Best Small Business Loans

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Unless you’re independently wealthy, most small business owners need a loan at one point or another. From paying for startup costs to expansion projects, equipment, or unexpected incidents, quick access to funding will make it easier for your company to grow. 

Whether you’re launching a brand new venture or own an established business, there are so many different small business lending options out there to consider. 

Which small business loan is best for you? This guide contains everything you need to know on the subject.

The Top 6 Options For Small Business Loans

  1. Fundbox
  2. Funding Circle
  3. Accion
  4. Lendio
  5. OnDeck
  6. Kiva

How to Choose the Best Small Business Loans For You

Small business loans come in all different shapes and sizes. So as you’re evaluating different options, there are specific considerations that must be examined. I’ll explain each one in greater detail below. 

Lender

When most people think about getting a loan, they automatically assume that a bank is their only option. But in addition to small local banks and national bank chains, there are lots of other lenders that can provide your small business with capital.

You can explore credit unions, crowdfunding sites, P2P lenders, loan marketplaces, nonprofit lenders, and even alternative lending solutions. 

The qualification requirements and loan terms will vary from lender to lender. 

Loan Type

Most lenders offer multiple types of loans for small business owners. Some common small business loan types include SBA loans, lines of credit, installment loans, short term loans, equipment loans, commercial real estate loans, and merchant cash advances. 

In some cases, you’ll need to provide the lender with more information about what you’ll be doing with the funds. For example, an equipment loan couldn’t be used to purchase inventory, and a commercial real estate loan couldn’t be used to buy a new vehicle. 

Lines of credit are great options to have since they can be used for lots of different purposes. We’ll talk more about these different loan types in greater detail shortly. 

Capital Required

The loan amount you’re seeking also needs to be taken into consideration. There’s a big difference between $5,000, $50,000, and $5 million. 

Certain lenders are better for microloans and small amounts, while others are known for lending large sums of cash. 

Take a look at the minimum and maximum amounts available before you apply for a loan. Generally speaking, you shouldn’t apply for more than you need (unless it’s a line of credit). Otherwise, you’ll have higher interest payments. 

Minimum Qualifications

In most cases, you won’t qualify for every type of loan. So pay close attention to these terms before you apply, or you’ll just be wasting your time (and potentially hurt your credit).

Some lenders will only loan money to companies that have been in business for a certain number of years. There are also some cash flow requirements, annual revenue requirements, and business owner credit score requirements for certain loans.

Loan Terms

The loan terms are crucial when you’re evaluating different options. How soon will you need to pay the money back? What interest rates will you be paying?

Make sure you look beyond the dollar amount and take a deeper look at the terms.

Businesses with bad credit won’t have access to the lowest interest rates and loan terms. So you’ll definitely want to shop around until you’re comfortable with the options presented to you. 

The Different Types of Small Business Loans

There are tons of different small business loans out there. But I want to quickly highlight the most popular options to give you a better understanding of how they work.

SBA Loan

SBA loans are backed by the Small Business Administration. This federal agency helps businesses gain access to better funding resources. 

These loan amounts typically range from $50,000 to $5 million with terms from 10-25 years. 

SBA loans usually have great rates (since the SBA reduces the lender’s risk), but they can be tough to qualify for. The process to apply and get approved for an SBA loan can be slow. 

Business Line of Credit

Lines of credit are great for those of you who need flexibility. Instead of receiving a lump sum of cash, you can borrow up to your credit amount as needed. 

Business lines of credit can range anywhere from $1,000 up to $500,000. 

It’s usually easy to qualify for a line of credit if you’ve been in business for more than a year and have $50,000+ in annual revenue. Interest rates vary based on the lender, your credit score, and other qualification terms. But you’ll only pay interest on the amount you borrow on the revolving line. 

Term Loan

Term loans are funded quickly. In some instances, you can receive cash within 24 hours of getting approved. It’s common for term loans to be used for working capital, equipment, operations, and more. 

Some of these loans are short term and must be paid back as early as 12-24 weeks. Others have repayment terms in the 1-5 year range.

Term loans typically have fixed interest rates or flat fees, so your payments won’t increase throughout the lifetime of the loan. 

Merchant Cash Advance

With a merchant cash advance program, small businesses can borrow against future earrings to secure capital. These loans are repaid with a daily percentage of your credit card sales, as previously agreed upon with the lender. 

Most merchant cash advances can be used for a wide range of needs. Similar to a term loan, you can usually get access to funds quickly as well.

It’s easy to get approved for a merchant cash advance, but the interest rates are usually high. 

Equipment Financing

The name is pretty self-explanatory here—the money from equipment financing must be used to purchase equipment. But it’s worth noting that the term “equipment” is pretty broad.

In addition to things like conveyor belts, forklifts, and machinery, other types of equipment like accounting software, or payment processing systems would also fall into this category. 

Equipment financing is usually secured by the equipment you’re purchasing. If you fail to repay the loan, the lender can seize the equipment.

Business Credit Card

Credit cards and loans are obviously not the same. But a business credit card can potentially be a great option to finance certain purchases. 

Some cards offer businesses introductory promotions like 0% APR financing within the first year of opening an account. So you can potentially buy something at 0% interest by putting it on your new credit card (assuming it’s less than your credit amount). But beyond the introductory offer, credit cards will have significantly higher interest rates than other types of loans. 

You can read my reviews of the best business credit cards here. 

Secured Loans

A secured loan requires some type of collateral in order for you to qualify. This is common for high-risk businesses. If the business defaults on the loan, the lender will seize the collateral. 

Since secured loans don’t pose as much of a risk to lenders, the interest rates are usually low. 

Unsecured Loans

An unsecured loan is the exact opposite of a secured loan. Businesses can borrow money without having to put up any collateral. 

In order to qualify for an unsecured loan, your business usually needs to have a long track record of profitability and success without any liens or outstanding debts. If the lender thinks you’re a high risk to default on the loan, they might require you to secure the loan with collateral. 

Crowdfunding Loans and P2P Loans

These types of loans are sourced from a pool of investors. You can get these loans from crowdfunding websites with small amounts collected from the general public or get them from alternative lending platforms where individuals offer P2P loans as a source of income. 

If you can’t qualify for a traditional loan, you might consider a crowdfunding or P2P borrowing option. 

#1 – Fundbox Review — Best For Short-Term Loans

Fundbox is used by 100,000+ businesses across a wide range of industries. 

Technically, they offer business lines of credit. But the repayment period on the amount you borrow gets paid back over a 12 or 24-week plan, which falls into the short-term loan category. 

Using Fundbox is simple, and you’ll get fast access to cash whenever you need it. To apply, you just need to connect your bank account and accounting software, so Fundbox can view your financials. 

You’ll only pay for funds that you draw from your line of credit, so you can use Fundbox multiple times for various short-term loans. There’s no penalty for early repayments.

Before you withdraw funds, Fundbox gives you a transparent calculation of the principal, interest amount, and weekly payments due. So you can plan accordingly and know exactly how much you owe each week for the duration of the loan. 

Fundbox is perfect for short-term situations when you need a little extra cash. It’s commonly used for late invoices payments, unplanned expenses, and to float small businesses during periods of slow sales. 

Apply online, and get a decision within minutes. Funds can be transferred to your account as soon as the next business day. 

#2 – Funding Circle Review — Most Versatile Loan Options 

Funding Circle is an industry leader in the small business lending category. It’s a popular choice for businesses that want fast and affordable loan options. 

With a single application, Funding Circle will provide you with multiple loan types and options to choose from.

Loan types and funding solutions provided by this lender include:

  • SBA loans
  • Business term loans
  • Merchant cash advances
  • Business lines of credit
  • Invoice factoring
  • Working capital loans

You can get a decision in less than 24 hours and gain access to funds within three days of getting approved. Funding Circle has term loans from $25,000 to $500,000 and SBA loans from $20,000 to $5 million. 

I also like Funding Circle because the platform makes it easy for you to manage your loan online. Apply on their website by filling out an application—it takes just six minutes to complete. 

#3 – Accion Review — Best For Startups

Accion is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping small business owners and entrepreneurs fund their startups. 

In fact, Accion is the largest nonprofit lending network in the US. 

Accion offers term loans of up to $250,000 at an affordable rate. You can apply online or over the phone to get a tailored solution that fits your unique needs. 

Here are some of the business types that Accion commonly lends money to:

  • Women owned businesses
  • Minority owned businesses
  • Food and beverage businesses
  • Small businesses
  • Startups
  • Veteran owned businesses
  • Business owners with disabilities
  • Green businesses

Accion also has a wide range of small business resources available to help you achieve success in your industry. With 25+ years of experience in the small business lending space, I strongly recommend Accion to startups and other businesses in the categories listed above. 

#4 – Lendio Review — Best Small Business Loan Marketplace

Lendio isn’t a small business lender. But it’s one of the most popular online marketplaces for business loans. 

If you want to compare loan options from 75+ lenders with a single platform, look no further than Lendio.

This marketplace has facilitated $10+ billion in funding to 216,000+ small businesses. There is a wide range of loan types available through Lendio’s network of lenders, including:

  • Startup loans
  • Term loans
  • Commercial mortgages
  • Short term loans
  • SBA loans
  • Merchant cash advances
  • Business lines of credit
  • Business credit cards
  • Equipment financing
  • Accounts receivable financing
  • Business acquisition loans

I also like Lendio because they provide additional resources for small business owners, like financing calculators and bookkeeping guidance. 

