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  • How to Use Pinterest to Drive Sales

    Wednesday, November 2, 2016 by
    How To Use Pinterest To Drive Sales Sales, please. Your small business needs more sales to stay open. And it’s vital that your team focuses on a strategy now, rather than later. Social media is an effective method to grab the attention of your target audience. Moreover, Pinterest lets your consumers connect visually with your products. Learn why Pinterest is the best option for your bottom line.  

    Why Pinterest

    Research shows that the average order value of sales generated by Pinterest is 10% higher than any other major social platform. Average Order Value by Social Network Pinterest offers your business the opportunity to showcase products. You can create multiple boards based on shopping patterns, consumer interests, or even holiday trends. Consider this social media platform the new form of window shopping. It’s up to your team to display what’s best about your services and overall brand. “Most people save or pin things on Pinterest in order to get ideas for future purchases, so if you are selling something online, you should have a well-established Pinterest presence. This is especially true if you sell physical items like apparel, accessories, gadgets, and the like,” states Chandru Rao, a researcher and writer at Around.io. [bctt tweet="The Average Order Value of Pinterest sales is 10% higher than any other major social platform." username="hostgator"] Work with your team to develop a Pinterest sales strategy. Monitor prospective customers’ habits and build awareness for your brand. It’s time to incorporate Pinterest into your small business plan.  

    Tips to Drive Sales

    Beyond brand interest, Pinterest is capable of persuading customers to make purchases. Below are five tips to get you started.  

    1. Use Rich Pins

    Rich pins allow small business owners to include additional information to images. These enhanced pins offer you the chance provide consumers with real-time pricing and availability. In short, rich pins make it convenient for people to buy your items. They take the guesswork out of consumers’ product research. Rather than going to multiple websites, buyers can find product descriptions in one location. In the rich pin below, you’ll notice the product’s price, where it is sold, and a ‘Visit’ button to learn more. In addition, you can read comments from other people about the product. Rich Pin Example Don’t limit rich pins to your board. Add them to your product pages and blogs. “By adding the Pin It button to your product pages, you will automatically encourage Pinterest users to pin your products. This also goes for images on your blog posts and other pages throughout your website,” writes Kristi Hines, a contributing editor for Social Media Examiner. Embrace rich pins. Give your customers a better perspective of your services. [bctt tweet="Don't limit #RichPins to your Pinterest board. Use them on your website product pages and blogs." username="hostgator"]  

    2. Tell A Story

    Storytelling is essential in sales. Stories engage people in conversations and spark interest in new concepts. Old sales tactics don't work anymore. They centered around feeding consumers boring information, like features and dimensions. Nowadays, customers want to know exactly how products will benefit them. And they want it told in a fun manner. For instance, Lowe’s offers a Pinterest board dedicated to gardening tips. Consumers receive timely content and direct links to the home improvement store’s products. Lowes Pinterest Board “Be the celebrity expert in your space. Post content that makes you the expert in your space. Think in terms of providing information based on what you know and the service your business or products offers,” writes Entrepreneur contributor Grant Cardone. It’s vital to think like a consumer. Would you want someone bombarding you with information? The best stories take time to develop. And they leave the audience eager to learn what happens next. So, don’t inundate your boards. Gradually tell your brand stories.  

    3. Post High-Quality Images

    Pinterest thrives on visuals. So, it’s imperative to share amazing photos. Studies reveal that images without faces get repinned more 23% more often. Therefore, avoid the human face. [bctt tweet="#Pinterest Tip: Images without faces get repinned more 23% more often, so avoid the human face." username="hostgator"] “We think of Facebook as a network of people, and Foursquare as a network of places. Pinterest is a network of things … and it seems like on a network of things, faces are actually a distraction,” says Curalate CEO Apu Gupta. Use multiple dominant colors in your images. Stick to reds, oranges, and greens. Stay away from landscape images. Instead, do portrait style. Vertical orientation with an aspect ratio between 2:3 and 4:5 works best. Aim to add real backgrounds to your images. Plain white backdrops are dull. Give context with a intriguing background. Below is a pin from Nike Women. Notice the company’s use of colors, background, and portrait style.   Nike Pinterest  

