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  • Boost Holiday Donations With These 8 Nonprofit Website Best Practices

    Monday, December 5, 2016 by
    Fundraising Tips for Nonprofit Websites For everyone, the holidays can feel like a stressful, busy time of year. For nonprofit professionals, the stress of balancing social and family obligations is compounded by these months being the most important time of year for fundraising. Nearly 30% of all giving for the year happens in December. The average amount people give is nearly 40% higher in December than throughout the rest of the year. Clearly people are in a giving mindset during the holidays. Nonprofits should do everything in their power to encourage that generosity and provide people with easy, persuasive reasons to follow their hearts this time of year. [bctt tweet="#NonProfits, take note! People give 40% more in December than the rest of the year." username="hostgator"] Here are eight techniques you can use this holiday season to maximize the donations that come your way before the onset of the New Year.   Recommended WordPress Hosting  

    1. Offer gift options.

    One of the most valuable techniques you should implement this year is tying the general gift-giving people are doing for friends and family in with giving to your organization. If your donors feel they can check both boxes at once, they’ll be more likely to send money your way. There are a couple different forms this can take.  

    Create an online gift catalog.

    Charity gift catalogs make giving to a charity feel more like shopping – in a good way. Instead of providing a lump sum of cash, a gift catalog lets them visualize a list of  specific items that they can choose to give. Giving a couple hundred dollars to charity feels different than buying a goat for a struggling family. Create online gift catalog   Some charities, like Oxfam, take it a step further and make a card part of the gift. You can buy chickens for a family in need in the name of a loved one, and present your loved one with the card as your holiday gift to let them know. Charitable donation card  

    Offer physical gifts at different donation levels.

    Sometimes having something physical to wrap up and hand to a loved one feels important. To tap into that desire, you can offer different items to people who donate at different levels. A t-shirt or tote bag for anyone that donates enough allows a donor to let a loved one know they’ve supported a cause they care about while also providing them with an item they can hand them come gift-giving time.  

    2. Promote your Amazon Smile account.

    One thing you can count on people to do this season is buy things. And a lot of them are specifically buying things online. Last year on Black Friday, more people shopped online than in stores. Your organization can benefit from some of that spending with an Amazon Smile account. Whenever customers use the URL rather than going straight to, .5% of what they spend will go to your organization. That percentage isn’t huge, but if enough people make you their chosen Amazon Smile charity and then do a lot of their holiday shopping on Amazon, the donations will add up. If you haven’t yet set up an Amazon Smile account for your nonprofit, then that’s your first step. Just follow the instructions Amazon provides here. Once that’s done though, you should actively encourage your followers to select your charity and make a point of doing their Amazon shopping through the smile link. Provide step-by-step instructions on how to set their Amazon smile account to donate to your charity, like World of Children does. How to use Amazon Smile Then promote your account to your followers. Before Black Friday rolls around, send an email to your list about your Amazon Smile account and post about it on your social media profiles. The more people start shopping in your name, the more those donations will add up to something significant.  

    3. Ask a big donor to match all gifts through the beginning of the year.

    When donors hear that their donation will be worth more because of a matching gift, that ups their incentive to give. If you have a reliable big donor you can convince to match all the donations made within a specific time frame, your promotions to the rest of your list will have some extra kick. The Central Texas Food Bank found a generous donor to match all gifts this holiday season and put that information front and center on their website to encourage more giving. Donor matching How much more likely are you to give $10 to an organization when you know that will translate into 80 meals due to someone else’s matching contribution? The psychology behind matching donations is powerful; if you can find a big donor to help, use it.  

    4. Share touching success stories.

    This is helpful anytime of year, but when people are already in giving mode, it can especially make a difference. People like to see how their contribution will pay off in specific terms. If you can show them the little girl that was able to wake up to several gifts under the tree because of their help last year, that turns their donations into something more personal and moving. Last year in December, Austin Pets Alive shared a video of Poppy, a dog that came to them suffering from parvo the year before. After being treated in their care, Poppy made a full recovery and was adopted. When potential donors came to the site that holiday season, they knew they weren’t just giving money to an organization, they were helping specific dogs like Poppy go from sickly to running, playing, and stealing slippers in a home they know they’ll be living in for keeps.

    5. Take advantage of Giving Tuesday.

    Giving Tuesday is one of the biggest giving days of the year. Falling right after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, when people are still in spending mode, it’s a day that encourages people to top off their spending spree with some charitable goodness. For people already in the spirit, making a few tweaks to your website for Giving Tuesday can help ensure you get a piece of the action on the big day.  

    6. Create a branded donation page.

    It may not seem like the kind of thing that would make a big difference, but having a donation page that’s designed to match the look and feel for the rest of your brand can actually cause a significant increase in how much people give. Network for Good has found that branded giving pages earn 7 times more money than their generic-looking counterparts. The Jane Goodall Institute includes the organizations’ logo and a large picture of Goodall herself at the top of their donation page. It’s only when you scroll down that you see the donation form to fill out. Branded donation page Before they reach the point of providing credit card information, donors get a reminder of just what the organization does and why it matters. As such, anyone who clicks through to this page won’t doubt for a second that their money will be going where they intend it to. And when the donation page forwards the message the rest of the website provides, they’re less likely to change their mind or doubt their decision.  

    7. Position donating as an easy New Year’s Resolution to keep.

    A lot of the donations that come around the holidays have to do with people being in the gift-giving spirit, but a good chunk of them come at the very end of the year – right as people are starting to think about their New Year’s Resolutions. Every year, thousands if not millions of people try to think of ways to become better versions of themselves. Every year, a good portion of those good intentions fall short of their goal. This presents an opportunity. Keeping a resolution like losing weight or quitting smoking is hard. Keeping a New Year’s resolution to give more to charity can be easy. If they simply take five minutes to set up a recurring donation now, your donors can know they’ve achieved their resolution for the year before it even starts. [bctt tweet="Suggest recurring donations to your #nonprofit as a #NewYearsResolution that's easy to keep." username="hostgator"] Use the New Year and the good intentions people always have as it starts to push out a marketing campaign that positions giving to your organization as the best kind of New Year’s resolution: one that helps others (and that they’ll actually be able to keep).  

    8. Make it easy for donors to share the word.

    Word of mouth is always one of the most powerful ways for an organization to gain more awareness and interest. The donors that know you already care about the work you do, which means they’ll probably be happy to help spread the message. You’ve probably seen “I just donated” Tweets or messages on your social media platforms before. Often, people don’t have to write those themselves, they’re automatically generated with a simple click. I just donated tweet Share donation on Facebook   People are more likely to share a message if you make it super easy for them to do so. Whenever someone gets to the confirmation page, set up buttons with Share Link Generator that prefill messages for different social media sites. Make it easy for donors to brag about their generosity. Be sure to include a CTA in the message you write that urges their followers to give as well. Social proof is powerful. Having your followers do part of the work for you can help bring new donors to your cause. People are predisposed to think about all that they have (and can expect to receive) during the holiday season, which tends to bring out their generosity. For nonprofits, that makes these months the ones where you (and your website) need to work the hardest. But the good news is that the rewards you reap from your efforts are likely to pay off in more donations than you’ll get for much of the rest of the year combined. Good luck and happy holidays!
  • Does Your Company Really Need a Blog?

    Monday, December 5, 2016 by
    Does My Company Need a Blog Does your business really need a blog? Nope. You’re good. Oh, but you want sales, referrals, lead generation, customer loyalty, and engagement? Then yes, you absolutely need a business blog. First, understand this: the numbers don’t lie. Let’s also understand that creating and maintaining a business blog is no simple task. You must carefully consider your blog’s content, and cadence. Having said that, though, Hubspot shows us that the more posts published, the higher the customer acquisition. HubSpot Blog Post Frequency Chart However, what you publish and how frequently you publish it entirely depends on your audience. There’s unfortunately no hard and fast rule to business blogging or content marketing for that matter, so the best you can do is to test what works, then test, and test again. To help you along, let’s take a look at some powerful blogging insights from two extremely well-known and successful blogs. Create Your Blog Pro tip: To measure the success of your blog posts, track unique post and overall site traffic using Google Analytics. Here’s how to install Google Analytics on your WordPress blog.  

    Insight #1: Seth Godin’s Blog

    Multiple business founder and best-selling author Seth Godin (Purple Cow, All Marketers Are Liars) receives an estimated 640K visits a month to his blog. SimilarWeb Pro tip: SimilarWeb is a free Chrome plugin. Use it to spy on your competitors or to get an idea of average site rankings, bounce rates, and visits. At first, Godin thought the Internet was stupid, but when he realized how powerful a tool it was in directly reaching his audience, he eventually committed to his current cadence of publishing one blog post a day. In a recent interview on the Tim Ferriss Show, Godin says “[Blogging is] one of the top 5 decisions I’ve ever made. I have a practice that resonates with people that I can do forever.” [bctt tweet="Why Your Business Needs A Blog: Speak directly to your audience in a way that resonates with them." username="hostgator"]    

    Insight #2: The Smart Passive Income Blog

    Pat Flynn’s blog is a tremendous resource for anyone aiming to make extra cash through multiple income streams. On blogging, Flynn writes, “Although a blog isn’t passive in nature, it’s one of the best platforms for launching other passive income opportunities.” In addition to providing endless tips for small business owners and marketers (check out the podcast), Flynn suggests that a stand-alone blog won’t make money, but that the eBooks, products, print books, courses, consulting that you write about and sell will boost traffic and rake in the cash. Flynn should know. From his very humble beginnings, he’s now passively raking in over 100K/month. If that’s not a great reason to start business blogging, we’re not sure what is! [bctt tweet="Why Your Business Needs A Blog: It's one of the best platforms for passive income opportunities." username="hostgator"]  

    Insight #3: MySocialSuite’s Blog

    New social media marketing startup MySocialSuite rivals the likes of Hootsuite and SproutSocial for helping businesses boost productivity through social posting automation, analytics, and more. We recently spoke with co-founder Luke Clifford who launched the MySocialSuite blog in June 2016. He says, “Carefully selecting the content you publish puts you in the SEO driving seat and in control of your site’s organic audience.” Clifford says he’s seen tremendous site traffic growth since the launch of the blog which he credits for dozens of direct product purchases. While Clifford agrees that business blogging is about point-of-sale, he says “It’s also about building customer loyalty and carving out a meaningful space as an industry leader.” [bctt tweet="Why Your Business Needs A Blog: Build customer loyalty and carve out your space as an industry leader." username="hostgator"] There’s a reason HostGator has a blog and even more reasons why our blog is segmented into these categories: web hosting, marketing, small biz & Snappy (the adventures of everyone’s favorite gator mascot). We’ve studied our audience. We know who you are and what you want, but we’re always testing, tuning, and improving. We recommend studying these blogs for content ideas, calls to action, and key selling points. Discover what it is about the blogs and specific posts that invite you to continue clicking and reading. Do you enjoy other blogs? Share your faves in the comment section! We’d love to know who you’re reading for inspiration (did the HostGator blog make your list of favorites?).  

    Are you ready to start making money from your business blog?

    Create Your Blog With HostGator!

  • 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!