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  • What to Do With That Email List Everyone Says You Need 

    Thursday, March 30, 2017 by

    What to do with your Email List

    If you’re like most small business owners, you collect email addresses from your current and prospective customers. If you aren't doing this already, the time to start was yesterday. Don't believe us? Read this. Chances are, you could be getting a lot more value from your email list. Here are a few ways to put those emails to work for your business, tips on what to say in your emails, and best practices for getting more recipients to open your emails and click through to your website.  

    Why your email list is so valuable

    The people on your list have already said yes to hearing from your business. It’s usually easier to sell to an existing or interested customer than to sell to someone who doesn’t know you or your business. That’s not to say that everyone on your list will take you up on an offer, of course, but you stand a better chance of converting email list members as you get better at creating offers and structuring your emails.  

    Growing your email list

    The main thing to remember about growing your email list is that members need to opt in. Not only is it unprofessional to add people to your list without their express permission (for example, by adding everyone in your Contacts list), but it can also cause you to run afoul of rules that prohibit spam emails. Once your emails are flagged as spam, you’ll have a harder time reaching the legitimate members of your list. As long as you’re following the rules, you can extend the opt-in invitation in as many different ways as you wish. For example, you can...
    • Create a landing page with an opt-in box for new visitors.
    • Add an opt-in form on every page of your business web site.
    • Create an offer (a coupon code, a free piece of information, etc) for new subscribers who complete your opt-in form.
    • Contribute “thought leadership” articles to your local online newspaper, business journal, or TV and radio sites and include a link to your opt-in form.
    Check out this article for more creative list-building suggestions you can adapt for your business and audience. For example, you may not have a business that operates joint ventures with other companies, but you might be able to collect email addresses from participants in a workshop you host, a sales party where you demonstrate your products, and community events where you’re a vendor.  

    Managing your email list

    The ultimate DIY is to simply BCC your list recipients from your professional email address, but this is not a great idea. First, you’ll have no way to track how many recipients get your email, open it, and click on links inside it. Second, unless you make sure to include unsubscribe information in each email, you risk getting your email account flagged as a spam sender by recipients who want to opt out but don’t know how. To see how successful your emails are, and to give recipients a way to opt out without flagging your emails as spam, HostGator recommends Constant Contact for email marketing services. For businesses with lists of fewer than 500 subscribers, a basic subscription costs $20 per month or less, and there’s a free trial period.  

    Using your email list

    With an email marketing service, you can store your contacts, note the date that they opted in, collect demographic and customer-specific information (like zip code and birthday), and keep a record of which topics they’re interested in so you can segment your list and target your emails accordingly. (More on segmenting in a minute.) So, what should you send to the folks on your list?
    • Promotions are always popular. If you’re running a sale, offering a limited-time deal, or introducing a new product, email your list.
    • Cool, useful, and entertaining information can help keep warm leads interested in your business, even if you don’t have an offer. Just keep the content relevant to your audience.
    • Surveys and requests for input from current customers can give you ideas to improve your products, pricing, or service.  
    • Remind your list members about upcoming events where your business will have a booth and invite them to come meet you in person.
    Constant Contact collected 29 email marketing ideas from small business owners that you can modify for your own marketing campaigns.  

    How often to contact your list

    How often should you email your list? That depends on how often your customers want to hear from you. Depending on your industry, your email content, and your audience’s preferences, they may want to hear from you every week, a couple of times a month, or every day. If you can’t ask directly, use your email marketing tools to monitor your unsubscribe rates. If frequent emails lead to more unsubscribes, dial it back until your dropout rate levels off or declines.  

