Tag Archives: work from home

How to Manage Your Business’s Online Reputation

You don't want to be running damage control.

You don’t want to be running damage control.

“A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well”—Jeff Bezos

The importance of online reputation management cannot be understated. Thanks to sites such as TripAdvisor, it’s easier than ever for customers to post their comments and criticism online. And, as many businesses have discovered, negative reviews can have a disastrous effect on revenue.

Even the courts are beginning to acknowledge the seriousness of online reputation damage. In July, French blogger Caroline Doudet was forced to pay a restaurant €1,500 in damages after posting a critical review on her blog.

Building a Reputation

The best way to build a solid online reputation is to solicit a large number of positive reviews. Unfortunately, as any business owner will tell you, there are no shortcuts. Only satisfied customers post good reviews—so you must strive to provide an excellent service.

However, this is just the first step. Negative reviews are always unsolicited, and are usually written by customers who want to vent their frustrations. In contrast, very few people will feel compelled to leave a positive review without first being prompted.

Business owners must ask customers for their comments. There are several ways to do this effectively:

  • The longer it’s been since their visit, the less likely your customers are to leave a review. Combat this by setting up a computer or tablet at your business, specifically for people to post their comments.
  • Companies which collect customer email addresses are at an advantage. For example, a hotel owner could email patrons after their stay, asking politely for a review.
  • Ask your customers for a review at the point of sale. You could print a friendly reminder on the receipt, or provide a separate card with the relevant information. Many businesses offer a small incentive in return for a review.
  • Ask your social media followers for a review. Be polite—you’re essentially asking for a personal favor.

Responding to Criticism

Even the best businesses can attract negative comments. However, by responding in a fair, polite, and apologetic manner, you can actually have a positive effect on your online reputation.

TripAdvisor reviews are often particularly scathing. The following excerpts were taken from a review of a small Indian restaurant:

“… the Chicken Tikka… was under-cooked to the extent that it was inedible. We took it home and re-cooked it and even then, it was clearly of an inferior quality…I prefer the…Tamarind or Gaylord…in London.”

The restaurant owner chose to respond with the ill-advised comments below:

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As the old saying goes, “two wrongs don’t make a right.” However, a negative review of your business can feel like a personal attack, making it difficult to respond calmly and objectively.

Never respond immediately to a bad review. If necessary, physically move away from the computer. In the heat of the moment, it is tempting to send a fiery response. However, this can negatively impact your business’s reputation—particularly if the situation escalates.

A good response should be both brief and polite, and contain the following points:

  • A “thank you” for visiting your business, and a sincere apology for their disappointing experience.
  • A direct response to each of their complaints. These should be polite and honest – if you feel as though the criticisms are unfounded, diplomatically say so.
  • An explanation for the poor service. However, don’t use this as an opportunity to make excuses.
  • An invitation to return, with your compliments.

Generally, you should respond to every negative comment you receive. However, if you suspect you’re being trolled, don’t reply. If you feel you have been the subject of an unfair review on TripAdvisor, you can report it.

Monitoring Brand Mentions

All too often, companies don’t realize their online reputation has been damaged until they’ve suffered a drop in revenue. Negative reviews won’t just drop into your inbox—monitoring your own online brand mentions is absolutely essential.

Fortunately, there are a number of tools available to help you keep track. Google Alerts is perhaps the most popular, although Social Mention, Topsy, and Tweet Alarm are also useful. Each service will scan the internet for your chosen keywords, highlighting any new comments or reviews of your business.

Generally, all complaints should be dealt with in the same way, whether they are made online or in person. Remain courteous and polite, take a step back from the situation if you find yourself growing angry, and never bury your head in the sand. As in the real world, the best way to manage your online reputation ultimately is to provide an excellent service.

How does your business manage its online reputation? Do you use one of the tools mentioned above, or do you have another suggestion for other entrepreneurs? Tell us in the comments below!

Make it a great day,
Christina & Adele
Virtual Marketing Empire
Offer an home based business opportunity and need more exposure? CLICK HERE!!!
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The Growing Popularity Of Internet Advertising

web advertisingInternet advertising is the newest great idea making a big splash and helping several people like you make millions! Try promoting what you have online and let the financial rewards start flowing in. There are those individuals who merely advertise and there those who wishes to advertise in order to gain.

