regulations required to attain SSAE 16 Type 2 certification. This audit investigates several core areas: security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy. It verifies that TurnKey Internet is of the utmost security, integrity, and reliability. It confirms that we have procedures and safety precautions of the utmost efficiency in place to ensure the security of our facility and our clients’ data within.
Needless to say, we’re pretty excited. We couldn’t wait to share the good news! You can read the full press release here >Share : Follow Us :
After the overwhelmingly positive reaction we received for our Black Friday Special, we have decided to keep the wheels in motion. Today, we’re announcing our Cyber Monday promotion! We’re basically taking our Black Friday Special and changing its clothes, so that you can all enjoy a little extra time with the sale that has everyone (us, included!) buzzing with enthusiasm.
If you happened to miss the sale, don’t you worry! Here’s a little overview:
With the coupon code CM2012, you can get 75% off of pretty much anything we sell – servers, reseller packages, SEO hosing; if we sell it and you want it, it’s probably 75% off. And guess what? It’s locked-in at 75% off. For life.
Here’s the really exciting part, though. For Black Friday ONLY, we packed in even more savings to the Early Bird Special I told you about earlier this week. Initially, the 75% was only valid with the selection of an annual payment plan, and for Black Friday we decided to throw the restrictions out the window and discount monthly and semi-annual plans as well. Cyber Monday is every bit as exciting for us–if not more, because we heart the internet–so we’re going to put the all-encompassing 75% off into affect again.
Lastly, if you hadn’t noticed, we like to go out with a bang here. Did you really expect us to run a special without giving it a little extra bit of awesomeness? Surely not. As a gift, to thank you for your business and for being so great, we would like to offer your fourth month absolutely free. That’s right, if you participate in our Cyber Monday sale, you will receive the fourth month of your service for exactly $0.00.
Jump over to our Cyber Monday page and save yourself some money! Happy–online–shopping!Share : Follow Us :
“Hindsight gives you 20/20 vision,” is a statement you should keep in mind as you read this blog article. Many businesses that were just recently affected in some way by Hurricane Sandy could have avoided the complete standstill to their services by preparing and planning out just what they would do if their facility suffered a catastrophic loss. Hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, snow storms, flooding, and fire are some of the most obvious causes of potentially disastrous losses that could halt the operations of a business. In fact, the property of a business does not even have to have any direct damage for a natural disaster to halt their business. For example, loss of electricity, telephone, or internet connectivity can cause problems with functionality, as those services are paramount.
The question any disaster recovery consultant will ask you is, “how would your business survive if it was affected short-term and/or long-term by some catastrophic event?” If you understand that any type of disaster could destroy your computing infrastructure – where all of your company records and data are stored, which could quite possibly destroy your business – then you should have a plan in place to alleviate that possibility.
At the very least, any business that uses computing to manage their operations should have an off-site back-up of their most important data and records. This is not a very expensive strategy, it is something that can be entirely automated, and it does not even need to be accessed until you actually need to use it. There are automated back-up systems available from most data-centers, which back-up your data as frequently as you desire. The incremental changes made in the time-frame chosen are then sent across the internet through an encrypted protocol, and stored in a managed backup system at the data center. Usually, the client is provided with a secure web interface to access those files as needed. These back-ups can also be used to restore individual data files that may have become deleted or damaged at any time, and downloaded back to the computers in your office.
The next step up from simply backing-up your data for protection from a disaster would be hosting some, to all, of your regular computing infrastructure in a data center (cloud computing). If you hosted your main office server in a data center and accessed your files over the Internet from the PCs in your office, you could survive a disaster from a computing standpoint. All of your important data could then be accessed from a temporary, remote location, or even by having your employees work from home until the office is re-established. Many companies are now hosting their entire computing infrastructure in a data center; everything from virtual PCs to their application servers. These can then be accessed through just about any device that is connected to the internet, such as a PC, Mac, tablet, and many types of smartphones.
Communicating with your customer base during and after any disaster is vital in many cases. When your email and telephone systems are cut off, and you and your customers can no longer communicate, this could be extremely damaging to your business. By hosting your email server at a data center, you have access to your email system through almost any device connected to the internet.
One of the data center services that is really gaining popularity lately is VOIP-based hosted phone systems. In a VOIP-based system, The PBX system normally nailed to the wall in an office is replaced by a PBX server in a data center. Management and administration of the system is then done though a web interface. All phone communication is channeled through voice over Internet protocol (VOIP). The advantage of this in a disaster is that your phone system is always intact. You can access your administration portal over the Internet and change any settings that may be necessary, such as adding additional extensions for remote users. Staff members can work from remote locations or at home, by accessing the phone system with a softphone on their PC or by having their calls transferred from their extensions to their cell phones.
