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  • Clever Ways to Network and Drive Traffic to Your Website

    Tuesday, November 22, 2016 by
    Drive Traffic To Your Website It’s a simple formula: The more website traffic your business has, the more likely you are to make a sale. Here are some bonus tips that will keep ‘em coming.  

    1. Gamify the user experience with a poll or survey.

    Invite people at a networking event or readers of your blog to take a quick poll or survey. Some platforms like InstantSurvey will enable you to automatically send participants directly back to your website upon completion of the survey. Share your survey on social media. Include it in an email newsletter. Just be sure that all roads point back to your website. InstantSurvey   SurveyMonkey defaults to sending all of its survey participants back to (smart), but this is your business, not theirs! Luckily you can configure your own destination URL under advanced settings in the Collect Responses section. Don’t miss out on this opportunity for extra traffic. SurveyMonkey  

    2. Use content marketing to shout out to influencers.

    If you have a good handle on who your audience is then you can strategically begin to create content surrounding the people they follow. Reach out to these influencers to let them know you’ve highlighted their work and they’ll often share your posts resulting in big website engagement gains. Here’s an example from a recent blog post at MySocialSuite called 9 Twitter Influencers to Follow and Learn From. There are mentions of long-time power pros like Tim Ferriss and even Kim Kardashian, but the the target of this piece was BrokeAssStuart whose pic is up front and personal. After the MySocialSuite team published their post, they tagged BrokeAssStuart in a tweet. He immediately responded... Social Influencer Marketing   He later even reached out directly to the author of the of the post, with a marriage proposal! Social Influencers   Here’s a guy with over 60K social media followers tweeting about a blog post published by a social media automation startup. This is the kind of organic engagement (and fun banter) that highlights the best of what social media marketing has to offer. Everyone gets more site traffic: the influencer, the company, and the writer -- who may have also gotten a spouse as a bonus.  

    3. Don’t forget the obvious!

    Remember that without your basics covered, influencer reach, text marketing and the like, will go to waste. Consider getting each of these website marketing ducks in a row before doing anything else:
    • Social media: Ensure that all of your social media pages point back to your website. This can usually be done in a bio or about section.
    • Email marketing: Regardless of your message, have a link back to your site in every email you send.
    • Email signature: Every single email you send from your personal or business account should have an email signature that includes a link back to your site.
    • Business cards: Yes, they’re still relevant, but make sure you remember to include your correct web address.
    • Blog posts: Keep writing and sharing fresh content. Include a call to action that brings traffic back to your site. Discover guest blogging opportunities to boost links back to your site.
    What method works best for driving traffic back to your site? Let us know in the comments! HostGator WordPress Hosting
  • 7 Email Marketing Do’s and Don’ts to Follow

    Monday, November 21, 2016 by

    Email Marketing Dos and Donts

    How impressive are your emails?

    It’s time to build a personal connection with your customers in their inboxes.

    According to MarketingSherpa, “72% of people prefer to receive promotional content through email, compared to 17% who prefer social media.”

    Email is an effective medium to send timely messages to customers. Your team can communicate promotions, new product releases, and even show some customer appreciation.

    “Week in week out, you have to prove your value to your email subscribers. Know your readers so well that you can empathize with their struggles. Ask questions. And offer help,” writes Henneke Duistermaat, an irreverent copywriter and business writing coach.

    Let’s make your next email marketing campaign worthwhile. Explore the do’s and don’ts below.

    HostGator Website Builder


    Email Marketing Do's

    Yes, email marketing varies from company to company. But there are underlying guidelines that exist to make every campaign better.

    Work with your team to find your best practices. That means analyzing data and monitoring customer behavior. In the meantime, use the following tactics to begin your journey.


    1. DO Create A Strategy

    Like any business function, you need a plan.

    It’s not in your best interest to conduct email marketing blindly. If you do, your small business will lose money and time.

    Gather your team to discuss the purpose of your campaign, the likely outcomes, and what success looks like.

    Setting definite goals ensures everyone is on the same page. Plus, if during the campaign the results don’t match your desired outcome, it offers proof to adjust your strategy.

    Also, be mindful of how you represent your brand in every email.

    Forbes contributor Kate Kiefer Lee says,“Your email campaigns should match your brand’s look and feel. If you’re using a template, you might want to customize it to include your company’s colors and logo in the header.”

