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Email Marketing Tips For Small Businesses

Posted on April 12th, 2017

email marketing-tips

 

Despite what some might say, email marketing is still alive and well.

 

With the explosion of social media sites today, some feel that email is a dying marketing tool. However, email still remains one of the most lucrative marketing channels for businesses. It’s a free source of advertising and it’s targeting an audience that has already shown interest in your brand by subscribing to your email list or newsletter. Customers are more inclined to buy from you because a level of trust has already been established. Emails and newsletters can help boost sales, given that they’re done properly. But keep in mind that you can actually lose customers if it’s not done with care.

 

Here are some helpful tips to remember before sending out that email to your subscribers:

 

1. Personalization – Avoid generic greetings such as “Hello”, or “Dear valued customer”. Emails that address readers by their first name are much more effective and help build the relationship on a more personal level. Most email marketing tools have a function that will automatically include the individuals’ name whom you’re emailing, so you don’t have to type all the names in manually every time.

 

2. Know Your Message, and Write it Well – Before you start writing that email, ask yourself why you’re emailing your customers and make sure to include a call to action (what you want them to do). Be sure it’s well written and is engaging for your customers to read. Assume that you only have a couple of seconds to grab their attention and make the first few sentences enticing so customers will continue reading. Use headings and small paragraphs for ease of reading.

 

3. Frequency and Timing – Don’t overdo it. It’s recommended that small businesses should be emailing their subscribers only once or twice a month. Emailing too frequently will ultimately lead to higher unsubscribe rates. Social media sites are better tools for frequent communications. Also, keep in mind that there are “prime” times to send these emails. Although it will vary slightly depending on your target audience and the type of industry you are in, typically these are the best times to send marketing emails:

Day of the Week – Monday to Friday (except for mail about recreational content, which is better to send on the weekend)
Time of Day – The optimal send time is 10:30am (except for content about hobbies, which is better to be sent at 8:00am)

 

4. Do Not Spam – It’s very important that you do NOT add people to your email list who did not personally sign up. Remember, emails are great tools for maintaining and strengthening relationships (or sales), but highly ineffective at recruiting new customers. Adding unsuspecting names to your email list will only foster a negative impression and might even get you dropped by your email provider. So don’t do it!  Also, avoid using spammy-sounding phrases in the subject line, and include the business address, as this will also keep your mail from being treated as spam by email filters and servers.

 

5. Make it Mobile-friendly – Your emails should be mobile-friendly. Prior to finalizing your next email campaign, make sure that it is tested against all major mobile devices. Mobile emulators are also available so you can see how the email looks on different devices.

 

6. Use Social Media – Your website is not the only medium you can use to increase your email subscribers. Make full use of your social media accounts, and include your social media profiles in the email, as well. Provide links to your Twitter feed, Facebook page, and/or your blog in all email messages. Also, remember to ask your followers to register and explain the benefits of doing so.

 

7. Keep it Interesting – People get bored easily, so keep your content from becoming static. Don’t focus on the same message over and over. Mix up your content and keep your subscribers engaged by offering special offers and vouchers, as well. On average, 7 in 10 people will make use of a coupon or discount from a marketing email.

 

For more on email tips and etiquette, visit http://www.verticalresponse.com/blog/email-etiquette-dos-and-donts/

Ways to Increase Your Website’s Page Speed

Posted on April 10th, 2017

increase speed

 

Google has started taking site speed into account as one of the factors for deciding search result listings.

 

Bounce rates, particularly on mobile devices, are higher when the site speed is slow. According to digital marketing specialist Max Goldberg, a website that loads faster makes money faster. In addition, it creates a better user experience because nobody wants to wait more than a few seconds for a page to load. That’s the reality of it. So, what do you do if you find that your page loading speed is slow (3 seconds or more)? You don’t have to necessarily redesign your entire site.