    4. Target Relevant Audiences

    Know your audience. It’s the #1 rule for small businesses. If you fail to reach your target consumer, it’s unlikely that you’ll close the sale. Plus, you waste your team’s precious time and energy. You need to understand your customers’ likes, dislikes, and lifestyles. This includes studying their demographics, geographics, and psychographics. At the end of the day, your team should know when, where, why, and how your consumers make purchases. Once you grasp your buyers’ desires, you can build useful content. Post pins that relate to your products or services. For example, ESPN shares tailgating tips and tricks. The television network doesn’t sell food and party supplies, but their team understands how integral tailgating is to their sports consumers. ESPN Pinterest   Create a schedule for posting pins. Consistency gives your content a normal routine that people can follow. “The easiest thing you can do to grow your presence on Pinterest is to get into the habit of pinning consistently. While this tip may seem simple, it’s where most people fail with social media marketing,” says Brian Lang, founder of Small Business Ideas Blog. Start posting relevant pins. And target the right audience.  

    5. Try Promotions & Contests

    Everyone likes a good promotion or contest. It gets customers riled up to participate in something different. For promotions, give your loyal Pinterest followers exclusive deals. Surprise them with offers they can’t find on your other social media networks. You may offer 10% coupons, free swag bags, or attendance to a once-in-a-lifetime event. Make people curious and hype up the promotion days in advance. For contests, learn how to earn your consumers undivided attention. Your goal is to get them to take action. Modcloth ran an effective Pinterest contest. The online women’s clothing retailer encouraged pinners to post various pins matching specific themes. Winners received a $100 store gift card.   Pinterest Contest Example But be mindful of Pinterest’s contest rules. They have set guidelines to protect your small business and enhance the customer experience. For instance, don’t require participants to pin a specific image. And don't suggest that Pinterest is your sponsor. Do something different. Engage with promotions and contests.  

    Pin Your Brand

    Pinterest is changing how customers shop with your small business. The social network helps people research before they buy. To drive sales with Pinterest, tell a story with your pins. Post high-quality photos of your products. And target relevant audiences. Drive more sales. Pin your brand. And while you're at it, follow HostGator's boards!
  • 5 Ways To Prepare Your Nonprofit Website For Giving Tuesday

    Monday, October 31, 2016 by

    Nonprofit Giving Tuesday

    A global day of giving. Giving Tuesday has transformed into a celebration to kick off the charitable season. After shoppers splurge on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, they are reminded about the importance of giving during the holidays. For nonprofits, this time of year is an opportunity to not only collect donations but also earn the trust of new supporters. The best way to prepare is to upgrade your website. [bctt tweet="The best way #nonprofits can prepare for #GivingTuesday? Optimize your website for donations." username="hostgator"] “Your nonprofit website is a vital tool in effectively communicating your mission. Updating it on a consistent basis will ensure that your nonprofit’s message is being heard,” says Hillary Skeffington, communications and partnership manager at Elevation. So, get your nonprofit website ready for Giving Tuesday. Execute the following five strategies to maximize your success.  

    1. Hone Your Brand Message

    Research reveals that “45% of a brand’s image can be attributed to what it says and how it says it.” Therefore, it’s important that your nonprofit craft a compelling brand message. An effective brand story conveys your mission and showcases how your nonprofit contributes to the community. People want to know your goals and why they should pay attention. Moreover, it should incorporate your intended audience as part of the story. Design your website to include pictures of your volunteers and quotes from your board members. Write blog posts that discuss the impact of your nonprofit. To reel in more supporters, take the time to give an overview of your history. “Your nonprofit’s brand voice is an extension of your organization’s values. It should grow out of who you are as an organization and out of the greater purpose of your communications,” states Chelsea Alves, a contributor at Classy. Below is an example from the Girl Scouts. This header image exhibits its values to build girls of courage, confidence, and character. Visitors can imagine helping young women make new friends. Nonprofit Website For Giving Tuesday, donors will be searching for organizations to support. Communicate your purpose by honing an irresistible brand message.  

    2. Update Your Donation Page

    The holiday season is centered around giving. People want to contribute to causes that resonate with their personal values. But issues arise when visitors can’t find the donation page on their favorite nonprofit’s website or the page won’t load properly. It’s frustrating to the potential donor, so the person just leaves without making a contribution. Don’t lose donors due to fixable snafus like a slow website. Work with your technical staff to ensure your website can handle an increase in holiday traffic. Security is also another concern. Take the necessary precautions to safeguard your donors’ credit card information from hackers. [bctt tweet="#GivingTuesday tip for #nonprofits: Don't lose donors due to fixable snafus like a slow website." username="hostgator"] “Over a third of donation forms either have no security certificate, or a compromised one. Having that friendly green padlock next to the donation page URL isn’t just a security necessity; it’s reassuring to anyone thinking about handing over sensitive information,” writes Elliot Rysenbry, an EveryAction team member. Branding is essential for donation pages, too. A study found that “custom-branded donate pages nested inside a nonprofit’s website raise 6X more money.” United Way uses photos of people impacted by people’s donations. The organization also gives supporters multiple contribution amounts to choose from. Donate page Avoid common website mistakes this holiday season. Be prepared to earn more donations.  

    3.  Capture Email Subscribers

    In the nonprofit industry, the average open rate for email marketing campaigns is 21%. Supporters are interested in learning about your organization’s activities. However, your team must entice people to sign up for your emails. To achieve this task, tell visitors what they will receive. Offer exclusive content about your projects or a chance to win tickets to your next fundraiser. Where you position your email signup form matters. Don’t hide it in an obscure place on your website. “It’s important that your email signup box be in the right place at the right time. You want to capture a website visitor’s attention when they’re most interested and inspired,” states Yesenia Sotelo, founder of Smart Cause Digital. Sotelo also recommends placing an email signup form in various locations on your site, including: the sidebar, footer, homepage, and thank you page. Once subscribed, stay in contact with your supporters. Send relevant information on a continuous basis. “Be sure to communicate with your subscribers regularly—twice a month ideally, once a month at a minimum. This helps to keep your list active, engaged and more likely to grow and support your goals,” says Steph Drahozal, former marketing coordinator at Salsa Labs. Make your email signup form front and center on your site. And encourage people to stay with your organization beyond Giving Tuesday.  

    4. Stick to One Call-to-Action

    During the holidays, people are rushed for time. Between shopping and cooking, they may become overwhelmed with a long list of to-dos. Therefore, keep your message short and sweet. And give your visitors one action to perform. Copywriter Joel Klettke states the importance of a call-to-action: “The language of your call to action has a direct impact on someone’s willingness to click and move forward. It’s not enough to have a functional stand-in; you need unambiguous text that’s tied back to a benefit.” Talk to your team to decide what you want your visitors to do. Should they donate $5? Or send you non-perishable food items? Specificity will help supporters take the next step. Urgency is key to inspiring people to act. You want people to feel like waiting isn’t an option. The American Red Cross uses this tactic with a red ‘Donate Now’ button. Donate Now button In addition, one organization witnessed a “90% increase in click-through rate by using first-person phrasing.” So, try sentences like, "Give my donation today,” rather than "Give your donation today." Confusing your website visitors is a big no-no. Instead, be straightforward and tell them what you want.  

    5. Create a Mobile-Friendly Site

    Experts found that 91% of the world population owns a mobile phone, and nearly 30% use smartphones and tablets to browse the web, check email, and make purchases. Increases in mobile use means your nonprofit must be ready to market to this audience. And simply rearranging your full website design won’t work. Create a mobile-friendly site that possesses larger font sizes, so people don’t have to zoom in and out. Keep the design simple—no complex menus. Furthermore, optimize your images for mobile viewing by:
    • Choosing images that are still viewable at smaller sizes;
    • Sizing your images to be proportional with all site content; and
    • Compressing your images with a photo resizer.
    DoSomething.org is a great example of mobile-friendly site. It contains the nonprofit’s logo, a painless menu, and short copy. Nonprofit Mobile Site Your visitors like options. So, always leave the full site choice available for mobile users. “No matter how beautiful your mobile website is, always include a “go to full website” or “view desktop version” option at the bottom of your site. Some people still prefer the full site experience and if they do, why constrain them from experiencing it?” states Kristina Cisnero, an online strategist at Hootsuite. Are you catering to mobile visitors? If not, this is the perfect time to start.  

    Prepare for Giving Tuesday

    Giving Tuesday is a holiday movement to engage people with charitable participation. It’s also a chance to showcase how your nonprofit is making a difference. Update your website before the big day by sticking to your brand message. Revamp your donation page to make it easier for people to give. And create a mobile-friendly site to fit the lifestyle of on-the-go supporters. Take action this holiday season. Upgrade your nonprofit website for Giving Tuesday with HostGator.
  • Prepping Your E-Commerce Store for Cyber Monday

    Friday, October 28, 2016 by
    ECommerce Cyber Monday If you own an e-commerce store, chances are you already know how important Cyber Monday is. In case you aren’t sure though, the stats around it make a pretty compelling case:
    • 52% of people in the US shop on Cyber Monday.
    • People spent over $2.68 billion on Cyber Monday in 2014.
    • They spent an average of $124 per online order.
    Which all adds up to Cyber Monday being the most important day of the year for online businesses. You have got to be prepped and ready when it rolls around on November 28. Here are seven things you should start working on now to make sure you’re ready when the big day comes.  

    1. Check with your web host to ensure your website is prepared for extra traffic.

    You don’t want your website to get overloaded on Cyber Monday, just when people are most wanting to buy from you. Most web hosting plans can handle a certain amount of traffic before you might have problems. Here's what’s typical for HostGator’s plans: HostGator Site Traffic Limits Anytime you’re expecting a big spike in traffic, talk to your web hosting company to see if they think you have any cause for concern, or suggestions for ensuring things run smoothly.  

    2. Make sure you have plenty of merchandise ready to go.

    Cyber Monday is not the day you want your customers faced with an “Out of Stock” message. Do your best to stock up on all the items that are typically popular – particularly any that make good gifts.  

    3. Optimize your merchandise for gift giving.

    Sure, some people go shopping on Cyber Monday for themselves to take advantage of the deals. But a lot of your visitors will be looking for items they can wrap and present to loved ones for the holidays. Consider how best to package the items you sell so they make good gifts. You might want to combine certain items into gift baskets or offer a good deal for buying related merchandise together.  

    4. Make sure you’re set up to sell gift cards.

    Speaking of gifts, you do sell gift cards, right? If you don’t yet, now is a good time to start. In a 2014 survey, 62% of people said they’d like to receive a gift card for the holidays. And friends and families come through, spending over $100 billion on them each year (some of which won’t ever be claimed, which means pure profit for you). Don’t be left out of that. [bctt tweet="Shoppers spend over $100 billion on gift cards each year. Don't let your #ecommerce store miss out!" username="hostgator"]  

    5. Offer coupons and deals.

    Everyone who lands on your site on Cyber Monday is expecting deals. All of your competitors will be offering them, so you should as well. Offer something to everyone on your site that day – whether it’s discounts, free shipping, free gift wrapping, or some combination of the three. This is also a really good opportunity to give something special to your email list and social media followers. Provide them with a special code or link that reminds them of the value of engaging with you over email and social media. Also be sure to provide new visitors on Cyber Monday with a special offer to join your email list. A day when a lot of people are heading to your website is an optimal time to grow your email list.  Make sure the sign up box is placed somewhere obvious on your website, with compelling copy around it that lets your visitors know how valuable signing up is. And push for sign ups again on your checkout page. The people who buy from you are the ones most likely to sign up.  

