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  • 10 Beginner Website Mistakes You’re Probably Making

    Tuesday, October 6, 2015 by
    Top 10 Beginner Website Mistakes You're Probably Making
    If you run a business online or off then you understand the importance of having a website and online presence. However, if it’s your first website, or you designed your website yourself then you might have made mistakes. Luckily, a lot of these mistakes are easy to correct. If you’re relying on your website to drive traffic your way, then you’ll want your website to be a well-oiled machine. Below we highlight the ten mistakes that most beginners make, and what you can do to fix these issues.  

    1. Lack Of Vision

    Your website needs to exist for a definite reason, not simply because you think you should have an online presence. You need to decide upon the purpose of your website before you even begin building. Your website must have a definite purpose, as every page on your website will work to fulfill this purpose. For example, your website could be used to build authority, source new leads, sell a product or service, give information about your business, and much more. You’ll want your user to land on your website and immediately know what your website is all about.  

    2. Rushing To Market

    Instead of getting your website up as soon as possible it’s important you take time to research your market first. For example, if you have an older target market you’ll need to make sure your website is easy to read, digest, and navigate. By having an understanding of your market first you’ll be able to build a website that actually serves them, instead of simply taking up space.  

    3. Complicated Design

    In order to have a successful website it needs to be simple, not flashy. Having an overcomplicated design will only lead to confusion. The goal of your design should be to create the best possible user experience across your website.  

    4. Design Is Too Trendy

    Trends come and go, but timeless design lasts forever. By building your website on the back of solid design principles you’ll be able to create a website that outlasts certain trends and fads. Websites that rely on trends will become outdated very quickly.  

    5. Out-Of-Date Content

    If you haven’t updated your content in years then chances are it’s not up to date with your current business, or the latest web standards. If you have older content your site your visitors may assume you’re out of business, or aren’t as innovative as your competition. If you have a blog make sure you update it on a regular basis, as nothing looks worse than a vacant blog.  

    6. Poor Quality Photography

    Low-quality photography, or outdated stock photography gives your website an amateur feel and won’t do a lot to draw your visitor into your website. Images can help you build a connection with your audience, but only if they’re aligned with your message and business. Make sure you either hire a professional photographer, or use high-quality stock photos that aren’t cheesy.  

    7. Having Broken Elements/Links

    Every element of your website needs to be working. This means you need to test all of your links and pages, so your users don’t end up with the dreaded 404 page. You’ll also want to check all of your internal links to make sure you’re not leading your users to a dead end.  

    8. Poorly Designed Logo

    Your logo is a central piece of your branding. By designing your logo yourself, or getting a cheap logo designed, you won’t do much to further your branding or website. Although your logo is a subtle part of your design it can communicate a lot about your business.  

    9. Poor Font Choice

    Font choice is another subtle element that most business owners neglect. The font you choose needs to compliment your design and increase the readability of your content. This is when it can be helpful to consult the opinion of a professional designer. But, if you’re choosing your own font choice the simpler font is often the better choice.  

    10. No Call-To-Action

    You must lead your visitors somewhere. A website without a call-to-action is akin to nothing more than a virtual business card. Once you’ve proven yourself valuable to your visitors you need to direct them to take action. That action can be signing up for your email list, giving your business a call, or a multitude of other options. Getting your website into tip top shape can take a lot of work. But, it’s time well spent because a well functioning website will help your business grow for the long-term.
  • How To Successfully Pitch A Guest Post

    Wednesday, September 30, 2015 by
    How To Successfully Pitch A Guest Post
      If you’re planning on using guest posting as a part of your content marketing strategy, it’s important to get it right. A lot of popular bloggers and high-traffic websites receive a ton of guest post pitches every single day. Luckily for you, most of them are pretty terrible. If you spend time crafting the perfect guest post pitch you’ll increase your chances of your post being accepted and hopefully build a long-term relationship with the blogger. Below you’ll find our tips that will increase your chances of landing a guest post on your dream blog or website.  

    1. Build Rapport And Show That You Care

    Often, people simply ask to write a guest post without taking the time to build up any kind of relationship. Before you pitch, especially if it’s a single author blog, it’s important you take the time to email them, comment on a blog post, or purchase one of their products. This helps to highlight that you’re an active member of their community and you actually care about the work of the author. You can even build rapport within your email by mentioning how long you’ve been a fan by referencing a few of your favorite posts. Some people have even had success by mentioning a shared interest. For example, maybe both of you are very interested in windsurfing. Building a connection that’s outside of the business space can be very valuable and will help you stand out.  

    2. Be A Case Study

    Have you implemented one of their strategies, or frameworks, and found success in your business and life? If so, then mention it. This can even be the topic of your blog post. A successful case study not only provides value to their readers, but it also provides massive social proof that what the author is sharing actually works.  

