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New pledges take campaign closer to target of 1 million more small businesses becoming digitally active in 2017

Monday, March 06 at 01:44

Pledges from HSBC; Nominet, the official registry of the .UK namespace; 123 Reg, the domain name registration and web hosting provider; and small business website builder web.com have taken Do It Digital closer to its target of helping 1 million more small businesses become digitally active in 2017.

- HSBC has pledged to get an additional 50,000 small businesses actively using online banking this year.

- Nominet will deliver a programme of campaigns throughout 2017 that will support and advise over 100,000 UK small businesses on how to successfully get their business online. It will provide free digital advice, including top tips and guidance on key topics such as building a winning website and keeping your business safe online, as well as easy access to great offers from many of its accredited registrars to assist with the process.

- 123 Reg aims to help over 150k small businesses improve their basic skills online through a range of resources, including a business advice blog, an online business training platform and a digital skills assessment.

- Web.com has pledged to give away 10,000 free ‘Get me online starter packs’ to small businesses across the UK. The packs include a ‘Google My Business Page’; an Online Business Card - a one page responsive website showcasing your important business details, and a Priority Business Listing on a leading online business directory.

These new pledges follow earlier commitments by other leading players in the UK’s digital economy including eBay UK, Google, The British Library and its national network of Business & IP Centres, Enterprise Nation, The Good Things Foundation and the Federation of Small Businesses.

Michelle Ovens MBE, Director at Do It Digital, says: “All evidence supports the belief that there are clear financial benefits for small businesses embracing digital. But we also know that many don’t have the time or access to the expertise to take advantage of what’s available to them. The commitment of great organisations like HSBC, Nominet and web.com shows that the support is out there for small businesses. They just need to take advantage of the free help that is being made available.”

Helen Tomes, Director of Marketing & Service Delivery, Nominet, said: “This is a great initiative and we are always keen to play our part in supporting those who want to reap the benefits of being online but are yet to make the move. Helping over 100,000 UK businesses to get online will not only benefit the individuals and SMEs we can assist on their digital journey, but the wider economy too.”

Recent research from eBay UK suggested that the UK economy could be £8.4 billion larger if the final fifth (23 per cent) of small businesses without key digital capabilities closed the ‘digital gap’.

Small businesses in Britain without digital infrastructure including a website, social media channels or a presence on an online marketplace are missing out on £20.2 billion in revenue each year, according to the research. This equates to £20,000 in increased revenue or efficiency savings per business, across all sectors from retail to manufacturing.

10 ways to get more traffic to your small business website

Thursday, February 23 at 06:49SEO | Website

Nearly every small business owner I speak to would love more visitors to their website. So, here’s ten ways you can grow your traffic.

1. Cross promote your website address

Let’s start with the easiest one. Don’t forget to tell people to visit your website – add your website address to your email signature and all your social media profiles. It’s amazing how many business owners don’t have their website address on their personal Facebook page. Even if only friends and family check it out, you never know when they might meet someone who wants what you sell.

2. Share your website offline 

You can also encourage people to check out your website by sharing your website address offline. Is it on your property signage, vehicles, business cards or flyers for example? Depending on what you do, there’s probably more places you can add it – perhaps on carrier bags, napkins or cups? It sounds obvious but it’s easy to overlook.

3. Search engines

Most websites still get the majority of their traffic from Google, so it’s worth spending time on getting more traffic from search engines.

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a big topic, but you can start simply by Googling your business. I’ve also written a five-minute guide to SEO that can help get your head around the basics.

4. Answer questions

One of the quickest ways to start getting traffic from search engines is by creating useful content. When people search Google, they are often looking for answers to questions. So if you can answer those questions with your content then you’re half way there.

Try keeping a record of the most common questions people ask you related to your business, and create content that answers those questions.

