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  • 5 Bootstrap Marketing Ideas Any Small Business Can Implement Today

    Thursday, May 12, 2016 by

    5 Bootstrap Marketing Ideas Any Small Business Can Implement Today

    If this article caught your attention because you don't feel like you're proficient in marketing, or you don't have the budget to bring in a marketing specialist, you've come to the right place!

    Nowadays it's common practice for small to mid-sized businesses to skip hiring a dedicated marketing staff member in favor of dividing marketing responsibilities between current employees. In today's business climate where we all have to wear several hats, here are our best five tips on how to run a successful marketing campaign on a bootstrapped budget.

    1. Learn How To Run The Show

    Chances are that if you're the one who founded your company, then you probably already know your company’s vision and voice better than any of the current employees. That's not to say you'll be the only one implementing a marketing strategy, but you should take it upon yourself to delegate tasks and positions among your staff based on each of your employee's skills.

    A good way to sustain marketing progress is to have weekly, or bi-weekly meetings to run analytics and check in on how your strategies are performing with your team present.

    2. Focus On Your Target Customers

    The whole point of marketing in the first place is to attract the right customers to your business. Rather than expending your valuable time and resources marketing to the whole world, try narrowing your scope to customers that are most likely to be recurrent and help your business grow.

    Usually your target customers come down to those you know how to reach. Common methods for showing these customers you appreciate their loyalty, while also buffering your marketing scheme, include:

    • Send prior customers free samples or small incentives to regain their business
    • Create a frequent buyer program to keep your brand on their mind
    • Ask for client testimonials to use in your promotional material
    • Collect your customers birthdays and send coupons on gift cards out every year

    Spending more time on customer loyalty will teach you a lot about what types of people are using your product or service.

    3. Grow Your Social Media Presence

    Ideally I'm not the first person to tell you to get on social media, but if I am, please drop what you're doing and get on social media right now. Not only has social media become the number one strategy for marketing professionals, your customers are now expecting to see you online.

    The best part about it is it's free! Mostly free, at least. There are definitely options within most platforms to 'Boost' your posts by paying to have them seen more, but for those on a bootstrap budget this is a perfect way to spend your time over money to grow your social presence. Prior to diving in headfirst take some time to outline your goals and make a content calendar in order to keep your posts consistent. (Don't miss our post about spying on your competitors to determine their Facebook marketing strategy!)

    4. Engage in Community Outreach

    Even though social media and web-based advertising has grown exponentially in popularity, the practice of engaging with your customers and community members in-person is a timeless strategy you should spend more time doing.

    As a local business you have the opportunity to become a pillar in your community, and allowing your customers to meet you face-to-face is the first step. Some cost-effective ways to get your name out around town include:

    • Sponsoring and attending local events
    • Participate in University events like career fairs
    • Send a Press Release to your local newspaper detailing changes in your company, or request editorial based on something historical or interesting about your business
    • Host a competition that gets community members involved

    5. Create Simple Videos To Demonstrate Your Brand

    Video is the king of content marketing. Nothing can incorporate as much information into as little time as video advertising, and nothing engages audiences quite as powerfully as the combination of audio and visual elements.

    In the past having video marketing was an expensive endeavor that typically required hiring an entire film crew. Nowadays, thousands of videos are being uploaded every day from business owners producing short videos entirely from their smartphones.

    All it really takes to make an engaging video is bringing people behind the scenes, or showing them exactly what it is you do. People love feeling transparency between the products their buying and the people who are creating them.

    Try any or all of these ideas out today, and measure the results. Let us know what worked for you in the comments below!

  • 4 Simple Ways To Achieve Business Marketing Objectives Without Being A Marketer

    Wednesday, May 11, 2016 by

    4 Simple Ways to Achieve Marketing Objectives Without Being a Marketer

    There's no one else that will ever care about your business, and your career, as much as you do. Although it sounds like a harsh blow against humanity, accepting that you're ultimately in control of your business and personal destiny will greatly assist you in achieving your marketing objectives.

    Whether you have realized it or not, you've been in the business of marketing from day one. CEOs, cashiers, and freelancers alike all partake in marketing dialogue everyday as they discuss, sell, and work towards building a brand.

    Nowadays we have all of the marketing tools imaginable; it's time to start thinking like a marketer, and meet your objectives without having the formal title on your resume.

    1. Set S.M.A.R.T Goals

    In the marketing world you'd be hard-pressed to find anything as consistent and timeless as the S.M.A.R.T. Goals model. Goals and objectives are practically synonymous with business, and so here is the SMART breakdown to provide you with the foundation for reaching your objectives:

    > Specific - Address problems or new opportunities down to the last detail. Building goals on ambiguity is the easiest way for them to fall apart at their foundation.

    > Measurable - Again, be specific and set milestones in small increments leading to your objectives. It's important to feel like you're making small, sustainable steps, not massive leaps.

    > Actionable - Often times goals and objectives fill our minds loftily as ideas instead of steps we can take in the form of action. Give yourself the opportunity to take action - don't just write down ideas.

    > Relevant - Will your action be relevant to marketing your product? Are there better ways to apply it towards your goals?

    > Time-bound - Seeing returns is a long and never ending game, but breaking your goals into smaller time frames will allow you to analyze your progress.

    Now that you can see the format for creating objectives, here are some of the most common objectives professional marketers build into their strategies.

    2. Increase Sales

    Business without sales isn't business at all. At the top of every marketer’s checklist is figuring out how their efforts can lead to people not only finding a business, but making a purchase as well. In order to know whether or not your marketing efforts are converting sales, you'll need to track the correlation between increased marketing and increased sales.

    The best way to track your ROI is by doing one of the following:

    • Create goals in Google Analytics that can trace where traffic is coming from that's leading to sales.
    • Send out customer surveys to see where they heard about you.
    • When you receive a new customer or client, ask them how they heard about you.

    The best way to improve your marketing is to know what's working, and what is simply wasting time.

    3. Improve Product Awareness

    If you've ever gotten potential customers questioning exactly what it is you're selling, then you may need to improve their awareness to your products or service. In addition to the volume of advertisements and social posts you create, spend some time putting out content that details what customers will get from using your product or service.

    One of the easiest ways to do this is by creating a simple video. It doesn't have to be elaborate, given how powerful smart phones are and how easy it is to create video these days. Your video can be embedded into your website, or shared on social channels.

    4. Target New Customers

    Of all the marketing tools available to us, social media is by far the most effective at targeting new customers. Not only can you browse for relevant groups or keywords to share your content, you can also pay to have the social media platforms put your ads in front of viewers who are statically more likely to follow up after seeing those ads.

    Another effective method is by examining the competition and to whom they're able to sell. Or, looking in the opposite direction, find a business that supplements your product or service and see how you can complement each other with customer referrals.

    What are some of your go-to marketing strategies for reaching business objectives? Let us know in the comments!

  • How to Publish Engaging Content on LinkedIn

    Tuesday, May 10, 2016 by
    How to Publish Engaging Content on LinkedIn LinkedIn is most commonly known as a social platform for business oriented people, or the kind of people who are looking to explore potential job opportunities. A recent addition to the extensive category of features that LinkedIn offers was the introduction of a long-form content platform that any of the site's users can use to publish content with. All of the published content through LinkedIn's platform is then announced to all of the connections you have, making it very appealing towards cultivating leads and business opportunities. Here are a couple of solid tips and insights on how to become a really good LinkedIn publisher and how to make the most of each content piece that you promote. Please share your own personal tips with us in the comments.

    Explore Pulse

    The Pulse platform on LinkedIn is where all the content syndication happens. Go straight to the Pulse page and begin exploring the kind of categories and content that is currently trending and begin to brainstorm as to how you could tap into that pool of readers with organic and natural content. Some of the channels, like Social Media and Leadership are home to millions of followers and getting exposed as a featured author in one of these channels could mean a big yield of exposure for you and your business, or whatever else it is that you're trying to promote.

    Create tailored content

    Although LinkedIn offers a variety of topics to talk about, most of the jargon is oriented towards business talk, and every day thousands of site users share insightful and compact pieces of content that discuss several areas of business, experience reports, case studies and more. In order to stand out from the crowd, your aim should be to create the kind of content that promotes true insight and creativity, but remains within the bounds of business growth and exposure.

    Content optimization

    In many ways LinkedIn is not so different from a blogging platform like WordPress. The same content creation and content marketing rules still apply when it comes to the actual process of creating content. With that in mind, we should invest some energy into creating and tailoring catchy and insightful headlines that themselves will attract site users attention, and we should compliment our content with research data in the form of visuals, or if possible video and audio formats. Create each piece of content with the idea in mind that it might get featured on the Pulse platform, and who knows -- one day it might.

    Ask readers to do something

    Being a business network, LinkedIn users tend to finish articles from the start until the end, mostly because you never know what kind of insights you might come across, or what the article/post has to offer that no one else has brought to the table yet. At the end of each post that you publish using LinkedIn -- add a call-to-action to either visit your site, to share it on social media, to leave a comment on your post, or to reach out to you in order to get more insights -- which is also a way to begin forming relationships in specific ways.
  • Optimizing WordPress For Google Knowledge Graph

    Monday, May 9, 2016 by

    Optimizing WordPress for Google Knowledge Graph

    Google continuously updates their search results to provide a better experience for the searcher. Recent algorithm changes have been moving towards a greater understanding of what the user is intending to search for. This is a step towards Google’s complete understanding of the user, rather than simply matching the exact keywords that were typed into the search bar.

    Google is attempting to provide the user with smarter and more relational search results. The knowledge graph feature is an extension of this. Below we highlight what the knowledge graph actually is and how you can better optimize it to improve your search engine traffic.

    What is The Knowledge Graph?

    The knowledge graph is a database that collects millions of different data points that relate to keyword data and the search intent behind those keywords. The knowledge graph then takes all of this information and creates a quick reference of information about and related to the desired search.

    The knowledge graph will appear different based upon what you searched for.

