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  • 12 Ways to Use Social Proof on Your Website

    Tuesday, July 18, 2017 by

    Use Social Proof on your Website

    Social Proof Helps You Get More Customers

    Thanks to social media and review websites, anyone who has an opinion on your business can share it for the entire world to see. Sometimes this is a good thing, but you can’t always expect that every person who comes in contact with you, your business’s representatives, or even your website are going to be pleased with the interaction. This is why you should take matters into your own hands and publish social proof to your website (both positive and negative). You’ll have more control over your business’s online reputation while also staying attuned to customer commentary in real time.  

    What Is Social Proof?

    You know how people say, “If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do it, too?” Social proof is like that. It’s basically when popular opinion holds sway over an individual’s opinion of something; in this case, your business. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always matter how persuasive an argument you make or how appealing your product or service is. For some consumers, your word doesn’t mean much until they get a thumbs-up from their peers. And sometimes it isn’t even about what they say. There are times when appearances speak louder than words. Think about pulling up to a restaurant you were excited to eat at, only to find it completely dead at 7:00 on a Friday night. That lack of a crowd speaks volumes, and the same could happen if you have a lack of social proof. What it boils down to is this: You want your site’s visitors to be confident that the choice they’re about to make (whether it’s to buy a product, become a member, or sign up for some other service or subscription) is the right one. Social proof gives them the assurance that your brand is trustworthy and reliable. Here are 12 ways you can use social proof on your website and, consequently, get more customers in the process.  

    1. Impress them with numbers.

    If your business or website is brand new, this is probably something you can’t do just yet. But it’s worth keeping in mind since some day very soon you will. The focus should be on numbers that demonstrate what a well-trusted company you are. For example, you can include:
    • The number of customers you’ve served to date.
    • The amount of revenue you’ve helped clients generate (or money you’ve helped them save).
    • Your blog’s subscriber count.

    2. Show your real-time status.

    Think about the last time you shopped on Amazon. Did you find yourself more drawn to the Amazon-flagged “best seller” over the 4.5-star rated product with only 25 reviews? There is something to that real-time status indicator that makes consumers want to join what others are doing. You can also do this by setting up indicators that show:
    • How many customers just purchased something.
    • The most popular post today.
    • The number of times people shared your post or product on social media.

    3. Allow customers to leave reviews.

    Amazon Social Proof While this might not be possible for a service-based business, you can certainly enable your site to accept reviews and ratings on your product inventory. This is probably one of the most well-known forms of social proof, but it’s one you also have to be extremely careful with as it has the greatest potential to introduce negative feedback into the pipeline—which is fine, so long as you demonstrate that you are addressing it in a timely and professional manner.  

    4. Allow readers to leave comments.

    SmallBizTrends Social Proof This is the same as #3, but it’s for those of you running a content-driven site. Ratings and reviews don’t make sense in that case, but comments most certainly do and are a great way to find out what your readers actually think. It also gives them an opportunity to engage with one another.  

    5. Use customer testimonials.

    Whether a customer sent you a “thank you” after the fact or you were able to pick up a praiseworthy quote from social media, customer testimonials (written or video) are an incredibly valuable form of social proof. Just remember that when you use these, you need to include, at the very least, their name and photo so customers know this came from a real person.  

    6. Write a case study.

    HostGator case studyThis one sits at the intersection between the customer testimonial and the impressive statistics. It’s also one of the more difficult ones to wrangle down since it requires a deep dive into the numbers, willing participation and permission from your customer, and then the actual writing and design of the case study. However, if you can pull it off, it’s sure to have a truly powerful impact on prospective customers who want to see similar results for themselves.  

    7. Get a celebrity endorsement.

    Alright, getting Angelina Jolie to endorse your company’s sports bra line is pretty much impossible. However, if you run a local shop, how about reaching out to a local celebrity to see if they want to try out your product or service for free in exchange for an endorsement? Or perhaps you could reach out to a niche blogger to see if they’d be interested in doing a write-up?  

    8. Brag about your customers.

    WordPress Social Proof As your client base grows, you’re bound to attract a higher profile clientele. While this might not work as well for B2C companies, this is something you should definitely keep an eye on for B2B. You can leverage your clients’ well-recognized company logos to entice other business customers who are on the fence.  

