Honing Steel Blog

0 comments on “Is your business “a bar that serves food” or not?”

Is your business “a bar that serves food” or not?

Indiana’s Back On Track Roadmap includes a confusing phrase – “bar that serves food” –  as part of the delineation of the businesses able to open in Stage Two versus Stage Four. The Indiana Alcohol & Tobacco Commission released some important information through a FAQ release to help clarify that phrase, and when your business would be able to open once more.

0 comments on “Don’t be confused by Indiana’s Back On Track roadmap dates!”

Don’t be confused by Indiana’s Back On Track roadmap dates!

As states and municipalities across the country are preparing to get back to business as usual, the question that comes to mind: “When do I get to reopen my business?” Well, in the State of Indiana, the answer is: it’s complicated.

0 comments on “Indiana #BackOnTrack: The Hospitality Roadmap”

Indiana #BackOnTrack: The Hospitality Roadmap

During his press conference on Friday, May 1, 2020, Governor Eric Holcomb laid out his roadmap for the State of Indiana to get #BackOnTrack and reopen the economy following his stay-at-home order. But the roadmap has a lot of twists and turns based on industry and location, so let’s take a closer look at how this impacts the hospitality industry in Indiana.

0 comments on “Why Your Website Needs an SSL Certificate”

Why Your Website Needs an SSL Certificate

Have you ever noticed that some website URLs start with HTTP while others start with HTTPS? Maybe you’ve noticed a tiny lock icon in the top left corner of your browser? What exactly does it all mean?

Websites that are HTTPS have an SSL certificate.

SS-what? SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer and is a secure protocol developed for sending sensitive information over the internet. If a website you are on has an SSL certificate, it means that the site is secure and encrypted. Any data you enter is safely shared with that website and that website only.

Let’s talk technical for a second. How does SSL actually prevent information theft?

When you start to break down what SSL is, you’ll discover it’s asymmetric (or public-key) encryption. This requires each party to generate a public and private key pair. Imagine a padlock on a gate. Anyone can go up to the lock, inspect it, and even try to open it with their key. However, only the right key can actually unlock it. In this example, the padlock is a public key, they are visible to the general public. Private keys are exactly that, private. These private keys are used to unlock public keys.

When you fill out a form on a website without an SSL certificate, the information can be intercepted by a hacker. This site would be classified as not secure.

The information you submitted could be anything from a banking transaction to your credit card information. A hacker could intercept your information in a number of ways, one of the most common is when a hacker places a small, undetected listening program on the server that is hosting a website. That program ‘wakes up’ when a website visitor starts typing their information. This listening program will begin capturing the information and send it back to the hacker.

When you visit a website that has an SSL certificate, your browser will form a connection with the web server and bind to it. This connection is secure so that no one besides you and the website where you’re submitting your information can see or access it.

This connection happens instantly. There is no manual work required. You simply need to visit a website with an SSL certificate and your connection will automatically be secured.

Why is SSL so important?

You might be thinking, I’m not accepting sensitive information through my website! Regardless of if you are in the business of accepting delicate information or not, having an SSL certificate is still incredibly important.

SSL and SEO

In 2014, Google made adjustments to its ever-changing algorithm for SEO rankings. The major change? Websites using SSL certificates. Google began and still continues to flag sites without SSL certificates as untrustworthy.

SSL Guide Image
An image illustrating the difference between SSL and non-SSL Website domains.

Sites with an SSL certificate receive an SEO boost and will be the default result for searchers. If you want to be findable on Google, having an SSL certificate on your website is absolutely necessary.

SSL and online payments

If you are conducting online transactions through your website, it is imperative that you have an SSL certificate. As an online shop, it’s your primary responsibility to ensure that the information being exchanged over your online store is protected.

How do you prove to your customers that their usernames, passwords, and credit card numbers are not being revealed to malicious hackers? Having an SSL certificate!

SSL and consumer trust

Did you know that Google Chrome is the most popular web browser? 44.5% of internet users search the internet using it. On the Chrome browser, you are able to easily spot a site with an SSL certificate. Next to the URL is a tiny lock icon. If a site has an SSL certificate it shows it locked, however, if a site does not have an SSL certificate the lock will be open and red text will read ‘Not Secure’. The second a customer lands on a website that is labeled ‘not secure’, they are going to feel less comfortable browsing it, even if there is no sensitive information being passed across it. SSL certificates have become an absolute necessity for any business that wants to be perceived as trustworthy.