The trick here is to know how to advertise for maximum gain and better results. So if you’re wondering how to advertise better, then there’s nothing better than optimizing the World Wide Web to pursue and reach out to one’s target market. Why Online Internet Advertising—-Why Not? Well, other people need to purchase stuff, and you need to sell it, it’s that simple.

Like in a market or a store, you display what you offer or your products to sell then wait for potential buyers. With online promotion, you get to display to millions of consumers just at one go. Take note that there are just too many out there who are searching and browsing for just what you have for them.

Does This Work– Of course! Internet is a medium that is vast and ever expanding and the reason for its growing popularity is the impact and power of its incredible results. Be it brand building or direct marketing, internet advertising is modifying all the rules of effective promotion for any service or products offered.

With more and still more people joining in the fray, internet promoting is stretching into the largest piece of the advertising cake. How Could Internet Advertising Help? To reach out to potential online clients or customers, you just require a little assistance from certain professionals. Here comes the tech-savvy and friendly online neighborhood guru the Internet advertising company.

Online promotion is all about reach and an Internet consultant in advertising sure knows how to reach a target with effective online promotional plan. With a host of promotional services in the Internet, these companies could aid in reaching out to wide and more focused consumers and buyers. These online services extend from mail campaigns, data mining to customized solutions that work for you.

Is Internet Advertising Costly? You might be surprised not at all! The good thing about this lies in the fact that it’s one of the least expensive ways in reaching out to clients! What even makes this type of innovation more appealing is that it is so effective. Effective online advertising has created tons and tons of millionaire’s success stories and the best thing about it? Well, yours can be one of them–that’s the powerful strength of the Internet working to your advantage’s reasonable, accessible and absolutely popular! Selecting the Right Internet Advertising.

Choosing the right online advertising is an art which contains compelling content, effective insight and a lot of common sense. Different businesses require different necessities and a track record of a company could go a long way in coming up with the right choice. With various online advertising agencies utilizing more tools in this kind of innovation, there’s only one way your business could go up, to online success!

Make it a great day!!!

Do you offer a home based business opportunity?

Get more exposure here!

Christina & Adele

Virtual Marketing Empire


VME Free Online Marketing Training Center

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Establish Social Media Goals and Build Your Online Presence | Beginner’s Guide to Social Media | Wild Apricot Membership Knowledge Hub

Establish Social Media Goals and Build Your Online Presence | Beginner’s Guide to Social Media | Wild Apricot Membership Knowledge Hub.


Where Do Web Directories Fit Into the Internet Picture?

directories

Web Directories serve many purposes, whether you are a consumer visiting the web directory to find a solution to your problem or a company wanting to gain exposure for your brand. Either way, the web directory helps to meet those objectives.

Web Search and Web Directories

Many times we refer to “Googling” something, performing an internet search with a tool like Google, Bing, or another search provider. There used to be quite a few search engines that were used regularly, like Alta Vista, Hot Bot, and others. For an interesting read, check out this article showing the search engine timeline.

Years ago, the directory that you wanted on your list was the Yahoo Directory.  Since then, other qualified web directories have joined the ranks.  The playing field has changed a bit, but the basic concepts have remained constant.

In web search, there is usually a box where you enter your query and “search the internet” for that word or phrase. The same type of process is used in site search. In the case of web directories, it is more of a browse and click process, drilling down from the main category to the desired web site or resource.

Quality Matters

A little over a decade ago, there used to be what was called FFA (“free for all”) pages. It could be that the intent was truly to share a resourceful link, and definitely that practice is not beneficial in SEO today (not sure that it was back then, really!). However, one could watch these FFA pages as people submitted their link and those same people repeated the submission process hundreds of times (filling the FFA page with their link alone). Those of us that considered the we “knew better” quickly realized that there was no long term benefit and these pages were spam pages that gave little ROI in the overall scope of link building.

I tell you that to give you an example of what would not be acceptable for the average marketer or consumer when it comes to web directories.  More specifically, spamming a directory would not be beneficial to the brand or the consumer.  Some of that is the responsibility of the web directory, to ensure that they are not spammed and to have technology in place to help alleviate that possibility and mitigate the risk.

quality matters

When looking for a web directory, quality matters. Do you really want to waste your time looking at junk links, dead links, or just overly-promotional sites that don’t deliver on the content?

Web Directories for the Business

Directories are not just there for the consumer of resources (personal or professional). They also present an opportunity for you to list your resourceful site. Check out “5 Key Benefits of Business Web Directories to understand some of these benefits.

There are SEO concerns, as well. For example, as mentioned above, you want to ensure that it is a quality directory, for the sake of your brand.  Also, vary the keywords that are used. As with the point about quality, you really only want to submit your site to quality web directories. You would not want to associate your site/link with spam directories. A great article on what to pull together for your listing is on the Growmap blog: “How to Use Local Business Directories to Increase Visibility and Sales.”

Here is a slideshare, by George Chavs,  listing some benefits of using web directories for your business:

Example of Web Directory That Meets the Criteria: Directory Journal

Directory Journal is a web directory that meets the criteria listed above, as a resource and as a directory that would be well worth adding to your business strategy. This directory is well established and has a focus on quality. There are a wide variety of categories to choose from, with the most popular categories showing up on the home page. Also, Directory Journal isn’t “just” a web directory, but also offers resources like webmaster tools (IP lookup, CSS sandbox, and more), as well articles on various topics, like an article, “5 Practical (and Fun) Ways to Use Trello” by yours truly (Deborah Anderson), and our very own Ann Smarty’s article, “How to Be Protected from Internet Scams.”

So, whether you are looking for something or looking to be found, web directories are worth adding to your list … to see if what they have to offer fits in your strategy.


The Advantages and Disadvantages of Working from Home

work from home

Working from home is a dream for many but it has its pitfalls. Bayt.com highlights the advantages and disadvantages of working from home.

As more and more professionals seek a better work-life balance and more companies adopt flexible policies to accommodate shifting workplace priorities and realities the working from home option is becoming increasingly viable. Employees see this as an ideal means to remain in the workforce and continue to be employed thereby maintaining all the tangible benefits of being part of an established company, while enjoying all the advantages of being based at home. The option has its potential pitfalls however and below we discuss some of the advantages and disadvantages of working from home.

Advantages

By working at home you save on many hidden costs associated with going to work. These include costs of commuting, car wear and tear, fuel, road taxes, parking as well as indirect costs such as expensive professional wardrobes and the dry-cleaning of those. Often you can also save on older children’s care arrangements although for younger children it is highly unadvisable to forgo the childcare arrangement and try to balance close care and supervision with the demands of the job.

Flexibility

This doesn’t just relate to timings either although the flexibility to determine your own work hours to some extent is the most important aspect of this. You can also determine your environment, lighting, temperature, setting, mood; basically work in the framework that suits you best and makes you happiest and most productive.

Less distractions

Coworkers banter and distractions, unnecessary interruptions, unimportant meetings can all be avoided if you are safely at home and sealed off in your own environment which you have barricaded from any possible interruptions.

Proximity to home and family

For many, the physical proximity to family and the convenience of being at home are tremendously comforting. For parents it can be especially pacifying to know that they are very near to their children and available should they be needed for any reason. This also applies in the case of elderly care.

Less stress

The stress of commuting in bumper-to-bumper traffic at rush hour in many countries is extremely counterproductive and can lead to disgruntled workers who are already exhausted and worn before they have even begun their day. This is especially true where the workplace is far from the office. Other stresses often cited include unfriendly coworkers, a suboptimal work environment and constant distractions.

More productivity

Removed from the stresses and distractions of the workplace and working independently in their own preferred environment at their own pace, professionals are often a lot happier and a lot more productive.

Better health

Often with long commutes and anywhere from 1 to 3 hours a day spent getting to and from the workplace both physical and mental health are adversely impacted; the former as the gym hours are usually the first to go and the latter due to the stresses associated with both the commute and the workplace itself. By working at home the commuting time saved enables you to resume physical exercise, to go for a long walk for example before and after work or to join a local gym.

Better work/life balance

Work/life balance, the aspiration of the modern professional, is often achieved and tuned to satisfaction through a working at home arrangement, particularly when a professional has the flexibility to report into the office and work from the office partially as an option and can fine-tune the arrangement to achieve the most optimal balance.

Disadvantages

Isolation

Often, professionals working from home complain of isolation and loneliness given their removal from their bosses and coworkers and th is can be very depressing to some. Since the workplace provides a location to meet people and make friends for many, professionals working from home have to be more creative and resourceful in getting to know people and in staying in touch with their colleagues.

Distractions

Although office distractions are avoided by working at home, different distractions may arise. Interruptions from children, work, neighbours, friends, family may be very disruptive and special efforts must be made to make it known that you are actually working and unavailable for interruption within work hours despite your physical presence at home.

Difficulty in separating home from work

The temptation to engage in household matters since you are at home is often very strong. Suddenly you may start feeling obliged to clean the home, do the shopping, the childcare, the cooking, the home finances and the socializing all while meeting the full requirements of the job too. It is essential to draw the line between home and work so as to avoid both areas suffering.

Work doesn’t end

Since there is no-one looking over your shoulder enforcing strict hours you may feel tempted to work endlessly. This pressure to work endlessly may be compounded by the fact that you feel there are greater expectations made of you as a home-worker or by self-imposed pressures to prove yourself and your abilities in this arrangement. Moreover the lack of physical separation between home and work may add to this pressure to work endlessly.

Alienated from daily company developments

A lot can change from day to day in a company and you may find yourself removed from important developments such as staff changes, new business, changes in company direction, new competitive intelligence etc.

Danger of being overlooked for promotion

The danger of being overlooked for promotions and career development opportunities is quite real when you are away from the office and other more visible employees are actively and aggressively vying for them. An open line of communication with management and regular visits to the office are critical in order to prove your dedication and commitment to your career and to prevent the out-of-sight-out-of-mind syndrome.

Need for high self-discipline

Working from home is not for anyone. It takes a lot of dedication, self-control and discipline to motivate yourself to persevere in working at home alone over the long run without succumbing to the distractions and losing drive and momentum. Often a partial arrangement where you report into the office once or twice a week is the optimal arrangement as it allows for close interaction with colleagues and supervisors and ensures you remain in touch with company developments while still permitting you the comfort and convenience of working from home.

 

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BENEFITS OF INTERNET MARKETING FOR THE BUSINESS

 

As we know consumers are experiencing many benefits from shopping online, businesses can also enjoy benefits from trading through the internet. Some of these benefits will be briefly discussed in this article.

Data Collection

Everytime a customer transacts with the company online, that transaction is captured. The firm can use this data in a number of ways. Firstly information can be analysed to find out most popular products/services sold. Secondly the data can be used to assist in segmenting their customers, profiling them and sending customers promotional material based on past buying habits.

There has been much controversy over the amount of information that is being collected online by various companies in particular social networking sites and whether customers should be able to opt out of that information being shared to third party users.

Personalisation of The Web Experience

When customers log into their accounts businesses can make their web experience almost unique. From offering special offers to that particular customer, offering add on to their recent purchase, much like Amazon.com does, or by allowing the customer to personalise their own products, like Nike does with their trainers . Personalisation allows the firm to form stronger bonds online with customers and form long term online relationships ensuring customers come back regularly.

Competitor Analysis

The internet allows businesses to analyse their competitor’s online strategy. A firm can keep abreast of new products that are released, react to price changes, or use the internet to discover secondary data on their competitors. The internet allows a firm to react quickly to a change in their competitors strategy, and try to provide a service that allows them to match or beat their competitors.

Cost Reduction

One of the major benefits of setting up or moving a business online is the cost advantages of doing so. A firm can save a number of costs. These include:

  1. Staffing costs: Fewer staff are needed online then in the high street thus reducing costs.
  2. Premises: The company will not need retail outlet just a centralised office and possibly warehouse space, saving on potential retail costs.
  3. Disintermediation: The channel of distribution is shorter online as the consumer has the opportunity to buy directly like with Dell. As one of the intermediaries is cut out this process is known as disintermediation.
  4. Financial management: As consumers pay for the product before it is dispatched, this improves the cash flow for the company, making sure for the firm that they can pay their suppliers and other costs on time.

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