    9. Brag about your partnerships.

    Making a prospective customer want to buy from you needs to start with their emotions. When you show off another business’s logo, that will likely elicit a sense of competitiveness or maybe even jealousy. If you want to inspire trust and loyalty, you’d be wise to showcase your partners’ logos. Partners don’t have to be actual business partners either, they could be logos from software providers you use (like a PayPal Secure logo at checkout).  

    10. Show off your accolades.

    HostGator Social Proof Has your company won any awards? Or maybe your team has a special certification your audience would find particularly appealing? For a business that conducts sales online, being able to at least show off that you’re BBB-approved and PCI-compliant is a good place to start.  

    11. Publish your media mentions.

    If your company, CEO, product, or service has been highlighted in a recent news story—and from a reputable news outlet—don’t be afraid to show it off. Include a logo from the news outlet (which they’ll likely give you a copy of) and send visitors to the link so they can read all about how awesome this media outlet thinks you are.  

    12. Integrate UGC.

    User-generated content, or UGC, is awesome. You don’t have to do anything to create it either. You simply wait for customers to take a photo or video, rant and rave about how awesome you are, and then watch as they publish it to their site or social media. All you have to do is grab a copy of it (with their permission, of course) and post it on your own site so prospective customers can use it to make their own purchasing decisions.  


    Remember: social proof needs to be genuine. If people can tell that you wrote your own testimonials or that you paid people to write stellar reviews of your product, this whole thing could backfire. Also, be smart about where you place it. Social proof should support the story you’re telling within that page on your website. That’s why it’s usually most effective on landing pages as well as those related to your specific services or products. When visitors get to that point in the sales funnel where they need to make a decision, that social proof can make or break it for them. You want to remove any trace of doubt in their mind, so always keep it close to the call-to-action.
  • Beginner’s Guide to Facebook Live

    Monday, July 17, 2017 by
    Beginner's Guide to Facebook Live

    Facebook Live for Beginners

    For a few years, the content marketing industry has been enthusiastically singing the praises of video content, and for good reason. One study found that videos get 1,200% more shares on social media than images and text do and 70% of marketers say video converts at a higher rate than any other type of content. Video is clearly powerful, but now there’s a new option gaining steam that could amplify how far your video efforts can go: social live video. The stats for video content were already compelling, but the stats for live video are even more impressive:
    • People spend three times longer watching live video than video that isn’t live.
    • 80% of customers say they’d rather watch a live video than read a blog.
    • 82% say they’d rather watch a live video than see social posts.
    • 78% are already watching videos on Facebook Live.
    Facebook isn’t the first company to dip their toes into the waters of live video. Services like Periscope and Meerkat helped popularize the idea, but with the introduction of Facebook Live last year they quickly became the most important player in the social live video space. If your customers are on Facebook (and most people are these days), then Facebook Live could be a powerful way to connect with them and personalize your brand.  

    How to Use Facebook Live

    Using Facebook Live is intuitive. When logged into your Facebook profile, click on the box at the top as though you’re going to create a post. You’ll see an option that says “Live Video.” Facebook Live Video Click that, then click “next.” The next screen will ask you to provide Facebook with permission to use your computer or mobile device’s camera. Give Facebook Live access to your camera Once you’ve provided permission, click continue and you’ll get a prompt to choose which audience you want your video to go out to. If you only want your video to be accessible to a select group of people, you can create a group in Facebook that just includes the people you want to reach. If you’re thinking the more the merrier, you can make your live video public for all to see. Start Facebook Live Next, you’ll get the chance to write a brief description of your video to help compel potential viewers to pay attention. After this step, you’ll have one last chance to make sure the camera is facing the right way before you click “Go Live.” Then all that’s left is to record your video!  

    7 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Facebook Live

    While the section above covered the basic steps required to use Facebook Live, there’s more to doing it well than simply going through the steps. A good Facebook Live video won’t be something you throw together on a whim; it should fit in with your overall marketing plan and be designed to meet specific goals. These seven tips can help you make sure you make the most of a Facebook Live video.    

