How to leverage video marketing to grow your business: what you need to know

How to leverage video marketing to grow your business: what you need to know

Author bio – Lilach Bullock

Highly regarded on the world speaker circuit, Lilach has graced Forbes and Number 10 Downing Street. She’s a hugely connected and highly influential entrepreneur. She is listed in Forbes as one of the top 20 women social media power influencers, named one of 10 top digital marketers by Brand24 and was crowned the Social Influencer of Europe by Oracle. She is listed as the number one Influencer in the UK by Career Experts and is a recipient for a Global Women Champions Award for her outstanding contribution and leadership in business


 

Content marketing has undoubtedly become one of the absolute best forms of branding and growing a business. But content marketing can mean a lot of things: business blogging, social media, email marketing and so many different forms of content, from a simple written blog post to social media images and to videos.

And the biggest form of content marketing at the moment is…drumroll, please: video marketing!

A good video marketing strategy will help you grow your business and generate better results overall from your marketing, whether we’re talking social media, your blog or website or any other platform you might be using to promote your (new) business.

In this blog post, I’m going to share what you need to know in order to leverage video marketing to grow your business.

 

Why you need to incorporate video in your marketing strategy

Before I get into how to leverage video marketing and how to develop a strategy – as well as how to create engaging videos for your business – I first want to talk about why it’s so important to start leveraging video marketing, whether you’ve just bought a new business or thinking of selling your existing business later on.

But the fact is, there are a lot of reasons and statistics why video marketing is so important right now – it would take a while to go through them all.

Like how by the end of this year, video is expected to account for about 80% of all consumer Internet traffic.

Or how there are over 500 million people watching videos via Facebook every day.

Not to mention, social media videos generate 12 times the shares of text and image updates combined.

There are numerous statistics, all suggesting the same thing: people love watching videos online.

And if your business isn’t putting out the content that audience want to see – i.e. videos – you’re likely to struggle getting the results you need from your digital marketing strategies.

Even if you’re already thinking of the time when you’re going to be exiting the business, it’s important to maintain business health through great content, particularly video.

Not to mention, as video tends to generate much higher engagement than other forms of content, that means it will help you drive steady streams of traffic to your website, as well as higher conversion rates – and any prospective buyers interested in your business will definitely want to look at your traffic analysis when they’re carrying out their due diligence.

So whether you want to brand or grow a business you just bought or boost up the numbers for a business you’re planning to sell, start leveraging video marketing now.

Here’s how:

 

Establish your video marketing goals

Depending on whether you’re planning to sell or you just bought your business, your video marketing will likely differ.

That said, there are several big marketing goals you can reach with the help of video:

  • Build your brand and improve brand awareness
  • Build trust in your brand and showcase your value to consumers
  • Generate more social media engagement
  • Increase your website traffic
  • Generate more leads and conversions
  • Generate more sales

At this stage, consider your overall business/marketing objectives to help you choose the right video marketing goals; for example, if you’ve just bought a business and you need to start branding it, then leverage video to help you build up brand awareness and help establish your branding.

Or, if you want to sell your business, then it might be worth focusing your attention on boosting social media engagement and particularly, your traffic.

Whatever your end goals are, videos can help you achieve them more efficiently – if you know how to leverage them.

 

Where will you be publishing your videos?

Now you know what you want to achieve, so the next question is, what platforms will you be using to share your video content?

Make a list of where you are planning to use video marketing to boost your results:

  • On social media, to generate more traffic and engagement
  • On your blog and your website, to generate more traffic and leads/conversions
  • On your landing pages, to boost your conversion rate
  • In your email marketing campaigns, to generate higher open rates and more click-throughs
  • On YouTube, to reach a wider audience and boost views

When picking your channels, remember to consider your marketing objectives, as well as your resources; thankfully, you can easily optimize videos for multiple channels leveraging video creation and editing tools – but I’ll get to that in a bit.

 

Coming up with your video marketing calendar: video ideas for business

You know your objectives and you know where you’re planning to post your videos. But what kinds of videos can you actually create?