    Refine your email mojo

    Sending any email is a good first step, but there are ways to make each email perform better. Keep the tone of your email conversational, and make sure it’s well-written and properly punctuated. Use email formats that are optimized for smartphone display. Segment your list so you send members only the content they’re interested in. They’ll appreciate your respect for their time and be less likely to unsubscribe. For example, when I ran my dancewear business, I segmented my list into customers who were interested in products for adults, products for kids, and both. That way I didn’t bother the customers who wanted women’s products with promotions for kids’ products, and vice versa. Check your metrics. Track your open rates and click-through rates for each email you send. Over time, you’ll develop a sense of what types of emails get the best responses from your audience and you can focus on those. You can do this in Constant Contact’s dashboard. A/B test your emails. Once you have the email marketing basics down, you can start conducting careful experiments to see what types of subject lines and content get the best responses from your list members. As with metrics, A/B test results can help you develop stronger email campaigns over time.   Managing your email list is just one step in growing your business. Check out these related articles for more ideas:
  • 6 Easy Ways To Optimize Your Podcast For More Traffic

    Wednesday, March 29, 2017 by
    Optimize your podcast for more traffic The podcast revolution is upon us. The total number of podcast listeners continues to grow every single year. This means the chances are high that your ideal audience is listening to a podcast right this very second, which is probably why you started podcasting in the first place. Below we dive into a two-fold approach for sending people from your podcast to your website. First we’ll show you how to optimize and get more listeners to your existing podcast, and then we’ll show you a few tricks to encourage these people to head back to your website.  

    First, Optimize Your Podcast For Search

    Your podcast isn’t doing your business any good if it’s just sitting there on iTunes, not gaining any new listeners. One of the more effective ways to improve the chances of people actually finding your podcast is through proper optimization.  

    1. Optimize for iTunes

    iTunes will crawl your podcast, similar to how Google crawls your website, to determine which keywords to rank it for. This means you’ll want to optimize your podcast title, subtitle, and description fields. You can even add certain keywords, and name drop guest names, to increase the amount of traffic flowing to your podcast page.  

    2. Optimize your Metadata

    Your episode metadata is automatically created by iTunes, but you can still go in and change the data to tag the information yourself. This will help your podcast rank even higher, as you’re giving each episode more information to work with.  

    3. Create Catchy Episode Titles

    Think of your podcast titles the same way you view blog post titles. Your titles must be catchy and provoke curiosity in the eyes of your listener. Having lackluster titles won’t encourage your readers to listen to your episodes. Create Your Blog  

    Second, Take People From Podcast To Website

    Once your podcast is optimized within iTunes, it’s time to encourage those listeners to visit your website. Below we offer a few ways you can get the most out of each episode.  

    1. Promote Extracts on Social Media

    Social media can be a great way to drive traffic back to your website. But, you need to share a steady stream of engaging and relevant content if you want your strategy to be effective. You can put your podcast audio to good use by finding sharable quotes from your podcast (bonus points if they're tweetable). Then, load those up into your social media queue using a tool like Buffer. This will provide intrigue to your podcast episode, and drive more clicks to your website as well.  

    2. Offer a Free Download to Accompany Your Podcast

    You should always create a free download that accompanies each episode. This will give listeners a reason to head back to your website. The free resource should enhance the information that’s already been presented in your podcast. For instance, if you just had an interview with a startup founder about their new productivity app, you could create a free ebook on your website called 7 Hidden Secrets to Get The Most Out of This App. You could even giveaway a free subscription or coupon to the visitor who leaves the best comment.  

    3. Create Podcast Show Notes

    Show notes fulfill two needs. They can help increase your search engine rankings and they provide value to listeners who prefer reading over listening. Publish your show notes on your website and offer an outline that extracts all of the hidden gems from each podcast episode. This might seem like a lot of time spent, but this will give the search engines something to rank you for, and beef out your podcast episodes on your website, to the benefit of your listeners. Sounds like a win-win to me. Your podcast can be an integral part of your marketing strategy. We hope the tips above will help you get the most from your podcast.
  • 15 Essential Tools for Internet Entrepreneurs

    Tuesday, March 28, 2017 by
    Online tools for internet entrepreneurs Online entrepreneurship isn’t as simple as people think. Similar to a brick-and-mortar business, internet entrepreneurs are managing various tasks, like sending relevant customer messages and collaborating with team members. That’s why it’s important to stay organized throughout the entire process. “Some of us are energized by the chaos. Others of us are totally thrown off by the chaos. For the entrepreneur, it’s important to make sense of the chaos in order to truly succeed,” writes serial entrepreneur Neil Patel. Use tools to help you manage the chaos. Here’s a roundup (not an exhaustive list) of the best tools for internet entrepreneurs. HostGator WordPress Hosting

