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How to Market Your Small Business Online

tips for marketing small businesses online

If you’re a small business owner looking to increase your sales and revenue, you may be wondering how you can take advantage of the internet to market your business.

This is a great question. However, we understand it may be confusing trying to figure out where to start.

There are so many different marketing tools out there to choose from, so what should you focus on first to ensure you’re able to get new customers online?

Build Your Online Reputation

One of the very best things you can do for your business is create a solid online reputation.

This means you must create profiles and be active in the places that matter. Google, Facebook and Yelp are (in our opinion) some of the best places to focus on. In addition, if there are any review sites that are specific to your industry, those are great to use as well.

Once you’ve decided on your target social media and review sites, you should do the following:

1) Set up your profile

Make sure your profiles are complete, accurate, and professional. Include as much information about your business as possible, such as an “about us”, contact information and hours of operation.

Also be sure to use high quality images for your profile picture and/or cover photo. Including your business address is also important as it will help you show up when people search for businesses in your area.

2) Create and share content

If the website you’re creating a profile on has a newsfeed (like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn), make sure to share some interesting and relevant content there.

You don’t have to go overboard and plan out months of social media posts in advance. Just make sure it looks like your business is still active and online.

3) Generate engagement on your profiles

Having likes, comments, and reviews on your page is important. Contact your network and previous customers and ask them to like your page or give you a review.

You may have to offer incentives to get reviews, like a free product or service. This is fine as in the long run, a positive online reputation will help you generate more than enough business to cover your expenses.

Creating a Sales Funnel

In order to market or sell your products and services online, you’ll need a sales funnel.

This is simply a process that you put in place to get in-front of potential customers, make them aware of what you sell, and ask them to buy.

Setting up Ads

Creating advertisements with Google Adwords and Facebook are two of the biggest and best ways to get in-front of your potential customers (other than referrals).

Adwords and Facebook ads are very different though. Each with their own set of pros and cons. However, if you invest some time to learn how the platforms work, you should be able to relatively quickly create new, profitable campaigns.

For example, on Google Adwords, you’re targeting based on what people are searching for.

On Facebook, you target people based on their demographics (age, sex, economic status, pages they like etc.)

Your Advertising Objectives

Any time you are advertising, you need to have clear goals in mind. What would you like to happen?

A) Sell to new customers
B) Get existing customers to buy again
C) Build a list of emails or followers to remarket to perpetually
D) Collect reviews and engagement on your online profiles to help sell more customers who find you organically

Once you determine your objectives, you can decide on the platform you want to use, as well as the type of ad campaigns you’ll need to launch.

Leveraging Search Engine Optimization

This article would not be complete without mentioning search engine optimization.

Although the search engines are saturated, with high levels of competition making ranking more difficult, there are still opportunities to market yourself. In fact, depending on your location or business, you may not have intense competition.

To ensure your website or online profiles are ranking, do the following.

1) Include your business name and keywords in your website and profiles predominantly (keywords meaning: the name of your product or service & your specific location)
2) Expand on your keywords within your “about us” or “description” section (go into more specific product or service names)

If you do the above things, you’ll be halfway there. You simply want to ensure that you understand what your potential customers are searching for, and including those into your website or online profiles.

In Conclusion

Start by making your business look well established online, with happy customers. That is the cornerstone of good marketing. Once you start paying for ads and ranking on the search engines, potential customers will trust your brand and buy from you more.

In 2017, having a website is also important. If you don’t have one (or yours is slow, affecting SEO), you’ll need a high quality hosting provider to ensure you have a fast website.

Click here to see our hosting packages. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to our 24/7 support team on our live chat!


I Registered My Domain Name, Now What?

What to do after registering your domain name

So you’ve searched for and registered a domain; and now are wondering what is the next step in getting your website online.

If this describes your situation, you’ll need to follow the below steps.

1. Sign up for web hosting

In order to have your website searchable online, you’ll need to set up a hosting account. This ensures that when someone types in “yourwebsite.com” it will load the website you’ve set up.

There are many web hosting companies you can choose from, and we happen to be one of them. At CanSpace, our website hosting starts at $4.99 CAD per month.

We also offer 24/7 customer support so you never have to worry about problems with your website. Click here to check out our hosting packages.

