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Andrea Hill

Most Small Business Owners Are Missing the Biggest Benefits of the Internet

It’s time to treat your online business as more than just a digital catalog.

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SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS today are failing to use some of the biggest opportunities of the internet. It’s being treated as an impersonal alternate channel for the selling of goods, not as a powerful tool for creating useful real-time data or automating chains of tasks.

The first opportunity is the most obvious: the use of data for analysis that can lead to better decision-making. You already have a wealth of data available to you through Google Analytics, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, your Shopify store, email marketing system, and social media channels. With a third-party app like Whatagraph (easy) or Morphio (intermediate), you can feed your data from all those channels into one system and produce automatic, easy-to-read reports on any schedule you like. When you see a data pattern or trend, that’s a clue to start asking questions, like why is this happening? Or, what can we do to increase a good trend or reverse a bad one?

The next opportunity most small business owners are missing is the opportunity to automate. Do you know that you can automate many marketing steps to save you time and, more importantly, ensure important steps actually get done?

The most basic marketing automation step is related to email subscriptions. Every subscription should be followed with a warm welcome email designed to draw the customer back to your website. That email can be written in advance and triggered upon receipt of a subscription.

But why stop there? Why not draft a series of eight to 10 communications, scheduled to be delivered over a 20-week period? Now your new subscriber is receiving targeted new-customer email once or twice per week. Once you write the series of emails, it will deliver automatically to each new subscriber, ensuring that your marketing is drip-drip-dripping.

Even better, write different email series and deliver them according to which page of your website the visitor was on when she subscribed. Did she subscribe on an engagement ring page? Send her fun emails packed with engagement party and wedding planning ideas. Did she subscribe on a custom design page? Send emails talking about beautiful gemstones and successful custom design projects.

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Another way to maximize your marketing reach is to make it easy to meet with you. If you can’t get someone into the store, perhaps you can get them on a video conference call. Calendly (with Zoom integration) and Vectera are two programs that give your customers scheduling power in a fun, clicky way. You can link these services to a group calendar or individual calendar, and you can determine the windows of time available for booking. Include a personal link and watch the appointments populate your calendar. You can even log data into your analytics package for additional insights.

It’s time to treat your online business as more than just a digital catalog. The lion’s share of value is lying just beneath the surface, in the data that helps you make better decisions and the automation that helps you run a more efficient and effective business.

Andrea Hill is owner of Hill Management Group, with three brands serving the jewelry industry. Learn more at hill-management.com.

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Celebrate Your Retirement with Wilkerson

For nearly three decades, Suzanne and Tom Arnold ran a successful business at Facets Fine Jewelry in Arlington, Va. But the time came when the Arnolds wanted to do some of the things you put off while you’ve got a business to run. “We decided it was time to retire,” says Suzanne, who claims the couple knew how to open a store, how to run a store but “didn’t know how to close a store.” So, they hired Wilkerson to do it for them. When she called, Suzanne says Wilkerson offered every option for the sale she could have hoped for. Better still, “the sale exceeded our financial goals like crazy,” she says. And customers came, not only to take advantage of the going-out-of-business buys and mark-downs, but to wish a bon voyage to the beloved proprietors of a neighborhood institution. “People were celebrating our retirement, and that was so special,” says says.

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