There’s no denying the confidence and trust that an SSL certificate can provide to a site. Choosing an SSL certificate to secure a website demonstrates that a business values customer trust, which is essential to financial success, customer conversion, and business growth.

0 comments on “5 Reasons You Need Instagram for Your Business”

5 Reasons You Need Instagram for Your Business

Instagram has entered the territory of “must” rather than “nice-to-have” when it comes to social marketing for businesses. There are a few key reasons why every business should have an Instagram account, and why you’re going to be pretty left out if you don’t get on this social platform.


1. Skyrocket Your Engagement

The data shows that Instagram is the #1 platform for getting post engagement.

That means that if you want to establish a relationship with your client base (which you do), then you’re going to need that post engagement that only Instagram can provide.

But let’s back it up for a second…

It’s an interesting time to be involved in social media marketing… Facebook is facing major allegations, and as a result—people are doing crazy things like starting movements to delete their Facebook accounts… (For my sake, and the sake of your distant relatives, please do not delete your facebook). As much as internet trolls might have you think that it’s the social media Armageddon, I assure you that life will go on.

It might be looking a little overcast in the internet landscape, but before we pack our bags —there’s still some hope. Facebook’s more charismatic and adopted little brother (Instagram) still has users entranced with its purity and boasts a pristine opportunity for brands who are ready to stir up the marketing pot.

Now, Instagram is the #1 platform for post engagement because its focus on visual content creates a very unique space for brands to interact with others—and if you’re a skeptic, the numbers don’t lie. According to a study conducted by Forrester, Facebook and Twitter organic post engagement levels are currently less than 0.1%. In comparison, the millennial-centric Instagram boasts regular engagement at 4% for brands. (That’s 40x better, by the way).

instagram stats

2. Grow Your Following with Ease

80 percent of Instagram accounts already follow a business on Instagram, and 65% of top-performing posts feature products. The translation here is obvious, Instagrammers want to see branded content, and they want to connect with brands.

Add the engagement levels for brands (4%) that we just saw and we have the optimal landscape for growing your branded following on this platform.

3. Generate Leads

Instagram is a tool for lead generation.

We know that social media strongly influences purchase decisions, even if that is at the subconscious level of the consumer decision-making process.

It’s 2018, and our favorite lead generation tool (Facebook) is making algorithm changes that are making it harder for brands to get heard. With engagement rates already resting around the 0.1% mark, it just might be the ideal time to expand your reach to include some Instagram marketing.

With Instagram, 60% of users have first heard of a product or service through the platform, and over 120 million Instagram users visited a website, got directions, or called/emailed/direct messaged a business as a result of their engagement with the platform (sproutsocial). That means that 120 million Instagrammers have been lead to a business through the platform.

You can easily use Instagram to generate new business and sales with strategic content and links in your bio, as well as reach new targeted and engaged audiences through paid ad campaigns through the Facebook ad platform.

4. Stay On Top of “Instagram Reviews”

A little-known fact is that when an Instagram user posts something on Instagram and uses a location tag, this tag isn’t owned or regulated by the business that owns the physical location. All location tags on Instagram, or “Instagram Geotags”,” are tied to a separate public account that Instagram will store posts under.

Instagram Reviews

For businesses, this is a blessing and a curse.

Best Case Scenario:

Say you own a local restaurant and you have numerous dedicated and consistent customers who love to post at your restaurant and have nothing but glowing words to accompany beautiful pictures of your space. When others look at your location on Instagram, this is what they see, and they are that much more likely to convert and become loyal customers as well.

Worst Case Scenario:

You own the same local restaurant, but one dissatisfied customer took it upon themselves to post a picture of your front door exclaiming their disgust with the service that they received. This post has lingered on the web and likely dissuaded other customers from posting to the location, and has resulted in the loss of unknown amounts of revenue through prospects who steered away from your business as a result.

Although you have no control over the things that users might be saying about your brand (much like standard reviews), you can still help mitigate some possible damages by having a branded Instagram account and monitoring the posts on your location. Much like negative reviews left on other review platforms, by responding to negative Instagram posts, you are much more likely to prevent harm to your reputation.

