Tuesday, January 3, 2017 by Kevin WoodWhen you’re just starting to blog you’re going to have a lot on your plate. Beyond learning how to write for the web and mastering the technical side of posting, you probably have one large question floating around your head. How am I going to get traffic to my blog? You’ve probably already come across dozens of methods to get traffic back to your website. One of the most tried and true methods for sustainable long-term traffic is SEO. SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, refers to techniques designed to improve your site's rankings in the search results of Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines. When it comes to SEO there are a few things you’ll need to get right from the get go. Below we offer seven of our best SEO tips for new bloggers, so you can make sure you’re laying the right foundation for future rankings.
Tuesday, December 27, 2016 by Henry GreenThe word blog is originally derived from the phrase web log. By its very definition a blog is a consistent online log that is regularly updated. The question is… are you consistently publishing posts to your blog? Because if you’re not, you’re missing out on site traffic, customer engagement, and sales opportunities. We understand that writer’s block gets in the way, plus who has time to write on top of running a business? However, we assure you that if you can stick with some of these ideas, you’ll be better positioned for entrepreneurial success. It’s worth it. And you may even find that they won’t take up as much of your time as you think.
1. Above all, know your audience.If you have no honest clue what kind of people make up your audience, back up and figure that out by creating an audience persona. Everything you write should be filtered through what your audience wants. You’ll need an authentic voice, but use it in a way that speaks to your customers and makes you relatable. Filtering your thought process through your average customer’s day will enable you to generate endless content ideas. Ask yourself: what are they searching for?; what will make their day easier?; what will make them more successful?; what do they do for fun?; what inspires them? Then write about some of those ideas.
2. Check an annual calendar.Holiday sales and events are a great blog-writing starting point. From Small Business Saturday to Valentine’s Day, or even more local events in your neighborhood -- these are all opportunities to engage your audience. To start, we recommend checking out:
- Holidays & Observances Around the World - Don’t miss a beat with this comprehensive list of upcoming holidays.
- Today is National What Day - This is your jam for fun, goofy holidays like National Pizza/Cat/Cookies Day.
3. Expand your About Us page.Web content on your site is for your About Us page, while a blog can be thought of more as your About Everything page. This doesn’t mean you need to publicly write about your relationship with mom, but do use your blog to share more of who you and your team are. Be real with your customers and expect big returns. Consider writing about:
- Milestones: Births, graduations, marriages
- Fun office activities
- Customer testimonials
- Employee success
- Customer success
4. Create long-lasting evergreen content.Evergreen blog content is the key to success because it’s designed to last a looooooooooong time. The more relevant a piece of online writing is over time, the better it is for SEO and for your business. These can be things like:
- FAQ’s - Listen to your customers and you’ll find that they often seek answers to the same frequently asked questions. Write these down and publish them in a blog post. Save yourself the time of answering them later, and proactively help out new clients.
- Product Descriptions - Describe the benefits of each of your products.
- Product Walkthroughs - How to use a specific product or service.
- Resources - Share tools or business resources that make you successful. Your customers will perceive you as an authoritative industry leader and thank you for it. Bonus: If you’re an affiliate, this is a great place to make a sale.
5. Write what inspires you.Finally, write about what motivates you to succeed. Write about why you started your business in the first place and why you continue to carry on. Not sure what else inspires you? How about…
- Favorite movies
- TED Talks
- Public speakers
- Family, friends, church
Tuesday, December 27, 2016 by Kevin WoodIf you’re here, then I’m guessing you have a passion for health and fitness and you’d like to share that with the world. Luckily for you that’s exactly what this blog post is about. With the new year upon us, it's the perfect time to launch your blog, as people are looking for help to improve their fitness more than ever. There are hundreds of blogs started every single day, so it’s important you do a lot more than just start a blog without a plan of attack. As a lover of health and fitness you’re probably extremely familiar with plans of all kinds. So, our blog launch plan below shouldn’t be too much of a stretch. Below we outline the steps you need to follow if you’d like to start your very own fitness blog.
