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Best Merchant Services

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Merchant services exist to help businesses process credit card payments. You might know them by the name “credit card processors.” 

Regardless of what you call them, choosing the best merchant service isn’t easy. The “best” one is the one that is right for your specific business, and each of the following services offers particular features that may work for one company, but not for yours. 

That’s why, in this guide, I’m catering to each type of business and finding the right merchant service for your needs. 

The Top 6 Merchant Services:

  1. Square
  2. Flagship Merchant Services
  3. Helcim
  4. Payment Depot
  5. Fattmerchant
  6. Stripe 

How to Choose The Best Merchant Services For You 

Before we get into the best merchant services, we need to understand the criteria used to make these decisions. Keep all of the following factors in mind as you read through the reviews. 

Processing Rates/Monthly Fees

It’s all about the money, and credit card processing is not as simple as you think. You have to weigh the pros and cons with each gateway; otherwise, you can end up paying way more than you planned. 

We need to look at the processing rates first. To get a lower processing rate, you usually have to pay a higher monthly fee. If you’re processing payments at high volume, it’s worth it for you to pay the higher fee because your volume will make up for it. 

On the other side, if you’re not processing a lot of payments, having a higher transaction fee won’t hurt you as much as a high monthly fee would. 

Flat-rate processing is a simple solution for small businesses, but interchange pricing is generally more affordable. 

Services 

You want to look at what the payment processor offers in addition to credit card processing. Do they offer free POS systems, hardware, mobile payments, integrations, etc? Some merchant services even offer consulting, customer loyalty features, and invoicing tools. 

Sometimes the “extra benefits” you get from a merchant service provider can outweigh some of the negatives. 

The Type of Merchant Service Account 

There are two primary types of accounts, one is an aggregator (or middleman), and one is an ISO (or independent sales organization). Let’s compare the two and see why it’s important to understand the difference.

Aggregators 

These are middlemen working in between the business and the bank, offering an easy payment processing solution for businesses. Square is an example of this, and while they make it easier, they usually have higher fees and transaction costs. 

ISOs 

Payment Depot is an example of an ISO, and while they usually have a more strict acceptance policy, they offer lower rates and user-friendly software compared to a direct processor. 

Integration

One of the most important factors to consider is, “how will this integrate with my current systems”? 

Your payment processor should never get in the way or cause your conversion rates to decrease; it should complement your current process or even enhance it. Make sure you choose something that will easily integrate into your business without requiring too many changes or adjustments. 

The Different Types of Merchant Services

After much research and careful consideration, these are my top six merchant services for both in-person and online sales. 

#1. Square – The Best For Transparent Pricing/Fees

Pros:

  • No monthly fee
  • Transparent processing
  • Free card reader
  • Great added features

Cons:

  • No ACH payment processing
  • Higher fees than desired

Square is popular for its credit card processing and POS systems, but it offers much more. It hosts features such as the “Card on File” feature, allowing users to store customer card information that works great for repeat customers trying to accumulate loyalty points and rewards of that nature. 

The processor also doesn’t have a monthly fee, and while Square’s features might not be as advanced as some of the other payment processors we’re talking about, for a POS without a monthly fee, you can’t beat the value. 

The one thing that stands out most to me is the transaction costs and how they vary whether you’re doing business in person or online.

For in-person sales, expect to pay 2.6% and $0.10 per transaction. For online transactions, it’ll cost you 2.9% and $0.30 per transaction. There are other instances, such as:

  • Virtual terminal transactions
  • Card-on-file transactions
  • And card-not-present transactions

These will cost 3.5% and $0.15 per transaction. 

Based on these numbers, Square is not the most affordable flat-rate processor, but the transparency makes it easier for you to understand what the rates are and how they’ll impact your processing based on volume and price. 

#2. Flagship Merchant Services – The Best For Great Customer Service

Pros:

  • Dedicated account manager
  • Free account setup
  • Free card terminal (with fees)

Cons:

  • Confusing ownership
  • Little information regarding price

Flagship Merchant Services cut the tape in 2001 and was acquired by iPayment in 2012. Now, they primarily resell iPayment, so keep that in mind. 

This company was one of the first to offer free account setup without any application or fees and real month-to-month contracts. They operate tens of thousands of merchants, and they have a strong reputation. 

Since they’re not a direct processor, most of their merchant accounts are set up through iPayment. iPayment uses First Data as their processor, and it can get confusing trying to figure out who is processing what through what service.

For retailers, Flagship does offer a free credit card terminal, but you’re responsible for paying account fees and insurance on that terminal to keep it up and running. 

For ecommerce, they offer either Authorize.net for processing and integration of an online cart onto your site. 

One thing that was a little frustrating about Flagship is trying to find information on their rates. If you go to their website, you’ll see that you need to fill out a form to get any info about what they charge. 

I’d like to see more transparency, but you may end up with a more catered package deal with this strategy. 

My favorite feature is that you get a single line of contact with the company when you purchase a gateway; they act as account managers. If you ever have a problem, you contact that specific person, and this isn’t a feature I’ve ever seen with any other merchant service.

#3. Helcim – The Best For Small Business 

Pros:

  • Limited fees
  • Fees based on volume
  • Free online store software

Cons:

  • Limited integrations
  • $199 for the card reader

If you’re a small business owner, Helcim might appeal to you. With this service, you’re able to process credit and debit cards online and in person. You can also do some of the following: 

  • Set up recurring payments
  • Send invoices
  • Collect payments

With a Helcim card reader, you can accept all major cards, including Amex plus Google Pay, Apple Pay, and JCB. 

Helcim charges $20 per month with transaction fees based on volume. They don’t have any contracts or cancellation fees, and they’ll wave your monthly fee if you don’t process any payments. 

Overall, Helcim is affordable but much more for in-person payments than they are online. Here’s a quick breakdown of their pricing structure: 

  • Monthly Volume: $0 – $25,000
  • In-Person: 0.3% + 8 cents (+ interchange)
  • Online: 0.5% + 25 cents (+ interchange)
  • Monthly Volume: $25,001 – $50,000
  • In-Person: 0.25% + 7 cents (+ interchange)
  • Online: 0.45% + 20 cents (+ interchange)
  • Monthly Volume: $50,001 – $100,000
  • In-Person: 0.2% + 7 cents (+ interchange)
  • Online: 0.4% + 20 cents (+ interchange)
  • Monthly Volume: $100,001 – $250,000
  • In-Person: 0.18% + 6 cents (+ interchange)
  • Online: 0.35% + 15 cents (+ interchange) 

Helcim offers nice features for those of you looking to integrate this payment gateway into your online store. You can add a checkout to your site for invoicing and customer registration while also accepting recurring subscriptions. 

#4. Payment Depot – The Best For Established Businesses

Pros:

  • No contract processing
  • Competitive rates
  • Easy to integrate online

Cons:

  • Best for high-volume business
  • Application process

Payment Depot uses a membership pricing model, making it simpler to understand but can sometimes result in you paying higher fees. Thankfully, Payment Depot’s rates are pretty competitive, and they include interchange-plus pricing for both online, in-person, and mobile payments. 

This strategy actually makes Payment Depot one of the most affordable payment processors for established businesses that are doing a certain amount of volume. 

Payment Depot accepts all major cards and contactless Apple Pay and Google Pay as well. You get next-day funding and integration with POS systems as well as ecommerce platforms such as: 

  • Shopify
  • Revel
  • QuickBooks
  • PrestaShop
  • BigComemrce
  • WooCommerce

And more…

I don’t think this is one of the best merchant services for small businesses because of how they structure their pricing. The transaction fees go down as you pay a higher monthly fee, and they seemingly force you to increase your plan because of strict processing limits. 

