SSL Certificates & Business Website Security

Website security for your business has become a necessity.

If you have a business website, online security should be one of your top priorities. Whether you are buying, selling, or just surfing the web you need to be aware of whether your website as well as the websites you visit, are secure and safe for both you own safety and that of your potential customers.

secure website with an SSL Certificate installed

You are visiting a secure website with an SSL Certificate installed.

It’s always surprising when people tell me they don’t know how to tell if a website is secure. Google has been letting us know for some time which sites have been secured with SSL Certificates but if you don’t know where to look, it wasn’t as obvious as the new warnings are. Here is Google’s help page on this topic.

With the release of Chrome version 62, Google has just made it much easier and this image shows you what that looks like.

Not secure warning

Google  started sending out warning emails to business website owners in August 2017 as a follow-up to an announcement by Emily Schechter, Product Manager of Chrome Security Team, back in April.

Google began marking sites back with the release of Chrome v56, which was issued in January of this year. They targeted HTTP sites that collect user passwords and credit card details.

So now, business owners must secure the information being shared among their visitors and their web server, they must start incorporating an SSL certificate. Failing to do this is risky for both parties: sites that allow the sending of information in clear text may also allow its exposure through the Internet.

Ms. Schechter also provided website owners with a handy guide on how to enable HTTPS on their servers. An additional guideline on how to avoid the “NOT SECURE” warning on Chrome is also available for web developers.

We can be confident that HTTPS will be the new norm.

So, what does this mean to my business?

Bottom line… This means if your website doesn’t have an SSL Certificate, your website visitors will see a ‘Not Secure’ warning, like the one above  in the URL address bar.

With the Chrome version  62 release, websites with any kind of text input will need an SSL certificate.

When Do You need to Worry About SSL?

  1. If your website takes text inputs in the form of login panels, contact forms, search bars, etc.
  2. If your website begins with HTTP://

If it’s a YES to both these questions, you need to install SSL to avoid any risks or warnings. If you don’t implement SSL soon, your visitors will see a “Not Secure” warning on visiting your site.

What is SSL Certificate? And How it Works?

Think of it as an electronic passport. It proves you are – who you say you are.

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. This link ensures that all data passed between the web server and browsers remain private and integral.

If you don’t have the SSL certificate, a secure connection cannot be established, that means, your company information will not be digitally connected to a cryptographic key.

SSL Certificate has following information:

  • Name of the holder
  • Serial number and expiration date
  • Copy of the certificate holder’s public key
  • Digital Signature of the certificate-issuing authorityWhy SSL Certificates are Critical?

Here are some of the reasons to have SSL Certificates:

1. Encrypts Sensitive Information

The information you send on the Internet is passed from computer to computer to get to the destination server. Any computer in between you and the server can see your credit card numbers, usernames and passwords, and other sensitive information if it is not encrypted. When an SSL certificate is used, the information becomes unreadable to everyone except for the server you are sending the information to.

2. Protects You from Cybercriminals

They are clever!

According to Cybersecurity Ventures, cybersecurity damages will cost the world over $6 trillion annually by 2021.

It is impossible to escape the rising tide of cybercrime if your website doesn’t have an SSL certificate. They will identify weakness(es) in your network…mostly, when information is transmitted. Recently, the black eye masked people have been refining malicious strains that are specifically designed to capture data while moving between destinations. (Told you, these people are clever!)

You surely can protect yourself from this mess by installing SSL certificates that offer a vital means of defending against transit-based hacks.

3. Builds Trust & Brand Power

With SSL certificates, your customers will see visuals like lock icon and green address bar that indicates well-trusted encryption is in use. For your customers, seeing that on your website, will assure them that their information is traveling safely over the internet.

Build Trust & Brand

Undoubtedly, this will add brand power and boost the credibility of the brand.

In Conclusion

If you haven’t already installed an SSL certificate, Google has already flagged your website, secure it today with an SSL Certificate.  You can do it yourself or we can do it for you but whatever you choose to do, you must do it now.

If you’d like help with it, we can install it for you for just $129.00 for most sites. (e-commerce sites require a different kind of certificate and the cost is higher)

Call us today to schedule your SSL Certificate Installation. 843-647-0489 or Schedule an Appointment for a free 30 minute consultation.

P.S. If you know a business owner who has a website, please feel free to share this important information with them.

 

Local Business Marketing

Local Business MarketingToday, most local business owners realize that they must have a business presence on the internet.  They know that people search online for the products and services that they need and without a website, their business won’t be found by the people in their local market who are searching for the kinds of products and services they offer.  What they might not know is that for it to work, I mean to really work, it requires specific local business marketing strategies, local marketing expertise, and a well thought out web design that coordinates with their marketing plan.

