The 4 Things You Must Consider Before Outsourcing Payroll

November 28, 2016

As your company grows and payroll management becomes difficult and time-consuming, outsourcing your payroll process to an external vendor might seem like a solution. Most third-party payroll vendors help to take care of the nitty-gritty details of payroll – from calculating overtime hours and allowances, to taking into account legislative changes and amending the payroll calculations accordingly.

However, before you decide to outsource your payroll function, there are a few long-term results and consequences you must consider:

1) Losing control

When you enter a contractual agreement with an outsourced payroll vendor, you are bound by their terms and conditions. This means that they get to decide how to to store your employee and payroll data, as well as the services rendered to your organisation. Furthermore, the security of your company’s confidential and sensitive information now lies in their hands.

 

2) A bottleneck when accessing data

As your company’s data now resides on an external party’s server, this creates an additional layer of communication when you attempt to retrieve information. For one, your outsourced payroll vendor might charge you a service fee for extracting the data that you require. Secondly, they might not act as promptly as you require.

3) Lack of company familiarity and identity

In the absence of an in-house Payroll Manager, you will naturally point your employees to a client service agent in times of dispute. Depending on your service level agreement with the vendor, your employees may have to deal with a different client service representative each time. This is not ideal and may create frustration among your employees when they have to repeat their issues each time.

4) Higher cost

Not all the services provided by outsourced payroll vendors will be suitable for your size of company. At times, you might end up paying more than what you really need – budget that you will much rather spend on growing your business.

While outsourcing payroll management may sound like the easiest way to resolving your payroll woes, it is not the only solution. Instead, take time to do your due research and consider other options such as adopting payroll software. One such example is Gpayroll who provides a similar framework as an outsourced payroll vendor – end-to-end payroll processing software at an affordable price. Remember, make the right payroll decision that is the best fit for your company!

Also read: Our CEO’s favourite productivty tools:

This a guest contribution submitted by Gpayroll. The views expressed here are of the author’s, and Dragon Law may not necessarily subscribe to them. You, too, are invited to share your point of view. Learn more about guest blogging for Dragon Law here.

About Gpayroll

Gpayroll is an easy to use, self-run online payroll service that will redefine and revolutionize the payroll industry. Its intuitive and automated system will help business owners focus on their core business without the hassle of managing payroll. Follow on Facebook

Why Businesses That Don’t Do Offline Marketing Fail

November 25, 2016

Today, many eCommerce companies turn to online channels such as social media to promote their products and services. However, that’s not to say that traditional offline methods to increase brand awareness, user acquisition, retention, satisfaction, and conversions certainly have waned or died off. Successful entrepreneurs understand that they will be able to reap the best results by combining online and offline marketing strategies.

Related reading: 7 Online Marketing tips for your business

While a business may identify itself as online or offline, it is likely that it engages in cross-platform marketing efforts; be it promotional events, adverts in the magazines or papers, pamphlets, or business cards. How is offline marketing integral to a small business? The simple answer is that it’s the best method to start and maintain a local presence.

⚠️ A Website Privacy Policy required by law, even if you are just marketing and not selling goods or services online. Claim FREE Website Privacy Policy →

Have a storefront

It doesn’t have to be permanent. A pop-up shop at conventions, conferences or trade shows, at your school, a local mall, or even at farmers’ markets can act as an introduction point to your offering and provide first-hand experience for prospective customers. This first-hand experience might convince people who otherwise wouldn’t be interested to start using your product or service.

Read: Your most frequently asked questions at Tech in Asia 2016, answered

Along the way, depending on the nature of your business, you can offer meetups, workshops, and promotional events to attract new users as well as engage your existing customers. Online platforms such as Thestorefront.com let you search for spaces that work for your brand.

Have a geographic focus

Concentrate your offline marketing efforts on one or a few key cities. Flyers, postcards or brochures help your brand get noticed and create a good amount of initial buzz to support your go-to-market strategy in other geographies.

Determine where your loyal customers will be and the areas that are important to your acquisition efforts. It’s easiest to start local, getting your community to be involved in your project and letting them know what’s going on in their backyard.

Reinforce your brand

Marketing promotions that take place in real-life provide a high-touch interaction with your product and an opportunity to build relationships. On top of using your digital presence to promote offline campaigns, you must also use your physical presence to point to your online activities.

Turn your satisfied customers into brand ambassadors by giving away brand stickers that prominently feature your website and tagline. Make them attractive enough so that people would love to place them on their laptops, notebooks, or cars. Stickers can also double up as for packaging labels or seals.

Photo credit: Smart Insights

Integrate offline marketing with your online efforts

An example from Movember’s successful integrated campaign. Photo credit: Movember.

Social media is the most cost-effective bridge between your offline and online efforts. Every business is trying to go viral, and the best way to do so is by going online. For example, if you’re hosting a launch party, let your followers know through social media or e-mail newsletters.

Include a digital record of your brand’s offline presence to bridge customers back to your online activities. For customers who are not able to participate in the event, lure them in by engaging them through your online presence, perhaps through content from hashtags, a live stream or online promotions.

Measure ROI

Offline marketing efforts are most likely more costly than using online channels. That makes it imperative for you to keep track on the return on investment. You may not be selling a physical good so you can’t analyse ROI by looking directly at the sales revenue. But there are several ways you can track the results of your offline marketing campaign.

You can create a redirect domain and custom landing page for the event or promotion, or giving away a discount coupon or code so you can identify the customers you’ve reached through your campaign. These simple tracking strategies will aid you in measuring the ROI of the offline promotion.

Keep the conversation going

Keep a record of the connections you’ve made at an offline event. Don’t be shy to ask for name cards or other social details such as email addresses, as these will serve as leads. Whether or not the people you come across want or need your service now, invite them to follow you on social media to stay up to date with interesting events and offers.

To keep the conversation going, don’t miss the golden opportunity to include a call to action (CTA) on leaflets or pamphlets that you’re giving out. The CTA can be a Facebook like, or an incentive such as free downloads, an opportunity to network, or really, anything that’s free and easy to do on a mobile device.

The next step is to target and monitor them through social media or newsletters, and to get your newfound acquaintances to discuss the event online. Twitter chats and Facebook Q&As work well to keep the buzz going and allow more interested people to join the conversation. You can always ask your audience questions via social media to get people talking about a topic related to your brand and to encourage them to participate in future events.

This a guest contribution submitted by Clarissa Santoso, Marketing Communications Specialist at Arcadier. The views expressed here are of the author’s, and Dragon Law may not necessarily subscribe to them. You, too, are invited to share your point of view! Learn more about guest blogging for Dragon Law here.

Arcadier is a SaaS company that powers next generation marketplace ideas. Follow Arcadier on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn for news and updates.

5 Tips For Improving Customer Retention And Loyalty

November 23, 2016

The hustle to market your product and acquire new clients is characteristic of the growth stages of any business. However, once you manage to close these initial deals, the next priority would be to keep them happy, and most importantly – keep them coming back!

Brand loyalty is vanishing, making customer retention one of the growing headaches for companies large and small.

Any business that aims to be sustainable in the long-run must be proactive in engaging their existing clients, and continue to pursue product/service excellence to keep clients coming back for more.

We ♡ happy clients! Read Delegate’s case study:

 

Here are 5 tips for retaining clients:

1) Keep your product/service simple

According to a Harvard Business Review study, the modern consumer is overwhelmed by the growing volume of marketing messages, ie. Customers today are increasingly distracted and disloyal! While there are a range of factors that affect the stickiness of your product or service, such as price and customers’ perception of a brand, the factor that by far has the biggest influence in stickiness is “decision simplicity”. By enabling customers to navigate the purchase journey with ease and providing support along the way, you can make the customer journey enjoyable.

Source: Service Design Tools

 

A useful framework for charting out the customer journey is to start with customer journey map. This allows you to identify key touchpoints in the product, experience or service that you are offering, and conscientiously improve the interaction and engagement at every step of the way. The aim is to ensure your product is easy to navigate and make decision-making simple.

2) Provide reliable and accessible customer support

Get into the mind of a new customer who purchases and uses your product or service as a journey with potential pitfalls and pain points. Newer customers are more likely to drop out of the customer journey map when they encounter a roadblock and do not receive immediate assistance. Hence it is crucial for you to understand where your clients’ potential pain points are, and provide timely support at every step of the way. Below are some quick and actionable ways to signal to your customer that you are available to assist should they encounter difficulties:

  • Place a ‘Get Help’ button that leads to a live chat, form, or email composer in a prominent location on your app or website.
  • Proactively communicate service standards to your customer (e.g. by letting them know that you will reply their emails within 48 hours) to manage expectations and assure them that help is on the way.
  • Publish a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that is easily accessible and written from the customer’s point of view.

By being available whenever your clients need you, you will be able to establish a reputation of dependability that will keep your clients coming back.

3) Give your clients a consistent experience

Nothing irks a client more than inconsistencies in how their account is managed, whether this is in the sale of goods or supply of services. According to a McKinsey article, sustaining the long-term commitment of a client boils down to maintaining consistency in three different categories: 1) Customer-journey consistency, 2) Emotional consistency and 3) Communication consistency.

One way to ensure consistency when managing client accounts is to have clear workflows and processes, especially in the areas of payments and finances. Ensure you have in place the key legal documents that outline your payment practices, including the following:

  • Sale of Goods Agreement or Supply of Services Agreement: These documents outline the foundations of how you do business with a supplier or client.
  • Purchase Order: This is a document between a supplier and buyer that confirms a purchase and details the items the buyer agrees to purchase at a certain price, the delivery date, and terms of payment for the buyer.
  • Invoice: This is a document that you send to a customer requiring payment for goods or services, that serves as a bill and a proof of the transaction.
  • Late Payment Letters: These documents are useful and affordable way of following up on overdue invoices in a professional manner.
  • Letter Accepting Payments in Instalments: This document helps to formalise the agreement for payment and sets out clear rules to prevent potential legal disputes from arising.

Businesses often do not pay enough attention to these critical documents as they regard payment transactions as mere formalities that are not central to the customer experience. However, there may be detrimental consequences if such processes are inconsistent and the documents not well-drafted. You (and your sales force) should have the same answer to answer these questions:

What payment options do your company accept?
Is there any option to make payments in instalments?
Are there discounts for bulk purchases?

These are questions that may be on the mind of your customers. Having standardised documents and systems in place ensures that both you and your clients know what to expect.

 

4) Continually improve your product based on customer feedback

In order to build empathy with your clients, it is important for you to listen to them. Put in place feedback channels that make it easy for your customers to provide suggestions for improving your product or service. There are two aspects to obtaining customer feedback: 1) Proactively seeking customer input, and 2) providing a platform for customer feedback.

If you do not seek your customers out to signal that their opinion is valuable for you, they are unlikely to take the initiative to provide feedback on their own accord.

There are a range of platforms and tools that your business can choose from to maximise effectiveness and efficiency in obtaining customer feedback. Tools like Delighted help to measure Net Promoter Scores; couple that with Advocate.ly and Intercom that help to automate the customer communication process – it doesn’t take that much extra work at all!

Whichever you choose, keep in mind that you surveys should be designed in a way that invites responses that are timely, reliable and actionable. In-app satisfaction ratings have the highest response rates, while email surveys would be more effective in reaching inactive users. Follow these three key principles when designing customer surveys:

  1. Take direct action on the specific issues raised
    Where customers indicate specific complaints, ensure that someone from your company takes follow-up action so that customers do not feel that they are dropping feedback into a black hole.
  2. Keep your surveys quick and short
    Customer satisfaction surveys should be two or three targeted questions at best, to signal that you respect your customers’ time.
  3. Learn from the feedback
    Analyse the feedback that you have collected, and update the design of your product or service accordingly.

Adapted from Harvard Business Review

 

While surveys are great for when you want to obtain information on specific issues – for instance, feedback on product features or data on consumer habits – customers might sometimes want to provide feedback. Businesses leverage on this by setting up a constantly available feedback platform within their website or app that allows customers to give open-format feedback. This allows customers to voice opinions on issues which they feel are most important.

Ultimately, what is most important is that your business takes action based on feedback collected by setting up a system that effectively converts customer feedback into product improvements. Knowing that the business has a functioning feedback loop in place will empower customers to influence product development in tangible ways and ensure that the business constantly responds to its customers’ needs.

 

Customer feedback: Delegate and Dragon Law

5) Build empathy and trust with your customers

At the end of the day, your business should focus more on your customers (rather than your competitors!). Businesses need to respond to customers’ intrinsic desire to feel empowered. This requires businesses to be flexible and adapt to their clients’ preferences and behaviours. For instance, if your client is browsing your website on their desktop and next speaks to a salesperson in your store, branch or call centre, be ready to pick up where they left off in order to facilitate a seamless customer journey. The goal is to embody a customer-first attitude at the core of your business.

If you don’t like filling out forms again and again (think: like when filing your insurance claims!), neither will your customers! Cloud technology today allows data to be synchronised across devices in real-time – say goodbye to pen, paper, scan, and data-entry!

 

Legal in the cloud. Anytime, anywhere.

Start Dragon Law free trial

 

Here are some good practices which can help your team build empathy with your customers:

  1. Share customer insights with everyone in your team and actively discuss ways to improve the customer experience.
  2. Become a customer by stepping into the shoes of your customers and gaining first-hand insight into their experience.
  3. Conduct ethnographic research by interviewing clients on a one-on-one basis and developing customer personas.
  4. Create a life-sized map of the CX journey and walk through it
  5. Incorporate understanding phrases into your customer service to convey empathy to your customers

Adapted from Salesforce

Source: The Working Capitol

What strategies or tools do you use to keep your customers engaged, happy, and coming back for more? Let us know in the comments below!

The Convertible Note Trap: Round II Doesn’t Happen

November 22, 2016

Convertible Note legal traps: The second round of financing never happens

Trying to raise seed funding? In the previous article of our Convertible Note series, we outlined the basics of a Convertible Note Agreement. For many startups, a Convertible Note is probably the best way to raise funding.

 

 

But there are risks associated with using a Convertible Note as well.    Tweet this

For example, what happens if your startup fails to secure the second round of funding? What if your idea doesn’t take off, or if your business becomes self-sufficient before you need more funds?

No investors will want to have shares “locked” in a business without opportunity to cash out. Investors put their money precisely with the expectation of getting money out. If your startup does not go for a second round of financing, relationships might sour between you and your seed/angel investors. You might incur exorbitant legal fees that endanger the financial positioning of your business.

This is why it is crucial to include a clause that specifies what happens when the startup is unable to secure a subsequent round of financing – this would help mitigate any legal risks following such an occurrence.

Real-life example:

Download infographic as PDF here

 

Here’s the thing about the law… you don’t know what you don’t know.

This is why standard templates you find online may not apply to you, and also why there is value in seeking out a professional lawyer who will invest large amounts of time analysing your business situation, assessing your risks, and providing recommendations. But, of course, this can come at a high cost.

With intuitive document builders such as Dragon Law, you answer a series of questions, and clauses to deal with such situations are automatically included: When there isn’t a second round of financing, the note automatically converts to shares at a price decided when the agreement is signed. This ensures that you can operate your business with peace of mind, and gets the investors to stop worrying.

Try Dragon Law’s Document Builder for FREE
No minimum commitment, no credit card required.

 

The importance of the valuation cap

As a matter of fact, the valuation cap is not only important for calculating the share ownership at the next round of funding, but is also vital should the next round of financing never occur.

Learn more about the valuation cap

or

Start drafting Convertible Note Subscription Agreement now

8 Powerful Linkbuilding Strategies for Law Firm Websites

November 18, 2016

Getting credible inbound links continues to be the best method of getting high search engine rankings for a website. However, it is important to point out that building links to a law firm website is an extremely difficult task because it requires great effort, time, and patience. Fortunately, there are several solid strategies attorneys can use to get favourable search engine rankings:

1. Guest Blogging

Guest blogging can provide good results, but it is not a fool-proof method for building links. Lawyers must use this method with extreme caution. If you decide to use this method with a site that is getting negative attention from the search engines, it could lead to disastrous results.

Submit a guest post on Dragon Law’s blog

It is imperative for you to be cautious when it comes to selecting sites for your guest posts. You should check out their domain authority, page rank, and indexed pages. You should also look at the site’s curation practices and backlink profiles. If you see a problem with any of these factors, there could be a major problem with the site. You should focus on placing guest posts on blogs that relevant to your area of practice.

You will have success with this method if you get natural looking links. Your posts should also provide educational value to your readers.

2. Scholarship Programmes

Scholarship programs are an easy way to get solid links from high-quality educational websites. Keep in mind, though, that this method requires an investment (a minimum of $500 dollars), time to conduct outreach to your community, and time to contact colleges in your area. The first initiative requires you to create a legitimate scholarship with eligibility requirements for applicants.

First, structure the scholarship programme. Set up a page on the company’s site that highlights the details of the scholarship (how to apply, information of what it offers, and etc.). Once the page is created, lawyers should contact educational institutions and tell them that their students can apply for the scholarship. Colleges are well-known for promoting scholarships to their students. Most colleges will not have any problems with adding your scholarship to one of their scholarship resource pages.

While links from .edu domains don’t have more value than .coms and .nets, search engines associate them with authority sites. Getting links from authority sites can propel your website to the first page of popular search engines.

Related reading: 7 Online Marketing Tips for Your Small Business

3. Social Media Link Building

Social media continues to gain more popularity as time progresses. Lawyers should make an earnest effort to share links to their website in social media. Many of these links will be no-follow (they will not pass link juice to your site), but this is still an exceptional way of getting great exposure for your brand. Social media link building will send an enormous amount of traffic to your site. This is the main reason why many SEO experts encourage lawyers to use this method.

Social media link building gives your followers an opportunity to share your links to their followers. Content that circulates throughout the internet in this way has a greater chance of getting natural inbound links attached to it.

Try to get your shareable content on popular social media channels. This will increase your chances of getting others to share it on their networks. Make certain that your content is useful and relevant to your targeted audience. No matter what you are posting on social media sites, make sure there is a link that points back to your website.

Please keep in mind that you can add links to your profiles. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google Plus, Linkedin and many other social networks allow you to insert a link to an external website. For instance, about.me allows you to complete a profile with a link. About.me is a PR 7 property that can help you get significant traffic.

Follow Dragon Law on social media:

  

4. Infographics

Displaying data with infographics is intriguing and fun. People enjoy sharing attractive infographics. Many lawyers are not taking advantage of this method.

Simply create an infographic (hire a designer if you don’t know how to create one) and place an embed code at the bottom of the infographic. The embed code should encourage people to embed it on their websites.

Creating an embed code is not as difficult as you may believe. Here you can find an exceptional embed code generator. Once you have created your image, paste the URL into the provided text boxes. A snipped code will be generated within seconds. You can place this code on your website or blog.

If people find your information useful, they will share it (via the embed code) on their blog or website. The image of the infographic will be hosted on your domain. You will get a backlink each time the code is embedded.

5. High Page Rank Directories

Many SEO experts look at directories as low-hanging fruit. They don’t offer the greatest value, but they are easy to get. Many directories with high page rankings are paid versions.

Local directories are valuable sources of local links. Attorneys target local markets, so these links are good because they offer signals dealing with the location of the searcher.

Local Chambers of Commerce are well-known for having detailed directories of local businesses. I also urge you to submit your site to Yext and Moz Local. Yext has a network of fifty popular websites such as eLocal, YP, and Yelp.

6. Collaboration

Collaborating with your clients, colleagues, and other businesses is one of the most effective ways to get quality editorial links to your site. Collaborating includes joint marketing, guest posting, or an honorable mention. It would be a big mistake for you to underestimate this tactic.

Collaborating with others? Outline each party’s contributions to the project with a Collaboration Agreement.

7. Forums, Groups, etc.

You should take advantage of attorney-specific groups and forums. For example, this forum is one place where attorneys can be active members. You can make comments and share links.

Related reading: LinkedIn Alternatives: 10 Lesser-Known Platforms For Professionals To Network Online

Do not spam groups or forums. Members will not be responsive to your posts, or click on your links if they feel that you are simply there to advertise your law firm.

8. Glossary of Industry Terms

Newbies in your industry probably don’t know all the jargon you and other bloggers are using. Make their life easier and create a glossary of industry terms page. 99% of the people do not understand your professional jargon and they may reference to your Glossary page. This is quite long term strategy for acquiring links to your website.

You may also like: The Ultimate Dictionary of Jargon, Acronyms, and Abbreviations Every Entrepreneur or Small Business Owner Should Know

Which of these strategies have been most useful to you, or maybe others that have given you great results? 

Tell us, we’d like to know!

This a guest contribution submitted by Inga Lindstrom. The views expressed here are of the author’s, and Dragon Law may not necessarily subscribe to them. You, too, are invited to share your point of view! Learn more about guest blogging for Dragon Law here.
Inga Lindstrom is a Digital Marketer specialising in SEO for Law firms. She is result-oriented because she knows that results is what all clients pay for. Inga strongly believes in creating high-quality and valuable content and its promoting through outreach. She loves traveling and digital nomad lifestyle.