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  • 4 Free Tools For Making Amazing Infographics

    Thursday, March 17, 2016 by
    Free Infographics In the last five years, infographics have become one of the most powerful marketing tools on the web. Mixing design, writing, and data analysis, infographics are a visually compelling communication medium that greatly assists your readers in understanding complex information by breaking down key points. Infographics are ideal for supplementing long-form studies, as they make the information significantly more digestible. Creating Free Infographics For many of you, infographics may look like they require a lot of work and design experience, which in the past they did. Today, however, remarkable tools exist online to walk you through the infographic process step-by-step, with no design experience required. In this post we'll be going over four free tools that can help your company start producing beautiful infographics for your marketing and presentation efforts.

    1. Canva

    Canva makes it incredibly efficient to whip out colorful designs in as little as five minutes. Their interface is built much like a website builder, in that what you see, is what you get. Each design stems from popular formats like social media photos, blog designs, presentations formats and more. Once you have the layout in place, you can sift through different 'elements' (grids, shapes, photos, charts) to add the overall infographic flare. The interface makes it easy to align different elements, while incorporating custom text and graphics. Cost: Free, available upgrade $9.95/month Using Canva To Make An Infographic

    2. Piktochart

    Piktochart is a little different in the sense that its formats focuses a lot more on business designs. With four primary starting points (Infographic (tall&skinny), Report, Poster, and presentation for slide decks), you can create your own from scratch, or start with one of their many templates. Much like Canva, once you have a template/format in place you can begin dragging different graphical elements and text to your canvas. Cost: Free, with upgrades starting at $15/month Use Piktochart to create an infographic

    3. Easel.ly

    Although Easel.ly doesn't have as many free templates as the prior two options, the ones they do provide are exceptionally well designed and incredibly easy to use. Make A Free Infographic with Easle.ly Within the dashboard you have all of your design options laid out in an intuitive interface that any beginner will be able to grasp in minutes. While there aren't as many free templates as some of the other sites I've mentioned, the ones they do give you have extraordinary design value.

    4. Venngage

    Very similar to Canva's interface, Venngage follows a three step process in which you 1. Choose a template 2. Add Charts, Visuals or Graphics 3. Customize your design with unique text and layout. Venngage for building infographics What I like most, is the diversity in particular topics and categories from which templates begin. With options like:
    • Statistical
    • Informational
    • Comparison
    • Process
    • Geographic
    • Timeline
    • Charts
    • Tutorial
    The flexible grids give you complete control over how the final layout looks, while still providing automatic alignment tools. Cost: Free, or upgrade to the premium account, which includes more templates for $15/month Infographic Source: http://www.freelancewriterdesign.com/wp-content/uploads/infographic-on-infographics-copy.jpg
  • How To Optimize Your WordPress Images For Google Image Search

    Thursday, March 10, 2016 by
    Optimize WordPress Images For Google Search Images are one of the essential foundations to any good website. Functionally, aesthetically, and technically, images have many aspects of which a lot of website owners don't realize can, and should, be optimized. Every time someone opens one of your web-pages on WordPress, all of the content whether it's text, images or additional pieces of code that power the plugins, need to be downloaded from the server onto their computer. Images that are optimized correctly can greatly benefit your SEO by appearing in image search results, assisting to steer more traffic back to your web page. For the purposes of this post I'll be covering the basic methods for easily increasing your images search-ability from the WordPress dashboard, in addition to mentioning a few good plug-ins that will help load your images faster.
    • WordPress is one of the most popular and easy to use content management systems out there.  Install WordPress on your website and get a great deal with HostGator here.