Here are some great ideas that you can use to create varied videos, depending on what your marketing objectives are:

  • Brand videos: if you want to boost brand awareness and/or build up your brand, you can leverage videos to put your brand in the spotlight. For example, you can create behind the scenes videos that show off your team in action, or behind the scenes images from your events
  • Product videos: another route you can take is to promote your products through videos and use these videos on your website, as well as social media and other marketing channels to help boost your sales. For example, showcase specific features of your product, the value it can bring to your target audience, or, like GoPro, show your products in action:

 

  • Tutorial videos: another way to highlight your products and boost sales is to create tutorial videos showcasing how people can use your products or how they can use specific features
  • Educational/how-to videos: people love content that provides them with some sort of value. So, just like you would create a How to Guide for your business blog, you can come up with similar ideas for videos that show viewers how to do something – ideally, something your business or your product can also help with. For example, here’s this video from Gillette which offers tips on how to shave sensitive skin – not only something that is highly relevant to their target audience, but also something that their products can help with:

 

  • Listicle videos: listicles are popular in all formats, including video. Make sure they offer some kind of value to your audience, just like with How-to videos earlier and that they are highly relevant to your industry
  • Live streaming videos: live streaming videos are very popular right now; ideally, if you plan to leverage live streaming, create a regular schedule so that your audience knows when to log in to see your stream
  • User-generated-content videos: one of the best ways to engage your audience and build trust at the same time is to leverage user generated content (as made popular particularly by Instagram!). For example, like Rockstar Games highlight user generated videos on their YouTube channel:

 

  • Testimonials: another great way to build trust in your brand with video is to create some testimonial videos and/or case studies with current and past customers

Most of the videos in this list can be leveraged on pretty much any channel, with some small differences; your videos will of course need to be optimized for each channel, and it’s important to remember that on some platforms, it’s best to keep things short and sweet – particularly social media and via email marketing.

 

Creating your videos: useful tips and tools

There are 2 main options for creating your videos:

  • Either film your own videos and edit them
  • Or use a content creation tool to create a video from scratch, using stock footage

Or, of course, a combination of both.

 

How to create videos without having to pick up a camera

This is one of the things that scare off businesses from getting started with video marketing: hiring someone to create videos for your brand constantly can get expensive, but at the same time, you might not have the knowledge or resources in-house to consistently film marketing videos.

So what can you do?

There are actually numerous tools available that allow you to create and edit videos very easily, even if you don’t actually have any videos of your own or any editing experience. These types of tools have video templates that you can use, as well as large and varied libraries of stock video clips.

For example, you can use a tool like Wave.video – a video creation and video editing tool that was created specifically for marketers and businesses; it has over 200 million stock video clips and images (although you can upload your own video clips too), as well as numerous templates for all kids of industries and occasions. Plus, it’s also worth mentioning that you can instantly resize your videos to over 30 different popular formats; meaning, you can easily publish your video across channels.

As for the actual editing, it’s all very straightforward, especially if you’ve already selected a template:

 

You can change video clips and images, add new ones from their (or your) library, add text overlay in your brand fonts, create different effects and watermark your videos. Plus, you can add music from their library or record yourself as a voiceover for the video.

Another similar tool is Biteable, a video maker created for marketers and businesses; as before, you have access to over 85,000 Shutterstock video clips and images and a great selection of templates to help get you started:

 

As for the video builder, it’s super easy to use; add text overlay to each scene, change the video clips and imagery you use in your scenes, change the colours in your video to suit your branding and add music to your video from their library or upload your own.

 

Useful tips for creating videos you’re filming yourself

If you want to film some – or even all – of your videos yourself, in house, you’ll most likely need to invest in a few things: microphones for making sure the sound is very clear, a camera (unless you’re doing videos exclusively for social media where you can pull off videos that were shot on your phone, you need to invest in a better camera), a tripod for making sure your shot is stable and not wobbly (both for smartphone and a “regular” camera) and, of course, great lighting.

Another important tool you’ll need is video editing software to help put together your clips into the video you wanted; you can use tools like the previously mentioned Wave.video as well, or you can get an editing tool like Filmora, which you can use to edit your videos from top to bottom: add titles an text overlays to your scenes, improve your video’s sound, layer different video clips and improve the actual aspect/aesthetic of your video.