 

These are a few ways to increase your page loading speed without an entire website overhaul:

 

Image optimization – There’s no need to have huge image files on your website. They can be sharp, clear and of high quality without them all being 2 MB images. Images tend to load much more slowly, when compared to text. If the images on your website are in the range of 1 MB or more, it can lead to longer website load times, and the more pictures you have, the more this factor plays a part. But, you can compress and optimize all of these images. A good standard is to make sure your images are around 100 KB in size.

Use system fonts – System fonts may not have the dazzle and funkiness of the custom fonts you can find these days, but they will improve your page loading speed. Using standard system fonts like Arial or Times New Roman will speed things up, and they look great on pretty much every device and operating system.

Get rid of the auto-playing videos – If you insist on having videos on your website, disable the auto-play. It’s incredibly annoying to the end user and slows things down significantly. Instead, display links to the videos on your YouTube channel, or at least allow users to manually click play in order to watch.

Minimize Redirects – Redirects trigger an additional HTTP request, which adds a delay to page loading. You should try to avoid redirects totally and they should be included only if it’s technically required and if an alternate solution is not available. When it comes to your web pages, you should never reference URLs that can redirect to others.

Faster Servers – The speed at which the website content is delivered by the server also has a major impact on the load time. This is why hosting companies will vary considerably in price. It’s the “you get what you pay for” scenario – the cheaper ones are a lot slower than the more costly ones. If you have a decent budget, opting for a dedicated virtual private server would be ideal.

Use Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) – Google now makes use of an open source standard for mobile devices referred to as AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages). Instead of loading all the content from your site, Google creates its own index of your website. It strips it down to HTML so that mobile devices load sites faster. Google attaches preference to AMP pages when it comes to mobile searches. For websites that were created with WordPress, you can use the AMP plugin for deploying AMP pages.

Malicious Bots – What Are They and How Can You Avoid Them?

Posted on April 7th, 2017

malicious bots

 

A malicious bot is malware designed to steal information, or infect a host, often used by cyber criminals.

 

The threat of these automated programs can come in many forms; DDOS, spam, content duplication, etc. Some are designed to strictly scrape information from your website and use it for their benefit (websites with real estate listings often fall victim to this bot). Others are more malicious and attempt to gain more detailed personal information from you or your visitors. When malicious bots commit fraudulent activities, they can consume between 15%-40% of server capacity and bandwidth. This results in high server cost, more server requirements and higher load on current server infrastructure.

 

These are three of the more common types of malicious bots:

 

File-sharing Bots
These bots take the user’s query term (e.g. a popular movie or artist’s album) and respond to the query stating that they have the file available for download, providing a link. The unexpecting user clicks on the link, downloads and opens it, and unknowingly has infected their computer.

 

Spam bots
These bots flood your inbox with spam and interrupt your chats by sending you unsolicited instant messages. Some aggressive advertisers use these bots to target individuals based on demographic information obtained from the user’s profile. These types of bots are usually easy to spot because they typically just send you a link to click on along with some kind of enticing comment to get you to click.

 

Zombie Bots
This refers to a computer that has been compromised, along with hundreds or thousands of other computers, as part of a botnet. These computers are used to coordinate large-scale attacks where all the zombie computers act in unison, carrying out commands sent by the botnet owner. These bots are more difficult to detect and are more stealthy. Quite often, victims of this type of infection don’t even know that their PCs are infected.

 

So how can you avoid these monsters?

 

For starters, consider using a second opinion scanner in addition to your existing anti-virus software. A lot of anti-virus programs don’t detect botnet-related software. Malwarebytes is a reputable example of this kind of bot detection software.

Secondly, monitor your logs. Staying proactive and attentive to your website will increase the likelihood that you can take action before any major damage is done. New tools have emerged in the past few years to make this task easier and more user-friendly. These tools enable you to isolate any IP showing aggressive or unusual behaviour. Logstash is an open source tool for collecting, parsing, and storing logs for future use and has grown to become one of the major players in this field.

