Category: "Business"

Easily Preview Sites before DNS Propagates

Since sometime close to forever, the way to preview sites prior to pointing DNS, was to modify the hosts file on your PC. If you’re not familiar with the hosts file, it’s a file on your computer that allows you to take advantage of the DNS lookup hierarchy. Modifying it allows you to view a website on a server that hasn’t had the domain name pointed at it yet. It’s a great trick for previewing sites, but it’s not without drawbacks. Mainly, you’ll need to remember to un-modify it. And for some reason, modifying my hosts file doesn’t work for me anymore.

Then we found https://hosts.cx/ and viewing un-launched sites became much easier. Just enter the IP address and the domain name of the domain name of the site and click Get My Testing URL.

hostcx

This takes you to page with a link to your temporary site for viewing. Plus there’s a QR code you can point and click at from your mobile phone to preview the mobile version of your site too. They did their homework!

Read More

Creating Terms of Service and Privacy Policy Documents

 

 

tos

From forums to ecom sites, the importance of current Terms of   Service, Privacy Policies and various other legal documents cannot be be stressed enough. Automattic has open sourced all of its legal documents, including a DMCA takedown notice.

To use Automattic’s legal document as a foundation for your sites document check the Auto Terms of Service and Privacy Policy plugin at WordPress.org.  Clifford Paulick’s, wrote the plugin to use content from Automattic’s Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, both are available to the public under the Creative Commons Sharealike license. The language of each document is generic and can apply to most sites or service providers, from single sites to subscription sites, blog networks, forums and others.

Github and its Legalmattic repository is another source to check for these documents.

Read More

How To Create A Landing Page That Converts

How To Create A Landing Page That Converts

 

Landing pages are one of the ultimate ways to attract new customers to your site — and ultimately increase sales. You can’t assume that new visitors reaching your site are going to wind up on your home page: if their search query matches another page on your site, it’s likely that Google will send them towards the most relevant page. This means that visitors from organic search can be reaching pages other than your homepage for the first time. This makes it all the more important to structure each page like a landing page. This insures you are putting your best foot forward, no matter what page your visitor lands on

 

A landing page  is like a first date, so try to make it more attractive and eye catchy with a clear cut Call To Action, that makes an elegant impression on the customers.

There are 8 main essential elements found in converting a page and they are:

C= Clear call to action

O= Offer

N= Narrow Focus

V= Very Important Attributes

E=  Effective Headline

R= Resolution and Layout

T=  Tidy Visuals

S=  Social proof of your site

Today, we are going to review some of the best landing page practices that will definitely let you gain more conversions, so that when a visitor or a customer clicks to your landing page they walk away happy and informed and you get a sale or new lead.

Create strong, uncluttered Landing Page content

As an owner, you probably do not have much time to connect regularly with your customers. For instance , a first impression on a date, you only get one before that person makes their decision about you, same thing applies to the landing page content. So, include clear line content, concise information and eye catchy headlines. You should use ‘’you’’ word to make a clear connection to the customers so that they can easily understand the facts about your product. Give your visitors the ability to scan the landing page quickly and be able to pick out the important information they need.

 Place a prominent call to action on your landing page

You should make your CTA [call to action] noticeable so that customers are clear about where and how to convert. You can use contrasting colors and blank spaces behind the CTA to make it and use simple words that can encourage visitors to take action.  You should give them clear information on what will happen after clicking to CTA. Give them the information on what to expect from your company after they have signed up. Even if you don’t make a sale from some of those sign up’s, think about it this way. You now have a new prospect and or “lead”. This person has just given you their personal information and is clearly interested in your product or services. You can now send them a follow up email with a first time customer deal or just some more info on why your company or product is a right fit for him/her.

Include a video on your landing page

A small image and a small length video is more helpful and clear for a visitor than a lengthy article. You can use a 30 seconds video on your landing page to increase the conversion rate.

Place customer testimonial on your landing page

Placing strong customer testimonials can convince visitors that your product or service is worth trying. Attaching the customer testimonial near the CTA will be a good strategy as it can encourage visitors and reinforce the positive conviction of your landing page.

Closing Thoughts

Without elaborating this more, I wanna stop myself here. So I hope you all understand the way to create a landing page that converts. Really a landing page is the overall impression of your service. Create something that speaks to your clientele, allow them to get clear and concise information about your product or services prior to them signing up for something. A landing page is a great way to showcase a new product or feature.

Read More

7 Reasons You Should Be Using WordPress For Your Small Business

7 Reasons You Should Be Using WordPress For Your Small Business

WordPress is a ubiquitous blogging software and CMS that powers millions of websites around the web. It’s ease of use, flexibility and secure design make it a popular choice for nearly anyone looking to launch their own website. What makes WordPress unique is it can be quite simple to use for the beginner, while still being a powerful solution for developers and designers of all skill levels.

