Startup & Small Business | HostGator Blog

HostGator Blog!

Web Hosting Made Easy!

  • 9 Best Practices For Social Based Customer Care

    Wednesday, October 14, 2015 by
    9 best practices for social based customer care
    It is no question that social channels can be an extremely valuable tool for a business. It not only increases brand awareness and connects you to potential users, but gives you a direct channel to your current users as well. Yet, as the saying goes, ‘with great power comes great responsibility.’ Now that you are talking to your users, know that your users are talking to you, and it is not always positive. Using social media as a tool for customer care not only let users feel heard in a medium they feel comfortable with, but it also sends the right signals to potential customers about how you treat your users. Here are some best practices to doing this properly.  

    1. Don’t Disregard The Issue

    Everyone wants to be heard, and a generic, “take a look at our FAQ’s page for answers to most of your issues,” is just useless enough for your user to look elsewhere. Put a pinned comment at the top of your Facebook page, or in your twitter bio, that sends user to try your customer care channels first. Many may ignore it, but a number will listen and be dealt with there, only coming back if the problem persists. You may need to try harder to keep them happy after the process but at least it isn’t clogging up your social feed.  

    2. Treat Your Users As People Not Problems

    Don’t be afraid to banter and have an informal chat, as long as you don’t make it inappropriate or too personal for a public forum. Users respond to the human element and will have a more positive impression than if they receive generic, robotic answers. Look at your user’s basic information. The instructions you give to a tech-savvy teen, would not be appropriate for someone with less technology experience. Adapt your support accordingly.  

    3. Keep It Short And Sweet

    You need to keep you user engaged, the worst kind of service is one that is met by the sound of crickets because you have lost your audience 4 tweets ago. Make sure your answers are informative but do not drag on longer than necessary. If you can be as effective with three words as using a paragraph, opt for the three. You will maintain your audience’s attention span and not make them feel that their time has been wasted with superfluous information.  

    4. Don’t Be Afraid To Take It Elsewhere

    Some issues are universal and your reply could be of value to all users, if this is not the case, then you should carry on the conversation in a direct message or through email. If they have opened a support ticket before contacting you, take their ticket number and flag it up with your support staff to be prioritized.  

    5. Give Clear Answers

    Try to make your post, tweet or Facebook message as informative as possible. Be aware that talking on your Facebook homepage or through main twitter channels means that anyone can see your interaction. Both current and potential users can be listening, and your decorum can be a make or break for some of them. Make sure not only that you are patient and helpful, but also that you are using proper grammar and punctuation. When someone’s account is frozen, it is not the time to bombard them with emojis.  

    6. Look Out For The Little Guy

    There will always be that shy user that will post once, oftentimes as part of an unrelated thread that will get lost unless you are actively looking out for them. Signaling them out and answering their issues or concerns sets you apart from much of the competition, and lets the user feel important which could result in lifelong loyalty.  

    7. Deal With Complaints

    Some users are out for blood, ignoring a negative comment can be more disastrous than you realize. Be warned that some users may use their social following to bombard you page or ‘trash’ your brand. They can do this by creating inflammatory hashtags or posting multiple comments across all of your social channels. Early intervention is key here.  

    8. Separate The Wheat From The Chaff

    Not all users on your social channels are what they seem. Keep a sharp eye out for competitors looking to harm your brand, and destroy your service’s reputation. If you are sure a user is not what they seem, and they are becoming more hassle than their worth, don’t be afraid to block them from your account. You should only do this as a last resort! A perfect page looks fake, and will cause you to loose trust from potential users.  

    9. Manage Expectations

    If you are a small business, no one expects you to have a large social media support team. Be honest with your audience and don’t spread yourself too thin. If users know that it could take up to a few days to have their complaint attended to, their expectations will be better managed and they are less likely to be fed-up and leave. Just be sure to keep your promises, if you say it will be up to two days, make sure it is.  
    Natalie Lehrer is a senior contributor for CloudWedge. In her spare time, Natalie enjoys exploring all things cloud and is a music enthusiast. Follow Natalie’s daily posts on Twitter: @Cloudwedge, or on Facebook.  
    Image source:
  • 10 Beginner Website Mistakes You’re Probably Making

    Tuesday, October 6, 2015 by
    Top 10 Beginner Website Mistakes You're Probably Making
    If you run a business online or off then you understand the importance of having a website and online presence. However, if it’s your first website, or you designed your website yourself then you might have made mistakes. Luckily, a lot of these mistakes are easy to correct. If you’re relying on your website to drive traffic your way, then you’ll want your website to be a well-oiled machine. Below we highlight the ten mistakes that most beginners make, and what you can do to fix these issues.  

