Category Archives: internet marketing

Tips to Choose a Web Designer

When you’re self-employed, choosing a website designer is a crucial decision, as a good website can bring you more business and a bad one can drive away prospective customers.

Below are some important things to consider when selecting a website designer for your project.

What Types Of Web Designers Are There?

I don’t think there is an “official” definition, so I’ll give you MY definition:

  • Website Designer – helps you to determine the page layout, graphics, text location and colors of your site, as well as the navigation and how pages will cross-link to one another. He may also do the actual computer programming and graphic art work for the site, or may hire out that work to a programming specialist. A Website Designer is the project manager for your site design.
  • Website Programmer – takes the design from the Designer and creates the code to make the site run. She is also responsible for all the technical stuff that happens behind-the-scenes to make sure the site works properly for your visitors.
  • Graphic Designer/Artist – creates or choose the graphics for the site, including page layout, colors, logo, photos, illustrations, etc. Think of this person as the “visual artist” who creates the brand image for your site.
  • Internet Marketing Consultant – helps you to determine how your website fits into your overall marketing strategy, and how to get more traffic and sales from your website.

Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you can get all four of these skills from the same person.

A Note on Copywriting

You may find a designer who can also help you with the text for your website but don’t count on it. Be prepared to do your own copywriting, or hire a professional copywriter. Copywriters charge per page, sometimes up to $500 a page ($5,000 for a 10-page website.)

Here are 6 Copywriting Steps for Non-Copywriters from my blog. And when writing headlines, check out my blog post on 3 Headlines Formulas that will help you create the best headlines for your website text.

Consider a hybrid solution: get advice about simple website copywriting principles from an internet marketing consultant, then you write the text. Have the consultant edit the text to make sure that it works on the web.

Who Is A Good Designer And How Much Do They Charge?

Much of your choice of designers depends on whether you want to work locally with someone, or whether you are willing to work remotely with them over the phone. Here are some things to think and ask about when hiring a website designer:

  1. Pay attention to how much they ask you about YOUR BUSINESS. They should want to get to know you and your business intimately. How else can they design a site that reflects you, your brand, and your business, unless they spend time to get to know you?
  2. Look at sites they’ve designed to see if you like their style. Is there a certain feel to ALL their sites, or are they flexible in their designs?
  3. Ask them if they did the actual graphic and layout design of the site, or if they just did the programming.
  4. If they don’t do the graphic work themselves, can they recommend a graphic artist?
  5. Do they have a structured, systematic planning process that leads you through the design phase, and if will they document all the discussions and decisions? If they have a Website Planning Guide that you’ll work through together, that’s really helpful.
  6. Ask them what they know about internet marketing and search engine optimization. Be sure that they’re creating a site for you that meets your larger marketing and business goals. (A pretty site is no good to you unless it generates revenue and prospects.)
  7. Ask the designer for their fees and what is the estimated cost for the site you want. They may not be able to give you a good estimate until you discuss content and features of the site. Expect to pay between $60 – $125 an hour, depending on their skill and their location. A quality website with good graphic design and layout will cost around $2,500 – $5,000 for a simple business website. If you add a blog, newsletter, shopping cart, autoresponders, email address setup, SEO, membership site, or logo design (or if you have many page on your site), expect the price to be higher.
  8. Ask them how they bill you. Will they invoice you monthly, or when certain milestones are reached? Do you have to make deposits?
  9. Pay attention to whether they’ll try to stick within your budget, or whether they keep suggesting new add-ons that increase to the cost of your site. Remember, designers aren’t responsible for your budget — you are.
  10. Talk to some of their current and recent clients, to see how smooth the process was. You want someone who has good project management skills AND good communication skills. They have to listen to you, not just give advice. And they have to get back to you in a timely manner with phone calls and emails.
  11. Ask them whether they will maintain your site after the initial design, and how much they’ll charge for that. Some designers want to create new sites but don’t want to maintain them. Someone like a virtual assistant (VA) may be able to maintain your site for a lower hourly fee, as long as the VA is skilled in website programming. Find out what types of programming are used in your site, so you can find someone to help you update it.
  12. If you’re going to maintain the site yourself, ask them if they’ll design your site so that it is easily maintained by a business owner. You can have your site designed on a blog/CMS platform, like WordPress, which will allow you to edit the text and some of the graphics.
  13. Make sure that your contract states that you own the copyright to the entire website (except, of course, for stock photos and graphic…the original photographer/artist owns the copyright to stock images). All content, including graphics that you hired someone to custom-create for you, and all the coding work, should be owned by you.
  14. Make sure you own your domain name, even if the website designer registered it for you.
  15. Ask your designer for original, editable source files. You need to be assured that you will be able to edit your website (or have another designer edit your website) with ease.
  16. You have got to enjoy talking and working with them. Do you LIKE the designer? Do you believe they’ll act ethically? Do you enjoy speaking with them? Do they stay focused to the task at hand, or do they ramble and waste your time? Do you feel you “click” with their personality and values? Do they offer you invaluable insight and advice about your site design?
  17. Tell each prospective website designer what your deadline is and ask if they can meet it. Many good website designers are already booked for the next 4-6 weeks, so you may have to wait for the designer of your choice. If you don’t have a specific deadline, brainstorm with the designer to create a good working deadline that you can both meet, especially if you will be doing the job of writing the website text.