If you’re still on the fence about launching your website and either budget or lack of knowledge is holding you back, check out these 7 reasons why your small business should be using WordPress.

#1 WordPress is free.

This is a major plus for small businesses. With so many expenses to deal with throughout the year it’s nice to know you can get a powerful CMS and blogging software for absolutely free. All it takes is a simple download. Of course, you still need a domain and web hosting, but these are very affordable.

#2 WordPress is easy to use.

When it comes to updating your site, WordPress makes things simple. If you have ever used Microsoft Word you should have an easy time learning how to create and publish posts within WordPress. You’ll also find that uploading images are very simple as well.

The best part about WordPress is that it is easy to find an answer. A simple search on Google will uncover tons of tutorials for every experience level. This means you can save money by maintaining your own site versus hiring a webmaster for simple tasks. It also means you can update your site more frequently, which is necessary for building traffic and rankings in the search engines.

#3 WordPress makes it easy to have a professional presence.

WordPress uses themes to change its look to different designs. There are thousands of both free and paid themes, but the best part is that a real nice, professional theme will only cost about $35 – $45. You can find the perfect theme for your business through sites like Themeforest.

#4 WordPress is optimized for SEO.

Search engine optimization is the process of fine-tuning your website to appear in Google under the keywords your customers would use to find your business. SEO can be a very complicated and delicate process. WordPress makes the job easier by using clean code and highlighting information the search engines are looking for. You can expand these features through plugins like WordPress SEO.

#5 WordPress is simple to expand.

If you wanted to add extra features to a regular HTML website it can require an extensive amount of effort, depending on the task. WordPress can be the same way, but a lot of this can be sidestepped through the use of WordPress plugins. These plugins allow you to search for features to add to your site, add them, and customize to your needs. For example, say you wanted to add a review feature to your site — there’s a plugin for that. Do you want people to be able to share your content? You’ll find plenty of social sharing plugins as well.

#6 WordPress makes mobile easy.

Mobile is big online. More and more people are using their smart phones to search for local businesses, so if your website isn’t up to the task chances are they might click away before they walk through the door. What makes WordPress so great is the fact that there are a lot of themes that are responsive. Not only will you have a mobile site, you’ll have a website that displays good across multiple devices — from desktops to smart phones to tablets.

#7 WordPress is constantly being updated.

WordPress is a free, open-source project with developers from around the world contributing to make it better and more secure. This is important. You want a software that is constantly being updated as new cyber threats and vulnerabilities come out. You also want a system where user experience is at the center of development when it comes to new features and functionality. With WordPress that’s exactly what you get.

Read More

A Turkey’s Guide To Thanksgiving Marketing

A Turkey's Guide To Thanksgiving Marketing

Thanksgiving is about fun, family… and eating a lot of good food. It’s also the time of year we reflect on our blessings and be thankful for what we have. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of the year. There is nothing quite like relaxing with the family, with the bustle and activity of food being prepared, children playing, and the football game sounding in the background.

That’s not all the holiday season brings. It’s also a time of year when shoppers come out in full force. For a lot of businesses, this is the “make or break” season, so it’s incredibly important to be prepared for what’s coming.

A lot of shopping occurs this time of year, so much in fact that Adobe is forecasting the biggest Thanksgiving, the biggest Black Friday, and the biggest Cyber Monday in history.

screen-shot-2013-11-05-at-9-34-27-am

6 Small Business Marketing Tips For Thanksgiving

Creating an incredible Thanksgiving feast is a lot like creating the perfect marketing plan: it takes preparation, skill, a bit of cash. You also need people to show up. You don’t want the bird on the table without guests, just like you don’t want to put in the work and not have customers showing up to your business, or clicking the order button on your website.

Fortunately, we’ve put together a bit of information to get you going in the right direction.

1. Get started early

Procrastination will not get you to where you need to be, so the only way to pull this off is get started early. You don’t rush out on Thanksgiving to shop for supplies. If you have before, you’re well aware that it turns Thanksgiving into a stressful chore; scrambling to the store, preparing the bird, hoping to get dinner done in time. It takes all the joy out of the holiday and you work yourself to the bone trying to get everything done at once. More times than not, quality suffer as well.

Start your planning early. Don’t put yourself in the position to have to make a mad dash to get things done. Strategize what you want to accomplish this holiday season and start laying the groundwork for a successful Thanksgiving marketing campaign.

2. Dress up for the holidays

What is a Thanksgiving meal without the dressing? It’s all the little things to make a great meal. You need stuffing, pie, mashed potatoes, and all the other fixings — especially if I’m coming for dinner.

