7 Reasons Why You Should Spend More Time on Instagram

With 800 million users, Instagram is a social media powerhouse to start using in your business or step up your strategy to make the platform a goal-reaching tool..

In recent years, many small business owners have turned to Instagram to make use of the popular social media channel (including us!) and have found it an authentic, enjoyable avenue to reach prospective customers and attract new followers.

Now more than half of users have learned about a product or service on Instagram, and 75 percent of users have actually taken action based on Instagram advertising.

You can reap the benefits of Instagram, like many other business owners, and your industry and business model are likely ideal for the platform. In fact, recommending Instagram is a regular first step when we begin working with new clients.

If these statistics aren’t enough to convince you to spend more time on Instagram for business, take note of these seven advantages to operating on the channel.

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15 Tools We Love: How to Save Time and Automate Your Business

Time is a precious resource for us business owners. It’s often the victim of never-ending to-do lists, which start with the best intentions in place, but become flooded with tasks to field incoming emails, engage with social media followers, and keep serving clients and customers.

Enter tools, apps, programs—platforms that streamline processes and unleash more of your time, letting you focus on big-picture goals and operate more efficiently.

As 2017 comes to a close, we are busy identifying opportunities within our work to simplify, automate, and scale in 2018.

Taking time to vet tools and set up the selected ones can take up your valuable time, so today we’re sharing the systems and services we turn to regularly to work smarter and ease workloads.

These 15 tools make our lives as business owners easier each and every day.

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How to Plan Blog Content That Attracts Ideal Customers

When it comes to blogging for your business, there are plenty of questions that can cast doubt and stop you right in your tracks.

What should I write next?
Will this post engage my ideal customers?
How can I turn my blog into a lead-generation tool?

We hear these questions often, and while they can be common occurrences in the continual effort required to market a small business, they shouldn’t become a roadblock to publishing content and turning your blog into a tool to grow your business.

When these worries come up, it’s usually a sign that the strategy side of your blog could use some strengthening. Working on the plan behind your blog—getting to know your ideal customer(s), honing in on the value you can offer, positioning yourself as a go-to resource in your field—eliminates doubtful questions from popping up again and again. Instead of a mile-long list of questions dragging your blog efforts down, you have a thoughtful, goal-oriented blueprint to guide you confidently along the necessary steps to build a flourishing blog.

One of the key help-you-kick-fear-to-the-curb blog plan components? Content themes.

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Blog and Social Media Coaching for Small Business Owners

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Are you gaining traction for your business with social media? How about your blog?

These marketing outlets are wise, and even necessary, tools to put to use for your brand, but not enough small business owners see real results from them.

Managing social media channels and publishing blog posts takes up time and energy. As a business owner, your time is incredibly valuable, and resources aren’t always readily available. Putting effort into social media and a blog takes away from other priorities, and without seeing audience activity or new clients as a result, it can be discouraging to focus more attention there. But, on the other hand, how do you grow those areas of your marketing pipeline, and see the success you know can happen, without making them a priority?

It’s a chicken-and-egg dilemma, and one that we’re focused on solving for small business owners, which is why we’ve launched a new marketing coaching program. With specific blog or social media tracks, this coaching is designed to prevent the wasted-time predicament and turn the tables so small business owners can receive the opportunities that arise from effective, value-focused social media and blog presences.

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5 Signs It’s Time for a Website Redesign

In the digital world, your website is your welcome mat for prospective customers.

How are you greeting them?

Are you a welcoming, prepared host ready to usher guests in and guide them through their stay? Or are you scrambling, piecing together a lackluster plan that underwhelms?

Consider this: You have eight seconds to capture your website visitors’ attention. That’s all. So it’s your job to wow them fast, wherever they happen to land on your site, putting your best foot forward to make a memorable impression.

This responsibility (it takes some work to wow) may sound daunting, but it’s made easier by prioritizing work in your business, including understanding your brand’s why; having creative, engaging branding; and creating a killer content marketing plan. There’s a lot of backend work in websites, but each component should work together to showcase a polished presentation of your brand.

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How to Start with Social Media for Business

There’s a social media barrier in the business world.

One side accounts for the brands that seem to have their act together perfectly. They post regularly. Their content sticks out; it enlightens, draws people in, and spreads value. They have an impressive following with oodles of engagement per post. Their photos are on brand and anything but amateur.

On the flip side are the ‘small’ guys stuck on how to break out, grow, and make a name for themselves on social. Followers and engagement aren’t flowing in as preferred, and measuring up to the perfection (but let’s be honest, no one and no brand is perfect) seems insurmountable.

Does the second side sound familiar? If so, listen in. It’s time we share one of the secrets to social media success and prep you with the steps to get started the right way.

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SXSW 2017: Our Top Marketing Takeaway

The Illuminated leadership team took on Austin for SXSW Interactive this year, learning from industry leaders in marketing, social media, and development, attending startup-focused events and pitch competitions, and meeting with entrepreneurs and business owners from around the world.

We headed home to Des Moines with many takeaways, but why keep them all to ourselves? We’re sharing our top marketing insight so you can benefit, too.

It’s Katelyn here. As Illuminated’s director of marketing, I focused much of my session time on marketing, social media, and branding. Out of all of the expert speakers and thought-provoking content I experienced in my week at SXSW, this phrase stood out:

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Introducing IT Consulting for Businesses

Taking a guess, you probably didn’t start your company or join a small business because you wanted to manage your own IT needs. Right?

But the reality is, navigating tech issues and decisions is unavoidable in a lean team.

For example, are you sick of housing and paying for servers but don’t know how to utilize the cloud? Or in need of an email system upgrade but burnt out from the research involved in finding your best fit? How about tired of wasting valuable time trying to reach technical support?

Without an IT professional on staff, tasks such as switching to the cloud, transitioning to a different email system, or seeking tech solutions can be time-intensive and frustrating. But it doesn’t have to be.

Our newest service, IT consulting, allows you to have an IT team within reach at all times, without having to hire and train another team member. Instead, our tech-savvy team can set you up with the right tools, manage your IT needs, and be just a call or email away when issues arise.

What can our IT team do for your business?

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Why You Should Build an Email List for Your Business

With so many marketing efforts to pour your time and resources into, has email made it into your strategy?

If not, it’s time to think again.

While growing a separate audience for your brand can feel repetitive, with the same attention often taken for social media, it’s important to realize that your email list is one of the only things you have control over.

Social media algorithms and best practices change constantly, so having a solid audience with access to their inboxes is gold.

If you’re not convinced about the power of email marketing yet, consider the benefits businesses that buy in are experiencing.

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