Your website is crucial to the success of your business. By doing extensive interviewing of potential website designers, you’re more likely to pick one that can do the work you want, is willing to really listen to you, can create a site that reflects you and your business, and keeps within your budget and timeframe.

7 Free Tools to Manage Your Internet Marketing

Everyone needs a little help with implementing and tracking their internet marketing endeavors.

Here are 7 tools that will make it easier. I use these every day, so I can vouch for their effectiveness:

  1. Google Analytics — If you don’t track the results of your marketing, you might as well not be marketing at all. Google Analytics gives you a great overview of your site’s statistics plus some very nitty-gritty details that help you track internet marketing campaigns.
  2. XML Sitemap Generator — If you want good search engine rankings, Google likes it if you have an XML sitemap on your site. You don’t have to worry about what XML is, just use this generator and it will create the XML file for your site (up to 500 pages per site).
  3. BrowserShots — Are you aware that your site looks completely different on some browsers? Use this browser compatibility tool to see how your site looks in Firefox, Safari, Opera, Chrome, and Internet Explorer. For some real comparisons, check older versions with newer ones (like IE6 versus IE8). Why check older versions? Because 20 percent of people have IE6 loaded on their computer, even though it was created in 2001 and is not fully CSS compliant. Better safe than sorry.
  4. Google Keyword Tool — Want to know which keywords are popular and what people are searching for via Google’s search engine? This tool allows you to do some great market research.
  5. Alexa.com — Alexa allows you to see the traffic rank for your site and your competitor’s sites. When you enter the Alexa site, click on the Site Info link at the top.
  6. Compete.com – Compete also allows you to see ranking information about your site and your competition. Use Alexa and Compete together to get a fuller picture.
  7. SurveyMonkey — If you’ve been looking for an easy way to do market research, SurveyMonkey is the tool for you. It allows you to do online surveys, and I also use it for course evaluations and brainstorming in my mastermind groups.

Top 7 Internet Marketing Strategies

As digital marketing is becoming more and more necessary for a company, not understanding the best way to drive your business forward can really hurt your chances of success. If you are looking for a way to improve your digital marketing efforts, here are 7 of the highest performing strategies that can bring more people to your website, allow you to connect with new or returning customers, and create a digital marketing strategy that works.

Use the Right Web Design​​

We don’t often think about web design as a marketing tactic, but it can influence the amount of time and attention a user will spend on your page. Your website is the center of all your digital marketing efforts, so if your page is not clean, easy to read, and interesting, it won’t matter how much time you put into strategy development – you’re still going to lose customers. Create a website that is up-to-date, attention-grabbing, and most of all, mobile friendly.

Utilize Search Engine Marketing and Optimization

Search engine marketing and optimization allow your name and website to appear on a list of search engine results. With a strong SEO strategy, your company website will become associated with the keywords used to find your services. This increases your chances of being the company an individual chooses to work with when selecting a company that offers your services or products.

Utilize Affiliate and Associate Programs

An affiliate or associate program doesn’t make sense for every business. However, if you do use these, you can quickly see your marketing efforts improve without needing to do much yourself. With an affiliate program, people who believe in your company can share your information and grow your market on a commission-based platform.

Use a Coach or Consultant

If you’re not an expert in digital and internet marketing, ask someone who is. There are hundreds of internet marketing coaches and consultants available to you, many of whom can give you a consultation about what you should change to see success. For small business owners who need to focus on other business systems, a coach or consultant can be extremely helpful.

Use Email Marketing

It isn’t enough to just send out emails. You will want to consider various email lists that cater to the specific needs of each individual and can present a personalized approach to your campaign. Take a hard and clear look at the purchasing habits of your customers and use that information to develop your strategy.

Use an Opt-In Email List

An opt-in email list allows customers to come to you and sign up to receive email campaigns and correspondence. This allows you to connect with new customers or clients.

Use Articles or News Stories

Having your name and information listed in other locations on the web can help you grow your company and business. This makes your name visible in an area where customers and clients are already looking and also allows you to become a trusted source of products or services.

