Taking the First Steps Online: It All Starts With a Name

Guest Post from Richard Stevenson, 1&1 Internet

For many small businesses and start-ups, the first steps to creating an online presence can be a daunting prospect. With so much information out there, knowing exactly what is best for your business can be a challenge. Richard Stevenson of 1&1 Internet, Europe’s largest domain name registrar, outlines the first steps for business owners interested in getting online.

From choosing a hosting provider to creating a website, we know that creating a digital shop front can seem like it demands many steps with important decisions every step of the way, and that this can at first appear overwhelming.

In truth it’s a great deal easier than many assume, but in order to make the process easier, why not focus on just the first step? Once you have that first incredible idea for a company or product, what follows is picking a name that will help you stand out. The digital world is no different, so begin by imagining what your website name would be.


Why the Butcher, the Baker and the Candlestick Maker are Now Online

Guest Post from Emma Jones, founder of UK-based Enterprise Nation

Traditional independent businesses that don’t regard themselves as having relevance in the digital world are finding growth by getting online.

In the UK, an astonishing 50% of small firms are still not online. Enterprise Nation’s Go and Grow Online campaign, supported by Verisign, Microsoft and BT Business, has launched a 12-month programme of nationwide events to help the smallest firms get the skills and confidence to get their digital ducks in a row. Of course, small businesses can survive without a website, a Facebook page and a Twitter account – but how much could they grow if they took the plunge into cyberspace?

We’ve taken a look at three very British trades made famous by an ancient nursery rhyme – “Rub-a-dub-dub, three men in a tub” – that are increasing their trade and geographical reach simply via getting online, in addition to the traditional presence at a market stall or retail shop. And who do you think they are? A butcher, a baker, and a candlestick maker…


Why the UK needs a Go and Grow Online campaign

Guest Post from Emma Jones, founder of UK-based Enterprise Nation

With almost 50% of small businesses said to be without a website and, of those that are online, only a few taking the opportunity to trade, Emma Jones of London-based small business network, Enterprise Nation, outlines the need for a campaign to help British businesses make the most of the web.

When I founded Enterprise Nation in 2005 it was to help people turn their good ideas into great businesses. Now, by offering expert advice, events, networking and inspiring books, we have more than 60,000 members in the UK who are all looking to create thriving small businesses.

When Enterprise Nation first started, Facebook was still in its infancy and Twitter hadn’t even been founded, which shows just how quickly the online world has changed! With over 2 billion people now online across the globe, the digital world represents a big opportunity for small businesses. Having a website to showcase your products and services is like having a shop window that the world can see into, at any time of the day (or night!). It’s never been so easy to launch online with template website providers, blogging platforms and social media. So why is it that so many businesses are yet to embrace the web and reap the rewards?


4 Reasons Your Small Business Needs an Online Presence

Guest Post from Ramon Ray – Smallbiztechnology

For any company doing business today, a website is far more than a way to promote products and services. With a consumer market that heavily relies on the internet for everything from directions to reviews, any small business that has not yet set up an online presence could be missing out on a gold mine of potential customers. In fact, Shop.org projects online holiday sales to increase between 13 and 15 percent to as much as $82 billion during the months of November and December this year, and the U.S. Commerce Department reported that final Q4 (October – December) e-commerce sales in 2012 increased 15.7 percent.


Why Small Businesses Say Having a Website is Important

Today, people often turn to the internet first for information about businesses and products – whether they are shopping online, or simply looking for a business’ address or phone number – making an online presence one of the most important assets for any business; not just to share information, but to build credibility.

Consumers are looking to connect with companies more than ever, and establishing an online presence through a website, blog or social channels provides a great way to fulfill this desire. But there are still many small businesses lacking an online presence, effectively hanging a closed sign up for their potential customers.

To understand the benefits, barriers and preferences for creating an online presence, Verisign recently worked with Merrill Research to conduct a global survey of 1,050 small businesses with an online presence about their experiences and gained some interesting insights.


How Free is your “Free” Video Hosting?

Imagine building your dream home. Maybe it takes months or even years. There’s a good chance it involved a lot of resources including time and money. All your friends know where you live and where to find you. Things are as peachy as peachy could be.

Chances are you would never, in your right mind, build an actual house on a piece of land you didn’t somehow have control over. What if you were offered that land for free, but with the catch that things could change, and you could be booted off the property without notice? What if it also stipulated the actual landowners could put anything they wanted next to you, even if you didn’t agree with it or it competed directly with your own interests? This is similar to the position you are in when you sign up to post videos on YouTube or almost any other video sharing site.


