The Top 3 Conference Apps for Businesses

The Top 3 Conference Apps for Businesses featured image

Many businesses have found that working remotely is easy when you have the ability to communicate online. Whether you are deciding to work remotely due to the current health climate or if your business needs to connect with people from across the globe, online conference calls are a lifesaver. 

There are loads of conference apps out there, so we have compiled the top 3 and examined the good and bad parts of them for you. 

Zoom  

Zoom is used across many businesses to keep up productivity and communicate between team members. Every day, there are over one million members using the platform. 

The pros of using Zoom are:

  • It has a free plan that allows up to 100 participants.
  • Slack and Zapier can be used alongside it. 
  • You can screen share during the chat. 
  • You can hold a live video call.
  • In the paid version, you can hold webinars and then connect these to Facebook and YouTube too. 
  • There is a lot of technical support for Zoom users via FAQs, online support and tutorials etc.
  • You can also record your calls if you need to review them in the future. 
  • It will warn you in advance that you are near the end of the 40-minute session. 

The cons of using Zoom are:

  • It only holds 40-minute sessions and it will cut out after that. 
  • You have to pay for the webinar feature, which isn’t great if you are a sole trader or a very small business. 
  • The quality isn’t always predictable and some users say the video is often pixelated or blurry.  
  • It also can have a lang regarding the audio. 
  • It can get expensive for larger teams. 

Skype 

Skype has been around for years and is a staple for businesses and individuals wishing to use video conferencing. 

The pros of using Skype are: 

  • You can use dual screens and share large files. 
  • If you buy Office 365, you can get the essential office apps like Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint along with it. 
  • You can have a Q and A session, post polls and the opportunity to use the whiteboard feature.
  • It will soon be a part of ‘Microsoft Teams’, which is similar to Slack and can help teams be more productive.

The cons of using Skype are: 

  • That it has some technical issues. This means you have to end the call and start it again to get it to work properly. This also happens with Zoom at times, but Skype is ‘known’ for freezing up.
  • It is hard to get technical help with it if something does go wrong. Unlike Zoom, you are unlikely to get support quickly from Skype. 

Google Hangouts

Google Drive is great for sharing documents over email with your teammates, so why not use Google Hangouts? 

The pros of Google Hangouts are: 

  • It’s very easy to use as you simply connect to a link set up by a teammate and use your company email.  
  • It is free to Gmail users. 
  • It’s easy to navigate between Gmail and other google documents. 
  • You can send direct messages, video and voice calls. 
  • It has Draw and Effects for when you want to have a bit of fun in your video calls.
  • You can use it seamlessly between the desktop, phone or a tablet. 
  • It is great for small to medium-sized teams.
  • It saves your chats so you can go back later if you need to remember something. 
  • They are constantly improving their video quality and many users say it’s valuable to their business workflow. 

The cons of Google Hangouts are: 

  • The voice calls may have rates applied.  
  • They are not made for large teams or corporate use. 
  • There are minor bugs from time to time. 
  • The Hangouts chat vs the video feature can be confusing. Also, it can be hard to know how you enter a meeting. 
  • There are no file-sharing options as you can only send photos or GIFs. 

So… Zoom, Skype or Google Hangouts? 

Overall, Zoom, Skype and Google Hangouts are great ways to keep in contact with your team when you are working remotely. Each conference app has its own qualities and challenges so you need to evaluate which one will be best for your business. If you are a smaller team Google Hangouts or Zoom seems the most appropriate conference app. Skype is also great, but its technical issues let it down at times. Zoom appears to be the most professional and useful one of the three and especially for larger teams. Just be wary that all the apps have their issues and perks, so why not test them out first? 

Facebook’s $100m Grant Programme for Small Businesses

Facebook’s 0m Grant Programme for Small Business featured image

As COVID-19 continues to spread, small businesses in particular are facing serious financial concerns. 

The outbreak has resulted in widespread closures of retail stores, restaurants and bars. With independent companies now concerned about their survival during this challenging time. 

To help towards the financial impact of the Coronavirus outbreak, Facebook have announced the launch of a new grant programme. Providing $100 million (£83 million) in cash grants and advertising credits to small businesses. Coinciding with the UK government’s own schemes to help people get back on their feet.

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO made the public announcement explaining “small businesses are the heartbeat of our communities… The longer the crisis goes on, the greater the risk.” “We’ve listened to small businesses to understand how we can best help them… We want to do our part.” 