You’ll need to spend some time getting the hang of it and watching some tutorials if you don’t have the experience and knowledge, but it can definitely turn your videos from great to amazing.

 

Conclusion

Video can make a great asset for your business, whatever your business goals are. If you’ve just bought a new business, video marketing will help you build the brand you want to build, as well as help you reach a wider audience and grow your traffic. If you want to sell your business, then it can help you boost your overall marketing results so that you can showcase the success of your business – and demonstrate why it’s a great option.

Follow the tips outlined in this article, and you’ll start churning out awesome videos in no time.

 

 

 

6 email marketing automation tips for eCommerce businesses

6 email marketing automation tips for eCommerce businesses

Gloria Kopp is a ecommerce digital marketer at Academized. She is an editor at Studydemic blog for writers and international students. Gloria is a contributor at Collective Evolution, Template Monster and Big Assignments. Follow her on Twitter: @Gloria_Kopp


 

With the rise of social media, SEO and paid advertising strategies, it seems like many businesses are letting their email campaigns slip off to the wayside. However, if used effectively, it’s still one of the most popular and most effective forms of marketing you can invest in.

In fact, according to one study by MarketingSherpa, they found that 72% of customers preferred communicating via email, that’s way more than calls, texts, instant message and social media combined.

So, as an e-commerce business, what can you do to implement an email strategy into marketing efforts? If you’re scratching your head for ideas, here are six tried and tested email automations you can set up and starting today.

Start with a Welcome Email

When a customer signs up to your business by joining your mailing list, what’s the first thing they receive from you? Is it an email a couple of weeks later featuring offers or a newsletter? KissMetrics found that implementing a welcome email into your marketing strategy will boost your click-through rate and revenue three times more than any other email you’ll send.

So, using automated email clients like GetResponse or ReachMail, you can set up triggers so as soon as a lead signs up to your mailing list, they’ll receive a welcoming email from you saying welcome to your community and a bit of information about your business and what they can do next.

Making Sure Everything is Okay

Following up the sales that you’ve made is a great way to improve the overall e-commerce experience that you’re offering your customers. It shows that you care about the service that you’ve provided them and that you simply haven’t taken their money and disappeared.

By using services like Litmus, you can send timed emails a few days from when the purchase is made to make sure that everything is okay, adding contact links and asking to get in touch if they have any problems. If you don’t have time to create these emails yourself, you can use email copywriting services such as UK Writings, as suggested by UK Top Writers.

The Importance of Upselling

Upselling has long been a successful marketing tactic used by businesses all over the world. With this process, you simply send out an email which details related products to the ones that certain customers have already been looking at or offers in regard to the products they are interested in.

This can be done with most email automation clients and can significantly boost your turnover and revenue, as well as increasing the chances of repeat purchases if implemented properly. As you can imagine, this is a lot of emails to create. To help you with this process, it can be beneficial to use free online tools like Easy Word Count or Cite It In.

Cart Abandonment Prompts

How many times do you see that a lead has added products to their basket and are just a few clicks away from making a purchase before they change their mind and leave your store? This could happen for a number of reasons from having simply no time to finish their purchase to changing their minds about what they’re buying.

However, using email automation, you can set up triggers that send off an email to your customer to remind them that they still have items in their cart waiting for them to buy, helping you claw back those all-important sales.

When generating these emails, be sure to maintain your credibility by checking the content to ensure it’s free from errors. You can make this process easier by using services like Essayroo (as recommended by Best Australian Writers ) or Boom Essays, another popular service recently featured in the Huffington Post.

Educate Your Customers

In marketing, there’s the 80/20 rule that refers to the content that a business sends to its customers. This means that 80% of the content you send should be educational while the remaining 20% is promotional.

So, in relation to your email marketing strategy, you’re going to need to plan what educational content you’re going to send. Luckily, there’s a lot of opportunities open to you, whether you’re talking about your products and their origin, industry related news and media, information about your business and more.

The most important thing to remember here is to keep the content relevant and relatable to your business. If you’re strapped for time, you can use writing services like State of Writing and Academadvisor for writing, editing or proofreading your emails.