5. Don’t Get Left Behind

As of 2017, nearly 71% of businesses in the United States were already using Instagram. The release of Instagram business profiles and the ability to to run ads/analytics with ease have been large factors in driving the Instagram growth movement.

business instagram use
Source: eMarketer

You may notice that this looks like an exponential growth graph, and that’s probably because it is. Fortunately for you, just because 71% of these businesses are using Instagram doesn’t mean that these businesses are using it to its full potential.

We can make a pretty good estimate as to where this usage rate is going to reside by the end of 2018, so don’t get left behind.


Don’t wait, get started on your Instagram strategy today to generate new leads, amplify your brand, and build new business!

0 comments on “Why Your Business Should Want More Reviews on Review Sites”

Why Your Business Should Want More Reviews on Review Sites

The importance of responding to customers online could not be more prevalent as reviews continue to grow more than ever before. Aside from the fact reviews from customers help others decide whether they should visit a business or not, reviews are now more prevalent on search results pages — meaning a lot of eyes can see what is being said about your company online.

The influence reviews have on shoppers is staggering: more than 88% of online shoppers incorporate reviews into their purchase decisions (Webrepublic, 2015). Businesses are told to get more reviews on review websites to keep attracting new customers. With so many review websites out there, where does a business even begin? Your business may be afraid to manage customer reviews on review sites as you may not want to end up in one of these situations:

  • receive zero reviews
  • receive zero recent online reviews
  • receive negative online reviews
  • or, your business simply has unmanaged online reviews across multiple review websites

Unfortunately, your business is missing out. This lack of free online word of mouth is actually hurting your business through inaction, because reputation drives conversion.

1) Business reviews and social posts help shape your company’s online reputation.

In fact, one of the worst things your business can do is ignore your online reviews and social posts. As easy as it is to make a mistake when handling your business’s online reputation, it can also be easy to recover if done properly (and with apology). While damage will inevitably happen, your business can take steps to mitigate the degree of damage that can occur. The biggest mistake of all your company can make is not participating in helping to shape the conversation about your company online.

2) Business reviews provide valuable feedback for your business.

While it can be easy for your business to take negative comments to heart, it is important to recognize that reviews are constructive feedback. All in all, reviews are valuable feedback! They help your company gauge their performance and see how you can improve. There is always room for improvement and a lot can be learned even from positive business reviews. Through reviews, your business can see which products or services you should be boasting, which needs work, and even discover which employees rock at customer service.

3) Your business reviews can now appear in search results.

Search engines have caught on to the popularity of reviews and are now displaying them more prominently. So, if someone searches for your business, there is a chance that reviews from review websites could be displayed on the search engine results pages. In Google’s markup—the annotated content that appears in search—of a company or product, business reviews and ratings can now be included in search results. In other words, when a user performs a search on Google, Google will find and possibly display review summaries from online business reviews and consumer ratings. Below is an example of how business reviews now showing up in search results.

How can businesses get more reviews?

There are a variety of methods your business can employ to ask for more business reviews, including emailing consumers manually, using surveys, asking consumers to leave reviews with codes and review sites on their receipts, or utilizing review generation software to automate the business review process.

Three important review website management tips:

1) Remember to add or claim listings on the top review sites.

It’s a good idea to add or claim a listing or business profile on the most popular review sites (unless your business doesn’t fit with the niche), correct your business’s listing information and start getting more business reviews!

2) Your business should keep asking customers for reviews.

Asking the average customer for a review can be hard work. Granted, it is often easiest to get reviews from consumers that are either really happy or really unhappy with the level of service they were provided. Your business should always remember to ask as customers are busy creatures and will not remember unless they are asked or reminded to leave feedback.

3) Customers are more open to leaving reviews on review sites.

Why not just ask for business reviews or testimonials on your business’s website? Well, asking consumers to leave a review on your business’s website seems a lot more screened and inauthentic than simply asking consumers to leave reviews on a trusted review site. Since the review site is a third party, it feels more open for customers to leave an honest, unbiased review.

Business reviews are here to stay.