The facebook grant programme will offer as many as 30,000 small businesses in more than 30 countries help towards their rent and operational costs. Extra support for employees as well as advertising to help continue their connection with customers online. 

The logistics of the programme are still unclear, and it hasn’t been confirmed how the money will be delivered or how much will be funded in cash versus advertising credits, but Facebook confirmed that applications will be open in the coming weeks. 

Sandberg also announced that ‘Facebook Business Hub’ would be available for all businesses to access. Which features resources and recommendations to keep moving forward.  

If you want to find out all the details of the facebook grant you can sign up here

How to Pivot Your Business During the Coronavirus Crisis

We’re all probably deep into Coronavirus crisis mode within our respective companies, but business doesn’t need to slow to a halt. There are countless opportunities available that come with a change in our behaviour. More people are online than ever before, so online services are due to see a vast rise in users. But, if you’re still looking blankly at your screen wondering what the hell do I do now? The answer is simple, pivot your business to seize opportunities. 

Mind over Matter

When it comes to the Coronavirus you have to expect your teammate will be off sick. Mind over matter doesn’t mean they should carry on as normal and fight through illness to get the job done. It means business owners should seek to inspire others in the team to keep the ship sailing. Even take on responsibilities of their own and get stuck in with the hard work. 

Alongside the workload we should all shift our thinking from our traditional structures. Think about alternatives to your standard offerings. Could you put your events online? There are discussions within the movie industry to make new releases instantly available for those who are quarantined at home, to combat the pushback of Blockbuster movies. 

Every industry is switching up the standard offerings. Fast food delivery services like Deliveroo and JustEat announced no-contact drop-offs to avoid the human-interaction involved with home deliveries. This doesn’t mean we should just wait and see what the bigger companies are pushing towards, as no-one knows what will be the proven course of action or the outlook we’re expecting at the end of the Coronavirus outbreak. It’s best to plan, pivot and action. 

Government Relief Measures 

Over the coming weeks and months we’ll see a lot of new procedures put in place to support business owners throughout COVID-19. During the 2020 Budget the government announced small business grant funding. This will “provide £3,000 to around 700,000 business currently eligible for SBRR or Rural Rate Relief, to help meet their ongoing business costs”. 

They also increased the retail discount available to eligible properties with a rateable value of less than £51,000 from one third to 50% for 2020/21.

Within these temporary measures we will see: 

  1. An Increase in the lbel of retail discount to 100% for eligible retail. 
  2. Expanding the retail discount to include hospitality and leisure properties, with a rateable value of less than £51,000 such as museums, theatres and gyms
  3. An Increase the level of the pubs discount to £5000 for pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000

It’s more than likely we will see an increase in support for all businesses by the government, so it’s best to say up-to-date by keeping a close eye on all official announcements as your company could be eligible for essential services made available. 

With these measures put in place, you can create a window of opportunity for your company to adjust. If you need more information, we are running a FREE webinar to help businesses get through the crisis that is the coronavirus.

How Your Small Business Can Thrive in a Downturn

How can your business thrive in a downturn

The outbreak of Coronavirus has caused dramatic drops in the stock markets around the world and we are just at the beginning.

Many people are drawing similarities between the recent outbreak, the Financial Crash in 2008 and Black Monday in 1987 since they drastically impacted the economy. However, this new health crisis may affect businesses differently from previous economic turbulence. If this outbreak is sustained over a period of months, it may force businesses to change their business models. Some businesses may find that their previously successful business cannot function any longer. The next few months are going to test the resilience of business models like never before.

No matter how well prepared you think you are, no business can be fully prepared for what will be potentially many months of disruption and restrictions in our society. Downturns can cause a lot of fear. It forces businesses to operate in a more hostile climate. It shakes people out of complacency and challenges businesses to prove their business model and strategy.

Warren Buffett, the prolific investor and leader of one of the most successful investment businesses the world, stated that:

“Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.”

Warren Buffett

In a downturn, your strength as a leader and your business model will be tested. Some will fail that test. Getting through a downturn is one thing, but how can you emerge from the downturn in position ready to capitalise on the opportunities of an economic recovery? During a downturn, it is the survival of the fittest, so you need to think about your strategy.