Looking to Partner With a YouTube Influencer? Here are Some Useful Tips

Posted on April 6th, 2017

partner youtube influencer

 

Partnering with a YouTube influencer can be extremely beneficial for your business.

 

But, as with any business decision, making the right choice takes some time and thought. The most important thing that you should keep in mind is to choose one that is relevant to your business and not focus on the hits/traffic alone. Brands working with small- and mid-sized influencers tend to have more success, because they are directly related and have a tight-knit community as the target market. For example, a YouTube influencer might be getting millions of hits per month giving demonstrations and tutorials on the newest video games. But, if you’re a mortgage consultant, partnering up with this YouTuber will not benefit you at all, regardless of how many hits they get.

 

Another thing that’s very important is to go for authenticity.

 

It’s better to have an organic video by a non-professional, so to speak, than an overly-promotional commercial type of video. There’s no need to use the “buy now” approach. It gives the viewer more of a sense of control, and portrays the YouTuber as a real person, as opposed to a salesman trying to get that sale. Once you have selected the best candidate, make sure to provide a custom tracking link for the influencer (preferably placed at the top of their video description), which leads back to your website, blog or product page.

If you have more than one influencer, each tracking link should be different so you can measure results from each one accurately. This will tell you which influencers were most effective, and determine which ones you do not want to work with on your future campaigns. If you don’t know where to start looking for a YouTube influencer, check out https://www.grapevinelogic.com/.

Don’t forget about SEO! Now that Google owns YouTube, Google often gives preference to YouTube content in their search results. So, be sure to include your brand name and any other keywords associated with your product or company in the video description and tags. This will help increase your ranking in the search results.

Creating a Smartphone App for Your Business

Posted on April 3rd, 2017

create smartphone app

 

So, you’ve decided to create an app for your business. But where do you start?

 

Do you approach this in a hands-on, cost-effective manner, or do you dish out the money to hire a professional who already has the skills and knowledge in creating apps? There are three routes you can take when it comes to creating a smartphone application.

 

DIY
There are quite a few do-it-yourself options out there for businesses with a tight budget. If you don’t need your app to be too complex and you’re not a perfectionist, building your own app using online do-it-yourself tools is probably your best option. These tools have a what you see is what you get kind of interface – ideal for the technically challenged novice.  Some of the more popular DIY tools include AppMakr, App Inventor and Appypie.

 

Work with a Developer
If you find yourself limited on time and better off hiring a developer to create your app, make sure you have all your paperwork in place (such as non-disclosure agreements) early in the process, in order to protect everyone that’s involved. Ensure you have clear communication with your developer so there are no surprises and both parties have appropriate expectations. Express your needs and wants, but listen to the professionals and try not to micromanage a design or development project.

 

Go with the Pros
If your app is going to be a big part of your marketing strategy and involves complex functions, you may want to go with the professionals. Agencies and development shops will do everything for you from figuring out what exactly you want the app to do, to measuring quantitative results. Hiring a professional agency will typically range from $5000 to over $25,000. It’s certainly not the most cost-effective solution, but it’s the safest one for ensuring you’ll be getting what you want and that it will be done properly the first time.

Why You Need to Use Videos for Your Business, and What to Avoid

Posted on March 30th, 2017

need videos

 

Every business owner should be using videos to attract customers and push their company to new heights.

 

Videos are shared more often than links or text combined because consumers today prefer watching video over reading. When talking about a consumer product, would you rather read about it, see a picture of it, or watch a video about it? Video is like a combination of text and images. It’s the closest you can get to having the product sitting right in front of you without actually being there. Clearly, text and photos do work, but they do not have the impact they used to have years ago.

There are many different ways businesses can use videos to interact with customers. Videos can introduce new products, provide an overview of the company’s team, or provide information that can resolve issues and offer solutions.