In conclusion, there’s no getting away from business reviews. The good news is that there are methods to get more business reviews as well as effectively managing reviews from customers. Also, businesses needn’t fear negative online reviews, as there are ways to negate the effect of negative reviews.

0 comments on “30 Digital Advertising Statistics for Businesses”

30 Digital Advertising Statistics for Businesses

While the world of online marketing has expanded far beyond paid advertising, advertising still plays a very important role in generating revenue and business. Digital advertising is the top of the “new advertising stack,” and it’s what can create brand awareness, drive sales, and create visibility across a variety of channels that are oversaturated with businesses trying to stand out.

Although there are many new players in the online marketing landscape like email, social media, and reputation, digital advertising isn’t set to slow down yet—a statement that’s underlined by the fact that ad spend is set to grow from $83 billion in 2017 to over $129 billion by 2021 (DMB Adobe).

We’ve compiled this list of top advertising stats so you can spend your advertising dollars where it matters, and get the ROI you need to thrive in the digital world.


Statistics about Digital Advertising

1. Digital advertising spending is set to grow from $83 billion this year to $129+ billion by 2021.

2. Google and Facebook are set to rake in 63.1% of digital advertising spending in 2017.

3. Google has +20% year-over-year advertising revenue growth, Facebook has +62% year-over-year growth.

4. 39% of marketers list search engine marketing as their top business priority for 2017.

5. Marketers that invest over 10% of their budgets on measurement are three times more likely to beat their sales targets by 25% or more.

6. 56% of advertising use engagement to measure success, 21% use conversion & revenue.

7. 34% of social media marketers list “tying social campaigns to business goals” as a top challenge.


Video Advertising Statistics for 2018

8. 2017’s video advertising spend is $13.23 billion, and projected to reach $22.18 billion by 2021.

9. 68% of consumers respond positively to watching video ads for mobile app rewards.

10. 52% of marketers believe that video is effective for brand awareness.

11. Online shoppers who view demo videos are 1.81x more likely to purchase than non-viewers.

12. 51.9 percent of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI.

13. According to retailers, video can account for a 40% increase in purchases.

14. Mobile shoppers are 3x as likely to watch a video than desktop shoppers.

15. 46% of users act after viewing an ad.

16. 80% of consumers remember a video ad they viewed in the past 30 days.

17. Combining video with full-page ads boosts engagement by 22 percent.

18. E-commerce sellers find that using product videos increases product purchases by 144%.

19. Video ad completion rate for videos 15 seconds long is 93-95%, with 30 second videos seeing a completion rate of 92-93%.

20. Over half of video advertising is viewed on mobile.


Mobile Advertising Statistics

21. Americans spend 71% of their online time on mobile, with Canada and the UK coming in at 62% and 61% respectively.

22. Average smartphone conversion rates are up by 64%.

23. Mobile advertising accounts for $37 billion of the $73 billion total ad spend (51%).

24. 81% of consumers feel negatively about mobile add pop-ups.

25. Mobile accounts for 60% of click share on Google Search ads, compared to desktop’s 32%.

26. Search ad spending on mobile is set to rise by 25% in 2017.


Social Media Advertising Statistics

27. 70% of advertisers plan to increase their mobile social advertising budget in 2017.

28. 26% of Facebook Users that click ads make a purchase.

29. Images account for 75-90% of Facebook advertising effectivity/performance.

30. The best headline length for a Facebook ad is four words, with 15 for the description.

Sources: DMB Adobe, 2017 | Smart Insights, 2017 | KPCB, 2017 | Digital  Marketing Depot, 2017 | eMarketer, 2017 | CMS Report | WordStream, 2017 | Small Biz Trends, 2016 | WowMakers, 2016

 

Contact us to get started with digital advertising for your business today!

1 comment on “The New Home of Honing Steel Hospitality”

The New Home of Honing Steel Hospitality

Honing Steel Hospitality has a new home! We’ve moved our offices into the historic Circle Tower building on Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis. As part of the Level Office co-working suite, our private office’s address is:

Honing Steel Hospitality
55 Monument Circle, Office #713
Indianapolis, IN 46204

Want to visit our new office and see our wonderful view of Monument Circle, while learning more about what a partnership with Honing Steel Hospitality can do your business? Contact us today!