Efficiency Becomes Paramount

During the good years of a business, the efficiency generally tends to drop. As the downturn approaches, every business should focus on being more efficient in every area. How can you do things more quickly and be more cost-effective? For some businesses, this may mean trimming back on discretionary spending while others are cutting down the size of the organisation. For small businesses, the difficult decision is where to trim and by how much? Trimming too much will hinders your ability to operate and trimming too little will carry more costs.

You need to plan ahead to ride the storm and be ready to bounce back.

Cut Hours Before Heads

One of the biggest costs in a business is headcount. Businesses heading into difficult times generally look at the headcount first. Cutting headcount is good as it can have the biggest reduction on the overheads of a business. However, if you cut headcount it can also limit your resilience to the downturn.

If you think you need to cut headcount, the first option should be to cut hours before cutting roles. Could you reduce hours by 10-15% to avoid people losing their job? Losing resources should be your last resort. You’ll need people to make things happen. Your team would prefer fewer hours over no job. Remember that nobody will love you for cutting headcount or cutting hours, but leaders are not there to be loved. You are there to lead them through these challenging circumstances. Your business has to be in prime shape to weather the storm and seize the opportunities as they arise.

Revisit Your Strategy and Business Plan

Your business model may go out of the window in a downturn. It is smart to reassess to adapt to the changing economic environment. It may mean almost reinventing your service and how you offer it if needs be. Carrying on, in the same way, may work for some businesses, but the vast majority need to re-think how they do business to ensure they keep themselves in the game.

Likewise, your budget will take a hit. Some sectors will see a deeper hit than others. Your job is to understand how that hit will affect you and what you can do about it.

In the current crisis, lots of leisure businesses, hospitality and retail are going to take a hit as they may not have the footfall or consumers as people may avoid visiting large public places. So how as a small business can you serve customers in their homes? Think about the different ways you can go to market with what you offer, can you do something which will help your customers using a different sales process or service delivery method?

Taking the time to revisit all of the previous plans and adapting them can make a real difference to your financial performance in a difficult time.

Go to Market Hard

Keeping your head down is not a great strategy. If it is going to be harder to maintain the existing business model during a downturn, not only do you have to revisit your business plan and strategy, you have to work harder. With a better understanding of your plan and strategy, you can refine your marketing to improve the performance of your activity.

Now is the time to relook at your marketing strategy and design new campaigns to adapt to the changes in the economy. You may need to keep your budgets the same but focus more tightly onto certain key customer demographics.

Don’t shrink back from marketing activity.

A downturn may reduce the effectiveness of marketing for some sectors, but refining it may the key to keeping the engine of your business turning. This is the very time to be capitalising on the value you can bring to your customers.

This will also stand you in a stronger position as the economy recovers.

Be Ready for the Opportunities

A downturn will create different opportunities. You may find that specific markets and sectors need more from you than you previously offered, can you extend your product or service offering to help your customers?

As the downturn progresses, it will eliminate some of your competitors, and, if you’ve been marketing effectively, you will now be in a position to take on some business which previously you couldn’t secure or reach. This again may mean you being flexible in how you deliver your products and services to allow you to seize on the opportunities that present themselves. In the 2008 financial crash, lots of small businesses went to the wall. At the same time, a lot of small businesses benefited from others going out of business. It may seem a little ruthless, but someone’s loss could be your gain. Whilst we don’t wish any ill onto others, if new opportunities come up, you should take them.

How to Beat the Coronavirus as a Business

The Coronavirus outbreak is having an unquestionable impact on the business world. 

The economy relies heavily on the flow of people and products across the world. The shift in suppliers, event cancellations and postponed travel has created a large level of uncertainty on how certain businesses will survive. 

The important thing to remember is the outbreak is not the first pandemic to exist. It might be a rocky couple of months, but life will return to normal and it won’t last. 

BUT If you want to survive, it’s time to make a plan. To tackle the Coronavirus your business will need to make some essential changes to your company processes. 

Developing an Alternative Revenue Stream 

The true impact COVID-19 will have on your business is determined by the quality of the planning that you do now. If you wait around for the worst-case scenarios, you could be too late. 

It’s all about being prepared to change your business approach to help keep operations running.

If your business involves products or services designed for in-store purchases, it’s time to re-think your approach. Leveraging opportunities for alternative selling points is becoming key to surviving. So, if your current business revolves around in-store sales, it might be time to start looking online. 

Employees Working From Home

As people make up the very core of many businesses, considering their health should be a priority. 