    1. Lack Of Vision

    Your website needs to exist for a definite reason, not simply because you think you should have an online presence. You need to decide upon the purpose of your website before you even begin building. Your website must have a definite purpose, as every page on your website will work to fulfill this purpose. For example, your website could be used to build authority, source new leads, sell a product or service, give information about your business, and much more. You’ll want your user to land on your website and immediately know what your website is all about.  

    2. Rushing To Market

    Instead of getting your website up as soon as possible it’s important you take time to research your market first. For example, if you have an older target market you’ll need to make sure your website is easy to read, digest, and navigate. By having an understanding of your market first you’ll be able to build a website that actually serves them, instead of simply taking up space.  

    3. Complicated Design

    In order to have a successful website it needs to be simple, not flashy. Having an overcomplicated design will only lead to confusion. The goal of your design should be to create the best possible user experience across your website.  

    4. Design Is Too Trendy

    Trends come and go, but timeless design lasts forever. By building your website on the back of solid design principles you’ll be able to create a website that outlasts certain trends and fads. Websites that rely on trends will become outdated very quickly.  

    5. Out-Of-Date Content

    If you haven’t updated your content in years then chances are it’s not up to date with your current business, or the latest web standards. If you have older content your site your visitors may assume you’re out of business, or aren’t as innovative as your competition. If you have a blog make sure you update it on a regular basis, as nothing looks worse than a vacant blog.  

    6. Poor Quality Photography

    Low-quality photography, or outdated stock photography gives your website an amateur feel and won’t do a lot to draw your visitor into your website. Images can help you build a connection with your audience, but only if they’re aligned with your message and business. Make sure you either hire a professional photographer, or use high-quality stock photos that aren’t cheesy.  

    7. Having Broken Elements/Links

    Every element of your website needs to be working. This means you need to test all of your links and pages, so your users don’t end up with the dreaded 404 page. You’ll also want to check all of your internal links to make sure you’re not leading your users to a dead end.  

    8. Poorly Designed Logo

    Your logo is a central piece of your branding. By designing your logo yourself, or getting a cheap logo designed, you won’t do much to further your branding or website. Although your logo is a subtle part of your design it can communicate a lot about your business.  

    9. Poor Font Choice

    Font choice is another subtle element that most business owners neglect. The font you choose needs to compliment your design and increase the readability of your content. This is when it can be helpful to consult the opinion of a professional designer. But, if you’re choosing your own font choice the simpler font is often the better choice.  

    10. No Call-To-Action

    You must lead your visitors somewhere. A website without a call-to-action is akin to nothing more than a virtual business card. Once you’ve proven yourself valuable to your visitors you need to direct them to take action. That action can be signing up for your email list, giving your business a call, or a multitude of other options. Getting your website into tip top shape can take a lot of work. But, it’s time well spent because a well functioning website will help your business grow for the long-term.
  • The Future Of Video Advertising: 360 Degree Ads Hit YouTube

    Wednesday, September 23, 2015 by
    youtube360 In the famous words of Nam June Paik, “The Future is now!”, at least in the sense YouTube's Advertisements have just pioneered the 360 degree world of video, rolling out the capability on Chrome, Android and iOS. Back in January, Google unveiled being able to support the feature, and has very recently seen the first takers from Bud Light & Coca-Cola with exceptionally high-production value. JR Futrell, YouTube's Ad product manager, remarked the new 360-degree format as a “mobile-first” initiative for two reasons:
    1. Motion - 360 ads will move with the mobile device, allowing you to view the video through a virtual lens.
    2. Mobile Is Dominating - In ten countries around the world, mobile searches have now surpassed that of desktop use, inspiring innovations to keep viewers watching advertisements longer.
      When looking at how revenue is earned on YouTube in the first place, engagement is the most important aspect. It's always been rumored that the more views you have, the more you make, but even videos with 1 million views could earn nothing unless viewers engage with the advertisement. That's why in the ever-changing world of video YouTube has taken the concept of viewer engagement to an entire new dimension: The World of 360 Motion.  

    Not Just For Corporations

    Right away many viewers new to the concept would expect this technology to be limited to corporations or businesses with a large marketing budget to support the production value. But, creating a video in the three dimensional space has become surprisingly easy, and highly accessible to even the smallest business looking to advertise. The trick is acquiring a camera capable of filming 360 Degree video format. As the technology improves, the amount of camera options has readily increased, including:  

    Tapping Into Viewers Curiosity

    In order to run any effective advertisement you must capture the attention of your viewer within a split second. We've all seen the “Skip this Ad” after 5 seconds button, which has set the standard for how fast you need to capture your audiences attention on YouTube. Skipped ads don't create conversions, and nowadays unless there is something dynamic built into a video, viewers are quick to simply ignore it. The goal with 360 Degree video is to take the viewers from a place of feeling passive, into a realm of activity and curiosity. The Ad can involve scripted elements similar to Coca Cola's, or it can simply allow your viewers to spin the camera behind the scenes to get a perspective on how the ad was created. Google sees this innovation as the future of advertising, and as food for thought, imagine how obsolete regular ads will feel once users can tap into this form of virtual reality. Like everything, we're advancing towards higher forms of stimulation.  