2. Set up your website (with WordPress)

You don’t have to set up your website with WordPress per-se, but for a lot of people it is usually the best solution. It’s even great at helping build online stores.

The benefit of WordPress is that there are tons of plug-ins and themes to choose, which help you quickly build a website with the functionality you need.

However, there are plenty of other content management systems you can use for your site outside of WordPress. At CanSpace, we integrate with all of the popular systems.

3. Point your domain to your website

Lastly, you will need to set up your domain to the website you’ve built online. If you’ve purchased your domain with CanSpace this is a simple process and our support team can help you out.

If you purchased your domain with another registrar but are choosing to host your website with CanSpace, simply reach out to our team and we will guide you in the process.

We hope this has article has been helpful. If you have any further questions before getting started with hosting and setting up your website, simply reach out to our support team through live chat at any time!


Selling Online: WordPress vs Shopify vs Magento

How to sell online and pick between wordpress, shopify and magento

If you’ve ever wanted to get your own store up and move into eCommerce, you may have wondered what the difference is between WordPress, Shopify and Magento.

All three are used to build online stores. So which one should you use and why?

That’s the topic we want to cover in this article. We’ll touch on the pros and cons of each platform – and when they’d each make sense for you to use.

Selling Online With WordPress

As you may already know, WordPress is basically the king when it comes to building websites. In the case of eCommerce, it’s no different.

The biggest and most scalable solution for WP is called WooCommerce. A plug-in that allows you to build your entire online store on WordPress.

Within the plug-in you have options for managing your inventory, customizing your product line-up and assigning SKU’s at the click of a button.

All of this means you can relatively quickly build out your product line; even if you’re doing something like clothing and have hundreds of SKU’s for different sizing, colors etc.

WordPress Pros

1. Scalable and flexible platform

WordPress is one of the most popular website building applications. The platform is easy to use and learn, which means WordPress developers typically come at a lower cost than other higher-level developers.

They simply have to use a plug-in like WooCommerce to build upon your website and craft out your store. This ease of access passes a time and cost savings down to you.

2. Extendible functionality

WooCommerce has a very large library of extensions. There are more than 450 to choose from, allowing you to build functionality like coupons, email marketing and more into your store.

Some are free, while others are premium/paid options.

This extendibility gives the freedom to “make the site your own” and grow into more diverse marketing and sales opportunities.

3. Free to use

While there are of course premium extensions you can purchase, WooCommerce is completely free to use.

This is great as beginners can set up their store and begin selling risk free. No need to worry about monthly payments right out of the gates (like Shopify. More on this below).

WordPress Cons

1. WooCommerce can be expensive

While it is free to use, adding premium extensions onto your store for additional functionality can get pricy.

Some of the extensions cost upwards of $150. A large upfront investment you do not have when using Shopify. This is a trade-off as Shopify does come with a monthly fee.

Selling Online With Shopify

If you’re not familiar with Shopify – they are a standalone eCommerce platform.

Once again you have all the tools to set up your own store, start selling and processing payments. They also have a marketplace of “plug-ins” you can use to build functionality into your site.

Shopify Pros

1. Strong integrations built for commerce

Shopify is built for business owners of all kinds. Not only do they have the platform for online purchases. They also have tools to help you integrate into the offline world.

If you have a retail location, you can utilize Shopify’s POS system to help centralize your transaction management and order processing (good for organization and accounting).

This can also help you better define and manage your customer rewards programs and discount offers.

Shopify Cons

1. Monthly fee(s)

Shopify’s cheapest plan is $29 per month, and goes all the way up to $299. There are a huge variety of free plug-ins to choose from. However, many are paid as well.

The difference is most plug-ins are a monthly fee, versus WooCommerce which gives you a flat rate. On the plus side, Shopify offers a 2 week free trial so you can test them out before paying.

2. Weaker SEO

As WordPress has a large emphasis on its utility for bloggers, they have much better SEO features than Shopify.

If you are planning to blog, you may want to keep this in mind. You could however set-up a WordPress blog and link it to your Shopify store if you wanted to.

WordPress vs Shopify

Now that you have a basis of comparison, how do you decide between WordPress and Shopify?

You may want to start by asking yourself the following questions.