It’s essential to include strategies that include a potential increase in remote working. Whether that means for your team or yourself. The Coronavirus doesn’t discriminate. 

If an employee becomes sick, it should be reinforced that staying home and separating themselves from the rest of the workforce is ok. If guidelines and deadlines are established with your team before the need for quarantine, it will help the workload continue, even from home offices. 

However, if around 50% of the workforce are not being able to work during a pandemic, it’s eventually going to put a strain on the financial side of a business. This is why it’s important to look into the tax grants available since The Budget 2020 was released. 

Tax Grants 

During the recent Budget 2020, the Chancellor announced the measures in place to provide the public services, individuals and businesses the support they need during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

  • The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme 

The loan scheme will allow businesses with a turnover of no more than £41 million to apply for a loan of up to £1.2 million, with the government covering up to 80% of any losses with no fees. 

This will unlock up to £1 billion pounds to protect and support small businesses. 

  • Statutory Sick Pay

If your business has fewer than 250 employees, the cost of providing 14 days of statutory sick pay per employee will be refunded by the government in full.

  • Cash Grant

There will be a £3,000 cash grant to 700,000 to the smallest businesses, delivered by Local Authorities and worth a total of £2 billion. 

  • Business Rates 

The government is temporarily abolishing business rates for smaller firms, leisure and hospitality with a value of up to £51,000. Meaning that nearly half of all business properties will not pay. 

Emerge from The Chaos 

There’s no argument that the Coronavirus will impact the future of the workforce. It’s important to remember that if you take the time to build a successful and healthy organisation moving forward, your business will survive.

It will take time, but eventually the world will be back to normal and both the markets and economy will have had the time to heal. In the meantime, whilst the crisis is unfolding business should be taking notes of their survival for later reviewal. 

Once the business world has recovered from the crisis, companies will be smarter and have learned enough to change their future. It’s likely that the business world will focus on online platforms. If you can adapt to the new way of business, you’ll pull through better than ever before.  

The Rise of Fake Gurus

the rise of fake gurus featured

I’m sure you’ve seen them before. 

It is usually some person with a whiteboard telling you how they will transform your life through their ‘secret’ business opportunity or 10-step mastermind course. The worst ones feature a rented sports car with the presenter claiming it is their own. 

But, there is a far more pervasive type of fake guru…

The business growth guru. 

These figures advertise on Facebook and Instagram and offer get-rid-quick schemes and free information, which is packaged into an overpriced programme or course. In our fast-paced digital world, there is a huge amount of confusing and conflicting information about what you should be doing to grow your business. There are lots of different approaches, which all have their own merits. (Everyone’s business is different and needs a personalised approach.) However, there are also fake gurus who offer golden services, programmes and courses, but fail to deliver any results that they promised.

But don’t trust the luring gurus with their fancy marketing campaigns. 

Here are some red flags to spot a fake business guru:

Flashing the Cash

If someone is flashing cash as a part of their marketing, it tells you two things. Firstly, they are trying to target someone who desperately needs money. Secondly, they use it as a way to try and prove themselves to people. Flashing the cash is a distraction from their lack of substance. The only cash they flash is what they extract from people who fell for their marketing deception.

Made Loads of Money But Want to Give Back

This is the biggest pile of crap I’ve ever heard. The guru states that they are so successful in their main business, so they have decided to launch the course to help people. If you’ve made millions on your services and programmes, you don’t need anyone to give you £40 or pay £5000 for your mastermind course. Most of these gurus don’t have another business, it’s just a lie. Selling their success and making you believe you can have it too is their business.

They Don’t Exist 

A quick Google search on many of these gurus will find nothing. Absolutely nothing. The guru will claim they have helped stock market-listed global businesses, yet you can’t find any proof. There are not any websites that mention them, testimonials or even, in some cases, a business website. Would a global-player do business with someone who doesn’t seem to exist?

I am writing this article because I get offers all the time from gurus. I dig a bit into their history and I struggle to find anything about them. It is almost like they appeared from nowhere. Nowadays you can check the page history of social accounts and it is surprising how many of these gurus created their pages recently. I am generally suspicious of anyone who uses the term guru, expert or influencer when they talk about themselves. That doesn’t mean that everyone who uses those terms is a fake-guru, it just means I scrutinise them more. If you are an influencer, expert or guru, these are usually the terms that other people would use to refer to you. 

