Author: Kenneth White
Disclosure: This content is reader-supported, which means if you click on some of our links that we may earn a commission.
Companies exchange private information with clients and customers all the time. If even one document falls into the wrong hands, they could lose a great relationship in an instant.
Everyone I work with uses document management software, and you should too. Once you get started, you’ll see that it gives you tons of advantages beyond security.
Whether you are trying to go green, stay organized, build great looking newsletters, or meet the most stringent regulations, document management software can make a hard process much easier.
The key is finding the right one for your specific needs. I’ve put together a list of my top five document management solutions—let’s talk about why they are valuable and how they can help.
The Top 5 Options for Document Management Software
- DocSend – Best for sales engagement
- FileCenter DMS – Best for going paperless
- PandaDoc – Best for closing more deals
- Rubex by eFileCabinet – Best for automating daily tasks
- MasterControl – Best for enterprise compliance
How to Choose the Best Document Management Software for You
Estimates, proposals, contracts, invoices—documents are the base layer of every business relationship.
The easier it is to manage documents, the easier it’s going to be to manage these relationships.
Document management software can do a lot to help you stay organized and efficient. Let’s look at some of the features that can have a huge impact.
Scanning and Imaging
Digitizing documents is a pain without the right product. In fact, going paperless is one of the key reasons people get document management software.
It turns a really inefficient workflow into a streamlined process with tools to identify, sort, tag, and store all kinds of file types.
Some products come with optical character recognition (OCR) which translates the printed words into digital text. This means that any document you scan can be searched. Pretty slick, right?
Document Security Features
A lot of these tools increase the control people have over documents, even after they have been shared.
Some of the features I really like are:
- Password protection
- Flexible view, comment, and edit permissions
- Document expiry
- Restricted use
It’s really nice to be able to send a document knowing that it can’t be shared, altered, or printed. This is a huge step forward for businesses that lose all control once they have sent a document.
Document Engagement Metrics
At a glance, I know exactly who has read a proposal and how much time they spent on each page. Microsoft Word won’t tell you that.
For sales, this is an information gold mine. Or, if you are trying to raise funds, this is insight into who is actually interested that is easily gleaned.
I find these metrics ultra-valuable. There’s definitely a reason more and more document management solutions are adding these features.
Making great looking, on-brand, up-to-date content of any kind is hard. Document management software takes all the formatting and presentation legwork out of the equation.
There are templates for all kinds of use cases, helping you quickly build proposals and newsletters that look phenomenal, automatically optimized for both web and mobile.
Some products have a visual document builder. Drag and drop your way to a show-stopping proposal that includes videos, or draw up the perfect contract with a signable field.
Design legal documents with confidence, no law degree necessary.
It’s really nice when a document management solution connects to your CRM software and autofills templates with customer information. Get a proposal in a lead’s inbox before the first call is over.
Logging and Versioning
As you might expect, good document management software keeps a careful record of events.
This is important for collaboration. People always know that they are working on the latest version of the same document. This avoids needless time lost due to redundant actions and confusion.
Plus, with prior versions logged, changes to documents can be examined and the original can be restored if something bad happens.
For companies that are subject to lots of regulations, document management software provides helpful audit trails and additional compliance features.
eSignature and Payment Gateway
I really like having an electronic signature solution built into my document management platform. It removes a needless hurdle between my customers and my service.
Closing a deal is hard enough. I don’t want to have to fret about how to get a signature.
Plus, I’m not asking a potential customer to sign up for a third-party signature service. It’s all in-house and frictionless.
The same is true of connecting a payment gateway. It’s always a good idea to streamline the process of getting paid. I mean, look at Amazon. You can pay with one click from practically anywhere on their site. Not an accident.
An eSignature solution and payment gateway really go hand-in-hand. Integrations with PayPal and Stripe allow you to get both signature and payment in a single step.
Can the same be said about the products that you use?
However your eSignature and payment gateway connect, find a document management solution that makes the basic stuff a breeze.
The Different Types of Document Management Software
There’s a lot of overlap between the two main types of document management software. Every product is going to help you track, sort, and find your documents faster.
That said, they’re focused on different problems that companies face.
Some businesses are looking for a solution that helps them move their documents to the cloud. By digitizing their paper archives and records, these companies can finally preserve and organize all their information in a searchable format.
Others need a tool that lets them create and manage documents of every kind. These tools come with features that enable internal collaboration as well as secure client-side sharing.
The first step for finding the right document management software for you is deciding which of these categories best fits your needs.
Document Imaging Systems
One of the major tasks for traditional document management software is scanning and imaging paper files.
Whether companies are going paperless or interfacing with vendors that still use hard copies, document imaging systems quickly create high-fidelity digital documents.
These products are going to come with two main features.
One, they should have fairly well-developed OCR capabilities. Being able to recognize text, document imaging systems with OCR can automate the process of recognizing, naming, and filing all your important paperwork.
The second thing they do is provide an interface to organize your documents once they have been digitized. This may be a built-in interface or the software can connect with a storage system you already use, like Google Drive.
Document Management Systems
A document management system (DMS) provides the functionality businesses need to stay in control of all their important paperwork.
This includes some document imaging capabilities as well as really well-developed tools for searching, tracking, organizing, and sharing all kinds of file types.
The truth is that the file/folder system of something like Windows is just not sufficient for the real-time needs of most businesses.
For one thing, they are not able to create the documents they need, like PDFs with signable fields or emails that track customer engagement.
On top of that, staying organized with traditional file systems gets really tricky during periods of growth. Documents can get lost, shared incorrectly, or walk out the door with a former employee. Then there’s nothing you can do.
With a DMS, you retain control. Beyond that, these tools take over a lot of the busywork. Documents are stored in known locations, easy to find when they are misplaced, and always available to anyone who needs them.
Documents are also always automatically updated to their latest version, even if multiple people are working on them at the same time.