1. Understand Your NicheAs much as you’d like it to be true, not every person in the world is going to read, or even enjoy, your blog. Your blog should be focused on a very specific group of people. This might seem limiting, but the internet has truly made even the smallest niches extremely profitable. Plus, the smaller your niche in the beginning the easier it’ll be for you to build authority, which then stays with you as you expand out into other areas of the fitness landscape. For example, do you create fitness routines for women who’ve just had their first child? Or maybe you specialize in bodyweight fitness for those sick of the gym? For example, take a look at the successful Fit Found Me blog run by HostGator customer Stephanie Miller. She creates motivational content for women over 40. Remember, the niche you start in doesn’t always have to be the niche you finish in either. Your blog will evolve over time, just like you do.
2. Choose Your Domain and PlatformWhen choosing your domain name it can be helpful to think of something brandable. However, you want to make sure the domain name you choose isn’t incredibly trendy, or could become outdated rather quickly. Some fitness professionals choose to use their own names and build a brand around that. While, others choose a brandable domain that speaks to their target market, such as Nerd Fitness. After you’ve settled on your domain name it’s time to decide what platform you’ll rely on to build your blog. There are literally dozens of choices, but one of the best platforms available for blogging is WordPress. It’s free and there are hundreds of fitness-related themes you’ll be able to use that you can customize to your liking.
3. Plan Your LaunchIt’s important not to over-plan. Often, pulling the trigger is more important that spending too much time planning out your blog and never launching it. You know what they say... started is half done. You learn more in the day-to-day trenches of blogging than you do just sitting back and thinking about it. To plan your launch effectively we recommend setting a date a month into the future. That’ll give you enough time to create a catalog of blog posts, so you can deliver a steady stream of content while you focus on other aspects of your launch. Remember, your website doesn’t have to be perfect in the beginning either. Often, the simplest websites convert and perform the best. Pick a theme that you love, customize to your liking, and forget about it. HostGator customer Ashley Pitt is the fitness blogger behind A Lady Goes West. Her website combines a simple and clean design with a pop of color to give it a bit of personality.
4. Launch With a BangYour launch is your chance to let the world know you exist. You only have one chance to launch, so you might as well give it your all. If you’re starting completely from scratch one of the best ways to build an audience is to tap into existing audiences that already overlap with your own. Chances are there are a ton of existing fitness blogs that will love what you’re writing about. All you have to do is find them and pitch them a guest post with a call-to-action back to your website. Combine this with the existing content already being published on your blog and you can bet that some of those readers will become fans of your work. It’s important to queue these guest posts up in advance, so they can all go live around the same time as your launch. This will make it appear as if you’re everywhere online and give off the aura of authority.
5. Focus on Your Content StrengthsAs you grow your platform one thing you’ll want to focus on is traffic. After all, what’s the point of blogging if no one is going to read what you’re writing? We focused on guest blogging above as a great way to build initial relationships with readers in your niche. But, there are still multiple ways for you to reach your ideal market. For instance, if you’ve discovered that guest blogging and writing isn’t quite your thing, you could try video blogging instead. Or take pictures and create tutorials for the various workouts you’ve created. Share these on Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest. Decide what you like best and where your strengths lie. Then create content that’s in alignment with that. We hope the steps above will be enough to help you get your fitness blog started on the right path. Any questions about getting your fitness blog started? Feel free to reach out in the comments below.
Tuesday, December 27, 2016 by Kristi Hines
Social media marketing could conceivably be done in 30 minutes a day, once you get into the full swing of things. A lot will depend on how large and popular your brand is, how much you are able to automate, and how much social media experience your people have in the first place.
One of the biggest mistakes people make for their social media calendar is creating a calendar for just the things you publish. But you will be doing much more than publishing.
- You will need time to come up with unique campaigns and content for each network.
- You will need to spend time reviewing what has been said about your brand, your products, your services, and your industry.
- You will need to respond to your potential and current customer inquiries throughout the day.
- You will need to review analytics to determine what is working and what isn't.
- You will need to read about what new features are being released on each network your company uses to ensure that your strategy is as relevant as possible.
In other words, social media requires commitment. Hence, think about how many people will be handling your social media and how long they will have every day to handle your social media, and consider the following for each social network when planning the social media calendar for you and your team.
With Facebook, you can create different entities to help you market your business: personal profiles, business pages, and groups. You have to have a personal profile to create a business page, and you have to have a personal profile to create and participate in groups where your ideal customers are active.
Here are some of the main tasks you must complete to have a successful Facebook presence:
- Create a Facebook page and post updates at least once a day. You can actually publish daily or schedule your updates once a week via a variety of social media management tools.
- Utilize video when possible to get better reach. Live video is the most popular (at time of publishing).
- Promote your page on your website, email signature, and other social networks to build up your Facebook audience.
- Monitor your notifications and reply to incoming messages, comments, visitor posts to your page, and reviews.
- Use your personal profile to invite your friends to become fans (if applicable), link to your page as your current workplace (under the about tab), and share your most recent Facebook page posts publicly.
- Use your personal profile to engage with your target customers in Facebook groups. The goal isn't to advertise your business, but to simply bring more visibility to you and your business. Unless advertising is allowed, in which case, advertise.
- If there isn't a group that your ideal customers can come to discuss issues regarding your industry, create it. For example, a vet that creates a local pet owners group would have the ideal group for their ideal customer base.
- Create retargeting ads to people who have visited your website but did not complete a specific conversion goal (submit a lead form or make a purchase) and remind them of the services or products they viewed.
- Create ads targeted towards your ideal customers to introduce them to your products and services.
With Twitter, marketing is a little simpler since there is only one thing you have to create: your Twitter profile. Here are some of the main tasks you must complete to have a successful Twitter presence.
- Create a Twitter account and tweet from it several times a day. You can actually publish daily or schedule your updates once a week via a variety of social media management tools.
- Promote your profile on your website, email signature, and other social networks to build up your Twitter audience.
- Monitor your notifications and reply to mentions and direct messages.
- Save a search for anyone who mentions your business, unique products, or services that may not have used your @username so that you can reply to them.
- Save a search for people having conversations about products or services that you can sell to them. For example, if someone were to tweet that they need a new hosting company tool, @HostGator would be there to reply.
- Create retargeting ads to people who have visited your website but did not complete a specific conversion goal (submit a lead form or make a purchase) and remind them of the services or products they viewed. Remember that ads will also need to be monitored for comments.
- Create ads targeted towards your ideal customers to introduce them to your products and services. Remember that ads will also need to be monitored for comments.
With LinkedIn, you can create different entities to help you market your business: personal profiles, company pages, showcase pages, and groups. You have to have a personal profile to create a company page, you have to have a company page to create a showcase page, and you have to have a personal profile to create and participate in groups where your ideal customers are active.
Here are some of the main tasks you must complete to have a successful LinkedIn presence.
- Create a company page and post updates at least once a day. You can actually publish daily or schedule your updates once a week.
- Create showcase pages to highlight popular products you offer. For example, Microsoft has a company page, and they also have showcase pages for Microsoft Office, Microsoft Cloud, Microsoft Surface, and other products.
- Promote your company page on your website, email signature, and other social networks to build up your LinkedIn audience.
- Monitor your notifications and reply to comments on your page.
- Use your personal profile to engage with your target customers in LinkedIn groups. The goal isn't to advertise your business, but to simply bring more visibility to you and your business. Unless advertising is allowed, in which case, advertise.
- If there isn't a group that your ideal customers can come to discuss issues regarding your industry, create it. For example, a senior facility that creates a local caregivers group would have the ideal group for their ideal customer base.
- Create ads targeted towards your ideal customers to introduce them to your products and services. Remember that ads will also need to be monitored for comments.
Instagram has the simplicity of Twitter in the fact that you only have one entity to work with: your profile. The downside of Instagram is that it is not as easy to schedule updates to their network. Here are some of the main tasks you must complete to have a successful Instagram presence.
- Create an Instagram profile and post images or video at least once a day. You can actually publish daily or schedule your updates once a week via a variety of social media management tools. The only difference is that instead of the update being published automatically, you will get a notification on your mobile device to publish the update at the scheduled time.
- Utilize Instagram Stories to reach the top of your follower's news feed by updating it often.
- Promote your profile on your website, email signature, and other social networks to build up your Instagram audience.
- Monitor your notifications and reply to comments on your posts, mentions, and direct messages.
- Convert your profile to a business profile when the option becomes available in your settings. This will give you access to insights, additional contact options for your profile visitors, and the ability to promote your posts from inside the Instagram app.
- Create retargeting ads (via Facebook Ads Manager) to people who have visited your website but did not complete a specific conversion goal (submit a lead form or make a purchase) and remind them of the services or products they viewed. Remember that ads will also need to be monitored for comments.
- Create ads (via Facebook Ads Manager) targeted towards your ideal customers to introduce them to your products and services. Remember that ads will also need to be monitored for comments.
In addition to the above networks, you also have many others to choose from, some of which are industry-specific or simply more important to some industries than others. For example, these are the tasks you must complete to be successful on the following networks:
- YouTube - Post videos or create playlists regularly. Create video ads. Review your analytics to determine view and engagement rate for your videos along with the subscription rate for your channel.
- Pinterest - Pin images and videos regularly. Create promoted pins. Review your analytics to determine your top pins based on views and engagement.
- Snapchat - Post content regularly (mobile only). Big brands could look into advertising and local businesses could look into Geofilters.
As you can see, there is a lot more to consider when it comes to your social media calendar. When you are drafting next month's social media calendar, be sure to include everything—from campaigns to analytics. Then you will really see what it takes to maintain your social media marketing strategy.
Thursday, December 22, 2016 by Kristi HinesThere are a variety of metrics you can use to measure your social media marketing success. The metrics you choose to analyze should correlate to the specific social media marketing goals you intend to achieve, from building brand awareness to managing brand reputation. The following are metrics you can use to determine whether social media campaigns are helping you achieve the goals you have set for your business. Which social growth metric are you looking to measure? Click a link below to jump to the section.
- Brand awareness
- Thought leadership
- Website traffic
- Website leads
- Website conversions driven by social media
- Pre- and post-sales customer support
- Brand reputation management
How to Measure the Growth of Brand AwarenessIf your goal is brand awareness, you'll want to look at the audience growth on all of your social networks. Certain networks will give you insights and analytics to determine if your audience is filled with your ideal customers. Facebook Audience Insights, for example, will allow you to analyze your page (if it has large enough fan base) and give you demographics information about them, from general age, gender, and location to specific likes, income, and spending habits. Twitter offers similar insights in their analytics. If you're a freelancer or self-employed, you may want to analyze your LinkedIn personal connections. To do so, you'll need a Premium account, and the Advanced People Search set to 1st Connections. Then expand the categories in the left sidebar to learn more about the locations, industries, interests, and other aspects of your connections. For your company page, you can look under the Analytics tab for information about your followers. Use the dropdown to learn about your follower's seniority, industry, company size, function, and employee status. Instagram offers analytics for those who are able to convert their account to a business profile, but follower insights are pretty bare bones. Even so, you should be able to use it to monitor whether your fan base and engagement are constantly increasing. YouTube analytics are primarily related to video viewers as opposed to subscribers. But similarly to Instagram, you should monitor whether your subscriber base and engagement is constantly increasing.
How to Measure the Growth of Recognition as a Thought LeaderThis one is a tough one as far as metrics are concerned. Again, you can measure your audience growth and engagement as shown above. But more importantly, you will want to think about the results of becoming a thought leader are and how you are achieving them. For example.
- Are you getting lots of requests to speak at conferences through LinkedIn?
- Are you getting lots of requests to guest post on blogs through Facebook?
- Are you getting lots of requests to be interviewed on podcasts through Twitter?
- Are you getting emails about any of the above requests based on someone following your updates on a specific network?