For example:
A marquee provider might write a blog about how to find a marquee site, or the best marquee fields in their area.
A holiday company might write about what to pack for their most popular destinations, or the best food to sample when you're there.
Or an accountant might share the key dates all business owners need to know.

By providing people with the information they're looking for, you can increase your traffic while also showing people you're helpful and knowledgeable (a great way to boost trust). Here’s three more ways to generate ideas for super useful content.

5. Share your content

Once you’ve created content, don’t forget to share it across your social media channels and in your email newsletters, if you have them.

6. Share it more than once

Always share your content more than once. This is especially important for Twitter, where things move fast and most of your followers probably won’t have seen your post the first time around.

7. But don’t always share your own content

It sounds counter intuitive, but mixing up links with engaging content from other people  – like videos and images – can lead to more clicks. This can be especially true on Facebook, where future posts are seen by people who engaged with your previous posts, so the more engaging content you share, whether it’s yours or someone elses, the better.

8. Get more links in

Getting a link to your website can be doubly beneficial. Not only do you get traffic from people clicking on the link, it may also help you get more traffic from search engines due to the way algorithms work.

People will naturally link to you if you create useful content, but you can also build links in many other ways, try some of these:

Ask businesses you work in partnership with or friends who run complementary businesses if they'll link to you.
Are you listed on any directories for your industry? See if you are entitled to a link for a membership organisation you’re already part of.
Do a search for your business and see if there are any websites or blogs that have already mentioned you but not included a link – they might add a link if you ask nicely.

9. Paid traffic

If you’re still looking for more traffic, you can also experiment with paid traffic from the likes of Adwords and Facebook Advertising. This can prove expensive, so make sure you spend time understanding the platforms and targeting options before you get started.

10. Keep track of where your traffic is coming from

Finally, don’t forget to keep track of where your traffic is coming from (via Google Analytics or your website provider). This way you can see what works and what to invest in to grow your traffic even further.

By Charlotte Howells

Why Every Small Business Should Embrace the Online Revolution

Tuesday, February 21 at 10:02#100Daysofdigital

All small businesses can benefit from making the most of the tools and facilities available, often for free, on the Internet.

The Internet is officially everywhere - in almost every home, office, and pocket in the UK. According to the Office of National Statistics in 2016 some 87.9% of adults in the UK used the Internet. This is a stark difference to just 57% in 2006.

There are three main ways you can and should be using the Internet for your business.

Web as a research tool,
Your business presence on the Internet, and
Using online tools, apps and services.

Web as a research tool: World’s information at your fingertips.

If you are reading this, you are already converted.

Anything you want to know - literally anything - can be found through a search engine. Industry information, competitor details, client backgrounds, business supplies, how to [insert any problem], why is the sky blue, and where is the best coffee in Cardiff?

The King of Search is of course Google, but for variety and sometimes surprising results try Microsoft’s Bing. Yahoo is still around and uses Bing results, as well as Ask.com and a variety of other search sites with their own particular slant.

Your business presence on the Internet: More than just a website.

If you haven’t got a website of some description these days you are effectively invisible.

This doesn’t have to be sophisticated or technical. Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram afford your business the opportunity to have a business page or profile, with great SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) benefits, all for free.

If you feel a bit more adventurous, there are many great website builder tools out there which have been professionally designed, have SEO tools built in to ensure you get found on search engines and which you pay for on a monthly subscription. They also take over the hosting of your website so you don’t need to worry about the site maintenance, speed or security.

Online tools, apps and services: Cloud-based software for every business.

The last decade has seen a surge in web-based software and services to help manage core business functions.

Have you been managing thus far with spreadsheets but finding managing your staff, finances or customers becoming an uphill battle? As a small business owner it is likely you have to manage all these roles yourself, taking you away from focusing on your central business objectives.

Today, every business function has an online tool available for you to access to help you increase productivity and grow your business, and they are better than ever.