  1. What platform do you feel most comfortable with?
  2. Would you prefer monthly payments or one-time fees?
  3. Do you do business offline or have plans to?
  4. Do you plan on making content marketing a major strategy?

If you are planning to only sell online, prefer a free platform to start, and want to focus on content, you might be best off with WordPress.

If you want to integrate your business online and offline into one system, and prefer something that “does it all” right out of the box, you might be best off with Shopify.

Now, how do you decide if you should go with Magento?

If WordPress seems like the better solution for you, pick WordPress. However, if you are interested in the Shopify system, you will gain value from seeing how it compares to Magento as it is another complete commerce solution.

Selling Online with Magento

If you like Shopify, but feel a little constrained by what you see available in their marketplace, or think you may outgrow the software, Magento may be for you.

They specialize in more “enterprise solutions” for the commerce world. See: Magento homepage. A few clients they mention right away are Burger King, Coca Cola, and Christian Louboutin.

Magento Pros

1. Built to scale

As Magento is an enterprise solution, they’ve built their software to help large companies scale up their product offerings and increase their traffic with as little friction as possible.

2. Seamless integration to the offline world 

Magento takes the Shopify commerce system to the next level. If you’re looking for a strong “omnichannel” solution – this is basically THE only option.

They help you no matter where, when or how you sell.

3. Good community of “partners”

The software is a bit complicated (as we’ll touch on below), but there is a strong community of data-driven web specialists to help you build your website.

This can help you build your store with conversion optimization.

Magento Cons

1. Complicated software

The learning curve is much bigger here than the one you’d have with WordPress or Shopify. This means a bigger up-front time investment to get situated.

2. Costly development

Given that it is more of an enterprise solution with more complex software – the Magento developer skillset is more specialised.  For you, this means the development cost when hiring will be markedly higher than Shopify or WP.

Shopify vs Magento

For the typical small business owner, Magento is going to be a big headache to try and get your store online and running smoothly. By comparison Shopify makes setting your store up as quick as a couple hours.

In Conclusion

For most business owners trying to build their store online, the decision is going to be between WordPress and Shopify. Use the information here to determine your needs and decide on a platform.

If you decide to use WordPress, remember that you’re going to need a domain and hosting. Check out our web hosting packages to get started.

CanSpace is Canada’s leading domain name registrar and web hosting provider. Let us help you launch your store! Our support team is on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to help with any questions or needs you have.


Three Essentials for Starting a New Online Business

Starting a new online business

If you’ve ever wanted to start your own online business, you might be wondering what you should focus on first.

There are many things you’ll have to figure out when launching your business. However, the below three things specifically will play the biggest part in your success.

1) Business plan

Who are you going to sell to? Where are you going to sell? What products or services are you going to offer? What will be your core offering, and what will be the additional “up-sells” you have to maximize your profit per customer?

Understanding what you’re offering so you can break down your costs, how much you will sell for, and how you will market is important.

It will help you understand your market, build revenue projections etc.

2) Website

Having a well designed, beautiful website tells potential customers that you take your appearance seriously.

In 2017, a company website is basically non-negotiable. Not only is it good for winning over customers. You can also sell directly to consumers by setting up an online store with WordPress.

Just keep in mind, you’ll need to find high quality web hosting and a domain for your website which will require a small upfront investment.

3) Seed capital

In order to pay for your website development (which is much cheaper than it used to be) and some marketing expenses like branding material or testing ads, you’ll need some initial capital to get started.

Realistically though, you only need $100 to prove a concept these days. You could set up a WordPress website yourself or pay someone $50 for a very basic landing page. Then put $50 into testing ads.

Once you prove your idea, of course you’d move into improving your website by getting a real design, and putting more money into (profitable) marketing!

In Conclusion

It’s easier than ever to start an online business. All you need is some free time, an idea, and the above three things. With all of the web development and marketing tools at your disposal, you could be running and making money this weekend!

If you’re ready to pull the trigger and get started with your new online business, click here to find a web hosting package. At CanSpace, we offer a free domain on annual terms, so you just have to pay for hosting.

Click the link above to get started, and let’s make 2017 the year you launch!


What is a WordPress Theme?

What is a WordPress theme?