    1. Plan your Facebook Live events strategically.

    As with any other piece of your overall marketing plan, your Facebook Live events should be planned out with some thought. Brainstorm the topics your audience is most likely to be interested in that would work well in a Facebook Live format. Could your Facebook Live event help promote another piece of content or a new product launch at your company? Each Facebook Live event you take the time to plan and record should have a role to play in helping you achieve your overall marketing goals, and you should have a plan in place for the general structure of the Facebook Live recording itself. You definitely don’t want to get on camera and realize you have no idea what to say.  

    2. Do a test run-through with a friend to make sure it works.

    The first time you ever do a Facebook Live event for your brand shouldn’t be the first time you use Facebook Live. Create a group of one friend (or a few close friends) on Facebook and invite them to join you for a test run-through. You can make sure your camera and audio look right, test out different lighting and background options to see which provide the best effect, and get feedback from your friends on how your presentation went and what you can do better once you’re really live.  

    3. Promote your Facebook Live videos heavily in advance.

    People are busy. While many consumers say they’re more likely to watch a video than consume other types of content, you’re still competing against a lot of other options for their time. To help ensure your audience actually shows up for your live video, spend some time promoting it in advance. Make a case for why your live video is worth the time and spread it far and wide via your various social media channels, on your website, and maybe even through paid search and social media ads if you want to get some extra reach. Using Facebook Live will be much more worth your time and effort if you can get a good sized audience to show up each time you go live.  

    4. Interact with viewers as you go.

    One of the great benefits of Facebook Live is that it’s interactive. Your followers can provide comments and questions as you go that you can respond to. In order to help things go smoothly, consider putting someone else in charge of reviewing questions and comments who can reply to some in real time, and pass others over to you at the appropriate moment to respond to them on the video. That way you can interact with your viewers without awkwardly trying to read everything they write while sitting in the hot seat.  

    5. Use CTAs.

    Facebook Live events are an opportunity to educate your audience, engage with them, and personalize your brand – but they’re also a valuable opportunity to try to drive them toward the next action you want them to take. In the planning stage (see tip #1 above), figure out what you want your video to accomplish and how you can leverage it to move your audience further down the path of having a relationship with your brand. Your Facebook Live video could be a chance to promote your new ebook. It could present a natural opportunity to talk about the benefits of a product. Or it could simply be a way to broaden your audience base by asking your current viewers to share and like your video in order to help raise awareness of your brand amongst their friends. Figure out the most appropriate CTA for your live video and find a natural way to work it in.  

    6. Re-purpose and promote the video.

    When the video’s done recording, your job isn’t necessarily done. You can continue to share and promote it. Facebook will give you the option to save your video to your mobile device or desktop so that you can share it on other social media websites, on your website, or out to your email list. You can even pay Facebook to amplify the post with your video recording as you would with other promoted posts. Efficient content marketers are masters of re-purposing. Consider what other pieces of content your Facebook Live video can inspire. You could put together a blog post summarizing the points you made, or maybe a post or short video where you answer the questions people asked during your live video that you didn’t have time to answer in the moment. Anytime you can turn existing content into more content, you save yourself some work.  

    7. Use your analytics and feedback to strengthen your next Facebook Live event.

    Facebook provides you with some basic analytics once a live video is done that can give you some insights into how your live video performed and what you may be able to do better next time. You can see how many people you reached, how long they stuck with you, and how much engagement the video got. You can also see at what points in the video people dropped off, so you know when you lost them. If you make good use of the analytics, you can ensure that each video is a little stronger and more relevant to your audience than the last one.   Facebook Live is a good and relatively easy way to interact directly with your target audience on a platform they probably spend a lot of their time on. If you can catch their interest as they’re scrolling through Facebook, you can make a connection with them that could lead to a further relationship with your brand. If Facebook Live isn’t part of your content marketing strategy yet, now’s a good time to get started.
  • Creating a Plan to Build Your Gaming Website

    Monday, July 17, 2017 by

    Build Gaming Website

    How to Make a Gaming Website

    Are you obsessed with playing games online? Have you fantasized about creating your own gaming website? If so, then this post is for you. With the variety of tools and resources available online, building your very own gaming website is easier than you might think. However, like any large undertaking, you’ll want to spend some serious time planning out your site before it goes live. Let's talk about how to choose the right style of gaming website, what you need to set it up, and finally, how to get building.  

    1. Decide on your Style of Gaming Site

    There are various types of gaming sites you can create. For instance, you could create a site that’s solely dedicated to breaking the latest news about your favorite games and reviewing recent titles. Or, you could build a site like Addicting Games that has a ton of various flash games for you to enjoy (Check out this game HostGator made to prepare for the end of the world in 2012!). You could even create a separate website for your own online gaming community.  A site where users can actually play games will be built entirely different than a review-style site, or community hub, so you need to make this decision up front.  

    2. Determine Your Gaming Niche

    Once you’ve decided upon the style of the site that you’re going to run, with its time to narrow down your niche. Choosing a niche is incredibly important. If you end up choosing too large of a niche it’s going to be difficult to make a name for yourself and stand out. Especially when you already have sites like IGN, Gamespot, GameFAQs, and PCGamer dominating the space. By niching down you can brand yourself as an authority and you can even expand out into other niches in time. When considering your niche ask yourself the following questions: For Game Review Sites:
    • What kind of games do you love to play?
    • Is there a certain genre or console you’re obsessed with?
    • What’s the focus of your content? Walkthroughs? Game reviews? Behind-the-scenes?
    For Game Playing Sites:
    • Are you building the site for a specific age group?
    • Do you want to offer a certain style of game?
    • Do you want to restrict any games behind a pay wall?
    For Gaming Community Hub Sites:
    • Do you want to focus on one game only?
    • Do you want to include forum access?
    • Will you include downloadable game builds?

    3. Pick a Domain Name and Host

    Now that your niche is all set, it’s time to lay the foundation for your site. The first step towards creating an actual website is purchasing a domain name and hosting. If your gaming website will allow users to play actual games, then you’ll probably need a host that can keep up. Which means that you’ll probably need a more substantive host than your typical shared hosting package. HostGator offers both dedicated and VPS hosting, both of which will be well suited for a more resource-intensive website. Dedicated Server  

    4. Choose a Platform

    There are a variety of methods you can use to build out your site, from website builders to full-fledged content management systems. The approach you take will depend upon the goals for your site and the overall functionality you’re looking for. Website builders are often much easier to use. But, if you’re looking for increased customization options and want more control over what you can and can’t do, then WordPress might be better suited for your needs. There are even gaming-oriented WordPress themes like Blackfyre, Gameleon, Goodlife, Games Zone, and Youplay.  

    5. Start Building and Customizing

    With your platform picked out it’s time to start customizing your site.  The goal of your site should be to serve your users, no matter which gaming direction you decide to take. Make sure the overall design of your site is in alignment with your theme and niche you decide to pursue.   If you’re looking to build your own gaming website, we hope the process above helps you out. Make sure you keep in mind the overall goals of your site as you build it out.   What kind of gaming site do you want to create? Share your site plans in the comments below.
  • How to Set Up Your Business Inventory

    Monday, July 17, 2017 by
    Set Up Business Inventory

    6 Steps to Business Inventory Management

    One of the big, complicated parts of running a business that sells physical products is keeping up with inventory (unless you use dropshipping, but that’s a whole other thing). For your customers to have a good experience, you have to make sure that every item you sell is in stock. For you to make a profit, you need to make sure you don’t overstock items customers don’t buy much of, lest you’re stuck paying to buy and store items you don’t need. You have to maneuver the tricky balance between having too many items to store and too few to sell. And the profitability of your business depends on getting it right. Developing a strong inventory management system is therefore an important step in running a successful business. It enables you to track all your inventory easily and effectively, do a better job of spotting inventory issues (like theft, breakage, or incomplete orders), and improves your ability to figure out the right quantities of each product to buy when you make a new order.   If you’re in the early stages of getting a new business off the ground, or if you’re trying to figure a better system than the one you have now, this post will help walk you through how to set up business inventory. Dedicated Server

    1. Organize Your Physical Space

    For business owners, space is money. You need a storeroom to keep your inventory in so you have the items on hand when orders come in. But generally speaking, the bigger that space is, the more you’ll be paying for it. That means it’s crucial that you use the space as efficiently as possible and keep it well organized.  

