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Video conferencing software has exploded in popularity over the last year. With people working from home and remote work becoming the new normal, businesses rely on video conferencing services to communicate.
But not all video conferencing software is the same.
The tools you use to video chat with your friends and family across the across aren’t necessarily the best business communication options.
Which video conferencing software is the best for you? I’ll break down my top picks in greater detail below.
The Top 6 Options For Video Conferencing Software
How to Choose the Best Video Conferencing For You
As you’re shopping around and evaluating different options, there are certain criteria that must be taken into consideration. Keep these factors in mind to ease the buying process and narrow down the best video conferencing software for your business.
The first thing you need to consider is the call restriction limitations. How many people can be part of the video conference?
Entry-level plans might restrict you to 25 or 50 callers while the highest tiers can be 10,000+.
If you’re running a small business or just need to occasionally meet with a small team, you probably won’t run into problems with restrictions. But for those of you who plan to give presentations to your entire enterprise-size organization, a large call size capability will be a top priority.
Simultaneous Video Streams
Even if you get a plan with a large call size, it doesn’t mean that everyone on the call will be able to stream their webcam simultaneously.
Let’s say you have 500 people attending a video conference; there won’t be 500 videos on the screen. You might be limited to just 10 or 20 streamers. The rest will be view-only.
There’s nothing worse than being on a video conference with a poor stream. It can really distract from the purpose of the conference. Everyone is worried about disconnecting and then reconnecting, hoping that fixes the issue, which wastes valuable time.
Each participant’s individual Internet connection will obviously impact the quality as well. However, some software is definitely better than others in this category.
The best way to determine the video quality of the software is by experimenting with free trials and reading reviews from current customers.
Team Collaboration Features
If you’re using video conferencing software for work, it’s useful to have an all-in-one collaboration solution.
I tend to look for features like file sharing, cloud storage, screen sharing, presentation mode, and integrated live chat. You should also look for features that integrate with tools you’re already using for CRM, site analytics, or whatever else your team is working on.
Now everyone can collaborate from a single platform, instead of bouncing back and forth between different software while on a video conference call.
Industry and Specific Use Cases
What exactly do you need video conferencing software for?
There are plenty of general-purpose solutions out there. But in some instances, certain software is geared towards purposes like remote work or international calls. There are even industry-specific tools for healthcare or education.
So if you fall into one of those categories, make sure you choose a software that accommodates your unique needs.
The Different Types of Video Conferencing Software
As previously mentioned, not all video conferencing software is the same. I’ll quickly name and explain the most popular options, so you have a better understanding of what to expect as you’re shopping around.
Cloud Video Conferencing Software
Cloud software or browser-based video conferencing software is extremely flexible. Participants can join a call from anywhere, simply by logging in through a web browser.
This software is supported by open WebRTC (real-time communications) standards.
If you’re going to have conference calls with participants outside of your organization, then you’ll definitely want a cloud solution. Then you can invite people to join with a URL link, and they won’t have to download any software.
For example, let’s say you have a sales team that uses video conferencing to communicate with prospects. Forcing those potential customers to download software would add friction and confusion to the sales process.
Desktop apps are commonly used for in-house video conferencing. The best video conferencing software will support all major operating systems.
Call quality and features are usually enhanced with a desktop app. For example, you might not be able to share your screen on a cloud version of a software, but you’d access that feature by downloading the desktop app.
Mobile Video Conferencing
Mobile video conferencing is crucial for people who need to join calls on the go. Busy professionals can’t always be tied to a desktop or laptop computer. But this type of software allows people to participate from smartphones and tablets.
If you’re using cloud software, you can usually join from a web browser on your mobile device. However, the experience is definitely enhanced by downloading the mobile application from your video conferencing provider.
Nearly all of the best video conferencing software on the market today will have some mobile conferencing features.
Meeting Room Systems
Some businesses require a complete meeting room system for video conferences. These solutions require additional hardware, like external cameras, microphones, speakers, and more.
A meeting room system is typically designed for physical conference rooms. If you’re having a video conference call in an executive board room with a dozen people present, a laptop at the end of the table isn’t going to cut it.
These really aren’t necessary for home offices or remote work. They’re designed for large spaces and large groups in a single location.
#1 – BlueJeans — Best For Remote Work
BlueJeans has a wide range of video conferencing options for businesses of all sizes. It’s trusted by global brands like ADP, Facebook, Zillow, Intuit, and National Geographic.
For small and large businesses alike, BlueJeans can help your organization and employees communicate by providing them with the right tools for remote work.
Depending on your needs, there are actually four different BlueJeans video conferencing products for you to choose from. Here’s a quick explanation of each one:
- BlueJeans Meetings — Video, audio, and web conferences from any device
- BlueJeans Rooms — Single-touch audio and video conference rooms
- BlueJeans Events — Host and stream interactive events for large audiences
- BlueJeans Gateway — Access Microsoft Teams calls from any meeting room system
BlueJeans was recently acquired by Verizon, so the video call quality is exceptional. You’ll also benefit from features like enterprise-grade security, meeting transcriptions, automated alerts, meeting management tools, analytics, and more.
Pricing starts at $9.99 per host per month.
The entry-level plan comes with unlimited 1:1 meetings, unlimited group meetings, unlimited meeting lengths, and five hours of recording. You can host video conferences with up to 50 participants on this plan as well.
Try it free for 7 days.
#2 – Cisco Webex Review — Best For Healthcare
Cisco has been an industry leader in the telecommunications space for 35+ years. So it should come as no surprise to see Cisco Webex rank so high this list.
In addition to basic video conferencing, Cisco has tools for contact centers, online meetings, cloud calling, online training, team collaboration, and more. But what really stands out is the industry-specific solutions offered from Webex, including video conferencing for healthcare.
As more and more medical practices make the transition to telehealth, Cisco Webex has been growing in popularity. It’s a top solution for practices that need to meet with patients online, make administrative calls, collaborate with care teams, and healthcare IT teams.
From virtual consultations to training and security, Webex has everything healthcare organizations need for video conferencing.
Here are some of the highlights of using Cisco Webex:
- End-to-end security with strong encryption
- High-quality video and audio calling
- Virtual training capabilities with recording and on-demand viewing
- Share your entire screen or just share a single app or document
- AI powered web assistant
- Integrations with tools like Slack, G Suite, Salesforce, and more
- Compatible on web, desktop, mobile, and video systems
For anyone that prioritizes quality and security, Cisco Webex will be a top choice for you to consider.
Plans start at $13.50 per host per month. Sign up for free to try it out; no credit card required.
#3 – Lifesize Review — The Best Zoom Alternative
Zoom has quickly become a household name over the past year or so. But it’s not for everyone, and lots of businesses are looking elsewhere for a video conferencing solution.
If you’re searching for a similar setup and feature list, Lifesize will be your best option.
Lifesize is a cloud video conferencing solution and team collaboration platform that’s compatible with any device. You can use the software to meet with co-workers, clients, employees, and anyone else, from anywhere.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits and highlights of Lifesize:
- Ultra-high definition and 4k screen sharing
- Unlimited guest invitations to meetings
- Large meetings with up to 500 participants
- Broadcast live events with up to 10,000 viewers
- Manage users and room settings from a web-based admin console
- High encryption standards for robust security
- Interoperability with Slack, Microsoft Teams, Skype, and more
For those of you who need a complete meeting room system, Lifesize has all-in-one conferencing solutions with hardware as well.
Lifesize is free for up to 10 participants with unlimited meetings. The entry-level plan starts at $12.50 per host per month. This plan comes with SSO support and allows you to host meetings with up to 100 participants.
#4 – Whereby Review — The Best Simple Video Conferencing Software
Whereby is arguably the simplest video conferencing solution on the market today. There’s no app installation required. Just choose a personalized meeting URL, and participants can access the same link every time.
The software was actually built in Norway, and it’s a popular choice for Europeans. So it’s GDPR compliant and follows some of the strictest data protection and privacy laws globally.
Here’s a quick overview of the features and benefits you’ll get by using Whereby for video conferencing:
- Live chat and reactions during video calls without interrupting the speaker
- Rooms are locked by default, so admins can choose who to let in
- Fit up to 50 participants in a room at the same time
- Host has control to mute members and end the meeting for everyone
- Participants can open other tabs and explore websites during a meeting
- Add company branding and logos to your meeting rooms
- Integrations with Google Calendar and Outlook Calendar
- Record meetings that you can download and share
- YouTube integration for watching videos during a meeting
- Screen sharing, Google Docs integration, and mobile support
Again, even with all of these great features, Whereby is as simple as it gets. It’s easy for anyone to use and figure out, regardless of their technical skill level.
There’s a free forever plan for personal use that can host small meetings with up to four participants. Paid plans start at just $9.99 per month.
#5 – RingCentral Review — Best All-in-One Communication Suite
If your business needs more than just video conferencing, look no further than RingCentral. Unlike other software options that accommodate personal use, RingCentral is built specifically for businesses.
They offer an all-in-one communication suite for integrated video meetings, phone calls, team messaging, file sharing, and task management.
The software is trusted by 400,000+ organizations across the globe, making it one of the most popular video conferencing solutions on the market today.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the features, benefits, and highlights of RingCentral:
- Enterprise-grade security and a 99.999% uptime SLA
- Easy to set up, deploy, add new users, and manage teams
- Works from any device
- Solutions for small businesses, enterprises, and everything in between
- Tools for remote work and remote customer service
- Cloud phone systems and contact centers
- Solutions for managed service providers
RingCentral even has industry-specific solutions in categories like education, healthcare, retail, financial services, high tech, contact tracing, and more.
Plans start at $19.99 per user per month. You can try RingCentral for free with a 15-day trial.
#6 – GlobalMeet by PGI Review — Best For International Video Conferencing
GlobalMeet is another popular business communications platform. As the name implies, the software is built to accommodate international calls.
They have 160+ points of presence in over 60 different countries. This allows for exceptional call quality, even with participants streaming video calls from different continents.
Here are some other top reasons why I like and recommend GlobalMeet:
- They offer hardware solutions for complete video room integrations
- Join calls on the go through the mobile app
- Record your meetings and play them any time with cloud recording capability
- Single-click to join video calls from an intuitive user interface
- High definition video with simultaneous screen sharing functionality
- 24/7 customer support via live chat, phone, and email in 12 languages
For organizations with an international presence, whether it be internally or with clients, GlobalMeet by PGI is the clear winner.
There’s a free plan for basic use, and paid plans start at $12 per user per month.
What’s the best video conferencing software?
With so many options to consider, naming just one as my top pick isn’t very practical. It all depends on what you’re looking for.
Regardless of your business size, industry, or video conferencing needs, you can find what you’re looking for using my methodology and recommendations listed in this guide.
According to a recent survey from the DMEXCO, 70 percent of executives worldwide expect the pandemic to accelerate the pace of digital strategy. In the past, businesses had more time to plan and prepare.
That’s no longer the case.
Today, businesses are expected to outline, plan, implement the digital strategy in a matter of days or weeks. The market is moving at an accelerated pace; many businesses find they’re unable to keep up. If you can’t keep up, does that mean you’ll be left behind?
Not if you have the right digital strategy agency.
With the right agency, you’ll be able to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances and events. Here are some steps you can take to find and vet the right agency.
Know your goals and desired outcomes
Identifying your digital strategy is the key to long-term growth.
Your digital strategy is about setting goals and objectives. It’s a high-level overview that defines where you are now, outlines where you’d like to go (as an organization), and how you’ll get there. It’s a long(er) term plan that sets a course or destination for you to follow before starting your journey.