Just fill out some quick information about your business online to get loan offers from lenders in the Lendio network. 

#5 – OnDeck Review — The Best For Revolving Credit

OnDeck has delivered $13+ billion to businesses across the globe. They offer term loans of up to $250,000 and business lines of credit up to $100,000.

I like OnDeck because it’s so simple. After you complete an application online or over the phone, a dedicated loan advisor will go over your options with you. OnDeck offers funding as early as the same business day.

Your line of credit from OnDeck is a great option for working capital. Only withdraw what you need, when you need it, and just pay interest for the amount borrowed.

Repay your line of credit over a 12-month term agreement with automatic weekly payments and no prepayment penalties.

To qualify, you must be in business for at least a year with a minimum personal FICO score of 600 and an annual revenue of $100,000+.

OnDeck periodically reviews your credit profile. So you can automatically qualify for higher credit line limits without having to apply for an increase. You’ll also benefit from a consolidated weekly payment on all withdrawals, so you won’t have to worry about making multiple payments. 

#6 – Kiva Review — Best 0% Interest Small Business Loans

If you need a microloan and you’re not in a rush to get it, Kiva will let you borrow up to $15,000 at 0% interest—no strings attached.

As a global nonprofit, Kiva has helped 2.5+ million entrepreneurs raise $1+ billion.

The only downside of Kiva is that it takes quite a bit of time to actually get the loan. So it’s not ideal for businesses that need cash fast.

First, you need to fill out an online application that can take up to 30 minutes to complete. Then you need to prove your creditworthiness by convincing your friends and family to loan you money, which is about a 15-day process. Finally, you can go public on Kiva and make your loan visible to 1.6+ million lenders across the world (an additional 30 days). 

On the positive side, you’ll have up to 36 months to repay your loan at 0% interest. It’s tough to beat that deal. 

But if you’re looking for large sums of cash as fast as possible, this won’t be the best choice for your business. 

Summary

If your small business needs money, there are lots of different small business loan options for you to consider. 

Which one is the best? 

The answer depends on a wide range of factors, like the amount you need, the loan type, lender, and more. Regardless of your situation, you can find the best loan options for your business based on my recommendations in this guide. 

The post Best Small Business Loans appeared first on Neil Patel.


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Technical SEO Consulting

Creating great content is key to an SEO strategy.

But if you neglect the technical side of how your content is delivered, then you are putting up unnecessary barriers for yourself. 

Technical SEO encompasses the “behind the scenes” elements of an SEO strategy that speaks directly to search algorithms.

But there are quite a few things to optimize for when building out a technical SEO strategy. For many business owners, it may be beneficial to hire a technical SEO consultant who can handle the nuances for you.

6 Ways a Technical SEO Consultant Can Help Grow Your Business

Regardless of which type of service you hire for, your end goal is to grow your business.

Hiring a technical SEO consultant is no different, and you should go into the relationship with an expectation of results.

A technical SEO consultant will optimize both your website and content so that you are providing the best experience for users, communicating effectively with search algorithms, and ultimately ranking better for your target keywords.

At a high level, the services they provide should lead to:

  1. More traffic – As your website and content become better optimized, you will inevitably begin to rank better for certain keywords. In some cases, you may enter the first page and even the top 5 search results, where the majority of traffic funnels into. You will also experience more people who stay on your website and consider your products as they optimize aspects such as page speed and mobile-friendliness.
  2. More customers – With an increase in traffic and higher rankings for targeted keywords, you will experience an increase in customers. As a result, technical SEO can be directly linked to increasing revenue. 

To achieve these business outcomes, technical SEO consultants will dive deep into your SEO strategy and uncover elements of your strategy that are currently holding you back.’

Here are some of the elements that they will optimize:

1) Page Load Time

How fast your website loads is a key element in your SEO strategy – both from a user’s perspective and from the search algorithms. 

If your page is taking 4 seconds or more to load, for instance, the majority of users will click away, leading to higher bounce rates.

This signifies to the search engines that your website offers a poor user experience, which will make you rank less in the SERPS (search engine results pages). 

A technical SEO consultant will check for things such as image size, broken code, and other elements on the page that could cause a slow page load time.

2) Design Optimization 

Images and layout are important to make a website more user friendly and attractive. Imagine coming to a website that’s just a wall of text – you will probably click off. 

Dwell time – the amount of time a user spends on your site – is a key metric that search algorithms look for. A better, more attractive design increases the likelihood that people will stay and navigate your site.

A technical SEO consultant will make sure that your site can easily be navigated and has an attractive design. They will also ensure that your images are optimized with appropriate names and alt attributes for the search engine.

3) Mobile Responsiveness

As web traffic becomes increasingly mobile-first, having a responsive website has become a major element of how search algorithms rank websites. 

This means that your website will need to be responsive in the sense that regardless of which device the user is using, they will be able to see your website in an appropriate way.

A technical SEO consultant won’t likely be able to make your website responsive, as this is a job for your developers and designers.

However, they will be able to point out any pages that aren’t so mobile friendly.

4) Meta Tag Information

Every website has information that sums up what the site is about to both the user and search engines. This information is contained in the meta tag of the website (usually at the top of a website’s code). It contains elements such as:

  • Description – This is the short snippet of information that people see in search engines before they click through to your site. A technical SEO consultant will help you write descriptions that increase your click-through rate while also being relevant to your keyword.
  • Title – This is the name of the piece of content or page. Having a title with the keyword you are ranking for is a critical part of technical SEO.
  • Robots tag – The robots tag tells search engines how and if they should crawl (index) your page. You don’t want every page indexed as it can affect your rankings (if you have duplicate content for instance). 

5) Link Optimization

Your technical SEO consultant will advise you on how links can make or break your SEO strategy. There are 4 main aspects of your linking strategy that you will affect your results:

  • Broken links – Search engines will punish you for having broken links on your website. These are typically the low hanging fruit that your technical SEO consultant will clean up quickly.
  • Internal links – How your website is structured and whether your pages link to each other helps you rank better in search engines. Your technical SEO consultant will help you architect your website and organize your content in the best way.
  • External links – Having an appropriate amount of external links to other credible websites with relevant information is another important factor.
  • Anchor text – Instead of linking the full URL, a technical SEO consultant will help you write appropriate anchor texts which replace the URL to give a better user experience and context for the search algorithms.

6) Page Structure 

How your page is structured is another factor technical SEO consultants will keep in mind – particularly for longer-form content. Factors they will evaluate include:

  • Use of headers – Headers are the simplest way to signal to search engines what your page is actually about. Typically ranging from H1 to H3 in terms of weight, headers have to be optimized with primary and secondary keywords for the best effect. 
  • Featured snippets – A technical SEO consultant will use different formatting such as lists and bullet points to increase your chance of being displayed in Google’s featured snippets. This is a feature of Google that allows people to get information about their queries without actually clicking through.

How to Get Started With a Technical SEO Consultant

If you decide that you need to work with a technical SEO consultant, there are 4 phases of how your working relationship should look like.

1) Preparation

In the preparation stage, you will need to make sure that your house is in order so that the technical SEO consultant can do their job. This includes:

  • Providing the relevant access to your website.
  • Making sure that the timing is right for you to work with a technical SEO consultant. If your business is early stage, you may be better off investing in other digital marketing services.
  • Getting familiar with the basics of technical SEO. You need some idea of the field to ensure that you can make a more informed decision when choosing a consultant.
  • Setting goals. You need to understand what you want to achieve with your search strategy. E.g do you want to rank for certain keywords as part of a content strategy or just appear locally?

2) Technical SEO Audit

Once you have chosen a consultant, the first thing they should do is conduct an audit of your current SEO implementation. Here are some aspects of a technical SEO audit:

  • Using tools such as Ubersuggest to capture surface level points of optimization. SEO audit tools can quickly identify things that are hurting your SEO such as broken links, 404 errors and keyword frequency. 
  • Evaluating more deeper factors such as website structure, creating a sitemap and disabling or removing irrelevant content. 
  • Practicing user empathy by considering things that could lessen the user experience such as newsletter pop ups, page speed and poor navigation.

3) Optimizing Technical SEO

Next, your technical SEO consultant will get to work to fix the technical issues on your website. Depending on what needs to be optimized, there are a few things you may need to do also:

  • You may have to get your site completely redesigned so that it is responsive or mobile friendly. 
  • Your images may need to be resized so to increase the page load time.
  • You will likely need to go through all of your content with a fine tooth comb, keeping an eye on the little things such as structure, linking and meta information.

Measuring the ROI of Technical SEO Consulting Services

As a business owner or marketing leader, you need to be able to quantify the ROI of a technical SEO consultant. 

This can be tricky, as technical SEO consulting can be similar to services like design or development in the sense that there is value created, but it can be hard to measure.

There are however some things that you should keep an eye on that are directly tied to marketing performance:

  • Better rankings – Technical SEO provides a strong foundation for your content. As you optimize the technical elements of your SEO strategy, you should see your rankings boost across the board for all the keywords you are targeting. 
  • More dwell time – With better page load times, website design and structure, you should see users spending more time on your website. You will also notice that your bounce rate – the amount of people that click out of your site before browsing – will reduce. 
  • More customers – Through a combination of these factors, you should be able to observe an increase in customers over time. 

Keep in mind that technical SEO isn’t a pure marketing activity like performance advertising, so you should see it more of a catalyst than a marketing channel itself.