Re-Engaging Customers

Sometimes you’ll see customers on your page analytics who regularly came to your website and interacted with your content and products but have since disappeared for whatever reason.

This is one of the easiest automated emails to set up as you can wait a month or two to remind customers that you exist as well as some information on what they are missing out on! “This can re-engage potentially lost customers, bringing them back to your business, customers you would have lost completely without email” – explains Richard Lainez, an Email Marketer at Assignment Help.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many simple yet effective ways to implement email automation into the marketing process of your e-commerce store. All you need to do is get creative with what you want to achieve, and you can be sure your campaign will be a success.

How to plan a successful content marketing workflow in just 5 steps

How to plan a successful content marketing workflow in just 5 steps

Gloria Kopp is an ecommerce digital marketer at Academized. She is an editor at Studydemic blog for writers and international students. Gloria is a contributor at Collective Evolution, Template Monster and Big Assignments. Follow her on Twitter: @Gloria_Kopp


 

Content marketing is one of the most important and essential parts of your marketing and advertising campaign which requires an immense amount of planning and organizing to be successful. More and more businesses are seeing the benefits of having a content marketing workflow as it can help you and your team to streamline your processes and focus on achieving quality and results. Most businesses will have a workflow in place already but is it as successful as it can? Today, we’ll explore five key steps you can take when creating your workflow to ensure all the bases are covered and that your content is a success.

Identify Who You Need

Marketing teams can be extremely vast and variable departments with many different roles and job titles, from graphic designers and UX technicians to writers and SEO managers. When planning the start of your workflow, you need to create a list of all the job roles that you want to be included in that campaign. “This will help you to organize and plan who is going to carry out what tasks, whether you need to outsource any parts of the project and how your budget is going to match the project” – says Victor Raines, a Content Marketer at Resumention.

Finalise the Tasks Needed

Once you’ve created a list of the people that are going to be involved in your content marketing project, you need to define what jobs are in needed in order to make the project a success. When sorting out this stage of the workflow, the more detail you include now, the better your final project will be and the fewer edits you’ll have to make. And I mean you can go into an immense amount of detail. In regard to written content, think about the language you’re going to use, the grammar, the style of punctuation, the tone of voice and any information you need to include regarding legal or policy requirements.

Set Your Timeframe

With accurate time management in place in your content workflow, you can effectively manage your content marketing project to ensure everything is done on time and even leaves you enough time to make any changes and adjustments, so your content is ready and perfect for release. “It’s imperative that you remember that ASAP and Yesterday are not accurate deadlines to set your team members and precise times and dates are essential to your team’s success. Remember to include team feedback stages and leave enough time to evaluate your content and make changes” – explains Milton Clausen, a Marketing Manager at Bestbritishessays and Huffingtonpost writer. Don’t forget to make the deadlines realistic.

Creating the Content

Now that everything is organized, it’s time to set your teams up so they can start creating the content itself. With all the information and considerations listed above, this should be a relatively easy task since all the data has been compiled and it’s now a case of piecing it all together. Of course, you’ll need to ensure all of your teams maintain contact, so the style, of say, your images and banners match with the written content itself. Set up team managers to oversee every aspect of the content creation process so you can be sure that a minimal amount of errors and adjustments need to be made. Make your content easy to digest with writing tools like Bigassignments and Oxessays for more information, and your readers will digest it.

Review, Perfect, Publish

Once the content has been completed by the deadline, it’s time to review and make any necessary changes to the content that you need to make. Remember to check out relevant keywords and design aspects to ensure you’re giving the readers what they want. Once finalized, it’s time to release your content to the world and watch the traffic, sales and revenue soar! Don’t forget you can use a thesaurus or professional writing guides, like the ones found at My Writing Way and Australian help, be sure to make sure your language is captivating and compelling for your readers.