You’re going to need a list of:
- Goals, KPIs, and objectives: For example, you could focus your attention on generating a specific number of leads, customers, or revenue. You’re running a SaaS business, focus your attention on reducing churn and increasing MRR.
- Target audience members: It would be best if you had a clear idea of the specific customer segments you’re looking to target. Your agency should help you with the demographics, psychographics, and ethnographics if you need help clarifying your audience.
- Customer hangouts: You’ll want to identify your customer hangouts and the places online where your customers spend their time. This will help you identify potential partners, advertising opportunities, and strategic alliances you can use to grow.
- Obstacles and challenges: You’ll want to outline the list of barriers and challenges that may prevent you from achieving the goals and objectives you’ve listed above.
- Competitors and key players: You’ll want to identify your competitors and their strengths and weaknesses. This reduces direct competition, making it easier for you to attract customers based on your strengths and the areas you perform best.
- Strengths and weaknesses: Point out the areas where you have an advantage in your market or where you’re most vulnerable. Your agency should be able to provide you with options to address each of these, so you’re able to outperform your competitors.
If you have clear answers to these questions, it’s easier for your agency to supply you with the strategy you need to be effective.
3 Characteristics That Make a Great Agency
Great agencies have a few characteristics in common. They’re able to focus their attention on the details that matter to your company and your customers.
1. They ask probing questions
Your agency can’t create the right digital strategy for your company if they don’t have the answers they need. A great agency asks probing questions that may seem simple, dumb, or unimportant at first. You want your agency to ask these questions because these questions help them to develop an in-depth understanding of your business.
Here are a few examples.
- What are your current benchmarks?
- What are your goals and objectives for your business overall? For each segment?
- Which KPIs or metrics are you using to measure performance?
- What do customers expect from your business?
- Where do your customers spend their time online?
- Which marketing channels work best to attract customers?
- What tactics should we use to achieve our goals and objectives?
Questions form the basis of your digital strategy; your digital strategy shows you where you are now, tells you where you’re going, and how to get there. Good digital marketing agencies should be asking these questions at the beginning of the engagement process.
2. Ask your agency to give their strategy away
Your agency should be willing to share bits and pieces, showing you what a cohesive strategy could look like for you. This is important because it gives you several data points you can use to evaluate their work. This doesn’t mean that you should expect your agency to work for free; it just means they’re willing to demonstrate their skills.
Your agency can share this with you in several ways, over the phone, in your proposal or quote, or a case study. You’re looking for them to share pieces of their proposed digital strategy or examples from previous campaigns they’ve implemented for other clients.
- Request performance data from your agency
- Use performance data to evaluate their performance
- Pay attention to the campaign elements they prioritize consistently
- Look for knowledge gaps, holes in their strategy, or weak points
- Discuss the details you’ve noticed with them during the interview process
Another option would be to pick one part of your business (e.g., content or advertising) and ask your agency how they’d build a strategy to accommodate one specific goal (i.e., how would you increase sales for my worst performing products using content marketing?).
3. Your agency knows how to implement
Digital strategy is important, but it’s not as important as the ability to execute that strategy. A great strategy isn’t enough. Your agency should have the experience, skill sets, and team you need to implement your digital strategy and produce the results you need to grow.
You’re looking for three things.
- An agency that can create a comprehensive digital strategy that works with your existing marketing plan
- An agency that knows how to implement your digital strategy successfully
- A proven track record showing that they’ve achieved this for other clients in the past
Your agency should provide you all three of these, and they should be able to provide you with evidence showing that they offered other clients these as well.
How to Work with a Digital Strategy Agency
As you’d expect with any other agency, you’ll want to see a list of samples, references, case studies, and reviews showing that they’re legitimate and competent.
Ask your clients to provide you with a list of milestones and campaign deliverables. You’re looking for a clear timeline that projects how long everything will take to implement, and when they anticipate, you’ll begin seeing results. Your plan should include details on:
- Media advertising: This includes commercials on tv or streaming services, as well as app, radio, podcasting, and sponsorship spots. This won’t be relevant for some, but it’s still something your agency should be able to support if you need it.
- Public relations: What will your agency do to generate press for your business? What strategies will they use to increase visibility and publicity for your business?
- Digital marketing: This encompasses everything from local search, organic search engine optimization, content marketing, advertising,
- Direct response: This can include tactics like geofencing or hyperlocal print advertising; it’s a direct response option that’s designed to integrate with your overall strategy. This is especially important for local businesses that operate in a specific market.
- Partnerships: These partnerships can include tactics like JV partnerships, strategic alliances, or channel partnerships. These pieces are essential and should be an important part of your digital strategy.
Your agency should be able to show you how they plan on approaching your campaign or project. Ask them to break down the approach that goes into their strategy documents; this document should clarify how they’ll approach your campaign, what you should expect, what their goals are, and more.
You’ll want to provide your agency with the following:
- Agreements. It’s common sense, but it’s also something many clients ignore. Take some time to look over their agreement; look for red flags and trouble spots with legal before you sign.
- Brand content. Gather all of your content, brochures, flyers, guides, promos, images, logos, style guides, and marketing materials for your agency.
- Photos. Give your agency access to all relevant photography — company photos, portraits/photos of key people, office space, location, general and event photos, etc.).
- Accolades. Make a list of the social proof your company has — awards, recognition, testimonials, praise, positive reviews, or feedback you’ve received. Give your agency with the assets and resources needed if they ask.
The digital strategy company you choose will provide you with a list of items they need and the options you need to implement their plan successfully.
How to Find the Right Digital Strategy Agency For You
You can use directories like Clutch.co, HubSpot Agency Directory, or Sortlist to find the right digital strategy agency that’s best for you. Here’s a list of some of the best in the industry. You can go through the traditional RFP process or you can simply request a quote.
The 6 Top Digital Strategy Agencies
Here’s a list of six of the top digital strategy agencies online.
1. Neil Patel Digital — Best For Content Marketing & Digital Strategy
I’ve created more than 4,294 blog posts in 10 years. I’ve written millions of words, and I’ve used content marketing to build three companies of my own generating 195,013 visitors a month. I did the same things for large fortune 500 clients; now I can do that for your business too.
2. REQ – Best for Enterprise Business Strategy
REQ is an award-winning agency with enterprise-level expertise. They’re industry veterans with some of the best talents in the business. They’re part of the Inc.500 and Deloitte Fast 500 lists – they’re one of the fastest-growing companies in America.
3. Usman Group – Best for Mid-market Business Strategy
With 80% of its clients in the mid-market range, earning between 10M – 1B, the Usman Group, specializes in digital strategy and market research. Their agency is oriented around design thinking; they produce projects that are evidence-driven, practical, and focused on research.
4. DeSantis Breindel – Best for Branding Strategy
DeSantis Breindel is a digital strategy company that specializes in end-to-end branding strategy. They’re focused on all things branding — they serve businesses via brand differentiation, brand valuation, brand launches, and employee engagement and more.
If your company relies on image and brand reputation, DeSantis may be a good fit.
5. Mabbly – Best for Data Analysis, Channel Strategy
As a digital strategy firm, Mabbly emphasizes market research and data analytics. They specialize in converting large and complex problems into growth opportunities for established and up and coming brands. Their starting price is slightly higher but worth the investment if you’re looking for a data-driven approach.
6. Ironpaper – Best for Small Business
Ironpaper bills itself as a B2B growth agency. As a digital strategy firm, their conversion growth strategy focuses on gaining traction with growth up to 1 percent. The growth phase starts at 1 to 3 percent, with anything above 3 percent listed as scaling.
Businesses have less time to adjust; now, more than ever before, customers are expecting companies to meet their expectations and needs immediately. Digital strategies that played out over the course of one to three-year cycle now finish in a matter of days or weeks. Business is accelerating as customers move more of their business online.
Most companies will need help to keep up.
If you have the right digital strategy agency, you’ll have the support you need to adapt to a rapidly changing market and events. Use this guide to find and vet the right agency for your business.
You likely already know how important creativity is when it comes to digital marketing.
However, coming up with great ideas – be that through content or ads – is only part of the story when it comes to driving results online.
Another significant factor that will amplify your marketing efforts is the collection and leveraging of data.
In other words, to truly succeed with your digital marketing campaigns, you must utilize the best of the machine and human worlds.
But perhaps you’re not a data kind of person, which is where hiring an analytics company comes into play – an option you may already be considering.
Before you make this important decision, equip yourself with the information we’ve outlined in this article so that you can make the best choice for your needs.
The 6 Characteristics That Make a Great Analytics Company
When choosing the right analytics company to work with, there are certain characteristics you need to take into consideration.
Not all agencies are built the same. It is safe to assume that most companies put their best foot forward for their clients, but there will always be variance in terms of what results you will get from each one.
Consider the following factors.
They offer a full suite of marketing services
You may already have your marketing strategy under control and may only need help to understand and leverage your data.
But how can a company help you leverage your data if they have no experience in what the data should be used for?
The point of data and analytics is to improve your decision making and inform your strategy. So, if you’re working with an agency to help you do so, they need to have some actual marketing chops.
Make sure that the agency you want to work with offers other services besides analytics. This is a good indicator that the insights they produce from your data will actually mean something.
They have a strong technology stack
It goes without saying, but if a company is promising to help you leverage data (technology), they will likely have the technology to do so.
At the very minimum, your analytics partner should have their own proprietary platform that will be used as the central point for your data.
But in the best case, the partners will leverage more advanced technologies, such as machine learning, that can help make better sense of the vast amount of data that you will have.
You will find that the best insights from your data come after the raw data is analyzed by a machine, and then made sense of by a human.
The quality of that initial analysis, however, will depend on the quality of the technology that your agency partner has built.
They have an all-star team
Making sense of your marketing data is no easy task. It requires breadth and depth of skills as well as experience, all working together in a harmonious way.
Make sure you check out the team on the about page and on LinkedIn, taking into consideration these factors:
- Skills diversity – Making sense of data requires a symbiosis between the human and machine side of business. A good agency will have social scientists (or marketing experts), data scientists, and statisticians.
- Years of experience – How long has the team been operating? What are their backgrounds? The more industries and businesses they’ve seen, the higher the chance their insights will be valuable.
- Founders – The founders set the tone for the culture of the company. Try to find information on the background of the founder to get a better understanding of how they conduct their operations.
They have a strong roster of clients
One of the most objective ways to evaluate a company is to take a look at the clients they’ve worked with – and, most importantly, what results they’ve gotten for them.
Keep these things in mind:
- Similar clients – If an agency mostly works with Fortune 100 clients and you’re a small startup, they probably won’t be a good fit. They likely will have their processes and expertise optimized for analyzing data at scale.
- Transparent results – Can the analytics agency demonstrate the results they’ve gotten in the past?
- Experience with your channels – It’s no use to you if the analytics company you want to work with specializes in advertising analytics and you have a content-focused strategy. Check to see if they have demonstratable results and insights into your specific channels.
They have a great communication style
If you’re a marketing leader or business owner, chances are you aren’t well trained in understanding and interpreting data.
In this case, the analytics company you work with has to be able to make sense of your data and also deliver it in a way that you can actually use.
To get an idea of this, take a look at how the company communicates with its audiences.
- Blog posts – Is the agency creating content and educating their customers? Do they do so in a clear and simple, yet value-driven way?
- Visualizations – Does the agency value data visualizations? Do they have any examples of how they visualize data in a user-friendly way?
They take a holistic approach to analytics
It is likely your business has a lot of data to work with. Oftentimes, insights come from unlikely places, such as comparisons between seemingly unrelated data sets.