Language and Emotion

These are proven strategies and methods to convert people into customers. They use persuasive language or a tug on the heartstrings to bring the emotion out. It is a great way to get people to buy-in and there is nothing inherently wrong with this. It is good marketing. But, when it is used to convince people to buy into false promises, it is totally wrong.

Let me get a disclaimer out here before we continue…

I am not taking a shot here at legitimate businesses or people who work hard for their customers and deliver something that has value. I am talking about the businesses where the odds of you receiving the promised results you paid for are well, long.

Manipulation

Finally, a lot of these gurus bypass the normal, common sense of their buyers with manipulation. They know how to make their potential customers feel good. Obviously tell a good sob story or deliver a killer presentation. They are not afraid to use tactical social engineering to get you to believe they are the real deal without having to back up their global and influential status. They’ll also state the scarcity and rarity of their services to lure you in such as ‘I’m opening up my mastermind but can only take 5 people’. This is marketing talk for ‘I have no-one, but want five people to buy’. Scarcity and rarity are used to help the buyer make a buying decision quicker for fear of missing out.

So What Can You Learn from Fake Gurus?

They are excellent marketers and they will use all the latest technology to get people into their sales process. Despite the millions they have in the bank, they will produce videos and marketing to get you to download their e-book for free and then upsell you to their course or programme. These rich gurus (fake gurus) are so rich they for some reason, need your cash… All the tools they use are ‘legitimate’ and they will ‘happily’ show you how to deploy them for your business to grow, but their foundations are untrue. The product they offer cannot actually deliver for the majority of their customers.

I recently watched a YouTube video about a property guru who helps people learn how to build a property empire for a £10,000 course. In the video, people were telling how most of the information on the course was easily found on Google. As I watched the video, I did my own Googling and I quickly saw that the marketing of this particular guru was exhibiting the points above. 

Also, I had the thought that if you had £10k to invest in property, wouldn’t it be smart to use that towards investing in a property? However, this guru was teaching people what he had learned from becoming wealthy in property selling. So, why would a property guru, who has made millions from the property market, want to package his knowledge and sell it? This could potentially introduce more competition into the market too. If I was interested in property selling, I would likely investigate this guru with caution as a lot of the signs suggest he could be a fake guru.

Building a Business is Hard Work

Trying to keep on top of everything that needs to be done in business is challenging, and it can be easy to fall for what looks like the perfect solution.

Every business has its challenges and frustrations and many of these fake-gurus paint an unrealistic picture of the world. When you’re dealing with the challenges of building a business, it can be easy to think ‘it shouldn’t be this hard’, which helps to reinforce the fake gurus message. Business growth takes time and hard work. 

But if it wasn’t difficult, every business would be successful.

If it wasn’t challenging, everyone would be a business owner.

Don’t fall for a fake guru.

How To Recover Your LinkedIn Account In an Emergency

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LinkedIn is great for building connections with people and growing your business. You can use it for content marketing or for approaching decision-makers who can help you grow your business. 
But, what happens when it all goes wrong and you don’t know why you have lost access? Here is a brief guide on how to recover your LinkedIn account in an emergency.

How You Can Lose Your Account

False Identity

This should be a no-brainer, but if you have a false account for company purposes and nothing malicious, you could still be at risk. LinkedIn favours total honesty when it comes to profiles as its purpose is to build a community of people. Having multiple accounts could potentially impact whether your account is taken down. Think about it like this, you are less likely to connect with someone who doesn’t have a profile picture, for example, so why would you want to connect with someone who you don’t really know on LinkedIn? 

Using Bots 

Similar to the point above, automated methods of using LinkedIn to send connection requests or direct messages is not okay. This violates the term of service and you will be penalised. LinkedIn advocates real connections between people to build businesses and their networks. 

Excessive Sales Messages 

You may think that sending the same template to multiple people to promote your business is fine, but if you bombard people with sales messages it will harm your account. No one likes to receive pushy sales messages as soon as you connect with someone or an impersonal one from an automated system. People can report you and it’s just not worth it. We advise businesses to build rapport with their connections before promoting their services. There’s a right and wrong way to market your business!

Harmful Code

Sadly, people will try this method to try and hack other accounts or push their marketing strategies. You cannot post anything that has harmful code or software viruses on your LinkedIn. You must also not support or develop the use of software to copy data or profiles for your own use. 

