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  • Why You Should Regularly Backup Your WordPress Site

    Tuesday, August 4, 2015 by
    Why You Should Regularly Backup Your WordPress Site
    Editor's Note: the information in this post, while incredibly valuable, is simply non-applicable to those who use owr Optimized WordPress Hosting, as HostGator manages all aspects of backups and security. Having said that, please enjoy the information contained herein, and do apply the same logic to non-WordPress sites as well:"   WordPress is the most popular content management system on the planet. And for good reason. It's easy to use, and offers an incredible wealth of functionality through plugins. Let's consider just one aspect of managing a site: performing backups. There are many reliable, easy-to-use plugins available for backing up a WordPress site. That's why you regularly backup your business WordPress site. Right?  

    No? You're Not Alone…

    A recent survey revealed that nearly half of WordPress users do not perform regular backups. So if you don't frequently backup your WordPress site, you've got lots of company. Perhaps that will offer you some measure of consolation. After all, according to the old saying, misery loves company. And if you continue to be lax about backing up your site, it's quite possible that you will end up miserable - but with lots of company. That’s because bad things can happen to any website - even WordPress-powered sites.  

    Updates, Break-Ins and Blunders

    According to a Small Business Trends report, regularly backing up your WordPress site may save you from one (or more) of three common occurrences that regularly vex website owners:
    1. Update Problems: Like any other well-maintained piece of software, WordPress code is frequently updated. That means that your WordPress site should be frequently updated. But with each update, there's a risk - a possibility that one of the plugins you use won't be in sync with the code update. And that can cause major problems, up to and including the complete failure of your website.
    If that happens, it's really not a major problem. You identify the problem plugin, replace or update it, and restore your site with the most recent backup. You say your backup is months old? Or you don't even have a backup? Umm, OK…now you have a major problem on your hands. And lots of miserable company.
    1. Attacks and Hacks: Your site is under constant threat of a cyber attack. In fact, the cyber security company Symantec recently reported that nearly a third of all cyber attacks target small businesses. There's much you can do to defend your site against cyber criminals. But alas, there's no way to assure that your site is absolutely invulnerable.
    So if the worst happens and your site does get hacked, having a very recent backup will go far towards minimizing the downtime - and the pain.
    1. Oopsies: Accidental file deletions happen with great regularity. In fact, there are really only two types of people: those who have accidentally deleted files, and those that will. So if an accidental deletion hasn't yet occurred at your business, it will. It's only a matter of time.
    And when it happens, it's not a big deal. Not if you have a recent backup. But if you don't have a backup? Well, you have our sympathies.    

    So How Frequently Should You Perform Backups?

    For most businesses, daily backups are best. Particularly active businesses may even wish to perform backups multiple times per day. But certainly no business should go more than a week without performing a backup. Backups, after all, are easy. They can be automated to occur seamlessly and behind the scenes. There are lots of options for WordPress users, ranging from free plugins to paid third-party services. And cloud-based backup options can even protect your business data from calamities such as natural disasters and fires.  

    Just Do It…

    As the old Nike commercial recommends, when it comes to backing up your WordPress site - just do it. Choose your preferred backup method, and just do it. And do it frequently. After all, misery may indeed love company. But your company doesn't love misery, does it?  
    *****
    Chris Delker is a freelance copywriter based in Dallas, Texas.
  • Small Business Tips For Improving Customer Loyalty

    Thursday, July 30, 2015 by
    Small Business Tips For Improving Customer Loyalty Living in a city built around a tourism based economy has shown me the businesses who survive aren't those with the best marketing strategy, but those who have managed to retain loyal customers, both local and returning visitors, throughout every season of the year. The feeling a customer gets coming back to the business often means more than the quality of the service being offered. For instance, one of the most popular coffee shops in my town thrives due largely in part to offering a location in which people want to be seen. As a self-proclaimed coffee critique I can tell you the difference in product would not be enough to create this much separation in popularity. The trick is in the x-factor, in this case providing a hub in which people can see friends, come to get work done, and really gain a secondary experience through visiting the business altogether. However, earning the adoration of customers is easier said than done. Like any metric in business it involves a variety of factors, a lot of which boil down to good customer service and unique products of high quality. Small businesses are making a come back, and if yours is to contend in the realm of people defining themselves through brands and products it's important to start gaining customer loyalty right now. Here are some great tips to get you started.  