To get the most out of your data, your analytics agency will need to map out and architect your entire data ecosystem.
They will need to consider aspects of your business such as:
- Customer profiles – Your customers will have data points in common, such as demographic information, which can then be used to inform PPC targeting, for instance.
- Marketing channels – Each marketing channel has its own set of data to be analyzed. Social media, for instance, has metrics such as engagement and likes, whereas email marketing focuses more on open rates and click-throughs.
- Website analytics – Your website will have metrics that can inform on everything from design to marketing. Data points such as website dwell time, page conversions, and heat map analytics come into play here.
What To Expect From a Great Analytics Company
Each analytics company has their own unique process when working with clients.
The best analytics companies, however, will ensure their process is tailored to your specific needs.
They will also go to great lengths to ensure that you are kept in the loop as much as possible.
Here’s what you can expect when working with a great analytics company.
Onboarding and integration
At the beginning of your working relationship, your analytics partner should guide you through an onboarding process.
Great onboarding sets the stage for future success, as it creates a solid foundation for your working relationship.
- Manage expectations – Both you and your analytics partner should clearly outline the roles and responsibilities of your relationship at the offset. Make sure you flesh out all the details, such as communication hours.
- Integrations and set up – Depending on your marketing channels, there may be different assets your analytics partner may need to access, such as your Facebook Pixel. You will also need to be onboarded to their analytics platform.
- Goal setting – If you haven’t already, you should have a strategy call with your partner and decide on a strategy and timeline for results.
Auditing of processes and assets
Before you start moving forward, the first thing your analytics partner should do is conduct an audit of your existing processes and data assets.
Depending on your company stage, it is likely that you already have existing data that could serve as a starting point.
- Existing data across all channels – Your analytics agency partner will consolidate all of your data across all channels, bringing them into a single platform.
- Setting up tracking – In some instances, you may not have been tracking certain things. For instance, if you did not have Google Analytics installed on your site, your partner will help you set this up.
- Problem solving – You may have attempted to leverage data and analytics before with limited effect. This could have occurred through your own means or another partner. A complete analysis of your previous attempts would need to be conducted to figure out what went wrong and how to get better results in the future.
Setting up marketing channels
The best analytics company will be able to offer you additional marketing services such as PPC, content and SEO.
The reason for this is simple: to better understand how to interpret the data and inform your strategy, your agency needs to have actual experience executing a marketing strategy.
Elements of your marketing strategy that your analytics partner should help on include:
- PPC – Performance advertising, such as Google or Facebook ads, requires a combination of analytics and creativity. Your partner will help you come up with winning ad ideas that are rooted in data.
- SEO – Analyzing the best keywords to target, as well as writing great pieces of content to rank in search engines, similarly reflects the importance of a holistic analytics partner.
Data management and reporting
Once your marketing campaigns are in full swing – and the appropriate tracking tools are in place – the fun part begins.
Now is the time to take a look at all the data you have been collecting.
If your agency partner is worth their salt, you should be looking at this data through their own proprietary software.
How this data is organized, analyzed and communicated is where you will really begin to see the difference in quality between different analytic agencies.
- Dashboard – When logging into your partner’s platform, you should be able to organize and navigate the different data sets for your marketing channels.
- Analysis – Depending on the technology used, you may be able to get instant insight into what your data means, or even compare it to other data sets in your industry.
- Visualization – A powerful way to understand data is when it is visualized. Charts, graphs and potentially even custom infographics should be provided by your partner.
Actionable Insights and Results
However, collecting raw data isn’t enough.
You need to make sense of that data so that it becomes useful.
Although your analytics partner may have sophisticated number-crunching technologies, there is still a need for a human to look over everything and create real insights.
At the end-stage of the process, your analytics partner will need to communicate to you the real meaning behind the numbers.
- Storytelling – Together, you will need to figure out what the data is really telling you. It is easy to point out that one advert is performing better than the other, but why? How do you find the logic behind the data?
- Strategy – Once you really understand the data, you will need to turn those insights into a strategy. You may realize, for instance, that your entire approach has been wrong, or that there is an opportunity for a new product offering.
- Execution – Finally, you need to put your new data-driven strategy into action – either through your own team or with the help of your analytics partner.
The Top 3 Analytics Companies in The World
With so many service providers to choose from, it can be difficult to narrow them down and finally choose one to go with.
We’ve broken down the criteria that makes a great analytics company and combed through dozens of companies to find the best agencies today.
Each have their strengths and weaknesses, but regardless of whoever you choose to work with, you will be in good hands.
#1 NP Digital – The Best for Marketing Execution
NP Digital is a marketing and analytics company founded by Neil Patel, and it is arguably the most recognizable and influential figure in the digital marketing space.
The company was founded in 2017 and has over 44,000 followers on LinkedIn and over 100 employees. NP digital offers a full range of digital marketing services in addition to analytics.
Here’s what makes NP Digital one of the best analytic companies in 2020:
- Founder expertise – Neil Patel is a rockstar in the digital marketing world, having started out in the space in 2001 as a teenager. The agency he founded has his fingerprints all over it, which means that you will be working with world class marketers and analysts.
- Marketing execution – NP Digital doesn’t just help you make sense of your data. They offer a complete suite of marketing services, from PPC to SEO. As digital marketing is the foundation of their operations, you can expect great results when combined with their analytics services.
- Great case studies – NP Digital often receives great reviews and has retained big clients as proof of their success. One client, for instance, has said that “NP Digital is one of the few consultant companies worth their fee”.
- Press coverage – Neil Patel himself has been recognized by Forbes, The Wall Street Journal and the United Nations as one of the most influential marketers of our generation.
- Education – NP Digital regularly produces educational content about all things digital marketing. This carries over to their customer relationships, where they position themselves as a teacher as opposed to just a partner.
Who should work with NP Digital?
If you need help with marketing execution in addition to data analytics, then you can’t go wrong with Neil Patel Digital.
The company was founded by one of the most reputable figures in the digital marketing world, so when you work with his agency, you’re tapping into his years of insight.
There is, of course, a cost to this, however, so Neil Patel Digital is best suited for clients with a larger marketing budget.
Some of their clients include companies such as Viacom, Facebook and even Google.
So, if you head up a marketing team at a large organization and need an end to end marketing and analytics partner, look into Neil Patel Digital.
#2 Artefact – The Best for Technology
Artefact describes themselves as “marketing engineers” and puts particular emphasis on the technology behind digital marketing.
In line with this identity, they have gone on to build a powerful suite of technologies, which they use to help their clients transform their data into business value.
Artefact’s works across the entire organization to leverage data, tapping into the entire value chain of operations, IT, and marketing.
Here’s what makes Artefact one of the best analytic companies in 2020:
- Technology stack – Artefact utilizes some of the latest advances in AI and machine learning to create custom algorithms that help businesses accelerate data transformation and optimize their business processes. Known as their “AI Factory”, Artefact also works with cloud service providers like Azure to ensure they have a robust infrastructure.
- Big, diverse team – Artefact lists over 1000 employees on LinkedIn, which are composed of data scientists, software engineers, and business consultants. This allows Artefact to solve a wide range of needs across different industries.
- Solid case studies – Artefact has worked with clients such as FMCG to improve their digital processes. In this particular case, they received an “extremely positive response from [the] client, internal stakeholders, Amazon and even the industry and other vendors on Amazon NL”.
Who should work with Artefact:
If you are a part of a large organization that is undergoing a digital transformation, then you should strongly consider Artefact.
The approach and technologies that Artefact uses are also beneficial for organizations that have a lot of data that needs to be optimized across the board.
For instance, companies that need to optimize their manufacturing processes or who need to react to market information.
#3 Adverity – The Best for Small Businesses
In some cases, you may not want to work with an agency partner. Particularly for small businesses that don’t have large marketing budgets, analytics software can bridge the divide.
Adverity is a platform that allows you to collect all your marketing data into a single place. Their analytics tools allow you to break down silos in your organization and uncover new insights so that you can improve your decision making.
Although the Adverity team will help onboard you onto their platform, you won’t get the tailored and guided expertise that you would get from an agency such as NP Digital.
Here’s what makes Adverity one of the best analytic companies in 2020:
- Cost – If you want to delve into the world of analytics but don’t have a significant budget, Adverity will have you covered (to an extent). Their pricing works on a custom quote which is influenced by your industry, the size of your business, and what data sources you want to tap into. Keep in mind however that you won’t be getting the expert guidance of an agency partner like NP Digital or Artefact.
- Holistic data analysis – Adverity has one of the largest data connector libraries on the market. You will be able to connect all of your data sources including your CRM, backend database, website analytics, and advertising. They’re always adding new integrations, so if you have a specific need they may be able to customize that for you.
- Great reviews – On the software review platform G2, Adverity currently has a 4.5/5 star rating, with over 100 reviews. The reviews reflect a variety of businesses and use cases – from marketing agencies to political scientists. One of the most common aspects that reviewers noted is how great the connectivity of the platform is.
Who should work with Adverity:
Adverity is best suited to small and medium-sized businesses who may not have the budget to work closely with an analytics partner.
Keep in mind that as you will not have expert guidance, your marketing team will have to figure out how to make sense of all of your data, which is no easy task.
If you leverage the research we’ve done for you in this article, you won’t have much trouble finding the right analytics company to work with.
Regardless of your choice, remember that the goal of analytics is to inform your marketing strategy.
But data alone won’t guarantee that your digital marketing strategy will be successful. It must always be paired with creative ideas and rigorous execution.
To ensure you can’t go wrong when picking an analytics partner, always keep the end goal of increasing conversions in mind.
So, you’re finally doing it. You took the plunge and you started your own small business. But there is so much you need! Whether it is renovations for your location or payroll or the ramp-up costs for getting manufacturing started, all of those things need money. You need to get a credit line for your business, even though we’re in the midst of a business contraction.
Because you are not made of money.
But your business is new, so its credit score is not so hot. As a result, you are probably wondering how to finance a business with bad credit.
But let’s step back a little, because you should also be thinking about where to establish business credit.
Fight the Business Contraction and Get a Credit Line For Your Business
Recession Period Financing
The number of United States banks as well as thrifts has been decreasing progressively for a quarter of a century. This is coming from consolidation in the market along with deregulation in the 1990s, lowering obstacles to interstate banking. See: https://www.fundera.com/blog/happened-americas-small-businesses-financial-crisis-six-years-start-crisis-look-back-10-charts
Assets focused in ever‐larger banks is problematic for local business owners. Big banks are much less likely to make small loans. Economic downturns indicate banks end up being a lot more mindful with financing. Luckily, business credit does not depend on banks. And it doesn’t matter what happens with COVID-19.
Get a Credit Line for Your Business: What a Credit Line Is
A credit line, or line of credit (LOC), is an arrangement between a borrower and a financial institution or private investor which sets a maximum loan balance that a borrower can access.
A borrower can access funds from their line of credit anytime, so long as they don’t go over the maximum set in the agreement, and as long as they meet any other requirements of the financial institution or investor for example, making on time payments. This is the same whether the economy is going through a business contraction or not.
Credit lines offer many unique benefits to borrowers including convenience. Borrowers can use their line of credit and only pay interest on what they use, unlike loans where they pay interest on the total amount borrowed. Credit lines can be reused, so as you acquire a balance and pay that balance off, you can use that accessible credit again, and again.
Credit lines are revolving accounts similar to credit cards, and compare to other kinds of financing such as installment loans. In many cases, lines of credit are not secured, much the same as credit cards are. There are some credit lines which are secured, and thus easier to qualify for.