Using Online Tools for Creating a Successful Workflow

When it comes to creating your content marketing workflow, there are many processes which can be optimized and streamlined so you can process them faster and more effectively. Here are some tools and resources that can help you do this; Pulse App – budget is a huge part of planning your content marketing workflow, and it needs to be controlled. You can use this app to make sure that all your income and expenses are managed accurately. Trello – this is a collaboration app that allows you to bring all the members of your team together into one easy-to-use place where you can organize all your tasks, goals and communications.Revieweal or Paper Fellows – creating the content itself can be extremely time-consuming, and you may not have the time to do it properly. Instead, you can use writing services such as these to outsource your content creation tasks. Creately – this is a fully-featured desktop app where you can create and generate visual content marketing workflows from scratch Thrively – this is a time and workflow management platform that allows you to manage all aspects of your workflow, including sales leads, invoices and all the data surrounding your content marketing campaign. Academized / Grammarix – a copywriting tool to use when planning and research stages of content writing can drag on much longer than anticipated.

Conclusion

As you can see, when it comes to a content marketing workflow, the whole idea is to get as organized and as planned as possible. The more information and creases you iron out in the initial stages of the workflow, the smoother the entire process will be, allowing you to only focus on the important tasks so you can guarantee the success of your project.

Video Marketing is the new trend in business

Video Marketing is the new trend in business

People are now watching 100 million hours of video content on Facebook on a daily basis while 10 billion videos are viewed daily on Snapchat.

These figures are mostly due to using video content for marketing purposes. We can’t deny the fact that video marketing is the new trend in business.

We take a look at the latest trends in video marketing and see if the medium is all hype or effective. Parham Azimi, CEO of Cantemo gives us his insights.

The average consumer would find it hard to avoid watching some form of video in a day.  The social media explosion has given us a platform where billions of people can get easy access to free video distributions.

Cisco predicts that 82% of internet traffic will come from video by 2021.

Amateurs do much of the video content we see for different reasons. A growing number can be linked to video marketing.

Social Media Examiner shared a report that shows 60% of marketers use video with 73% of them planning to increase their use of the format.

One of the most significant trends is that companies are now starting to build video marketing strategies. Tactics are now being formed to take advantage of social media as a means to promote video content.

It does not come as a surprise that more brands are beginning to produce videos because 73% of marketers believe that video impacts ROI.

By nature, videos are more engaging than static text and imaging. Social video gets 12 times more shares than text and images put together.

The top two benefits of video marketing in social media are higher traffic and business awareness. 75% of internet marketers give positive reports from video regarding getting more traffic.

We take a look at Buzzfeed’s Tasty Facebook page which has more than 93 million likes.  The posts on this page are bird’s eye view videos of meals and snacks made by an unknown chef.

The most watched video is a 1.44-minute video called ‘sliders four ways.’ which shows four recipes for tray cooked burgers. This video has been viewed 203 million times, has 5.5 million shares, 1.4 million interactions, and 289,000 comments.

If you think about recipes and cookbooks, only a few will read them for fun. Tasty took advantage of video to make these same topics engaging and lively.

They are using the same video platform to promote other products like custom cookbooks and an induction cooktop.

The company has hit the right spot when it comes to engaging consumers. They have separate pages that cater to different countries and cultures when it comes to cuisine. A page that offers healthier recipes was also added. Tasty videos are short and easy to follow. They also mastered the footage without sound tactic. The angle that they used for footage also gives the user the feeling that they are participating. These techniques have been proven effective with quantifiable results.

New Technologies

We can expect an increase in competition for viewing time. There are new technologies that can be used to boost the effectivity of video marketing.

Virtual reality, augmented reality and 360-degree videos are some of emerging tech that can be used to enhance current tactics.

A new category has come up due to AR and VR tech called immersive video. This is going to get popular soon which makes the competition fierce among marketers.

Ultra HD resolution is slowly becoming the standard although file sizes are still a challenge.

A 360-degree video ad from Hong Kong Airlines has proven to be 35 times more effective than the same ad in the 2D version. The University of Sydney has also featured a 360-degree tour of the campus. This decision is based on the 20% international student population in the school.

The travel industry is also reporting great success from VR and 360-degree marketing content. Allowing prospects to experience a destination before making a purchase increases the chance for more sales.

Thomas Cook introduced VR videos to promote specific tours in ten of its New York offices. This resulted in a 190% increase in the promoted tours and 40% ROI.