    6. Increase your marketing.

    You want to drive people to your online store on Cyber Monday. That means you should be willing to increase your spending on any paid marketing you do, like PPC and social media ads. Also work to promote your Cyber Monday deals on social media, your website, and your email newsletter. You definitely want the people that already know you to come back and check out your online store on the big day, but you should also try to get your offers and deals in front of potential customers who weren’t familiar with you yet. Work on a Cyber Monday marketing plan that emphasizes each. [bctt tweet="#CyberMonday is the most important day of the year for #onlinebusiness. Are you prepared?" username="hostgator"]  

    7. Have you been putting off important website updates? Get them done before the big day.

    If you have an online business, you should already be thinking about this stuff, but if you haven’t yet, Cyber Monday’s a good excuse to get it done. Make sure your website is user-friendly. You want your visitors to have an easy time finding everything they need. You want to guide them toward signing up for your email list (without annoying them in the process) and make completing a purchase entirely intuitive. Make sure your website is well designed to accomplish these goals. Do some testing. Have friends who aren’t a part of the business try your website out for you – from different devices and on different browsers. Ask them to report back on anything about the experience they found less than ideal and get to work fixing it.  Create a mobile website. You already know you need a mobile website. Every business with an online presence must make sure people can use the website easily on their mobile phones and tablets.  If you haven’t yet created a mobile-version of your website, do it now. Over 40% of all Cyber Monday traffic in 2014 came from mobile devices.  You will lose sales on Cyber Monday if people find your website hard to use on a mobile device, so don’t risk it. [bctt tweet="Over 40% of #CyberMonday traffic will come from mobile devices. Is your online store #mobilefriendly?" username="hostgator"]   You have a lot to do, but you still have some time to get it all done. Get a plan in place now to make the most of Cyber Monday this year. Your customers will be glad you did, and so will you.
  • Want To Grow Your Site Traffic? Don’t Miss Our Webinar With SumoMe!

    Wednesday, October 26, 2016 by
    Grow Site Traffic Webinar I have a question for you: Are you looking to grow your site traffic? Of course you are. Who isn't? One of the best ways to immediately improve your website traffic is through email marketing. Build a loyal base of email subscribers who will keep returning to your site over and over again to read and share your content with their friends, who in turn become email subscribers... see how this works? This brings me to my next question. How many email subscribers do you have? 1000? 100? 0? Whatever it is, you'll want to join our upcoming webinar on November 15th with SumoMe. They've helped over 450,000 websites increase site traffic through their intuitive WordPress plugins that are fully customizable to match the look and feel of your website. They've got exit popups, welcome mats, heatmaps, A/B testing, and more! Noah Kagan SumoMeSumoMe's founder Noah Kagan will be walking you through how SumoMe's products can grow your business with email marketing. This free webinar will include real-world examples, actionable tips, and a live Q & A. A little bit about Noah: As the 30th employee at Facebook, the third at Mint, and the founder of Gambit, AppSumo, and SumoMe, it's safe to say Noah's experienced in launching successful businesses. He has been featured in Inc., Business Insider, and The Art of Charm podcast. On November 15th, he'll be sharing his insights and experience with you!

    Click here to register for free today.

    Free Webinar: Skyrocket Your Business With Email Marketing

    Tuesday, November 15th at 12:00pm Central

    By the end of the webinar, you'll understand:
    • Why you must  start collecting emails immediately (even if you don't think you need to)
    • How each email subscriber literally turns into money in your bank account
    • 4 easy things you can do to see explosive email list growth TODAY
    Find out how you can build your website, your business, and your fan base in this free 60-minute webinar.

    CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

    IMPORTANT: This will be hosted via Go To Webinar, which only holds 1,000 people so be sure to join early!  
  • How to Run a Successful Twitter Campaign

    Wednesday, October 12, 2016 by

    Twitter Campaign

    In order to run a successful Twitter campaign, we need to initially review a few things. So, how’s about a recap of why we tweet and why Twitter even matters?

     

    Wait, what’s a hashtag again?

    A hashtag in case you’re not sure looks like a number sign (#) followed by some sort of text (no special characters). For example, right now while I’m writing this article, these are the worldwide trending hashtags and the number of people tweeting about each:

    Twitter Trending Topics

    As you can see there’s quite a range -- from #savejustinbieber to #IAmAFeminist -- you never know what you’re gonna get from Twitter’s 140-character count platform.

    Twitter is especially useful when being used to track live events. In the recent United States Presidential Nominations the hashtags #DEMSinPhilly and #RNCinCLE were respectively used to track live sentiment from the Democratic and Republican parties. In essence, Twitter is a scroll of colorful commentary (GIFs, vids, and images) that can sometimes accompany major live events, political or otherwise.

     

    Why would business owners use Twitter?

    As a business owner, you may want to search hashtags like #plumbing or #contentmarketing or #goodeats to find out what people are talking about in your industry. This way you can find potential customers, sales opportunities, and influencers who may help in spreading the word about your awesome product or service. Plus every time you post content with a hashtag others searching for that hashtag will more easily be able to find you and your product.

     

    What’s the point of having a Twitter campaign?

    Here’s the deal, the more people who engage with your brand’s Twitter account and hashtag(s), the more people know about your business, the more people who buy your stuff! With more than 305 million monthly active users, Twitter campaigns are a great way to boost visibility.

    Here’s what we suggest:

    1. Choose a (really good) hashtag.

    Once you think you have the perfect hashtag for your campaign, please, please, PLEASE test it out! Make sure no one else is using it, or things will get super confusing. Being unique is key.

    2. Create a schedule of tweets.

    Don’t wing it. The beauty of digital marketing is that it’s measurable. Tools like Buffer and MySocialSuite can help you determine what time of day and on which days your specific audience is most engaged.

    3. Discover what works.

    Twitter has their own analytics tab where you can monitor which of your recent posts received the most engagement. Learn from this and mimic your campaign around what your audience already digs.

    Here's a look at HostGator's own Twitter analytics dashboard. (You can follow us here.)

    Twitter Analytics

    4. Make (and proof) your content ahead of time.

    Yes, there’s a time and a place for real time tweeting, but when you’re organizing an event, it’s good to have a set schedule of everything you and your team will need to make this work. Set out your steps in advance and know exactly what days you’re posting what and how long your campaign will be.

    Pro tip: Canva is a free image-making resource that enables you to create marketing content that’s the right size for each social platform. For more tips, check out our article on 4 free tools for making infographics.

    5. Use the tools Twitter gives you!

    Twitter now has GIFs built directly into its platform. Use these to show (and not just tell) your audience what’s up with your campaign. Choose from a variety of inspirational and topical moods like YOLO (You Only Live Once) and SMH (Shaking My Head).

    Twitter GIFs

    You can also set up quick Twitter poll soliciting feedback from your audience. Then you can repurpose the results as additional engaging content.

    Twitter Poll

    Now that you have the tools in place for what you need, all that’s left is for you to determine the type of contest or campaign you’d like to run. We suggest having a clear goal in mind. Do you want more followers, more sales? Every action you take from hashtag choice to image colors should point backwards to this final objective.

    Finally, here’s the fine print on running promotions directly from Twitter.

    Have you ever run a Twitter campaign? Are you thinking about it? Tell us in the comments!