    1. Trello

    Entrepreneurs are never handling one task at a time. They must focus on several projects at once. Project management tools like Trello give business owners the confidence to stay motivated. Trello keeps your whole team connected with drag and drop cards. Organize multiple projects amongst several people without worrying if someone received your message. Communicate with your team members by adding comments, uploading file attachments, and setting due dates. Trello  

    2. Buffer

    Social media helps spread brand awareness about your business, and it’s key for telling fans about your products and upcoming events. Share content during peak times with Buffer. This social media management tool also tracks your engagement and conversions. “If you’re looking for software that is easy to navigate, looks simple, and can make your team more efficient, then Buffer is definitely your key to managing social media,” says Kenneth Waldman, editorial assistant at EssayMama.com.  

    3. Wistia

    Based on Cisco’s Visual Networking Index, global consumer internet video traffic will account for 80% of all consumer internet traffic by 2019. So, if you’re not investing in video marketing now is the time. Wistia takes your video marketing to the next level. Generate new leads with its Turnstile email collector, and customize the color and controls of your videos. Plus, you can track how each viewer interacts with your content. Wistia  

    4. Intercom

    Stay in constant contact with your customers. Conversations ensure that your team is addressing current problems and meeting consumer expectations. Intercom offers the personal support your customers deserve. Establish a knowledge base for buyers to solve their own problems, or manage support tickets with a help desk. “With Intercom, all of our customer support conversations happen in one place, and we can automate messages based on complex behavior aimed at making sure our customers are happy and that our service is as effective for each person as possible,” states Corbett Barr, CEO of Fizzle.  

    5. HostGator

    For internet entrepreneurs, online presence means everything for your business to thrive. Websites broadcast your brand image and showcase your products to consumers. HostGator makes building sites easy with its one-click application installer and templates. Need help? A support staff is available 24/7/365 to answer your questions. HostGator  

    6. HARO

    Shape how your target audience views your brand. Earning recognition in publications adds to your credibility and builds trust amongst your followers. HARO (Help A Reporter Out) connects journalists to a database of sources for their stories. Join the daily email list to sift through potential media opportunities and then send your pitches directly to the journalist. “When it comes to finding existing media opportunities that make sense for your client or brand, this subscription-based newsletter is the ‘right tool for the job’,” writes Ashley H. Sherman, director of digital media relations at DigitalRelevance.  

    7. Slack

    Communication holds your team together. Entrepreneurs must interact with their co-workers to complete projects and plan future growth. The Harvard Business Review reports that “over the past two decades the time spent by managers and employees in collaborative activities has ballooned by 50% or more.” Slack releases your team from email and improves everyone’s work productivity. Not only can you send direct messages, but you also can start voice and video calls. Slack  

    8. Square

    Keep the sales rolling in with straightforward payment solutions. Thanks to technology, business owners can take payments and track profits without the hassle. Square offers a variety of software services to manage inventory in real-time, reward repeat customers, and collect customer feedback. Start selling more with the customized business dashboard.  

    9. Google Analytics

    There’s power in understanding data. Analytics helps your team acquire insights from consumer behavior to increase your ROI. Google Analytics gives you the knowledge to create a better customer experience. Gain a complete picture of how your content and products perform, and permit your team access to shareable reports. Google Analytics  

    10. Pexels

    Content is essential to educating your customer base. You want to attract and maintain their attention. Vivid imagery can tell your story better. However, most small businesses don’t have the time to capture original photos. Pexels provides an arsenal of 25,000 free stock photos under the Creative Commons Zero license. Search through their tagged collection to find what works for your brand.  