The same goes for your business. Let your customers (and potentials) know you are one with the seasons. If you own a brick-and-mortar establishment, make sure to add some festive Thanksgiving decorations. This simple touch will add warmth and get people in the spirit of the holidays. If you only do business online, why not add some Thanksgiving touches to your website?

3. Host an event

Beyond the food, Thanksgiving is about coming together with family and friends. Hosting an event for your customers, whether online or in the store, is something that can help you leverage the holiday season and bring your customers closer to you.

This is important. It will help you build brand loyalty. Without differentiating yourself from the competition, customers are left comparing apples to apples.

4. Send calendars or cards to your customers

Have you ever sent out postcards to family and friends during the holidays? The reality is that with social media becoming such a huge part of our lives, the old pen and paper often fall by the wayside.

This makes the impact of receiving a postcard, letter, or calendar, even stronger. Try to put together some gifts for your customers. I’m sure they will be “thankful”.

5. Don’t skimp on marketing materials or advertising

There are a lot of people that go all out for Thanksgiving. Maybe that is not you, but I will venture a guess that there is at least someone in your family or circle that is known for cooking an excellent meal for Thanksgiving. They don’t skimp on things. They take no shortcuts. Everything has to be homemade (or close to it).

You should take this same approach to your holiday marketing. Pay attention to the details and don’t skimp on doing what you need to do to get the word out. Set aside a budget for paid advertising, and be sure to have money / time set aside to bring the best to the table.

6. Cross promote

Thanksgiving is about coming together, so a cross-promotion strategy this holiday season might be the perfect choice. Teaming up with another business doubles your audience, and increase your marketing budget — you don’t have to worry about everything coming out of your pocket. On the other side of the coin though, you’ll want to make sure you partner up with a business that does not compete with you directly, but offers something that your customers would appreciate.

Do you have any Thanksgiving marketing tips to share?

 

Read More

Free Marketing Tools Every Small Business Should Be Using

Free Marketing Tools Every Small Business Should Be Using

If you are a small business owner and venturing into the land of online marketing, it’s always good to have a few tools at your disposal that make your life easier.

I mean, seriously, who can complain about that? Whether you are just getting started, or have been for awhile, saving money is always a good thing — especially when you can get the job done without shelling out more money. As a small business owner, chances are keeping costs low is important.

Hootsuite

Hootsuite is a social media dashboard that allows you to schedule and send out messages to your social media accounts from one place. You can connect up to (5) accounts for free, which is often more than enough for most small businesses.

The best way to get started is to sign up for an account and add the social media accounts that you would like to monitor. You can add Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube and more. After you get your accounts set up, download and install the browser extension. This way, you’ll be able to easily schedule things to share, without the hassle. And you can schedule ‘on the fly’, which makes it a handy little timesaver.

Mailchimp

There are other options out there. If you do a lot of email marketing and are concentrating on growing a list, you may want to go with Aweber; it has a bit more flexibility. For most small businesses, if you just want to send out a simple newsletter to your customers from time to time, Mailchimp is the perfect solution.

For one, they have a free account that has a lot of functionality, and the analytics are very impressive. You will be able to see how many times your customers open your emails, plus get to see what links are being clicked the most.

You can put this data to use and learn who your most engaged customers are, which can help you with sales later on down the road.

SurveyMonkey

When you are in business, you’re in business for your customers. Whether you are selling a product or service, your customers are the deciding factor for your success. Soliciting customer feedback is important. You want to make sure that what you are doing is being well received.

You can set up your own online surveys quickly and with little effort with a tool called SurveyMonkey. The free plan includes basic options that will allow you to collect customer feedback online, and their paid plans have a wealth of other features added in.

Rafflecopter

Rafflecopter is a really awesome app for running contests on Facebook. If you haven’t heard, Facebook now allows contests to be ran on your Timeline, but just because that door is now open, doesn’t mean you want to abandon running your contests through apps.

If you want more traction on social media, Rafflecopter is one of the best choices out there. You can easily run your own giveaways or contests and create your own options for entries. For example, contestants can earn more points by ‘liking’ your page, following you on Twitter or Pinterest, or sharing a tweet. The variety of options offered gives you the ability to use this app to build a following across multiple social channels at the same time, while at the same time exposing your business new (potential) customers.

Topsy

If you are not hip to Topsy, you are missing out — big time. Topsy is a social search engine. It is a great tool to not only find infuencers or people interested in your niche, it’s also an incredible tool for uncovering link opportunities and getting ideas for blogging.

All you need to do is visit Topsy and type in your keyword. Next, select “links” and “all time”. That’s it. You should see a list of some of the best performing content on social media, sorted by the actual page. What can you do with this information? Well, for starters, you can use it to inspire your own content. If you see a piece of content that performed exceptionally well, do it better. If you can do even 20% better, there is a good chance that you can get people linking to your content as well.