How to Measure the Growth of Traffic to Your WebsiteHere's one that is super simple to measure. All you need is Google Analytics or similar web analytics software setup on your website. If you have Google Analytics, you will have several reports to choose from to see whether social media is generating traffic to your website. First, you will have the Acquisitions > All Traffic > Channels report that will show you how Social referral traffic stacks up against other traffic sources. From there, you can click on Social and see the top social networks that are driving traffic to your website. If you want to get really specific, you can use UTM parameters to track your campaigns using Google Analytics. For example, with LinkedIn, the traffic to a blog post from LinkedIn could have come from your profile, status updates, groups, ads, etc. At the moment, you can only see your LinkedIn traffic all lumped together. But if you use UTM parameters like the ones below, you can get more specific data from Google Analytics. How do you get this data? You can look under the Acquisition > Campaigns section, click on the promotion campaign, click on linkedin.com / referral as the Source / Medium, add Ad Content as a Secondary Dimension, and find out the following. We suggest using a spreadsheet to keep track of your UTM parameters because they are very sensitive. Profile and profile would be counted as two separate parameters in your reports, simply because of the capitalization of the P.
How to Measure the Growth of Leads for Your Sales TeamIf you are using Google Analytics, the same reports above can also help you find out if your social media campaigns are generating leads for your sales team. All you have to do is setup Google Analytics Goals that measure when a lead is captured on your website. The simplest way to do this is to have a thank you page on your website that a visitor lands upon after they submit the lead or contact form on your website. Copy the URL of that page. Then go to the Admin menu of your website in Google Analytics and click on Goals. From there you can set up a Destination Goal that looks like this. Once you have saved this Goal, the same reports we showed you earlier in Google Analytics will also include a section of data showing which social networks are resulting in lead captures on your website. This Conversions section will also apply to your Channels Report as well as your detailed Campaigns Report as well, so you can analyze what helps you convert leads all the way down to posts made in groups on LinkedIn. This way, you can focus your social media activity on the things that work best.
How to Measure the Growth of Website Conversions from Social MediaThe same rules apply to linking sales on your website to social media as to linking leads. It's simply a matter of setting up Google Analytics Goals. The big differences between lead goals and sales goals are the optional Value and Funnel fields. You will still likely work with an end page that the visitor lands upon once they have completed the sale. But, let's say that you only sell one product on your website through a simple three step process. In that case, your Goal setup would look something like this. Your reports linking social networks to conversions will be similar, but now they will be linked to a value. You will also be able to learn more about where visitors enter and exit your sales funnel, which could help you with optimizing the steps in your sales funnel for conversions. So not only will you be learning which social network generates the most ROI for your business, but you will be able to increase your ROI through conversion optimization.
How to Measure the Growth of Pre and Post-Sales Customer SupportDepending on how you currently handle pre-sales questions and post-sales customer support, this one may also be a bit tricky to measure. But here are two questions you should be looking to answer.
- Does social media allow your company to answer more people's questions before the sale, making it easier for your sales team to close sales?
- Does social media allow your company to answer more customer's questions after the sale, making it easier for your customer support team to solve more problems in a timely manner?
- For sales made through your website, give your social media team members special codes that they can give customers to get a small discount off of the purchase of the product they are asking questions about. Not only might it guarantee the sale, but it will help you track the sale back to the social media team member (and network) that helped close the deal.
- For customer support done over social media, make sure the customer service rep sends the person a link to rate their service. This will give you an idea of how helpful they were and how often they are helping.
How to Measure the Growth of Brand Reputation ManagementAgain, it's hard to get metrics on this one. But when a brand reputation crisis happens, it really is all hands on deck for your social media team. They will be fielding questions, comments, and backlash from all networks, angles, and channels. So while you won't be able to "measure" the result, you can be assured that every answer your social media team gives is going to be better than every negative mention ignored. The key is to make sure your social media team is trained in advance to handle both positive and negative comments about your brand. They should how to react to common compliments and complaints about your products and services as well as who to go to first if a major crisis should break out. Implementing these policies before they are needed will ensure that everything goes as smoothly as possible when needed. As you can see, everything to do with your social media marketing can be measured. It's just a matter of knowing what your social media marketing goals are and choosing ways to examine whether social media has made an impact on your achievement of those goals!