Here’s a breakdown of their pricing: 

Basic Plan

  • Fee: $49
  • Transaction Fee: $0.15
  • Monthly Limit: $25,000

Popular Plan

  • Fee: $79
  • Transaction Fee: $0.10
  • Monthly Limit: $75,000

Premier

  • Fee: $99
  • Transaction Fee: $0.07
  • Monthly Limit: $150,000

Unlimited

  • Fee: $199
  • Transaction Fee: $0.05
  • Monthly Limit: Unlimited 

So, as you can see – if you’re doing high volume, it would make the most sense to upgrade to the most expensive plan for the lowest transaction fees. 

#5. Fattmerchant – Best For Subscription-Based Businesses

Pros:

  • Simple pricing
  • Omni software
  • A solid choice for subscription businesses

Cons:

  • Higher monthly fees
  • Transaction fees are relatively standard

Fattmerchant is set up a lot like many of the payment processors. As you increase your monthly fee, your transaction fees go down. They offer Omni, which is where you’ll do your invoicing, payments, and reporting. The service is incredibly user-friendly, great for beginners, and it comes included with your monthly fee. 

While Fattmerchant is a great choice for budget-conscious business owners, it’s also a great option for subscription-based businesses. If you’re selling monthly coaching packages, agency services, or counseling, you’ll benefit from Fattmerchant’s structure. 

The processor accepts all major cards, including ACH, invoicing, Text2Pay, and more. Same day funding is available, and you get a free iOS and Android POS app and Bluetooth card readers that you can use on the go. 

They have two pricing plans:

  • Fee: $99
  • Annual Limit: $500,000
  • Card-Present Fee: $0.08 + Interchange
  • Card-Not-Present: $0.15 + Interchange
  • ACH Transaction Fee: $0.25
  • Fee: $199
  • Annual Limit: $5,000,000
  • Card-Present Fee: $0.06 + Interchange
  • Card-Not-Present: $0.12 + Interchange
  • ACH Transaction Fee: $0.25

Fattmerchant has a higher monthly fee than some others, but the company says that is how they keep their transaction fees down. 

#6. Stripe – Best For Online Payment Processing 

Pros:

  • Allows you to grow
  • Reasonable pricing
  • Great solution for online businesses

Cons:

  • Complicated setup
  • May require developers

If your business runs entirely online, Stripe is your best choice. It’s made specifically for ecommerce and internet business, and tons of startups and Fortune 500 companies trust Stripe. 

The company offers sophisticated software and APIs that allow online store owners to customize their checkout experience. You can use the pre-built integrations to connect a Stripe checkout right away and then customize it as you go along. 

That’s one of the main reasons why I love Stripe; it’s a payment processor that grows with you and allows you to change it as your business needs change. 

With all of these features and moving parts comes complications. It’s not the easiest to set up, and if you plan on utilizing the many benefits of Stripe, you’ll likely need a developer to handle it for you. 

Stripe offers a “pay as you go” strategy without monthly fees and transparent transaction fees across the board. 

  • Online: 2.9% and $0.30
  • In-Person: 2.7% and $0.05
  • International: Add 1% per transaction
  • ACH Direct: 0.8% maxed at $5.00 per transaction
  • ACH Credit: $1.00 per transaction

You can use all major credit and debit cards plus ACH, WeChat Pay, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and much more. Expect to wait two business days for deposits or pay a one percent fee to get instant deposits. 

Stripe integrates with WordPress, Magento, Squarespace, 3DCart, Zoho, Big Cartel, and more. 

So, by this point, you should know which of these merchant services is right for you. They all have their pros and cons, and you should choose according to the type of business you own.

Square is an overall solid solution for all businesses, but the transaction fees are a bit high, and scalability is lacking. 

I’m also a big fan of Helcim because they allow you to grow with your processor by increasing the monthly payment as your volume needs increase. 

Regardless of which choice you make, keep the important factors in mind and choose carefully, so you don’t regret your decision down the road. 

The post Best Merchant Services appeared first on Neil Patel.

Why Are Keywords So Important for Your Website?

You may have heard keywords are an essential part of any SEO strategy: they are. Without the right keywords on your site, people won’t find you while searching the web.

But there’s a lot more to keyword strategy than figuring out what people are searching for. It means choosing the right keywords for your business, determining which ones you’ll be able to rank for, and a whole lot more.

If you’re an SEO newbie, understanding keyword strategy can be overwhelming. But in this ultimate guide to keywords, I’ll give you all the info you need to get started.

What Are Keywords?

Keywords are what people type into a search engine when they’re looking for something online. The term “keyword” is kind of misleading because a keyword doesn’t have to be just one word. For example, if I’m looking for a new Chinese restaurant to try out, I might type in:

  • Chinese restaurants near me
  • best Chinese restaurants in Chicago
  • Chinese restaurant recommendations

Each of those phrases is a keyword. Of course, if you own a Chinese restaurant, you might want to figure out how to get your website to the top of the search engine results page (SERP) when someone types those in. This is where a keyword strategy comes in.

Why Your Website Needs a Keyword Strategy

Why is keyword strategy important? Well, think about the last time you wanted to make a purchase. If you had questions, you probably went online to research them. If you did, you’re not alone. Over half of consumers search for reviews and recommendations online before making purchases. When your website ranks highly in search engine results, you can reach traffic that may be ready to buy. With a really good keyword strategy, you could also reach people who haven’t even thought about your product or service.

With individuals worldwide spending nearly seven hours online every day, advertising through organic search is too good an opportunity to pass up. But if you’re going to advertise through SERPS, it’s important to try to rank as highly as possible. Why? Because people click on the first few results way more often.

Sistrix reports the first organic result in Google search has an average click-through rate (CTR) of almost 30%. The second result has a CTR of just 15.7%, and the third one only has 11%.

By the time you get to the tenth result on Google, only 2.5% of people click through. An excellent SEO strategy can help you move up in these rankings, which may result in higher CTR. A big part of that strategy should be choosing the right keywords for your website

How To Select Keywords for a Website

When it comes to selecting the right keywords for a page, there are a few steps you should take. Below, you’ll find a plan to follow when optimizing your website:

Step One: Review the Pages on Your Website

Before doing any keyword research, you need to look at all the pages on your website. Put relevant keywords on most of the critical pages on the site. Later, I’ll talk about where you should insert the keywords on each page. Most websites have a similar structure: homepage, “About Us” page, contact page, etc.

If you have a large site, consider making a spreadsheet listing all the different pages so you can keep track of what you’ve improved. If your website has a blog, you shouldn’t write blog posts and optimize them for keywords later. Instead, do it the other way around: use keyword research tools to give you ideas for new blog post topics. But if you already have blog posts on your site that aren’t keyword optimized, you can and should go back to optimize them.

Step Two: Choose a Keyword Research Tool

The next step is to choose a keyword research tool. Keyword research tools give you useful data to help you choose the best keywords.

In the next section of this article, I’ll talk more about some of the keyword research tools out there. For now, I’ll give you some examples using my tool, Ubersuggest.

Step Three: Research Your Keywords

Brainstorm a few keywords that are relevant to your product or service. If you’re optimizing blog posts, think of some that are relevant to the topic of the post you’re looking at. Then, enter the keywords into your keyword tool, and choose the language and region you’re interested in.