I have suggested that data center services, TurnKey Internet included, are great solutions to the issues surrounding disaster recovery. The key reason is that they have multiple redundancies in place to provide 100% up-time guarantees. At TurnKey Internet, we have multiple fiber providers supplying our Internet and bandwidth through diverse physical paths into our facility. We have complicated switch gear in place to maintain your connections, in case one or some of the fiber connections coming into the building are disrupted. Additionally, our power supply is backed-up with both a robust battery back-up supply to all servers and equipment, as well as an on-site diesel generator that can power our facility long-term if necessary. For these reasons and more, anyone considering disaster recovery planning should consider the options available from reputable data centers like ours at TurnKey Internet, to insure that their business is not damaged long-term by a catastrophic event that had not been planned for.Share : Follow Us :
At TurnKey Internet, there is only one thing we like to do more than make new friends, and that one thing is tell everyone about it. That being said, we are so excited to announce that docSTAR, a document management software company and subsidiary of Astria Solutions Group, LLC., is moving into our Latham, NY data center!
docSTAR is located in Schenectady, NY, so we’re basically neighbors. This is one of the most noteworthy aspects of docSTAR’s move into the TurnKey cloud. There has been quite a stir around here in regards to teaming-up with a fellow Capital Region small business, and we welcome them wholeheartedly to our facility. We like to think of it as a little ray of sunshine on the heels of Hurricane Sandy!
Greg Laird, docSTAR’s VP of Product Development commented, “The cloud powers our software and our business. Our growth required a bigger, faster, stronger cloud in order to continue to provide the highest level of service. The TurnKey data center exceeds all of our requirements, so our customers can continue to grow.”
We’re more than happy to help! To read the full press release, you can check it out here.Share : Follow Us :
A couple of weeks ago, my co-worker, Joe Schoonbeck, came up with a brilliant idea for a post. He suggested we write up a quick “How-To” on some of the essentials you need to begin a hosting business. What a simple, yet profound idea. If I had a dime every time we received questions about how to set up hosting, I would be able to buy a triple with cheese and a large fry from Wendy’s. Enough of this talk about food; let’s get down to business.
Now, this list of ideas is by no means set in stone. These are just a few steps that I believe will give you a good foundation to build your business upon.
Step 1 – Decide and Buy
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it is important to determine which type of reseller account suits your needs. Unlike spandex, one size does not fit all. You see, at TurnKey Internet, we sell different types of reseller accounts: alpha, master, and WHM (web host manager).
Each reseller account has its pros and cons, but we’ll leave that for another article. For this entry into the TurnKey diary, let’s just keep it very high-level. Alpha accounts can resell Master accounts and WHM accounts, while Master accounts can only resell WHM accounts. Then, the poor, old WHM accounts can only resell cPanel accounts. This allows you to resell multiple accounts on your website.
Once you decide which account is best for you, purchase it.
Step 2 – Create
I had an intense, internal debate about step 2. Initially, I was thinking about skipping right to Step 3 (configuring your DNS), but it didn’t make sense to me to get into that if you have no site to share with the world.
You can take multiple steps in setting up your website, so I will be brief. You can use TurnKey’s website builder that is included in our reseller packages. Or, maybe you have a developer who creates fantastic websites in his/her sleep. The choices are limitless on this step.
Step 3 – Setup (Part I: Your DNS)
For the sake of this article, I’m going to assume you do not know what DNS is. I’m going to instead share how I teach what DNS (domain name system) is to our newbie engineers. You see, I compare DNS to a post office system. You have your streets and your addresses, which allow people to find your place of residence. That’s what DNS is, in a nut shell.
You have your website, and in order for others to see your masterpiece, you must first tell them where it is. You do this with your DNS. You have your DNS record, which contains your website’s IP address and your nameservers. Your IP address is essentially like the number on your mailbox. Your nameserver(s) would be the street(s) on which your house resides. You have to setup your DNS in order for others to visit your site.
Step 4 – Configure
Now that you have your site online and users purchasing hosting from you, they will inevitably need support. This could be with anything, from support for setting up your clients’ websites, to adding space to their account.
You will need some point of communication that you can use to speak with your clients. Our TurnKey reseller accounts each come with free helpdesk software included, which you can white label in your company’s name. This allows you to have a way for your customers to easily and efficiently submit tickets.
Step 5 – Setup (Part II: Extras)
When I say “setup extras”, these are items that can add increased functionality to your hosting company. While this step can be rather large, we will just stick to a few of the basics.
If you’re selling anything on your site, you will need to install an SSL certificate. This basically encrypts your users’ connections when they submit orders to your company. I would say this is just as important as your website. If you don’t happen to have an SSL certificate lying around, you can request a FREE SSL with your TurnKey reseller account. If you’re going to be accepting orders, you may need a billing system that can help keep those orders in line. Enter—one of our most popular free extras—a free WHMCS license.
Now, there are no exact steps, but these can give you a good foundation for beginning your hosting account career.
Until next time, Turnkey Lovers!Share : Follow Us :