 

The most effective types of videos used in business are:

- Business overview videos
- Product videos
- Call-to-action videos
- How-to videos
- Testimonial videos

 

Businesses that have product videos – particularly on their promotional landing pages – see a dramatic increase in conversion. Not to mention the fact that video is 50x more likely to get organic page rankings on Google than plain results.

Of course, quality is important. You don’t want to just throw something together in a few hours. Although video is preferred over text or photos, a poorly made video will not do much for you, and users will just stop watching it half way through. For great examples of well-made marketing videos, visit: http://www.inc.com/kevin-daum/5-powerful-new-ways-to-make-video-attract-customers.html

 

When creating videos, avoid these common mistakes:

 

1. Poor audio quality: Trying to struggle to make out what is being said is not a pleasurable experience. Make sure your voice is clear, with no background noise or interruptions.

2. Lack of clarity: Stay focused on what your intention is, and what message you’re trying to send to your viewers.

3. Information overload: Don’t try to get everything into just one video. If there’s a lot to say, create several videos. Take your time and do it right the first time.

4. Having no call to action: You want to initiate a response or reaction from your viewer. “Visit our website”, “Call us for a free sample” or “Leave us your comments” are examples of how to initiate user interaction.

Why Page Speed Will Affect Both Your SEO Rankings and Conversion Rates

Posted on March 29th, 2017

page speed affects

 

Page speed is a critical element in SEO and it should be addressed if your website is not up to par.

 

It relies on a wide range of factors, from your host to your design. Google has stated that the speed of a page is a factor that decides a website’s ranking and there are several reasons for this. Users will usually abandon a website if they have to wait more than a few seconds for it to completely load. Not surprisingly, fast loading sites receive lower bounce rates and better search engine rankings and this is attributed to more frequent site visitors and easier purchases.

 

Users like fast, convenient websites, and so does Google.

 

If Google sees you as a slow loading website (beyond three seconds), they will likely penalize your website for being too slow because it is affecting the user experience in a negative way. Users like fast, convenient websites and so does Google. Page speed is a critical element that online businesses cannot ignore.

Don’t lose your customers to competitors simply because you failed to optimize for speed. Use a platform built for speed and your users will love you for it. Every second you shave off your page loading time will boost trust and confidence in your website, and will have a significant effect.

Here Are Some Mind-Boggling YouTube Facts That You Need To Know

Posted on March 28th, 2017

youtube marketing

 

Are You Using YouTube to Boost Business?

 

To a lot of us, YouTube is a place where we can watch music videos, view some how-to tips for that new project, or just watch something funny to make us laugh. But there’s so much more to this picture. It’s a gigantic sea of entertainment and information, run by businesses, kids, and Internet weirdos who can do some pretty cool stuff. Business owners have come to quickly realize the massive influence and capabilities that YouTube has gained over the past few years. If you haven’t used YouTube to promote your business, you need to get on that ASAP.

 

Here are a handful of staggering YouTube facts that will blow your mind:

 

- The total number of YouTube users is 1,300,000,000.
- Almost 5 billion videos are watched on YouTube every single day.
- YouTube reaches more 18-49-year-olds than any cable network.
- More video content is uploaded to YouTube in a 60-day period than three major U.S. television networks created in 60 years.
- 819,417,600 hours of video has been added in the 10 years YouTube has been around.
- Approximately 300 hours of video is added to YouTube every minute.
- The world’s highest paid YouTube stars earned a combined total of $54.5 million in 2015.
- YouTubers watch 46,000 years worth of content annually.
- Half of all YouTube views are from mobile devices (using a smartphone or tablet).

 

For more interesting stats on YouTube and how your business can benefit from it, visit https://www.simplilearn.com/youtube-marketing-article

How to Advertise on Smartphones

Posted on March 27th, 2017

advertise on smartphone

 

Are you reaching out to customers through innovative smartphone advertising?

 

Businesses can use smartphone ad campaigns to reach their audience effectively and create awareness for their service or product. There are a few different schools of thought as to what advertising should look like when it comes to smartphones.