Here’s what you’ll get after you hit the “Search” button:

Why Are Keywords So Important for Your Website? | keyword research example in ubersuggest

Step Four: Look at the Metrics

Next, you need to interpret the data your keyword tool gives you. The “search volume” is the average number of searches per month for your keyword:

“SEO difficulty” and “paid difficulty” scores range from 0-100. Lower scores mean the keyword is easier to rank for, while higher ones mean it’s more difficult:

SEO difficulty example keyword research

The average cost-per-click (CPC) is the amount you need to pay Google for each click if you want to run an ad in Google search. Keywords with higher CPC are usually more valuable.

The next section on Ubersuggest gives you some information about the webpages currently ranking in the top 10. You can see the number of backlinks they have and their domain scores.

In the following section, there’s detailed information about the keyword. You can see the search volume over time, the number of people clicking on organic and paid search results, and the searchers’ age ranges.

keyword demographics

Next, you’ll find some ideas for other similar keywords.

similar related keywords example in Ubersuggest

In the last section, you can see some content pieces that are ranking for this keyword and being shared on social media. You can use this to get inspiration for your content.

article rankings for keywords in ubersuggest

Step Five: Choose Your Keywords

Now that you’ve seen the metrics, you can get an idea of whether a keyword is good to use or not. Ideally, you’ll want to go for keywords with a combination of the following:

  • High search volume
  • Low SEO difficulty/paid difficulty
  • Low competition (that is, your competition has few backlinks and low domain scores)

Think about your audience when looking for keywords, though. If a particular keyword doesn’t make sense (e.g., it’s misspelled, awkward, or irrelevant), you might not want to use it—even if the metrics look good.

You don’t want to lead people to your site if they aren’t interested in your product or service. This might lead to a higher bounce rate, meaning people clicking on your site and leaving right away. A high bounce rate is bad for business and may be bad for SEO as well.

What Are Some Tools You Can Use to Pick Keywords?

We’ve already talked about how to use Ubersuggest, but there are lots of other keyword research tools. Here are a few of the best ones:

Google AdWords: A Good Free Option

Google’s Keyword Planner gives you search volume and competition feedback for different keywords. It’s free to use, although you’ll have to jump through a few hoops to access it without creating a Google ad campaign, such as clicking “switch to expert.” Here’s what you get when you search for “SEO consulting:”

Why Are Keywords So Important for Your Website?

As you can see, you get some info about the search volume, the amount of competition, and what people are paying for the keyword on Google AdWords. Besides the Keyword Planner, you should also check out Google’s other free tools like Google Trends, Search Console, and Google Analytics when building your SEO strategy.

Moz and SEMrush: More Detailed Info and a “Freemium” Model

There are also paid keyword tools you can use, like Moz, SEMrush, and AHrefs. These tools are more expensive than Ubersuggest, but Moz offers a limited free version.

Both Moz and SEMRush have free trial periods. Here’s what Moz’s keyword tool, Keyword Explorer, looks like after you’ve typed in SEO tools:

moz keyword example

Like Ubersuggest, Moz’s tool gives you a list of suggested keywords and currently ranking content. You also have a range for the monthly search volume, a “difficulty” score from 0-100, information on the organic click-through rate (how many people are clicking on the non-advertising results), and a “priority” score from 0-100.

The priority score is a combination of all the other metrics and is the most crucial score. A high priority score means you’re likely to be able to rank on this keyword.

How to Optimize Your Website for Keywords

Remember when I said we’d talk about where to put keywords on your webpages? Of course, you’ll want to add keywords to your website’s copy and blog posts, but there are some other places you should be putting them, too.

Before I dive into this section, I want to say there’s a difference between keyword optimization for organic traffic vs. paid ads.

“Organic traffic” is traffic that comes from regular Google search results—not ads. By adding keywords to your website, you’re helping it rank higher in organic search.

Optimizing for Google AdWords and PPC

Choosing keywords for pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is a whole different ball game. For more information about using keywords in PPC campaigns, check out my posts “How to Launch a Successful PPC Campaign for the First Time” and “An Introduction to Pay-Per-Click Search Marketing.”

Best Practices for Keyword Density

Of course, keywords should be throughout your content, including website copy and blog posts. But how often should you be using keywords in your content? When planning your blog content, you should choose one focus keyword for each blog post, along with a few complementary keywords.

Consider using a long-tail keyword—a longer, highly-specific keyword, like “what is SEO”—as your focus keyword. Long-tail keywords are often easier to rank on than single words are.

Use your focus keyword and complementary keywords in your content as often as possible—as long as the content makes sense and sounds good.

Long ago, “keyword stuffing” was the norm, with content creators shoving keywords into content repeatedly, making it sound spammy. That’s an outdated SEO tactic and may turn readers off—and upset Google to boot.

Best Practices for Image Optimization

In addition to content, an important place to use keywords is in your image tags. By optimizing your images, you can drive traffic through image search as well as text search. Optimizing your images means adding keywords into the filename, image title, and ALT text (a tag people use to optimize their images for search engines and screen readers).

If you’re using a content management system (CMS) like WordPress, you can update the image title and ALT text directly in your website’s media editor. Make sure both your ALT text and title (title isn’t as important as the ALT) are descriptive and explain what the image is about:

Why Are Keywords So Important for Your Website? | alt text example

Title Tags and Meta Descriptions

A final place you should be using keywords is in your website’s title tags and meta descriptions.

The title tag and meta description show up in search results when people look for your website. They can also usually be edited in your website’s CMS.

Here’s what a title tag and meta description looks like. The blue link is the title tag, while the text is the meta description:

SERP keywords example

How to Track Your Website’s Keyword Success

Once you’ve added keywords to your website, how can you tell if your SEO efforts are paying off?

You’ll want to track your performance on each of your target keywords to see how you’re doing and if you need to change anything.

SEO tools can help you do this. Ubersuggest gives you a lot of information about your website’s performance in the search engine results:

domain performance keywords

Here, you can see NeilPatel.com’s best-performing pages:

article keywords data list in Ubersuggest

And here are some of the keywords I’m ranking on right now:

ranking keywords list

Conclusion

There’s a lot to think about when it comes to keywords. It’s not enough just to find the right keywords—you also have to know how to use them to rank. To succeed with a keyword strategy, you need to have an organized plan.

Part of this is having the right keyword research tools and knowing how to use them. But you also have to know your audience well and think strategically.

Using the tips in this article, you can get started with keyword research and hopefully boost your place in the search engine results. Good luck!

Did I miss any info about keywords? If you have some tips you’d like to share, let us know in the comments.

The post Why Are Keywords So Important for Your Website? appeared first on Neil Patel.

How to Choose The Right Facebook Ad Agency

Facebook isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon.

With more than 2.6 billion users worldwide – or nearly 28.5% of the total global population – the platform has seen unprecedented success.

This also translates to several other advantages that you may not be familiar with:

  • Approximately 1.65 billion users see Facebook ads, out of which 1.21 billion are between the ages of 13 and 34.
  • An average Facebook user clicks on 12 ads per month.
  • Facebook users watch around 100 million hours of video a day.

Plus, nearly 70 million businesses have a Facebook page, which sheds ample light on its importance in today’s world.

In short, Facebook is still a force to be reckoned with – at least where ads are concerned.

With such excellent stats, converting visitors into customers should be easy, right?

Wrong.

You see, there can be various reasons why your Facebook ads don’t convert.

One of the more prominent reasons is the lack of expert guidance – something that hiring the best Facebook ad agency can help overcome.

This brings us to our next question: How do you choose the right Facebook agency for your needs?

Our team at Neil Patel Digital has created this guide to walk you through the whole hiring process that can help you generate more leads and score higher conversions.

Know Your Goals and Desired Outcomes

Remember the saying that knowing your destination is half the journey?

Well, the same logic applies when you‘re looking to hire a Facebook ad company.

Every ad agency has different specialties, along with budget and project sizes. This is precisely why you should know your business goals and the objectives you want to achieve by working with a specific agency.

Once you get the right lens to evaluate different agencies, you’ll be able to determine your perfect match easily.

The following are a few examples where you can break down the whole process by using a deliverable-goal-end result approach. In other words, you understand your deliverables, then determine the goals of these deliverables, followed by the outcomes you hope to achieve.

Example #1: Getting More Leads Despite Tight Budget

You want to hire an agency to develop an efficient Facebook advertising strategy for your company. The catch here is that you only have $500 per month to spare, but you want more leads.

So, in this case:

  • Deliverable: Using unique, eye-catching ads to get high-quality leads.
  • Goal: An agency that has the expertise and is open to accepting clients who have a tight budget.
  • End Result: Generating more leads without overstepping the $500 threshold.

Example #2: Expanding Reach Through Visually Appealing Videos

You want to create engaging video ads that you can use on Facebook. The problem here is that you don’t know where to start.

So, in this case:

  • Deliverable: A series of on-brand ad videos that increase brand awareness and click-through rates.
  • Goal: An agency that has the expertise to create engaging videos, which talk about your new offers and encourage the viewer to click on the link.
  • End Result: A finished set of effective video ads.

If you see both examples, you’ll find there are different limitations and requirements.

While the budget is super strict in the first case, it’s more flexible in the second. Similarly, there aren’t any specifications with regard to the ad type in the first example, but the second one explicitly states video advertisements.

Essentially, when you know what you want, finding the right agency for your businesses will become very easy. Plus, it’s much better to avoid the disappointment of hiring someone only to realize that they can’t give you what you want.

Another way to vet Facebook ad agencies is by looking for specific characteristics that are relevant to the business and can understand your goals and desired outcomes.

4 Characteristics That Make a Great Facebook Ad Company

There are all sorts of ad agencies operating on the market today, with everyone claiming to be the best.

That said, you should know the characteristics that make up a good Facebook ad agency to find one that can provide tailor-made solutions as per your requirements.

Team Members With Relevant Experience

Everybody claims to be the best, but only a few have the experience to back its claims. 

You must hire a Facebook ad agency that is well-equipped with the brain and muscle to help you achieve your goals.

For instance, if you want to carry out paid social media campaigns with minimal to no effort from your side, you need a team that has the experience and knowledge to carry out these campaigns.

Additionally, they should also take care of customer targeting, keep in touch with your customers and prospects, as well as recommend creative, and copy best practices.

You can find out more about a company‘s team by going through their ‘About‘ page or LinkedIn ‘People’ page.

While this may not show you every contractor or freelancer that the agency might work with, it‘s still an excellent place to start. You can always ask follow-up questions during your consultation if you want more clarity.

Their Arsenal Should Include Latest Technologies and Best Practices

Ad agencies need to be familiar with the latest software. For Facebook, in particular, Facebook Pixel, Facebook Ad Manager, and so on are useful tools that can assure faster results through in-depth insights.

Having ad software expertise, along with familiarity with third-party data sources and creative testing tools, is also helpful. Ultimately, this will help your brand gain more popularity through better ads – both in terms of creativity and effectiveness.

Skills to Create Engaging Ads that Fulfil Your Objectives

Why do you want to hire a Facebook ad company? Results.

The only way that you can get results is if you enlist an agency that knows the art of producing engaging and objective-specific ads.

The company should have the skills to help you fulfill your goals – whether it’s getting more quality leads, boosting engagement, increasing store visits, or getting more click-throughs.

The idea here is to hire an ad company that can help you meet your goals, and the best way to ensure this is to look for a diverse portfolio.

Plus, the portfolio is the best way for the agency to show off their best work. This will help you get an idea of the type of work they do and the type of clients they choose.

Since it‘s FB advertisements that we’re talking about, give brownie points to agencies that have Facebook on their client list.

Solid Social Proof in the Form of Client Testimonials

Having social proof, such as testimonials and previous client reviews, can be an excellent way to gain insights into an agency’s work ethic.

Considering that 93% of customers go through testimonials and customer reviews before purchasing something, it can also be beneficial from the agency’s point of view. 

In fact, displaying social proof is an effective tactic to convert visitors into buyers. So if you don’t find any testimonials on websites, it means the following:

  • One, the company may not have previous clients
  • Two, they aren’t the experts that they claim to be

Good testimonials are indicative of a similar experience for future customers. Also, getting testimonials shouldn’t be difficult for agencies who have satisfied clients.

How to Work With a Facebook Ad Agency 

When you narrow down your options – or even make a final choice – you should be aware of the working etiquette to follow.

The following are a few steps that can ensure you enjoy a fruitful partnership for the well-being of your business.

Filling Out the Inquiry Form

No Facebook ad agency will send you a contract without understanding your pain points – if they do, run (not walk) as far as you can.

Reputable agencies will want you to fill an inquiry form to understand your objectives and requirements. After filling the form, the team will get in touch with you to hear your vision and then think of ways to achieve it.

You have to communicate properly here, being as explicit as possible. Remember, the agency wants to meet your expectations and goals.

Hearing Out the Best Practices for Effective Results

After understanding your pain points, the external team should use their expertise and experience to create a campaign framework. This, of course, should be done after carrying out in-depth research to figure out the best practices for better results.

The idea behind creating this draft is to make sure your target audience, niche, and business are all on the same page. You should expect multiple meetings focused on making strategic recommendations.

Receiving Project Deliverables

In the world of business, everything needs to be in writing – even the contract. Since every campaign spans over a couple of weeks or months, a well-drafted contract needs to be in place.

So if both you and the agency are comfortable with each other, you can expect to receive a contract, along with project deliverables from the agency, before kicking off the campaign.

Final Onboarding

After signing the contract, you’ll have to introduce the external team to your in-house staff. Agencies will also ask you for access to your website, social media platforms, relevant software, analytics tools, etc.

Once this is done, the Facebook ad company will chalk out timelines and task lists to organize and manage the whole project.

Aligning Your In-House Team With the Agency

Your chosen Facebook ad agency doesn’t have to replace your in-house team.

Instead, you can have both the teams working in sync to maximize results. For this purpose, you can do the following:

  • Holding frequent meetings.
  • Elaborating the scope of the agency’s as well as the in-house team‘s work, and clearly communicating the importance of both.
  • Appointing additional employees, if required, to work with the external agency.

In the end, the agency will be fully aligned with your company‘s values and culture, making it an extension of your in-house team.

How to Find The Right Facebook Ad Agency For You

With so many available options, choosing the right Facebook ad agency can be a bit difficult. 

Nevertheless, you should always prioritize a good reputation with a specialized approach. In addition to this, we would recommend the following:

  • Work on determining your business goals and desired outcomes.
  • Look for agencies that satisfy our above-listed characteristics – each one of them is essential.
  • Make sure the agency is in sync with you and your in-house team.

To make it easier for you, we reviewed hundreds of agencies to bring the five best Facebook ad companies. No matter who you choose, you’re assured of excellent service and unmatched expertise.

The 5 Top Facebook Ad Agencies

#1: Neil Patel Digital – The Best Overall Facebook Ad Company

You need access to top-level expertise and experience if you want advertisements that convert – something that Neil Patel Digital specializes in.

Our team of top-level and in-house marketing managers, led by our co-founder, Neil Patel, know the ins and outs of Facebook. 

We can deliver ad campaigns that suit your marketing objectives without overstepping your budget. Plus, we take care of everything: brainstorming attention-grabbing headlines, choosing the right graphics and CTAs, and carrying out A/B testing.

We also have a dream clientele, which includes Facebook, who are more than happy with what we’ve done for them. We’re also fully transparent with what we can deliver and how we work our magic.

#2: Hibu – The Best Facebook Ad Company for an All-in-One Solution

Hibu can be an excellent option if you’re looking for a comprehensive Facebook advertising solution, which includes campaign set-up, management, optimization, and reporting.

It also has a very flexible pricing strategy, offering services that start at $250 per month. The company has a dedicated team that works hard to create highly targeted ads that are capable of converting visitors.

#3: Voy Media – The Best Facebook Ad Company for À La Carte Services

Voy Media comes highly recommended. More so, if à la carte services and maximizing returns are your top priority.

The team uses proprietary AI software that can help you optimize and scale your Facebook campaigns in addition to crafting carefully thought-out strategies. You can join the likes of Lacoste, Big Life Journal, and Paw.com too – provided you have a minimum $5000/month budget for advertising.

#4: MuteSix – The Best Facebook Ad Company for Innovation Graphic Design 

MuteSix really needs no introduction when it comes to churning out creative ads that can drive conversions. It’s a full-funnel ad agency that has an in-house video studio and graphic design team to widen their clients’ reach.

Over the years, the company has added many renowned companies to its portfolio, and has received quite a few accolades as well! However, MuteSix is better suited for larger companies, preferably ones with budgets over $20,000 in ad spend.

#5: Lyfe Marketing – The Best Facebook Ad Company for Small Companies

This is an excellent option for small companies with limited budgets. Having a talented team of fewer than 50 members, Lyfe Marketing can be a driving force to help you enhance your marketing efforts.

It can provide you with quality, cost-effective advertising solutions, along with excellent communication and complete transparency to establish a healthy and professional working relationship. The agency has driven over 2,137,349 leads from the time of its inception.

Wrapping Up

Advertising can be a very challenging task. If you don’t have the expertise or know-how at your disposal, all your efforts will go to vain and you may also incur losses.

It’s much wiser to get a reputable Facebook ad company that can help you achieve your goals.

“Reputable” being the operative word here since you need an efficient team that can create unique and exciting ads to convert your visitors into customers.

Hence, it’s best to work with an agency with demonstrated expertise when it comes to keeping up with a dynamic platform like Facebook.

The post How to Choose The Right Facebook Ad Agency appeared first on Neil Patel.

3 Ways to Fix Business Credit in a Recession

Learn How to Fix Business Credit

Do you need to repair your business credit? Is your business credit score nothing to write home about? Was it good once but now, not so much? Here are three easy and effective ways to fix business credit and get back on track.

Recession Period Funding

The number of American financial institutions as well as thrifts has been decreasing progressively for 25 years. This is coming from consolidation in the marketplace in addition to deregulation in the 1990s, decreasing 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 concentrated in ever‐larger financial institutions is problematic for small business proprietors. Big financial institutions are much less likely to make small loans. Economic recessions mean financial institutions come to be a lot more mindful with financing. Thankfully, business credit does not rely on financial institutions.

Fix Business Credit: 1 – Make Sure Your Credit Scores Are Accurate

Perhaps the easiest way to repair business credit is to assure that all of the reporting on it is correct and complete. This can help you locate feasible issues and stay informed on your business credit profile. So the first thing you want to do is, request your reports.

Business Credit Reporting Agencies

FICO SBSS

FICO’s SBSS (Small Business Scoring Service) Score will be generated when you apply for a loan. The lender will send your company’s documents and information to FICO. Then FICO will collect more data from the credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Dun & Bradstreet, and Experian).

Dun & Bradstreet’s PAYDEX

A PAYDEX Score works as Dun & Bradstreet’s dollar-weighted numerical rating of how your company has paid the bills during the last 12 months. Get your PAYDEX report here and you can contact their Customer Service department here.

Equifax

Order your business’s Equifax report here.

Experian

Order your company’s Experian report here.

Monitor Your Business Credit

Know what is happening with your credit. Make certain it is being reported and attend to any errors as soon as possible. Get in the habit of checking credit reports and digging into the details, and not just the scores.

We can help you monitor business credit at Experian and D&B for 90% less.

At Equifax, you can monitor your account at: www.equifax.com/business/business-credit-monitor-small-business.

Update Your Information

Update the data if there are inaccuracies or the info is incomplete. At D&B, you can do this at: https://iupdate.dnb.com/iUpdate/viewiUpdateHome.htm. For Experian, go here: www.experian.com/small-business/business-credit-information.jsp. So for Equifax, go here: www.equifax.com/business/small-business.

Fix Business Credit

So, what’s all this monitoring for? It’s to dispute any mistakes in your records. Errors in your credit report(s) can be taken care of. But the CRAs normally want you to dispute in a particular way.

Get your small business’s PAYDEX report at: www.dnb.com/about-us/our-data.html. Get your company’s Experian report at: www.businesscreditfacts.com/pdp.aspx?pg=SearchForm. And get your Equifax business credit report at: www.equifax.com/business/credit-information.

Disputes

Disputing credit report errors generally means you send a paper letter with copies of any proofs of payment with it. These are documents like receipts and cancelled checks. Never mail the originals. Always mail copies and retain the originals.

Fixing credit report mistakes also means you specifically spell out any charges you challenge. Make your dispute letter as crystal clear as possible. Be specific about the problems with your report. Use certified mail so that you will have proof that you mailed in your dispute.

Dispute your or your small business’s Equifax report by following the instructions here: www.equifax.com/small-business-faqs/#Dispute-FAQs.

You can dispute errors on your or your company’s Experian report by following the instructions here: www.experian.com/small-business/business-credit-information.jsp.

And D&B’s PAYDEX Customer Service phone number is here: www.dandb.com/glossary/paydex.

Disputing Charges with Your Creditors

Much like you disputed the charges to the reporting agency, you may also need to dispute them to the creditor itself. Again, you will need to make your case in writing and enclose copies of any proof of payment. Be specific about what you are disputing.

Fix Business Credit: 2- Understand Your Scores

Understanding your scores is a great way to start to fix business credit. This way, you spend your time on activities which are most likely to help you. That is, you can get the best bang for your buck. Even in a recession, fixing business credit scores is easier if you understand your scores in the first place.

Dun & Bradstreet’s PAYDEX Business Credit Score

A PAYDEX Score from Dun & Bradstreet ranges from 0 to 100. This score has a basis in payment information which is on report to the agency. Or it is on report to data-gathering firms partnering with the CRA. https://creditreports.dnb.com/m/business-glossary/paydex-score.html

D & B uses this data, along with a credit score and Financial Stress Score, so as to advise just how much credit a lending institution should extend to your company.

Getting a PAYDEX Score

To get a PAYDEX score, you must file for a D-U-N-S number by using Dun & Bradstreet’s site. The number is at no cost. Plus the CRA will need to have reports of your payments with four or more merchants.