There is still a lot of variety within the DMS product category. What you are looking for is something that is focused on delivering the capabilities you need.
Some DMS solutions are built for sales teams, some for automating administrative tasks, and others are tailor-made for companies facing strict compliance requirements.
Find one that’s good at what you need it to be.
#1 – DocSend — Best For Sales Engagement
DocSend is a turnkey document management solution that provides great information about how people interact with the files you share.
Once your documents are uploaded to DocSend—which integrates with all the top storage platforms—you can share secure links.
No more attachments, no more asking leads to download monster files, and no more getting stuck in a client’s spam folder.
Whenever someone views a link you’ve shared, you’ll get a notification and the ability to track how they engaged with the document. See whether they forwarded your document and get page-by-page analytics that show you where they spent the most time.
What’s really holding the customer’s attention? Now you know.
These insights can be really valuable for figuring out what’s really connecting with each customer.
Another nice feature is the ability to create Spaces. You can get all of your sales material in one place and use flexible permissions to let different customers engage with the right files.
Whenever you share a document, you can set passcodes, expiry dates, and later revoke access.
There are obvious uses for all of these features in sales, but DocSend will work wonders for organizations that need rich engagement metrics. I’m thinking fundraising and marketing, really anyone who benefits from being able to gauge readers’ interest level in their documents.
With DocSend, you also get:
- Branded spaces and deal rooms
- Signable documents
- Team engagement reporting
- Audit trails
- One-click NDA
This last feature, in particular, is super helpful for sharing sales materials. Make it so all viewers have to sign a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) before accessing a document, even if someone else forwarded it to them.
Increase the security of your intellectual property and eliminate the back-and-forth of traditional NDA signing.
DocSend is available with an annual subscription at the following pricing tiers:
- Personal: $10/month per user
- Standard: $45month per user
- Advanced: $150/month per user
- Enterprise: Contact sales
The Personal plan is great for entrepreneurs who need to share secure information with total peace of mind. They also get great document-level analytics to know what people are doing with proposals.
The Standard plan will work well for any business and Advanced will satisfy the most comprehensive compliance requirements.
There’s a 14-day free trial with DocSend, which will let you test drive all the premium features.
#2 – FileCenter DMS — Best for Going Paperless
FileCenter DMS is so far ahead of the game in terms of helping companies get out of the file cabinet and into the future.
First of all, it has a great interface for staying organized throughout the biggest jobs. You can divide and label information easily, even automating document separation and routing.
The interface will be super approachable to anyone who has used Windows before. Navigating your documents is the same, but you get all sorts of amazing powers because of the advanced optical character recognition (OCR) features.
The text recognition is so good with FileCenter DMS, that you can automatically make OCR part of the digitization process. As a scan comes in, FileCenter can read the text and name the document automatically.
Scanning a document makes it searchable, indexable, and copyable. Instantly. You can also use OCR on existing scans.
And how about this? You can scan a document and turn it into a Word doc with one click. FileCenter extracts the text, pushes it to Word, and voilà!
It should be pretty clear how FileCenter DMS can supercharge your efforts to digitize your entire workplace. On top of the best-in-breed text recognition, they offer:
- Inbox for incoming files
- Integrations with Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.
- Automatic page cleanup
- One-click PDF conversion
- Local and network search
- File recovery
FileCenter DMS is a one-time purchase, downloaded to a single computer. There are three different editions:
- FileCenter DMS Standard: $99.95
- FileCenter DMS Pro: $199.95
- FileCenter DMS Pro Plus: $299.95
Compared to many of the top SaaS document management solutions, the fact you only have to pay once for FileCenter DMS is very alluring. And, if you need more than one license, FileCenter offers multi-user discounts.
If you are looking for a way to digitize documents with no learning curve, look no further.
#3 – PandaDoc — Best for Closing More Deals
PandaDoc is a wonderful document management solution that also will help your sales team build more appealing, on-brand content in less time. It really feels like a secret weapon.
Create a proposal, contract, or estimate from one of your templates in seconds. Literally whip one up while a rep is on the phone, send the secure document, and clients can sign before hanging up.
Think of PandaDoc as a smarter workspace for sales professionals. Creating the templates themselves is quite easy. Add blocks like text fields, dates, signatures, pricing tables, videos, and other content with a drag-and-drop interface.
Don’t want to design your own template? No worries—PandaDoc supplies 450 templates prebuilt for a variety of scenarios.
PandaDoc has native integrations with CRMs like Salesforce, HubSpot, and Pipedrive that tie right into your workspace. Through this, customer and pricing info can get pulled over automatically.
You can also add optional products at the end of an invoice for an extra upsell opportunity.
There are a number of other handy features that streamline the sales process, including:
- Simple workflow builder
- Content locking
- Document activity tracking
- Audit trail
- eSignature and payment gateway
PandaDoc offers a free tier, which gives you unlimited document uploads, eSignatures, and payments. Pretty nifty, right?
If you want to create smart, trackable documents, you’ll have to go with one of the paid plans:
- Essentials: $19/month per user
- Business: $49/month per user
- Enterprise: Contact sales
With Business, you get direct CRM integration, which I think is definitely worth it. Try PandaDoc free for 14 days to evaluate how much of an impact it can have.
#4 – Rubex by eFileCabinet — Best for Automating Daily Tasks
Rubex is the document management solution from eFileCabinet that is helping companies streamline their operations. From frictionless hiring to lightning-quick data entry, tasks that used to be error-prone become flawless.
The intuitive interface centralizes all of your documents in a single place. From there, employees can search the full text of any document that has been scanned.
With zonal OCR, Rubex can be set to recognize key zones of text, automatically naming the file.
Documents literally file themselves!
As good as the search, tracking, and text recognition features are, it is the ability to automate simple workflows that sets Rubex apart.
Set triggers to push the paperwork through based on rejections, approvals, and other variables, so people are spending less time on repetitive tasks.
It’s a really mature document management solution, but it takes no time to figure out. Some of the other great features that save time and frustration include:
- eSignature integration
- File versioning
- Audit logging
- Missing item search
- Automated governance
- Direct integration with Microsoft OneDrive and Google Drive
The pricing for Rubex by eFileCabinet is broken into three tiers:
- Advantage: Starting at $55/month per user
- Business: Starting at $99/month per user
- Unlimited: Starting at $199/month per user
Full-text search, OCR, and many of the automated governance features come with all plans. The zonal OCR and advanced workflow features are only available with Unlimited subscriptions, or as an add-on with Business.
That said, Advantage comes loaded with lots of features to help teams stay organized. If you are looking to centralize your document management, Advantage will work as well or better than many of the other options on this list.
#5 – MasterControl — Best For Enterprise Compliance
MasterControl is full-service document management software that can handle any law or regulation.
Think about medical device manufacturers, just one example of a business that relies on MasterControl.
Believe it or not, there’s a wee bit of secure documentation that goes into convincing the US government that an artificial hip is safe to put inside people.
MasterControl provides the document trail, security, and compliance features to keep companies in the clear throughout the most rigorous audit processes.
Their document security module is one part of a larger MasterControl quality management system and, depending on your needs, it may be wise to purchase some of the other modules.
For companies that operate in competitive and highly-regulated markets, a lighter document management solution is not going to have all of the tools necessary to speed a product to market.
MasterControl is purpose-built for this reason, and comes with:
- Continuous validation for FDA compliance
- ISO quality compliance
- Secure web-based routing
- Automated escalation and approval
- Advanced tracking, analytics and reporting
You’ll have to get in touch with MasterControl to get a price for what the document management module will cost you.
MasterControl is not for everyone, but for enterprise compliance you’d be hard pressed to find a more fitting solution to your needs.
Managing your documents doesn’t have to be a problem. With so many great options out there, the question is which will work best for your situation?
In terms of digitizing documents quickly, FileCenter DMS is the obvious choice. It has the most comprehensive text recognition capabilities at an affordable price.
I really like DocSend and PandaDoc for sales teams. DocSend has deep engagement features that will feed insight to reps about who is interested.
Choose PandaDoc if you are looking to give your teams a visual edge, as you will be able to create professional, on-brand documents at a moment’s notice.
If you are looking to automate your document workflows, I suggest Rubex by eFileCabinet. Quickly build elegant solutions to cut down on the lag time for every process.
For companies that need to keep firm control over the document lifecycle because of regulatory requirements, MasterControl is the answer. It is built to handle the most complex demands, helping companies bring products to market without a needless delay.
Do you love trying new things and don’t mind sharing your honest opinion about them? Then you can get paid to write reviews online.
It’s as simple as it sounds.
Though there are lots of things you need to consider when you start writing reviews like being honest with your answers and signing up with legit websites, making money writing reviews is a pretty easy job.
Tips to get paid to write reviews
- Always sign up with legit companies that have been around for a while.
- Make sure you understand the process of the gig and how you will get paid.
- Like surveys, it’s always better to have a separate email for this gig, which will make it easier for you to start the job as soon as possible.
- Some of the gigs pay very little, and some pay well. It totally depends on you to understand the compensation terms before you take the job.
- Write detailed reviews and include pros and cons about the products. A good review is something that is unbiased and clear.
Here are some good websites where you can get paid to write reviews:
I have personally tried PINCHme and love it. Talk about getting free products just for your reviews. Awesome, right?!
Though this site does not pay you for reviews, you can get free samples every week by choosing them online. If you are interested in getting free stuff, then sign up with PINCHme and get new products delivered every week. Providing honest and detailed reviews is required if you want to keep getting the free stuff.
If you think Swagbucks is only for surveys, think again. You can earn extra money with Swagbucks by playing games, watching videos, shopping, and doing occasional product testing gigs. You can take surveys about products and share your reviews or sign up for Swagbucks Discover. Swagbucks Discover is a great way to choose product testing opportunities and write honest reviews about the products. It’s a double win because you can earn Swagbucks (which can be redeemed for gift cards) and test the products for free.
With Socialix you can get paid or be rewarded with free products for your detailed reviews. It’s an influencer marketing platform that helps you get free products or make money for your social media reviews. You need to have a minimum of 5,000 followers on any social media channel to join this website. This is a fun way to get paid to write reviews if you are active on your social media platforms.
Influence Central is another influencer marketing platform that pays you to use your social media following. It works a lot like Socialix, where you sign up to collaborate with brands and get paid to give unbiased reviews about products and services.
With over 10,000 influencers and niches like food, lifestyle, fashion, kids, etc., you can surely find a brand you’d love to work with.
There isn’t a more fun job than listening to music and getting paid for it. Slicethepie is where you can listen to new soundtracks from up-and-coming artists and get paid to review them. This helps them to improve their work and make it better before it is released in the market.
How much you earn depends on the track and your review. If you are interested, you can sign up for Slicethepie here.
Vindale Research is a survey panel with regular product research surveys, where you get paid for sharing your reviews. The pay can go up to $50 per survey, depending on the product. The bonus is you get to keep the products as well. That’s a win-win.
Vindale is one of the best places to sign up if you want to get paid to write reviews.
Qmee is a comparison app where you can search and compare prices of your favorite brands. This is a great money-saving tool, and it also has many survey opportunities for its users. You can share your product reviews in the surveys and get paid for them.
Apart from the surveys, Qmee also gives you a chance to earn money via web searching and cash back offers.
Sign up and download Qmee if you love to save money and share your thoughts on brands.
Another site that offers free products for your reviews is Smiley360. With over one million Smiley members, this site is legit and offers many product review opportunities.
Once you sign up and become a member, you get Smiley missions to test and share your feedback about the products with your friends, family, and followers.