4 Point Checklist For Finding the Right Technical SEO Consultant

If you decide that you need to hire a technical SEO consultant, here are the 4 things you should screen for before signing any contract.

1) Client list – Take a look at the type of clients that the SEO consultant has worked with in the past. Are there any notable brand names? What type of websites do these clients have? Is there any evidence of demonstrable results? Think also about the type of SEO strategy that their clients use and whether it’s relatable to your situation. For instance, do you need to rank for high competition keywords or just compete in your local city?

2) Additional services – A technical SEO consultant should be able to offer you additional services such as content marketing, analytics and other forms of SEO. A consultant who has experience with other forms of digital marketing will be able to help you create and execute a holistic strategy that drives results in tandem with technical SEO. 

3) Strong team – Look for a consultant that has a strong team behind them or check that they themselves have an exceptional track record. Years of experience is important, but with SEO it’s important that the consultant you work with keeps track of the new changes that are happening everyday. Search engines like Google are constantly evolving, so you need to work with somebody who has their finger on the pulse. 

4) Technology – A good thing to screen for is whether your technical SEO consultant has built out their own tech platform that they use with their clients. Examples of this include Ubersuggest, SEMRush and Moz. Not only will you get to benefit from their technology, but the fact that they have built their own technology provides further credibility and shows that they have real skin in the game. 

Conclusion

Technical SEO has a lot of variables to it, so it can be quite tricky for somebody to do it themselves. This is particularly true given the fact that search engines such as Google are constantly evolving.

In many cases, you would be better off hiring a technical SEO consultant who keeps on top of the latest trends so that you can optimize your site more effectively.

Keep in mind also that technical SEO should be done as part of a holistic SEO strategy. 

As important as it is to optimize your site, great content and positive social feedback to your site are still king.

The post Technical SEO Consulting appeared first on Neil Patel.


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Social Media Marketing Consulting

Hiring a social media marketing consultant could be a game-changer for your business. You could use the help of an expert if:

  • You’re struggling to acquire or retain customers
  • You aren’t getting the ROI you’d like from social media 
  • Your social media strategy is all over the place
  • You or your team don’t have much social media experience

Social media consultants have the knowledge and skills to turn your lagging social media campaigns around. You’ll be able to access advice and strategic planning at the highest level.

If you’re considering working with a social media consultant, here’s everything you need to know:

4 Ways a Social Media Marketing Consultant Can Help Grow Your Business

Consider a social media marketing consultant your business’s Yoda. They’re the wise teacher and guide that can help you 10x your business through social media. Here’s what they’ll do:

1. Develop a High-Performing Social Media Strategy

A social media marketing consultant will take a deep dive into your current strategy and performance. They’ll help you figure out what’s working and what’s not to see where there’s room for improvement.

The consultant will work off of your business objectives or help you to set smarter goals if that’s what’s needed. From there, they’ll develop a custom social media strategy to help you smash your goals.

Your social media expert will help you with tactics tailored to your business and establish a high-performing social media sales funnel, which is key because on average it takes seven and a half visits to your website before somebody makes a purchase.

2. Achieve Big Results

Working with a social media consultant can be very rewarding. They will help you get the most ROI from your social media campaigns.

First of all, they can help you build a larger social media following. They’ll teach you how to grow a community around your brand and engage followers.

They can also come up with content and advertising strategies that: 

  • bring new potential customers to your business 
  • re-engage leads
  • drive conversions and more…

3. Provide Expert Advice

The best social media consultants are experts that have tons of experience helping clients grow their businesses. They’re able to share that wealth of knowledge and experience with you.

If you’ve hit a roadblock on social media, a consultant can bring a fresh perspective and use their know-how to come up with solutions to your issues. They’re well-versed in established best practices as well as new trends, so they can for sure point you in the right direction.

Some social media consultants offer training so that you can continue to manage your campaigns effectively.

4. Help You with Analytics

It’s essential that you track your social media performance using the right metrics. 95% of the most successful B2B marketers use metrics to measure content performance.

When you monitor your analytics, you can see if you’re meeting your goals and where you might need to up your efforts or tweak your strategy.

But for some, all of the data and reports can get a bit much. A social media consultant can guide you towards the best tools or software for social media analytics and monitoring.

They can help you decipher reports and pick out the key information and metrics for your business or campaign objectives.

All in all, a social media marketing consultant will develop a strategy and implement tactics that will help you meet your goals and grow your business.

How to Get Started with Social Media Marketing Consulting

If you make the right preparations, you and your social media marketing consultant can hit the ground running. Your collaboration will run smoothly and you’ll get much more from it. So, here’s what you need to do to get started:

1. Figure Out What Kind of Consultant You Need

The first step is establishing what areas you need help in. You must decide what kind of role you want the social media marketing consultant to take. This may fall into one or more of the following categories:

Strategy

The consultant takes an advisory role. They do their due diligence regarding your company and target audience, for example, by interviewing the right executives within your team or creating buyer personas.

With all of the information gathered, they’ll create a detailed social marketing strategy, provide the necessary training and/or continue to advise you over a set period of time. 

Project Management

It’s also possible to hire a social media consultant that not only comes up with the right strategy but also turns that strategy into an actionable plan. They’ll figure out timelines, budgets, resource allocation and so on.

Execution

In this case, the social media marketing consultant will do all of the above and then jump in the trenches with you. They’ll oversee and participate in the implementation of your strategy.

So, the question is do you need an advisor or somebody who is going to roll their sleeves up and see the project through, too?

2. Set Your Goals

Your social media goals are the jump-off point for a marketing consultant. They determine the overarching strategy to be implemented, as well as the key performance indicators to measure.

If you have an idea of what you hope to achieve through social media, then try to document your objectives as clearly as possible. For example, you may wish to increase your Instagram ad clickthrough rate by X%.

But, as mentioned above, if you’re lost, a social media marketing consultant can help you set goals and create a sales funnel from scratch.

3. Get Your Ducks in a Row

The final thing you need to do before working with a social media marketing consultant is to prepare any documentation or reports that you wish to share.

For instance, you might put together a package of analytics reports from the past year. Or perhaps you want your social media strategy to align with your wider digital marketing strategy. In this case, you’d need to share your documented strategy with the consultant.

The more useful information you’re able to share, the better.

Essentially, there’s a bit of groundwork you need to do before working with a social media marketing consultant. But, ultimately, it’ll make your work together that much more successful.

Measuring the ROI of Social Media Marketing Consulting Services

When done well, social media marketing produces a high return on investment. In fact, I used social media to generate $632,481 in sales in one year.

But, one thing you have to bear in mind is that the way you measure ROI depends on your goals. Sometimes, social media marketing activities have an influence on sales, but you don’t necessarily see the dollars that come directly from those activities.

For example, you might share blog content on social media to generate traffic and increase brand awareness. The way you would measure the ROI of such activities would be according to the number of views or levels of engagement.

Naturally, it’s easier to calculate monetary returns when working with lead gen campaigns or paid ads. In this case, you’d measure the number of leads generated or, simply, conversions.

It’s vital that you discuss ROI with a social media marketing consultant in terms of your goals. You need to understand what you can expect to achieve for the rate that you’re paying.

6 Point Checklist for Finding the Right Social Media Marketing Consultant

There are tons of social media marketing consultants out there. Not all are made equal. Hence, you need to know what to look out for and what kind of questions to ask in order to make the right choice for you:

1. Relevance

As mentioned above, there are different kinds of social media marketing consultants. Therefore, you need to see if the consultant offers the services you require.

Furthermore, do they have experience of working in your industry? Relevant experience with similar clients to you means they know which tactics are likely to be most effective for your target audience.

Check their website to see former clients and what they’ve achieved for them. Some review sites, such as Clutch, also indicate the size and category of clients.

2. Experience

In the world of consulting, experience is everything. A consultant might make big claims but can they actually follow through?

Anyone can take a quick online course or read blog posts about social media marketing. It’s an entirely different thing to have implemented successful campaigns IRL.

The first step is to check the consultant’s own social media channels. If their following, engagement rates or content seems a bit crap then they’re likely inexperienced and will do a crappy job for you.

Next, check their credentials. How many years of experience do they have in the industry? Do they have hands-on experience?

3. Connections

If you can find a consultant with industry connections or links to social media influencers, then it’s a huge bonus. 

This is the kind of thing that the average business would find very difficult to achieve on their own unless they wanted to pay through the roof on influencer marketplaces and the like. Find out from your consultant what kind of collaborations are on the table.

At Neil Patel Digital, for example, we’ve fostered connections with thought leaders and influencers in a number of spaces over the years, including B2B, marketing, tech and more. We know what benefits such relationships can bring.

4. Examples

Firstly, it’s a good idea to source examples of a consultant’s previous work as proof of their experience. This might come in the form of case studies or blog content in which they talk about their professional experience.

You should also seek examples of what the consultant can do for you specifically. Obviously, they’re not going to map out an entire strategy for you before you agree to work together.

However, they should be able to give you examples or ideas of the kind of work they can do for you and what kind of results they would expect to achieve.

5. Pricing

Social media marketing consultants’ rates vary. Usually, you can expect to pay a higher rate for more experienced and more skilled consultants. But, be sure to do your research on all of the other points to check a consultant is worth the rate they’re charging.

You also need to consider how their pricing works logistically. Does the consultant offer tiered packages or an hourly rate? Is there a minimum length of contract? Are there additional costs involved?