Michael Santiago - Author

Michael is an experienced leader and innovator with a long track record of successfully developing brands online. His proficiency in growing as platforms, generating web traffic and global team building has aided in driving Newswire’s rapid growth. Michael strives to make press release Newswire the disrupter in the PR and Marketing space, allowing businesses to attract media attention without the need for high-priced agencies. For more info.CLICK HERE

 

Interview with Online Investment Expert Jeff Hunt

Interview with Online Investment Expert Jeff Hunt

We caught up with website investor and internet marketer Jeff Hunt this week. In the interview below, Jeff shares his experiences around becoming an entrepreneur, his favourite monetization methods and growing his own website portfolio.

What was your background before you started operating in the website/online business space and how did you make the switch to being your own boss?

I worked for IBM as a Project Executive, operating 9-figure outsourcing deals for Fortune 100 companies. Then I took a totally opposite direction moving my family to a small central Asian country where we served students and families in a humanitarian role.

While overseas I started some small businesses that needed websites, so I got my feet wet in the internet world for the first time. Soon I discovered that websites were not just marketing channels for brick and mortar businesses but could actually be income-generating businesses in their own right.

Seven years later when we moved back to the United States I had started generating cash flow from my websites. I decided not to reenter the corporate world, and instead to grow my online portfolio primarily through buying websites.

What prompted you to make the jump?

When I bought my first successful website – Note: my first website purchase was NOT successful – I discovered I could make a couple of thousand dollars a month from a relatively simple online business.

I didn’t know exactly how to do it at the time, but I knew that if I could make $2K per month, I could probably grow that to $10K per month. That was the magic moment that convinced me it was possible to do this full time.

What does a typical day look like for an online business investor?

I think it is different for everyone but I start every day at Panera Bread which is a coffee shop/bakery about a mile from my home.  I work from my laptop and sometimes I stay there all day, but usually, I hang out in the morning and work from my home office in the afternoon.

I don’t have an official office because I use freelancers to do all the day-to-day operational tasks. Although I’ve had websites using almost every business model, I tend to focus on content websites that are more passive.

Depending on the phase, there can be plenty of work to do, but it is almost never urgent. That gives me the flexibility to take days or even weeks off to do non-business projects. It also lets me meet with friends, family and other entrepreneurs any time during the day that they are available.

When did you first discover Flippa?

My Flippa profile says I made a purchase 9 years ago. I probably had an account before that.

What is your favourite monetization method?

I love non-transactional monetization because it doesn’t require customer service or personal selling. Display ads, lead generation and affiliate monetization methods fit these criteria.

I’ve done dropship, FBA, SaaS, eCommerce for digital products and straight services business. All have pros and cons.

What are the first three things you look for on a website?

I start with the fundamentals.

Traffic and income graphs should be flat or going up. If there are peaks and valleys, there should be good explanations for those. Age and consistency are important.

I look for inappropriate concentrations. Too much traffic from one source, too high a percentage of traffic landing on one page, too much traffic from the wrong geographies, an unusual mix of device types, concentrations of expense or revenue – all of these are potential negative signals.

There needs to be a well defined and understandable process for customer acquisition. If I don’t understand a repeatable process for getting traffic or customers, I back away.

Why do you buy websites?

I try to identify opportunities that have the potential to be held for the long term. Occasionally something will turn up that is riskier but has some strong upside potential. These deals have to come at a lower multiple to offset the risk. They typically either do well and lend themselves toward a flip, or don’t do well and hopefully at least pay for themselves before going to zero.

What are the steps you take to grow websites that you’ve recently purchased?

The quickest wins are usually in the financial realm. On the revenue side, adding entirely new monetization sources using existing traffic usually increases revenue by more than it cannibalizes. A classic example is adding display ads to a site that is monetized only with affiliate links.

You can also easily increase revenue by patching holes in the funnel. Adding upsells and downsells, optimizing conversion rates, making additional touch points to prospects and following up with existing customers can all yield revenue growth.

Another financial move is eliminating or reducing expenses. Business owners often spend money on non-critical functions or overspend on basics like webhosting or freelancer support.

Traffic improvements often take more time. Basic on-site SEO improvements can sometimes result in substantial traffic growth. Things like site speed, title optimization, heading optimization, and content updates make a difference.