    11. Skype

    The McKinsey Global Institute found that companies can increase their employees’ productivity by 20-25% by using social technologies. Create the conditions for workers to build trust and earn one another’s respect. With Skype Meetings, your team can join online conversations from any device. Use the tool to record meetings, share screens, and annotate PowerPoint presentations. Skype  

    12. HelloSign

    Gone are the days of waiting for someone to sign physical paperwork. The digital age has introduced us to electronic signatures. HelloSign equips your business with the tools to request signatures and receive notifications about your documents. Insert your logo and tagline to enhance the signer’s experience. “HelloSign’s saved signatures are a timesaver, too, or you can type in a signature, add initials, or fill out a form with text editing. If you're the one needing to collect another person’s signature, send a document by email right from the app,” states Paula DuPont, a contributing writer at Zapier.  

    13. FreshBooks

    Where’s your money? Accurate accounting ensures that your business maintains profitability, and financial reports are essential to gaining insight on how to move your company forward. Spend less time on invoicing and focus on serving your customers. With FreshBooks, you can automate several tasks, including organizing expenses and tracking time. Get paid faster by accepting credit card payments from your customers.   FreshBooks

     

    14. GoToWebinar

    Webinars rank as the second most effective type of premium content for marketers seeking to increase their lead generation efforts. Are you taking advantage of webinars? GoToWebinar lets you tell your brand’s story and grow your business. During live presentations, you can engage the audience with polls, surveys, and Q&As. Generate a list of engaged attendees and turn those qualified leads into customers.  

    15. Meetup

    Just because your business is online, doesn’t mean you’re limited to communicating with people only on the internet. Some of the best opportunities happen offline. Meetup lets you experience more in real life. Discover groups in your local area to learn new skills from others. Can’t find one that appeals to your interests? Start your own and find like-minded individuals. Meetup  

    Fill Up Your Toolbox

    As an internet entrepreneur, you’re faced with the same challenges as any other business owner. You must manage your team, review data reports, and interact with your target audience. From accounting to social media management, tools help streamline your company processes. So try a few and take your business to new heights.
  • The Beginner’s Guide to Understanding cPanel

    Monday, March 27, 2017 by
    cPanel guide If you’re just getting started setting up your very first website, then you’re probably going to need to use cPanel. Most current web hosts use cPanel, so if you’re not using it now, you’ll probably need to use it eventually. cPanel can be used to accomplish a lot of website-related tasks. Uploading files, creating a domain email address, adding more domains to your hosting account, and installing WordPress can all be done in your cPanel. Even basic knowledge of cPanel can be very beneficial to website beginners. Let's dive into cPanel and walk through how you can accomplish a variety of hosting related tasks.  

    What is cPanel?

    cPanel is the control panel that allows you to easily manage your hosting account. cPanel doesn’t manage your billing preferences (go to your portal account for that), but rather the technical aspects of managing your website. When you log into your cPanel you’ll find a graphical interface that’ll enable you to manage your website. For the purpose of this tutorial we’re going to be using the HostGator cPanel for reference. Below we highlight a few things you can do from your cPanel dashboard. Get your cPanel login ready now, as you'll need it to access cPanel and perform the activities listed below. Your hosting provider should have provided you with your login credentials after you signed up for hosting.  

    1. Updating cPanel Preferences

    Before we jump into actually managing your site in cPanel, let’s get a little familiar with the backend. Once you login to cPanel you’ll be taken to the dashboard. HostGator cPanel dashboard At the top, you’ll find a search bar you can use to locate the plugin you want to utilize, or you can just use the ctrl+f command to find what you’re looking for. We'll be focusing on these sections of cPanel:
    • Mail
    • Files
    • Domains
    • Software and Services

    2. Managing Your Domain Names

    The Domains section of your cPanel will be useful anytime you want to add another domain to your hosting account, manage redirections, or create a subdomain that can be used to build a new site. Manage domains in cPanel To add a new domain, click on Addon Domain. This will allow you to add another domain that you’ve purchased to your existing hosting account. Now all you have to do is enter the necessary domain information and your new site will be ready to build! You can also manage redirects and create subdomains under an existing domain within this section of cPanel.  