3 Reasons Why Video Must be Part of Your Marketing Mix in 2013

Lee Odden is the CEO of TopRank Online Marketing, author of the best-selling book Optimize, and Editor of the well-regarded Online Marketing Blog. He shares his many insights on Content Marketing, Social Media PR & SEO across the social web and we wanted to feature all of that experience with Lee’s Watch.tv guest post on “The 3 Reasons Why Video Must be Part of Your Marketing Mix.”

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video must be worth millions. The ubiquity of internet access and availability of video creation, consumption and sharing applications makes video the “go-to” digital marketing medium for 2013 and beyond.

Companies can demonstrate products, share their expertise, interview satisfied customers and show employee and brand personality all through video that can be consumed on a computer, tablet or mobile device.

Whether you’re a big business or small, B2B or consumer focused, video is a hot online marketing commodity that should not be overlooked.

From content marketing to advertising, investments in video are on the rise. And for good reason: A study by the e-tailing group and Invodo reports that over 50 percent of internet users believed that online product videos helped increase confidence in their purchase.

Companies are sensing those trends in consumer media consumption and adjusting budgets accordingly. According to eMarketer, spending on video for content marketing has risen by 44 percent. 

While the evidence is compelling for the growth of video creation and consumption, some companies, especially small businesses, may feel uncertain about where video may fit in their marketing mix. Here are three reasons to do just that.

1. Video is Social

There are hundreds of video applications that make it easy to capture, edit and socially share video. Twitter recently announced its entrée into the short form video creation space with Vine, a smartphone application that enables users to take 6-second, looping videos and share them on social networks. Brands are already experimenting with Vine in creative ways.

Such outlets for creativity are entirely amenable for sharing, enabling small businesses to proactively leverage video to create compelling, creative and socially sharable video content. Don’t believe me? According to a study by the IAB, 90 percent of viewers share mobile video content. 

Creating great content using apps and software that are designed to make social sharing easy means it’s easier than ever for small businesses to get into the video marketing game.

2. Video May Be A Mobile Marketer’s Best Friend

It is estimated that the number of U.S. consumers that watch video on mobile devices will rise to 110 million by 2016 – that’s 1 in 3 Americans consuming video content on smartphones and tablets.

Consumers are watching more than short, YouTube form content on mobile and tablet devices. Tablets have become as popular as computers for watching video, ranking second only to televisions. However, rather than compete with TV, mobile content serves as a second or third screen for many consumers.

Companies that get creative around events on TV and cable might consider creating content that consumers will seek out while watching the show. It might be facts and backstory or clever connections between the company’s product and what’s being watched. Small businesses have used such tie-ins with their advertising for years, such as promoting snacks and beer with Super Bowl-themed ads.

Mobile consumption can extend the reach of online video normally consumed through computers as well. Companies just need to make sure their video content is available and optimized on mobile-friendly platforms.

3. People Love Video and So Do Search Engines

YouTube is often cited as the second most popular search engine with over 4 billion hours of video watched every month. While video content isn’t as easy for search engines to understand, the content can be transcribed to text and when combined with the video title, description and tags on a website, the video is easier to find.

When videos are embedded from a hosting service like YouTube or Vimeo onto a web page or blog post, the descriptive text can be optimized for easier discovery on search engines. Video content is more interesting than text and more likely to attract links and social shares. Those links and social signals help search engines rank web pages that contain embedded video more prominently than boring old text content.

Video consumption is a worldwide phenomenon. According to Nielsen, 80 percent of internet respondents in 56 countries reported watching video content at home on a computer. Combined with video consumption on mobile devices, that means video might just be the perfect opportunity for companies that want to excel at attracting and engaging with their customers to increase awareness, interest and sales.

Thanks Lee – terrific post. A lot of great validation for why companies – including small businesses – should be using video as a significant pillar of their 2013 marketing strategy. 

To learn more about getting your business started with online video (plus any other tips you might need!), please visit the How To Section on Watch.tv.

What did you learn from Lee’s post? Send us a tweet or comment here or our YouTube channel.

Customers Want Local

Guest post from Entrepreneur Author Becky McCray

Ninety-seven percent of internet users search for local businesses online, BIA/Kelsey’s User View Wave found as early as 2010. According to the American Express OPEN Small Business Saturday Consumer Pulse, nearly 3 quarters of consumers (73 percent) consciously shop at small businesses in their community because they do not want them to go away.