How did you learn how to run and operate a website?

I learn from anywhere I can. The basics of WordPress and setting up a website were all self-taught. But I’ve taken many courses over the years to learn methods and systems. I’ve also hired coaches along the way and pay for membership in high-level mastermind groups. Spending money on mentoring and networking can help you focus and speed up success.

You’ve been focusing a lot more on teaching and coaching recently, even writing a few articles for us talking about website multiples and another discussing how to make one of your website investments passive. Do you still actively buy and sell websites or is most of your time spent helping others acquire and grow their own portfolios?

The vast majority of my time, energy and resources is spent on growing my own website portfolio. I negotiated the sale of two of my sites this morning. While I really enjoying teaching and coaching, my main focus is on growing the value of my website assets for an eventual exit.

You also have several courses and webinars over at FlipMinds. Can you tell us more about what Flipminds is?

Flipminds is a community of entrepreneurs that Sunil Jaiswal has developed over a period of more than 10 years. They are investors in property, traditional business and online businesses.

In the early days, most of the group were property investors. As online real estate became more compelling, I joined the Flipminds team to help train entrepreneurs on how to develop cash flowing assets in the world of web businesses.

Now we have an active member community, mentoring resources and training in topics like paths to Financial Freedom, Website Investing, Property Investing, Online Business and Content Website creation.

When it comes to making mistakes when buying websites, what’s one thing you wish you knew sooner?

It is natural to think that putting less capital at risk is safer than putting more capital at risk. That would be true if all businesses had the same intrinsic risk profile.

But the truth is that older, more established, higher quality online businesses are much safer investments than their less expensive but lower quality counterparts. So I would have avoided many mistakes simply by focusing on businesses with better fundamentals.

That is not to say that it is impossible to find good websites at lower price points. It is also not to say that all, or even most, larger online businesses are low risk. That isn’t true. Even very high-income sites can have attributes that make them bad bets. Websites generally have high ROIs and with those ROIs come risks that have to be accounted for and mitigated.

Compared to 5 years ago, is it easier or more difficult to find a deal when looking for a website? How does the future look for this?

It is more challenging to find underpriced deals today than it was 5 years ago. There are more buyers now and the buyer community is better educated and has more resources for making informed investment decisions.

Additionally, price levels are going up. Multiples are growing not only because more buyers are entering the market but also because website assets have attracted the interest of private equity groups, larger private investors and institutional investors.

Despite the fact that big-money investors have entered the fray, there will continue to be opportunities for buyers and sellers at every price point because there is a market for websites at every stage of size and maturity.

As technology evolves, online apps take on different forms, adapting to a variety of devices and platforms. This creates new business models, new niches and new ways to deliver online solutions that will continue to create opportunities for anyone willing to master a little corner of the market.

I am very optimistic about the marketplace for online business. Economies grow by increasing the productivity of their workforces and websites and internet technologies are key elements of that productivity growth.

 

If you want to learn more about buying an online business, you can sign up for Jeff’s free training course via Flippa here.

Jeff Hunt is an internet investor,  marketer and website owner. He actively buys and grows websites with the intent of creating multiple passive income streams, and enjoys capitalizing on internet opportunities to help others to do the same. You can learn more about Jeff and his courses here.


Tips for first time buyers: You’re about to acquire your next business…so, move everything to the cloud (and take advantage of the migration to SaaS)

Tips for first time buyers: You’re about to acquire your next business…so, move everything to the cloud (and take advantage of the migration to SaaS)

If you and your business are already big users of SaaS based tech then you’ll know exactly what that means and how you’re using it. If so, then you certainly won’t need to read this article. If at the other extreme you think you’re not using Software as a Service at all yet, you’re almost certainly wrong about that. At the moment Dropbox, just for example, is rapidly heading towards a billion individual active users globally, with most of them still on ‘freemium’ access. STOP STORING FILES ON YOUR DESKTOP. Given the stellar SaaS advantages, small business and corporate-based paid premium Dropbox usage is sky-rocketing. So the odds are that you are already, at the very least, using this particular iteration of SaaS very regularly. If your business or start-up enterprise is to prosper, then one key essential is to understand the benefits and costs of the numerous SaaS offerings and lever these to your best advantage.