    2. Create a Plan for The Space

    First, you need to establish a plan for using the space. Research shelving options that will help you make the most of it. Use the measurements you have for the storeroom to figure out how many rows of shelves you can reasonably fit and how high up they can go. Use that information to start working up a floor plan. Make sure you don’t get so focused on products during this step that you forget about people. You need to leave enough space between rows to allow your staff access to the inventory, and the higher you build your shelves, the harder it will be for people to access the items on the top. Organize business inventoryWhen you’re working out what specific products should be stored where, remember to make sure that the most popular items are the most easily accessible and that anything fragile or heavy should be stored where it’s easy to move it without too much trouble. Keeping a heavy box of breakable dishes on a shelf that someone would need a ladder to reach probably won’t end well. Try to organize the space so that it’s intuitive for people to find things. If you have a few main categories of products, group them together in the same section of the storeroom. For instance, put the basketballs in the same section as the footballs, rather than next to the kitchen products.  

    3. Provide Proper Signage

    You need it to be as easy as possible for your staff to find the right product at the right moment. Good organization is a big part of that equation, but clear signage is at least as important. Hang big signs to label the main sections of the storeroom – you want your staff to be able to see them from a distance when they’re scanning the room to figure out where to go. Then make sure every row is labeled, as well as each individual product. You’ll benefit here from working out a numbering system to keep everything more organized and easier to find. Luckily, many types of inventory software help with that part.  

    4. Choose Your Inventory Software

    It’s not impossible to do inventory management without software – some businesses still walk around with a clipboard and paper and laboriously load their inventory into a spreadsheet. But using inventory software that’s specifically designed for the process will save you time and help you stay more on top of what you have in stock at any given moment. In addition to making the process of adding new inventory into the system and tracking it as it sells easier, inventory software can also process the data that helps you make better predictions about your future inventory needs so you can order the right amount of stock moving forward. And if you find a product that’s compatible with the other software you use, it will be easy to link them so you don’t have to manually update your inventory software when your POS system registers a sale. Business Inventory Management Software To identify the best inventory software for your needs, do some preliminary research into what’s out there. For some industries, you’ll find industry specific inventory software that’s especially well suited to the types of products and processes you use. Get a few quotes and compare the features different tools offer against your particular needs. Once your software is picked out, the way it functions can help shape the inventory process you develop.  

    5. Determine Your Inventory Process

    Now it’s time to figure out the exact steps your staff should take:
    •      Every time inventory comes in and needs to be loaded into your system
    •      Every time a piece of inventory gets sold, damaged, or goes missing
    •      And each time you check the items in the storeroom against your list of inventory (which you should do periodically)
    You need a consistent process laid out in writing for your staff to follow that keeps everyone on the same page and ensures that you catch errors and issues early on. A survey of retailers found that 28% of inventory shrink – or the amount of inventory that gets lost somewhere between the retailer’s purchase and sale to the customer – is caused by administrative error. A solid system for checking and keeping close track of your inventory can help you prevent a good chunk of that. If your vendor sends an incomplete or erroneous order, you want your check-in process to be strong enough to catch it right away so you can correct the issue before the invoice is paid and the products are loaded into the storeroom. If a lot of your inventory is mysteriously going missing, then you need to figure out if there’s an administrative error behind it or if you have a staff member with sticky fingers. Your inventory process should help you reduce these types of issues, while making it easier to spot and manage them when they occur.  

    6. Analyze Your Process Periodically and Tweak for Improvements

    The chances of developing a perfect inventory management process from day one are pretty much nonexistent. The longer you’re in business, the better you’ll be able to tweak the process based on the information you gain on how things actually work. Maybe you’ll realize a certain type of product is more popular than you expected and needs to be moved in order to be more accessible, or maybe you’ll realize you’re buying way too much of a product type that sells slowly. Pay attention to what your staff and the data you’re collecting both tell you and check in on your process every so often – say once every 6 months – to look for ways to make it better. As with many parts of running a business, setting up a business inventory process requires a certain amount of trial and error before you’ll come up with the system that works best for you and your staff. Take stock periodically of how well your system and software are working for you, so you can make an informed decision about any changes you consider.  