 

Here are some different ways with brief descriptions of each type:

 

Push Notifications and Smartphone Apps
Smartphone apps are the doorway to push notifications. A push notification is a type of Apple iPhone advertisement associated with its app counterpart. It’s an ideal way to announce new features, articles, products or services and acts as a branding mechanism for your company.

Banners Ads
Banner ads are vital in mobile advertising. Everyone at one point or another has come across a banner ad on their smartphone. They have been proven to get good conversion rates and ROI.

Text Message Advertising
Text message advertising is a good way to reach a very specific target audience using technology based on GPS. With GPS-enabled smartphones, you can capitalize on the consumer’s physical location to advertise your relevant service or product.

Facebook Mobile Ads
You can reach specific demographics such as age, gender and location via cell phone by using Facebook mobile ads and use it as an advertising vehicle to reach potential customers on their cell phones.

In-App Advertising
Advertise by becoming part of the app itself. This option would involve working with the app developer to incorporate product placement within the app. For example, a game app that involves a slingshot/target practice type of theme, using Cheerios as ammunition instead of pellets.

 

Here are some mind blowing statistics on smartphones and apps:

- Of the 1.8 hours average users spend online on their smartphones each day, mobile apps account for 89 percent of this time.
- In 2015, iOS users downloaded 25 billion apps, and Android users downloaded 50 billion.
- More than 3 billion people worldwide now use the Internet, and 80 percent of them access it from smartphones.
- The majority of growth in digital media time is now being generated by the use of mobile devices, with desktop computers increasingly becoming a secondary device.
- 1.4 billion smartphones were sold in 2015.
- The mobile industry generates $3.1 trillion in annual revenue — a whopping 4.2 percent of global GDP

For more incredible statistics on smartphones and apps, visit http://mobilebusinessinsights.com/2016/06/twenty-surprising-mobile-stats-for-2016-the-smartphone-takeover/

The Best Tips on How to Use Twitter For SEO

Posted on March 23rd, 2017

seo twitter tips

 

Here are some handy tips on how to use Twitter for search engine optimization:

 

Use an Appropriate Account/Username
Your Twitter account name will show up in your URL, so try to include your most relevant keyword, as search engine crawlers will pick up on this. It should reflect your offered services or site name.

 

Links
Since Google displays tweets in SERPs (despite nofollow), putting your links on your posts will help your link building efforts. Also, try to have your links include effective keywords. Be sure to also include a link to your company website to help direct visitors.

 

Keep the Tweets Keyword-Rich
As already mentioned, Google will display tweets in search engine results. Therefore, you want to include your most relevant keywords in your Tweets, as they’ll be picked up by the search engines. This will provide free and relevant organic traffic.

 

Include a Twitter Logo and Link on Your Website
Make it easier for users to find your Twitter account. Add a Twitter logo on your website, and promote it with a strong call to action.

 

Use Those Hashtags!
Hashtags are everywhere these days and you can’t ignore them. You see them on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, and Facebook. Hashtags are a Twitter feature that work like metadata for your tweets. They will expand your content reach, target your market, and help your content to be found by users.

 

Re-tweeting
Re-tweeting other relevant posts, especially those that are of the same niche as yours, will help you build your brand and promote your services.

 

Don’t Be an Over-Tweeter!
You don’t want to appear spammy to your users or the search engines. Spread your tweets out over the day with decent intervals. Keep tweets at least a couple of hours apart.

 

Promote Your Blog Site if You Have One
Promoting a blog site is a good option, too. A blog site can provide more information to your visitors and it’s the best place to interact with them. It allows users to share your articles, contribute with their comments, and gives them the opportunity to re-tweet your articles, as well.

 

Keep in mind that SEO isn’t about instant gratification, so be patient. Every small piece of the puzzle will contribute to the bigger picture. Results often take months to see, particularly if you are new to doing business online.

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