Small Business Support Blog

If you are interested in reading about how to get your business visible online, with regular insights into being an entrepreneur and navigating your way through the business world, then this blog is for you!

We regularly post interesting articles on topics on leadership, management and visibility - with guest articles and features from experts in their field.

If you are interested in collaborating and would like to do a guest feature then please email [email protected] 

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Category: Digital Marketing

  1. Guest Blog - Is Data Science worth consideration as a small business?

    Posted on

    Is Data Science worth consideration as a small business?

    Guest blog by Paul Matthews, Freelance Tech Writer

    What is Big Data?

    Big Data is the term given to the collection of and analysis of massive amounts of data sets to produce trend analysis, patterns of activity and behavour, and human interaction. Big businesses have been using Big Data for years, and in this guest blog post by tech writer Paul Matthews he explores the value of big data for small businesses, and whether it really is worth your consideration...

    Data Science is a complex topic - often overlooked by small business...

    If there's a term which has been heavily considered by a lot of businesses in 2019, that'd definitely be data science. The usage of machine learning-oriented features in order to gather, process and store data (of any form) has deeply developed compared to its humble beginnings in 2015 and we can safely say that data scientists have really paved the way in building a business-friendly technological approach. With this being said, is data science worth for small businesses, or is it purely an enterprise-related matter?

     

    big data

     

    Data science for business mainly connects to marketing and lead generation: being able to process users' behaviours and individual preferences, connecting a keyword to a user, (for example) has been extremely popular within triple-A companies like Amazon, who indeed used these "data points" as a starting point for their retargeting ads. 

    Amazon use big data to help with re-targeting their ads...

    The term "data" in data science doesn't refer to just big data and numerical values, but also to surveys, access log files (who have become extremely popular within SEO) and other minor forms of data. Once gathered, this data can be processed and included in a variety of architectures: from CRM, to quickly and precisely process leads to eCommerce CMS like Shopify which are heavily relying on retargeting ads. Marketing automation has almost become the "second step" within data science. 

    Examples of big data that are useful for small businesses:

    • Sales trends
    • Visitor statistics (cookie analysis)
    • Surveys
    • Access log files
    • Customer data (like volume of complaints for example)
    • Geographic data
    • Event data
    • Time series data (like intervals for example - how often someone does something)

    This list is not exhaustive but gives you an indication...

     

    What is data in 2020 and how can a small business use it? 

    As mentioned, briefly, above, there are many different types of data and, in 2020, it's very safe to say that they will all be used regardless of the business' size. For example: if you run a small digital marketing agency, chances that you're monitoring your site's traffic with Google Analytics are pretty high. Analytics, being a web application, relies on an API to work and, therefore, if you're savvy enough, you will be able to analyse the data which is being gathered separately from the actual application. This is a major breaking point in favour of developing a data-oriented strategy for small businesses, as it gives precise inputs on how users are behaving on your site. Another example will be related to analysing server files, in particular access log files, which, when processed, could give you a precise insight on how crawlers are behaving on your site. A mandatory consideration if you want to be successful from an SEO perspective and are technically savvy. 

     

    server

     

    Is data science too expensive or out of reach for small business?

    What's keeping small businesses away from data science is, most of the times, the idea that running any form of data science campaign will cost a fortune. Stating that data science has become "cheap" is definitely not correct, but it's 100% true that basic data science (especially following the examples mentioned above) has become more accessible for small businesses. In 2020, you don't need a full stack Python developer and 4 analysts to approach data management and its subsequent applications within marketing. For example, there are web personalization tools (which gather, store and process cookies and more) for Shopify which are starting from as little as £99 p/month. Although this is still not accessible for micro start-ups it is more affordable than you would think...

    So is data science worth considering for a small business?

    Not only is data science as a whole extremely worth considering for a small business, it will become almost mandatory in 2020, given how "consumer market-ready" this marketing and technology approach is becoming. Approaching data science doesn't mean running a big team of Python engineers, as said above, but simply relies on analysing the data which is at your disposal. A bright example? A commercial property auctions firm was able to increase its ad revenue (both PPC and retargeting) by over 57.6% by optimising their audiences following cookies analysis. Pretty extreme right?  

     

    big data

     

    .......................................

    Paul Matthews is a Manchester-based business and tech writer who writes in order to better inform business owners on how to run a successful business. You can usually find him at the local library or browsing Forbes' latest pieces.  

    Worsley Creative is a Manchester based SEO specialist studio which supports busy entrepreneurs with getting their businesses seen online. The Founder and Director Pamela is passionate about providing small businesses with the platform for operating at the top of their field through stylish brand identities, web design and digital marketing campaigns. Keen to support other advocates of small business, Worsley Creative regularly look to collaborate with bloggers, writers and analysts that look to break through the jargon and make information accessible to start ups and those businesses looking to level up.

     

  2. What to think about when starting a website in 2020!

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    Starting a website in 2020... What to think about and planning for success!

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    So it’s 2020 and you’ve decided to sort out your online visibility and finally get a website. Maybe you’ve been selling on a shared platform for a while and are getting frustrated with the constant changes, fees and overall crowdedness. Or perhaps you want to start owning your brand strategy and want a corner of the internet that has your name written on it. Whatever your reason, taking the plunge to get your own website can be exciting but also really daunting!
     
    When you start searching for website designers it can be even more off putting. A short google search or shout out in your networks and you quickly realise that there are a million people gagging to help and all promising the world (a jargon filled world no less). Prices vary more wildly than Prince Harry’s behaviour from his 20s to his 30s and you can end up feeling quite marooned and wondering whether it is actually worth it!
     
    Why you should have your own website
     
    There are three main reasons you should have your own website versus operating on a shared platform:
    1. You own it. At any point in time Etsy, Facebook, NuMonday, Folksy and Instagram could be shut down and you would have no platform to sell. With your own website you have the ownership of the domain and can choose your hosting provider/website provider.
    2. You brand it. With the other platforms you have to conform to their rules when it comes to display, captions, selling rules etc. With your own website you can dictate the state of play (as long as its legally compliant). This gives you much more flexibility to demonstrate the power of your brand.
    3. You control it. You don’t have someone else making decisions if someone makes a dispute, and you control the information that you provide.
    Planning your website for a successful set up
     
    So if you have been considering your own website to increase sales of your products or services, then what do you need to think about to make sure it is set up for success? Here are my top tips for planning a successful website:
     
    • What is it’s purpose? You need to have a clear purpose for your website and make sure that all decisions are based around it.
    • Who is your ideal client? You need to make sure that you plan your website to meet the needs of your ideal client.
    • Sitemap. Creating a sitemap which details the essential pages of your website and the customer journey is important for making sure you have all required information for someone to make a commitment to buying from you.
    • Content plan. Not just for building the initial site, but what does your ongoing content plan look like? Having up to date, relevant content on your pages is fundamental to SEO success and you should never consider your website as “done” - it’s a dynamic marketing tool just like your social media profiles.
    • Imagery. Having the correct sized, well thought out and professional looking images is so important when planning your website. What you may be able to get away with on your social media you cannot get away with on your website because you will be competing against the big corporates. Make sure you incorporate your image plan into the mix when preparing for your own website.
     
    Once you have thought about these elements you then face the conundrum - do I/could I build it myself or should I get someone to do it for me?
     
    Web Designer vs Self Build
     
    Me
     
    You would expect me to plug my own services here and it would be remiss of me not to say that a core element of my offer here at Worsley Creative lies in crafting stylish web design solutions for ambitious entrepreneurs, but I’m also really honest and will tell people when my services are not for them or if I won’t be able to add value to their business.
     
    Don’t just choose on budget
     
    When making the decision as to whether you should look at self build options or invest in a website designer then you should think about the following things:
     
    1. Time
    2. Budget
    3. Inclination/Talent/Skill
     
    Websites take time to build
     
    Building your own website takes time. If you’ve been seduced by the GoDaddy promise of “build your own website in an hour” then you’ve probably found yourself bitterly disappointed that to build something decent takes a LOT more time than that. As a designer I spend 50-100+ hours on curating and creating the right design for my clients depending on the requirements, functionality and content of the pages to be built. If you are looking to build yourself then make sure you are aware of the time it is going to take you (particularly if you are writing your own content too).
     
    Websites cost money - even if people tell you they are cheap
     
    There is a phrase that I love when someone asks about a “cheap website” and that is “good isn’t always cheap, and cheap isn’t always good!”
     
    Establish the budget that you have for your website build and this will determine whether you can afford a designer or whether a self build option is for you. There are loads of self taught web designers that offer very cheap services and you can sometimes grab yourself a bargain when a new designer is looking to build their portfolio. Be sure to understand their ways of working and see examples of their work before committing (check out this post on how to choose a web designer for a more detailed look).
     
    If your budget doesn’t run to even the cheapest of web designers then the self build option is the best option, and as long as you carefully plan and put the time in, you can achieve incredible results with your own build. Platforms I’m always happy to endorse for “easy” self builds are Create, Squarespace and Wordpress. The first two are drag and drop providers where you can build your site in blocks; whereas Wordpress doesn’t have this functionality on its own. You can purchase themes however and there are a wealth of them to choose from (take a look on Pinterest for inspiration). The thing to remember with any website is that there will be ongoing costs. Domains cost money to renew and hosting needs to be purchased either on a monthly or annual subscription.
     
    Websites need design and copywriting skills
     
    If you don’t have an eye for design, or you are not able to put things into words that you want to convey that will engage your ideal client, then you should consider outsourcing to prevent compromising your brand. Even the best templates can’t create your businesses brand voice and story, and it is so important that you create these with your online presence so that as a small business you stand out against your competitors in 2020.
     
    Don’t be afraid to outsource elements which you are not good at. People are happy to go to a hairdresser because they aren’t skilled at cutting their own hair, it should be the same for anything you don’t have the skill for!
     
    Where are you on your website build journey? Is 2020 going to be the year that you corner your own little part of the internet and start boosting your online visibility? It would be fab to know whether you are thinking about the designer or self build route...
     
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    Pamela Rae-Welsh is a Manchester based SEO Specialist and is the owner and founder of Worsley Creative Services, a boutique studio providing web design, digital marketing and branding design services. Pamela has over 20 years experience in both corporate and small business environments and is passionate about supporting entrepreneurs with their online visibility.