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  • 6 WordPress Security Tips to Keep Your Blog Safe

    Monday, July 17, 2017 by
    WordPress Security Plugins

    Security Tips for WordPress

    WordPress security is important, but it’s often overlooked. But, with Google reporting that 15 million sites have been hacked in some form in the last year alone it’s something you need to start taking seriously. It’s easy to assume that your site is secure and hacking won’t happen to you. But, wouldn’t you rather secure your site now, instead of having to deal with the costs that come with a website breach? Luckily, WordPress makes this easy. At its core, it’s very secure and the WordPress team regularly releases updates to secure their framework. But, that’s not enough to keep your site secure. Below we look at a few ways you can keep your site secure and minimize your risk of it being hacked and having your data compromised. Recommended WordPress Hosting

    1. Regularly Update Themes and Plugins

    It’s important to keep your existing themes and plugins updated. Most WordPress plugins and theme developers are reactive, which means they patch their plugins and themes only after security vulnerabilities have been found. So, if it’s been a while since you’ve last updated your WordPress core, your themes, and your plugins, then make sure you do it soon. Otherwise, you run the risk of having your site hacked by a known loophole. Some plugins and themes will update automatically, but it’s always a good idea to login to your WordPress dashboard to check for updates on a regular basis.  

    2. Fortify Your Login Page

    Are you still using “admin” as your login name? If so, then it’s time to change things up. Your admin username and password is the first line of defense for the backend of your website. You should spend time creating a strong username and password. If you want to create a strong and memorable password, you can try some of these suggestions. The most commonly used access point into your site is via a stolen password. You can even use a plugin like Login Lockdown to help lock down your login page, and lock out users who have a certain number of failed login attempts.  

    3. Only Download Themes and Plugins from Known Sources

    When you download plugins and themes for your site it’s important to only install them from reputable sources. For paid plugins and themes this means places like Themeforest, Elegant Themes, StudioPress, WPMU Dev and similar sites. If you’re downloading free themes and plugins, then you should always download them from the WordPress theme and plugin repository. It’s also a good idea to minimize the number of active plugins you’re currently using on your site. The more plugins you’re using, the greater your chances of your site being hacked. Plus, some plugins might have smaller development teams that might not be able to patch their plugins for vulnerabilities as rapidly as larger organizations.  

    4. Consider Using a WordPress Security Plugin

    There are a variety of security plugins you can install that will help to prevent attacks and beef up your security measures. Most security plugins can offer your site some of the following benefits:
    •    Daily scans to check your site for any risky behavior
    •    File level monitoring to check for any malware insertion
    •    .htaccess file protection
    •    WordPress database backups and security monitoring
    •    Login page lockdown and security protection
    Some common WordPress security plugins include Sucuri, Wordfence, BulletProof Security, and All In One WP Security and Firewall.  

    5. Always Backup Your Site

    Backups will be your first defense against any attack on your website. In case something bad does happen, you can quickly restore your site to its previous state. There are a ton of backups plugins available, like VaultPress and BackupBuddy. In some cases, your current host might even be keeping regular backups of all your site’s files. But, it’s important that you save your backup files to a secure offsite location, just in case. The frequency you backup your site depends upon how often you update your site. If you regularly publish new content every single day, then a daily backup is recommended. But, if your site stays relatively the same, then you can get away with a monthly backup.  

    6. Use a Secure Hosting Environment

    You can do everything possible to secure your WordPress site on your end, but none of that will matter if your hosting environment isn’t secure. A reputable hosting company will take extra measures to ensure your site is secure.HostGator SiteLock Malware Protection However, shared hosting environments aren’t always the most secure option. If security is a priority, then it might be worth upgrading to a dedicated hosting package. Most dedicated hosts can offer stricter security practices, plus, your site won’t be sharing server resources with hundreds of other websites.   Maintaining a high level of WordPress security is all about being proactive. By implementing the above security tips for WordPress you’ll be on your way towards a safe and protected site.