6 Must-Do’s for Effective Social Media Marketing

A lot of businesses do social media marketing wrong. They hear everyone screaming, “You must have a social media presence,” but what that entails isn’t always spelled out correctly. Social media marketing should be effective and affordable, and when done correctly, it can help scale businesses of all sizes.

Just like with traditional channels such as television commercials, radio spots and print ads, your results are going to be minimal at best if you broadcast your message to the wrong audience. To help you execute a successful social media marketing campaign, I spoke with six entrepreneurs to put together a list of must-do’s.

1. Dedicate time to learn how social media works.

There are a lot of social media marketing tips available online, from free content on websites like this one to paid courses you can complete at your convenience. It’s not very complicated if you take the time to educate yourself.

Charles Gumbley, Director of Flower Telecom, explains, “It’s important that you take the time to learn how social media marketing works for your specific business. While the fundamentals are similar across the board, different businesses will have to alter their strategies slightly in order to capture the attention of their target audience. In the beginning, consume as much content and free resources as you can. From there, you can then focus on your specific goals and objectives.”

2. Listen to your customers.

“The only way you are going to know what your customers want is by listening to what they have to say. It’s important that you use your social media platforms as an extension of your customer service. More customers are going to voice their opinion on social media than via email or over the phone,” says Ryan Koechel, VP of Marketing forABODO.

When you listen to your audience, you open the door to other opportunities as well. For instance, when my influencer marketing agency plans campaign strategies for a brand, we often audit their social media followers to identify key influencers. Learn to listen to your audience — it can provide you with valuable information.

3. Use automation for consistency.

There is smart automation and then there is spammy, ineffective automation when it comes to social media marketing. You don’t want to blast out promotional offers all day long — that’s a quick way to lose all of your followers. Use social media as a way to communicate with your audience and provide them valuable information. When you do that, you create happy brand supporters you can eventually convert into sales.

“If you have a full-time social media employee, make sure they are consistent and push out content across all of your social media profiles. There are several pieces of automation software, like Hootsuite, that offer a free plan that can greatly increase your efficiency. If you schedule your posts in advance it gives you more time to dedicate to replying and engaging with your social media followers,” advises Daniel Moravec of StreetSaw.

4. Engage with and delight your audience.

“It’s one thing to fill up your social media feed with posts, but it’s another thing to actively engage with your audience and turn them into satisfied customers. I see a lot of small business owners posting a couple times a day, thinking that they are doing the right thing when it comes to social media marketing. You can’t just post and walk away. If you do that, you are missing prime opportunities to engage with your audience and convert them,” explains Roy Surdej of Peaches Boutique.

Engaging your followers allows you to uncover problems or issues other customers might be experiencing as well. Then, you can be proactive and address those issues quickly before they turn into fires that are difficult to put out. When your communication lines are always open, you will often discover problematic situations before they spiral out of control.

5. Don’t spread yourself too thin.

It’s nearly impossible — and almost always ineffective — to be active on every single social media platform. I always suggest new brands should start with two or three social media platforms they are certain their target audience is active on. Master those, and then expand your social reach as the business grows and more effort can be allocated to additional social platforms.

Jasper Hillaud, Managing Partner of elf925 stresses the importance of focusing on the social media platforms that complement your brand, explaining, “While Pinterest marketing might not be effective for some businesses, it is one that we put a lot of energy into because we see that it works first-hand. Just because it wouldn’t be a preferred social media channel for a law firm, that doesn’t mean it should be ignored. It’s important to pick where to focus your social media efforts based on what works for your specific customer base.”

6. Track and measure everything.

“You will never run a successful social media marketing campaign if you don’t measure your results. It’s important that you lay out clear goals with benchmarks that allow you to determine whether or not your social effort is paying off. The data you collect and analyze can then be used to make changes to your campaign. You must be willing to constantly optimize and test your efforts if you want to develop a truly successful campaign,” explains Eric Ritter, Founder & CEO ofDigital Neighbor.

4 Marketing Lessons Entrepreneurs

The internet has recently been taken over by a very tall and overly pregnant lady.

You may have heard of her. Her name is April. April the Giraffe. This chick has taken over the internet, with pregnant human women going viral for impersonating her.

April is a powerful woman, as I assume most pregnant women are.

Almost 100,000 people are tuning in on YouTube at any given minute to see if she’s birthed her fourth calf yet. When someone or something can garner the accumulative attention of millions, it’s worth taking note.

And while April is undeniably powerful, she is not nearly as powerful as the creative team behind her at Animal Adventure Park. Here are four lessons you can borrow from Animal Adventure Park to spark your own sensation.