Review Stream works differently than other product review sites. The basic premise is to write detailed and helpful reviews because you get paid if your reviews are voted for. You can write a review on anything like books, movies, consumer products, general services, etc. If your review receives votes, you get paid. Though the pay is low (10 cents per vote), it adds up as you can review a lot of products.
Review Stream is not a scam, but I have seen some mixed reviews about this site on the web.
With Valued Voice, you can write paid reviews on your social media channels collaborating with brands. This is a great way to leverage your social media following and help others decide about different brands. Apart from social media, you can also share paid reviews on your blog.
Some alternatives to paid reviews
If you are interested in sharing your opinion/researching stuff, then below are some fun alternatives to getting paid to write reviews.
If you like to dig deep and research things and write about them, become an Ask Wonder member. You can sign up, take a test, and start getting paid for writing detailed answers to questions. Writing detailed content and doing thorough research is the key to being a good research assistant with Ask Wonder.
The average pay can range from $8 to $35 per hour, depending on the questions.
Online surveys are a great way to share your feedback about products and make extra money. Choosing the best survey sites and doing surveys while you do other tasks makes it a worthwhile way to earn money. Some of the most recommended survey websites are InboxDollars, MyPoints, and Survey Junkie. Sign up and start taking surveys to share your views about products and services.
Sharing your views about products can reward you in many ways, and it can help other consumers to make better decisions. Writing paid reviews can be a great addition to your extra income gigs while also testing new products and services. Are you ready to get paid for your opinions?
The post 10 Easy & Legit Ways to Get Paid to Write Reviews in 2021 appeared first on Crowd Work News.
Inventory loans are short term loans that business owners can use to purchase inventory. The inventory is the security for the loan. By taking out this type of loan, a business can stay ahead of demand. It also allows for taking advantage of special pricing, thus increasing profit.
Inventory Loans are Not Always a Sure Thing
Investopedia defines inventory financing as:
“… a revolving line of credit or a short-term loan that is acquired by a company so it can purchase products for sale later. The products serve as the collateral for the loan.”
These types of loans are a type of inventory financing. Seeing as these are, at their core, secured loans, it stands to reason that they are easier to get than unsecured loans. However, that is not always the case.
Why Inventory Loans are Hard to Get
The idea of inventory as collateral for the financing used to buy it sounds simple enough. However, after the hard economic downturn of 2008, lenders are much stingier with this type of small business financing. During that time, it was painfully evident that, if your loan was secured by non-staple items, there was about to be trouble.
Non-necessities do not sell well in a recession. If you can’t sell, the bank cannot either. That means the security is pretty much worthless.
Another issue is that inventory depreciates. As security, it’s basically on the clock. If it depreciates to the point of not being worth the amount of the loan, it is worthless as security. There is also the idea that it may be a fad that is going to quickly go out of style, also not selling.
These are just a few of the reasons lenders are reluctant to approve loans secured by inventory. Typically, they approve these types of loans on a case by case basis, taking all of these factors into account. Even when they grant approval, it is typically for only around 50% of the cost.
Learn more here and get started with building business credit with your company’s EIN and not your SSN.
Ways to Use Inventory Loans
There are some things you can purchase with inventory loans that may surprise you. For example:
- If you run a dining establishment, you can use inventory loans to buy flatware and linens in addition to food supplies.
- If you run a salon, you can use this type of financing for towels and supplies as well as items to sell.
- A clothing store may use the funds for shoes, accessories, and other items.
The point is, funds for these loans can purchase items that are not specifically inventory in terms of things that you sell to the public. They can also purchase supplies for any services you may offer.
Other Options for Inventory Loans
How do you fill in the gap for the other 50% of inventory costs? Further, how can you finance inventory if you cannot get any type of funding at all? There are some other options.
Inventory Loans: Credit Line Hybrid
A credit line hybrid is essentially an unsecured line of credit. It allows you to fund your business without putting up collateral, and you only pay back what you use. The funds can be used for many things, including inventory financing.
It’s super easy to qualify. You need a personal credit score of at least 680, and you can’t have any liens, judgments, bankruptcies or late payments. Furthermore, in the past 6 months you should have less than 4 credit inquiries, and you should have less than a 45% balance on all business and personal credit cards. It’s also preferred that you have established business credit as well as personal credit.
I know, that doesn’t sound all that easy. Here’s the catch. If you do not meet all of the requirements, it’s okay. You can take on a credit partner that meets each of these requirements. Many business owners work with a friend or relative to fund their business. If a relative or a friend meets all of these requirements, they can partner with you to allow you to tap into their credit to access funding.
Credit Line Hybrid vs. Inventory Loans
There are many benefits to using a credit line hybrid. First, it is unsecured, meaning you do not have to have any collateral to put up. Next, this is no-doc funding. That means you do not have to provide any bank statements or financials.
In addition, typical approval is up to 5x that of the highest credit limit on the personal credit report. Often, you can get interest rates as low as 0% for the first few months, allowing you to put that savings back into your business.
Here is another benefit of the credit line hybrid. With the approval for multiple credit cards, competition is created. This makes it easier, and likely even if you handle the credit responsibly, that you can get interest rates lowered and limits raised every few months. The process is generally quick, especially with a qualified expert to walk you through it.
Inventory Loans: Alternative Lending
Alternative lenders generally operate online. They tend to reduce risk by increasing interest rates rather than relying completely on credit information. This means that they can be an option for those businesses and owners that either have bad credit or have not yet built strong enough credit to qualify for financing with traditional lenders. Here are a few options.
Fundbox offers a line of credit rather than a loan, but it is a great funding option because there is no minimum credit score requirement.
They offer an automated process that is super-fast. Repayments are automatic, meaning they draft them electronically, and they occur on a weekly basis. One thing to remember is that you could have a repayment as high as 5 to 7% of the amount you have drawn currently, as the repayment period is comparatively short. This means you need to be sure you have enough funds in whatever account you connect them to so that it can cover your payment each week.
Learn more here and get started with building business credit with your company’s EIN and not your SSN.
Upstart is an online lender that uses a completely innovative platform for loans. The company itself questions the ability of financial information and FICO on their own to truly determine the risk of lending to a specific borrower. They choose to use a combination of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to gather alternative data instead. They then use this data to help them make credit decisions.
This alternative data can include such things as mobile phone bills, rent, deposits, withdrawals, and even other information less directly tied to finances. The software they use learns and improves on its own. You can use their online quote tool to play with different amounts and terms to see the various interest rate possibilities. Typically, business loans are available up to $50,000. Interest rates vary greatly, ranging from 7.5% to 35.99%. Repayment terms can be either 3 -year or 5-year.
Founded in 2008 by college roommates, online lender Fora Financial now funds more than $1.3 million in working capital around the United States. There is no minimum credit score, and there is an early repayment discount if you qualify.
Obtaining financing from OnDeck is quick and easy. First, you apply online and receive your decision once application processing is complete. If you receive approval, your loan funds will go directly to your bank account.
Offering term loans of up to $1 million, Bond Street terms are for up to 1 to 3 years. They will ask for both EIN and SSN.
Popular online lender Lending Club offers term loans. Business loans go up to $300,000 and terms from 1 to 5 years are available.
Quarter Spot is an online lender that offers short term loans up to $150,000. The terms are 9 to 18 months.
Rapid Advance offers standard, select, and preferred loans. For standard loans, amounts up to $1 million are available. Their terms are 4 to 12 months.
Kiva is an online lender that is a little different. For example, the interest rate is 0%, so even though you have to pay it back it is absolutely free money. They don’t even check your credit. However, there is one catch. You have to get at least 5 family members or friends to invest in your business. In addition, you have to give a $25 loan to another business on the platform. It’s like a crowdfunding, 0% interest loan.
If your personal credit is okay, Accion may be a good fit for inventory financing. It is a microlender, a nonprofit, that offers installment loans to both startups and already existing businesses. You don’t have to already be in business, but if you are not, you must have less than $500 in past due debt. In addition, your business needs to be home or incubator based.
Credibly is also a good option if you are already generating some revenue. They offer short term loans for both business expansion and working capital.
Details related to loan amounts, eligibility requirements, and interest rates change frequently, so it’s best to get that information from the lender’s website directly. However, many of these either do not check credit or will work with a credit score of less than 600. Though interest rates are higher than with traditional lenders, they often offer options where there seem to be none.
Inventory Loans: Credit Cards
In a pinch, you can handle inventory financing with credit cards. If you pay attention, you can get good introductory rates and rewards. However, you have to pay attention so you don’t get stuck with high rates once the introductory rates are over. A better bet is the credit line hybrid, because you can take advantage of all the benefits with an expert to walk you through the process and make sure nothing is missed.
Inventory Loans: Merchant Cash Advance
In some situations, this can be an option for inventory financing. This is how it works. If you take credit card payments, you can get financing based on the average of daily credit cards sales. Then, payment is taken from future sales.
The thing is, if you are in a recession, credit cards sales may not be that great, and future sales may not be solid. However, it is an option that bears mentioning.
Learn more here and get started with building business credit with your company’s EIN and not your SSN.
Inventory Loans: Are They Right for Your Business?
The fact is, every business is likely to need some type of inventory financing in the course of their business. The problem comes when lenders envision large amounts of inventory sitting in a warehouse not selling. If it’s not selling, then the business isn’t making money and the lender is not getting paid.
If you sell staples that are needed in most any type of economy, inventory loans can be a good option. With strong fundability, you may not have any issue getting loans secured by inventory. However, this is not the case with many businesses. A lot of business owners find their fundability is not up to par, and they didn’t even realize it. Couple that with the already unsure nature of getting approved for business loans, and it may be best to go with an alternative.
While alternative loans are a viable option, the first stop for most business owners should be the credit line hybrid. It is available to absolutely anyone. Even if your own credit is not great, the option to take on a credit partner can make this funding source an option for almost anyone.
The best part is, using the credit line hybrid helps to build the fundability of your business. This is because the experts that walk you through the process help ensure that, not only get the funds you need right now, but also that your business is set up and prepared to qualify for any type of funding you may need in the future.
All businesses need inventory funding. If inventory loans won’t work, there are other options.
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No doubt this is a hard time to grow a local business. Coronavirus has likely forced you to make big changes to the way you operate. It’s almost certainly hit your bottom line too. However, it’s still absolutely possible to grow your local business at a time like this. You just have to be smart …
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Surgical outperforms cloth, and an N95 is far superior to a bandanna.
Choosing the right Amazon marketing agency can be the difference between becoming a thriving seller on Amazon or one that flops.
Do you know why I say so?
A pool of more than 2.5 million sellers fights for the attention of Amazon’s customers. Out of this, only 10% generate annual sales of more than $100,000.
Only a few sellers make a great income on the platform.
Are you a seller struggling to attract buyers on Amazon? Would you like to increase your store’s reach and drive more revenues?
By partnering with a top Amazon marketing agency, you can improve the visibility of your store, reach more buyers, and drive sales.
Below, you’ll find my recommended steps on how to choose a top Amazon marketing company to grow your store business on the platform.
Know Your Goals and Desired Outcomes
A marketing agency won’t re-invent your store on Amazon.
They’ll work with you to achieve your goals and realize your business outcomes.
If you, the store owner, fail to define what those goals and outcomes are, how can a marketing agency perform magic and turn you into an overnight success on Amazon?
It doesn’t work that way.
To help you get started, let’s explore some scenarios when you should hire an Amazon marketing agency.
Example #1: Rank your products higher in Amazon search
I’ve already mentioned that Amazon has over 2.5 million sellers.
But that’s nothing close to the number of products vying for your potential customers attention and credit cards on the e-commerce site.
According to Retail Touchpoints, more than 353 million different products for sale on Amazon.
With so many stores and products, your store basically doesn’t exist unless it ranks well in Amazon’s search.
Let’s assume you sell belly button rings and someone goes on Amazon to search for it:
This search term alone produced over 96 different products on Amazon’s first search results page that included about 12 stores.
What if your store isn’t one of them?
Your goal should be to improve Amazon SEO.
The higher your rankings, the more visibility you have with Amazon’s customers. And more visibility equals more sales.
As you see in the screenshot above, an excellent way to achieve this is to ensure your store and product descriptions are optimized with relevant keywords.
Is this why you’re looking for an Amazon marketing agency?
Then, consider one with a battle-tested SEO-driven content marketing program, as both store and product descriptions are forms of well-targeted content creation.
Example #2: Promote your Amazon products on Amazon
Let’s keep using our belly button ring example.
This time, assume you’ve optimized your store and product descriptions, adhering to all Amazon SEO requirements.
Despite this, it’s possible to still have other sellers with similar products on Amazon rank higher than you. You can expect this because Amazon has several ranking factors.
For instance, see the first product listed for the belly button ring we searched earlier:
This product was promoted to the very first position on Amazon search results page. The store spent money to get their ad to the top of the list. It’s pay to play.
That’s why it has a “Sponsored” label.
This scenario shows that you can promote your products on Amazon to reach targeted buyers based on different criteria like search terms, locations, age range, etc.
If this is your goal, the outcome would be to skip the queue and reach potential buyers on Amazon.
Amazon has an entire ad network that you can now access. Like any ad network, it requires a ton of setup and lots of ongoing attention if you want to make a decent profit.
An Amazon marketing agency is ideal for this type of work. You already have your store and products, you just want an experienced team to run your ads for you.
Will an agency add to your total costs instead of running the ads yourself? Yes. But the ads will also perform a lot better. The agency will easily pay for itself.
So if you have either of these two goals, I highly recommend working with an Amazon marketing agency.
So, what characteristics should you look out for when choosing one?
6 Characteristics That Make a Great Amazon Marketing Agency
Below are six characteristics you’ll find in exceptional Amazon marketing agencies.
1. Demonstrated knowledge of the Amazon marketplace
Marketing your store and products on Amazon has its best practices.
It also has its dos and don’ts.
To determine if an Amazon marketing agency knows and puts them into practice, check if they have practical knowledge of how the Amazon marketplace works.
Exceptional Amazon agencies share these best practices in the form of how-to guides and training resources, showing how to drive more sales on Amazon:
2. A team of experts
Marketing, on its own, won’t do all the heavy lifting required to turn your Amazon store into a thriving business.
Other essential things like proper store setup, products’ listing optimization, brand-specific creatives, PPC management, and others must go into the equation.
And you won’t achieve all that with a one-person team.
Hence, a characteristic of great Amazon marketing agencies is that they work with a diverse team of experts.
3. A process for implementing their core service
In the agency world, a battle-tested process makes all the difference. It’s the only way to deliver reliable results with new clients.
Without a solid process, working with an agency is like rolling the dice. Sometimes it works, sometimes… it doesn’t.
Successful agencies will customize processes based on your unique needs but they should have a solid core with a proven track record.
For my team at Neil Patel Digital, we’ve developed a comprehensive program to help Amazon sellers drive traffic to their stores and product pages.
4. An impressive clients’ portfolio
Before you choose an agency, it’s important to examine who they’ve worked with in the past.
You’ll find this in their clients’ portfolio.
This is also a critical characteristic to check for, as it gives you a sense of the type of companies the agency typically works with.
Great Amazon marketing agencies take it one step by having an impressive portfolio of clients.
5. Great company culture
When choosing an agency, most people omit the company culture of an agency they want to partner with.
Working with an Amazon marketing agency is usually a long-term partnership. If your beliefs are not aligned, you face the possibility of running into problems in the future.
To avoid this, choose an agency with a great company culture with similar values as your own.
6. Customer testimonials
Before you choose an Amazon marketing agency, take a moment to look out for testimonials they’ve received from past and present clients.
This gives you an idea of what people think and feel about their services. It also helps you to see if what the agency offers is worth the fee.
How to Work With an Amazon Marketing Agency
Working with an Amazon marketing agency follows a series of steps. And you should adhere to them to ensure a smooth partnership.
For great agencies, expect go through the following steps:
1. You’ll fill an inquiry form
When you visit the agency’s website, the first step is to fill their inquiry or contact form.
There’s usually forms for basic information about your business.
It’s also the first opportunity to share what your needs are and how you want them to help you.
For any well-run agency, you should hear back from them within 24 hours. If it takes longer than that, proceed with caution.
2. Discovery session
Experienced Amazon marketing agencies will want to do a one-on-one consultation session.
You should expect this, as it gives you the opportunity to share your needs and talk directly with a marketing expert.
3. Research and strategic recommendations
No two business cases are 100% identical.
Great agencies take what you share with them from the first call and perform in depth research to come up with recommendations unique to your Amazon store.
Usually, a second call will get scheduled to go through everything.
4. A Proposal and contract
By going through the recommendations delivered to you by an agency, you’ll gain more clarity if working with them is a good fit.
Right after this, you’ll usually receive a proposal and contract that sets the terms for working together.
5. Official client onboarding
Project management plays a very essential role when working with an Amazon marketing agency.
To ensure both parties have an understanding of who does what and when, excellent agencies would take you through an official client onboarding process.
Over this process, you’ll get to know who is your account manager (the expert overseeing your project) and get a full scope of the project, deliverables, and timelines.
How to Find The Right Amazon Marketing Agency For You
So far, I’ve walked you through the characteristics and steps to working with an Amazon marketing agency.
But one question remains, how do you find an agency that is right for you?
The first step is to always know your goals.
The next step is to choose an agency with expertise in the area you need help with.
To help you, we profiled the top Amazon marketing companies and what they excel most at.
The 5 Top Amazon Marketing Agencies
#1 Neil Patel Digital — Best for Store and Product Content Marketing
With SEO-driven content marketing, you can score higher Amazon SEO points by optimizing your store and product descriptions.
In turn, your store and products will become more discoverable with higher rankings when potential customers search on Amazon, as you saw in the example above.
It’s been ages since you could get away with one good photo and a basic product description. These days, you need a host of professional photos, videos, optimized descriptions and titles, comparison tables, FAQs, and detailed descriptions that address every objection in the market.
This is a core part of the offering at Neil Patel Digital:
Companies from across the world, from startups to enterprise brands, trust Neil Patel Digital.
#2 Thrive Agency — Best for Amazon PPC
When potential buyers research products or services on Amazon, a whopping 64% of them don’t click beyond the 1st three results.
To get your store and products in those top positions, you may need to use sponsored posts on Amazon.
Another name for this is Amazon PPC.
Thrive Agency is a company with over a decade of experience in this area:
This company has over 150 five-star reviews across Google, Facebook, and Clutch with Amazon-specific case studies.
#3 Vertical Rail — Best for Amazon Account Management
Your Amazon store account health, product deactivations, shipping performance, intellectual property violations, and several others have a direct impact on how well your marketing performs on Amazon.
Vertical Rail is the agency I recommend to ensure you’re 100% compliant on Amazon and reach your marketing goals:
This agency has great case studies on how to run your Amazon store more efficiently.
#4 Voice SEO – Best for Amazon Echo and Voice Search Optimization
This trend could be the next big marketing opportunity. And with big marketing opportunities like this, you can make a bundle if you get in early.
Voice SEO is the agency you can turn to for this:
TopSEOs, an agency ranking domain, ranked Voice SEO as its number one company for voice search optimization, and they have accreditations to demonstrate their expertise.
#5 Voy Media – Best for Amazon Social Media Marketing
Most successful Amazon sellers turn to social media to engage their target audience with the ultimate goal of driving traffic to their store and product pages.
If you want to take advantage of social media to drive sales for your Amazon store, Voy Media is great for that:
This agency combines strategy and creativity to help Amazon sellers drive sales on Amazon via various social media platforms.
Do You Really Need to Hire An Amazon Marketing Agency?
Yes, and I’ll tell you why.
To give your business a chance, standout from the crowd, and get found on Amazon when potential customers search for things you sell, you’ll need marketing.
And that’s where hiring an Amazon marketing agency comes in.
Whether you want higher rankings or want to run profitable Amazon PPC ads, get an expert that knows what they’re doing. There’s too much competition on Amazon to do it all yourself.
In one 36-hour period, Amazon sold 100 million products. Chances are, Amazon ads spurred some of those sales.
Amazon ads allow companies to pop to the top of search results. You reap a return on your investment in the form of enhanced sales and potential customer loyalty. Amazon, in return, makes a profit on ad sales (to the tune of $3 billion in some years).
Creativity, including visual pizazz, is critical in the Amazon marketplace. Killer keyword strategies matter too.
I’ll walk you through Amazon ad setup best practices, so you’ll know just what to do to get your products flying off the shelves.
Why Your Business Should Use Amazon Ads
The average user spends less than 10 minutes on Amazon. If your product is buried low in search results, no one will see it.
People simply don’t have the time to read every product description or check out every brand. We have jobs and kids and life pulling on our attention. We need to make decisions quickly.
Think of Amazon ads as your go-to method for cutting into a long line and grabbing attention.
Jump from spot 10 (oblivion) to spot 1, and you could increase your Amazon sales. Your investment could ensure that busy shoppers find your products before they’re ready to sign out.
That could mean more products sold and higher revenue.
More than 80 percent of brands get a 4x return on investment for their work on Amazon. If it’s worked for others, it could work for you.
What Are the Amazon Ad Types?
Rather than patiently waiting for customers to find them, companies use Amazon ads to get seen right now.
Amazon ads come in several types.
Sponsored Product Amazon Ads
These ads highlight just one item in your catalog. They appear within search results, but they pop to the top of the page. Consumers see them before anything else. If the screen is small enough, sponsored product ads are all consumers will see.
Sponsored Brand Amazon Ads
These ads allow you to feature several items from your catalog. They show up at the top of Amazon search results in a banner.
Often, Sponsored Product and Sponsored Brand ads work together. Check out this search result for “baby care.” A sponsored brand banner for WaterWipes starts the page, but Seventh Generation has an ad down below.
Sponsored Display Amazon Ads
With these ads, you can feature just one product and appear on websites Amazon owns or has a relationship with.
If a pesky Amazon ad for a product languishing in your shopping cart seems to follow you from website to website, you’ve encountered a Sponsored Display ad.
They may seem annoying, but they can be remarkably effective. More than 70 percent of shoppers click on ads like this while browsing the web.
What’s the Difference Between Display and Other Amazon Ads?
Sponsored Brand and Sponsored Product ads both appear on Amazon. Search for something, and they’ll pop up. Sometimes, buyers see more than one at the same time.
Sponsored Display ads are different. They appear on other websites Amazon either owns outright or has an affiliation with.
For example, plenty of bloggers make money by renting ad space to Amazon. They plug products in blog posts with Amazon affiliate links, or they run ads alongside the text.
Any Amazon ad that appears on a blog like this is a Sponsored Display ad. If you’d love to reach consumers who don’t spend all day on Amazon, this could be a smart approach.
Other Amazon Ad Types
Some Amazon ads are easy to spot, like this brand ad for ASUS at the top of a category search for electronics.
Some ads look similar to organic search results. They’re only identified by the tiny word “sponsored” somewhere inside the ad.
Here’s the best part: Someone scrolling quickly may miss that tiny indication and assume your product is simply the best one available.
Amazon also allows you to place lockscreen ads on kindle e-readers and tablets. This is based on the users’ interests on Amazon and reading history on Kindle.
How to Create Amazon Ads
Whether you’re promoting a specific product or a suite of products, Amazon ad creation steps are mostly the same,
I’ll give you a very high-level overview of the ad-making process here. I’ll move quickly, but don’t worry. I’ll describe ad optimization in detail later in this article. This section works as a quick how-to for those who like to follow along while reading.
Check Your Eligibility
For any product you sell, you must complete a quick eligibility check before creating your ad. If you’re selling a product no one else offers (like a self-published book), this step is a snap. But if you’re selling something many others offer (like a brand-name antacid), verification might take longer.
Imagine you’re an Amazon shopper searching for a brand-name work shoe. You find the color and size you like, and you hit a page that looks like this. The critical part sits off to the right. Notice the “Add to Cart” and “Buy Now” buttons?
The vendor that owns the destination for the click owns the so-called “Buy Box.” This is also called “winning” the Buy Box. You must be that vendor to run a product ad.
If you’re winning the Buy Box, customers that hit “Add to Cart” on this page will buy from you. If you’re not winning this box, your competitor can run product ads, but you can’t.
If you’re the only vendor selling a product, you own the Buy Box by default, and you need to do no work at all. But if you’re in a crowded field, you’ll need to compete to win.
Keep your price low, always ship on time, and earn excellent reviews. Higher scores capture Amazon’s attention and make a Buy Box win more likely.
Log Into Amazon Ads Campaign Manager
Once you log onto Amazon Advertising, choose an ad type: Sponsored Products or Lockscreen Ads.
Remember that the Sponsored Product and Sponsored Display options allow you to promote just one product. If you’re ready to talk about an entire suite of items, choose the Sponsored Brand option.
Choose Your Products for Amazon Ads
Every promotion starts with a product. What items resonate with your audience? What products are clogging up your stockroom shelves? Take your time choosing the focal point for your ad.
Set Your Specifics
Now we’re into the nitty-gritty of ad development.
Your campaign will hold all of the ads for a specific product, and it needs a creative name. If you’re successful with Amazon ads, you’ll have dozens of campaigns running all at once. Choose a name you’ll remember.
Next, set a budget for your campaign. The number you choose represents the top-end of your monthly bill, so don’t select something you can’t afford.
Finally, determine the start and stop dates for your campaign.
Choose Your Targeting
You have two options here: manual and automatic. With automatic, you are asking Amazon to find buyers based on keywords scraped in your product listing, or type in keywords that should trigger your ad.
Keywords play a crucial role in Amazon, just as they do in Google.
Tips for Choosing Your Amazon Ad Target Keywords
Keywords are the terms people type into search boxes when looking for products just like yours. They’re critical to your success.
The ideal Amazon keyword has three main attributes:
- Moderately expensive
You probably know what words describe your product. If you’re using Google Ads, your reports tell you all about the terms consumers use to find you. If you’re running a website, Google Search Console has similar reports. Dig into that data to find the words that already work.
Popular, common keywords can be expensive. If you have a tight budget, and you can’t pay $5 per click for the keyword “best baby diaper,” but you can pay $2 for “great diapers,” your choice is clear.
Decide Amazon Ad Format
Amazon offers two formats. The first is custom, where you write concise product copy for the ad. You can only do this for one product per ad campaign.
Ad copy creation begins with ideal product descriptions. Your ad copy should describe one or two essential benefits, but know your shoppers will head to your page to find out more about why they should choose your product.
Ensure your ad copy and your product descriptions knit together to showcase your brand in the best light.
The other ad option is a standard ad. This is an ad without custom text, but your products’ titles and descriptions still play a role.
How to Optimize Your Amazon Ads
Blend your very best writing and photography into an irresistible, clickable morsel, and you’ve created an exceptional promotion.
Typically, ads are based on your Amazon product listing. Make your products as enticing as possible to ensure your ads work.
Your primary image options are restricted. Amazon requires that you showcase your product on a white background. You can’t include anything that doesn’t come standard with the product, and you can’t use flashy techniques to make the photo pop.
Focus on getting a crisp, clean shot of the product. Showcase features, if you can, get creative with camera angles to show off all the benefits, and make sure everything is in focus.
Taking exceptional e-commerce photos can be challenging. You want to showcase your creativity and photography skills, but rules and regulations limit you. Take your time with this step. Your photos can make or break a sale.
How Much Do Amazon Ads Cost?
Pricing structure involves interplay between three key factors: keywords, competition, and clicks.
- Keywords are the terms that describe your brand, your product, or both. You select them, or you allow Amazon to choose them for you.
- Competition refers to the number of companies or brands that also want your keyword. The more players, the higher the price.
- Clicks involve a user expressing interest in your brand.
You’ll set a bill ceiling, so you won’t keep racking up charges indefinitely. At some point, you’ll spend all the money you’ve agreed to spend. Automatic targeting, which uses keywords and product types to automatically determine where your ads appear. You can set bids based on a default or what Amazon recommends.
On average, companies spend between 50 cents and 1 dollar to nail down just one click. Amazon lets you set monthly budgets as low as $5. You can pause or cancel your ads too, and you won’t face cancellation fees.
Most advertisers keep lean Amazon ad budgets. They dedicate less than a quarter of their total annual ad budgets to Amazon.
People come to Amazon every day to find out more about products and brands just like yours.
You could let them try to find you organically, but crossing your fingers, closing your eyes, and hoping for clicks isn’t a winning strategy.
Instead, you must put your items in front of people. You have to get there before they spend their money.
I’m a big believer in Amazon ads. I hope I’ve made you a believer too.
Have you used Amazon ads before? How well did they work for you?
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