About Level Office

Level Office offers fully furnished, amenity-rich workspaces with direct fiber internet & WiFi in prime locations so businesses can thrive. With budget-friendly private offices, office suites, dedicated desks, coworking memberships, virtual offices and daily offices, Level Office is perfect for small businesses, entrepreneurs, professionals and companies expanding into a new city or looking for an impressive new office space.

When clients rent an office space at Level Office, they’re not only getting a physical workspace—fully furnished with desk and chair, direct fiber internet and WiFi, and company logo display—but access to tons of on-site amenities and entrepreneurial community! Our communal lounge areas and coworking space are available to all Level Office members and feature a fully-stocked kitchen, espresso bar, and local beer on tap, as well as an array of great networking events. Plus, our all-inclusive pricing means that mail service, 24/7 secured access, and taxes and utilities are already included in clients’ rent.

As the fastest-growing owner-operator of shared workspace nationwide, Level Office takes pride in renovating and improving historic buildings with the latest technologies and amenities, all while keeping rents 30-50% lower than other coworking providers. Our clients love the vibrant community within Level Office, and we encourage clients to do business with one another through networking events, Lunch & Learns, and happy hours.

About Circle Tower

Completed in 1930, Circle Tower overlooks downtown Indianapolis’ prestigious Monument Circle and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A prime example of Art Deco architecture, this unique building features a ziggurat crown, Art Deco sculptures, and bronze grilles with hieroglyphic images.

Overlooking the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Monument Circle, the historic Circle Tower boasts one of the city’s most prestigious addresses. Restaurants, hotels, nightlife, and nearby parking abound, making it the perfect location for networking lunches or meetings with clients. In addition, the building’s proximity to Washington Street, I-65, I-70, and multiple local bus lines makes it easy for commuters to get in and out of the city.

Circle Tower was designed by the firm of Rubush & Hunter, and built to house prime office space, with commercial storefronts on the ground floor. Faced in smooth-dressed Indiana limestone, the building rises to stepped back top stories, ziggurat-like upper stories that recede from the outer façades in terraces, punctuated by Art Deco sculptures.

Each pier top is ornamented with capital blocks carved as stylized foliate panels. The north entrance has a massive one and one-half story arch lined with foliate banding. The ziggurat crown, sculpture façade panels, granite sculptures of the arched entryway, and the design of the interior lobby, elevators, and street-floor shops are highly illustrative of the Art Deco style.

Circle Tower was completed only eight years after archeologist Howard Carter’s sensational discovery of King Tutankhamen’s tomb in 1922. The intricate bronze screen over the north entry arch reflects the widespread interest in Egyptology at the time. Sculptor Joseph Willenborg filled the bronze grille with hieroglyphic-like images, stylized into the Deco mode.

0 comments on “A Little Digital Advertising Goes a Long Way: One Restaurant’s 30-Day, 4,381% ROI Success Story”

A Little Digital Advertising Goes a Long Way: One Restaurant’s 30-Day, 4,381% ROI Success Story

Digital is in!

For some industries, this can be bad news, as traditional media can take a backseat to modern technology. Luckily for the restaurant industry, people will always be hungry, and they will always be looking for new dining experiences to satisfy both their hunger for food and taste for adventure. Yet, with Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat overrun by pictures of delicious meals all around the world, it can be hard for a local restaurant owner to find ways to stand out in the digital crowd.

That’s where digital advertising technology and tactics comes in. This is the story of how one restaurant turned hungry internet surfers into happy new customers with the power of digital advertising, and the team who skyrocketed their ROI to 4,381%.

Read the full case study here: Honing Steel Digital Agency’s Cafe Mexicana Digital Advertising Case Study

0 comments on “Matthew Kennedy Appears on Abdul At Large, WIBC 93.1FM”

Matthew Kennedy Appears on Abdul At Large, WIBC 93.1FM

Recently, Matthew Kennedy, President of Honing Steel Hospitality, appeared on the Abdul At Large program on WIBC 93.1FM radio, along Dave Meeker of Bringing Tech 2 You and Mike Murphy of Hirons Communications. On the program, we discussed the pitfalls businesses should avoid when it comes to social media with Abdul-Hakim Shabazz of Indy Politics.

Listen to our conversation on SoundCloud, courtesy of our friends at Indy Politics: