- Do I feel satisfied with my overall performance at the end of each day?
- Are my energy levels equally balanced after a day of work?
- Am I contemplating to stop running my business, because it feels too much?
- Am I deliberately slowing the growth rate of my business to keep up?
- Would I be able to do more if I had an assistant?
Tuesday, August 25, 2015 by Alex IvanovsStarting an online business, launching a startup, or simply creating a product that's in demand, requires a substantial amount of energy and commitment to be done properly, and as we continue to invest this energy, we start to realize that more and more time goes to tasks such as email management, reputation building, and general activities that don't really correlate with our business strategy, yet are essential in their own way. Email for example, can turn out to be one of the most time consuming parts of your business -- you're always replying, always receiving new messages, and surely there is someone who you've forgotten to reply back to as well. It's all part of the business creating process, but eventually you want to step it up a little and perhaps introduce an assistant that can help you with these less technical and less financial parts of the business. If you're not sure as to whether you need an assistant, answer these questions to yourself truthfully:
Thursday, August 20, 2015 by Kevin WoodHaving a consistent and clear brand will help you build a business that lasts for the long-term. At the core of your branding should be a connection between you and your customer. The role of your brand is to communicate your value to your customer in the clearest manner possible. Only by understanding your customer can you truly create a brand that lasts. Most companies go about branding from the opposite approach and end up with a brand that speaks to no one. Below you’ll find some of the most common branding mistakes and what you can do to fix them.
1. Trusting Instinct AloneIt’s easy to fall in love with your business idea. But, if it isn’t serving anyone, or no one is going to buy what you’re offering. Then it’s better left as a hobby than an actual business. Instead of focusing on building your brand identity and other activities to solidify your brand you should be talking with actual customers to verify your idea and uncover their needs. Only then does it make sense to invest more time into your project. After all, by going of instinct alone you’re essentially flying blind and will have no idea if anyone even wants what you’re offering until it hits the market.
2. Little To No Engagement or FeedbackLike we mentioned above, if you’re relying directly on the assumptions you have about your target market you’re going to have a difficult time nurturing a brand over the long-run. The best brands speak directly to their target market’s needs and nothing more. Acting on instinct alone puts you at risk for attempting to raise awareness around your brand for years, with nothing to show for it. A better route is to find people in your target market, or people who already interact with your company and ask them some of the following questions:
- How would you feel if your product or service ceased to exist?
- What alternatives to your product or service would you use instead?
- Why do you choose to work with us over our competitors?
- How can we improve our offerings to serve you in deeper ways?
3. Being ConsistentWhen you have a stable brand it can be tempting to change up subtle elements of your brand just for fun. Although most brands go through design overhauls and image shifts over time they’re usually structured and thought out. However, even subtle inconsistencies within your logo, colors, and messaging can throw off your users and start to erode your trust. Make sure you keep an eye on brand consistency, once you’ve developed a strong brand and don’t stray from what you’ve created. Brands aren’t built overnight. The take consistent time, effort, work and refinement. However, by taking the time to incorporate feedback, and consistently engineering your brand towards service you’ll build a brand that works for you, instead of against you.
Wednesday, August 12, 2015 by Kevin WoodOptimizing your website could be the missing factor in making your website a success. Split-testing allows you to truly unlock the power of your website. Imagine being able to test every aspect of your website, so it’s perfectly catered to your ideal visitor. When you’re building your website right out of the gate you’re actually making an educated guess about what you think your visitors are going to like. Split-testing allows you to morph your website into something that speaks to the heart of your visitors. To get started with the split testing process you’re going to need to install a split-testing tool, such as, Visual Website Optimizer, Google Analytics, Optimizely, Unbounce, or Crazy Egg. Once you have the tool installed, begin by testing some of the page elements we highlight below.
HeadlinesIf your headlines are too complex, or not clear, they’re not going to do a good job at conveying to the user what your page is actually about. Changing and simplifying your headlines can have a huge impact on your conversion rates. Common elements to test include: your value proposition, headline length, and the color and size of the headline.
Call-To-ActionYour call-to-action is one of the most important elements of your landing page. Without having this central piece of your page fully optimized you’ll be losing out on potential customers and subscribers. You can customize and test your call-to-action in a myriad of ways, but the most common elements to look further into are: size, colors, the text, the placement, and the spacing surrounding your call-to-action.
TestimonialsTestimonials act as social proof for your services and offerings. They help to build trust with your potential customer or subscriber. If you have several testimonials you can actually rotate them and change their appearance until you find one that helps your website convert the best. Some people will resonate with some testimonials more than others.