    Start developing your email campaign strategy. It will guide you throughout the entire process.


    2. DO Segment Your List

    Mass marketing is useless in our economy today. Shoppers desire personalized experiences that cater to their individual needs.

    The same holds true when sending an email. Customers are different. And they don’t want to learn about tennis shoes when their interests only include tank tops.

    Therefore, email a customized message to specific consumer groups.

    “Segment your emails strategically. For each one of your marketing campaigns, the key is to create messages that support your unique business and marketing objectives,” writes Krista Bunskoek, former director of public relations at Wishpond.

    Below is an example of how a small business may segment customer groups by interests. It starts with what the target audience likes. Then, it’s adjusted based on their habits in the sales funnel.

    Customer Segments

    Segmentation works to provide customization. Take advantage of the benefits.


    3. DO Use Automation

    The days of sending one email at a time are gone.

    It was time-consuming and mentally exhausting. Thanks to technology, email automation tools make small business teams efficient.

    Create email drip campaigns to automate your interaction with consumers. You can develop specific workflows to keep customers engaged with your brand.

    For example, when someone signs up for your email list, set up a welcome workflow that automatically sends them a message thanking them for joining. You could even include a promotional discount to encourage sales.

    Email Welcome Workflow

    The diagram above from Marketing Cloud shows a more complex workflow. However, it streamlines how you engage with webinar attendees. Here’s the email series:

    1. The lead signs up for webinar through a form.
    2. The lead immediately receives an automated confirmation email.
    3. Three days prior to the webinar, the lead gets a reminder message.
    4. Three days after the webinar, the lead receives a follow-up survey.

    Automation takes the guesswork out of email marketing. Save your team time.


    4. DO Be Mobile-Friendly

    A Litmus report found that 55% of email is now opened on a mobile device.

    While desktops still offer consumer value, mobile devices are a way of life. Most people carry their phones with them 24/7 — to a business meeting, dinner outing, and even the restroom.

    Mobile devices are an extension of us. And that’s an opportunity for your small business.

    Optimize your emails to be mobile-friendly. That involves ensuring the design fits the screen, the word length is manageable, and the loading time doesn’t take forever.

    Moreover, include a single column layout and add a call-to-action at the top of the email.

    [bctt tweet="55% of email is opened on a mobile device. How do your emails look?" username="hostgator"]

    Mobile users are constantly moving. They juggle multiple tasks at once. And they don’t have the time to read a 10,000-word email. Grab their attention fast and offer worthwhile content.


    Email Marketing Don'ts

    Now, you know what to implement. But what about the tactics to avoid?

    As you begin executing multiple email marketing campaigns, you’ll learn what not to do. Keep a running list available for your team.

    You don’t want to make the same mistake twice. Here are a few techniques to stay away from:


    1. DON'T Spam

    This rule is simple: Don’t spam. It’s unprofessional and illegal.

    The CAN-SPAM Act is an United States law that establishes the rules for commercial email. It gives recipients the right to not receive unwanted emails from companies.

    Email spam fits the following three criteria:

    • Anonymity: The address and identity of the sender are concealed
    • Mass Mailing: The email is sent to large groups of people
    • Unsolicited: The email is not requested by the recipients

    “Make sure your own spam filter doesn’t stop the opt-out requests coming through. Once you’ve received them, make sure you honor the request within 10 business days. Any opt-out mechanism you offer must be able to process opt-out requests for at least 30 days after you send your message,” says professional writer Brenda Barron.

    Spam negatively impacts your email campaigns. Don’t do it. (Check out our post on 7 tips to avoid complaints of email abuse.)


    2. DON'T Write Boring Subject Lines

    Research shows that “63% of retailer subject lines are generic, and they're losing brand value—and sales—as a result.”

    Customers receive lots of emails per day—messages from coworkers, friends, and your competitors. Therefore, they’ve read thousands of subject lines. And they instantly know if they want to open an email or not.

    Your team only has a few seconds to make a good first impression. So, do it right.

    Aim for simple, concise subject lines. Try something controversial. Numbered lists provoke consumers to open emails. And use action verbs.

    Action Verbs for Subject Lines


    3. DON'T Forget to Track Emails

    When running an email marketing campaign, don’t forget to track the progress of your success. By analyzing the data, your team can gain valuable insight on how to improve.