Your firm’s PAYDEX score reveals if your payments are usually made promptly or in advance of schedule. As you might expect, a higher number is better.

PAYDEX Score Details

The scores break down as follows:

  • 80 – 100: A low risk of late payments
  • 50 – 79: A medium risk of late payments
  • 0 – 49: A high risk of late payments

D&B Business Credit Scores

Your company’s credit score ranges from 1 to 5. 1 is the best score. This matches your firm with other companies with similar payment histories. The score demonstrates just how usually those business often tend to pay immediately.

This information can actually assist loan providers to acknowledge your business’s standing. But it does not really reflect all of the payment documents from your business.

Financial Stress Score

The Financial Stress Score also runs from 1 to 5. It matches your company with various other business sharing comparable financial and business characteristics.

These resemblances are in areas such as size or amount of time in business. This score shows how often those businesses have a tendency to pay on schedule. As before, 1 is the very best score. This score is a more thorough examination of the business landscape, versus an evaluation of your company’s actual payment history.

An awesome PAYDEX score for your business is 80 – 100.

Experian Credit Scores

Experian’s scoring system is called Intelliscore Plus. http://www.experian.com/business-information/credit-risk-management.html

What is the Intelliscore Plus Credit Score?

The Intelliscore Plus credit score is a statistically based credit-risk analysis. The key function of Intelliscore Plus is to aid companies, investors, and possible future loan providers make wise judgments about who they should or should not do business with.

Like an auto dealer uses a consumer’s FICO score to quickly figure out just how much of a credit risk a potential customer might be, the Intelliscore Plus credit score can provide understanding on just how much of a credit risk a company or business owner may be.

Intelliscore Plus Credit Score Range

The Intelliscore ratings vary from 1 to 100. So the higher your rating, the lower your risk class. The chart below details each Intelliscore Plus credit score range as well as its associated meaning.

Score Range/Risk Class

  • 76 – 100 Low
  • 51 – 752 Low – Medium
  • 26 – 503 Medium
  • 11 – 254 High – Medium
  • 1 – 105 High

Computing an Intelliscore Plus Credit Score

In the credit world, Intelliscore Plus is considered one of the most trusted tools in successfully forecasting risk. Among the ways Intelliscore Plus maintains this claim to fame is by acknowledging the major variables that reveal if a firm is likely to pay their debts.

Though there are over 800 industrial and owner variables constituting an Intelliscore Plus credit score, the variables can be broken down into these essential factors:

Payment History

The bureaus call this recency yet in the real world, it’s nothing more than your current payment status. This includes the number of times your accounts become delinquent, the number of accounts that are currently overdue, and your overall trade balance.

Frequency

Just like payment history, frequency accounts for the quantity of times your accounts have been sent out to collections, the amount of liens as well as judgments you may have, and any bankruptcies connecting with your business or personal accounts.

Frequency can likewise consist of information associating with your payment patterns. Were you regularly slow or late with payment? Did you start paying expenses late, yet over time, quit doing so? These elements will certainly all be considered.

Monetary

This particular aspect focuses on exactly how you use credit. As an example, just how much of your readily available credit is presently in operation? Do you have a high ratio of overdue balance in contrast with your credit limits?

If you will start a company or are fairly new to this game, the listing above may seem a bit overwhelming. If you haven’t begun or do not have a lengthy history of business-based deals, exactly how will Intelliscore Plus rate you?

Intelliscore Plus handles these scenarios by using a blended model to develop your score. This suggests that they consider your personal credit score when determining your business’s credit score.

Fix Business Credit in a Recession Credit Suite

Find out why so many companies are using our proven methods to improve their business credit scores, even during a recession.

Equifax Business Credit Scores

The Equifax Credit Risk Score comes from a model which they use to place specific risks. Equifax uses these information in its computations, consisting of the depth of the credit information Experian can get the length of your small business’s credit history, as well as your business’s payment delinquency history. http://www.equifax.com/business/equifax-risk-score

http://www.equifax.com/assets/USCIS/efx-00178_efx_risk_score.pdf

http://www.equifax.com/assets/USCIS/efx-00164-9-13_efx_bni.pdf

Equifax then segments some 5 different scorecards with each other, by using statistical analysis. In order to improve their accuracy, Equifax recommends combining their Credit Risk Score with their proprietary Equifax Bankruptcy Navigator Index.

The Bankruptcy Navigator Index helps forecast the likelihood of your company going bankrupt in the next 24 months. Equifax bases its predictive model on over 270 million separate accounts.

Equifax shows three separate business determinations on its commercial credit reports. These are the Equifax Payment Index, your company’s Credit Risk Score, and its Business Failure Score.

Equifax Payment Index

Comparable to the PAYDEX rating, Equifax’s Payment Index, which has its measurement on a range of 100, demonstrates how many of your company’s payments were made punctually. These consist of both data from credit companies and vendors.

However it’s not implied to anticipate future behavior. That is what the other two ratings are for.

Equifax Credit Risk Score

Equifax’s Credit Risk Score assesses how likely it is your business will come to be drastically delinquent on payments. Scores range from 101 to 992, and they review:

  • Available credit limit on revolving credit accounts, e. g. credit cards
  • Your business’s size
  • Evidence of any type of non-financial transactions (e. g. vendor billings) which are delinquent or were on charge off for two or more billing cycles
  • Length of time since the opening of the earliest financial account

Fix Business Credit in a Recession Credit Suite

Find out why so many companies are using our proven methods to improve their business credit scores, even during a recession.

Equifax Business Failure Score

Finally, Equifax’s Business Failure Score takes a look at the risk of your small business closing. It ranges from 1,000 to 1,600, reviewing these aspects:

  • Total balance to total current credit limit average utilization in the previous three months
  • How much time since the opening of the oldest financial account
  • Your company’s worst payment status on all trades in the previous 24 months
  • Documentation of any non-financial transactions (e. g. vendor billings) which are overdue or have gotten on cost off for two or more billing cycles.

Equifax Scoring Analysis

For the credit risk as well as business failure scores, a rating of 0 means bankruptcy.

An outstanding Equifax score for your firm is as follows:

  • Payment Index 0 – 10
  • Credit Score 892 – 992
  • Business Failure Score 1400 – 1600

FICO Business Credit Scores

FICO uses its SBSS (Small Business Scoring Service) Score to incorporate consumer bureau, monetary, application, and business bureau information. FICO then validates their SBSS models for purchases such as Credit line transactions, Term Loans, and Commercial Card obligations which go up to $1 million. Their idea is to evaluate how your business repays all kinds of loans. http://www.fico.com/en/node/8140?file=6045

Business credit providers make use of the FICO SBSS score as a device to make a decision whether they should authorize a loan to your small business at all.

The SBA employs this score as well, to authorize or approve company loans. It has a basis in your company and consumer credit history and not simply your company’s financial health.

The score factors in the examination of the risks inherent in your company’s credit applications. With SBSS, lending institutions make their determinations in a matter of hours, as opposed to days. Lenders are more confident in their lending judgments, and your business gets swifter decisions on your loan applications.

The SBA’s Participation

The FICO Small Business Score or SBSS score is the main figure that the SBA considers while establishing to approve a loan, especially when it involves the SBA’s 7(a) loans.

Computing a FICO SBSS Score

The FICO SBSS Score reveals the likelihood or possibility of you, the candidate, covering your month-to-month bills promptly. The score runs from 0 to 300. A higher score means reduced risks and typically creates more favorable credit terms. The score comes from your company and personal history of credit use along with your business’s financial data. Variables also involve your company’s age, as well as its years or complete time in business.