    3. Managing Your Email Accounts

    Want to create an email address that matches your domain name? Navigate to the Email section. Click on Email Accounts, and you’ll be able to create an email under your desired domain name using the drop down tab. cPanel email management If you want to access your email for the first time, scroll down to where your email accounts and click on Access Webmail from the More drop down. Bookmark your inbox for easy access next time.  

    4. Understanding File Manager

    To manage your website’s files, navigate to File Manager. Then select the website you want files from and click Go. This will open up the list of files that make up your website. It’s important not to mess with these unless you know what you’re doing, as deleting just one of these files could render your website inoperable. cPanel File Manager  

    5. Getting to Know One Click Installs

    The final tool we’re going to look at in this tutorial is under the Software section and it’s called QuickInstall. cPanel QuickInstall With QuickInstall you can easily install WordPress and other popular content management systems on any domain you own. Below we’ll show you how to install WordPress with just a few clicks. With QuickInstall open, click on WordPress. Scroll down and you’ll see a box that looks like the one below: WordPress cPanel Click on Install WordPress, then select your domain name and populate the fields with your admin email, title of your site, and admin username. After the install is complete you’ll receive an email that allows you to login to the WordPress backend. Obviously, there’s a lot more you can do within your cPanel. But, the five items above are commonly requested by beginners.   Any other common tasks you use cPanel for? Share your favorites in the comments below.
  • Looking For A Job? Clean Up Your Web Presence With This Checklist

    Friday, March 24, 2017 by
    Clean up your web presence checklist Go ahead and Google yourself. We support you in your narcissistic crusade to see what dribs and drabs of your history rank high in Google’s search algorithm. But seriously, there’s a real method to this madness. There’s a wealth of information available on each and every one of us, especially for those of us who are actively engaged in social media. Here it is: Your potential employers will Google you, and you need to beat them to the chase. Here’s why:
    • To understand what you’ve been publicly sharing since Al Gore invented the internet.
    • So that you can edit any incorrect information, or have it removed (if it’s really bad).
    • So that you can you properly defend yourself if need be.
    • To check if there’s another person who has the same name as you who’s messing things up out there.
    Huffington Post calls this strategy “Defensive Googling.” Be proactive by seeing what (if anything) exists about you in the first three pages of Google. And don’t forget to check Google Images as well. No potential employer needs to see a photo of you doing keg stands in college.  

    Your Reputation Management Checklist

     

    1. Check all of your social media settings.

    Have a thorough understanding of what info you’re presenting as public, and if it’s not what you want, make it private ASAP! Social media platforms almost always have a settings and security section. Go there and check yourself before you wreck yourself. Have a thorough understanding of what info you’re presenting as public, and if it’s not what you want, make it private ASAP! Did you know?... All Facebook background pics are public and you can’t hide them. Profile pictures default to public, but you have the ability to change these settings.  

    2. Fake it ‘til you make it.

    Consider using a fake social media name, or having separate professional and personal accounts. If you have a public account, keep yourself in check and be mindful of your posts.  

    3. Ask nicely.

    If there’s something out there you’re not very fond of, contact the source, and simply ask if he or she can remove whatever is ailing you from their website. If a photo you don’t like or some unsavory comment you once said exists on someone else’s website, kindly contact them and ask them to remove it.  

    4. Hire an expert.

    In extreme cases it may be necessary to hire a reputation management company. There are a variety of companies who specialize in cleaning up regretful digital footprints. This can be a pricey investment, but take comfort in knowing it’s an option should you need it. Here are a few resources.  

    5. Review your own website.

    If your own website is more personal than professional, you may want to remove any mentions of your full name or other identifying features during your job search. If, on the other hand, your website serves as a digital portfolio, take the time to make sure it's up to date and your best work is featured prominently.  

    But wait, it’s not all bad!

    Keep in mind that not every online mention of you is automatically horrendous. Those 5K race results from 1993, no problem. Charity donations? Awesome! Pics of you with family and friends? Totally fine. A good rule of thumb: As long as your online presence is something you’re comfy showing your Grandma (assuming she’s of the more conservative chicken soup-making variety), you’re golden.