Thursday, April 7, 2016 by Kevin WoodDon’t you wish that sometimes Google could read your mind? It’s easy to waste time typing in search after search, only to give up in frustration, after not being able to find what you’re looking for. If only there were a way to unlock some hidden features of Google search that could help you find exactly what you were looking for. Well…there is, and they’re called Google search operators. Below we highlight some of the most common Google search operators that will help you craft more defined searches, so you can find exactly what you’re looking for every time you search.
Thursday, March 24, 2016 by Jeremy JensenEverything on your website should serve a purpose, from the design and navigation, to the photography. Far too often, companies fail to invest in the crucial elements that lead to business success. Sixty five percent of our entire population identifies as being a visual leaner; therefore, the majority of people who visit your site will have a strong inclination towards your visual elements. If a picture is worth a 1,000 words, and you have outdated or poor photography, you're website may be telling the wrong story. Here's why having professional photography on your company’s website is so important.
Create A Favorable PerceptionLike it or not, humans are incredibly conditioned to make snap judgments, sometimes only on a subconscious level. When it comes to the appearance of a business website, cleanliness and a professional appearance makes us feel like we can trust the company. As an example, think about searching for a restaurant in a town you've never been to. If the photos on their website are blurry and were clearly taken without effort, subconsciously we may think the restaurant doesn't value quality. Would you want to eat somewhere your perception is telling you is low-quality? Probably not. The same concept translates across any industry. The way people perceive your website through imagery can determine whether or not they commit to your service.
Strong Photography Creates More ConversionsLooking beyond the perception your photos create, good photography is also incredibly important on a practical level. Many of you may be running an ecommerce store, in which the only way a customer will be able to know what they're buying is by having high-quality photos that will make them feel confident in your items. If you've ever tried finding something on Craigslist that either didn't have enough photos, or you couldn't tell what was being pictured, then you've already experienced how bad photography can lead to lost customers. In order to convert the most sales, we recommend hiring a professional that can effectively capture your inventory. However, if you feel like you want to try the DIY approach, remember to do the following:
- Capture Your Items At All Angles: Since online shoppers lack the ability to hold your products in their hand, take as many photos as possible, at all angles, close up and far away
- Get Set-Up With The Right Equipment: In order to make your photos stunning, check out our post on Effective Product Photography.
Improve Your Website's SEOImage searches on Google can be a major source of traffic for your website. According to an in-depth study of search traffic generated from image searches, results showed that up to 60% of web traffic can come directly from Internet users finding your images first. The trick to making that happen is having images which captivate potential visitors while they browse through hundreds of results. By stocking your website with only professional quality images, you'll greatly increase your odds of getting noticed. For further tips on how to properly optimize your images for the web, check out our post on optimization for the web. Does your business place a strong emphasis on photography? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments!
Tuesday, March 8, 2016 by Shawn CollinsEmail can be a productivity killer, but that’s only if you let it. The physical inbox is sort of an archaic notion these days, but if you've ever worked in an office, then you’ve probably seen somebody who had one that was piled high. An inbox filled with all sorts of folders, memos, clippings, and other garbage that they were never going to clean out. That seems unthinkable to a lot of people, but somehow a bloated mess of an inbox is acceptable. Well I’m here to give you some tough email love – you are an email hoarder and I am going to give you some easy efficiency tips to get ahead of it. My methods and tools are all for Gmail, so if you aren’t currently using regular Gmail or Google Apps for Work, some of the following will not pertain to you. Anyhow, my way of going through email is a combination of Merlin Mann’s Inbox Zero (look up his presentation to Google employees back in 2007 – quality stuff) and Getting Things Done by David Allen, an awesome book on productivity. So, when email comes into my inbox, I process email in one of four ways: reply, archive, create a task, or delete.
ReplyWhen email comes in that can be handled quickly, well I handle it quickly, either by writing a short response from scratch or using a canned response, which is a feature in Gmail. The latter is very useful when you’re answering the same questions frequently.
ArchiveI archive emails in four different ways. There is the basic act of clicking archive when an email does not require any action from me, but I want to hold onto it. I do this with each and every FYI email I get, and it makes for a useful archive that can be easily searched. Then there is “Send and Archive”, which is an option when you’re sending email. If you don’t do this when you are replying to an email in your inbox, that email will remain in your inbox. Labels are great for categorizing specific groups of emails before archiving. I’ll do this with things like confirmation emails from online retailers when I buy Christmas gifts. That way I am able to easily check on orders I’ve made. Finally, I automatically archive some emails by setting up filters in Gmail. These are any emails I want to keep, but don’t need to read as they come in. For instance, when we are accepting speaker proposals for Affiliate Summit conferences, we do not review them until after the deadline, so this large volume of emails are all archived until that point.
Create a TaskWhen an email comes in that requires more than a quick response, I will turn it into a task by clicking the “More” button in Gmail and then clicking “Add to Tasks”. This enables me to set a date to work on the answer to the email, and adds it to my tasks, which I keep open in Gmail as a daily to-do list.
DeleteI sort my email trash into three bins, sort of like recycling, compost, and trash, except I don’t want to recycle any of them, and they are all trash. If I know I am never going to respond, because it’s some clown sending a press release for a subject that has absolutely nothing with what I do, I will simply click delete and immediately forget about the email for the rest of my life. When newsletters come in, I think for a second about the last time I read the newsletter. If it was a while ago, I unsubscribe from the newsletter and then delete it. Then there is the pure junk – I click “Mark as Spam” and feel satisfied for a second. It may well be that Google doesn’t pay attention to that feature, but I’d like to believe they do, and I celebrate just a little with each spam delete. I also check my Spam folder in Google a couple times a day, because there is a false positive every once in a while.
My Gmail DataYou can get a monthly report that details Gmail usage at GmailMeter.com. It’s a useful breakdown of your email analytics and statistics. [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="472"] Image from Gmail Meter[/caption] Based on my Gmail Meter report from February 2016, I received 3,481 emails from 607 people, and sent 718 emails to 107 people. Chat, spam, calendar invites, etc. are not included in this tally. One of the data points shows the “Time Before First Response” as emails come in, and with my system, I got back to 17% of people within 5 minutes and another 18% in less than 15 minutes. Overall, I took more than a day for just 15% of emails that came in. Gmail Meter also shows the word count for emails sent and received. I got back to 5% of people with less than 10 words, 11% with less than 30 words, and 38% with less than 50 words. I wrote more than 200 words for just 3% of my emails. I need to cut that to 1% this month. While I keep an eye on email every day of the week, Saturday is by far my least active day, followed by Sunday. On Mondays I send 30% of my messages for the week, and progressively less each weekday, but more on Fridays than Thursdays for some reason. I can also see when during the day my emails are sent and received, and they sharply increase starting at 8am eastern and don’t let up until around 6pm eastern. There is a spike again around 8pm eastern. I suppose that is the people on the west coast clearing their inbox before they head out. In addition to the tools within Gmail, I also use a few others to best manage my inbox.
Boomerang for GmailBoomerang is a really useful tool for clearing email out of your inbox to deal with later. You can indicate when it should return to your inbox and then process it. I use this a lot on the road for non-essential email, as well as evenings and weekends, when I’ll send it away until 8am on the next business day. You can also schedule an email to drop with Boomerang, which is useful is you want to have it hit the inbox of somebody when they are more likely to be at their desk.
Sidekick by HubSpotSidekick will enable you to know who opens your emails, when, where they opened it, and how many times. I find this really useful when deciding whether to follow up with somebody. It’s good to know if they saw it, or if they didn’t. In the event somebody never opened an email, I can call a couple days later without being a pest and suggesting it might have hit their spam folder. Or maybe their inbox is wildly out of control, and they need to read my tips.
Undo SendThis is a feature you can activate in Gmail > Settings > Labs, and it enables you to set a time when you can cancel an email to either scrap it or make edits. I seem to use this at least once a day to revise the tone of an email or correct a typo I saw as I hit send. Apply my simple steps and maybe use the supplemental tools, and you, too, can take control of your inbox.
Tuesday, March 8, 2016 by Kevin WoodAs a business owner you know you need to be on social media. However, this pressure often creates a problem when you don’t have a workable strategy in place. Below we showcase seven different social media mistakes a lot of business owners make when trying to expand their online presence.
1. Trying To Be In Too Many Places At OnceBuilding a single social media profile takes a lot of time and energy. If you’re spreading yourself too thin by trying to be in too many places at once, the audiences and engagement you’re trying to cultivate will suffer. Start small and only jump to another network once you feel comfortable with the size and engagement with your current audience. That’s why it’s important to start on the social media network that has a higher-proportion of your target marketing hanging out.
2. Not Creating Separate Profiles For Your BusinessThis is usually only a problem for Facebook. But, if you’re adding customers to your personal Facebook page it can look weird and won’t allow you to keep any separation between your business and your personal life. Even if you’re a solopreneur it can be advantageous to create a separate page that’s specifically dedicated to your business. This will allow you to have a purely business-minded conversation with your followers, and implement more marketing-oriented strategies, like paid posts and ads, to grow your account.
3. Failing To Respond To MessagesThe more social media profiles you have the more places you’re going to have to check for customer messages. Some platforms will enable you to forward your messages to your email, which will help you keep track of all your messages. Failing to respond to messages in a timely manner will only lead to customer dissatisfaction.
4. Promoting Yourself Too OftenSocial media is all about conversation. If you’re spending too much time promoting your own offerings and not sharing the wealth by highlighting other people, you’re going to turn people off. No one likes the person who only talks about themselves.
5. Not Promoting Yourself EnoughHowever, it’s also important to promote your own offers on occasion. If you’re only sharing other people’s content, but never drop a line about your own work, then people will begin to look elsewhere. It’s important to strike the delicate balance between sharing other people’s content, engaging with your followers, and promoting your own stuff.
6. Boring Your Audience With Your UpdatesDo you post the same status updates every single day? If so, your audience might be tuning out your posts. Experiment with sharing different content types and styles of updates. If you use a social media analytics tool like Buffer, you can analyze your social media data to find the style of content your audience loves the most.
7. Not Reading Through Content Before You Share ItWhen you’re sharing relevant and useful content with your audience make sure you actually read it first. Since part of your reputation will be based upon curating high-quality information you’d hate to share a post that diminishes this. Make sure you read through all of the content you’re recommending to your audience before you click the share button. Growing your audience on social media is another long-term strategy. But, when done effectively it’s time well spent. By avoiding the mistakes above you’ll set yourself up for a successful future across social media.
Thursday, February 11, 2016 by Kevin WoodCreating good content will take a lot of time, so naturally you’ll want to get the most mileage out of a single post as possible. Instead of publishing a blog post and calling it a days work there are several ways you can maximize the reach of every blog post you create. This strategy can also be useful when you create a piece of content that does extremely well, through using the ideas outlined below you can continue to maximize the value of a post well after you’ve pressed publish. Below we high five different ways you can further the reach and increase the usefulness of a single piece of content.
Turn A Well-Received Blog Post Into A Lead Generation MachineDo you have a single blog post that’s outperformed the rest of the content on your site? If so, then why not let the post work for you. By expanding the post and turning it into a short, actionable, eBook you can transform the post into a piece of content that’ll generate a steady stream of email subscribers. For instance, you could create a downloadable version of the post at the top and bottom of the current blog post, and ask for an email address in exchange for the download. You could even create a series of resource posts on your site that feature downloadable forms of the most popular content your site has to offer.
Turn A Blog Post Into A YouTube VideoIf you have an in-depth blog post, or series of posts that focus on helping your customers with one of their deep needs, then you could use your current post as a script for a series of YouTube videos. Instead of having to create content from scratch you can use your previous research as the backbone for a series of videos. YouTube has a very large user base, and can be a potentially large source of traffic for your business.
Create An Infographic Out Of Your PostDoes your post feature a lot of compelling statistics, or fully flesh out a view point of a relevant issue? If so, you can turn that post into an infographic you can then shop around to relevant sites in your niche. Creating an infographic does take time and money, but once you have it created you’ll have something tangible you can share for a long-time. Plus, infographics tend to do very well across social media, and can be a great source of backlinks to your website.
Share The Post Across Social Media, RepeatedlyJust because you’ve shared something once doesn’t mean you can’t repeatedly share the post through your social media channels. Once you have a post or two that tend to do well across social media, make sure you consistently promote them. You could even create a series of ads that promote the post to new segments of your market on a regular basis. Make sure you dig through your post archives to see if you have any valuable posts you haven’t shared for a long-time. If your content creation strategy has led you towards creating evergreen style content, then you’ll have a steady supply of content you can continue to promote for quite some time.
Expand The Original Post Into A Downloadable eBookIf you’ve created a resource-type post that your audience loves you can use your current blog post as an outline to dive even further into the subject matter. Once you have a book-length’s supply of words you can then publish this as a downloadable eBook on your site, upload the book to Amazon, or even create a SlideShare presentation out of your material. Different aspects of your audience will like to consume varying styles of content. By extending the lifespan of your content by expanding into different mediums you’ll be able to further the traction you get from a single piece of content. Of course, you won’t do this for every piece of content you create. But, by applying the above tips intelligently you’ll be able to extend the reach of your most popular and valuable content for a long time.