As of 2014, all SBA 7(a) loans must go through a business credit score pre-screen, as well as for SBA loans, you might perhaps not get an approval if you had a score less than 140. However the cutoff was generally set to 160, and frequently, a score under 160 meant a rejection. A lot of lending institutions will only approve scores above 160 or 180, to lend as much as $1 million. However a score lower than 160 or 180 can still qualify you for a smaller sized loan.

The formula for the FICO SBSS Score is as follows:

  • The last year of PAYDEX scores from Dun & Bradstreet
  • Amounts and types of any judgements against your firm
  • The amounts and kinds of any liens against your business’s real or personal property.
  • Your company’s available resources
  • Your company’s profit
  • And other, less distinct monetary information

If you have no record of company credit and had a small or quick time in your business, then the possible highest FICO SBSS score you can perhaps expect is 140.

Fix Biz Credit novel coronavirus Credit Suite

Find out why so many companies are using our proven methods to improve their business credit scores, even during a recession.

Usage and Sorts of SBSS Model Lenders

A FICO SBSS rating includes the choice to opt for particular models which are market-specific for enhanced and much better decision making. For instance, one model is an agricultural leasing and lending model. Another model was made especially for Canada. Additionally, the insights of the SBSS score provide support for the SBRI (Small Business Risk Insight, from Dun & Bradstreet) and the SBFE (Small Business Financial Exchange) data databases.

Confirming the SBSS models is necessary for credit lines, commercial cards, as well as term loans of as much as one million dollars. If you are requesting one million dollars or less from bank financing, then there are chances that your SBSS score will be under review.

The Kind of Information in the Score

The SBSS offers the credit issuers of businesses various information blends to guarantee that they can evaluate your company’s credit risks. For instance, a particular issuer of credit can choose only to examine a principle proprietor’s application information, or the credit provider can select to include one or multiple business bureaus’ data.

Or the credit issuer can only decide to prioritize one aspect over another. This intelligent score originates from various business bureaus on an automated basis, in any type of order or whatever priority the issuer of the credit likes. For that reason, if the loan provider selects the score of Dun & Bradstreet’s PAYDEX as its default, the SBSS will pull that set of information.

SBSS Credit Offer Index: Exactly How It Works and Why It Is Important

The Credit Index is an element of the FICO SBSS Credit Score for your business, made to help credit issuers understand your capacity. It works as the standards against all the businesses with similar profiles.

The SBSS Credit Offer Index includes economic application info, business credit bureau documents, and credit bureau information for consumer. It gives a percentile ranking of the present versus other smaller sized businesses with identical or comparable attributes and total requested money from all those companies.

The Updated SBSS

Reporting agencies like D&B power the newer FICO SBSS Score model. The SBFE information may be used to anticipate charge-offs, bankruptcy, or three plus cycles overdue or delinquency over a duration of two years.

SBA Credit Scoring

The SBA’s tool has a basis in FICO. Their idea is to accelerate their credit choices for loan approvals. The tool uses several data sources and over one hundred combinations of business and consumer analytical models. They use a designated cutoff. https://www.sba.gov/offices/district/mo/st-louis/resources/small-business-loan-credit-scoring

Their total stats on their over $60 billion profile show that companies with scores at, or over the assigned cut-off will have very good payment history. So when you fix business credit, you might just want to fix your personal credit as well.

Fix Business Credit: 3 – Improve Your Payment History

Fixing credit issues means you need to fix bad habits and not repeat them. Mostly importantly, this means paying your bills on time and as completely as possible. A bonus to paying on time and in full means you pay considerably less interest on your debts.

Your payment patterns and history are a driving force in your overall credit score. Over time, paying your invoices on schedule will help establish your company as one that pays their financial obligations. This will inevitably help push your score up as well as show other firms you are a low risk.

Fix Business Credit: Bonus – Keep Your Debt-to-Income Ratio in Check

The more debt you have on your plate, the more invoices you have, and the less disposable income you have. If your total debt approaches or surpasses your income level, then you’re probably to be seen as high-risk.

Keep your financial obligations in check and consistently pay them off to keep a healthy balance between what you make and what you owe.

Fix Business Credit: Bonus – Use Your Credit

Keeping your financial obligations low remains sound recommendations. Still, opening and sensibly capitalizing on business credit accounts can help you increase your available credit and fix business credit.

Bonus – Improve Your Personal Credit Score, Too

Why is your personal credit score important to your business credit score? Your personal credit is fair game when it pertains to your Intelliscore Plus score.

Running a company is difficult work, but don’t let your individual finances suffer. Stay on top of your personal monthly bills. Also, stay clear of unnecessary credit inquiries. And avoid compromising your personal credit for company demands.

Fix Business Credit: Takeaways

Check your business credit scores and stay on top of your bills. Dispute errors and monitor your profiles so you’re never caught unawares.

The post 3 Ways to Fix Business Credit in a Recession appeared first on Credit Suite.

Reward Based Crowdfunding vs. Equity Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding can be a great option for funding a business, if you run a successful campaign.  The problem is, though some campaigns are very successful, many are not.  It helps to understand the different options available.

Which Option is Best for Your Business: Reward Based Crowdfunding or Equity Crowdfunding?

There are many benefits to crowdfunding, the most popular being the debt free financing of your business. However, there are a couple of different types of crowdfunding, and there are even more platform options.  Some options work better for certain types of businesses than others.

Credit Line Hybrid Financing:  Get up to $150,000 in financing so your business can thrive.

What is Reward Based Crowdfunding

rewards based crowdfunding Credit SuiteReward based crowdfunding is crowdfunding in which backers receive a reward for their investment.  This could be something as simple as a thank you note or as elaborate as the actual product.  For example, a jewelry maker may offer a free pair of earrings.  

One smart jacket company offered free coats with investment, and a cooler company offered free coolers.  One word of warning, be sure you can keep your promises.  More than one company has gone south or at least ended up in major trouble because they could not keep their promise to investors. 

What are Some Benefits of Reward Based Crowdfunding?

The biggest benefit of reward based crowdfunding is that it’s one of the cheapest ways to raise capital.  There is no collateral requirement and no credit check or prior business experience required.  There is no need to have professional financial or legal help, as the process is simple.  You do not give up any equity or control in your company, and you get tons of exposure to your audience on the front end. 

That said, it’s not all sunshine.  Many, if not most, campaigns do not raise enough funds to fully finance the business.  That means other means of financing have to be utilized. Also, some platforms will not allow you to access any of the money if you do not reach your goal.  

Reward  Based Crowdfunding vs. Equity Crowdfunding

The major difference in these two types of crowdfunding is what investors get for their investment.  With reward based crowdfunding, investors receive some incentive for their donation that is not equity in the company.  With equity-based crowdfunding, the investor receives equity, or a share in the company. 

Another difference is that, as a general rule, equity-based crowdfunding brings in larger amounts of money.  This is because it draws a different type of investor.  The question then becomes, why doesn’t everyone choose that?  The key is, some businesses are better suited for equity-based crowdfunding and some are better suited for reward based crowdfunding. 

Is Reward Based Crowdfunding Best for Your Business? 

So, which types of businesses do best with crowdfunding based on rewards rather than equity? Typically, this works best for startups in creative fields.  Those that do not qualify for traditional business loans, but have a strong project.  Sometimes these businesses just want to test the market, and a crowdfunding platform is a great place to do that. 