Credit lines are the most routinely requested loan type in the business world even though they are preferred, true credit lines are uncommon, and hard to find. Many are also very hard to qualify for, requiring good credit, good time in business, and good financials. But there are other credit cards and lines that few people know about that are available for start-ups, poor credit, as well as if you have absolutely no financials.
Try the SBA During a Business Contraction
A lot of credit line types that most business owners imagine come from conventional banks and traditional banks use SBA loans as their prime loan product for small business owners. This is because SBA guarantees as much as 90% of the loan in the event of a default. These credit lines are the most difficult to qualify for because you must qualify with SBA and the bank.
Get a Credit Line for Your Business with SBA Loans and CAPLines, Even During a Business Contraction
There are two fundamental sorts of SBA loans you can normally get. One form is CAPLines. There are actually 4 types of CAPLines that can work for your small business.
You can also get a lower loan amount more rapidly using the SBA Express program. A lot of these programs offer BOTH loans and revolving lines of credit.
From the SBA … “CAPLines is the umbrella program under which SBA helps business owners meet short-term and cyclical working capital needs”. Loan amounts are offered up to and including $5 million. Loan qualification prerequisites are the same as with other SBA programs.
This one advances against expected inventory and accounts receivables. It was developed in order to help seasonal businesses. Loan or revolving are available.
This one finances the direct labor and material costs of executing assignable contracts. Loan or revolving types are offered.
This one was made for general contractors or builders constructing or renovating commercial or residential buildings. This line is for finance direct labor-and material costs, where the building project serves as the collateral. Loan or revolving kinds are available.
Borrowers must use the loan proceeds for short term working capital/operating needs. If the proceeds are used to acquire fixed assets, lender must refinance the portion of the line used to acquire the fixed asset into an appropriate term facility no later than 90 days after lender discovers the line was used to finance a fixed asset.
You can get approval for as much as $350,000. Interest rates differ, with SBA enabling banks to charge as high as 6.5% over their base rate. Loans above $25,000 will need collateral.
To get approval you’ll need good personal and business credit. Plus the SBA states you should not have any blemishes on your report. An acceptable bank score requires you have at least $10,000 in your account over the very last 90 days.
You’ll likewise need a resume showing you have industry experience and a well put together business plan. You will need three years of business and personal tax returns, and your business returns should show a profit. And, you’ll need a recent balance sheet and income statement, therefore showing you have the cash to repay the loan.
To get approval you’ll need account receivables, but only if you have them. As for the collateral to counterbalance the risk, usually all business assets will function as collateral, and some personal assets including your home. It’s not unusual to need collateral equivalent to 50% or more of the loan amount. You also need articles of incorporation, business licenses, and contracts with all third parties, and your lease.
Get a Credit Line for Your Business from Private Investors and Alternative Lenders During a Business Contraction
Private investors and alternative lenders also grant credit lines. These are a lot easier to qualify for than conventional SBA loans. They also call for much less documentation for approval. These alternative SBA credit lines ordinarily demand good personal credit for approval.
Unlike with SBA, many of them don’t demand good bank or business credit approval. Almost all of these types of programs call for two years’ of tax returns. Tax returns have to show a profit. Rates can vary from 7% or greater and loan amounts range from $25,000 into the millions. Loan amounts are generally based upon the revenues and/or profits on tax returns. At times lenders may ask for other financials including a profit and loss statement, balance sheets, and income statements.
Check out how our reliable process will help your business get the best business credit cards and lines, even during a recession.
Merchant Cash Advances in a Business Contraction
Merchant cash advances have quickly become the most popular way to get financing, in large part because of the effortless qualification process. Businesses with $10,000 in profits can get approval, with the business owner having scores as low as 500.
Some sources have now even begun to offer credit lines that accompany their loans. You must have at least $10,000 in revenue for approval. You ought to be in business for at minimum one year, however three years is better. Lenders commonly want to see a credit score of 650 or higher for approval.
Loan amounts are ordinarily around $20,000. Lenders frequently do pull your business credit, so you must have some credit already and sometimes lenders will want to see tax returns.
Rates vary, due to the risk for this program, and there aren’t a lot of funding sources who offer it.
Securities as Collateral for Financing
You can get financing regardless of personal credit if you have some type of stocks or bonds. You can also get approval if you have someone wishing to use their stocks or bonds as collateral for financing.
Personal credit quality doesn’t matter as there are no consumer credit criteria for approval. You can get approval for as much as 90% of the value of your stocks or bonds. Rates are commonly below 2%, making this one of the lowest rate credit lines you’ll ever see. You can still earn interest as you typically do on your stocks and bonds.
Credit Cards and Lines are Very Similar
Credit cards often offer 0% intro rates for up to two years. This is also extremely valuable for startups in particular. And credit lines let you take out more cash at a much cheaper rate than do cards. These are the main two differences that will affect you between credit cards and credit line.
Investopedia even says that “lines of credit are potentially useful hybrids of credit cards.”
Both cards and lines are revolving credit. Credit lines are harder to qualify for as card approvals are generally very quick, many times automated, while line require an in-depth underwriting review. Lines usually offer lower rates, per Bankrate card rates average 13% while lines average 4%.
Check out how our reliable process will help your business get the best business credit cards and lines, even during a recession.
Unsecured Business Credit Cards During a Business Contraction
A lot of these cards report to the consumer credit reporting agencies. They all call for a personal guarantee from you. You can get approval typically for one card max as they discontinue approving you when you have two or more inquiries on your report.
Most credit card companies furnish business credit cards including Capital One, Chase, and American Express. These have rates similar to consumer rates and limits are also similar.
Some of them report to the consumer reporting agencies, some report to the business bureaus. Approval requirements resemble consumer credit card accounts.
Typically, when you apply for a credit card you put an inquiry on your consumer report. When other lenders see these, they will not approve you for more credit since they have no idea how much other new credit you have recently obtained.
So they’ll only approve you if you have no more than two inquiries on your report within the most recent six months. Any more will get you declined.
Grab Our Hybrid Credit Line During a Business Contraction
Check out our credit line hybrid. It’s available for all business owners. Get the benefit of 0% rates cards offer, and the cash out capability of a credit line. Get approvals to $150,000. Pay 0% rates for 6 – 18 months, with normal card rates afterwards. No documentation, no tax returns or bank statements are necessary. This program is ideal for startups, high-risk industries, and those who desire low payments. It also works if you don’t want to supply financials.
Our credit line hybrid is a superb choice during this time of economic uncertainty.
With this form of business financing, you work with a lender who concentrates on securing business credit cards. This is a very unusual, very few know about program which few lending sources offer. They can in most cases get you three to five times the approvals that you can get on your own.
This is because they are familiar with the sources to apply for, the order to apply, and can time their applications so the card issuers won’t decline you for the other card inquiries. Individual approvals frequently range from $2,000 – 50,000.
The end result of their services is that you frequently get up to five cards that simulate the credit limits of your highest limit accounts now. Multiple cards create competition, and this means they will raise your limits, generally within 6 months or less of first approval.
Approvals can go up to $150,000 per entity such as a corporation. They actually get you three to five business credit cards that report solely to the business credit reporting agencies. This is huge, something most lenders don’t offer or advertise. Not only will you get cash, but you build your business credit as well so in three to four months, you can then use your new company credit to get even more money.
You get credit with no security, assets, or collateral. Lender has no collateral to collect in case of default. Because there is no collateral, and they don’t look or care about your cash flow, the only thing that matters is your personal credit.
With a 650 you will get just personal cards. But with a 680 credit score, you will get both company and personal cards.
The lender can also get you low introductory rates, usually 0% for 6-18 months. You’ll then pay normal rates after that, typically 5-21% APR with 20-25% APR for cash advances. And they’ll also get you the best cards for points. So this means you get the best rewards.
Like with anything, there are substantial benefits in working with a source who specializes in this area. The results will be far better than if you try to go at it on your own.
Check out how our reliable process will help your business get the best business credit cards and lines, even during a recession.
You need to have excellent personal credit now, ideally 685 or better scores, the same as with all business credit cards. You shouldn’t have any negative credit on your report to get approval. And you must also have open revolving credit on your consumer reports right now.
They consider your balance/limit ratios on existing revolving accounts. The lower the ratio, the higher the amount of approval. A 30% ratio is a requirement. This looks at overall percentage, and individual percentage on each account.
Credit inquiries are a big factor tying into approval. More than six inquires in six months will be too much. Lenders do not want to see the person is applying for new credit, especially no other revolving accounts.
Use a guarantor or a credit partner to boost the numbers. Generally these people want a piece of the business in trade for their help. Creditors want to know you’ll pay them back. Most sources will charge 9 to 12% success-based fees. Only pay the fee off what you secure.
All lenders in this space charge a 9-15% success based fee and you only pay the cost off of what you secure. Bear in mind, you get a number of additional benefits and about three to five times more cash using this program than you can get on your own, which is why there’s a fee, the same as all other lending programs.
You can get approval using a guarantor and you can even use a number of guarantors to get even more money. There are also other cards you can get making use of this very same program but these cards only report to the consumer reporting agencies, not the business reporting agencies. They are consumer credit cards versus business credit cards.
They furnish similar benefits including 0% intro annual percentage rates and five times the amount of approval of a single card but they’re a lot easier to qualify for.
You can get approval with a 650 score and seven inquiries (or fewer) in the most recent six months and you can have a bankruptcy on your credit and other derogatory items. These are a lot easier to get approval for than company credit cards.
With all preceding cards above, you must have good consumer credit in order to get approval but what if your personal credit is not good, and you don’t have a guarantor?
This is when building company credit makes a ton of sense even when you have good personal credit, setting up your company credit helps you get even more money, and in the absence of a personal guarantee.
Establishing Company Credit During a Business Contraction
Business credit is credit in a business name, in association with the business’s EIN number, and not the owner’s Social Security Number. When carried out properly, you can obtain company credit without any personal credit check and no personal guarantee. This is a thing all other cards above can’t provide.
You can get three types of business credit cards. First is vendor credit, which offers net 30 terms to launch a business credit profile. Then is retail credit, where you will get credit cards with high limits at most shops.
Next is fleet credit. It’s credit to fuel, service, and maintain business vehicles. And then there’s cash credit, which includes Visa, MasterCard, and American Express cards that you can use anywhere. You can obtain these without any credit check or guarantee. Limits are regularly $5,000 – $10,000 to begin, and can exceed $50,000.
Credit Lines in a Business Contraction: Takeaways
You can get a credit line for your business, if you know where to look. Learn more here and get started toward building company credit, even during a business contraction. The COVID-19 situation will not last forever.
The post Get a Credit Line for Your Business During a Business Contraction appeared first on Credit Suite.
Check Out Our Fundation Group LLC Recession Funding Review and Make Your Best Business Financing Decision Today
Will Our Fundation Group LLC Recession Funding Review Help Satisfy Your Need for Business Funding? We Put It to the Test
Fundation Group LLC is one of many lending companies online. They provide term loans and lines of credit. Foundation confirmed the information we found about them online. We look at the specifics and drill down into the details. So check out our Fundation Group LLC recession funding review.
Fundation Group LLC Recession Funding Review: Background
Fundation Group LLC is located online here: http://www.fundation.com/. Their physical address is located in Reston, VA. Plus you can call them at: (888) 390-0064. So their contact page is here: https://fundation.com/about/.
Their capital base has come from Goldman Sachs; Garrison Investment Group; and Midcap Financial, LLC.