Local business owners know having a website is not just an option anymore.  Unless you only sell your product or service to the very elderly consumer, forget the phone book and newspaper ads! People today search for almost everything they need online and not only that, they research their buying options there too.  More recently, fewer are doing it from their computers and many are doing it from their smartphones.

Many business owners we talk to have the same questions about how effective local search is? They want to know what business marketing strategies and platforms will work best for their business.  They need to know how consumer behavior is changing with the onslaught of today’s technology.

The answers, can be found in marketing studies that compile information about how people are using the internet.

[Read more…]

Small Business Promotion | Neighborhood Marketing Strategy

Neighborhood marketing strategyAnother small business promotion we like very much as a strategy is Neighborhood marketing.  Neighborhood marketing is a very simple and inexpensive promotion that will bring new customers into your own small business from local community organizations, institutions, and other local business’ in your geographical area.  Because they are part of your neighborhood, these customers are potentially repeat customers that will return again and again.  Neighborhood marketing works in nearly any type of business with a little brainstorming and it is a perfect marketing strategy for restaurants in particular.

Almost every business is surrounded by potential new customers if you want to take advantage of what’s already in your backyard with Neighborhood Marketing. Neighborhood Marketing is an easy way to get starting maximizing your neighborhood’s potential.

Here’s how to get started:

  1. Map out a 1-3 mile radius from your business.
  2. Get in your car, or have your manager do it, and take a drive around the area you mapped out.
  3. Note all the organizations and other opportunities in your neighborhood you could begin marketing to. Make a list of them.
  4. Think about who you might already know there or, who you might know, who knows someone there.
  5. Brainstorm some promotional ideas and don’t forget how you might offer to help them. (quick lunch specials, take out orders, delivery, special dietary requirements, free pick up/drop off, special seating, loyalty clubs, etc.)
  6. Contact those businesses and make your offer.

Don’t forget to list these types of organizations and businesses.  They usually have many employees and some also have customers who are interested in your offer:

  • Apartment complexes
  • Auto dealers
  • Auto repair shops
  • Churches
  • Community Organizations
  • Construction sites
  • Hospitals
  • Military Bases
  • Office complexes
  • Plants
  • Radio & TV stations
  • Residential Subdivisions
  • Schools
  • Senior Citizen Centers
  • Shopping centers
  • Urgent care facilities
  • Other local businesses
  • and everybody else!

If you need help designing a promotion, give us a call we’re always glad to help.

Happy Marketing!

Small Business Promotions | The Mystery Giveaway Strategy

Mystery Gift giveaway promotion post imageToday, let’s talk about another idea from our growing catalog of small business promotions.  The “Mystery Giveaway”!

A mystery giveaway promotion is an easy promotion for your small business and provides an element of fun!

As the name implies, the item you’re offering is a complete mystery to the customer.  When the offer is a known item as an incentive, it gives customers the opportunity to decide if they want the free item and is it worth whatever is required of them to get it.  However, when the item is a mystery, you can build up the excitement without the customer passing judgment as to their desire to have said item.  They already want it simply because it’s free!  That makes this technique extremely powerful for any business.

What Kind of Mystery Item Should You Give Away?

There are a few different approaches you can take.  First, you can just give away something small and mildly useful. It should make your customer smile, but be fairly inexpensive.  For example, an odd electronic gadget, or a small book of quotes related to your industry.  If you’re a restaurant owner, free meals for a month or longer (one per week), is often a successful giveaway promotion for a restaurant. Or, on a grander scale, you could give away something that’s extremely useful, slightly more expensive and very impressive. The idea is to exceed the customers’ expectations. This generates a lot of goodwill and gets people talking about your business.

Mystery giveaway items can often come from stock piles of merchandise or leftover discontinued items.   This is a great way to make space for new products. It may be a good idea, before sending your old merchandise out as freebies, to make sure that the customer hasn’t actually purchased that item in the past.

Free Giveaways versus Purchase Bonus

You can use your giveaway in many ways. Generally speaking, you don’t want to just offer a mystery giveaway item to just everyone. You could limit your contest to regular customers, or to a specific group of people depending on the specific promotion. This kind of giveaways usually cost money to create.  So, you will want to be a little selective.  You can use it as a feeder for a sweepstakes, a contest, or even as a way to grow your list. For example, everyone who gets 50 likes on their contest page gets the mystery bonus.

You can also use a giveaway promotion as a purchase bonus. Whenever someone buys your product, they get the mystery item as well. Perhaps, you can even have a random rotation of mystery items.  This is a teaser because people never quite know what they’re getting.

Multiple Mystery Items: The Grab Baggrab bag image
Finally, you can give away multiple mystery items, grab bag style, by giving away a bunch of small things instead of one big thing.