    Staying Ahead Of The Curve

    Understandably, many business owners might feel overwhelmed by the prospect of generating 360 ads on their own. However, we assure you the process is as easy as regular video once you own the right camera mentioned above. Getting into this trend before it's inevitably dominant will keep your advertising campaign at the forefront of newer innovations once they happen. The more interesting your ads, the greater ROI for your company. Once you have workable videos, follow these steps provided by Google to upload. Campaigns for 360 degree videos running as TrueView Ads can be set up in Adwords.  
    Image Source:
  • 3 Ways To Make Money With A Blog

    Tuesday, September 15, 2015 by
    A blog that you use to share your knowledge on frequent basis is a small business entity, even if you haven't yet recognized that fact. Starting a blog is starting a journey in several different areas; writing, marketing, social media, even creativity. All these areas can be individualized and you will find plenty of job opportunities on both freelance sites, and startup companies. The blog itself can be turned into a money making property as well, with the right tools and attitude it is possible to earn a solid 5 figure income every year, those who have the right patience and approach are able to have a turnaround of 6 figures. Darren Rowse is one of the oldest professional (and well-known) bloggers in the community, and although over the years he has quieted down, he has achieved a level of mastery over blogging that he can turn any blog into a revenue powerhouse. How do we go about making money with our blogs? Can we do it without being overly invested in writing and publishing? Below you will find the most popular advertising techniques that bloggers employ on daily basis. Remember: You should never compromise the quality of your content for advertising revenue, eventually content that's overpopulated with advertising techniques is going to dry out and you'll feel bad about the choices you made.  

    1. Affiliate Marketing

    Are you familiar with the term affiliate marketing? It's very likely that you've heard it before, and if not here's a great introduction piece that shares some tips, for bloggers, on how to make the most out of it. Affiliate marketing is the process of selling someone else's product that gives you commission for each sale. It may be 35% or 70% -- each program is different. Of course, HostGator has an excellent Affiliate Program. Additionally, sites like ShareASale, LinkShare, and Amazon Associates are among the leading affiliate programs that a vast majority of bloggers use today. Through these sites you can find products in pretty much every niche imaginable, which gives you the freedom of choice as to what kind of products you wish to promote.  

    2. Launch A Product

    To counter the above technique, we can actually try and build our own product; whether it's a simple eBook or an online course -- it won't matter. Launching our own product as a blogger can be an exciting journey of learning, understanding, and most importantly success.
    A successful launch begins with great timing. You might feel a sense of urgency to introduce your service, but rushing could spell disaster. When necessary, temporarily postponing your launch can mean the difference between failure and glowing reviews. -- Chuck Cohn
    Types of products a blogger might create and sell:
    • Courses
    • Webinars
    • Reports
    • Software/Apps/Plugins
    • Video/Audio/DVD
    • Merchandise
    If you have got the available capital, you might also want to consider investing in creating something that people can use to improve their own blogging experience; perhaps a keyword analytics tool, or a platform that analyses social media profiles, Product Hunt is a great place to start for amazing business ideas.  

    3. Paid Services

    Like I mentioned at the beginning of the article, blogging is going to yield you a significant number of skills, all of which can be utilized together (as a blogger) or individually, and still provide a solid stream of income. Here are some of the most common services that bloggers might promote themselves as being able to do:
    • Freelancing -- freelance is the most widely known way of working online, and as a blogger one of the most valuable skills you have is writing and marketing; there's plethora of jobs available to individuals who can do both.
    • Coaching -- you can promote yourself as an online coach who can teach others the ins and outs of successful blogging.
    • Speaking -- make sure that businesses and conferences know that you're available for speaking purposes, not only will it help you to become better at what you do, you will be able to promote yourself beyond your usual reach.
    • Design -- bloggers are often indie designers, which is why you can try and charge for design tips and other design related issues that other freelance bloggers might have.
    • Events -- attending events and promoting your services in the real world is a great way to make new connections and meet new friends.
    • Training -- once you feel proficient enough in building blog sites that are truly community oriented, it might be time to consider training others on a larger scale.
    blogging is definitely not sitting and writing, it is much more than that and you have to spend some time being a blogger to truly appreciate that fact. HubSpot has written a great piece on how bloggers can utilize their blogs to acquire customers instead of visitors. When we start investing our time and energy into something like a blog, it's only natural that we will eventually want to start getting paid for it, not only to sustain ourselves, but to be able to push further and further.