    Focus On Your Most Valuable Customers

    Value can be a subjective term, but in this regard a valuable customer should be measured strictly on what they offer your business financially. Think of those who have recurrent faces first, the ones that are consistently coming back to your business and providing regular revenue. I like to think of these customers as 'buffers' because in times when business is slow they provide the difference between a strong month or just barely making it. Financial value may be variant depending on what you're selling, also. A coffee house may have valued customers based on them appearing most mornings for a cheap cup of coffee; a painting business on the other hand may have a most valued customer just by getting a couple gigs a year. In either circumstance both add up to lifetime value and your energy and attention needs to cater to those already serving your success. Taking the time to show appreciation and remembrance for their regular support also turns into referrals as word of mouth, which is the most valuable form of marketing.  

    Invest In Your Customers Loyalty

    While this is an old trick, providing reward incentives has proven to be one of the most effective ways to bring customers back in times when they have options for products. Large companies like Safeway have advanced rewards programs by offering discounts on gasoline when you spend money in their grocery outlets. Many unit based businesses will offer frequent shopper cards, on which you'll receive a free product after so many purchases. I know when I'm hungry I'll tend to see if I have any punch cards in my wallet knowing my purchase will be even more valuable later.  

    Listen To Their Feedback and Actually Make Changes

    This one can be tricky depending on how you're choosing to receive feedback. Less than 5% of customers will respond to surveys when sent out via email, or posted on Social Media. Rather, take the time to scour sites on the Internet where reviews have already been posted, and take action to improve areas that seem to have recurring complaints or suggestions. Not every gripe has to do with the integrity of your business, but more often than not there's areas of your regular operation that go unnoticed to staff and employees. What I like to call a two-for-one is putting a survey on the receipt and offering a small discount on the customers next purchase just for returning the survey. Let the customer know you want to hear from them personally and that their return is extremely valuable, because it is!  

    Meaningful Customer Service

    Do you ever feel like certain customer service requirements are a little overboard? Perhaps less genuine even? Part of gaining a customers loyalty is making them feel a sense of personal connection to your business and that their time spent there is with recognition. Many small businesses put emphasis on employees learning their frequent customer's names, along with encouraging conversations that contain more depth than just asking how their day is going. Humans crave attention, even if that's coming from someone who only knows them in one environment. As your business becomes more well known, try employing these tactics to ensure your product or service means more than just business as usual. Working to gain your customers loyalty will add up to more than just dollar signs for you, it will make your business meaningful to the lives of others which is a great feeling.
  • How To Use Landing Pages To Increase Your Website’s Conversions

    Tuesday, July 28, 2015 by
    landing pages Creating a landing page that works is easy, but creating a landing page that converts is going to take a little bit more work. In this post we’re going to examine what a landing page actually is, and how to build one that speaks to your customers and converts.  

    What Is A Landing Page?

    A landing page is a page that your users are going to land on from some traffic source across the internet. This could either be from a social media post, a guest blog, or an ad. Landing pages are specialized pages that are designed to get your users to take action. Most unnecessary elements are cut out and the focus is appealing to the user so they’ll act on your call-to-action. Landing pages will help to educate your customers and turn them from window-shoppers to potentially paying customers.  

    Building A High Converting Landing Page

    Creating a landing page is simple. Most website templates have the ability to select a ‘landing page’ layout which will create a very simple page for you. The layout is easy; the real work comes from the copy, the media, and any other page elements.   1. Enticing Headline Right from the get go, you need to capture the essence of your landing page with a headline that gets users to keep on reading. Your headline needs to sum up what your page is about, as well as create some emotional tension so the visitor will continue to read to the bottom of the page.   2. Create A Sense Of Urgency You can create landing page urgency through a variety of methods. One way is by having a countdown timer, or having your offer expire after a set amount of time. Another method is to limited your downloads or sign-ups to a certain number. This sense of urgency will encourage the user to act quickly.   3. Build Trust Through Credibility You can showcase your credibility in many ways. One of the most common is through showcasing testimonials from past clients and customers. Another common means is to highlight endorsements from other business-owners in your niche. You can even highlight your credibility by displaying your number of social media followers, or subscribers if the number is high enough.   4. Inspiring Call-to-Action If people make it to the bottom of your website then you need a call-to-action that inspires them to take action. Most calls-to-action are displayed as buttons, so you’ll want this button to stand out, and be clear and action-oriented. Also, make sure your call-to-action only has a singular course of action.   5. Test And Refine The first time you build your landing page you’re going to be guessing based upon past interactions with clients, and your own intuition. By tracking and testing small variables on your landing page you’ll start to build a higher-converting landing page over time. When you’re testing make sure to only isolate and test a single element at time. It may take longer this way, but it’s the only way to ensure you know what is and isn’t working. Over time, with the data you collect it will be much easier to design a high-converting landing page the first go-around.
  • 3 Ways To Acquire Funding For Your Next Business Idea