    Are customers opening your emails? Is your bounce rate significantly high? Do certain consumer segments prefer Campaign A over Campaign B?

    Click-to-Open-Rate is one important metric to monitor. It’s the percentage of subscribers who clicked a link in the email as related to the total number who opened it.

    “Successful email marketing campaigns are more of a marathon than a sprint. That means you should be constantly fine-tuning your message to elicit a more engaged response, and CTOR rates are instrumental in judging and making course corrections in that process,” states Andrea Fryrear, founder and chief content officer at Fox Content, Ltd.

    Draw conclusions from your observations. And keep track of your email stats.


    Follow the Guidelines

    Upgrade your email marketing campaigns. But before you start strategizing, know what to do and not to do.

    Segment your list to personalize the experience. Create mobile-friendly emails. Avoid spamming people. And drop the boring subject lines.

    Follow these guidelines. Send better emails.

  • How To Run A Successful Facebook Contest In 5 Steps

    Friday, November 18, 2016 by
    how to run a facebook contest Chances are you’ve seen or been involved in some sort of Facebook contest. They are fun for the participants, but why do businesses host them? Not only are they great for branding, but they can also be an integral part of your social media strategy. HostGator Website Builder  

    Step 1: Determine your goals

    Before you make any other moves, you will want to figure out what you hope to get from the contest. Are you hoping to get more likes? Make sales? Improve engagement levels? Gather content for future use? Depending on the goals you set for yourself you will want to approach the setup of the contest differently:

    More likes:

    Ensure contest participants like your page for their entry to be valid. You can also make a play on this by having participants like your page and tag their friends in hopes of them also liking your page.

    Make sales:

    Generally speaking, just by putting out active and engaging material on Facebook you will be encouraging people to purchase your product. The idea is to drive people to your website to buy your product. A great option for this is to create your contest form using Survey Gizmo. After participants complete the form, you can set it to send these potential customers directly to your website. You’ll be surprised how many people end up purchasing! Alternatively, if they don’t purchase right then, you can use one of Facebook’s pixels in your survey to create an audience of these participants for future retargeting ads.

    Improved engagement levels:

    Engagement levels improve the more people click and interact with your social content. A contest is the perfect medium to engage with your customers and increase your engagement. Bonus engagement points if your contest involves commenting on your post as part of their entry.

    Free content:

    Contests are the perfect way to get user-generated content. Think photos of your customers with your product, customer testimonials, and blog posts. A contest is the perfect incentive for customers to send in their content for you to use in the future on your site and social.        

    Step 2: Think of a Theme

    Try to be as creative as you can. Customers, followers and potential customers will be more likely to interact with your contest if it has a unique and creative theme. Tie the prize into the theme of the contest. For example, our latest HostGator contest was a video game-themed contest. Our creative and copy were video game-themed and our prize was a HostGator branded xBox One. Contests are not only more fun and engaging this way, but they are easier to keep track of. HostGator Facebook Contest  

    Step 3: Choose your prize

    When deciding on a prize determine how much work a participant must do to enter. A good rule of thumb is the larger the prize, the more work you should expect them to do. A good place to start is by giving away one of your business’ products or services. This creates a great gateway for new potential customers to fall in love with your business. [bctt tweet="Rule of thumb for contests: the larger the prize, the more work you can expect participants to do." username="hostgator"]  

    Step 4: Advertise

    Facebook ads are the perfect place to start the advertising for your Facebook contest. If you’re planning on advertising your contest or boosting it in any sort of monetary way, you will want to make sure it’s running for at least two weeks. This gives ample time for the ads to reach their target audience and gives your participants time to participate. HostGator Facebook Advertising  

    Step 5: Analyze your results

    Facebook has a lot of really great tools in their “Insights” section that can tell you information like post engagement, page clicks, and page likes. You can also see your top posts based on engagement level, date or reach. These are great ways to determine the success of your Facebook contest, but you’re not limited to just these factors. Check your survey to see how many people entered. Was the content they submitted good? Take a look at the Facebook ads you ran in Ads Manager and see how many sales were a result of the contest. Determine if the cost of the prize and the ads is worth the likes, engagement, or sales. If the contest resulted in more revenue than money spent the decision is obvious. Other times you have to put a value on likes and engagement and weigh it against the money you spent on the contest.   There you have it - your five step guide to running a successful Facebook contest. To participate in future HostGator contests, be sure to follow us on Facebook! What are your tips for running a Facebook contest? Please share in the comments!
  • The Best Ways to Survey Your Small Business Customers