    Let’s look at a few examples below:

    This is a common result when searching for keywords that’ll give you a list of people.Google Knowledge Graph Image Carousel

    The single result will usually take and summarize one of the articles that Google deems the most relevant and valuable.Google Knowledge Graph

    The sidebar result will pull all of the relevant information on a specific person or company.

    Google Knowledge Graph Sidebar

    Can I Optimize for the Knowledge Graph?

    As we mentioned above the knowledge graph is a way for Google to showcase the most relevant and useful information in a way that provides the best experience for the searcher.

    In order to optimize your content and website for the knowledge graph you need to give Google indicators of what your site is about, while creating very high-quality and relevant information for your readers.

    Since the long-term goal of Google is to give the searchers exactly what they want, it’s a smart move to position your content strategy to do the exact same thing.

    1. Write for Human Readers First

    No longer can you afford to simply write to appease the search engines. You must write in order to entertain, educate, and delight your readers. The more you can solve your readers’ problems the more useful and authoritative your website will become.

    When creating content that’s based upon certain keywords, ask yourself why the user would type that keyword. Determine their reasons for typing that specific keyword and tailor your content around completely answering that question for them.

    2. Include SEO Elements to “Tip Off” Search Engine Crawlers

    There’s no way your content is going to make it into the knowledge graph, or even rank at all, if you don’t utilize certain indicators to tell the search engine crawlers what your website is about. Some of the main ways to do this are:

    • Include your target keyword within your headline and subheadings
    • Add your keyword to your meta description
    • Integrate it (and related keywords) into your content in ways that don’t impact the readability of the article

    3. Focus on the User Experience of Your Content

    User experience means a lot these days. If your site has all of the content your reader is looking for, yet makes it hard to find that content, or is hard to read, then you won’t be receiving any favorable rankings.

    Focus on what it’s like for a reader to consume the content across your website. Optimize and improve this experience by using a readable font, adding more whitespace, making your content more readable, and including relevant links to supplement the information.

    The overarching goal of the knowledge graph is to provide the right search results to visitors without making them dig around for it. By answering the right questions, creating useful content, and providing a good user experience you’ll be creating content that’s in alignment with the future of Google’s search engine rankings.

  • 5 Digital Marketing Trends For 2016

    Thursday, May 5, 2016 by

    Digital Marketing Trends for 2016

    The digital marketing space is very volatile. Every single year we see new technology updates that completely shake up the space. It’s important to keep an eye out for upcoming trends in the marketplace. By becoming a first adopter to a new technology, or new trend, you get a leg up on your competition and can be seen as an authority in the space rather quickly.

    Below we dive into five different digital marketing trends that are starting to take off this year.

    1. Marketing Automation

    Marketing can be an incredibly time consuming process, especially as the number of platforms you need to be active on continue to grow. Thus the rise of marketing automation.

    One of the simplest forms of marketing automation is sending out an email autoresponder. Chances are, most of your reading this are already familiar with this tool. Now marketing automation is expanding out into social media posting, content management and scheduling, and customer tracking.

    By automating these aspects of the marketing process you free up time to focus on other high-value activities, like deepening client relationships with those that matter and focusing on long-term business growth strategies.

    2. Video Advertising Is Set To Expand

    Video ads have seen an explosion in popularity in recent years. Platforms like YouTube and Facebook already offer advertisers plenty of options for video advertising. However, Google is finally enabling the use of video advertising within the search results.

    This suggests that video advertising is only going to become more prevalent. If you haven’t hopped on board yet, you should; you can bet that a few of your competitors are going to utilize this trend.

    3. Mobile Continues To Grow As A Force

    Mobile isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it’s only growing. A recent announcement from Google stated that mobile traffic was larger than desktop traffic in ten different countries. Of course, this hasn’t spread worldwide yet, but you can bet that it’s heading in that direction.

    Google’s latest algorithm update also punished sites that weren’t mobile friendly, or didn’t have a mobile version of their website. It’s easy to see that Google has all their force behind a mobile-first future. It’s a smart choice to hop on board.

    4. Virtual Reality

    Virtual reality is going to play a huge role into the future. The Oculus Rift has already been introduced to a very positive response. Now, and into the future, virtual reality will influence how marketers reach their customers and how they tell stories.

    Virtual reality enables immersive storytelling at a level we’ve never seen before. It’s a good idea to hop on the VR train sooner, rather than later. Now is a good time to get a first look of what it’s like to use this new platform, and be part of its inclusion in your brand’s eventual strategy.

    5. The Internet of Things

    Wearable technology is only going to grow. With this growth we’ll see an increase in the amount of data this gives people to work with. This smart data that’s collected throughout the day-to-day lives of potential customers will allow for even more targeted and behavior-based marketing.

    Wearable devices, such as the Apple Watch, will continue to blur the line between the online world and the real world. Expect more devices like this to continue to be introduced in the future.

    As a business owner, or marketer, it’s important to be able to recognize trends as they’re forming, so you can position your company to take advantage. You can expect the trends we highlighted above to only increase in relevance and importance into the future.

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