Fundation Group LLC Recession Funding Review: Term Loans
Funding as soon as one business day. Up to $500,000 is available; terms go up to 4 years. Payments are twice per month. No specific collateral is needed. They want a personal guarantee. Fundation will take out a UCC-1 blanket lien for most borrowers.
They do not seem to have a time in business requirement anymore. Fundation also does not seem to have an annual revenue or personal credit requirement anymore.
Fundation Group LLC Recession Funding Review: Fees
Rates are risk-based; the higher the risk, the higher the rate.
Interest rates are not listed; they will be determined based on several factors. There are no prepayment fees.
Cost of Loans
Several factors are considered when Fundation decides on the cost of a loan. These factors include time in business and seasonality. They also include financial metrics. So these metrics include profit margin and amount of debt.
Fundation Group LLC Recession Funding Review: Lines of Credit
Up to $150,000 is available. The new balance after each draw is amortized in equal installments over 18 months. Payments are monthly. No specific collateral is needed. They want a personal guarantee. Fundation will take out a UCC-1 blanket lien for most borrowers.
They do not seem to have a time in business requirement anymore. Fundation also does not seem to have an annual revenue or personal credit requirement anymore.
Fundation Group LLC Recession Funding Review: Fees
There are no prepayment fees. Just pay the outstanding balance plus accrued interest if you prepay
your loan or line of credit.
Keep your business protected with our professional business credit monitoring. It’s a worthwhile investment, saving you money even during a recession.
Fundation Group LLC Recession Funding Review: Advantages
Advantages include no apparent time in business requirement. Their maximum loan amount is fairly high.
Fundation Group LLC Recession Funding Review: Disadvantages
Disadvantages are they want personal guarantees for pretty much everything and will take out a UCC blanket lien.
A Fantastic Alternative – Establishing Business Credit
Business credit is credit in a small business’s name. It doesn’t attach to an owner’s individual credit, not even when the owner is a sole proprietor and the solitary employee of the small business.
As such, a business owner’s business and individual credit scores can be very different.
Because business credit is distinct from personal, it helps to protect a small business owner’s personal assets, in case of a lawsuit or business bankruptcy.
Also, with two distinct credit scores, a small business owner can get two different cards from the same merchant. This effectively doubles buying power.
Another benefit is that even startup ventures can do this. Visiting a bank for a business loan can be a formula for disappointment. But building small business credit, when done right, is a plan for success.
Personal credit scores depend upon payments but also other factors like credit utilization percentages.
But for small business credit, the scores actually only depend on whether a business pays its invoices punctually.
Establishing company credit is a process, and it does not occur without effort. A company has to actively work to establish company credit.
However, it can be done readily and quickly, and it is much quicker than establishing consumer credit scores.
Vendors are a big aspect of this process.
Performing the steps out of sequence will cause repetitive denials. Nobody can start at the top with small business credit. For example, you can’t start with retail or cash credit from your bank. If you do, you’ll get a rejection 100% of the time.
A company must be fundable to credit issuers and vendors.
For that reason, a company will need a professional-looking web site and e-mail address. And it needs to have site hosting from a company like GoDaddy.
And, company phone and fax numbers must have a listing on ListYourself.net.
In addition, the company telephone number should be toll-free (800 exchange or the equivalent).
A small business will also need a bank account devoted strictly to it, and it needs to have all of the licenses essential for operation.
These licenses all must be in the perfect, appropriate name of the company. And they must have the same business address and phone numbers.
So keep in mind, that this means not just state licenses, but potentially also city licenses.
Keep your business protected with our professional business credit monitoring. It’s a worthwhile investment, saving you money even during a recession.
Dealing with the Internal Revenue Service
Visit the IRS web site and acquire an EIN for the small business. They’re totally free. Select a business entity such as corporation, LLC, etc.
A company can get started as a sole proprietor. But they will most likely wish to switch to a kind of corporation or an LLC.
This is in order to minimize risk. And it will make best use of tax benefits.
A business entity will matter when it pertains to tax obligations and liability in case of litigation. A sole proprietorship means the business owner is it when it comes to liability and taxes. No one else is responsible.
Sole Proprietors Take Note
If you operate a company as a sole proprietor, then at least be sure to file for a DBA. This is ‘doing business as’ status.
If you do not, then your personal name is the same as the small business name. Therefore, you can end up being directly responsible for all small business debts.
Plus, according to the Internal Revenue Service, by having this arrangement there is a 1 in 7 probability of an IRS audit. There is a 1 in 50 probability for corporations! Prevent confusion and noticeably reduce the chances of an IRS audit at the same time.
Setting off the Business Credit Reporting Process
Begin at the D&B web site and obtain a totally free D-U-N-S number. A D-U-N-S number is how D&B gets a business into their system, to produce a PAYDEX score. If there is no D-U-N-S number, then there is no record and no PAYDEX score.
Once in D&B’s system, search Equifax and Experian’s websites for the company. You can do this at www.creditsuite.com/reports. If there is a record with them, check it for accuracy and completeness. If there are no records with them, go to the next step in the process.
By doing this, Experian and Equifax will have something to report on.
First you must build trade lines that report. This is also referred to as vendor credit. Then you’ll have an established credit profile, and you’ll get a business credit score.
And with an established business credit profile and score you can begin to get retail and cash credit.
These sorts of accounts have the tendency to be for the things bought all the time, like marketing materials, shipping boxes, outdoor work wear, ink and toner, and office furniture.
But first off, what is trade credit? These trade lines are credit issuers who will give you initial credit when you have none now. Terms are often Net 30, rather than revolving.
So, if you get approval for $1,000 in vendor credit and use all of it, you must pay that money back in a set term, such as within 30 days on a Net 30 account.
Keep your business protected with our professional business credit monitoring. It’s a worthwhile investment, saving you money even during a recession.
Once there are 3 or more vendor trade accounts reporting to at least one of the CRAs, then move onto retail credit. These are companies like Office Depot and Staples.
Just use your SSN and date of birth on these applications for verification purposes. For credit checks and guarantees, use the business’s EIN on these credit applications.
Are there more accounts reporting? Then move to fleet credit. These are companies like BP and Conoco. Use this credit to buy fuel, and to fix and maintain vehicles. Just use your SSN and date of birth on these applications for verification purposes. For credit checks and guarantees, make sure to apply using the company’s EIN.
Have you been sensibly handling the credit you’ve up to this point? Then progress to more universal cash credit. These are companies such as Visa and MasterCard. Just use your SSN and date of birth on these applications for verification purposes. For credit checks and guarantees, use your EIN instead.
These are frequently MasterCard credit cards. If you have more trade accounts reporting, then these are doable.
Know what is happening with your credit. Make certain it is being reported and deal with any mistakes ASAP. Get in the practice of taking a look at credit reports. Dig into the particulars, not just the scores.
We can help you monitor business credit at Experian and D&B for 90% less.
Update Your Data
Update the details if there are inaccuracies or the details is incomplete.
Fix Your Business Credit
So, what’s all this monitoring for? It’s to contest any mistakes in your records. Mistakes in your credit report(s) can be corrected. But the CRAs normally want you to dispute in a particular way.
Disputing credit report errors typically means you send a paper letter with duplicates of any proofs of payment with it. These are documents like receipts and cancelled checks. Never send the originals. Always send copies and retain the original copies.
Fixing credit report inaccuracies also means you precisely itemize any charges you contest. Make your dispute letter as understandable as possible. Be specific about the issues with your report. Use certified mail so that you will have proof that you sent in your dispute.
A Word about Building Business Credit
Always use credit responsibly! Don’t borrow beyond what you can pay off. Track balances and deadlines for repayments. Paying punctually and fully will do more to boost business credit scores than pretty much anything else.
Building business credit pays. Great business credit scores help a business get loans. Your credit issuer knows the business can pay its financial obligations. They know the company is bona fide.
The business’s EIN attaches to high scores and loan providers won’t feel the need to demand a personal guarantee.
Business credit is an asset which can help your business for years to come. Learn more here and get started toward growing company credit.
Fundation Group LLC Recession Funding Review: Upshot
A company needing higher amounts will likely do better with Fundation. But there are negatives.
Entrepreneurs will find they have to give up a personal guarantee and, on top of that, have a UCC blanket lien held by Fundation. A company that fails and ends up going out of business could be particularly harsh for an entrepreneur – so companies which are unsure of the chances of their success would do well to seek out other types of funding, where they either hand over a personal guarantee or a UCC blanket lien but not both.
And finally, as with every other lending program, whether online or offline, always remember to read the fine print and do the math. Go over the details with a fine-toothed comb, and decide whether this option will be good for you and your company. In addition, consider alternative financing options that go beyond lending, including building business credit, in order to best decide how to get the money you need to help your business grow.
Disclosure: This content is reader-supported, which means if you click on some of our links that we may earn a commission.
Historically, ERP (enterprise resource planning) software was used by large corporations and multinational organizations for managing their entire operation from a single platform.
But now these solutions are more accessible than ever before. In addition to enterprises, lots of SMBs have started to leverage these tools over the past several years.
ERP software essentially combines all of your business tools into a centralized console. It encompasses components like accounting, HR, CRM, supply chain management, and more.
By consolidating your business tools into a single ERP solution, it’s much easier to manage. Plus, ERP software gives you tons of extra value from a big-picture point of view, that you normally wouldn’t see from standalone software.
So which ERP software is the best? Find out below.
The Top 5 Options For ERP Software
How to Choose the Best ERP Software For You
In order to find the right ERP software for your business, you need to understand what to look for as you’re shopping around. All ERP systems are not created equally, and there’s not really a “one-size-fits-all” solution.
Rather than blindingly picking a tool, use these feature sets and considerations to narrow down potential options.
Business Processes and Modules
As previously mentioned, ERP software encompasses various types of business processes. These typically come in the form of modules as you’re customizing an ERP solution.
Some of you might only need a handful of these processes, while other businesses could be looking for a dozen. It really depends on your business size, existing tools, and future goals for resource planning.
Examples of modules and processes to keep an eye out for include HRMs, financial management tools, CRM, SCM, inventory management, purchasing and supplier management, sales and marketing tools, and more.
There are even industry-specific processes for things like manufacturing or engineering. These will include crucial functionalities for product planning, production scheduling, bill of materials, shop floor planning, etc.
Make sure the ERP software you’re evaluating has the capacity to handle your needs with modules for these types of functions.
Reporting, Analytics, and Dashboards
The best ERP software on the market today has advanced reporting capabilities. These go above and beyond basic spreadsheets and PDF downloads. Look for a solution that includes real-time data and smart filters.
Some tools might even have agile reporting and ad hoc reporting, so you can quickly adapt to ever-changing needs without interruptions.
You should be able to manage these complex reports and analytics through a simple dashboard. If you can’t figure out the dashboards, you’ll never get the most out of these reports (which renders them useless).
Dashboards should also display KPIs and let you analyze different data with just a few clicks. For example, you might want to compare qualitative vs. quantitative data based on departments or users within your organization.
Your ERP software must seamlessly integrate with your existing tools and software.
From simple file transfers to complete integrations, it’s crucial that these all work together. For example, you should be able to sync your existing CRM with your new ERP software. Or you might want to link an ERP payroll module to an HRMS software that you’re already using.
ERPs that provide flexible integrations can expand the functionality of your existing tools or completely replace them after a smooth file migration.
Customization is crucial when it comes to evaluating ERP software. Otherwise, you won’t get the most of the potential benefits; here’s why.