1. Your ordinary is someone else’s extraordinary.

You frequently forget there are things you find common and ordinary that others simply find extraordinary. This is the main basis for why Animal Adventure Park’s livestream has captivated so many, hitting headlines daily for over a week. Giraffes give birth on a regular basis. Or, at least I assume so.

Since April has been livestreaming, two other baby giraffes have been born stateside. For zookeepers, a giraffe having a calf is ordinary. Yet, for the general population, a giraffe having a calf is extraordinary. What is your ordinary that others would find extraordinary?

2. Utilize the tools you have at your fingertips.

I imagine it went something like this: April’s caretakers were talking about the upcoming birth, and someone nonchalantly mentioned, “Perhaps we could livestream it for people to see.”

The tools were already there to livestream. They just decided to use them unlike any other zoo had. Well played, Animal Adventure Park. What tools are you not taking full advantage of?

3. Start before you’re “ready.”

What I don’t think many people understand is that Animal Adventure Park isn’t even open yet. It’s bloody brilliant! There is so much press and news coverage about this business, and it hasn’t even opened its doors for day one.

That’s solid proof there is business genius in starting before you feel ready. With a well-thought out plan, anything is possible. It’s not about waiting until it’s perfect. It’s about knowing how to execute effectively. Where can you begin executing while still perfecting?

4. Don’t forget a call to action.

An imperative part of doing business is making it extremely easy for people to buy or support you. I was so impressed to find in the description on Animal Adventure Park’s live stream video that they did not forget a call to action.

Even better, they gave two! Take your pick to support the organization: Download GiraffeMoji for $1.99 from the App Store, or simply donate to the organization’s GoFundMe page. (As of this writing, it’s just shy of the $50,000 goal.)

What a failure it would have been to have that many people at your fingertips without an easy way for people to engage with the business. Yet, it’s a common business mistake.

Tips Marketers Optimize Their Social Content

It may have taken some of them a while, but businesses have finally caught on to the importance of social media. According to Social Media Examiner’s 2014 Social Media Industry Report, 97 percent of businesses use social media for marketing purposes, and 92 percent feel that it’s important to their success.

But even as companies ramp up their social media efforts, they continue to struggle with how to best optimize social content to achieve desired business outcomes: 91 percent say they have difficulty deciding which specific tactics are most effective, according to the same report.

To better understand which strategies marketers are currently using to optimize social media content (and to gauge the effectiveness of these strategies), Software Advice has partnered with Adobe to create the first-ever Social Media Content Optimization Survey.

We also shared the 182 results we received from marketers with Liz Strauss, founder and CEO of SOBCon, who was ranked seventh on Forbes’ 2013 list of “Top 50 Social Media Power Influencers.” Her insights are included along with our analysis below.

Key Findings:

  1. Most marketers (84 percent) routinely post on at least three social media networks, with 70 percent posting at least once a day.
  2. Marketers most commonly cited the use of visual content, hashtags and usernames as important tactics for optimizing social media content.
  3. Over half (57 percent) use software tools to manage posting, and these respondents experienced less difficulty optimizing their social content.

Most Marketers Use Three or More Social Networks

Of the marketers who took our survey, the vast majority (84 percent) said they actively posted content on at least three or more social networks—most likely including Facebook, Twitter and/or LinkedIn.

Number of Active Social Media Outlets

A total of 61 percent posted on at least four networks; 20 percent posted on at least six; and, impressively, 3 percent posted on 11 networks or more.

This leaves 14 percent of marketers who were posting on only two channels, and just 2 percent who said they routinely posted content on just one social media outlet.

With so many marketers posting content across such a broad spectrum of social channels, businesses that are only active on three or fewer sites may be at a disadvantage, according to Strauss. In a world where more businesses actively post on 11 (or more) social sites than on just one, promoting content on Facebook and Twitter alone may not be enough.

However, Strauss says, a sizable (but unknown) number of users “are using social channels in a non-useful manner: posting randomly, without a goal, and without a true understanding of what can be accomplished on any particular social channel.”

In other words, there’s a big difference between posting frequently and posting strategically. A sound social media marketing strategy will not only involve publishing a lot of posts—it will involve publishing the rightones.

Most Marketers Post Frequently, Plan Content in Advance

Most marketers (70 percent) said they post content on social media outlets at least once a day, with 19 percent saying they post more than three times daily. Conversely, only 16 percent said they post fewer than once a day, and 14 percent had no set schedule for posting.

The fact that so many businesses are posting so frequently and consistently is even more impressive, considering that many post across a large number of sites in which content guidelines vary widely (for example, Twitter limiting posts to 140 characters, or YouTube requiring video content).