    Tuesday, November 8, 2016 by
    Best Ways to Survey Customers What are your customers thinking? One way to find out is to actually ask your customers. By surveying consumers, your team can learn how to improve the shopping experience. From customer service to product inventory, discover what makes your target audience excited. Their opinions do matter. And by soliciting feedback, you can transform your small business. “A great product and excellent customer service begin with getting to know who your customers are and what they need. To get that done, you have to gather customer information, and surveys are just what the doctor ordered for that,” writes Zoe Uwem, a content marketing strategist. Let’s explore how to survey your customers.  

    Role of Customer Research

    Customer research equips your team with the knowledge to serve your consumers better. It’s an essential part in helping your small business grow. When collecting information, decide what you want to learn and the best route to gather the feedback. You want the process to be simple for the customer, but reliable enough so that your team can make business improvements. Ross Beard, former marketing manager at Client Heartbeat, offers meaningful advice: “It’s important to remember that a successful customer survey has high survey response rates, and accurate, actionable customer feedback. Only then will you be able to use customer surveys to make better business decisions to help increase customer satisfaction and reduce customer churn” Consider how the research will impact the customer. Then, develop a plan to meet those goals.  

    How to Collect Customer Feedback

    Simplicity is key when asking for customer feedback. Your buyers are busy; they don’t want to waste time with tedious surveys. So, stick to formats more familiar to your customers. Here are four methods to get your team started:  

    1. Product Reviews

    Most companies see product reviews as a marketing tool to lure in more customers. But they are also effective for improving your inventory. “Reviews can also support your competitive benchmarking efforts by helping you determine what customers like or dislike about your product, service, or brand, compared to what they like or don’t like about your competitors,” writes Chris Campbell, CEO of ReviewTrackers. Request reviews from your buyers post-purchase. Ask for their opinions on what made the product better than others on the market. Here are a few recommended questions:
    • What did you like about this product?
    • How can we improve this product?
    • Would you recommend this product to a friend?
    Amazon gives customers the chance to leave detailed messages. The ecommerce giant also has a star rating system.   Amazon Fire Tablet Review Take advantage of product reviews. They provide a gateway to customer research.  

    2. Twitter Polls

    Social media is the online hangout for most people. Right now, there are 2.3 billion active social media users. If you’re seeking feedback from consumers, go where they live: Facebook, Twitter, or even Snapchat. What makes Twitter so awesome is that people and brands can create their own polls. You can ask unique questions, and your customers can respond in less than a minute. “Polls could be a great way to get bite-sized pieces of product feedback in a more fun, snackable way,” says Ash Read, content crafter at Buffer. “Try to think about scenarios within your product, learnings you’re after or hypotheses you’re looking to validate that can be broken down into simple four-answer questions and put them out there as polls.” The Oakland Raiders used polls to learn their audience’s future content preferences. The football team asked fans to select which player they wanted in their next behind-the-scenes training video. Once the votes were tallied, the franchise delivered on their promise.   Twitter Polls Experiment with Twitter polls for your small business. It’s quick, easy, and requires no expertise to begin.  

    3. Email Surveys

    Email is a popular channel for distributing surveys. But most of the time, they are convoluted messages that consumers just see as spam. Businesses attempt to ask too many questions. They stuff 20 questions in one email. Then, teams seem puzzled by the lack of high response rates. “You need to be ruthless when it comes to cutting unnecessary questions from your surveys. Every question you include should have a well-defined purpose and a strong reason for being there. Otherwise, it should be put on the chopping block,” states Gregory Ciotti, marketing at Help Scout. To escape your email surveys woes, create a painless survey. Embed one question directly within the email. That’s how Lyft does it. The ridesharing company asks one question that requires the customer to rate their experience on a scale from 0-10.   Email Survey Email is a practical tool for collecting feedback. Keep your consumers engaged and stay away from frivolous questions.  