Opening PDFs or Other Links in Direct Messenger 

If you are doing well on LinkedIn or you clearly use it as a sales funnel or your business, you could be at risk from people wanting access to your account. You will get a message along the lines of: 

“Hi, I would love for you to take a look at this proposal and give me some costs for a project.”

But don’t open it! These people prey on your desire for new business and they can also be found in the fake “R.e” or “follow up” emails. For more information regarding LinkedIn’s terms of service see the help pages here

How To Recover Your Account  

Password Issues

Sometimes you forget your password. This is the simplest way to lose access to your account. Thankfully, if you can access your email account you should be able to reset your password easily. Once you have got back into your account, why not add a phone number or another email address to prevent you from losing access to your account in the future? 

From Hacking 

If you notice anything suspicious on your account and your password has been changed, you could have been hacked. This is very likely if you opened any suspicious PDFs or links in your messages. (These people can access your account through your last cookie history on your session.) 

Go to: LinkedIn’s hacking recovery page to recover your account.  

If You Still Can’t Access Your Account

LinkedIn also has the ability to verify your identity through technology that processes encrypted scans of ID. This normally takes 14 days to process and you will need a smartphone or computer with a webcam, a government-issued form of ID, an email address and access to a desktop computer. Look at LinkedIn Help to find out what photos will be denied or processed. 

How to Create Instagram Stories That Really Work

How to Create Instagram Stories That Really Work featured

The reach of Instagram is immeasurable for your business. At 500 million daily users, Instagram stories are a great way to connect with your customers and create new connections. 

According to Hootsuite, more than 25 million businesses around the world use Instagram for their marketing purposes. 

As a result of Instagram’s integration of stories, there has been a massive decline in the average number of Instagram’s feed posts. Later  has a helpful diagram of these stats:

Stories create an authentic connection between your brand and your target audience, which creates places for communication and feedback opportunities. All of these increase engagement for your company. 

So, how do you go about creating great Instagram stories? 

Here are 5 ways to get the reach you need: 

1 ) Use Poll Stickers or Emoji Sliders 

Polls are a great way to get a response from your audience. It makes them feel involved in your brand. If you ask which fitness routine your followers want, for example, they are more likely to be engaged and take note of what you post next. Think of it as a little shoutout to them if you end up picking the option they asked for. Emoji sliders are also great for this as they build hype around your product or company. You can also get feedback from them on what they think of your newest product for example. The choices for the emoji slider are also versatile for any company or individual. 

Lush uses these a lot in their marketing campaigns and it has generated a great response from their audience.  

2 ) Question Stickers 

Similar to the emoji sliders and polls, you are able to know exactly what your customers want. However, you can get a more detailed view of why and what they want to talk about. You can either set up questions for them to answer or just keep the default ‘Ask Me a Question’ sticker. You are able to create a better connection with your customers through this feature than polls or emoji sliders. It is also more personal for your audience as they feel they can ask you anything, which builds rapport. 

3 ) Be Creative 

There is an alluring part of Instagram stories; they will disappear after 24hrs. This gives you the ability to be more informal and take risks with your marketing. After all, the best brands are known for their quirky brand voices or risky marketing. Your job as a business owner or a marketer is to target your ideal customer, which will mean isolating others who aren’t in your niche. Take a chance with your marketing on your Instagram stories and see how it sits with your audience. Just remember that screenshotting is also a thing, so don’t go too far!

4 ) Story Advertising

Instagram also has the option of ads as stories, which is great for when you have run out of organic content and want to get more visibility for your brand. These show up when your audience is flicking through their friends’ stories. Instagram is great at drawing you in. You will be happily clicking through stories and ads only to realise you have been sat there for 30 mins.

However, if you use sponsored Instagram stories as a partnership, you have to disclose it is an ad. This is true for anything from free gifts or fully paid partnerships as noted in Instagram’s terms. In Instagram’s terms, it also states that the words ‘ad’ should be clear on your story, away from other text, and visible for people who don’t have the sound on. 

You can use this feature to create a buzz around your next product. Use Instagram as a teaser for the next big thing. Your followers will be more likely to check out your next post if you create tension or a Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) on a launch offer. 

5 )   Go Live 

This is a great feature for businesses to create engagement. You could use it for new releases, Q&A’s or offer limited discounts on products. If you go live, your followers will be notified and you will appear boldly as ‘live’ amongst other people’s stories at the top of the page. You can also get a top live status at the front of the story bar if you get a lot of engagement for your story. 