It doesn’t really work well for those businesses with a complicated product or service.  It can be hard to explain the value of these types of companies to the masses.  This type of funding tends to work best for businesses that offer:

  • New Local Services 

If you think about it, this  makes sense.  If you want to open a local business, especially in an area where there is a direct need, it could do well with small business crowdfunding.  Local Lift is designed specifically for local businesses to request funding, gauge interest, and even build a customer base before opening.

  • New High-Tech Gadgets

This doesn’t mean just a new take on what is already out there.  Rather, this is something that is completely unique.  That is what is going to get the most support.  Also, it needs to have a working prototype and there needs to be research behind it. 

  • Unique Inventions for the Home

This category gets a ton of support, especially for items that solve everyday problems. For example, the fly killing salt shotgun and the wet diaper sensor have seen great success!

  • New Tools for Cooking at Home

These are gadgets that will let you do something at home that you normally can’t.  An example is carbonating your own soda.  Another one is  something that lets you cook things faster, or easier.  Items that serve multiple purposes are another option.  Maybe an easy way to make sushi at home?  New kitchen tools for the home are often successful.

Platforms for Reward Based Crowdfunding and Equity Crowdfunding

How do you get started with crowdfunding of any type?  There are a number of platforms out there.  Some are only for offering rewards.  Others allow you to offer equity as well. The most popular are Kickstarter and Indiegogo, but they are not the only players in the game. 

Kickckstarter

With over 14 million backers, Kickstarter is one of the largest crowdfunding platforms in the world.  They boast over 130,000 funded projects. These include products and services related to:

  • Publishing
  • The arts and film
  • Comics and illustration
  • Design and tech

Kickstarter requires you to have a prototype. In addition, projects cannot be for charity.  However, nonprofits can use Kickstarter.  This is one platform that does not allow equity crowdfunding.

Credit Line Hybrid Financing:  Get up to $150,000 in financing so your business can thrive.

Other banned projects and perks include anything to do with:

  • Contests and raffles
  • Cures and medicines
  • Credit services
  • Live animals
  • Alcohol
  • Weapons

Kickstarter will collect a 5% fee on all funds.  They also use a payment processor, Stripe, that applies payment processing fees (roughly 3-5%). Unsuccessful campaigns do not pay a fee. There are also fees of 3% + $0.20 per pledge. Pledges under $10 have to pay a discounted micro pledge fee of 5% + $0.05 per pledge.

Indiegogo

Indiegogo has over 9 million investors. They do not allow campaign goals below $500. Also, they charge 5% platform fees and 3% + 30¢ third-party credit card fees. Note that fees are deducted from the amount raised, not the goal. As a result, if you raise more than your goal, you will pay more in fees. They do not accept PayPal.

Indiegogo is noteworthy because they offer flexible financing in addition to fixed financing options. So, if you do not make your goal and you chose flexible funding, you can at least hold onto what you collected. This is the opposite of how crowdfunding normally works.

RocketHub

RocketHub is better suited for those who need venture capital. They give you an ELEQUITY Funding Room. There, you can pitch your idea and see if it stimulates any interest from donors.

This platform is specifically for business owners working on projects related to:

  • Art
  • Business
  • Science
  • Social

If you achieve your fundraising goal, you will pay a fee of 4%. In addition, you’ll pay a 4% credit card handling fee. But if you do not reach your goal, then that fee jumps up to 8% plus the credit card handling fee. That means RocketHub is best for companies that are more confident they will make their goals.

CircleUp

CircleUp aims to help up and coming brands and companies raise capital for growth projects. However, companies must apply and show revenue of at least $1 million to get a listing on the site. That said, the platform will sometimes make exceptions.

CircleUp can be good for those who already have a somewhat established business. That includes business owners who want both funding and guidance in order to take their businesses to the next level.

If your business gets approval for listing on CircleUp, the fee percentage comes from the total amount you raise.

GoGetFunding

GoGetFunding has been around since 2011. They let fundraisers keep the money they raise, regardless of whether they meet their target. If your business idea is unproven and you are unsure of whether you can meet your funding needs with a crowdfunding for business campaign, flexible funding can be a great option.

They charge a 6.9% fee. This is pretty high, but it includes both the platform fee and the payment processing fee. Therefore, it is actually more cost-effective than many other crowdfunding for business options.

Crowdfunder

With Crowdfunder, investors purchase equity in promising companies. They consider campaigns to be deals, and its donors are investors. Self-start listings are $499/month. Self-start plus is $999/month.  In their community, there are over 15,000 investors and 200,000 startups.

Fundable

This is a crowdfunding for business platform that allows companies to raise funds from investors, customers, and friends. They have over $80 million in funding commitments.

Fundable does allow equity crowdfunding campaigns. Also, they charge $179 per month to raise funds. Fees on rewards are: 3.5% + 30¢ per transaction. They do not charge success fees.

Fundly

Fundly allows for crowdfunding for creative ventures. If your business has a creative lean, this might work for you.

There is no minimum amount to fundraise or to keep money you raise. You can usually withdraw payments within 24 – 48 hours of the donation. In addition, they offer automatic transfers. It is free to create and share an online fundraising campaign.

Yet, Fundly will deduct a 4.9% fee from each donation you get. A credit card processing fee of 3% is also taken out from each donation. Also, there are nonspecific automatic discounts for larger campaigns.

Tips for a Winning Campaign

There is no such thing as guaranteed success.  These steps can help make sure you give yourself the best chance possible when it comes to fundraising through crowdfunding. 

Research

You have to know your market and what demand looks like.  The only way to find that out is to research. Figure out how much money you actually need before you set your goal. Lots of business owners have started crowdfunding campaigns only to find the demand isn’t there or their goal fell short of the actual need.

Make a Prototype

Truly, you have to have a sample to show investors. It’s important. People are almost always more likely to let go of money if they can see something tangible. This is so vital that Kickstarter actually requires you to have a prototype to show potential investors

Think About Which Platform You Should Choose

Once you know who your target audience is, you can determine if you would be best served by Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or another, lesser known platform. If your audience doesn’t use the platform you are on, it won’t matter how great your idea or product is. They’ll never see it.

Credit Line Hybrid Financing:  Get up to $150,000 in financing so your business can thrive.

Give Good Stuff!

This is huge.  Don’t make promises you can’t keep, and don’t give away the company. Still, if someone one is going to help you get started, they deserve something amazing.  Offer more than a thank you note. Be bold with what you offer as a reward for their support, without harming your success.

Goal Setting is a Must

Setting goals you can reach is necessary to success. Make certain you look at the numbers in relation to actual facts before you set a fundraising goal. Be certain you have production facilities on the line that can meet the timeline goals. Do not randomly set goals with no clue what it will take to reach them. 

Marketing Matters

You can’t just throw any old campaign together. If you create a video, it needs to be professionally edited. Any social media should be specifically targeted toward your audience. If they are a techy audience, pull out all the tech stops.  If they are an older crew, they may need less fanfare and a more straightforward approach.  The fact that videos work well reigns pretty much across audience lines however, so definitely consider a video. 

Is Reward Based Crowdfunding for Your Business? 

The answer is, it depends.  It is worth a shot for many businesses, but for sure it should not be counted on as a total funding solution.  There are some campaigns that raise all the money they need, but that is usually the exception rather than the rule.  Most have to explore other funding options as well.  However, you will have a much higher chance of success if you choose the right type of crowdfunding, the right platform, and the perfect marketing plan for your specific business.

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