Monday, December 5, 2016 by Kristen HicksFor 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.
Monday, December 5, 2016 by Henry GreenDoes 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.
- Companies that blog get 97% more inbound links back to their websites.
- Businesses that blog get 55% more website visitors.
- Content marketing costs 62% less than outbound marketing & generates 3X as many leads.
- Blog posts are topping out as one of the primary ways companies choose to share content.
Insight #1: Seth Godin’s BlogMultiple business founder and best-selling author Seth Godin (Purple Cow, All Marketers Are Liars) receives an estimated 640K visits a month to his blog. 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 BlogPat 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 BlogNew 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?
Tuesday, November 22, 2016 by Henry GreenIt’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. SurveyMonkey defaults to sending all of its survey participants back to surveymonkey.com (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.
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... He later even reached out directly to the author of the of the post, with a marriage proposal! 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.
Monday, November 21, 2016 by Shayla Price
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.
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.
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.
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:
- The lead signs up for webinar through a form.
- The lead immediately receives an automated confirmation email.
- Three days prior to the webinar, the lead gets a reminder message.
- 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.
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.
Friday, November 18, 2016 by Alexis KrasinskiChances 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.
Step 1: Determine your goalsBefore 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 ThemeTry 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.
Step 3: Choose your prizeWhen 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: AdvertiseFacebook 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.
Step 5: Analyze your resultsFacebook 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!