Always choose a consultant that’s transparent about their terms and pricing.

6. Balance

The consultant you’re vetting should have a positive attitude. You should seek out somebody that is enthusiastic and confident about helping you grow your business via social media.

However, be wary of those that over-do it. A good social media consultant will also be realistic about what they can help you achieve and the time-frame you can expect to achieve it in.

Overall, don’t be afraid to ask a bunch of questions. A good social media marketing consultant will be willing to answer them clearly and openly.

Conclusion

It’s worth hiring a social media marketing consultant if you hope to revamp a failing social media strategy or to take your existing strategy to the next level. Using the right tools and tactics, they’ll gain an in-depth understanding of your business and target audience to help you achieve your goals.

When it comes to choosing the right social media marketing consultant for you, make sure they not only have hands-on experience with social media marketing but also experience relevant to your industry or the services you need.

Now it’s over to you to find a consultant that will help you grow your business. The first step: Set your goals and work out exactly where your business needs help.

The post Social Media Marketing Consulting appeared first on Neil Patel.


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Best ERP Software

Disclosure: This content is reader-supported, which means if you click on some of our links that we may earn a commission.

Historically, ERP (enterprise resource planning) software was used by large corporations and multinational organizations for managing their entire operation from a single platform.

But now these solutions are more accessible than ever before. In addition to enterprises, lots of SMBs have started to leverage these tools over the past several years. 

ERP software essentially combines all of your business tools into a centralized console. It encompasses components like accounting, HR, CRM, supply chain management, and more. 

By consolidating your business tools into a single ERP solution, it’s much easier to manage. Plus, ERP software gives you tons of extra value from a big-picture point of view, that you normally wouldn’t see from standalone software. 

So which ERP software is the best? Find out below. 

The Top 5 Options For ERP Software

  1. Infor
  2. AccountMate
  3. Epicor
  4. IFS
  5. Deltek

How to Choose the Best ERP Software For You

In order to find the right ERP software for your business, you need to understand what to look for as you’re shopping around. All ERP systems are not created equally, and there’s not really a “one-size-fits-all” solution. 

Rather than blindingly picking a tool, use these feature sets and considerations to narrow down potential options. 

Business Processes and Modules

As previously mentioned, ERP software encompasses various types of business processes. These typically come in the form of modules as you’re customizing an ERP solution. 

Some of you might only need a handful of these processes, while other businesses could be looking for a dozen. It really depends on your business size, existing tools, and future goals for resource planning. 

Examples of modules and processes to keep an eye out for include HRMs, financial management tools, CRM, SCM, inventory management, purchasing and supplier management, sales and marketing tools, and more. 

There are even industry-specific processes for things like manufacturing or engineering. These will include crucial functionalities for product planning, production scheduling, bill of materials, shop floor planning, etc. 

Make sure the ERP software you’re evaluating has the capacity to handle your needs with modules for these types of functions. 

Reporting, Analytics, and Dashboards

The best ERP software on the market today has advanced reporting capabilities. These go above and beyond basic spreadsheets and PDF downloads. Look for a solution that includes real-time data and smart filters.

Some tools might even have agile reporting and ad hoc reporting, so you can quickly adapt to ever-changing needs without interruptions. 

You should be able to manage these complex reports and analytics through a simple dashboard. If you can’t figure out the dashboards, you’ll never get the most out of these reports (which renders them useless). 

Dashboards should also display KPIs and let you analyze different data with just a few clicks. For example, you might want to compare qualitative vs. quantitative data based on departments or users within your organization. 

Integrations

Your ERP software must seamlessly integrate with your existing tools and software.

From simple file transfers to complete integrations, it’s crucial that these all work together. For example, you should be able to sync your existing CRM with your new ERP software. Or you might want to link an ERP payroll module to an HRMS software that you’re already using. 

ERPs that provide flexible integrations can expand the functionality of your existing tools or completely replace them after a smooth file migration. 

Custom Capabilities

Customization is crucial when it comes to evaluating ERP software. Otherwise, you won’t get the most of the potential benefits; here’s why.

Each department will have different business workflows. These could potentially have contradictory priorities and goals. For example, marketing teams will focus on spending while accounting teams will be focusing on saving money. Sales teams will be prioritizing a monthly quota, and production departments prioritize daily output. It’s impossible to configure these various workflows into an all-in-one solution. 

So your ERP software should have configurable workflows and custom dashboards for each department. This will allow those decision-makers to define specific KPIs and goals based on custom parameters. 

Setup and Deployment

It’s no secret that ERP software can be complex. Unlike other business tools, it’s not really a “sign up today and deploy in seconds” type of tool. This is largely due to the custom nature and different modules required to run smoothly. 

But with that said, some ERP software providers are definitely easier to set up and deploy than others. If you don’t want to install anything locally, look for a cloud-based ERP solution. You’ll still need a custom solution, but this will be easier overall. 

Between cloud-based SaaS solutions and on-premises deployment, you’ll have different options to consider. 

Training and Support

Again, ERP software isn’t always easy. You need to find a provider that offers you the resources required to hit the ground running. 

In most cases, they will need a proper installation by someone with technical expertise. So if your business doesn’t have a dedicated IT team, make sure you review your SLA. 

In many cases, the installation could be charged entirely separately from the ERP license or subscription. Cloud-based ERPs are definitely easier to set up (as mentioned earlier), but it might still require some training. 

What happens when you have a question or need some assistance? Will your software vendor be there to help you out?

These are the types of questions you need to ask yourself as you’re evaluating different options. 

The Different Types of ERP Software

Before we get into the ERP software reviews, I want to quickly explain the different types of ERP software available on the market today. This will add some clarity as you’re shopping around. 

General Purpose ERP Software

Generalist ERPs are flexible enough to fit the needs of various industries. They have robust customization capabilities, easy integrations, and processes that match a wide range of requirements. 

The vast majority of ERP software is branded as a general-purpose ERP. This gives software vendors the ability to target as many different organizations and industries as possible. 

Vertical-Specific ERP Software

As the name implies, vertical-specific ERPs are targeted for specific industries. Unlike a generalist solution, this type of software is not geared towards the masses. 

These types of ERP solutions are popular in niches like manufacturing, construction, or retail. A vertical-specific ERP won’t be nearly as flexible as a general-purpose tool, but they do a great job hitting the specialized industry. 

Open-Source ERP Software

Open-source ERP software only makes up a small portion of the overall ERP market. However, it’s important to know that they exist. 

An open-source ERP is ideal for tech teams that want the ability to develop and integrate custom apps to an ERP solution. Since ERPs can handle such highly customized functionality and processes, this type of software is the preferred choice for developers. 

Small Business ERP Software

As previously stated, there was a time when only large organizations would be using ERP software. But cloud deployment has made ERP software significantly more accessible to small businesses.

Since some ERPs are delivered with custom modules (as opposed to a fully integrated solution), small businesses can choose just two or three modules and omit the others. For example, you could get an ERP software with just functionality for accounting and HRM. Then down the road, you can add-on a module for CRM or inventory. 

Small business ERPs are also known as “lightweight ERPs” because of this flexibility. 

#1 – Infor Review — The Most Versatile ERP Software

Infor is a cloud-based ERP software with solutions for SMBs and enterprises alike. They have several different ERP products for you to choose from based on your industry and business needs.

With 30+ years of experience in this space, Infor’s robust and flexible technology earns them a high ranking on my list.

The ERP solutions offered by Infor are a popular choice for wholesale distribution companies, manufacturing organizations, and various service industries. Some of the notable highlights of the software include:

  • Ability to personalize home pages and dashboards
  • Intuitive role-based user interfaces
  • Unlimited financial calendars, ledgers, basis reporting, and dimension strings
  • Embedded analytics directly within different user’ workflows
  • Production planning and scheduling management
  • Optimized purchasing with advanced order controls
  • Ability to ensure maximum margins with integrated pricing modules

While Infor is definitely known for its cloud solutions, they do offer single-instance and on-premises deployment options for some of their software.

Infor also has a wide range of specific software for things like HCM, CRM, PLM, SCM, and more. So if you just have one single need, you can explore those choices as well. 

#2 – AccountMate Review — The Best Vertical Specific Solutions

AccountMate is branded as the “world’s most customizable accounting system.” It’s designed to help growing businesses gain a competitive edge with unique ERP software based on specific verticals. 

The software is trusted by 125,000+ companies worldwide. In addition to the software, AccountMate provides additional services to help you get the most out of your ERP tools.

AccountMate’s vertical solution catalog is extensive, to say the least. They have 30+ vertical-specific category options available. Their development partners help businesses get industry-specific functionality in addition to the base financial software. 

Some of those top categories include:

  • Billing
  • Budgeting and forecasting
  • Business analytics
  • Business intelligence
  • CRM applications
  • Document management
  • Ecommerce
  • Food processing
  • Human resources
  • Invoice automation
  • Job costing
  • Payroll
  • Route management
  • Sales analysis
  • Warehouse management

The list goes on and on. As you can see, these vertical-specific offerings are extremely versatile. AccountMate can ultimately provide you with a comprehensive front office and back-office solution. 

Businesses within industries like manufacturing, wholesale distribution, utilities, government, solution providers, ecommerce, and business services all rely on AccountMate for ERP.

For those of you looking for a vertical-specific solution with a core focus on accounting and finance, look no further than AccountMate. 