Benefits of using online business software

1. Cost. Online business tools are available via affordable monthly or annual subscriptions. There is no capital investment to lay out and you only pay for what you need or use. Most products offer a free trial so you can try before you buy or a free version of their product and paid for ‘pro’ version if you need to access more sophisticated features.

2. Simplicity. There is no installation required, products are easy to learn and use. Visit the website, sign up and away you go. Often there are step-by-step guides and detail help documentation to answer any question.

3. Power. No more spreadsheets. Today’s cloud software products offer powerful enterprise-grade solutions with inbuilt intelligence and functionality far beyond any spreadsheet, which were previously only the preserve of big business.

4. Access. Available 24/7 from anywhere, on any device. Your team can access and edit the same documents to allow cross-company collaboration at any time of day or night, and external parties - advisers, suppliers, and customers, can be given controlled access too.

5. Security. Online tools are backed up in the cloud for you, your data kept secure and most products offer a guarantee of 99% uptime. There is no maintenance hassle for you, no costly upkeep of server equipment, no IT team to build your systems. It is all taken care of for you in your monthly subscription cost.

Selecting the right tools: Too much choice!

There are endless choices of which products to subscribe to, so how do you make your selection? As small business owners ourselves we found that same time consuming problem so we built businesskitbag.com as a free to use curated directory of the best and most relevant online business tools for UK small businesses, to save your business time and money.

We have researched hundreds of online business products and identified the most relevant and most highly rated and reviewed solutions and created a free and easy to use directory to save you time on making your selections.

Our advice is to narrow down to two or three products which seem to suit your needs - both immediate and short to medium term - and trial them (for free).

During the trial period, make sure you focus on the most important features for your business, and use realistic data to test them out. Consider their ability to export or backup your data, particularly for data-heavy and crucial tasks like accounting or CRM, in case you want to migrate to something else in the future.

If you want to grow your business, reduce your administrative burden, improve productivity, or reduce business risk, online tools are definitely right for you.




By BusinessKitbag.com



How hashtags can help your small business

Tuesday, February 21 at 09:11#100Daysofdigital | Hashtags | Twitter

It's no secret I love #hashtags!

We all know they're great fun but did you know you can use them to rapidly increase your following and your business reach?

Personal Trending

I don't jump onto whatever is trending to try and increase my engagement. Personally I think unless you are genuinely interested in the topic then don't just tweet what's popular. However, did you know the trends are set to be 'tailored to you'. It shows what is trending generally but it also shows you what is trending with those you follow - this is a great way with connecting with your audience.

Specific to your niche

What hashtags really speak to your business or blog? What do others in the same niche use? I have five that I use regularly that are used by others in my sector. This is a great way of making connections and connecting with new and different people. Not sure if what you have in mind is a popular hashtag? Just start typing it into the search bar and see what comes up - it will give you suggestions.

Don't forget to look at hashtag hours (see Go local below for more of this). For instance #CraftHour is a hashtag used on a specific day and certain time. Be specific about your hashtag focus. You can also connect with other country's hashtag hours, just check your time difference.

The daily tags

Daily tags are a great way of making connections with people you wouldn't usually come across and they're usually general enough that everyone can get involved. I love #MondayMotivation and #WednesdayWisdom and I try to use them to encourage my Twitter contacts.

Make a note of what national and international days are coming up. They can be fun, emotive, serious and at times they can fit in with your industry. It can also be helpful for blog posts if there is day coming up that ties in.

Go local

I love supporting local business. Twitter gives me a way of connecting with and supporting businesses, projects and people locally.  Area hours are a great tool to do this. I live near two cities, Exeter and Plymouth, which both have hours each week where you use the hashtag #CityHour (using the name of the city) and lots of local people and businesses get involved. It's worth searching for hashtags containing your town, city or area to see what is available and support local business.

Now it's your turn

Share your favourite #Hashtag, twitter chat or tip over on my Twitterage using the hashtag #tips4tania and I'll re-tweet you.