WordPress themes are like a cake. They’re usually pretty good right out of the oven. However, you can also add icing on the cake to make it extra special.

Think of the icing as your website layout, fonts, logo, and colours. All you have to decide on is the base flavor you want from the cake. This is the general layout and look of your site, which is pre-built by a WordPress developer.

If you own a restaurant, you can search for “restaurant themes” and if you are a writer, you can look for “writer” or “freelancer” themes. These themes will have the pages and layouts needed for your specific business.  

You don’t have to bake them yourself from scratch (a.k.a writing the code and designing the site).

Making the Site Yours

Once you’ve found a good theme that fits your requirements, you simply need to customize it to make it yours. You can find a theme for almost any design style or business niche in the WordPress marketplace.

The best part? There are a ton of free options.

So, if you’re just looking to make your start and get your business online for the first time, you don’t have to fork over any cash to do it.

In Conclusion

If you’re looking to get started with your first website, WordPress is one of the best options. It’s free, and thanks to the marketplace of theme developers, you should be able to get a nice website up for yourself in a short amount of time.

At CanSpace, we provide web hosting and domains to some of Canada’s largest corporations (many using WordPress). Don’t hesitate to send us a message if you need any help or sign up today to start building your website!

Click here to pick a web hosting package that fits your needs. Domains are included for free on annual plans!


Why You Should Avoid Unlimited Hosting Plans

avoiding unlimited hosting plans

If you’ve recently been looking online for companies to host your website, you’ve probably been asking yourself: What are unlimited hosting plans?

Well, those unlimited plans are essentially a dishonest marketing tactic certain companies use to sell their services.

In hosting, there is a term we use called overselling. This is essentially the shady practice of setting up many more than the ideal number of sites on a single server.

What this does is extremely slow down performance for everyone hosting their site.

Can Hosting Plans be Unlimited?

Imagine you found a hosting company offering an unlimited package. The plan sounds great, you get unlimited bandwidth, fast speeds and more! 

Even if you didn’t know they were likely overselling, let’s just think about the idea of an unlimited hosting plan for a second.

How can it be unlimited? By definition that means there is literally not a limit to the bandwidth, which is impossible. Even if it’s “way more than you’d ever use”, there’s still a limit.

Some hosting companies won’t even give you the limit in the fine print. This is dishonest and wrong in our opinion.

Service Will Suffer

On the rare occasion that the hosting provider isn’t over-selling their servers, they’ll be offering so much for such little profit, that they’ll literally not be able to offer support. Or, it will suffer severely. 

This is why we NEVER offer unlimited plans. If we did, we wouldn’t be able to offer 24/7 customer service and high-quality hosting. It’s important to be realistic with the service.

In Conclusion

If you’re looking for a high quality, affordable web hosting service, look no further. CanSpace is Canada’s leading hosting provider and domain name registrar.

You can trust that we’ll never over-sell, and will always offer a fair price. Plus, all of our hosting plans come 24/7 support and a free domain on annual terms. Get started now and you could have your website up today!


Small Business Tips: Paid Advertising on Instagram

instagram paid advertising campaigns for small businesses

Ever wondered how you can start advertising your business using Instagram ads?

The good news is, if you’ve ever done Facebook ads before, then you know the platform. It should be easy for you to pick up and get started with Instagram.

Even if you haven’t done any ads before, that’s okay.

Instagram ads offer all of the same targeting options as FB. Let’s go over those now.

Paid Advertising Targeting on Instagram

Below are the options you can use when setting up your ad targeting. There are more but this is where you should start.

  • Age
  • Location
  • Gender
  • Education
  • Interests
  • Income
  • Languages

You can see very quickly how you can get in deep with your targeting. The con of this is that you may become a little overwhelmed if it’s the first time using the platform.

Not to worry. We’re going to walk through setting up a campaign now.

First, you’ll need to take the following steps.

  1. Ensure you have both a Facebook Business page and Instagram account set up
  2. Open the Facebook Power Editor
  3. Click “Create Campaign”

Once you’ve got the page open to creating a campaign, you’ll need to pick a campaign objective. There are many to choose from, but only the following are permitted for Instagram ads.