#3 – Epicor Review — Best ERP Software For Manufacturing

Epicor is another industry leader in the ERP software space. They provide cloud and on-premises solutions for businesses in spaces like manufacturing, retail, automotive, lumber and building, and distribution.

With that said, the manufacturing ERP software offered by Epicor is the clear standout. 

It’s trusted by a wide range of manufacturers producing products like industrial machinery, lumber and wood, rubber and plastics, high tech electronics, aerospace and defense products, fabricated metals, medical devices, furniture, and more. 

Here are some of the top benefits you’ll get with Epicor’s ERP software:

  • Ability to track, measure, and monitor entire operation from raw materials to final product
  • Improve efficiencies with real-time visibility into plant and business operations
  • Streamline your processes to reduce costs and increase profits
  • Adapt to new strategies, changing customer needs, and new manufacturing methods
  • Implement lean manufacturing methodologies to eliminate waste
  • Make smarter decisions and prioritize customer satisfaction

Overall, the software is designed for mid-sized and large businesses in the manufacturing and distribution space. If you fall into these categories, I strongly recommend Epicor for ERP.

#4 – IFS Review — The Best Agile ERP Software

IFS is a bit unique compared to other ERP solutions on the market today. The software isn’t as complicated and rigid as other tools that you’ll come across. 

Instead, IFS gives you the ability to adapt in real-time as market landscapes change, and new technology becomes available. This approach helps maximize the agility of your organization.

IFS has pre-configured ERP solutions for areas like supply chain management, human capital management, project management, financials, service industries, and manufacturing.

Within those categories, some of the noteworthy highlights of the ERP software include:

  • Risk and opportunity management
  • Digital asset lifecycle journey
  • Contract management, variation order management, and payment applications
  • Real-time planning and scheduling optimization 
  • Sales forecasting and demand planning
  • Multisite and multi-entity supply network visibility and planning
  • CRM and SRM
  • Financial accounting, management accounting, project accounting, and strategic accounting

Again, all of these tools and functionality are designed to keep your organization agile as the market changes. You’ll be able to gain a competitive edge and make strategic decisions in real-time using IFS for enterprise resource planning. 

#5 – Deltek Review — The Best ERP Software For Small Business

As previously mentioned, ERP software is no longer reserved for global enterprises. There are plenty of great options out there for small businesses that want to leverage these solutions.

Deltek is one of those options for smaller companies, and it’s my top recommendation in this category.

Overall, Deltek is a great option for project-based businesses seeking an ERP solution. They have a wide range of products and modules in categories like:

  • Information management and collaboration
  • Business development
  • Project and portfolio management
  • Human capital management

They even offer niche-specific solutions like costpoint for government contractors or project lifecycle management for small architecture and engineering firms. These examples showcase the versatility of Deltek. 

The cloud-based deployment makes it easy for smaller businesses to implement as well. 

Summary

There are dozens of vendors out there offering ERP software. But after extensive research and testing, I can only recommend the five options reviewed above. 

Which one is the best? It depends on your situation.

Make sure you follow the methodology I described earlier in this guide to narrow down your options as you’re shopping around. This will make your life much easier and ensure you make the right decision for your business. 

The post Best ERP Software appeared first on Neil Patel.


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How To Use Google Autocomplete for SEO

google autosuggest seo

When you type in a keyword into the search box, you know how you get a list of keyword predictions?

This is called Google Autocomplete. Its purpose is to save users time. In fact, according to Google, it lowers typing time by 25%.

There’s no doubt that this feature makes our lives easier, especially when using Google Search on mobile devices.

Google Autocomplete is often overlooked by digital marketers, so taking the time to understand it can give you an edge over your competition.

What Is Google Autocomplete?

Google Autocomplete is a Google Search feature that provides search term predictions.

For example, if you type “what is the capital of” into the search bar, you will see something like this:

Google Autocomplete predictions 1

As you continue typing, predictions will adjust accordingly, until you see the search term you want to use.

You can then simply click on that option instead of typing it all out.

Google Autocomplete’s purpose is to help you save time by completing the search query that you had in mind.

Where Do Google Autocomplete Keywords Come From?

Here’s how Danny Sullivan, public liaison for Google search, explains it in his blog post on Google Autocomplete:

“How do we determine these predictions? We look at the real searches that happen on Google and show common and trending ones relevant to the characters that are entered and also related to your location and previous searches.”

Are Google Autocomplete Predictions Different in Various Countries?

Google Autocomplete predictions depend on which country you’re in.

For example, if you’re in Vilnius, Lithuania, and you type “best pizza in” into the search bar, you will see something like this:

Google Autocomplete predictions 2

All these locations (except for Milan) are either in Lithuania or near Poland, Latvia, and Estonia.

If you change locations, Google will “follow” you, and your autocomplete options will adjust accordingly.

Are Google Autocomplete Predictions Different for Various Languages?

Google Autocomplete predictions differ based on the language(s) you’re using to enter queries into Google.

For example, if you set your default language to English, you will be shown English predictions.

However, if you add other languages that you understand, say, German and French, you’ll also be shown predictions in those languages.

Does Your Search History Affect Google Autocomplete Predictions?

When you’re logged into your Google account, Google Autocomplete considers your search history when showing predictions.

When you see a prediction that has a “Remove” option next to it (it shows up as an “X” on the far right), know that this is a prediction based on your search history—it remembers that you searched for this, but recognizes it may have been a one-time search.

What Are the Google Autocomplete Guidelines?

Not all search queries are deemed appropriate to display as predictions.

These types of predictions go against Google Autocomplete policy:

  • Violence and gore
  • Sexually explicit, vulgar, or profane language, though medical and scientific terms are allowed
  • Anything related to hate speech or approval of hateful acts
  • Sensitive information or terms about named individuals
  • Dangerous predictions, meaning searches for things that could allow serious harm to people or animals to happen

Google admits that while they do their best to remove inappropriate predictions, they don’t always get it right, so they provide a way to report a prediction.

How Can You Use Google Autocomplete for SEO?

Before you start analyzing Google Autocomplete predictions for SEO, it’s essential to do these three things:

  • Log out of Google or use incognito mode to make sure your search history doesn’t influence the predictions you get.
  • Use a VPN if you are based in a different location than your target audience. For example, if you’re currently in Thailand, but you’re focusing on people in the United States, use a VPN to make it seem like you’re in the United States. You want to see predictions for the location where your target audience is.
  • Adjust your language settings to be similar to the language settings the people in your target audience use.

These parameters will help you see the predictions similar to those shown to your target audience.

Keyword Research

Google Autocomplete can be a useful keyword research tool.

Here’s how you can make the most out of it.

Type in a Keyword, Look at the Predictions

Simply type in a keyword that is relevant to your niche and look at the predictions. This research is a great way to discover valuable long-tail keywords. (Answer The Public is another free tool that does this for you.)

Then, use an SEO tool like Ubersuggest, Ahrefs, or Moz Pro to analyze those keywords and identify ones that are worth going after.

Go Through the Alphabet

What if you don’t like any of the predictions that you got?

Brett Farmiloe, the founder and CEO of Markitors, advises to type in your keyword, then just go through every letter of the alphabet to see what predictions come up.

He uses the keyword “equipment financing” as an example:

Google Autocomplete predictions 4

You can add the letter “a” to get a new set of predictions:

Google Autocomplete predictions 5

And then you can add the letter “b” to it:

Google Autocomplete predictions 6

…and that’s how you go through the entire alphabet.

“This is particularly good when you are really stuck, and you are really just in need of some inspiration,” says Brett.

Let Google Fill in the Blanks

Tom Dupuis from Online Media Masters suggests using the underscore character “_” in a phrase so that Google would complete it.

He uses the keyword “chicago _ photographer” as an example:

Google Autocomplete predictions 7

“Instead of having Google complete only the last part, this can show you a better selection of keywords depending on what type of phrase it is,” explains Tom.

Experiment With the Position of the Underscore

Dupuis also encourages people to experiment with the underscore’s position to see what new Google Autocomplete predictions show up.

For example, if you already tried “chicago _ photographer,” why not try “_ chicago photographer”?

Google Autocomplete predictions 9

Try Both Singular and Plural Form of the Keyword

Another valuable piece of advice from Dupuis is to try both the singular and plural forms of the same keyword because this leads to different Google Autocomplete predictions.

Take one more look at the predictions for the “chicago _ photographer” keyword:

Google Autocomplete predictions 7

And now look at the predictions for the “chicago _ photographers” keyword:

Google Autocomplete predictions 8

As you can see, the predictions are different, so try both forms of the same keyword.

Online Reputation Management

This tool is also useful for researching results about your branded terms, such as company, executive, or product names. Google Autocomplete can present a serious threat to your public image if an unflattering search term appears in the predictions using your brand terms

What can you do if you find yourself in that situation?

You have several options:

Address the Problem

If the unflattering prediction refers to something true, fix the problem.

The resolution won’t make the autocomplete issue go away immediately, but if the problem is solved, then over time, people will forget about it and stop searching for it. As the volume for that search term goes down, it ultimately will drop off the prediction list.

Work on Your Brand Image

Again, if the prediction is about an actual incident, you can help people forget whatever happened faster by giving them something positive to focus on.

For instance, you can feature loyal customers on your website, do a giveaway, or organize an event.

Even directly engaging with your customers on various social media platforms can go a long way towards creating a positive brand image.

Other Ways to Use Google Autocorrect Research

Google Autocorrect is a simple tool — but it can be quite powerful. From keyword research to maintaining your reputation, those suggestions can super-charge your digital marketing efforts.