    Thursday, July 23, 2015 by
    3 Ways to Acquire Funding for Your Next Business Idea Starting a business based on an idea that you think could improve the lives of others is a very exciting, yet difficult, task to embark on. With several hundred million companies already built by enthusiastic people such as yourself, the question of whether my idea is good enough is definitely a burning one. All questions aside, there is still the need to decide upon the business strategy, and more importantly -- how the new business is going to be funded. Will you have to sell your car? Get a mortgage loan? Invest all your life's savings? None of these would be a first for many other people, but thanks to the rapid growth of industries such as startups, small business, and crowdfunding -- there's now an opportunity for anyone to become a business owner, given that their ideas is good, and could potentially stick. It certainly can save you from a potential disaster, and there are several other advantages of reaching out to other establishments for an investment plan that could get your idea off from the paper and out in the real world.  

    1. Bootstrapping

    This is a classic technique for raising money for a new business idea, and is considered one of the safest ones. The way bootstrapping works is that you mostly do all of the work yourself, so this is the one way of acquriing funding where you actually have to put your skills and knowledge to work for you. Some of these may include:
    • Writing technical content for sites that resonate with your idea.
    • Using your design skills to freelance, help out other businesses.
    • Establishing an early online merchandise store to sell items like shirts, stickers, etc,.
    • Getting heavily involved in social media around the networks that resonate with your idea.
    It's all the basic stuff, it certainly is going to be a lot tougher, but in the end you call feel good about yourself -- knowing that all the funding was acquiring thanks to your own set of skills, and you don't have to answer to anyone about losing some here and there. We recommend that you check out Jon Yongfook's story of bootstrapping his startup, and how he was able to do it. Getting the initial funds is only half the battle, not paying yourself for several months is something completely different. Jon explains that in his report beautifully.  

    2. Crowdfunding

    The second best way of getting that initial funding is by launching your business through a crowdfunding platform such as Kickstarter, GoFundMe, or Indiegogo. A crowdfunding platform takes away all of the strain of having to raise money through your own skillset, and instead you can focus on promotional and marketing campaigns to make sure that your project does get funded in the end. The biggest advantage here is that you also build a community around the business you're trying to launch, giving you the initial customers without having to do much else -- and we have seen some great success stories with this type of funding before.
    Kickstarter constantly update their data and the amount of completed projects would scare most banks. They are upfront about their fee, it is 5 percent if you are successful.There are many other crowd funding options now that Kickstarter have blazed a trail. They include crowdcube and Seedrs. Transparency and building a community are the main benefits the negatives are that you might have a large number of investors. -- Elaine Thompson
     

    3. Angel Investors

    These are the guys who have several decades (most often) of experience in a particular field, they've made their money from creating their own businesses in the past, and have moved on to helping others to do the same by funding their projects. Ideally, you want to reach out to an Angel Investor once you've exhausted all your personal resources, such as friends, relatives and other connections.
    Getting funding from angel investors isn’t easy, but it can be done if you take the right approach and are a good match with their interests. And the benefits can beyond the money for your business, but their expertise in both in business operations and your industry niche. -- WSJ
    However, no Angel Investor is going to write you a check just because you ask. You have to come prepared, and by prepared we mean full market research, a strategic business plan, and already established progress on trying to get the business off the ground. And because an Angel Investor is giving you his own money from his own pocket -- expect this process to take several weeks, up to several months to get a clearance for the check; nobody wants to invest in something that won't turn profit at some point of its development.  

    What else?

    Other than what we have looked at already, there are government grants, banking loans, even startup incubators -- which are usually aimed at people who are really up to par with the latest development in their industry, and are willing to invest the next few years of their life in building an idea. Entrepreneur magazine has a special sub-section of their site where they talk all about raising funds, and we highly recommend to indulge in that content as it will be invaluable to getting your idea funded.  
    *****
    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.