    Image Metadata Within The Dashboard

    Optimizing Images on WordPress For Search Search engines may be able to find duplicate images on the web, but unlike humans they cannot describe what an image is. Within the media uploader on WordPress there are four boxes capable of being filled out in order for your images to be fully optimized. The four boxes are the title, the caption, the alt text and the description. Title The title of your image is generated from the file name you had saved on your computer (Which can be changed). Rather than leaving your images named “Image_10.jpg,” give it a name that describes the photo in short form. It is most important to give the image context for non-essential information, but isn't taken directly into account for SEO ranking. Caption The caption does not directly affect how well your images rank in the search engines, but they do grab peoples’ attention on your page, and keep them browsing longer. On-page time is a huge factor when determining the value of your site in search engine algorithms. The caption will appear under your image in a grey box, and should provide a good description of the image itself. Alt Text Alt text is added to images for times when someone may have images disabled on their browser, or when images failed to load. Make sure to add alt text that includes the SEO keyword you're trying to rank for. Description The description section actually plays a vital role when someone lands on the attachment post page for the image. It is formatted to allow more text, and your focus should be to give a thorough description for long keyword searches, but keep it entirely relevant.

    Image Optimization Plugins

    The main purpose of image optimization plugins is to take images that may be too large (File-size, or dimension) and compress them to load faster, thus improving your sites ranking. WP Smush.it This plugin can optimize one image at a time, or in bulk, whether it's a .jpeg, .png, or .gif. It will take larger files (1mb free version, up to 5mb pro edition) and compress the file size without deteriorating the quality of the image. While many people are under the assumption that high-res photos are better for viewing purposes, you really only need a certain resolution to achieve the same result while greatly improving your site's functionality. PB Responsive Images In 2015 Google implemented a new algorithm penalizing websites that aren't adaptable for mobile devices. The same shift applies to sites that don't have responsive images and text. This plugin reformats your images to adapt to different screen sizes, giving you the greenlight when search engines crawl your site for adaptability. Do you have any additional tips to help optimize images for WordPress? Please share in the comments!
  • The Future Of Video Advertising: YouTube 360

    Wednesday, September 23, 2015 by
    Future of Video Advertising In the famous words of Nam June Paik, “The Future is now!”, at least in the sense YouTube's Advertisements have just pioneered the 360 degree world of video, rolling out the capability on Chrome, Android and iOS. Back in January 2015, Google unveiled being able to support the feature, and has very recently seen the first takers from Bud Light & Coca-Cola with exceptionally high-production value. JR Futrell, YouTube's Ad product manager, remarked the new 360-degree format as a “mobile-first” initiative for two reasons:
    1. Motion - 360 ads will move with the mobile device, allowing you to view the video through a virtual lens.
    2. Mobile Is Dominating - In ten countries around the world, mobile searches have now surpassed that of desktop use, inspiring innovations to keep viewers watching advertisements longer.
      When looking at how revenue is earned on YouTube in the first place, engagement is the most important aspect. It's always been rumored that the more views you have, the more you make, but even videos with 1 million views could earn nothing unless viewers engage with the advertisement. That's why in the ever-changing world of video YouTube has taken the concept of viewer engagement to an entire new dimension: The World of 360 Motion.  

    Not Just For Corporations

    Right away many viewers new to the concept would expect this technology to be limited to corporations or businesses with a large marketing budget to support the production value. But, creating a video in the three dimensional space has become surprisingly easy, and highly accessible to even the smallest business looking to advertise. The trick is acquiring a camera capable of filming 360 Degree video format. As the technology improves, the amount of camera options has readily increased, including:  

    Tapping Into Viewers Curiosity

    In order to run any effective advertisement you must capture the attention of your viewer within a split second. We've all seen the “Skip this Ad” after 5 seconds button, which has set the standard for how fast you need to capture your audiences attention on YouTube. Skipped ads don't create conversions, and nowadays unless there is something dynamic built into a video, viewers are quick to simply ignore it. The goal with 360 Degree video is to take the viewers from a place of feeling passive, into a realm of activity and curiosity. The Ad can involve scripted elements similar to Coca Cola's, or it can simply allow your viewers to spin the camera behind the scenes to get a perspective on how the ad was created. Google sees this innovation as the future of advertising, and as food for thought, imagine how obsolete regular ads will feel once users can tap into this form of virtual reality. Like everything, we're advancing towards higher forms of stimulation.  

    Staying Ahead Of The Curve

    Understandably, many business owners might feel overwhelmed by the prospect of generating 360 ads on their own. However, we assure you the process is as easy as regular video once you own the right camera mentioned above. Getting into this trend before it's inevitably dominant will keep your advertising campaign at the forefront of newer innovations once they happen. The more interesting your ads, the greater ROI for your company. Once you have workable videos, follow these steps provided by Google to upload. Campaigns for 360 degree videos running as TrueView Ads can be set up in Adwords.  
    Image Source: http://i.ytimg.com/vi/9VrfFpXPK4E/maxresdefault.jpg
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  • YouTube vs. Facebook Video Marketing: Which Is Better In 2015?

    Tuesday, September 1, 2015 by
    YouTube vs FaceBook
    One of the most surprising analytic discoveries of 2014 was the number of desktop views on videos Facebook received in comparison to YouTube, the second largest search engine in the world. While this may seem like a sign of the future, there were several algorithm changes Facebook made right around the same time to severely alter these figures, what happened at the times the red arrows are indicating?
    YouTube vs FaceBook stats
    In Fall 2013 Facebook decided to roll out a new feature, which many of us remember as the auto-play videos no one could figure out how to turn-off. There were seemingly more articles devoted to teaching people how to turn auto-play videos off, than there were talking about the marketing benefits. The point here, is that although Facebook's video views soared for a few months, they all began to plummet once people started turning the auto-play feature off. In May 2014, Facebook reported that the number of videos being posted to their website was 94% steeper than a year prior in the US, and the number of views increased by 50% from May to July. In June of 2014, they also improved their News Feed to where videos are now the most readily visible content on the social platform, ahead of Status Updates, Photos, and by far the links to other sites people share. Along with this update, Facebook has also made it to where YouTube links are being driven out of the News Feed.  

    What Does This All Mean?

    While the numbers might seem like Facebook is onto something revolutionary, the ways in which they've climbed to video success have come by their own hand. By combining auto-play, higher visibility for video, and cutting back on YouTube's reach on their platform, all of these numbers came right at the same time, while simultaneously cutting down on YouTube's views.   Here's What Facebook is Missing:
    • Organic Content Discovery - What happens when you want to find a video of your favorite band on Facebook? You could go their Fan Page and look on the videos tab, but there's no search query to pinpoint all the exact keywords you're looking for. YouTube is still the number two search engine in the world for a reason, their framework is built entirely around searchability.
    • Content Distribution - While Facebook has made it possible for their videos to become embedded to reach outside viewers, YouTube has partnered with Apple, Android, Hulu, and many others to have apps built right into nearly any device.
    • Content - YouTube was founded on February 14, 2005 and has a decade worth of content that's not only important to viewers, but the creators as well. Facebook has a lot of catching up to do in this area, along with the need for a better way to find old videos.
     

    What Facebook Can Offer

    The majority of this article has been made to debunk statistics that don't carry a lot of weight just yet. The truth is though, Facebook's video scheme has a very promising business model simply based on the social integration aspect. Important Metrics In the top four metrics there is: Engagement, Shares, and Time Spent Watching, three things Facebook is already built for. Facebook also makes it very easy for advertisers to directly target certain social groups, which is essentially the essence of good advertising, knowing your audience.  

    Conclusion

    For the time being, YouTube is still the biggest and best video platform in the world, and you can bet any declines they've suffered will regain traction sooner than you think. Facebook has an incredible model working, but according to Forbes Facebook was the one network people used less in 2014. While other platforms like Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram and SnapChat all continue to grow, it's a good question to ask whether it's worth investing video into a declining social platform? What are your thoughts and experiences in regards to this on-going debate?  
    *Photo Credits: Cover Photo- Photoshopped by Jeremy Jensen using stock image from: http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/eastvalleytribune.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/9/20/920b3bc0-652f-5591-9920-c0b5c78d0819/50ca55f89cff0.image.jpg Views Graph, from http://www.beet.tv/2014/10/brandcomscorefulgoni.html, modified by Jeremy Jensen with indicating arrows Most Important Metrics, http://venturebeat.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/most-important-video-metrics.jpg
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  • 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.
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