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  • 5 Tips To Rejuvenate Your Creativity And Brainstorm Great Blog Topics

    Tuesday, December 27, 2016 by
    How to brainstorm great blog topics The 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. Create Your Blog  

    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:  

    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:
    • Vacations
    • Milestones: Births, graduations, marriages
    • Pets
    • Fun office activities
    • Customer testimonials  
    • Employee success
    • Customer success
    • Philanthropy

    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
    • Music
    • Podcasts
    • TED Talks
    • Books
    • Public speakers
    • Family, friends, church
      Robert Rose, the Chief Strategy Officer at Content Marketing Institute says “Traditional marketing and advertising is telling the world you’re a rock star. Content Marketing is showing the word that you are one.” Use these blog-writing ideas to show your audience who you are. Have other blog-writing tips? Anything particular topics that have been most successful for you? Let us know in the comments!
  • Is Buying Email Lists Ever a Good Idea?

    Tuesday, December 20, 2016 by

    Buying Email Lists

    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.

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  • Does Your Company Really Need a Blog?

    Monday, December 5, 2016 by
    Does My Company Need a Blog Does your business really need a blog? Nope. You’re good. Oh, but you want sales, referrals, lead generation, customer loyalty, and engagement? Then yes, you absolutely need a business blog. First, understand this: the numbers don’t lie. Let’s also understand that creating and maintaining a business blog is no simple task. You must carefully consider your blog’s content, and cadence. Having said that, though, Hubspot shows us that the more posts published, the higher the customer acquisition. HubSpot Blog Post Frequency Chart However, what you publish and how frequently you publish it entirely depends on your audience. There’s unfortunately no hard and fast rule to business blogging or content marketing for that matter, so the best you can do is to test what works, then test, and test again. To help you along, let’s take a look at some powerful blogging insights from two extremely well-known and successful blogs. Create Your Blog Pro tip: To measure the success of your blog posts, track unique post and overall site traffic using Google Analytics. Here’s how to install Google Analytics on your WordPress blog.  

    Insight #1: Seth Godin’s Blog

    Multiple business founder and best-selling author Seth Godin (Purple Cow, All Marketers Are Liars) receives an estimated 640K visits a month to his blog. SimilarWeb Pro tip: SimilarWeb is a free Chrome plugin. Use it to spy on your competitors or to get an idea of average site rankings, bounce rates, and visits. At first, Godin thought the Internet was stupid, but when he realized how powerful a tool it was in directly reaching his audience, he eventually committed to his current cadence of publishing one blog post a day. In a recent interview on the Tim Ferriss Show, Godin says “[Blogging is] one of the top 5 decisions I’ve ever made. I have a practice that resonates with people that I can do forever.” [bctt tweet="Why Your Business Needs A Blog: Speak directly to your audience in a way that resonates with them." username="hostgator"]    

    Insight #2: The Smart Passive Income Blog

    Pat Flynn’s blog is a tremendous resource for anyone aiming to make extra cash through multiple income streams. On blogging, Flynn writes, “Although a blog isn’t passive in nature, it’s one of the best platforms for launching other passive income opportunities.” In addition to providing endless tips for small business owners and marketers (check out the podcast), Flynn suggests that a stand-alone blog won’t make money, but that the eBooks, products, print books, courses, consulting that you write about and sell will boost traffic and rake in the cash. Flynn should know. From his very humble beginnings, he’s now passively raking in over 100K/month. If that’s not a great reason to start business blogging, we’re not sure what is! [bctt tweet="Why Your Business Needs A Blog: It's one of the best platforms for passive income opportunities." username="hostgator"]  

    Insight #3: MySocialSuite’s Blog

    New social media marketing startup MySocialSuite rivals the likes of Hootsuite and SproutSocial for helping businesses boost productivity through social posting automation, analytics, and more. We recently spoke with co-founder Luke Clifford who launched the MySocialSuite blog in June 2016. He says, “Carefully selecting the content you publish puts you in the SEO driving seat and in control of your site’s organic audience.” Clifford says he’s seen tremendous site traffic growth since the launch of the blog which he credits for dozens of direct product purchases. While Clifford agrees that business blogging is about point-of-sale, he says “It’s also about building customer loyalty and carving out a meaningful space as an industry leader.” [bctt tweet="Why Your Business Needs A Blog: Build customer loyalty and carve out your space as an industry leader." username="hostgator"] There’s a reason HostGator has a blog and even more reasons why our blog is segmented into these categories: web hosting, marketing, small biz & Snappy (the adventures of everyone’s favorite gator mascot). We’ve studied our audience. We know who you are and what you want, but we’re always testing, tuning, and improving. We recommend studying these blogs for content ideas, calls to action, and key selling points. Discover what it is about the blogs and specific posts that invite you to continue clicking and reading. Do you enjoy other blogs? Share your faves in the comment section! We’d love to know who you’re reading for inspiration (did the HostGator blog make your list of favorites?).  

    Are you ready to start making money from your business blog?

    Create Your Blog With HostGator!

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  • Business Mentorship Programs for Entrepreneurs

    Thursday, December 1, 2016 by
    Business Mentorship Programs Unless you’re one of the lucky few to call Melinda and Bill Gates Mom and Pop, you could probably use a business mentor. (Fun fact: they have three kids and odds are, one of them ain’t you). Having a great business idea is one thing, but understanding the difference between an LLC and an S Corporation, or knowing how to correctly file taxes, or getting the real lowdown on social media marketing or pay-per-click advertising can quickly become overwhelming. Here are some free ways to get the business mentorship you need:  

    1. Visit a SCORE representative.

    The Service Core of Retired Executives is a fifty-plus year old nonprofit organization supported by the US Small Business Administration. It’s easy to enter your info and be matched with an expert in whatever you need be it marketing, accounting, business planning. They can help you with just about anything from the tools you need to succeed to budgeting, sales, and design.

    The best news: it’s 100% free! These are former CEOs, venture capitalists -- people at the top of their game who sincerely want to help out the next generation of business execs and business owners. SCORE also offers free webinars and on-demand online courses.

    Our recommendation is to be prepared with the questions you want answered. Practice what you want to say so that you can make the most of your time. Bonus: go in with your pitch; you never know what might happen.

    Note: The Small Business Administration website is a go-to online resource for business owners. You may even be able to get many of your questions answered there before meeting a mentor in person.


    2. Put on your networking hat.

    Get over it. Networking is not a dirty word. When looking for business mentorship try these free resources first:
    • Meetup.com events (search by location and topic of interest, in this case your specific industry or “entrepreneur”)
    • LinkedIn to find people you know or connections of people you know with specific business-related specialities
    • High school or college alumni groups, guidance counselors, former employers, church groups
    And if nothing else comes of these relationships from a mentor/mentee perspective, at least you’ve announced to a host of people that you’re in business. Woo hoo! Free marketing!  

    3. Watch a (great) video.

    TED Talks: TED Talks are presentations delivered by top-notch game-changers in the world of Technology, Education, and Design. Lucky for you, they are all readily available and filterable by topic, length, and speaker. Here are a few of our favorites:
    99U: With a slogan that reads “empowering the creative community,” 99U provides actionable insights on productivity and leadership. Their free video archive boasts of presentations from Brene Brown, Why Your Critics Aren’t the Ones Who Count, to Franklin Leonard, The Realist’s Guide to Changing the World. Our recommendation: if you’re strapped for time (and we all are), consider watching one insightful video a week. Put it on while you’re folding laundry or getting dressed for work. HostGator Website Builder
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  • Clever Ways to Network and Drive Traffic to Your Website

    Tuesday, November 22, 2016 by
    Drive Traffic To Your Website It’s a simple formula: The more website traffic your business has, the more likely you are to make a sale. Here are some bonus tips that will keep ‘em coming.  

    1. Gamify the user experience with a poll or survey.

    Invite people at a networking event or readers of your blog to take a quick poll or survey. Some platforms like InstantSurvey will enable you to automatically send participants directly back to your website upon completion of the survey. Share your survey on social media. Include it in an email newsletter. Just be sure that all roads point back to your website. InstantSurvey   SurveyMonkey defaults to sending all of its survey participants back to surveymonkey.com (smart), but this is your business, not theirs! Luckily you can configure your own destination URL under advanced settings in the Collect Responses section. Don’t miss out on this opportunity for extra traffic. SurveyMonkey  

    2. Use content marketing to shout out to influencers.

    If you have a good handle on who your audience is then you can strategically begin to create content surrounding the people they follow. Reach out to these influencers to let them know you’ve highlighted their work and they’ll often share your posts resulting in big website engagement gains. Here’s an example from a recent blog post at MySocialSuite called 9 Twitter Influencers to Follow and Learn From. There are mentions of long-time power pros like Tim Ferriss and even Kim Kardashian, but the the target of this piece was BrokeAssStuart whose pic is up front and personal. After the MySocialSuite team published their post, they tagged BrokeAssStuart in a tweet. He immediately responded... Social Influencer Marketing   He later even reached out directly to the author of the of the post, with a marriage proposal! Social Influencers   Here’s a guy with over 60K social media followers tweeting about a blog post published by a social media automation startup. This is the kind of organic engagement (and fun banter) that highlights the best of what social media marketing has to offer. Everyone gets more site traffic: the influencer, the company, and the writer -- who may have also gotten a spouse as a bonus.  

    3. Don’t forget the obvious!

    Remember that without your basics covered, influencer reach, text marketing and the like, will go to waste. Consider getting each of these website marketing ducks in a row before doing anything else:
    • Social media: Ensure that all of your social media pages point back to your website. This can usually be done in a bio or about section.
    • Email marketing: Regardless of your message, have a link back to your site in every email you send.
    • Email signature: Every single email you send from your personal or business account should have an email signature that includes a link back to your site.
    • Business cards: Yes, they’re still relevant, but make sure you remember to include your correct web address.
    • Blog posts: Keep writing and sharing fresh content. Include a call to action that brings traffic back to your site. Discover guest blogging opportunities to boost links back to your site.
    What method works best for driving traffic back to your site? Let us know in the comments! HostGator WordPress Hosting
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