  • Brand awareness
  • Traffic (for clicks to your website or to the app store for your app)
  • App installs
  • Engagement (for post engagement only)
  • Video views
  • Conversions (for conversions on your website or in your app)

Think carefully about what you’re looking to accomplish from the ad. This will help you choose the correct objective.

Let’s run through an example campaign so you can see how everything could be set up.

Instagram Ads For Mark’s Shoe Emporium

In this example, we’ll use an online shoe store to build out a hypothetical campaign.

The product we are creating the ad for is a pair of high-quality leather dress shoes for men. We want to sell directly to consumers with the ad.

Judging by the product, our target market is likely a middle-aged business or career focused man, already earning a decent wage and has a desire to look ‘sharp’.

Our campaign may look like this.

Objective: Conversions

Conversion Event: Purchase (You can optimize for many things, like leads & add to cart)

Location: Canada (If this where you sell)

Gender: Male

Age: 30 – 55

Interests: “Business & Industry” “ALDO Shoes” “Steve Madden Shoes”

Demographic: Income $50,000+, Current Homeowner

Placements: Instagram

Viola, you’re good to start testing the ads. I recommend starting with a daily ad budget of $5-10 for a few days and then calibrating based on results.

Now you need to create the actual ad that will show.

Photo Ads

Since instagram is a picture sharing app, having something visually appealing is most important. Use a filter to make it look more “native” or basically less like an ad.

In the verbiage – state the product benefit, then the product, and finally something about price.

Remember, one of the most important parts about advertising is simply making sure you’re not getting the wrong people to click on your ad. IE: disqualifying them.

One of the best ways to do this is to state the price right away.

In Conclusion

Now you’ve seen how easy it can be to get started with advertising on Instagram! Go take a look and test for yourself. You’re just a few steps away from getting in-front of your potential customers and sending them to your website.

Don’t have a website? CanSpace offers the lowest priced domains guaranteed, so you can get online for cheap. Start your search for domains here.

Once you’ve got a domain (or if you already have one), you can find great web hosting plans here.


How to Set Up an Online Store With WordPress

How to set up an online store with a wordpress website

What do you need to take your business online and create a store with WordPress? You don’t need much, just the following.

  1. Domain & Hosting
  2. WordPress (and theme)
  3. Shopping Cart Plug-in
  4. Payment Gateway & SSL
  5. Bank Account

Let’s go over each of these now.

Domain & Hosting For WordPress Stores

You need a domain so that you can link your store to a web address that customers can easily find by searching or through ads. Your domain should be your business name or the product you sell.

Ex: mensleathershoes.com OR kevinsleathershoes.com

If you don’t currently have a domain, start your search for the lowest priced .ca domains guaranteed. Once you have a domain, you’ll need to have hosting set up so you can actually start building your website and have it hosted online.

Click the following link to find a Canadian web hosting package, starting from $5 CAD per month. With CanSpace it’s super simple to get started and you’re not tied into any contracts.

Setting up Your Store Theme

Once you have your domain and hosting set-up, you’ll need to begin making your website in WordPress.

You should take a look at the following themes for your WordPress store. The WordPress store theme however should be for the specific WordPress store plug-in you pick.

WooCommerce “StoreFront” Theme

This is a clean and versatile theme built for the WordPress plug-in WooCommerce which we will touch on below.

It is built by WooCommerce’s team. Since they have intimate knowledge of the entire system’s functionality, you’ll find it has many smart and easy to use features.

EasyShop Theme

This is a theme built on-top of EasyCart by a 3rd party developer. It is mainly tailored to apparel companies, but can be modified for other purposes.

Let’s look at the actual shopping cart plug-in now.  

WordPress Store Shopping Cart Plug-In

When looking for the plug-in to set up your WordPress store and manage purchases – you’re going to need a few things.

  1. Good inventory management
  2. Easy to use admin interface (for uploading/changing products)
  3. Strong integrations to payment processors (like PayPal)
  4. Good front-end user experience (for those browsing your store)

The two plug-ins that check those boxes are WooCommerce and EasyCart.

WooCommerce

WooCommerce is a free plug-in with an extensive marketplace of free and premium extensions.

Basically any features and functionality you need can be installed into your WordPress store with extensions for reasonable monthly fees. However, for the novice user, WooCommerce should be good enough right out-of-the-box.