The mystery item can add a great deal of style to your free giveaways. It can be used to build up excitement about a product or a launch or simply to clear your space of older merchandise. There’s a lot of room for creativity when you’re using this technique.

More Small Business Promotional Ideas:

If you are looking for more ideas on promoting your small business, be sure to download our free ebook: How to Increase your Local Businesses Sales.  You can find it by clicking here or completing the form on the left side of the top of this page.

Happy Marketing!

 

Local Restaurants Gift Card Strategy

local restaurant gift card marketing strategyThe largest gift-giving season is quickly approaching and local restaurants need a gift card marketing strategy now more than ever. Here’s why…

In a 2015 study, Toast, a renowned restaurant management technology firm, did a study that analyzed the gift card purchasing and redemption habits of more than 500 operations. Both digital and printed types of gift cards were included in the study.

After they analyzed the information, they segmented the data by restaurant type.  Each segment included at least 15 restaurants.

Here’s what they found:

  • In full service restaurants, customers with gift cards spent 72% more than customers without them.
  • Gift cards are a good strategy for holidays but overall, do well all year long.
  • Wednesday is the best day to sell gift cards.
  • Almost a third of restaurant gift cards are never fully redeemed.
  • Almost half of gift card users spent more than the value of their gift card.

Fishbowl, a software and services company for restaurants, provides a case study done in 2014, with a steakhouse client.  They reported that a gift card promotion driven by social media and email marketing campaigns increased their clients gift cards sales by 150% over the previous year’s sales. Even more impressive is that it was done in one day!

The clients sold their $100.00 gift cards for just $50.00 for just one day by aggressively marketing them online.

Here’s how they did it:

  • They sent a series of email messages to the members of the restaurants loyalty clubs.
  • They posted the offer to both their Facebook page and Twitter page.
  • They ran two paid Facebook ads that targeted new prospects in their local zip code area.

This resulted in thousands of gift card sales and hundreds of thousands in sales at a cost of about $0.70 per purchase.

Of course not every restaurant has all the pieces already in place to pull off such a campaign however, now is the time to get started putting things in place for this holiday season.

Gift card strategy checklist:

  • Decide on the tool. There are a number of different tools and options when it comes to a gift card program. Restaurants that integrate digital cards via their POS system have the added benefit of tracking their sales and seeing what’s working for them and how the cards are being used.
  • Link your cards to a loyalty program such as a birthday club or a craft beer membership. This will help sell more gift cards because they’re personalized to an interest group. It will also help you retain the user after the gift card is redeemed by having the ability to market future offers and specials to the customer.
  • Be active on your social media platforms so customers think of you on gift giving occasions.
  • If you aren’t already list building, get started now!

A gift card promotion can drive sales for you this year but more importantly, provide you with long term customer loyalty if it is done with a strategy planned with foresight.

If you need help getting started with a gift card promotion or getting your customer loyalty programs set up, call us for a free consultation.

 

 

Marketing for Locally Owned Restaurants

Most of the local restaurant owners I talk to tell me that they need some inspiration when it comes to marketing their restaurant.  They are doing the same things they’ve always done and not getting the results they need to be profitable, compete with the other establishments in their local market, gain new customers, and keep their customers coming back.

Today, I’m going to share with you some of the marketing methods we use in helping to change that for the restaurant owners that we work with.

Take a look at the image below.

This is an example of an actual monthly marketing planning calendar that a local restaurant owner could create.

weekly_planning

This type of promotion works very well in the restaurant business and I’m sure that you have seen large restaurant chains use some of these kinds of strategies.

Let’s take a closer look. (not too closely please. Yes, I do know that the word “sandwich” does not have an “e” on the end. 🙂

Key Events

Research key events that are happening both locally and nationally and think about how they apply to your business and what kind of promotional ideas might work well for your specific restaurant.  Be sure to include ideas that will help you with slow days and times.

Monthly Events

Many months will also have monthly event themes that will work well with your promotional calendar.  When creating a monthly marketing plan for a client, we start with monthly events, then fill in with weekly, and daily events.

In this example however, we didn’t find a monthly theme for August that we thought would compliment our restaurant’s promotional calendar. So, the key events are just weekly and daily events during this month.

Weekly Events

Our key event for this first week of August is “Simplify Your Life Week” and for that, we have decided to promote some take-out specials but you could do the same promotion for dining in.

Here’s the logic:

  • The number of women who work outside the home is consistently increasing.
  • It is still the women who do most of the cooking and they are tired after working a full day.
  • There is more disposable income for things like restaurant food in families where the woman works outside of the home.
  • Women make most of the food choices for the family.
  • Did you ever know a women who didn’t love a deal!