Summary

Instagram stories are great for creating quick and spontaneous content. Instagram has taken the good aspects of Snapchat stories and made it unbeatable across other social media platforms. Charlie Buffin, a Social talent agent, notes that it is clear that Snapchat usage/engagement has gone down significantly since the release of Instagram Stories. 

The reach is immense for businesses too. Instead of spending time planning your videos or photo content, you are able to quickly snap a story and keep your followers engaged and up to date. The most important thing to keep in mind about your marketing strategy on Instagram, or any other social media platform, is to be consistent in your delivery. This consistency should be in your timing and you should have a regular posting schedule. There is no point in building engagement and then letting it drop by. You will ruin the hard work you put into your marketing that way. If it is done well, there is nothing better than having people waiting for your next post or finding value in your content. You may be surprised how people love to see a behind the scenes version of your company, and stories can help you create an engaging and authentic brand. 

The Top Reasons Why Your Open Rates Are Plummeting

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You may think that an ‘open rate’ is simply the number of emails that are opened after you send them out… 

Think again. 

You calculate the open rate by the ratio of the people who opened the emails to the emails that were actually delivered. 

Here’s a helpful equation from Aritic

Emails Open Rate = Unique Open Emails / (Total Number of Emails Sent – Total Number of Bounced Emails) 

So, if 100 were sent and 20 bounced, 80 were delivered. Out of this 80, 20 were opened, which gives you an open rate of 25%. 

Even when you input tracking pixels in an email to see if it’s opened these aren’t always accurate. Many ISPs will not open graphics on an email and even though it has been opened, the ISP will mark it as unopened. This gives you a false impression of open rates. 

So, how do you make sure your emails are being opened? 

By avoiding these 5 reasons that damage your open rates:

1 ) Your Subject Lines Suck 

See the subject lines as the gatekeepers to your emails being opened. 

So, what makes a good subject line? 

A good subject line tells the recipient what the email is about and encourages them to open it. Any exclamation points, strange words or capital letters aren’t a good idea. These will either come across as unfriendly or they will be recognised by the mailbox as spam. Sometimes even both. Buzzwords like ‘free’ can also trigger spam filters. Times have changed when you could put ‘Re:’ or ‘Fwd:’ in your subject line. This practice comes across as deceptive and it will put people off opening the email.

2 ) It Looks Automated 

No one likes to be blasted with automated marketing emails. Think about all the emails that clearly don’t look to engage with you on a personal level and that you have just deleted. 

All you have to do is use the person’s name and do a little research on them before you send them an email. This is a much better way of starting to build a profile and relationship with your potential customers because they feel valued. 

In a similar vein, make sure the ‘from’ name remains the same between you and your recipient. This will create a credibility factor and make the recipient see a human connection behind the email. (It will also lend you a hand by keeping your messages out of the spam filters.) 

3 ) Too Many Emails 

The more emails you send to someone (unless it is of high-value content), the less likely they are to open them. Think about how many emails you are planning to send to someone in your content marketing or how many times is appropriate to send follow up emails to someone about your services/products. If you are trying to get an answer from a decision-maker or someone important, think about leaving it a few days before your next email. If you pester them, they are sure to damage your open rates by ignoring your emails. 

4 ) Respect the Right to Unsubscribe

Make sure the unsubscribe button is clear and easy to use. Many companies lose potential clients in the future as a result of bombarding them with email streams. If you want hostility from people, continue to make it hard for them to opt-out. You need to comply with a person’s ability to not want to be a part of your emails. If someone unsubscribed, simply respect that. Many others will want to receive your emails if you are giving them something of value. 

5 ) It’s Not Mobile Friendly 

You see it on the tube, bus and in the street… people are checking their phones for everything. According to Aritic, 48% of emails are being checked on mobile devices (tablets, phones etc…) It is also useful to know that 69% of people using their phone to check emails will delete any emails that do not load properly. We live in a high-pressure society where, if something doesn’t do what we expect it too, we will move on to the next task in our working day. Make sure your emails appear well on mobile devices to increase your open rates. 

So, there are many reasons why your email open rates are plummeting. You need to be creating emails that provide value to the reader and encourage them to open it, read on and hopefully complete the call to action you need. This can be anything from replying with a date for a meeting to booking onto your next event.