    4. Phone Calls

    A study found “that customers who took part in a customer satisfaction survey by telephone were more loyal than those who did not take the survey.” This is an opportunity for your small business. Despite living in a fast-paced society, people still like talking on the phone. And some of the best customer feedback comes from just picking up the phone and communicating directly with customers. Why? Because we’re so accustomed to automated messages and hearing robots giving us information. Select a few customers to contact today. The telephone engagement should be short, no more than three minutes. State your purpose for calling and have a conversation. And just a reminder: specific federal, state, and local laws exist to protect consumers from receiving calls from businesses. Some consumers are on do-not-call lists. So, reach out to your legal team before initiating a mass customer contact program. Give your consumers some real human contact to gain their feedback.  

    Take Action on Your Feedback

    Avoid gathering all your feedback and leaving it unused in a unnamed folder on your computer. Take action with the information you've received. “Don’t stick survey results in a binder and forget about them without analysis. Share the results — including verbatim customer comments — and what these results have taught you with your entire staff,” writes Julia L. Rogers, Huffington Post contributor. Think of customer feedback as a loop. Your team should be constantly listening and prioritizing issues based on what you’ve learned. Then, resolve the issues and adjust your product or service. Customer Feedback Loop If possible, follow up with dissatisfied customers. Reconnect with them to show how their suggestions contributed to new improvements. It shows consumers you take their feedback seriously. Feedback is a valuable resource. Take action.  

    Ask Your Customers

    To serve your target audience, you need to conduct research. And sometimes the best way is to simply ask your customers questions. Understand the role of customer research for your business. Collect feedback by asking specific questions on product reviews. Use Twitter polls to quickly gather information. And don’t be shy; pick up the phone and call buyers. Learn how to serve your customers better. Survey them.
  • Why Your Blog Is Failing

    Tuesday, November 8, 2016 by

    Blog isnt working

    When you start blogging it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and visions of building a massive readership and finally being able to quit your day job. It’s easy to get hyped on the idea of blogging, only to get discouraged when you don’t see results immediately.

    Blogging isn’t for those seeking overnight results. However, if it’s been six months or longer and you feel like your blog is dead, then there could be a few things you’re doing wrong.

    Below we dive into a few large-scale reasons your blog is failing and give a few recommendations for how you can fix these issues.

    We won’t be talking about things like adding social media buttons or images to your posts. We’re talking about the bigger stuff.


    1. You’re Writing About The Wrong Things

    When it comes to creating a blog people actually want to read, you need to write about things that make people care. For instance, if you’re using your blog as a personal journal and aren’t providing any grounded real-world wisdom, then there’s no reason for readers to stick around.

    Who is your target audience? And how can you serve them with your content?

    Get out of your own head and into the needs of your audience. The more you can write about things your audience cares about the more they’ll read and share your content.


    2. You’re Inconsistent

    How often are you blogging?

    Do you throw up a blog post once every few weeks and wonder why people aren’t clamoring over your content?

    A content calendar does more than just keep you on track; it builds consistency in the minds of your readers. You’ll want to make reading your blog become a habit. The only way to do this is to publish on a regular basis.

    But, don’t let the quality of your content suffer. To truly stand out you need to write with the goal for each post to be one of the best posts covering that topic.


    3. You’re Looking for Quick Results

    Were you expecting thousands of readers within the first week you started blogging?

    If your main intention for blogging is to build an audience to make money from, you might want to double-check your motivations. Blogging is a long-term game and it takes a deep well of motivation to sustain through the rough patches.

    Set smaller actionable goals to keep you motivated and on track to achieve your larger goals.


    4. You Aren’t Promoting Enough

    Writing is only half the battle when it comes to creating a popular blog. Aside from writing incredible content you need to be heavily promoting your content.

    If you don’t have an existing email list or readership, then promotion will be your holy grail.

    Find authorities in your space and let them know you’ve published an article they might be interested. You can also use a tool like Buzzsumo to find people who’ve recently shared a similar article and you can get in contact with them.

    When it comes to promoting your content you can’t be shy. If you’re creating epic content, then stand behind the value of your work.


    5. You’re Creating the Wrong Kind of Content

    There are multiple kinds of content you can create. For instance, there’s long-form thought leadership blogs, how-to content, video content, listicles, and on and on. Have you been stuck creating the same kind of content and are wondering why people aren't sticking around?

    Then, maybe it’s time to switch things up. In the early stages of your blog you’ll have more freedom to experiment until you land on something that resonates.

    Hopefully the tips above will help to reinvigorate you and your blogging efforts.