How much time should you be sending on this?

Chances are that regardless of whether you are selling products, services or personal experiences, your business is based largely on your own and your team’s communication and people skills. So the question is, what proportion of your time should you be spending on managing your IT structures when this isn’t your core business, your passion or your skill set? The answer is obviously, as little as possible. And this is where SaaS comes in.

If you decide to go largely stand-alone or ‘on-premises’ with your IT management then you are committing a significant proportion of your available time and resources to maintaining the currency of applications; creating adequate, retrievable and shareable data; and ultimately taking on the burden of servers, storage and network sharing capabilities. That means you won’t have the time you need to develop your real business – or else you’ll need to hire a specialist in-house IT person or small team, which even if viable isn’t cost effective.

There are intermediate options such as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) which comes in at the network sharing stage and provides the external servers and storage. However, it is generally much better to commit from the outset to fuller scale SaaS, which externalises all applications and data management. This enables you to concentrate on core business and to be free of software access constraints so that with no downloaded applications to manage and keep updated you can work from virtually any computer or device in the world, along with other members of your team. The cloud application services, managed by a third-party provider, are run directly through the internet web browser and don’t rely on any downloads or installations by you at all. That means that ‘on the road’ functionality becomes exactly the same as ‘on premises’ functionality for you and every team member.

What are the main advantages?

So, the major advantage of using SaaS is that it frees you to devote your time to what you are really passionate about and trying to achieve in your venture. It’s a great way to launch e-commerce with no software or server issues, no need to buy expensive downloaded software programs, no problems with access from mobile devices, and unlimited capacity for real-time data and document sharing with team members.

SaaS takes on the management of virtualization, in which a local workstation operates exactly as if it was using an installed application without this actually being the case. Additionally it enables users to remotely access their own personalised desktops from any device in virtually any location. Hardware virtualization ultimately enables an off-site third party processor to behave as if was many different individual processors working on the same hardware from team members’ own locations. The advantages include greater efficiency and lower costs as team members can access the company’s networked information from anywhere, embracing the increasingly expected (because cost minimising) BYOD approach.

What about the cost?

The costs of using SaaS are generally very manageable with the key advantage that levels of service access, data storage limits and the like, can be adjusted at any time. SaaS is commonly used to deliver business applications such as accounting programs, customer records software including management of orders or bookings and, for larger businesses, HR management software. Automated multilingual versions of documents can be included. There is obviously much lower up-front cost, as you are essentially renting rather than owning the asset, virtually immediate set-up and access as the applications are already fully configured in the cloud, and there are automatic updates and easily managed scalability, with plan upgrades (or capacity downgrades) adjustable on demand. This flexibility is a great advantage and there is essentially no significant hardware, software or server depreciation to be factored in.

Are there any disadvantages?

There are really very few disadvantages of SaaS. The initially understandable concerns around data security breaches are not really well-founded, as the enormous success of cloud-based accountancy provision such as Xero attests. However, the dependency of SaaS on uninterrupted fast internet connectivity, plus the potentially lower speeds compared to on-premise user applications can cause some occasional headaches.

When you are ready to choose your SaaS provider, then as with any contract it’s a case of ‘buyer beware’. As with everything, it’s easy to enter into a provision agreement but it can be much harder to exit it. In particular, carefully check the provisions for exporting your data to another destination of your direction if you leave that provider – and ensure that the export will be in a standard format which will enable it to port over to another SaaS provider.

Migrating data can be very costly in terms of time and money. That’s why it’s a good idea to move your own business data to a SaaS provider from the very outset or as early as possible. There is no definitive list of pre-eminent SaaS providers, partly because most of them specialise in a particular market segment. Request Service Level Agreements (SLAs) from a few providers and carefully cross-reference them, as well as verifying the vendors’ reputations and their customer reviews. Try to make contact with a couple of their clients directly and find out what they have to say about their experience of service reliability and technical assistance. Compare pricing plans and remember that if a provider’s prices and the promises seem too good to be true – then they almost certainly are!