In addition to finding popular keywords, there are several other areas where Google’s suggestions can be useful concerning SEO.

Uncover Key Words for Local SEO

Google Autocomplete can also provide suggestions for local SEO searches you might not have considered.

Say you are looking to rank the website of a coffee shop in Denver — would you just target “coffee shop Denver”? Or do people use neighborhoods, cross streets, or even zip codes?

Google Autocomplete will tell you what terms people search when looking for a coffee shop in Denver:

google autocomplete local SEO

Looking at this example, what can we learn?

Denver Tech Center is a business and trading center in the southeast portion of Denver, Colorado. It’s a popular destination for business workers, so if your shop in that area, you’d want to include Denver Tech Center in your key terms list.

Denver Airport shows up on the list, so if the shop is near there,  you’d want to target that term as well.

Google autocomplete shows several major landmarks (including the airport), so you will want to research if your shop is near any popular locations, such as a museum or shopping center.

There are also listings for Denver, NC, and Denver, PA, which means it’s probably a good idea to include the state.

It’s easy to assume you know what people will search — but it’s worth the few seconds it takes to check and see what inspiration Google autocomplete might offer.

Create a User-Friendly E-commerce Website

Ecommerce is big business — according to Oberlo, more than 2 billion people make online purchases annually. Despite many online shoppers, there’s also a stiff competition to get shoppers to your site.

Using autocomplete to find key terms to target is just one way to use the feature to create a better ecommerce store and create a user-friendly site.

Let’s say your e-commerce sells shoes, clothing, and accessories. Your goal is to make it as easy as possible to find what they want and make a purchase.

Google Autocomplete can help by:

  • Showing which categories are most popular: For example, if you search “women’s shoes” in Google, the search engine will also suggest: “women’s shoes near me,” “women’s shoes on sale,” and “women shoes size 12.”  That means people often search for shoes on sale and by size, so those are categories you’ll want to include on your website.
  • Uncover popular brands: A search for “women’s tennis shoes” tells you which brands users search for most often, including Adidas and Nike. Those are brands your audience is likely to purchase.  
  • Get ideas for your FAQ page: Searching “are women’s shoes…” provides a list of questions people often ask, including “are women’s shoe sizes the same as men’s?” and “are women’s shoes more narrow?” Those are questions people are asking, and providing those answers could help drive more traffic to your ecommerce site.

User experiences can impact search rankings, so making a user-friendly site should be a top priority.

Get Inspiration for Content Topics

Google Autocomplete features searches that people make regularly. Targeting any of those terms or phrases is going to drive traffic. (At least it will if your content is good!)

Here are a few suggestions for getting content inspiration:

  • Who, What, Where, How, Why: Use your primary key term with question words before or after (whichever makes more sense). See what Google suggests — you might uncover the bit of inspiration you need to write your next great piece of content.
  • Use action verbs: This can provide creative angles for your next blog post or ebook. Searching “content marketing is…” shows a list of quirky title ideas, including “Content marketing is like a first date.” Other ideas for action verbs include: are, will, show, be, build, and replace.
  • “Key Term and…”: Looking for related topics? Search your primary key term with “and” to see what associated terms searchers are looking for. For example, if you search “content marketing and…” Google suggests social media, lead generation, storytelling, and sales.

Content marketing is a critical part of SEO, so finding topics that users are searching for can improve the ranking for specific pages and a site.

Conclusion

Google Autocomplete isn’t just a neat user feature that allows you to complete a search term without typing it out.

You can also use it to discover valuable long-tail keywords that you wouldn’t have thought of yourself.

Of course, it can also wreak havoc on your life if an unflattering prediction appears next to your name or your company’s. It’s wise to keep an eye on what shows up on Google Autocomplete so that you can address a problem immediately.

Just don’t make a bad situation worse by using black hat techniques. It’s not worth it.

How do you use Google Autocomplete for SEO?

The post How To Use Google Autocomplete for SEO appeared first on Neil Patel.


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The 10 Best Adwords Companies of 2020

Research shows Google Ads produces 3.5 billion interactions each day, and a 700 percent return on investment for advertisers. If you’re an advertiser, Google AdWords still generates a lot of revenue. The downside is the fact that many companies aren’t able to give their accounts the attention it needs to perform. 

If you’re in this position, it’s probably best to outsource your AdWords management. That’s another problem for advertisers? How do you find an AdWords company that works with your budget, generates the returns you need and continues to perform for your business? What are the characteristics of a great AdWords company? 

Here’s a list of the top AdWords companies and information you can use to find, vet, and hire the right agency. 

1. NP Digital – Best for Driving Revenue

Lots of agencies spend their time focusing on impressions, clicks, and visits. At my agency, NP Digital, we focus our attention on driving top-line growth and increasing revenue immediately for our clients. It’s common for agencies to specialize; many choose to focus their attention exclusively on PPC ads via Google or Facebook. We offer A to Z paid search support covering: paid media, paid search/shopping, paid social, Amazon, and programmatic advertising. 

We can also work with small businesses, medium-sized businesses, and even Fortune 500 companies.  

The nice part about being a full-service agency is the fact that we’re able to help clients with all of the other important components of digital marketing — SEO, email marketing, social media marketing, content marketing, direct response, and more. We’re able to compound the results you achieve with your AdWords campaigns by integrating them with other channels. 

We have an incredible amount of talent at our agency, people like Mike Gullaksen, an SEM veteran who was previously the president at iProspect, a pioneer in the SEM industry. NP Digital has 7 offices around the world and 125+ employees. 

NP Digital’s client list includes:

  • Facebook
  • Viacom
  • Google
  • GM
  • eBay
  • NBC
  • Thomson Reuters foundation
  • TechCrunch
  • Cheezburger
  • American Greetings

2. AdVenture Media Group – Best for Enterprise AdWords Management

AdVenture Media Group specializes in PPC advertising. They’re one of New York’s fastest-growing digital ad agencies. They’ve worked with more than 550 ecommerce and service brands, managing their AdWords accounts for clients. AdVenture manages more than $50 million in media spend across several industries. 

What’s also interesting about AdVenture is the fact that they got their start as an AdWords training company where they trained more than a million students in Google Ads, Facebook Ads, remarketing, and landing page design. Shortly after that, they pivoted to Agency services, focusing specifically on AdWords and landing page design. They’ve grown quickly, shifting their focus to Enterprise AdWords Management. 

While they work with small businesses, their sweet spot seems to be enterprise AdWords management. According to Clutch.co, they focus on midmarket companies with $10M to $1B in revenue and enterprise brands $1B+. More than 70 percent of their agency is focused on pay per click and conversion rate optimization. 

AdVenture Media Group’s client list includes: 

  • Forbes
  • AMC Networks
  • Hanes
  • The UPS Store
  • iBuyPower

3. Ignite Visibility – Best for ROI Focus

Ignite Visibility was named the #1 search engine marketing company in quality and customer service by Clutch.co. They’re a three-time Inc. 5,000 company, representing more than 160+ clients around the world. They manage more than 100 million in ad spend for their clients. 

Their service lines are focused on search engine optimization and pay per click management. Ignite Visibility uses proprietary technology called the “Forecaster Method.” This gives them the ability to forecast results for every service they offer.

Ignite relies on short term contracts and high-touch consulting. They have a low client-to-employee ratio, so clients receive the time and attention they need when they need it. They’ve received several honors and awards, including #1 Pay Per Click Company in the USA 2018 and 2019. 

Ignite Visibility’s client list includes:

  • Tony Robbins
  • The Knot Worldwide
  • 5 Hour Energy
  • EoS Fitness
  • The General Insurance

4. Disruptive – Best for larger budget PPC focus (10k minimum)

Disruptive focuses on something they call results-based relationships. They define this as creating an environment where clients, employees, and the company can achieve their goals and objectives. They prefer long-term client relationships with history where there’s lots of trust. They’re a Google Premier Partner, they’ve been in business for six years, and they recently generated $20 million in revenue in 2019.

They have 152 employees, a large percentage of these employees are paid search consultants, something that’s uncommon in the industry. Here’s another interesting thing about disruptive. They offer AdWords account suspension services. They’re able to unsuspend and reinstate AdWords accounts that have been blacklisted by Google.

Disruptive works best for those with bigger budgets — medium-sized businesses to large enterprises. If you don’t have the budget, they’re probably not a good fit.  

Disruptive’s client list includes:

  • Fandango
  • Fluent
  • Guitar Center
  • Columbia Southern University
  • Blooom
  • Lowepro
  • ConocoPhillips
  • Behavioral Health

5. Voy Media – Best for cross-platform ads

Voy describes themselves as the Swiss Army knife of paid advertising. Voy Media is ideal for clients who are looking for multichannel advertising and an agency that can manage budgets across various platforms (e.g., Google ads, Facebook ads, LinkedIn ads, etc.). According to Clutch.co, 40 percent of their service lines are focused on paid advertising.

Voy is a small, 20+ person team — a mix of data scientists, ad strategists, and tech-savvy creatives; they’re experts at paid advertising, but they specialize in Google ads, Facebook ads, and social media advertising services. They work with all kinds of clients, from micro-startups to medium-sized businesses, to Fortune 500 companies.

Voy’s focus is advertising, but they’re a full-service agency. Like NP Digital, they can handle everything from data to creative, growth to consulting. 