Number of Social Media Posts per Day

When we asked marketers how far in advance they schedule their social content, 41 percent said, “several days to one week,” making that by far the most popular timeframe for planning posts. A total of 65 percent said they schedule their social content at least one day in advance, with only 12 percent saying they had no consistent plan for scheduling posts ahead of time.

How Far in Advance Posts Are Scheduled

Taken as a whole, the data demonstrates that many marketers have an established plan for consistently generating and posting content. As a result, businesses that fail to post consistently will likely struggle to build brand recognition and engage audiences, when faced with competitors that have adopted more regimented social content delivery strategies.

Visual Content, Hashtags Are Most Important Tactics

Our respondents most commonly cited images and hashtags as crucial elements of social media content optimization: 82 percent said it was “important” or “very important” to use the former, while 67 percent said this about the latter. Even the tactics that were viewed as less imperative (such as using videos) were still considered at least “moderately important” by over 68 percent of respondents.

The fact that a significant majority of marketers viewed all seven of these tactics as important reflects that most believe optimizing their businesses’ social media content requires a multifaceted approach.

Most Important Tactics for Optimizing Content on Social Media

However, Strauss argues that our respondents’ priorities might need adjusting. For example, she says, their prioritization of images and hashtags over targeting specific audiences is completely backwards, and may reflect a more troubling lack of understanding about basic social media strategy.

Everyone knows images increase engagement, she says, “but how do you know which images are going to resonate with your audience if you don’t know who your audience is?”

Strauss also believes that marketers should more highly prioritize social calls-to-action (CTAs), saying, “If you don’t ask, ‘why don’t you visit my site,’ people probably won’t even bother to see if you have a site.”

But even then, she insists, these specific tactics only work “when you know exactly who you’re trying to reach and what you want them to do.” This means images and CTAs must be carefully selected to elicit a specific response from a specific sub-audience.

For example, when Oracle wanted to publicize an event at the South by Southwest Interactive conference with Chevrolet, it used the #sxswi hashtag to share a promotional image with attendees. It also included the @Chevrolet username to share with its partner’s audience, along with a CTA encouraging users to follow the event hashtag #IdeaRally and participate in the discussion.

And because this tweet was perfectly relevant to the attendees following the#sxswi hashtag, those users were positively inclined to respond to the CTA and to share the tweet with their own followers—who were also likely to find it interesting and actionable.

Most Test Sharing and CTRs to Optimize Times to Post

When we asked marketers about the tactics they used to determine the best times to post on social media, nearly all of them prioritized trial and error. Eighty-seven percent said it was at least “moderately important” to test the sharing rates and click-through rates (CTR) of content at different times of day and days of the week, in order to understand when potential audiences are most receptive.

On the whole, respondents valued testing for share rate and CTR almost equally, although slightly more said it was “very important” to optimize for the former (35 vs. 33 percent).

Many also felt it was “very important” (31 percent) or “important” (33 percent) to use social media optimization tools to help determine the best time to post. These would include social media monitoring and management tools such as Hootsuiteor Adobe Social.

Altogether, this data shows that the marketers in our sample feel it’s crucial to use testing strategies and social media monitoring to make data-driven decisions when it comes to optimizing the time to post their social content—and to base those decisions on multiple performance indicators, rather than focusing exclusively on any single metric.

The Ultimate List of IFTTT Recipes for Marketers

Recipe Prep

Most of the recipes that we’ve prepared here require a bit of pre-IFTTT prep. Here are two valuable tools that you’ll see used over and over again in these recipes.

  • Visual Ping: This tool will notify you when there is a visual change on a website, web page, or even just a area of a web page.
  • Page2RSS: This tool will convert any web page – even if the page doesn’t publish a feed of its own – to an RSS feed, so that you can easily subscribe.

A Note on Notification

Almost all of the THAT steps in our recipes below are means of notification. When writing these recipes, we selected what we thought were the most applicable forms of notification, but you should select whichever works best for you. It basically comes down to how quickly you’d like to be notified.

  • For example, if your site has been hacked, you’ll want to know ASAP, so you’ll probably want your alert to be a text message/SMS.
  • For something that you want to keep track of every day, an email might be the best notification for you.
  • If it’s something that you’ll want to check on maybe once a week or once a month, have the results archived in Evernote or a Google Doc.

Keep Track of the Competition

Easily Archive Your Competitors’ Emails

WHAT IT MEANS: Archive and organize emails from your competition for future analysis, without clogging up your inbox.

HOW TO DO IT:

      • Subscribe to emails from all of your competitors to a Gmail address.
      • Create filters in your email to automatically archive the emails and mark them as read.

CREATE A RECIPE ON  IFTTT:

      • THIS Channel: Email or Gmail
      • New email from – the competition
      • THAT Channel: Evernote
      • Create a Note – in whichever notebook you specify.