FormsIf you use your website to gather useful user information, then you’re going to be using certain form elements more than others. If you make your form needlessly complicated chances are the user won’t actually stick around to complete the form. You can test out different form styles and elements until you find the form that converts the highest. You can even add hidden elements into your form, or gather other user information at a later stage in the process.
Media ElementsElements such as photos and video will help to increase the power and emotional resonance of your page. When it comes to using images and videos you need to think about quality over quantity at all times. One well-placed image, or a short high-quality video, will say much more than over-stuffing your page with added media.
Copy and ContentOften, the shorter your content the better it will convert. If you copy is overly wordy and doesn’t get to the core of what you’re trying to say it will turn people off. You can experiment with testing different versions of your content that conveys your message in slightly different formats. This can be done through using different formatting, or even writing entirely different versions of your copy. However, be careful not to test too many different elements at once, as it will be harder to tell which small element was the cause for the increase in conversions. Split-testing can truly help your website realize its potential. The process may take a while, but when you see your conversion rates start to grow it will be well worth it.
Tuesday, August 11, 2015 by Jeremy Jensen
The term 'native advertising' has been criticized in some ways as unethical, due to the disguise in which businesses and corporations present their products. Most recently, Al Jazeera America highlighted a questionable innovation by CNN, under which they'll be broadcasting corporate propaganda disguised as news, a move that looks very bad for the integrity of journalism. However, the good news within this article is that native advertising doesn't have to be deceptive, nor does it require your business buy editorial content from CNN. Nowadays we have unlimited reach and marketing potential right at our finger tips, the tool of choice here being Instagram. Instagram is currently the fastest growing Social Media platform in the United States, with a user base that increased by nearly 60% in 2014. The go-to strategy with online marketing has always been to get it while it's good. Here's why Instagram is currently one of the most powerful marketing tools on the planet, completely free of charge.
VisibilityAlgorithms are basically a fancy word for saying “we filter everything how we see fit.” Naturally, algorithms are put in place to level the playing field based on valuable and quality content, but it doesn't always seem that way. For instance, anything that gets posted on Facebook is subject to innumerable placement filters that determine how visible your post will be to a given audience. Even if you have 10,000 people who “Like” your business page, as of January 2015 Facebook made adjustments that greatly decreased how many people will see your posts. Yet, they continue to offer “Boosted Posts” where they'll gladly accept funding for your audience to see your content. Seems a bit ironic doesn't it? Instagram on the other hand operates on 100% visibility. If you post something it will be seen chronologically no matter what. This greatly improves how people choose to follow accounts in the first place, and adds up to a much higher ROI for those who put significant effort into what they post.
#KeywordsHashtagging is now a cultural phenomenon by which we base casual references to everyday life. Although you can use them across most platforms (Facebook, Twitter), Instagram has the most useful interface for turning hashtags into prominent keywords that allow anyone in the world to discover your content based on common interests.
- How Many Can Be Used - Instagram allows you to include up to 30 hashtags per post that will take the photo and place it chronologically with every other post with the same hashtag. This greatly extends the number of people viewing and liking your posts.
- Where To Put Them - Many people build hash-tags into the description of their post making them visible for everyone to see, which is a great way to create a trending tag. However, many people see hashtagging as cluttered and unattractive to a posts simplicity. By putting all the tags in the first comment, they will eventually be unnoticeable after 5 comments. Part of having a successful native strategy is hiding the hashtags since their primary use for businesses should be to get them in the categories your audience will see them. (See photo below)
- What Tags To Use -The more popular a tag is, the more likely people will want to browse it to find interesting posts. Only select hashtags people will find relevant to the post. In addition to using hashtags, you can also tag other Instagram profiles to make connections with those in your network. (See photo above)
- How To Find Popular Hashtags - While there are many websites that keep updated tallies on which hashtags are trending, or the most popular, Instagram also allows you to browse hashtags directly in their interface. (See photo below)
Creating Native ContentThe whole point behind native advertising is to create content that doesn't stick out to your followers as something being sold to them. We're over commercials, our heads are full, and social media is supposed to be where we look for interesting media.
- Post Beautiful Images- Instagram is built to scroll, and photos that don't catch your eye will be passed right over.
- Create Mini Videos- Instagram allows 15 second videos or less. Create one that shows your product or service in action to instill curiosity in your followers
- Create A Call-to-Action- By asking your followers to post pictures using your product, or by referencing your company, you'll attract followers based on social correlations.
- Be An Awesome Company, and Show It- Part of why so many large companies have millions of followers is they advocate for environmental stewardship, express their values in their posts, and share their customers photos that show their brand in action. REI is an excellent example of a company meeting those standards, see below.