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  • 6 Reasons Why Small Businesses Should Budget For Social Media Marketing

    Thursday, July 7, 2016 by

    Social Media Marketing

    It's never been a secret that in order to run a successful business, you need to invest in marketing to ensure your brand is visible among the noise. While SEO and content creation are huge aspects to focus on, ignoring social media is no longer an option. People have come to expect finding all sorts of brands online, and your business is no exception.

    Social media can provide benefits the best advertisements and email lists cannot compete with on their own. While it's entirely possible to use your own time to run a commanding social media campaign, it's often easier and a better investment to budget for social media opposed to using your valuable hours of the day.

    What are some effective ways to spend on social media?

    Spending money on social media marketing boils down to a few different strategies, all or one of which may work best for your small business:

    • Use your budget to boost and purchase advertisements.
    • Hire an additional employee(s) to be your official social media marketer.
    • Pay someone to create photo/written/video content for your brand.

    Here are six reasons why creating a budget for social media is an excellent decision.

    1. High ROI Potential

    Over the last two decades the world of advertisements and marketing strategies have rapidly shifted towards focusing on the Internet.

    And where do people spend most of their time online? Social Media.

    Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram know this better than anyone and have provided incentives for businesses to purchase advertisements for less than you would pay for most other advertisements based on potential reach. Due to social media's targeted approach, you're much more likely to have the right potential customers viewing your ads.

    2. It Gives Your Business Direction

    The best businesses take the needs of people, however large, and fulfill them on a regular basis. The best advertisements figure out who these people are, and send them directly to your business. As previously mentioned, social media excels in targeting by seeking out audiences based on data patterns, or as we call it in the tech world, analytics.

    As your business ages, you can use analytics to determine which products, services, and advertising strategies are (and aren't) working for you. Paying for ads or hiring a social media analyst will be key in being able to use the data beneficially.

    3. Unlimited Reach

    The thing about social media ads is they don't have a specified limit for how many people can view them. Since ads are integrated right into the social platform there's an unlimited potential for people to share, tag, and re-post your content all over the Internet.

    This is why companies create advertisements that often have nothing to do with their product until the last few seconds. If you can engage people for 15-30 seconds with something memorable, no matter how ridiculous, the amount of people who will see it can be endless, and for years after the time it's released. If your business doesn't have any team members capable of creating dynamic content, this might be an area where you should focus spending your budget: hiring creative content creators.

    4. One Click Away

    Printed advertisements have been on the decline for a number of reasons:

    • Tracking ROI is difficult and usually comes down to word of mouth.
    • The expected reach for print ads is more finite, and can be capped at how many copies are printed.
    • Print ads lack in-depth analytics about who is seeing them, and where viewers are coming from.

    Internet ads, however, don't have to deal with any of those pitfalls. Best of all, if someone feels the need to take action on your advertisement they're only a single click away.

    5. Developing A Customer Relationship

    Have you ever left a comment on an advertisement you saw in a magazine? Me neither, an artfully-drawn mustache perhaps, but never a comment I would expect someone might reply to.

    With social media you have the unique opportunity of creating advertisements that also develop a personal relationship with your customers. If anyone has a question, or something to compliment you on, you can answer it on the spot and thank them personally for using your service.

    6. Looking Towards Permission

    Even though this whole article has been discussing the benefits of ads, I have to talk about advertising as a whole. People are sick of ads.

    With things like Netflix, subscription music services like Pandora, and the option to skip ads on YouTube it's very apparent people are over having sales pitches thrown at them, and will even pay to have ads turned off. Nowadays we want to define ourselves through the brands we spend money on, and that means looking at choice.

    On social media people choose to like your page. People choose to say “I find this ad annoying.” Instead of paying to have it crammed down peoples’ throats, pay to have your ads put where people are actually looking, their social networks.

  • What You Need To Know About Page Speed

    Wednesday, June 8, 2016 by
    What You Need To Know About Page Speed

    To most people, page speed is usually a reflection of their Internet Service Provider, and never really thought of as an internal issue. While download speed and Internet packages definitely play a part in how quickly your website loads, there is an entirely separate list of factors that determine how quickly your content appears in someone's browser.

    Back in 2010, Google determined page speed was such an important aspect to how people experience a website, they included it in their ranking factors, which now greatly affect how your website appears in the SERPs. Nearly half of all consumers on the Internet expect a webpage to load in 2 seconds or less; while the experts at Google believe an optimized website worth their top ranking should load in under half a second.

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    These figures are backed by countless studies that show page speed can lead to serious losses in transactions solely due to the extra time in which people become frustrated and abandon a purchase in the online sales cart.

    That's why we've chosen to look at page speed from the small business perspective, and give you the resources to examine where your website could stand some improvements.

    What Factors Determine Page Speed?

    On the surface, it's generally impossible for the average website owner to know what is preventing their pages from loading efficiently. Generally speaking, each of the following can contribute to your overall page speed:

    • Your Web Host: Where you host your site pays massive dividends when it comes to customer experience. If you’re coerced by a cheap offer it could be the first mistake in regards to slow page speeds. Avoid this mistake by hosting your site with HostGator!
    • Large Images: There is a big difference between the necessary resolution for print and screen based imagery. For most purposes 1000 pixels at 72 dpi should suite your needs; however, larger file sizes can also be compressed to strip unnecessary data.
    • External Media: Embedding YouTube videos and other content is a great idea but make sure it's only as large as you need it to appear in terms of frame size.
    • Un-optimization for certain browsers/devices: Your website will behave differently on every web browser and device. While this isn't a problem most of the time, if your website is working great on Google Chrome, but isn't formatting correctly on Safari then your ranking will take a penalty.
    • Too many ads: Too many ads can make your speed drag so only use them if they're worth the extra processing.
    • Your theme: If you're operating on WordPress or another site builder the theme you chose may have complex coding which adds to your load times.
    • Widgets: Widgets can be coded very densely requiring significant processing power.
    • Code: The true back-end to every website comes down to the coding. If your HTML or CSS is too heavy it will lower your page speed.

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    How To Determine If Your Website Is Loading Slowly

    Fortunately, there a several accredited web tools that assist you in finding where the weak points in your website are occurring.

    My first recommendation would be PageSpeed Insights from Google. The whole point to page optimization is to make Google happy, so knowing what they recommend for better page ranking is critical.

    As you can see in the image below, even has a few flags they recommend fixing, but not everything can be optimized when choosing your sites functionality. Fortunately, our user rating ranked 100/100 which is the ultimate goal.

    Page Speed

    Some additional resources for analyzing your page speed include:


    SEO Page Speed Best Practices

    In order to comply with Google's Best Practices for page speed, implement the following:

    • Enable Compression
    • Minify CSS, Javascript, and HTML
    • Reduce Redirects
    • Leverage Browser Caching
    • Improve Server Response Time
    • Use A Content Distribution Network
    • Optimize Images
    Now that you know what factors can contribute to page speed, be sure to check out 7 Ways To Speed Up Your Website.
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  • Which Social Media Sites Are Critical For Your Small Business?

    Tuesday, June 7, 2016 by

    Social Media Sites for Small Business

    In order for anything to be critical in relation to the success of your business, the impact of not incorporating that thing should be noticeably negative. In other words, deciding to put your business on a social media site should be an informed decision based on the benefits of devoting your time to using it as a marketing tool. A platform should only be considered critical if you stand to lose business without it.

    Certain business owners might tell you that they've managed to avoid social media entirely, but in today's socially-obsessed culture, not being on any platforms may actually be harming your bottom line. Social media marketing is so cost effective that other traditional forms of marketing have begun to disappear. The question is no longer if you should have a social presence, the question is which platform, and how many platforms, are critical to maintaining a successful marketing campaign.

    In this article we're going to explore which sites have shown to work the best for small businesses, and bring up some key considerations for why your business would choose to make an account.

    Number Of Active Users

    Curating content for social media can be time consumptive, and if you've gone as far as creating your own blogs, videos, or photos then it can also be expensive. That's why when we take additional time to post content online, we want to guarantee the most potential customers are going to see it.

    One of the easiest ways to determine if a social media platform is worth making the account, is to see how many active users it claims, along with how many users a platform has per day. By the numbers here are the top four in the United States:

    • Facebook: 1.59 Billion Users, 1.09 Billion users per day
    • Tumblr: 555 Million Users, 100 Million users per day
    • Instagram: 400 Million Users,  75 Million users per day
    • Twitter: 320 Million Users, 100 million users per day

    Although these four have large numbers, there are still dozens of other platforms to explore for more niche advertising such as Reddit, Pinterest, YouTube and Google+.

    Demographics Of Users

    While the total number of users you can expect to reach are important, perhaps even more crucial are the demographics within each platform. Pinterest for instance has a 68.2% to 31.8% female to male ratio, while Snapchat users are primarily aged 13-24. Platform demographics vary greatly by region, ethnicity, and personal interests. The best way to determine if a platform will contain your target audience is to look into the demographic statistics.

    Type Of Content

    Right after you look into the types of people on each platform, the next step is measuring how much of your content can be shared. Facebook allows practically everything to be posted, from status updates, to photos, videos, links, and private messages. Instagram, however, is primarily image based and doesn't cater to links or shares as well as other platforms.

    As a photographer, I find Instagram to be one of my greatest business assets as people expect to find photography there. In contrast, I never use Twitter as it doesn't seem to be quite as effective. This same philosophy should be considered when looking at how you promote your own business.


    Tracking your marketing analytics is the proverbial line in the sand when it comes to business vs. personal use. Sure, everyone in the world will check to see how many “likes” or “retweets” their post received, but truly understanding the extent of your posts reach is the most important aspect to using a platform for business.

    Some platforms come with built-in analytics, like Facebook, but for others it's incredibly useful to invest in third-party applications that pull data you would have never thought to consider. Apps like Buffer, Social Metrics Pro, or for all the Instagram fans there are several apps to track your posts through your phone.

    In Closing

    The distinction you need to make with social media for business is that it's more about performance than social points. Just because you receive a lot of likes, doesn't mean your efforts are stacking up to transactions. Spend plenty of time analyzing what's working, and what's eating into your marketing budget.

    Which social platforms do you use the most for business? Let us know in the comments section!

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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!

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  • 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!

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