See how you can become a Twitter Pro in as little as 10 minutes a day

Tania Vaughan is a freelance web designer at www.hartandesign.com. She specifically supports small business and entrepreneurs with personal, affordable and flexible web design. Already have a website but not sure if it’s working for you? Get a full in depth website audit

COPYRIGHT Tania Vaughan 2017

100 Days of Digital Returns

Monday, January 09 at 08:11#100Daysofdigital

Do It Digital's #100DaysofDigital is back! From 22nd December 2016 to 31st March 2017, Do It Digital is highlighting organisations that offer great tips and resources to help small businesses get online and improve their digital capabilities. Many of them are completely free! Tune in for 100 days of great digital help and advice to help your small business.

For more information follow Do It Digital on Twitter and Facebook. Get in touch by emailing hello@doitdigital.co.uk and exploring the website.



Case Study: Rich Brady, Recruit Packs

Monday, January 09 at 06:22Case Studies

How does Recruit Packs use digital?

I use digital in all aspects of our business.
We have ecommerce websites, we promote ourselves using social media, we're employing a new inventory software that links to our websites and syncs to the accountancy software we use.

I'm switching us over to a digital office. It makes storing and searching for historical data very easy. So, every bit of paper is scanned, shredded and recycled. I was going to build a private website, for our team to access Standard Operating Procedure and Policy information, but I've just met with a HR firm that could provide that service within their package.

Digital makes us incredibly flexible and gives us the ability to compete with much bigger organisations. Team members can work remotely, when needed. Information can be shared easily and instantly, which allows us to maintain the personal touches that we pride ourselves on.

How does Recruit Packs use digital?

I try and keep on top of changes to the platforms we use. Reading press releases from Twitter, Facebook and YouTube ensure that we're producing content that is inline with what they want.


I follow lots of industry experts on Twitter, read their blogs, watch TED talks and then just try things out. 

What piece of advice would you give to other small businesses looking to do more with digital?

My one piece of advice to a small business about digital is unless something global disaster happens, digital is where everything is heading. Stop burying your hand in the sand and embrace it... Your customers are!

What inspires your digitally?

My digital inspiration comes from one of my personal goals... not being in the office 9.30-5, 5 days a week!

There is software and systems out there that would allow me and my team remotely.

Don't get me wrong, the retail shop will need someone to open up and physically be there for customers. I will need people physically picking and packing orders, but there is a whole host of roles (as we grow) that people can do from home, in their pyjamas if they want to!



Case Study: Amy Crabtree, Cakes with Faces

Monday, January 09 at 06:04Case Studies

What is Cakes with Faces and how do you use digital for your business? 

I'm a graphic artist/designer and Cakes with Faces is my brand of cute and colourful t-shirts and gifts, all with my original designs, which I sell online on www.cakeswithfaces.co.uk

I started a YouTube channel to promote my business, making videos about Japan: www.youtube.com/cakeswithfaces. 

They've had a great response, both on social media and when I have stalls at events like Hyper Japan - it's amazing to meet people who've watched my videos!

I love Japanese culture and design, and so do lots of my customers and followers. My designs are inspired by Japanese kawaii (cute) style, and I've also drawn a recipe comic book about how to make sushi.

I film vlogs when I travel to Japan on holiday, to share my experiences, tips and advice. I also make a YouTube series called All the Best Stuff is from Japan, about funny and unusual things from Japan - did you know Christmas dinner in Japan is KFC?  


How do blogs and vlogs help to promote the business? 

By making videos about subjects that my followers are also interested in, I can reach new audiences - and I also really enjoy it! While it started as promotion for my brand, I now spend a lot of my free time editing videos and working on ideas. 

I also make videos behind the scenes at events, to show the work that goes into running Cakes with Faces.

What advice do you have for other small businesses? 

Before I started my channel I'd never made a video so I taught myself from scratch - you just have to go for it!