Voy Media’s client list includes:

  • UMG Gaming Creatives
  • A Fine Parent
  • Spartan Camera
  • Lacoste Retargeting
  • Ketoned Bodies
  • Paw.com
  • Big Life Journal

6. Megethos – Best for Technical Industries

Megethos is a small, boutique paid advertising agency. They use a scientific approach to manage their client’s pay per click and conversion rate optimization campaigns. They’re a small, six-person team; they’re data-driven and precise — more so than other agencies due to their size. They don’t hide behind a proprietary process, and they guarantee complete openness and transparency with their clients.

When it comes to paid advertising, their sweet spot is promoting tech companies, whether they’re in SaaS, Ecommerce, Tech, or Transportation. Their agency is 100 percent focused on pay per click advertising. If you’re looking for a full-service agency that can provide you with a suite of multichannel services, Megethos is not the agency for you. If you’re looking for an agency that’s focused exclusively on PPC for the SaaS, ecommerce, or tech industry, they may be a good fit.

Megethos’ client list includes:

  • Heap
  • AeroCare
  • Agora.io
  • Chassis Man Care
  • LapLink
  • RevoluSun

7. KlientBoost – Best for Low Budgets

KlientBoost is a paid advertising agency that’s focused on small businesses with low budgets. They work with clients in the lead gen, SaaS, and ecommerce space, focusing on Google ads, Facebook ads, and other paid social platforms. They have 200+ clients, and they’ve experienced 100 percent year-over-year growth.

In addition to paid advertising, KlientBoost offers custom reporting, comprehensive call tracking, display/retargeting ads, and competitor intelligence — services that are rare at these low price points. They’re also Google, Bing, and Facebook certified. 

Their business is 100 percent focused on pay per click and paid social advertising. They work with small businesses, midmarket brands, and large enterprises. Their industry focus is ecommerce, consumer products and services, and business services.

KlientBoost’s client list includes:

  • LemonStand
  • AdEspresso
  • ShipStation
  • Autopilot
  • Juniper Networks
  • Mention
  • Good Grains

8. WebMechanix – Best for Mid-to-Large Businesses

WebMechanix is a performance-based digital marketing agency for mid to large companies. Their agency specializes in paid advertising and also provides the supportive services of a full-service agency. 

They’re a five-time Inc. 5000 company, a Google Premier Partner, and Hubspot Diamond Certified Agency Partner. Clients see an average yearly increase of 47 percent (for sales qualified leads). It’s no surprise then that 80 percent of their clients stay with them for more than three years.

WebMechanix’s client list includes: 

  • Wirewheel
  • Kettle Bell Kings
  • Revere Bank
  • Cookbook Publishers
  • NCST
  • Salsa
  • Shenandoah University
  • Trinity University

9. Directive – Best for SaaS Companies

Directive is an SEO and PPC demand generation agency that’s focused on software companies. They help B2B and B2C software clients generate more marketing qualified leads for their business. They work with in-house teams at software companies, helping them improve their SEO and PPC campaigns.

Directive builds its procedures around the software development process; they break campaign tasks into weekly sprints, monthly analysis reports, and quarterly strategy reviews. Every client is assigned a small team of experts — account managers, PPC and SEO strategists, data analysts, designers, and developers. 

These teams work behind the scenes to improve campaign performance. 

Directive works with three specific groups:

  1. Funded startups that are ready to make a major market push
  2. Mid Market brands that are looking to establish themselves as market leaders
  3. The enterprise, large established brands that are looking to maintain their position as the market leader

Their clients fall into one of these three groups. If you’re not a software company, Directive isn’t a fit for you. 

Directive’s client list includes:

  • Allstate
  • Cisco
  • Bill.com
  • Sutter Health
  • Network Solutions
  • Linode
  • Samsung SDS
  • Xactly
  • Invoca

10. JumpFly – Best for PPC Specialists

JumpFly is a paid advertising agency that dabbles in SEO. They focus on PPC account setup and management for Google Ads, Microsoft Ads, Facebook & Amazon, and other social platforms. If you need a PPC specialist or you’d like a team of PPC specialists to work with your in-house team, their agency is a good start.  

According to Clutch.co, JumpFly is a Premier Google Partner, Facebook Marketing Partner, Microsoft Select Partner Agency, Amazon Managed Partner, Snapchat Certified, and has an A+ rating from the BBB. JumpFly was listed as the “best PPC management company” by rating site TopSEOs. 

Unlike most agencies, JumpFly works month-to-month and offers its clients a money-back guarantee. 

JumpFly’s client list includes: 

  • Battery Mart
  • NatureHills.com
  • Wholesale Patio Store
  • AED Market
  • Jura
  • ShopWildThings.com
  • Window Design Group

Conclusion

Google produces a 700 percent return on investment for advertisers. Half of the people who click on your ads are more likely to purchase those who clicked an organic link. Google Ads gives advertisers the tools they need to 10x your returns.

If you’re like most advertisers, you may not know how to achieve these kinds of amazing returns from Google on your own, so it’s probably a good idea to outsource your AdWords advertising. 

If you need to outsource your AdWords management, use the list of agencies we’ve created to find, vet, and hire an agency. Find an AdWords company that works with your budget, specializes in your industry or niche, and generates the returns you need.

The post The 10 Best Adwords Companies of 2020 appeared first on Neil Patel.


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The 5 Best Facebook Ad Companies of 2020

2.6 billion.

That’s the total number of people on Facebook today.

This also means you get direct access to 2.6 billion people on a single platform.

So why not make the most of this opportunity and use Facebook to market your products and services for generating leads and driving sales?

Advertising on Facebook can be customized to suit your brand image and business goals. You can focus your efforts on a very specific target audience and create a lot of buzz for your offerings – all this without breaking the bank!

It’s actually quite cheap to reach out to people on Facebook, with a plethora of options available at your disposal, such as pay per click or per email conversion.

Plus, according to research:

  • Facebook ads reach 1.95 billion of the total active users, which is a staggering 32% of the world’s population over the age of 13.
  • Globally, the average Facebook user has clicked 12 ads in the last 30 days.
  • Over 80% of social reference to e-commerce sites came from Facebook.

While all this sounds fun and dandy, all your efforts can still backfire if you don’t have an efficient Facebook ad campaign in place.

And not only that, you need to support your ad strategy with agility and in-depth knowledge to keep up with Facebook‘s best practices and fast-evolving changes.

This is precisely where the world‘s best Facebook ad companies step in.

Our team at Neil Patel Digital has reviewed the five best Facebook ad agencies to help you master advertising on the platform. We‘re confident that you‘ll have a positive experience with all our top picks. 

The 5 Top Facebook Ad Companies in the World

1. Neil Patel Digital – The Best Overall Facebook Ad Company

Branding our company, Neil Patel Digital, as the best isn’t us being vain – we have a solid backing to this statement.

Founded by hardcore marketers who know the art of marketing like the back of their hands, you get top-level expertise coupled with solid experience that can take your businesses to the heights you’re aiming for – and maybe even further!

If you Google “Facebook advertising” or “Facebook advertisements,” you‘ll find multiple articles by our co-founder, Neil Patel, take the top spots. Also, let us clarify that all this has been achieved organically.

Neil is one of the most successful, ubiquitous digital marketers you can find. We don’t claim this, Inc. does.

Additionally, our team of experts – top-level and in-house marketing managers – are well-versed in what clicks and what doesn’t on a social media platform like Facebook. We know the nuances of creating unique, impactful ads that drive the viewer to take immediate action.

We take care of everything: carrying out paid social media campaigns, customer targeting, sending them messages, and recommending creative and copy best practices. Everything.

If there’s one thing that Neil Patel Digital can deliver, it’s results.

Our ad campaigns are customized to suit your budget and marketing objectives. From writing attention-grabbing headlines, choosing the right CTAs, and doing A/B testing – you need to worry about nothing. 

We do the magic to make the whole process as effective as possible.

Our clientele includes market heavyweights like Google, Viacom, eBay, NBC, TechCrunch, Thomson Reuters Foundation, and even Facebook itself.

Client expectations are undoubtedly high because of this, but if you take a look at our case studies, you know that we can do some pretty spectacular things for your business:

  • We helped an online fashion brand surpass the global pandemic slump by recording 3x to 6x ROAS in three months via NPDI’s performance marketing efforts. A 40% reduction in cost per sale and a 141% increase in conversion rates were other wins. 
  • We shifted a luxury retail client to online marketing with NPDI’s full-funnel per advertising strategy that recorded 0x to 4x return within two months.
  • We increased the lead flow of our healthcare client by 60% and cut down the cost per lead expense by 12% – both of these in just two months with NPDI’s lead generation strategy.

In short, our clients have been happy with the results. Plus, we have a 4.3-star rating on Glassdoor.

And since you’re still here, book your free consultation with Neil Patel Digital here

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

A full-service digital marketing agency, Hibu offers a comprehensive Facebook advertising campaign set-up, management, optimization, and reporting services. It doesn’t hurt that the company is Facebook’s marketing partner too:

The agency has very flexible pricing and can customize its services to meet your needs. Its Facebook advertising services start at $250 per month, which comes with a dedicated digital specialist who can create an effective social media plan for your brand.

Besides an end-to-end Facebook ad service, you can avail of the following services:

  • Social media marketing
  • Listings management
  • Website design and development
  • Online review management
  • SEO
  • Display marketing

Hibu will set up your Facebook business page and use its team of dedicated marketers to craft highly targeted ads that convert visitors.

It starts with identifying your goals for creating Facebook ads and then generating appropriate variations to determine the right fit. Once the ads are live, the agency analyzes ad performance and continuously optimizes them for better results.

Client testimonials also speak volumes about its amazing results.

Owners of The Mudpie Company, Berry Floor Leveling LLC, and Rutzick Law are all praises for Hibu’s efficient service and professionalism. The company developed a custom digital marketing solution for one of its clients that helped drive traffic, causing a phenomenal 12x increase in page views.

Hibu enjoys more than a four-star rating on major review sites, such as ConsumerAffairs and Better Business Bureau. You‘ll also find multiple five-star reviews on the company‘s ‘Client Review’ section. 

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

Voy Media is your best bet if returns are your top priority.

It‘s the brainchild of Kevin Urrutia and Wilson Lin and was founded in 2015. You get plenty of variety, including single or ongoing Facebook advertising services.

Precisely why this agency can be an excellent option for businesses that want to test the market by opting for one-off services before considering something permanent.

Voy Media strives to guide their clients on a journey to discover their product and make them their own fans. In addition to developing a collection of eye-catching ads and copy, they adopt a performance-based approach by using carefully thought-out strategies and tactics like target audience development and A/B testing.

It uses proprietary AI software as well for optimizing and scaling Facebook campaigns.

In terms of pricing, you can avail the à la carte Facebook ad copywriting services for $49.99, while outsourced Facebook advertising costs 10% and 15% of your total budget depending on the range.

You must have a minimum $5000/month budget for advertising, though.

Several big companies, such as Big Life Journal, UMG Gaming, Paw.com, Lacoste, and XG Cargo, form a part of its clientele.

The company is also fully transparent about results and has multiple case studies showcasing their expertise.

Voy Media helped one of its clients to scale and amplify their paid media strategy to boost their ROAS with a corresponding decrease in CPA and CPM. They delivered the following results:

  • 1,500% increase in revenue
  • 140,000+ purchases
  • 1,000,000+ landing page views
  • 26,000,000+ post engagements

Thanks to its strong communication and a fantastic team of marketers, Voy Media has scored a 4.5 rating on Yelp. Many have mentioned how the company has given them better ROI, increased click-through rates, and reduced conversion costs.

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

MuteSix is a full-funnel ad agency that can create value for DTC brands, starting at 15% of your total ad budget. And considering that reputable brands like LA Times, National Hockey League (NHL), Headspace, and Chicago Tribune trust MuteSix, you should too.

Their weapon of choice? Breakthrough creativity, which is backed by targeted media buying and data-driven analysis.

Not only does the company produce quality ads for your target audience, but it also optimizes ads, recommends good website designs, and provides regular performance reports. 

They also place a Facebook Pixel on your website for tracking user actions and sales to carry out A/B tests. You can use the Facebook Pixel for retargeting purposes too.

MuteSix has an in-house video studio and graphic design team that can help businesses expand their reach through unique visuals. Furthermore, it tests multiple versions of visually appealing ads on different target audience segments for enhanced effectiveness. 

For instance, the company selected a unique carousel ad format for one of its clients that allowed visitors to scroll through its catalog without leaving their News Feed. This helped the client in the following ways:

  • 4x increase in revenue
  • 33% decrease in cost per action

Bonus: MuteSix can help you make great landing pages and video stories.

In addition to the previously-mentioned brands, several other companies have enlisted the services of MuteSix. Besides the clients, the agency also treats its employees equally well.

It has received several accolades, with Inc. featuring the company on its 500 list for Best Companies to Work For. The fact that they take such excellent care of their employees gives the latter more initiative to work harder for the company’s clients, a.k.a you.

As one would expect, this Facebook ad agency has excellent customer reviews – from Glassdoor to FeaturedCustomers to Google. MuteSix’s biggest advantage is its knowledgeable and skilled team, innovative video production, and fast results according to customers.

The only catch here is that the company prioritizes clients with monthly budgets over $20,000 in ad spend. So it may not be the best bet for small companies.

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

Small companies often don’t have the flexibility to splurge when it comes to advertising.

They have to operate within their budget limitations and maximize results – something that Lyfe Marketing can help achieve.

Located in Atlanta, GA, Lyfe Marketing is a boutique social media management company that offers social media advertising and management, PPC, SEO, and website design services.

It has less than 50 members, making it suitable for small and medium-sized businesses. In fact, the company has been explicitly clear about its primary goal of helping small businesses grow.

The company is well aware of how Facebook can be a driving force for enhancing marketing efforts. You can use its services to grow brand awareness, develop relationships, and promote website traffic.

Lyfe provides bespoke solutions to leverage cost-effective advertising methods and has an expert team to assure tangible results. Their work involves optimizing existing campaigns to decrease cost and increase conversion rates.

Additionally, every account is managed by an experienced social media manager to gain greater insight into your target audience.

If you prefer an intimate working relationship with your Facebook ad company, this could be an excellent fit. 

Plus, you can rest easy when it comes to ad quality too. Lyfe knows the art of providing creative, impactful ads that can help your clientele grow.

With a 4.7- and 4.8-star rating on Clutch and Upcity, respectively, you can imagine Lyfe’s customer satisfaction proficiency. The company claims to have driven over 2,137,349 leads and has listed several case studies that breakdown every client’s journey to success.

We would highly recommend enlisting this agency’s services, joining the likes of Domino’s Pizza, Georgia State University, Hilton, and the Atlanta Hawks.

4 Characteristics That Make a Great Facebook Ad Company

While we’ve chosen our top five picks, you should still be aware of the factors that make a good Facebook ad company.

After all, it’s a sure-shot way to find your perfect match out of the thousands of Facebook ad agencies operating today.

Expertise to Create Objective-Specific Ads

Of course, you want results, and the only way you can ascertain this is through a company that has the skills.

Mentioning “objective-specific ad“ isn’t us trying to sound fancy too.

You see, every company has different business goals. Some want leads; some want to enhance their reach. Others may want to increase store visits or boost engagement.

Whatever be your objective, your chosen Facebook ad company should know how to help you achieve it.

The best way to ensure this? Looking for a diverse portfolio.

Working with different clients and industries helps companies bring greater value, creativity, and innovation to their future clients. Finding a company that has Facebook on its client list would make the deal even sweeter.

Talented Team of Experts

A Facebook ad agency should have an incredible team to back up its success claims.

If it doesn’t, you might want to start looking for other options. After all, how can a company deliver on its bazillion promises without the brain and muscle?

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How much experience does the team have when it comes to social media marketing?
  • How well are they able to communicate with you and understand your needs?

These considerations can help determine whether the company has a team that knows how to drive results for your brand.

Real Life Testimonials

Vanity isn’t always bad.

In this case, for instance, you want a company that doesn’t mind tooting his horn.

Try partnering with a company that provides a positive experience and has a long list of client testimonials to prove it. You want this experience to be posted directly on the website. 

Good testimonials often translate to a similar experience for future customers. Plus, clients are more than happy to give testimonials for a company that they loved working with. If you find a company that has a lot of testimonials, consider it a good sign.

Familiarity With the Latest Tech and Practices

Facebook ad companies must be familiar with the necessary equipment to get the job done.

They should have no learning curve for software/tech – be it Facebook ads manager, Facebook Pixel, power editor, or any other cutting-edge advertising technologies.

Without up-to-date knowledge on tools, your Facebook advertising campaign will lack a punch and hence, will take longer to get results.

While you’re at it, look for ad agencies that are intimately familiar with third-party data sources and creative testing tools in addition to ad software expertise.

What To Expect From a Great Facebook Ad Company

Let’s discuss expectations next. More particularly, what can you expect for your brand?

Introductory Session

As mentioned before, you can have various objectives for enlisting the services of a Facebook ad company.

However, there is no cookie-cutter approach, as every business case has different needs and limitations.

The team should begin with hearing your vision, and then devise methods to achieve it. Just because an ad worked for one company gives no guarantee that it’ll work for you.

Always be vocal about what you want; it’s exactly what the agency wants to know. 

In-depth Research and Best Practice Recommendations

Once they know what you want, they should use their experience and expertise to carry out in-depth research to formulate a draft campaign framework.

Everything has to be in sync here: you, your target audience, and your niche.

You can expect the Facebook ad company to hold meetings where they recommend the best practices for maximizing results.

Campaign Kickoff

If you and the ad agency seem to be a good fit for each other, you‘ll receive a contract.

This will contain a detailed list of terms and conditions, expectations, business plan, and an estimated time frame of when you can expect results.

Next, you’ll have to introduce the team to your in-house staff and give them access to your website, blog, analytics login codes, and so on.

Once the onboarding is done, the Facebook ad company should start scoping your project, creating timelines and task lists, and chalk out an understanding of how they will manage the project.

Wrapping Up

Advertising isn’t easy.

Without knowledge and experience, you and your staff can get overwhelmed and maybe even incur losses.

It’s wiser to rope in an experienced and reputable Facebook ad company that can drive new business and save you money at the same time.

The five companies we’ve listed above tick all the right boxes. They have a stellar reputation for delivering results, creating thriving ad campaigns, and provide excellent customer service. Choose any one from them, and you’ll be able to boost traffic and convert visitors into leads and customers.

It’ll only get better with time once things pick up – you only need to find the right company for you.

The post The 5 Best Facebook Ad Companies of 2020 appeared first on Neil Patel.


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