Repeat for each competitor

Now, all competitor emails will be archived in Evernote for your future perusal and analysis.

Track Mentions of Competitors’ Employees on News Sites

WHAT IT MEANS: Monitor Newsle for mentions of competitors’ employees and other important industry influencers

HOW TO DO IT:

      • Sign up for an account on Newsle.com (you need a LinkedIn account to do so).
      • Sign up for Newsle emails, so that you get regular reports on when your LinkedIn contacts are mentioned in the news.

CREATE A RECIPE ON IFTTT:

      • THIS Channel: Gmail
      • New email from – Newsle
      • THAT Channel: Google Drive
      • Create a new spreadsheet to archive these Newsle mentions

Now, you’ll have Newsle mentions saved in a Google doc for reference.


Track Your Competitors’ Website Changes

WHAT IT MEANS: Keep track of the changes that your competitors make to their websites.

HOW TO DO IT:

      • Use VisualPing.io to monitor a competitors’ web page. Set the timing and type of change to whatever you like, and add your email address for notification.

CREATE A RECIPE ON IFTTT:

      • THIS Channel: Email
      • Email from Visual Ping
      • THAT Channel: SMS

Now, you’ll get a text message every time your competitor updates their page

Monitor your Competitors’ Blog Posts

WHAT IT MEANS: Stay on top of what your competitors are blogging about, and archive the posts.

HOW TO DO IT:

      • Subscribe to the blog’s RSS feed.

CREATE A RECIPE ON IFTTT:

      • THIS Channel: Feed
      • Enter the blog post feed
      • THAT Channel: Email

Now, you’ll get an email every time there is a new blog post on the competition’s blog.

Stalk your competitors’ stocks

WHAT IT MEANS: Keep a keen eye on your competition by monitoring their stock performance

HOW TO DO IT:

CREATE A RECIPE ON IFTTT:

      • THIS Channel: Stocks
      • Choose whichever metric you’d like – price at close, price rises above, price drops below,etc.
      • Add the ticker symbol and price
      • THAT Channel: Email

Now, you’ll get an email every time the stock price moves.

Monitor your competitors’ executives

WHAT IT MEANS: Keep a close eye on the C-level employees at your competition.

HOW TO DO IT:

      • Set Google Alerts for executives’ names along with negative keywords (e.g. “stole” or “fired”) and subscribe to RSS alerts.

CREATE A RECIPE ON IFTTT:

      • THIS Channel: RSS
      • THAT Channel: Email

Now, you’ll get an email every time one of these executives is mentioned online.

Watch out for your competitors’ YouTube videos

WHAT IT MEANS: Get notified every time one of your competitors creates and shares a new YouTube video.

HOW TO DO IT:

      • Find your competitor’s YouTube channel (e.g.http://www.youtube.com/seerinteractive)
      • Subscribe to the RSS feed

CREATE A RECIPE ON IFTTT:

      • THIS Channel: RSS
      • THAT Channel: Google Drive
      • Create a new spreadsheet to archive these YouTube videos

Now, you’ll have YouTube videos saved in a Google doc for reference.

Spy on your Competitors’ Website Tools

WHAT IT MEANS: Get a text message any time your competition is using a new software tool on their website.

HOW TO DO IT:

      • Use BuiltWith.com to view what software a site is using (e.g.http://builtwith.com/seerinteractive.com)
      • Enter the URL on VisualPing.io and set alerts and emails

CREATE A RECIPE ON IFTTT:

      • THIS Channel: Email (from VisualPing)
      • THAT Channel: SMS

You will now get a text message every time your competitor adds new software to their website.

Monitor Industry Acquisitions

WHAT IT MEANS: Find out if a competitor acquires or merges with another company

HOW TO DO IT:

      • Subscribe to Yahoo Finance RSS feeds

CREATE A RECIPE ON IFTTT:

      • THIS Channel: Feed
      • Select “new item matches” and enter a competitor name plus “acquisition” or “merger”
      • THAT Channel: Email

7 Ways to Beat the Facebook Algorithm

1. Share Great Content

The old adage remains true – (quality) content is king. (Sorry about the cliché, Elisa.) If you post awesome content, your chances of being liked and shared increases, boosting your presence in Facebook news feeds. Many of Facebook’s algorithm tweaks are aimed at weeding out what Facebook deems “low quality content,” like memes. For greater reach, opt instead for quality content from news sites. It’s a bit bourgeois for Facebook to assume CNN articles are always classy and memes are always pond scum, but we don’t get much choice in how Facebook adjusts its algorithm. My suggestion? Ramp up on your own original high-quality content with e-books, blog posts, white papers, etc.

2. Use Facebook Ads

With organic reach down, now is the perfect time to experiment with Facebook advertising. Facebook has revamped their ad system to be easier than ever to use. Paid Facebook ads can appear right in a user’s newsfeed, seamlessly blending with organic posts while boasting better reach. They’ve also introduced a newad relevance score (basically Quality Score for Facebook.) Give them a shot and see how they perform. Facebook ads are perfect for companies operating in competitive creative industries like craft marketing.

3. Extend to Other Social Networks

Integrate your Facebook marketing with other social networks – post pins, tweet, etc. Facebook has become crowded, with organic space steadily shrinking. There’s tons of competition and it’s easy for your content to get buried in users’ news feeds. Explore greener pastures by delving into newer social media hubs like Instagram, Vine, Pinterest, Tumblr, or Google+. Don’t let Facebook be your crutch.

4. Time to Get Personal

Personal account posts tend to show up more in news feeds than business page posts, so why not take advantage of your staff members? Most of them probably use Facebook, so get them liking and sharing your company content. All is fair in the Facebook wars.

5. Import Your Contacts

If you have a big email list, you can import your contacts (up to 5k names at a time) and invite them to join your Facebook page. A higher number of Facebook friends means that your content will reach more people, despite lower organic visibility percentages. The more the merrier.

6. Post More Often

Increase your chances of appearing in news feeds simply by posting more. Get the odds in your favor! Posting 4-6 times a day increases the likelihood that one of those posts will get a bite.

7. Share Exclusive Content

Make your Facebook posts count by sharing exclusive content users won’t find anywhere else. Publicize flash sales, special discounts, contests, etc.

Great Strategies to Get More Email Subscribers

The 1 big idea: Make it ridiculously easy to sign up

I’ve got this idea about email marketing, and it goes something like this:

  • Create amazing content that people want to read all the time
  • Ask permission to send amazing content to people’s emails.
  • Ask again.
  • Ask a couple more times.

Basically, if you’ve got great content and you make it easy for people to sign up for email updates, you should begin to see significant list growth.

We’re hopeful that we’re headed down a good path with creating amazing content here at the Buffer blog. It’s an ongoing process for us, and we’re always open for ways to improve. (hint, hint) As for the second part of the email equation …

We knew we could make it easier for our happy readers to sign up for email updates.

So we did.

Here’s how it went.

Double the list growth in only 30 days

We implemented several changes to our email signup forms in July (see below), so we had the opportunity to easily compare growth from the previous months to growth in July. Previously, in May and June, we had averaged a pretty steady 2,349 monthly email signups from our two blogs, Buffer Social and Buffer Open.

In July, we had 5,450 email signups!

That’s more than double the previous month! Specifically, it’s 130 percent growth, month-over-month—more than we ever expected to see in our first month of experimentation.

Our crazy amount of signup sources: 9 ways to capture new subscribers

Here’s a good comparison of what we were doing before this email push and what we were doing after.

Before: Slideup form

After: Slideup form, blog homepage email capture, HelloBar, sidebar ad, postscript CTA, Twitter lead gen cards, Facebook newsletter signup, SlideShare, Qzzr

Essentially, we added nine times the email capture opportunities.

Not every one of these new areas was a hit, yet collectively the addition of so many unmissable opportunities to sign up led to a huge uptick in growth.

Here’s a chart of a typical week with our email list and how each of the different sources contributes to overall growth.

It’s funny that at the first of the month, when the email signups started rolling in, I kind of sat back in awe that we were getting so many new subscribers! (Yay, and welcome!) Then I realized I should probably be finding a way to track where all these signups came from.

We use MailChimp to manage the email on our blog list, and to track signups here, you can cross your fingers that one of two methods work.

  • The app you use to collect email is recognized by MailChimp automatically (e.g., HelloBar and Twitter)
  • Your embedded signup form includes a hidden field that you can handcode to include a variable that makes it possible to track the source (e.g., all the rest of our sources)

Eventually, we were able to get everything wired up so that we could track the total number of signups from each source (feel free to ask in the comments if you have any questions about how we got this working). With these numbers, we could more easily see which sources brought us the most signups and where to focus our efforts.

Here’s a little more on each of our nine signup sources.

Slideup box

Our best-performing email signup form on the blog has been the slideup, which brings us a little more than 400 new signups each week. It’s the closest thing we have to an outright pop-up (which we hear can be super useful for collecting emails).

Our slideup comes up from the right-hand corner of the page whenever a new visitor scrolls 60 percent of the way down the page. If you close the slideup, we store a cookie that reminds us not to show you the slideup again for 30 days.

The results: All this is managed via the free WordPress plugin Dreamgrow Scroll Triggered Box. We control the HTML that goes in the box, and we use this to place some CTA copy and a MailChimp signup form that includes a hidden field so we can track our slideup signups.

HelloBar for email

We had long used the HelloBar to drive visits to the main page of the Buffer app, which I imagine might be how most SaaS blogs use it. HelloBar works wonders on conversions.

However, when our priorities for the blog shifted, we decided to change the HelloBar on the majority of pages to an email capture form. There were two big reasons why this worked so well for us:

  1. The HelloBar integrates seamlessly with our MailChimp list. The only real difficulty here was figuring out how to ensure that double-opt in was turned on for our list.
  2. HelloBar lets you test variations of your copy, buttons, and CTA. Here are a couple of different versions we tried. The winner actually became the basis for our email copy on several other locations for CTAs.

The results: We typically receive 350 or more signups each week from HelloBar, and it even held our top spot for email signups in the first couple weeks of July.

A featured box for email signups on the homepage of the blog

We were super stoked about getting this one live on the blog. Since our blog homepage is the third-most-visited page on the blog, month-after-month, it made a lot of sense to optimize this page as best we could to meet our goals. If there’d ever be a page deserving a unique design, it’d be the blog homepage!

At first, we tried a plugin called PlugMatter, which worked amazingly well but just didn’t quite fit the blog design we were after. So we had our designers set us up with a new one. Our blog redesign came a few days after, so the homepage CTA changed again. Here’s the version that you see today:

The results: This feature box on the homepage accounts for 150+ email signups each week, good for third on our list of signup sources.

Sidebar email signup

As we’ve shifted priorities on the Buffer blog over the years, the design and layout has shifted, too. One of the most recent shifts was toward a simpler, cleaner layout that took everything out of the right sidebar and replaced it with a Buffer app CTA. When this changed, we lost our sidebar email signup.

We put the sidebar back online for a brief time while we were growing our list, and it definitely helped. Although not as much as you might think.

3 Steps for Explosive Online Marketing Growth

Many business owners are under the impression that online marketingis extremely complicated because some online marketing efforts fail miserably, while others are responsible for massive returns. They assume performance is related to the marketing budget, what is being marketed and who it’s being marketed to.

Sure, that can all come into play, but it’s more about the marketing strategy.

It doesn’t matter if you are a small mom-and-pop shop with a budget of $1,000 per month or a large brand spending six figures monthly — the same three steps will contribute to a successful marketing effort. Let’s look at each one.

1. Identify the perfect customer for your product or service.

You need to determine who your ideal customer is and what problem you are solving. For example, my performance-based agency works with larger brands, spending at least $50,000 monthly on paid ads and typically relying heavily on Facebook. So, we know we have to target large brands with healthy budgets currently advertising on Facebook and interested in a performance-based relationship.

When you are very specific with who you target, it allows you to create a message and offer that speaks directly to that target. You must also make sure your pricing aligns with your ideal customer.

“You can’t attach a premium price to your product or service if your ideal customer has an average or below average income. You could have the best product or service but if it’s priced out of reach, they will never connect with your offer,” explains Joe Baldwin, CEO ofEssayLook.

2. Attract your perfect customer through smart marketing.

Let me quickly explain what I mean by smart marketing. If you are targeting people aged 35 to 45 with a life insurance offer, you don’t want to be running Snapchat ads — that’s the wrong platform. Highly targeted Facebook ads would work better.

Here are just a few questions you need to ask yourself:

  • “What social media platforms are my perfect customer likely to be active on?”
  • “What websites are they likely to visit?”
  • “Are they likely to be using a mobile device to access the internet?”
  • “Will they be receptive to email offers and communication?”

When you have the answers to these questions it tells you what social networks and websites you should be running paid ads on and what devices you need to target. If you are selling a health product to millennials, then mobile targeting is a must, whereas an ad targeting the 50+ demographic would want to primarily target desktops.

3. Get your perfect customer to engage with your brand and messages.

Engagement is the last step. It’s responsible for generating sales and creating brand supporters that, over time, turn into lifelong customers. There are several different types of engagement.

For example, say you have a very appealing Facebook ad that drives your perfect customers directly to an offer. You might get some “likes” and shares on the post, but the click-through to your offer, and then ultimately the conversion, is the engagement that translates into revenue.

Not all offers are a good fit for a direct approach. Many will require that your perfect customer is placed in a marketing funnel, where they are then presented with valuable content, designed to eventually convert them into a sale. “Asking for an email address is a very small commitment, so it’s very easy to quickly fill your funnel up with prospects as long as your offer is enticing and provides value,” advises Tyler Chilton, CEO of Mayflower Electronics.