    3. Illustrate Your Value

    When designing your guest post pitch make sure you gear your post towards the audience of the blog you’re writing for. It can be useful to take a look through their most popular posts, as these resonate highly with the audience. When you’re crafting potential titles for your blog posts make sure they mimic past successful post formats. It can be helpful to mention your background and any other posts you might have written, but make the topic of your email geared towards the value you can bring to them and their audience, not your accolades alone.  

    4. Give Multiple Options

    When pitching potential posts it can be helpful to give them more than one option to choose from. Don’t overwhelm them with post ideas. You can always pitch them again, but give them at least three post topics to choose from. Never write the post first, unless the blog demands it. Always ensure your idea is approved before diving into the writing process. This will save you valuable time.  

    5. Realize You’re Dealing With People

    In the end, it’s always important to remember there’s another person on the end of your email exchange. It can be all too easy to distance ourselves across the digital landscape. Think about what kind of emails you love to receive and reply to and structure your pitch accordingly. Give them the needed information and nothing more. By following the tips above you’ll increase your chances of landing a guest post on a blog or website that has the potential to grow your authority and send traffic back to your website.
  • The Future Of Video Advertising: 360 Degree Ads Hit YouTube

    Wednesday, September 23, 2015 by
    youtube360 In the famous words of Nam June Paik, “The Future is now!”, at least in the sense YouTube's Advertisements have just pioneered the 360 degree world of video, rolling out the capability on Chrome, Android and iOS. Back in January, Google unveiled being able to support the feature, and has very recently seen the first takers from Bud Light & Coca-Cola with exceptionally high-production value. JR Futrell, YouTube's Ad product manager, remarked the new 360-degree format as a “mobile-first” initiative for two reasons:
    1. Motion - 360 ads will move with the mobile device, allowing you to view the video through a virtual lens.
    2. Mobile Is Dominating - In ten countries around the world, mobile searches have now surpassed that of desktop use, inspiring innovations to keep viewers watching advertisements longer.
      When looking at how revenue is earned on YouTube in the first place, engagement is the most important aspect. It's always been rumored that the more views you have, the more you make, but even videos with 1 million views could earn nothing unless viewers engage with the advertisement. That's why in the ever-changing world of video YouTube has taken the concept of viewer engagement to an entire new dimension: The World of 360 Motion.  

    Not Just For Corporations

    Right away many viewers new to the concept would expect this technology to be limited to corporations or businesses with a large marketing budget to support the production value. But, creating a video in the three dimensional space has become surprisingly easy, and highly accessible to even the smallest business looking to advertise. The trick is acquiring a camera capable of filming 360 Degree video format. As the technology improves, the amount of camera options has readily increased, including:  

    Tapping Into Viewers Curiosity

    In order to run any effective advertisement you must capture the attention of your viewer within a split second. We've all seen the “Skip this Ad” after 5 seconds button, which has set the standard for how fast you need to capture your audiences attention on YouTube. Skipped ads don't create conversions, and nowadays unless there is something dynamic built into a video, viewers are quick to simply ignore it. The goal with 360 Degree video is to take the viewers from a place of feeling passive, into a realm of activity and curiosity. The Ad can involve scripted elements similar to Coca Cola's, or it can simply allow your viewers to spin the camera behind the scenes to get a perspective on how the ad was created. Google sees this innovation as the future of advertising, and as food for thought, imagine how obsolete regular ads will feel once users can tap into this form of virtual reality. Like everything, we're advancing towards higher forms of stimulation.  

    Staying Ahead Of The Curve

    Understandably, many business owners might feel overwhelmed by the prospect of generating 360 ads on their own. However, we assure you the process is as easy as regular video once you own the right camera mentioned above. Getting into this trend before it's inevitably dominant will keep your advertising campaign at the forefront of newer innovations once they happen. The more interesting your ads, the greater ROI for your company. Once you have workable videos, follow these steps provided by Google to upload. Campaigns for 360 degree videos running as TrueView Ads can be set up in Adwords.  
    Image Source: http://i.ytimg.com/vi/9VrfFpXPK4E/maxresdefault.jpg
  • What Does Your About Page Say To Your Audience?

    Wednesday, September 2, 2015 by
    Your About Page
    Your about page is a crucial part of your website. You can use it to convey valuable information about your business and connect with your user in new and more meaningful ways. Sadly, most business don’t use their about page to actually deepen their relationship with their users. Instead they just use the page to talk about themselves and give a quick rundown of their services offered. These elements are necessary, but they shouldn’t be the sole focus of your about page.  

    Make Your About Page About Your Visitors

    When you’re at a party, or having a conversation with someone and they keep going on and on about themselves, it’s not a very fun conversation is it? Your about page comes across the same way when you only talk about yourself and your accolades. Instead, try a different approach, and make your about page about your readers. The moment a visitor clicks over to your about page you’ll want to tell them the benefits they’ll receive if they stick around. You want to speak to anything that will prevent them from clicking the back button. Address their needs and pain points as soon as possible.  

    Speak To Their Feelings

    When you can convey emotion and feeling with your about page it’s much easier to get them excited about what you’re offering. By taking the time to explain their feelings, your visitors will automatically feel like they’re accepted and part of what you’re building. It’s much easier to get someone to take action when you show that you deeply understand their needs.  

    Get Into Their Heads

    Once you’ve shown you understand them on a level of emotion you need to make your readers feel as if you can read their minds and present them with the perfect solution. You can do this by going deeper into their pain points, and showing how you can solve their problems, and that you’ve done it before.  

    Use The “Humble Brag”

    When you brag about yourself or your business accomplishments you need to do it in a way that doesn’t turn off your readers. Simply listing your accomplishments can actually isolate your readers and make it harder for them to relate to you. A great way to do this is to wrap your accomplishments inside of a story or a joke. Or, you can highlight them alongside other less than perfect details.  

    Wrap Up With A Call-To-Action

    Once you finish your newly upgraded copy on your about page it’s time to tell your visitor what to do next. Since your about page often gets a lot of traffic you should conclude the page with a call-to-action that leads to a subscribe form or some other course of action. Give your users a way to continue the conversation with you. Making sure your about page connects with your users is a crucial piece a lot of online business owners are missing. Get this piece right and you’ll see your subscribers and relationships start to blossom.
  • 4 Tasks That Will Save Your Email Marketing Campaigns

    Tuesday, August 18, 2015 by
    4 Tasks That Will Save Your Email Marketing Campaigns On the internet, email is like having a mobile phone, with the difference that on the internet -- you can almost always get anyone's phone number, at any given time. Sometimes, you create something and ask users to enter their phone number (email) in for you, so that they can be notified when you share and publish more of the amazing stuff that got the interested in the first place. We now it by the name of email marketing. The reasons for creating an email list have long been known and understood by expert marketers, and we recently published a post ourselves, about the reasons why a small business should invest in an email marketing strategy, and how rewarding it can be. It's without question the leading way of staying in touch with your customers and peers of interest. If you'r new to email marketing, or have done it a few times before, you will be familiar with email marketing campaigns -- in simpler words, it simply means to send out a carefully crafted message and/or announcement to everyone who has signed up to be on your email list. And more often than not, we want these emails to be of highest quality so as to retain the subscribers, but also to convert leads where possible.  

    1. Talk to Your Customers

    Marketing always was and always will be about the customer, there is no denying that. These days there are countless ways of connecting with your customers, social media and content marketing being a few of them, but email is usually the one that plays on the more personal level. And there is nothing more dissatisfying than a corporate email that only wants to sell you something. When sending a new campaign:
    • Always greet your customers by their first name, which means you have to find a way to collect their name as well. It's a nice and personal touch.
    • Don't drag the email for too long only to try and sell something at the end. Bring value to the table.
    • Give them a good initiative to continue reading the email at the top, rather than the bottom.
     

    2. Optimize the Email Experience

    The mobile experience can now provide just as many features and possibilities as a full-blown desktop computer, and with that in mind, the usage of mobile devices for business and personal needs has increased dramatically over the last few years, even months some would say. And with that in mind, we need to make sure we're catering to our mobile users the same way we are to desktop users. A mobile device is usually going to require a responsive email design that can naturally adapt to the needs of the mobile device. The impact of responsive emails in terms of open rates, and conversion rates, is too huge to miss out on.  

    3. Test What Works

    In development, programmers test their applications against common errors and performance optimization, in email -- we can use testing to test what works best for us and our subscribers, including the email design, the titles we choose to have, and the overall email experience we provide. It's easy to get started. Testing allows you to compare and contrast different elements of your email campaigns to see how they impact your subscribers’ reactions to them. You can form a hypothesis about what you think will occur, and then formulate a test and find out what really happens.  

    4. Email Campaign Frequency

    The last task on our list is actually less a task, but more of a reminder to those who are eager to build their email list quickly. It's easy to get carried away with having access to so many people at any given time, and sometimes we may feel that sending out a few emails a week is going to increase our conversion rates significantly, that simply is not true. Email Campaigns Even before you begin sending out your first emails, you should get clear about the email marketing strategy that you're going to be using, and whether sending out multiple emails on weekly basis is going to yield you the best result. It's possible to ask your new subscribers to select the frequency of emails they'd like to receive, but then you've to be completely clear about the message you're trying to convey over your email campaigns. Sometimes as frequently as twice a month is enough to capture the attention of your customers, and customers-soon-to-be. MailChimp fully agrees that more is not always better.  
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    Alex Ivanovs is an online entrepreneur who has been writing about technology, business and developer topics for over a decade. He currently manages CodeCondo — an aspiring community for designers and developers.