Did you know that at 5:00 pm when many women are getting off of work, they don’t have a clue as to what they are going to make for dinner?

Consider how a woman might respond to a text message sent to her at 5:05 pm while she is getting into her car to head home.  She sees that a restaurant she likes is promoting a take-out special, kids eat free, or free desert promotion, etc. What do you think happens?

Here are the specifics…

Somewhere between 4% and 14% of people will respond to a promotion like this by taking you up on your offer.  Let’s be conservative and say that only 4% respond.  If you had sent that message out to 1000 customers, you would have 40 customers ordering your take-out special and perhaps some regular menu items as well.

Now, the next part depends on your specific restaurant. But, for this example, let’s say that the average ticket of an order for a family of  4 is $40.00.  If my math is correct, our example promotion will bring your restaurant a return of $1600.00, minus the cost of the text messages, which should run about $80.00. That is a pretty good return on your investment. That’s especially true on a slow night! What would this mean to your business?

Now let’s take a look at daily events.

These kinds of events allow you to run promotions that bring in specific kinds of costumers.  In this example, we are targeting girlfriends, sisters, members of the Coast Guard, and people who like watermelon, chocolate chips, beer, mustard, and root beer floats.  The logic is this:

  • It’s always a great idea to recognize those who serve our community.  They will remember that you did that.  As Maya Angelou said, people will forget what you said, and they will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” This is a basic marketing truth and it’s also just a nice way to do business.
  • Most everyone enjoys a reason to celebrate and get together.
  • August is in the heat of the summer and these foods are natural choices for summer eating.

Promoting these kinds of events should be done on your website, blog, and social media pages and using great images is key.  Daily events can be used to actually bring in customers, or create a list of people who want to receive information, tips, your chef’s recipes, and offers from you.  Creating a list of people who either already do or, may in the future do business with you, is a smart idea.  This group of people wants to know what you’re up to and often share your posts with others who may not even know about you.

Good use of images is a vital part of getting people to share your promotions. Posts with images get shared 75% more often that posts without them.

sweet and spicy watermelon graphic

We hope this gives you some ideas of what’s possible in promoting your local restaurant.  That being said, we know that as a restaurant owner you already have to wear many different hats and that you just don’t have time to wear the marketing hat too.  We understand how busy being a restaurant owner can be and even if you already understand that marketing is a top priority, you don’t have the time to become proficient in the necessary skills yourself or the budget to pay someone in-house to learn it and and do it for you. That’s where we can really help you.

More Ideas

Be sure to grab a copy of our free eBook “Increase Your Business’ Sales. 73 Ways to Market Your Business in Just 15 Minutes a Day”. You can request that for free in the left column of this page.

If you need help

Whether you just need us to create a monthly marketing plan for you and you will take it from there, or you need us to create and execute your marketing plan we are there for you.

We would love to hear from you and we welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss your restaurant’s marketing strategy.

Call us today at 843-647-0489 to arrange a free consultation.

Happy Marketing!

 

 

Calculating Average Lifetime Value of A Customer

calculating lifetime value of a customerWhat is a customer worth to your business?  Knowing what a customer is actually worth to you helps you determine what cost you might expect to pay in getting one and keeping them. If you don’t know the average lifetime value of a client, here is the simplest way to estimate it.  To get the most precise number, you also have to consider the cost of getting a new client and a few other factors but for our purposes today, this calculator will work just fine. If you need to know how to get the actual number see this article from Entrepreneur.

Here’s all you need to do for now.  Follow these easy steps to find out what just one new client is worth to your business.  Use this simple formula for right now, this will tell us what we need to know for now.

  1. First, come up with a dollar amount, your best guesstimate, of what an average customer or client spends per visit.
  2. Now, estimate an average of how many times you see that client per year.
  3. Lastly, on average, about how many years do you expect a client to stay with you?
Now we just do a little multiplication.

For our example,  Let’s say you said an average client spends $100.00 per visit and you see them 3 times a year.  Let’s say you take pretty good care of your customers and your business does a good job of retaining clients.  A conservative estimate might be  an average of 5 years.

$100.00 x 3 visits per year = $300.00

$300.00 x 5 years = $1500.00

So for purposes of this example, $1500.00 is the average lifetime value of your client.  That is what each of your customers are worth to your business and gives you an idea of what you might budget for obtaining new customers.

I’m sure your numbers will be different than those above but without a calculator, I like easy math.  You’ve got the idea I’m sure.  The important thing is for you to know what a value a new client brings so that you can figure out the ROI (return on investment) so you know where to spend the biggest chunk of your marketing dollars.

Happy Marketing,

Leigha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Serving small businesses throughout the U.S.

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