EasyCart

EasyCart is a one-time payment plug-in option – that ranges from $50-180 for a lifetime license. This includes all of their extensions. No monthly fees like WooCommerce.

There is a bigger upfront investment, but many people find they end up spending a decent amount of money per month with WooCommerce once they start scaling anyway.

I personally prefer the look and feel of WooCommerce. It is also the more popular choice.

Payment Gateway, SSL & Bank Account

Once you’ve got your website and WordPress store up – you’ll need to link the shopping cart plug-in to your payment gateway.

If you’re not sure which one to pick, I’ve placed the most popular ones below.

  1. Paypal
  2. Stripe
  3. Square

You can also use Payoneer or Payfirma, which are two other options.

Before you do this though, you’ll need to ensure you have an SSL – which stands for Secure Socket Layer. It’s basically the technology that secures your website while processing your customers’ credit cards.

You can get SSL’s from most web hosting providers for under $200. At CanSpace our SSL is $39 per year.

Both WooCommerce and EasyCart have instructions that will tell you how to easily link your payment gateway and begin selling. From there, all you have to do is make sure your bank account is connected so you can take out your earnings!

In Conclusion

Now you’ve seen how simple it is to get your WordPress store up. If you’ve always wanted to sell online but never knew how… now is a perfect time to start.

Remember, you’ll need a domain and web hosting. So start your search for domains and find the perfect web hosting package for your needs today.


Why Should I Use WordPress to Build my Website?

Should you use WordPress to build your website?

Building your website with WordPress is a smart idea. Why?

For anyone who has tried to get into the “website world”, I’m sure you’ve noticed the labyrinth of tools, coding languages, web platforms etc.

It all can get very confusing, quickly.

This is where WordPress shines. It’s simplicity & intuitiveness has made it one of the most popular web platforms (over 30% of sites online run on WordPress).

Ease of Use

WordPress has a great user experience. It takes a little bit to learn the entire system – but to get the basics and manage your website, you won’t find anything easier.

The correct term for WordPress is a CMS; Content Management System.

Basically, it’s built to help you manage all of the content on your website… From your logo, website theme to your blog articles etc. It’s all there in one location, helping even beginners at all things computers/technology run their own site.

There are also “themes” which give you super simple drag-and-drop page builders, so you can build awesome looking webpages without knowing how to code at all.

Flexibility

For most budding website owners – there are usually a list of functionality that you want built into the site.

Do you want to have something to pop-up and get the information of people on your articles, get them to share or put your YouTube video on the site?

Any “features” you could ever want are available in the WordPress MarketplaceAll you have to do is download a “plug-in” that automatically sets your website up with new features.

You can get free plug-ins for almost everything but there are also great paid solutions.

Support

Since there is such a huge community of people using WordPress, finding help online is usually one click away.

Of course, if you were hosting your site with CanSpace you would have our team of 24/7 customer support representatives (click here to find a hosting package).

If you’re not though… There are tons of resources for WordPress users out there. Including forums and groups dedicated to building and managing your website.

You can use these places to support you… Especially when you’re brand new to websites.


Should I Use a CDN?

Should I use a CDN

What are the benefits, and when should you use a CDN?

If you’re like most small business owners, you may not know exactly what a CDN is. The term stands for Content Delivery Network, which is simply a system of servers distributed across the world.

Essentially, CDN’s are used to improve how fast your website loads. By leveraging intelligent geographical placement of servers, it decreases the time it takes for your visitor to load your website.

This is important for you as website speed is an essential factor for your success online.

Why You’d Use a CDN

Speed is important for both user experience, and search engine optimisation. Increased speed will result in the following benefits…

  1. Increase Google search rankings
  2. Reduce your bounce rate (which will…)
  3. Improve your lead capture and sales

At the end of the day – it’s all about your goals. How will a faster website affect your bottom line? As it turns out, it will affect it in a big, positive way. So should you use a CDN? Yes.

If you’re looking to get started with a CDN, take a look at our hosting packages today. CanSpace is a CloudFlare premium partner and CloudFlare CDN services are included free of charge for all of our clients (most places charge $20 or more per month).

In addition to our low prices, we are Canada’s leading web host and domain registrar. So you can rest assured in your decision to host with us.


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