Friday, February 24, 2017 by Henry GreenWant to work from home and live the dream? Of course you do! Or, are you aiming to earn some extra online cash on the side through your next brilliant idea? Sure! We live in what’s been dubbed the Gig Economy -- everybody’s got some kind of side hustle to make ends meet, and with big dreams of striking it HUGE. With instant access to powerful resources the web affords the entrepreneurial-minded with endless opportunities to earn money. There are now more than ever ways to be gainfully employed either full- or part-time through the web. If you’re motivated to earn some cash, it’s really only a matter of matching up your skills with which job suits you best. The web is your oyster! Make it count!
Wednesday, February 15, 2017 by Henry GreenAs a working person at any stage of your career (recent grad, business owner, professional), it’s a good idea to have a personal LinkedIn page. You can use it as an online resume to strut your skills, make professional connections with former and present colleagues, and search for jobs. Good news: a LinkedIn Company page is another free piece of online real estate to tell the world about your business, services, and products. You just need a company email address to verify that your business is legit and that you’re the official representative. Need help? Watch this walkthrough video from LinkedIn to help you get started:
As of mid-2016, there are over 450 million users on LinkedIn, so it’s definitely worth getting your piece of the action. And since it’s free, there are plenty of opportunities for small shop owners to compete with the big boys. Here’s how to make the most of your investment:
1. Be pretty.Get your company profile pic and cover photo setup stat! Logos work great here because they’re a consistent reminder of your brand. Here’s ours -- obviously we’ve got Snappy front and center. And here’s a beauty of a page recommended by Hubspot. Notice here that the Nature Conservancy (like HostGator) includes their company logo in both their profile and cover pics. Use images that grab people’s attention and paint a picture about what your business represents.
2. Use your words.LinkedIn gives everyone an opportunity to write up a little ditty about their business. Win by keeping it simple, succinct, and authoritative. If you have some proven keywords you know work, pepper them in where you can. Every little bit helps on the SEO battleground.
3. Remember the details.LinkedIn encourages Company Page owners to present details like company size, website, year founded, and company specialties. Don’t keep this info a secret! Let people know what your company is all about.
4. Get followers!Start by getting colleagues, employees, consultants and anyone you work with on board. Encourage friends and family to support your business by following you on LinkedIn. For added views and follows, consider embedding your LinkedIn Company Page into your email signature.
5. Know your audience.LinkedIn gives Company Page users access to a nifty analytics tool where a demographic breakdown of the people who are following your page can be seen. This not only helps you discover more about your audience, but gives you insight into what type of content they might be interested in reading and engaging with. Here’s a LinkedIn Company Page analytics example: This shows us that this company’s followers are primarily senior-level professionals, but then there are also a good number of entry-level folks as well. In this case a mix of articles or blog posts about leadership, hiring, and productivity hacks might be a good place to start. Use this demographic info to make intelligent guesses and see what works.
6. Post great content.LinkedIn functions as another social media outlet where you can publish company blog posts, thought-leadership, case studies, and more. Once you get a firm handle on who your audience is, cater your content to them while staying true to your company’s messaging. On LinkedIn, you may want to skew your content toward hiring and employee success, particularly as your first followers will likely be your own employees or people you know who can help introduce you to the right people. For more ideas, take a look at our post How to Publish Engaging Content on LinkedIn.
Tuesday, December 27, 2016 by Henry GreenThe word blog is originally derived from the phrase web log. By its very definition a blog is a consistent online log that is regularly updated. The question is… are you consistently publishing posts to your blog? Because if you’re not, you’re missing out on site traffic, customer engagement, and sales opportunities. We understand that writer’s block gets in the way, plus who has time to write on top of running a business? However, we assure you that if you can stick with some of these ideas, you’ll be better positioned for entrepreneurial success. It’s worth it. And you may even find that they won’t take up as much of your time as you think.
1. Above all, know your audience.If you have no honest clue what kind of people make up your audience, back up and figure that out by creating an audience persona. Everything you write should be filtered through what your audience wants. You’ll need an authentic voice, but use it in a way that speaks to your customers and makes you relatable. Filtering your thought process through your average customer’s day will enable you to generate endless content ideas. Ask yourself: what are they searching for?; what will make their day easier?; what will make them more successful?; what do they do for fun?; what inspires them? Then write about some of those ideas.
2. Check an annual calendar.Holiday sales and events are a great blog-writing starting point. From Small Business Saturday to Valentine’s Day, or even more local events in your neighborhood -- these are all opportunities to engage your audience. To start, we recommend checking out:
- Holidays & Observances Around the World - Don’t miss a beat with this comprehensive list of upcoming holidays.
- Today is National What Day - This is your jam for fun, goofy holidays like National Pizza/Cat/Cookies Day.
3. Expand your About Us page.Web content on your site is for your About Us page, while a blog can be thought of more as your About Everything page. This doesn’t mean you need to publicly write about your relationship with mom, but do use your blog to share more of who you and your team are. Be real with your customers and expect big returns. Consider writing about:
- Milestones: Births, graduations, marriages
- Fun office activities
- Customer testimonials
- Employee success
- Customer success
4. Create long-lasting evergreen content.Evergreen blog content is the key to success because it’s designed to last a looooooooooong time. The more relevant a piece of online writing is over time, the better it is for SEO and for your business. These can be things like:
- FAQ’s - Listen to your customers and you’ll find that they often seek answers to the same frequently asked questions. Write these down and publish them in a blog post. Save yourself the time of answering them later, and proactively help out new clients.
- Product Descriptions - Describe the benefits of each of your products.
- Product Walkthroughs - How to use a specific product or service.
- Resources - Share tools or business resources that make you successful. Your customers will perceive you as an authoritative industry leader and thank you for it. Bonus: If you’re an affiliate, this is a great place to make a sale.
5. Write what inspires you.Finally, write about what motivates you to succeed. Write about why you started your business in the first place and why you continue to carry on. Not sure what else inspires you? How about…
- Favorite movies
- TED Talks
- Public speakers
- Family, friends, church
Tuesday, December 20, 2016 by Henry Green
It seems like a quick fix: you need an audience, and you have some great email templates ready to go, so you buy a list of members of your target audience to send the email to. But does success really work that easily? Is buying an email marketing list ever a good idea, or are the naysayers correct when they call it a "kiss of death" for your email marketing efforts?
The answer is simple: The naysayers are correct. Buying email marketing lists is a bad idea.
Not convinced? Here are four reasons why you should stay away from purchased email lists.
1. Software Implications
First, your email marketing software may prevent you from using purchased lists in the first place. Platforms like MailChimp and Constant Contact now require that any subscriber lists you upload have opted in to contact from you, which - by default - is not the case with purchased lists.
In the worst case scenario, ignoring the requirement means your account could be terminated. But ultimately, even without punishment, this decision by email marketing platforms should raise an important question for your marketing efforts: why do they not want you to upload these types of contact into their software? The answer provides a compelling argument against using purchased lists.
2. Bad List Quality
Services like MailChimp know just as well as experienced marketers that purchased lists are not as accurate as their organically grown counterparts. That means you cannot rely on personalization features, which will make your email significantly more effective.
It also means that you will work with more inaccurate email addresses, which will inevitably bounce upon your send. Too many bounces means that Internet Service Providers begin to consider your send email address as spam, and become more likely to mark them as such as soon as they reach your audience's mailbox.
3. Long-Term Consequences
The previous point already hinted at a potentially devastating effect of bad list quality: too many bounces will negatively impact future email sends. The same is true in a variety of other ways, as well. Most importantly, recipients who have not opted in to receiving emails from you are exponentially more likely to unsubscribe, or report your email as spam manually.
The more of your recipients that take one of these undesirable actions, the worse the situation gets for your email efforts. Suddenly, ISPs mark even future emails to your core group of customers as spam, because they have recognized previous bad performances and high bounce/spam rates from the sender address. In fact, these long-term consequences are precisely why email marketing platforms require certification that your contacts have opted in previously.
4. Lack of Results
Finally, a major reason to stay away from purchased lists is deceptively simple: emails sent to this group simply don't generate the same results as emails to organically grown lists. A 2014 study offered significant evidence in this regard, showing that open and click rates dropped dramatically for purchased lists, while complaint rates multiplied.
Given what we discussed above, these results make sense. They also show a simple truth that marketers have to internalize: quicker is not always better. Spending money on a purchased list can seriously your long-term brand awareness and conversion goals.
Tuesday, December 6, 2016 by Henry GreenCatch ‘em all! No, not the Pokemon -- the leads! Search Engine Optimization (SEO) works to bring your website more relevant traffic and closer to the number one slot on major search engines. Without SEO your company website is likely to drown at the bottom of a million other websites selling similar products and services.
What Are The SEO Basics?For starters, here’s a bunch of free stuff you can do to improve your website’s visibility:
- Keyword research: Discover the words people use to try to find your website and your services. Then use these words throughout your site’s content.
- Domain name: Choose a domain name that’s relevant to your business, so that you’re easier to find.
- Page URL names: Avoid the often default number system, and rename your page URLs with keywords.
- Social media marketing: Use social media to expand your website’s reach to a much larger audience on various networks.
- Local listings: Get your business contact info set up at YellowPages.com and Google My Business. (We've got a list of online local listings directories here).
- Reviews & testimonials: Positive feedback on sites like Yelp and Angie’s List will keep reeling ‘em in!
- External links or backlinks: Share your content with influencers or on places like Quora and Reddit. These backlinks (links that point back to your website) score super high in the world of SEO.
What About My Website Images?As you can see, just about everything you post on your website can be optimized for search, but you’re not limited only to words and links. Images are a tremendous part of SEO, and one that's often forgotten, so if you can get your pics up to SEO speed, you’ll be ahead of the curve. Here’s how...
1. Name your images using target keywords.Use readily identifying info to name your pics as you upload them to your website. If you’re targeting a specific geo-location, include that city name in your title. Same goes for specific products and services. For example, a local bike shop might label a photo of their storefront something like Mike's Bikes - Bike Shop in Austin TX
2. Use alternative text.Alternative, or alt text, shows up in certain browsers when site visitors hover their mouse over an image. Alt text also makes it clear to visually impaired users what your image represents. Long tail keywords (i.e. keywords that are super specific) are best. For example: Interior design for Charleston model homes Nashville nail salon features bridal party sale Here’s what the HTML looks like: <img src="InteriorDesignCharleston.jpg" alt="Interior design for Charleston model homes">
3. Take a look behind the curtain.
- Find a website you admire (or visit one of your competitor’s sites).
- Right-click your mouse anywhere on the page and select "View Page Source."
- A new window will open with all the html code for the page.
- Hit Control + F simultaneously on your keyboard and then type “img” in the search box.
- This will bring up all image-related code.
- Most sites will have a bunch of images, so you can see how the developer or marketer decided to set up their alt text.
- Learn from the best!