Each department will have different business workflows. These could potentially have contradictory priorities and goals. For example, marketing teams will focus on spending while accounting teams will be focusing on saving money. Sales teams will be prioritizing a monthly quota, and production departments prioritize daily output. It’s impossible to configure these various workflows into an all-in-one solution.
So your ERP software should have configurable workflows and custom dashboards for each department. This will allow those decision-makers to define specific KPIs and goals based on custom parameters.
Setup and Deployment
It’s no secret that ERP software can be complex. Unlike other business tools, it’s not really a “sign up today and deploy in seconds” type of tool. This is largely due to the custom nature and different modules required to run smoothly.
But with that said, some ERP software providers are definitely easier to set up and deploy than others. If you don’t want to install anything locally, look for a cloud-based ERP solution. You’ll still need a custom solution, but this will be easier overall.
Between cloud-based SaaS solutions and on-premises deployment, you’ll have different options to consider.
Training and Support
Again, ERP software isn’t always easy. You need to find a provider that offers you the resources required to hit the ground running.
In most cases, they will need a proper installation by someone with technical expertise. So if your business doesn’t have a dedicated IT team, make sure you review your SLA.
In many cases, the installation could be charged entirely separately from the ERP license or subscription. Cloud-based ERPs are definitely easier to set up (as mentioned earlier), but it might still require some training.
What happens when you have a question or need some assistance? Will your software vendor be there to help you out?
These are the types of questions you need to ask yourself as you’re evaluating different options.
The Different Types of ERP Software
Before we get into the ERP software reviews, I want to quickly explain the different types of ERP software available on the market today. This will add some clarity as you’re shopping around.
General Purpose ERP Software
Generalist ERPs are flexible enough to fit the needs of various industries. They have robust customization capabilities, easy integrations, and processes that match a wide range of requirements.
The vast majority of ERP software is branded as a general-purpose ERP. This gives software vendors the ability to target as many different organizations and industries as possible.
Vertical-Specific ERP Software
As the name implies, vertical-specific ERPs are targeted for specific industries. Unlike a generalist solution, this type of software is not geared towards the masses.
These types of ERP solutions are popular in niches like manufacturing, construction, or retail. A vertical-specific ERP won’t be nearly as flexible as a general-purpose tool, but they do a great job hitting the specialized industry.
Open-Source ERP Software
Open-source ERP software only makes up a small portion of the overall ERP market. However, it’s important to know that they exist.
An open-source ERP is ideal for tech teams that want the ability to develop and integrate custom apps to an ERP solution. Since ERPs can handle such highly customized functionality and processes, this type of software is the preferred choice for developers.
Small Business ERP Software
As previously stated, there was a time when only large organizations would be using ERP software. But cloud deployment has made ERP software significantly more accessible to small businesses.
Since some ERPs are delivered with custom modules (as opposed to a fully integrated solution), small businesses can choose just two or three modules and omit the others. For example, you could get an ERP software with just functionality for accounting and HRM. Then down the road, you can add-on a module for CRM or inventory.
Small business ERPs are also known as “lightweight ERPs” because of this flexibility.
#1 – Infor Review — The Most Versatile ERP Software
Infor is a cloud-based ERP software with solutions for SMBs and enterprises alike. They have several different ERP products for you to choose from based on your industry and business needs.
With 30+ years of experience in this space, Infor’s robust and flexible technology earns them a high ranking on my list.
The ERP solutions offered by Infor are a popular choice for wholesale distribution companies, manufacturing organizations, and various service industries. Some of the notable highlights of the software include:
- Ability to personalize home pages and dashboards
- Intuitive role-based user interfaces
- Unlimited financial calendars, ledgers, basis reporting, and dimension strings
- Embedded analytics directly within different user’ workflows
- Production planning and scheduling management
- Optimized purchasing with advanced order controls
- Ability to ensure maximum margins with integrated pricing modules
While Infor is definitely known for its cloud solutions, they do offer single-instance and on-premises deployment options for some of their software.
Infor also has a wide range of specific software for things like HCM, CRM, PLM, SCM, and more. So if you just have one single need, you can explore those choices as well.
#2 – AccountMate Review — The Best Vertical Specific Solutions
AccountMate is branded as the “world’s most customizable accounting system.” It’s designed to help growing businesses gain a competitive edge with unique ERP software based on specific verticals.
The software is trusted by 125,000+ companies worldwide. In addition to the software, AccountMate provides additional services to help you get the most out of your ERP tools.
AccountMate’s vertical solution catalog is extensive, to say the least. They have 30+ vertical-specific category options available. Their development partners help businesses get industry-specific functionality in addition to the base financial software.
Some of those top categories include:
- Budgeting and forecasting
- Business analytics
- Business intelligence
- CRM applications
- Document management
- Food processing
- Human resources
- Invoice automation
- Job costing
- Route management
- Sales analysis
- Warehouse management
The list goes on and on. As you can see, these vertical-specific offerings are extremely versatile. AccountMate can ultimately provide you with a comprehensive front office and back-office solution.
Businesses within industries like manufacturing, wholesale distribution, utilities, government, solution providers, ecommerce, and business services all rely on AccountMate for ERP.
For those of you looking for a vertical-specific solution with a core focus on accounting and finance, look no further than AccountMate.
#3 – Epicor Review — Best ERP Software For Manufacturing
Epicor is another industry leader in the ERP software space. They provide cloud and on-premises solutions for businesses in spaces like manufacturing, retail, automotive, lumber and building, and distribution.
With that said, the manufacturing ERP software offered by Epicor is the clear standout.
It’s trusted by a wide range of manufacturers producing products like industrial machinery, lumber and wood, rubber and plastics, high tech electronics, aerospace and defense products, fabricated metals, medical devices, furniture, and more.
Here are some of the top benefits you’ll get with Epicor’s ERP software:
- Ability to track, measure, and monitor entire operation from raw materials to final product
- Improve efficiencies with real-time visibility into plant and business operations
- Streamline your processes to reduce costs and increase profits
- Adapt to new strategies, changing customer needs, and new manufacturing methods
- Implement lean manufacturing methodologies to eliminate waste
- Make smarter decisions and prioritize customer satisfaction
Overall, the software is designed for mid-sized and large businesses in the manufacturing and distribution space. If you fall into these categories, I strongly recommend Epicor for ERP.
#4 – IFS Review — The Best Agile ERP Software
IFS is a bit unique compared to other ERP solutions on the market today. The software isn’t as complicated and rigid as other tools that you’ll come across.
Instead, IFS gives you the ability to adapt in real-time as market landscapes change, and new technology becomes available. This approach helps maximize the agility of your organization.
IFS has pre-configured ERP solutions for areas like supply chain management, human capital management, project management, financials, service industries, and manufacturing.
Within those categories, some of the noteworthy highlights of the ERP software include:
- Risk and opportunity management
- Digital asset lifecycle journey
- Contract management, variation order management, and payment applications
- Real-time planning and scheduling optimization
- Sales forecasting and demand planning
- Multisite and multi-entity supply network visibility and planning
- CRM and SRM
- Financial accounting, management accounting, project accounting, and strategic accounting
Again, all of these tools and functionality are designed to keep your organization agile as the market changes. You’ll be able to gain a competitive edge and make strategic decisions in real-time using IFS for enterprise resource planning.
#5 – Deltek Review — The Best ERP Software For Small Business
As previously mentioned, ERP software is no longer reserved for global enterprises. There are plenty of great options out there for small businesses that want to leverage these solutions.
Deltek is one of those options for smaller companies, and it’s my top recommendation in this category.
Overall, Deltek is a great option for project-based businesses seeking an ERP solution. They have a wide range of products and modules in categories like:
- Information management and collaboration
- Business development
- Project and portfolio management
- Human capital management
They even offer niche-specific solutions like costpoint for government contractors or project lifecycle management for small architecture and engineering firms. These examples showcase the versatility of Deltek.
The cloud-based deployment makes it easy for smaller businesses to implement as well.
There are dozens of vendors out there offering ERP software. But after extensive research and testing, I can only recommend the five options reviewed above.
Which one is the best? It depends on your situation.
Make sure you follow the methodology I described earlier in this guide to narrow down your options as you’re shopping around. This will make your life much easier and ensure you make the right decision for your business.
If you are a real estate investor, then you need to know about Lending One. It is a direct real estate investing lender that has been around since 2014. They are newer, but they are quickly establishing themselves in the industry. Here is what you need to know to get a jump on deciding whether they are right for you, or not.
The company began as Crestar Funding, but changed its name in November 2016 to LendingOne. In the press release, they say that they realize the potential for this company was much larger than they originally thought.
Is Lending One a Good Option for You?
Bill Green (CEO) and Matthew Neisser (COO) joined forces in 2014 to open a private real estate lending company. The mission? To use technology to streamline and speed up the process of borrowing for real estate investment.
With Green’s skill and expertise in creating world class organizations and Neisser’s background in technology and finance, it did just that. As a result, we have the Lending One of today.. It provides a faster and easier way to apply for and receive approval for loans. Furthermore, it allows borrowers to more easily grow their real estate portfolios.
They make loans to citizens of the United States, Canadian citizens, and permanent resident aliens.
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What Types of Loans Do They Offer?
There are a range of options when it comes to loans with Lending One. They include:
For example, if your real estate game is to purchase homes to rehab and then sell for profit, then fix-and-flip loans are for you. Amazingly, rate quotes are available online in as little as 2 minutes.
They will loan up to 80% of the cost of the project, or LTC (Loan to Cost.) The minimum loan amount is $75,000. They do not list a maximum. Also, there is no interest charged on unused funds, and there is no penalty for early repayments. The minimum FICO required for a Fix-and-Flip loan is not noted on the website. They state only:
“We are much more flexible in the FICO score we accept and are happy to work with each client’s individual situations.”
Additionally, you will need to have the following documents on hand.
- Sales contract
- One month’s bank statement
- Construction budget
- List of properties currently owned
- 2 years tax returns
- LLC operating agreement, or Articles of Incorporation
Remember to send copies. Never send originals.
Now, if your business is more “fix it up and rent it out” based, you will be more interested in the rental loans. With these, there are two options. The first, RentalOne, and then the Apartment Bridge loans.
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This option is available on either a 5 or 7-year ARM (adjustable rate mortgage.) Or, if you would rather, as a 30-year fixed loan. Loan amounts go up to $2 million.
The FICO requirement for the RentalOne loan is flexible, same as with the Fix and Flip loans. However, these requirements change without warning. The truth is, you really do not know until you try. You do not have to turn over income verification, not even a W-2. Instead, they consider the cash flow of the property itself in the decision-making process. It appears, however, that there is a prepayment penalty on this one.
Multifamily Bridge Loans
These are available for buildings with 5 to 200 rental units. There is no interest on funds that are not drawn, and the terms range from 12 to 36 months. The loan amount is up to $15 million.
There is a minimum FICO requirement of 650, but closing is super-fast, sometimes in as little as 20 business days.
New Construction Loans
Another product they offer is new construction loans. Amounts range up to $5 million. These loans are available in terms ranging from 12 to 24 months with fast approval. Eligible properties include single family, townhomes, condos, and multi-family buildings.
Rehab to Rent
If you want to rehab a home to rent for profit, you can do that as well. Here is how it works. First, you apply for a Fix-and-Flip loan. Then, when the rehab is complete, they will roll it into a 30-year fixed rental loan. As a bonus, since you are already a customer with the Fix-and-Flip, you will get a discount on the fees toward your rental loan.