Read More

Where Will Your Website Be In 2014?

Where Will Your Website Be In 2014?

This year is on its way out. Let’s not kid ourselves here: time flies. Whether you are moving forward or not, time waits for no one. If you dream of having a snazzy website, lots of traffic, and online success — you have work to do.

It’s time to start thinking about your goals for next year. We’ve made the work a bit easier on you and came up with the top 6 ways you can make your website (and online presence) better.

Ready? Let’s do it.

Go mobile

Numbers don’t lie: mobile phones account for 17.4% of global web traffic and the people in the know only expect this number to grow. “You need to be where your customers are” cannot get any truer. People are using their smart phones and mobile devices to look for products and services. If you’re online make sure your website is responsive, or have a mobile version of your website setup.

Focus on content

To say content is important would be the understatement of the century. Good content is what attracts visitors, and you need visitors in order to turn them to customers. Make sure you are devoting time to producing content that is useful and informative. You should also publish regularly. Just remember to not drone on about your products with every post. It’s important to craft content that will be useful to your readers.

Original content will help you:

  • Build brand awareness
  • Showcase your expertise
  • Grow trust with your readers
  • Differentiate from the competition

Get active on social media

This is a big one. Search and social go hand in hand. If you’re after rankings and traffic, you’re much better off approaching online marketing from both angles. What’s important to remember is don’t just use social media to share your links. Be sure to actively engage with influencers and others in your industry. This will give you more visibility and help to establish you as one of the key people in your niche.

Create concrete goals

You won’t get anywhere without goals. You have to know where you are going in order to get there. Write down a list of goals and areas you want to improve, then start scratching those tasks off the list. Want to use something besides paper or Word? Wunderlist is a handy little app that will allow you to easily create lists, set due dates, and reminders and more.

Measure what you’re doing

Once you have goals in place it’s important to measure your efforts so you know if they are paying off. Use tools like Google Analytics, Webmaster Tools, and Facebook Insights to gather data about your brand. Try to analyze what’s working and what’s not. If you can pinpoint some of the activities you’ve been doing that are working well, look for ways you can do them better — or just do more of it. The important thing here is to find areas that may be not producing and eliminate them.

Start making deadlines

You cannot have goals without deadlines. When you don’t set an end date to a task, all it becomes is a “want”. Set your goals and pick a reasonable amount of time to accomplish them. If you have a date in mind you’ll have an easier time getting things done. You want to take small steps towards your goals everyday.

What are your plans for 2014?

Read More

The Power of Authentic Customer Reviews

The Power of Authentic Customer Reviews

Let’s face it: customer reviews have taken a bad rap, and for very good reason. In a world of fake Yelp reviews and PRISM surveillance, there aren’t too many trusting souls on the internet. In fact, people are a bit skeptical of claims from either side of the fence, business or government.

The main driver for this is that most online reviews are bought and paid for by businesses hoping to gain an edge in the search engines, and dupe unsuspecting customers. Of course, not all reviews are make-believe, and an authentic customer testimonial can have a positive impact on your business.

But you need a strategy.

How To Get More (Authentic) Customer Reviews

Of course, it helps if you have a product or service that is truly amazing. I’m going to assume that you have that in place and have had the opportunity to create some believers.

Here is what you need to do next:

Reach Out To Your Most Loyal Customers

This should be the first step on your list, and for good reason. Social proof is important for building a business, and most people will not be moved to leave a positive review without a truly exceptional experience. And, most of the time, no one wants to be first.

In order to get the ball rolling you’ll want to get a couple of reviews from your customers. Reach out to the one’s you have developed a rapport with and ask them for a favor — simple as that. If the review will be appearing on your website, offer to link to their website (if appropriate). The link is the important part, so is using an actual picture. A real image puts a face to the testimonial and a website gives proof the person is who they say they are.

Invite Others To Share Their Opinion

Now, it’s unethical to give something away for the sole purpose of a review. That being said, there is nothing wrong with encouraging your customers to share their opinion. If someone has something good to say, why not ask them for a review?

Spread The Word

Once you have received good customer feedback, spread the word far and wide. You can not only use these testimonials on your website, but you can also use them on social media, presentations, and brochures.

The Power Of Community

If you own a brick-and-mortar business, or have local customers this can be an even more powerful marketing tool for you. When people see people they know talk positively about a business, it… well, has a positive impact.

More Tips For Getting Excellent Customer Reviews

Sometimes the best answer is a matter of perspective. You may think your business is firing on all cylinders and doing great by your customers, but you may be overlooking something. The key here is to pay attention to your customers. They are far more important than your actual product or service, because without them you do not have a business — you have a hobby.

Got any tips to add?

 

Read More