Lending One Pre-Approval
There is an easy, fast pre-approval process, and it’s free. You can have your terms and rates in writing before you ever submit an offer. Honestly, the proof of funds provided with pre-approval makes submitting an offer easier than ever. Pre-approvals are available for amounts up to $5,000,000.
Lending One Partner Program
The company also offers a partner program. It’s a community of investors, realtors, real estate attorneys, and third parties. Potential partners have the opportunity through the program to earn compensation in exchange for client referrals. Interest parties are invited and encouraged to participate.
The following options exist:
- The Referral Partner Program is for real estate investors, real estate attorneys, and other third partners that want to refer business to Lending One.
- The Broker Partner Program is for mortgage brokers or loan origination consultants that wish to refer business.
- Finally, the corporate partner program is designed for businesses that provide goods or services to those that invest in real estate not occupied by the owner.
Partner consultants contact potential partners within 24 hours of application to the program.
Making Payments on Your Lending One Loan
They have a contract with FCI Lender Services. This company services and accepts payment for loans. Borrowers get a welcome package with directions directly from FCI about 2 to 3 weeks after the loan closes. Payments are made via ACH, and are due on the first of the month.
Lending One and the Better Business Bureau
It never hurts to seek out what type of online reputation a company has. Online reviews are huge these days. For this company we found the following.
The Better Business Bureau
As it turns out, not only do they have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, but they are actually accredited since February 2017.
In that whole time, there has only been one complaint. The company addressed it and it was solved. There are only 3 reviews, and unfortunately the most recent one is negative. However, it is from someone who was in the middle of the loan process and the process was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is an extreme circumstance, of course.
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Benefits of Using Lending One
They use proprietary technology that allows them to streamline the underwriting process. As a result, application processing is much faster. Along with pre-approval and good reviews from previous customers, they sound like superstars. Yet, nothing’s perfect, right?
The Downside of Using Lending One
The main drawback is, they are a young company. Of course, that will not always be the case. One can only hope they will continue the positive path they are on and continue to work to get rid of any bugs.
Another negative is that you would not be able to get enough money for larger projects due to the maximum loan amounts offered. With a max of $2 million for rehab and $5 million for new construction, commercial jobs are pretty much out the window. Lending One would not be an option for those looking to do commercial flips or flips on more expensive homes in higher income areas.
A Quick Review of Real Estate Investing
If you happen to be newer to the world of real estate investing, you may want to consider these tips before you go much further.
Many real estate investment lenders will not lend to individuals. Form a legal business so that you have the best options available when it comes to funding. This is just one of many lenders that will only lend to companies. An S-corp, LLC, or corporation will work.
Tell the Truth
In real estate, there is even more importance placed on doing honest business. If you cut corners when working on a rehab, or if you are a bad landlord, word will get out. This will not only cause problems when you try to sell or rent in the future, but it can detour future funding efforts as well.
This is especially true in relation to flipping homes. A fabulous home in a terrible location is probably not going to yield a significant enough profit.
Watch the Markets
Pay attention to what is selling and where. Take note of trends in what people are willing to pay for, as well as what they are not. This will help you figure out how to best use your funds.
A Word About Credit
This lender is more flexible than many lenders when it comes to credit. However, they make it very clear credit history still counts. Consider these tips to raise your credit score if you need to.
- First, make sure you have separate business credit. This includes getting and using an EIN, and incorporating, which as noted above is something that needs to be done anyway. Also, you need to have separate contact information for your business and a dedicated business bank account.
- Next, get copies of all your credit reports.
- Look first at what is affecting your score in a negative way. Then you will know where to focus your efforts.
- After that, review the report for mistakes.
- Report mistakes to the issuing agency, in writing.
- Only send copies of backup documentation, not originals.
- Monitor your personal and business credit score continually using a credit monitoring service. This will help you stay on top of things. You can monitor your credit with both Dun and Bradstreet and Experian through Credit Suite for 90% less than it would cost you at the business credit reporting agencies. You can monitor your credit with Equifax through them directly.
Of course, none of this really matters if you are not making your payments on time. Make sure you are doing that regardless. Nothing helps a credit score like consistent, on time payments.
Is Lending One for You?
In the end, Lending One isn’t a bad option. It does have higher interest rates and lower maximum loan amounts than some. However, they are also more lenient with their credit score requirements. That means if you are not able to get the funding you need somewhere else, they could be just what you need. They have a good reputation and offer a variety of loan options.
As with any decision on a lender, do you own research. Things change frequently, and the COVID-19 pandemic changed a lot of things. You’ll want to double check details such as loan amounts and interest rates. It seems though, despite being a young company, Lending One is doing pretty well, not only for themselves, but for their customers as well.
If you want financing for commercial flips, CreditSuite might be a better option. Financing ranges up to 20,000,000 which is much more suited to that type of project.
Loan-to-values range from 55-65%. Which one you can get depends on the purpose of the loan. Funding programs are available that include conventional property financing, money for investment properties and hard money loans, bridge loans, and loans for the purchase of commercial real estate. SBA loans are also an option. For renovation, you can get a loan-to-value of up to 60%. They have many other loan programs as well, including some for residential flips.
In the end, you just need to find which option will work best for you. Lending One is definitely one to consider. I’d even give them four out of five stars. But don’t stop there. Be sure to explore all your options.
Email is one of the most effective marketing campaigns out there — in fact, the average ROI of an email campaign is 122%.
For those who aren’t afraid to take a few extra steps, email images will spice up your campaign and help your email campaign stand out.
I’m going to show you how to leverage images in email the right way.
Email Images: Yes or No?
You can use email images, but should you?
I want to start by asking a few questions, because these will help you determine if using email images helps or hurts you. Read these and answer yes or no:
- Do my images support my brand?
- Have I optimized the image size?
- Am I using the right number of images?
- Am I properly using image alt tags?
- Are my emails easily accessible?
Chances are you may not even know the answer to all these questions.
If that’s the case, then you’re not getting all you can from your email images, and this guide will help you.
But it’s not quite that simple. Having email images can boost your email’s aesthetics, but how do you increase email click-through rates with images?
What Is a Good Email Click-Through Rate?
Your click-through rate is the percentage of people who click on an image, link, or video in your email to continue through to your content. The average click-through rate is around 2.5% across all industries.
This number might sound a little low, but keep in mind, we’re talking about click-through and not open rates, which is the number of people who read your email.
Including images in your campaigns is a great way to increase engagement and improve your chances of driving traffic or even sales.
Images in Email Marketing: The Magic Ratio
Many marketers will tell you there’s a specific magic ratio of image to text, but it’s not always true. What is true is image-only emails will almost always cost you a trip to the spam folder.
Do that too much, and you’ll find your whole domain blacklisted.
That’s no good.
The ideal ratio is around 30-40% image to text. Any higher, you run the risk of triggering spam filters. Any less will make your email difficult to read.
The only way to find out what works for your audience is to test it! Use A/B testing to figure out what works and what doesn’t.
Keep Your Email Images Consistent
How many times have you searched for something on Google, found what you wanted, and clicked through to the website only to realize the link didn’t lead where you expected — at all?
The truth is, you might be doing this to people right now without even realizing it.
Your email image needs to align with your brand and remain consistent throughout your marketing campaign.
Make sure when someone decides to open your email, it remains true to your company message, and all the emails look relatively similar.
If you’re using blue headers with a specific font in your campaign, it should match the landing page your visitor ends on.
Personalization and Targeting Are Key
Email personalization is more important than ever.
Because there’s more impersonal spammy communication out there than ever before. Personalization changes the way your email appears based on the person you’re targeting.
Just think about it. How often have you received an email that seems like it was made for you?
Not often, right?
This is where you can get ahead of your competition by doing the things no one else is willing to do.
No product or service has “universal appeal,” so you need to narrow down your email images to a targeted audience.
According to Invesp, 59% of online shoppers find products more interesting when you personalize your marketing approach.
So, how do you personalize your email images?
Cater to Repeat Buyers
Find products people need to purchase regularly and appeal to people who bought in the past. Amazon uses this strategy, resulting in 60% conversions from their on-site recommendations.
Here’s an example from Wayfair that was based on browsing history:
Recommend New Products
Recommend products to customers based on their previous buying history. Go the extra mile and even call it “Selections for [insert name].” That strategy helps create an “in-store experience” for your subscribers.
It’s as if you went to the clothing rack and specifically picked out items you thought would look great on them!
If you’re selling a service or a digital subscription, you can ask your subscribers why they haven’t made a purchase yet. Give them a chance to sound off on what’s holding them back.
Doing this not only helps the email feel more personal and intimate, but it allows you to get feedback on what you could do better.
The ALT Tag Is More Important than You Think
We all know the importance of ALT tags for website images, but what about images in email marketing?
Are you currently using ALT tags properly in your email campaigns?
When the email client doesn’t download images correctly, your ALT tag becomes your lifeline for a few big reasons:
- When the email client doesn’t download the image, the ALT text displays to the email recipient.
- ALT text provides context if images aren’t loading.
- ALT tags make it easier for those who use screen readers and other accessible technology to understand the image.
When all else fails, the ALT tag might be the thing getting the email recipient to open.
How to Create ALT Tags for Emails?
On the back end, an ALT tag looks like this:
<img src=”youremailimage.jpg” border=”0″ alt=”How to Use Email Images in Email Marketing” width=”482px” height=”205″ />
Where it says “alt=” is where your ALT text goes. So, if an email image doesn’t load properly, that’s what will display across the email text area instead of the image.
The process of adding it might vary based on what email client you use. Here’s how to add ALT tags on MailChimp, for example.
Use the Best Format for Email Images
You have three primary formatting options for your email image. PNGs, JPEGs, and GIFs are the most common choices. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each.
Portable Network Graphics offer a large color palette, which means compressing the file size doesn’t impact the image’s resolution.
Another benefit is that you can add transparent layers, making it easy to embed the image on top of other content. This lets you blend the background image into an email with live text.
The only downside to PNGs is the file size is much larger compared to JPEGs and GIFs because of the image quality.
JPEGs offer large image compression, but doing so impacts the quality of your image. When you reduce a JPEG image, it groups each section into larger blocks, which causes the image to become blurry — which isn’t a good look.
While these are the most common image types, I wouldn’t recommend using them for email images.
You get less color vibrance with GIFs because they use an 8-bit color palette compared to a 24-bit palette with PNGs and JPEGs.
The obvious difference is the animation effect. Using GIFs in your emails increases interactivity and can allow you to show more than one product with the same image.
How to Find the Best Email Images
Finding the right images to get your email message across is crucial. There’s a variety of different types of images you can use, and each has its own purpose. Let’s look at a few.
Charts and Graphs
Providing statistics and data is almost useless without a graphic to back it up. When you provide charts in your email to prove a point, it makes it much easier for the recipient to grasp your message.
Inside’s business newsletter has a Series A funding tracker where you can see what startups recently got funding above $5m:
This easily shows at a glance who got the largest amount of funding, by size and color.
Piktochart is an infographic tool that makes it easy to create free charts (with a watermark). Just enter the data and select the type of chart you want.
When sourcing the best image, choose something relatable to your audience. If you’re targeting middle-age moms of toddlers, find images that appeal to your demographic.
Don’t just add images to add images — make sure they have a purpose.
Instead of using a numbered list to explain how something works, turn the process into beautiful imagery with screenshots.
Awesome Screenshot is a browser extension on Chrome, Safari, and Firefox that makes it easy to capture screenshots directly from the browser. You can capture a whole page or a part and download it to your computer.
Keeping it real and making things personal is never a bad choice. Email marketing is all about pulling back the curtain and showing people what you’re all about.
You don’t need professional photos to make sales, and the realistic and pure nature of personal photos can be what you need.
Illustrations are a nice way to expand your possibilities. While you might be able to do a certain amount of things with a product, an illustration can display limitless options while staying true to your brand.
Here’s an example from comedian Nate Bargatze announcing a drive-in tour. After this image, his email contained a text call-to-action with more information.
Consider hiring an illustrator on Fiverr or Upwork to get affordable illustrations.
UGC helps create trust, and it offers authority from a relatable audience. For example, imagine how an image of someone using your product in their home would outperform a stock photo or a cartoon using it.
Offer rewards to happy customers by having them upload images to social media using specific hashtags and use those images in your email marketing campaigns.
Never Send Image-Only Emails
While images are important – you should never send an image-only email.
Image Blocking Is Real
If you work in the corporate world, you understand this point. Many companies block images by default, and in fact, 43% of email users have their images turned off.
So, if you don’t have your ALT text game up to par, your campaign won’t load properly.
Email Image File Size
Email image sizes can cause subscribers with slow connections to lag and become unresponsive. If your email takes too long to load, your subscribers are going to click out or even unsubscribe because they can’t get your emails to open correctly.
Email Accessibility Is Changing
More people are using voice assistants to read emails, and these do not recognize ALT text or HTML yet. So, if the user is trying to read your image-only email, you’re out of luck.
So, what’s the ideal email image format?
Background Images with Live Text
Remember earlier, when we talked about the pros of using PNG files for your email images? Here’s where this all comes together.
Background images applied as an element to the email allow you to put live text over it, providing the most accessibility. Even if the subscriber has images disabled, they’ll see the text, which ensures all your subscribers will get something from the email.
Including your CTA in your image is a fatal error. If the image is blocked or doesn’t load properly, the button or CTA you have is hidden and completely missed by the recipient.
Using bulletproof buttons allows you to build the button with code, rather than images. So if everything fails and your image doesn’t load, the subscriber will still receive your text and CTA.
Email images are an effective strategy to increase your email campaigns’ success, but you can’t take shortcuts.
Using the right image size, format, and design is critical to ensuring your emails get delivered and get results.
Follow all of the best and worst practices outlined in this guide, and you’ll be well on your way to a higher click-through rate and a repeatable email process that will drive traffic for years to come.
Need some help perfecting your email image strategy? Drop a comment below.
Are you currently running an online business?
Do you think you can sell more of your products applying the same actions?
Because that’s exactly what Conversion Optimization does for you.
You’re using the same ads, landing/sales pages, and funnels but they just convert more.
That’s something you absolutely want to focus on if you’ve been running ads for a long time but you haven’t found the formula for healthy scaling.
Just imagine doubling your conversions…
Wouldn’t that be CRAZY?
Well with today’s conversion rate optimization strategies you can easily do it.
You just have to know what to look for and how to get it.
So without further ado…
Here’s a detailed guide on how to find the best conversion rate optimization consultants and how to work with them to guarantee real trackable results.
5 Ways a Conversion Rate Optimization Consultant Can Help Grow Your Business
The professional CRO Consultant is going to optimize your funnel to the very last bit.
But there are always activities that just generate more results than others.
Say for example your sales funnel is driving the most sales for your business.
You would want to optimize the pages in it first and then move on to optimizing different social media and other website pages.
So make sure you rank your activities from most to least important and then find a CRO Consultant that can help you with the top ones.
Further down this post, I’ll go over the questions you need to ask yourself in order to understand what to focus on first.
But for now, here’s the number one way a consultant can help you optimize your CRO:
#1 Webinar and VSL Conversion Rate Optimization
Many people think conversions can be optimized only on paper.
But the same CRO process goes for any sales video you use in your business.
And with nowadays fast-paced world, most businesses have switched to selling high-ticket offers through webinars.
If you’re currently running a webinar you NEED to maximize the conversions coming from it.
You can’t keep pouring water into a leaking bucket, can you?
It’s your personal duty and obligation to make the most of your sales process in order to:
- Help the most amount of people with your products
- Generate the most amount of sales possible for your business
And that’s why hiring a professional CRO Consultant to look at your webinar, the pages, the emails leading to it, and of course the follow-up after is extremely essential.
He can quickly assess what needs to be improved and how to do it most efficiently.
Because I’m sure you wouldn’t want to record a 90-minute webinar from the scratch.
#2 Website Conversion Rate Optimization
For many businesses, their website is basically their sales funnel.
It’s the place where they drive the most traffic and get the most sales.
So if your business is in the same spot, you’ve got to realize that depending on a single thing to bring in sales (the website) is a little ambitious.
And not having it fully-optimized for conversions is straight-up idiotic.
That’s why you need to hire an Expert CRO Consultant that can optimize every single bit of your website.
You would be surprised that 43% of business owners don’t know which is the most important page on their website.
That’s why it is very easy to get distracted and focus on the wrong thing when trying to scale your business.
#3 Pay Per Click Conversion Rate Optimization
Let’s say you already have your funnel up and running.
If that’s the case, you need to start focusing your attention on paid ads that bring in more and more potential customers to your pages.
That’s an easy way to check your actual funnel conversions and optimize accordingly.
But you can’t sell your products/services if your ads don’t convert, right?
Of course, if you’re just starting, you can try setting them up on your own.
But hiring a professional to at least check your work and give you valuable split-test suggestions is crucial if you want to run the same ads for a long time.
And trust me — you want long-term result generating ads.
#4 Social Media Conversion Rate Optimization
You’ve got a fully automated sales funnel that profits like crazy with ads.
You’re scaling it up but you want more…
That’s where you put your mind into social media marketing and social media presence.
Regularly posting conversion-optimized content on your Facebook Page, Facebook Profile, Instagram, Twitter, Tik Tok… is essential if you want to be in front of everyone at all times.
I’m sure you know about the ancient rule of marketing — The Rule of 7.
It says that a prospect must see your marketing message at least 7 times before he proceeds to become a partner, investor, customer for your products and services.
That’s why you need to close your potential customers on all platforms.
Because if you don’t, they’re just going to lose their hype and forget about you.
Also, a well-thought-out social media strategy will not only increase your social media conversions but also your overall business followers.
Which helps in the long-term game.
#5 Back End Conversion Rate Optimization
And here comes the last but definitely not the worst option.
Which is optimizing your back end sales through with higher converting pages and follow-up.
We covered how to get traffic, how to convert it through your funnel/website, and now comes the fun part…
Your Back End. for most businesses that’s the place they make the most profits.
So neglecting it is the last thing you should do if you really want to scale your business to the moon.
Famous back end follow-up is Email Marketing.
An expert consultant will not only show you the best email marketing practices you can use in your business…
But also, he’ll suggest new ideas you didn’t even know existed till this point.
How to Get Started With Conversion Rate Optimization
After you pick what you need help with, it’s time to find out how to start with conversion rate optimization.
Firstly, you need to find a consultant that specializes in what you need help with.
Simple right? Wrong!
Hiring a consultant can either be a walk in the park or an endless lion chase.
What do I mean by that?
Basically nowadays everyone pretends to be ten times better than they actually are.
You don’t want to individually outreach people that say they’re good on their social media.
The best way to ensure results is to prepare a detailed job post and put it on freelancing platforms like Upwork.
That way only people that have experience and results in the industry will reach out and start a chat with you.
Again, be very detail-oriented in your job post and make a step-by-step checklist covering what you need before proceeding to hire your ideal match.
Measuring the ROI of Conversion Rate Optimization Consulting Services
Let’s say you hire a CRO Consultant and begin your first conversion rate optimization journey.
How can you know that you made the right choice?
Well, an easy way is to ask your consultant for expectations you can have during the project.
What increase in revenue can you expect in the first month? What will be changed and what will stay the same?
And most importantly, if you’re currently not doing it, start checking your sales and conversions daily.
I’m sure that the marketing tools you currently use track enough data to see if your consultant really makes a difference in your business.
Your ROI (Return On Investment) is crucial and you can’t craw through the desert blindfolded for months.
Meaning you can’t trust empty claims. You either get results or not. There’s nothing in between.
6 Point Checklist For Finding the Right Conversion Rate Optimization Consultant
This section will be useful for you if you haven’t hired consultants in the past.
So if you have any questions or concerns about the process you’re about to go through, just follow this detailed plan and you’ll end up with trackable and real results.
#1 Write down exactly what you need from your consultant on a google docs file
I’m sure you’ve used google docs before. If you haven’t it’s Google’s alternative to Word.
So the first step of your journey is to clear your mind on what exactly you need from your consultant.
- What part of your business drives the most sales?
- Do you believe it can drive even more sales? (it probably can)
- What aspect of your business have you been neglecting until this point?
The answers to these three questions should give you a good idea of what you need help with.
If you end up having 2-3 different answers then you should pick the one that can generate the most sales in your opinion.
#2 Create your job post
After you know what you need, it’s time to get it.
The easiest way to do it is to create a job post on a freelancing platform.
That’s a quick way to find medium-tier consultants that can do the job fast.
But if you’re a big business looking for the best of the best, you should consider talking to a leading consultant in a proven marketing agency.
Agencies have a lot more clients and that way they have access to much more relevant analytics for what works.
We recommend NP Digital as it is the best marketing agency when it comes to SEO and CRO.
So if you’re ready to take your conversions to the next level, book a call today and talk to an expert in no time:
#3 Make sure your consultant has proven results in the field you need help with
This is critical. Always make sure your consultant has a proven track record behind his back.
An easy way is to ask for previous results these consultants have generated for similar clients.
Of course, if you’re talking to a marketing agency like NP Digital, you don’t need to worry about results.
Then it’s time to set up some calls. Try to talk to at least 3 consultants and always ask for their opinion about the strategy you should be using.
That way you’ll have different perspectives and maybe find out something you missed when doing your personal assessment.
#4 Hire them and do NOT be cheap
After you’re sure who’s the best consultant of the bunch, you should begin your contract.
But don’t jump the gun too fast. You never know what could go wrong.
So before you start a long-term retainer with your CRO Consultant, you should first hire him for a test project.
Find a small thing they can optimize to start with.
If they do a good job, then move to a larger project.
And don’t expect results from consultants that charge 5 dollars an hour.
Go all out on this project and hire the best of the best so you get your desired results.
#5 Track the results daily
Tracking your ROI is extremely important as we mentioned previously.
You should always do the math and see if your consultant makes you money in return.
If you’re not happy with the results and don’t see a positive future at some point in your contract, just end it.
Still, if they did a great job until the point you decide to end the contract, always make sure to leave him a positive review/testimonial that he can use for future clients.
#6 Keep investing until you stop getting results
But what happens if this consultant never stops generating results?
That’s more common with agencies that specialize in multiple marketing skills.
And if that’s the case for you, just keep investing until they stop.
You wouldn’t want to throw away your golden goose, would you now?
If the results from the first month exceed your expectations, you should consider raising your consultant’s salary/working hours.
Let him manage and optimize even more parts of your business.
Of course, don’t force him to do it.
If they just optimize your funnel and you want to focus on social media presence, you should first ask him whether they do that as well.
If he’s not up for it, you can look for another talent that can handle this part of your business.
It’s time to make you some money!
Please use the process I just shared with you and do it now.
If you procrastinate on hiring a CRO Consultant, you can really lose on a lot of money.
Your conversions are the thing that drives your sales.
So leave what you’re currently doing and go get your Conversion Rate Optimization Consultant.
Also, have you ever worked with a CRO Consultant? If yes, how was it? Share your experience in the comments below: