Your Marketing Plan

See What Goes into a Marketing Plan for your Small Business

I bet every time you’ve seen the cart placed before the horse, it never worked, right? So it would follow that this approach in business is doomed to fail also? Yep. If you’re starting out you’ll want to create a marketing plan for your small business BEFORE spending money or worse, your valuable time.

This is not all that complicated, but it’s a necessary step if you want to avoid a few potential pitfalls on the way. Here are 5 suggestions intended to help you create a marketing plan specific to your small business.

5 Great tips to help create a marketing plan for your small business!

Determine your goals – You need one primary goal, and a few smaller intermediate type goals to help motivate and gauge progress along the way. Write them down so all can see and be held accountable.

Define who your audience is – Taking a snapshot of who your ideal customer is, and what they like, dislike, where they hang out and more is a crucial step in making an intelligent marketing plan. Knowing this information ahead of time saves much time and money.

How you intend to market – There are innumerable ways to get your message out, but knowing the best and right way for your particular business can provide you with a clear focus and save resources. Regardless of which method you choose, whether it’s paid ads or organic search marketing, it needs to be the right one for you!

Know what else you need – There will very likely be pieces in the puzzle that are essential to the plan that need to be in pace as well. This can sometimes be a marketing funnel, landing pages or an email marketing sequence.

Set a timeline – Giving your campaign a timeline for implementation and completion is important to a successful marketing plan. It will also help keep all members of the team on task and striving to the goal.

Google Analytics

Don’t Fear Google Analytics: Get Started with These 5 Reports

Google Analytics is a great tool, with a wealth of information available. The truth is, there is so much there that when you’re first starting out, it’s very easy to get overwhelmed at the scope of it, and not be able to make much use of this fantastic resource.

We’ve distilled this down a bit here, and offer you a menu of 5 useful reports you’ll want to keep an eye on. These 5 will help you the most, not only from an organizational standpoint but also with a practical, useful insight into what you can do to improve page performance.

5 Google Analytics reports you’ll want to view

Search queries – This is one of the easiest ways to use Analytics keyword data, You need to have your Google Webmaster account connected to your GA account to make this work, but you have to do that anyway. Once done, this report provides you with the keywords you are ranking for, how many impressions they’re getting, number of clicks, and your click-through rate.

Mobile device use – If your site is not optimized well for mobile, and Google has provided us plenty of warning about an April 21st, 2015 algorithm change that will hurt sites that aren’t; this report shows you which pages are doing well with mobile.

Referring sites – Knowing which sites are sending you traffic (and links) on an ongoing basis is something you’ll want to check regularly. If that traffic begins to dip, you’ll want to know why, and see if there is a remedy, such as a bad link, dated content or other reasons.

Session data – This has to do with the amount of time a visitor spends on your site. This is important data to know, as the length of time a visitor is actively engaged on your site has a great impact on your page performance in the search rankings.

Raw page views and exits – This is how many times your pages are viewed. Closely related is the pages where visitors exit the site from: you want to know this and investigate why.

So now you have a few reports to get you started with Google Analytics. It can do so much more, but for now, let’s begin with these.

Emotional Trigger that Work Well in Copy

For about as long as man has tried to convince others about something in print, the use of emotional triggers in copy has been utilized. While you might think that this has been a tactic from a land long ago and far away, the reality is it is every bit as effective today.

This doesn’t mean we want to go out and get all maudlin on people; but rather to use selective emotional triggers that elicit the type of response we’re looking for.

So which types of emotions get the best results? Does it work all the time? How are they used? If you would like to try this in your next bit of copy, here are 5 of the better emotional triggers in use today, and why they work.

5 Emotional triggers you may want to use in your copy

Speak to their Fear – Playing on people’s fears strikes a subconscious fear in many of us, and no one wants to fall prey to being without, or having the worst occur. The “Mayhem” commercials by Allstate have done a marvelous job combining humor with the subtle message that you too could fall prey to random mayhem, so you better get protected!

Exude Trust – In times like these when trust is a scarce commodity, it’s ingenious that conveying a message of trust will play to people’s fear of being taken. When privacy is threatened, statements like “We value your privacy” carry weight by the mere fact that you would mention it.

Time constraints – The lack of free time or even the time necessary to do what we need to is a strong motivator for many, and a promise to “Cut your drive time in half” or “Save you time” rings true with a need many people have.

Current Trends – Many in our society are driven by possessing the latest and coolest tings, and this desire is nearly unstoppable. If you are able to craft your copy while also making it trendworthy you’ve got a winner.

Feeling like they belong – Most people are prone to identify with a group that best represents who they believe they are. Only a relative few actually don’t want to belong to a group. Crafting copy that speaks to a group can be very lucrative.

So there you have five to work with. There are more, but these will get you going. Try to work them into your copy subtly, and see if you don’t get results.

Free Business Tools

How to Use These 7 Free Tools to Rock Your Small Business

One of the largest time drains for startup business is the time drain associated with getting the work done. Often this can be solved with tools developed to help productivity, but when you’re new, finding the cash to shell out for great tools is sometimes problematic.

Fortunately for you, there are a number of really useful free tools to help small businesses get up and running. And don’t be fooled into thinking that because they are free, they are short on features and usability. They are not. Try them out for yourself! I mean, they’re free, so you haven’t got much to lose!

7 Free productivity tools for your small business

Google Drive and Docs – Google has made available an incredibly versatile suite of tools in Google Docs and Drive. It is essentially an online replacement for the Microsoft Word packages, and offers a healthy storage capacity as well.

Free Conference Call – The name says it all, and his application lets you make conference calls at no cost. It even records the calls for you, making them available for download.

Zoho CRM – Customer relationship management software is expensive, but not this one. Zoho gives it to you for free for up to 3 employees.

Dropbox storage solution – A nifty solution for storing up to 2 GB of data for free in the cloud.

MailChimp email client – MailChimp is a free email platform that has many of the features you’ll find in the top dogs, but for free, up to 2,000 subscribers. A perfect platform for building a list and getting your feet wet with email marketing.

Trello project management software – Track your projects, to-do lists and completed tasks in this user friendly free software. A very good startup tool.

Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools – Make sure you use these! Analytics will tell you all your need to know in terms of how your site is performing and webmaster tools can help you with search engine issues. Both of these are incredibly useful.

There are many more free tools out there, but start with some of these, and watch your productivity soar!

5 Awesome Tips for Content Promotion

As you are probably aware, millions of new pieces of content hit the Web every single day, and the chances of people rushing to yours just because it’s wonderful are slim to none.

That’s where a content promotion plan for every piece of content you create comes into play. Getting your content out in front of people who are actually looking for it will pay large dividends!

So before you run screaming into the might because you don’t know how to accomplish this, let’s look at 5 simple ways you can cheaply and effectively get your content promoted.

5 Great ways to promote your new content

Make visual content – Creating a meme you can share socially, a slideshow video of your content, or even an infographic can lead to numerous shares and traffic to your page. We are a visual mob, and love to look at new things!

Let your list know about it – Many top content providers make tactical use of their list to announce new content, and drive traffic there via email. It’s an easy way to communicate in a non-salesy way to your subscribers, and can result in shares and traffic.

Document sharing sites – Some of the most-trafficked and highly ranked sites on the Web are document sharing sites like SlideShare, DocStoc, Scribd and Issuu, among many others. If your content is good, anticipate seeing a lot of traffic coming from sites such as these.

Utilize social media – Without question you should promote your new content via your social media channels. Much like notice by email, simply announce and invite visitors to visit, share and like. You may find someone with loads of followers and fans passes this on to their peeps as well!

Paid advertising – There are times when it makes sense to spend money to advertise a pierce of content, especially if you are trying to create a buzz about a new product or service. Luckily for us there are relatively inexpensive ways to do this, via outlets like Facebook Ads, Promoted Tweets, and sponsored content sites like Outbrain.

Get More Page Views

How and Why to Make Your Pages Load More Quickly

There’s little doubt that page load speeds have a major impact on how, or even if, we do business online. Three major facts about this will give any webmaster pause:

  • Google uses this as a ranking factor for your page.
  • Humans currently have an attention span of 8 seconds, one second less than a goldfish.
  • The average retail web page can take more than 7 seconds to load. It’s been documented that a delay as small as one second can cost you a whopping 7% hit in your conversion rates.

Given these stark statistics, it’s high time we take a look at some ways we can improve our page load speeds.

5 Tips for reducing your page load time

Google PageSpeed Insights – Google provides a free solution for discovering a lot of the issues you might be facing with regards to slow loading pages. It’s called PageSpeed Insights, and it’s free. It will discover why your pages aren’t arriving quickly and suggest solutions to fix that.

Not too many redirects – Lots of redirects on your pages can cause the server to make extra http requests it doesn’t need to. Make sure you don’t have any faulty, old, or otherwise unneeded redirects clogging up the arteries.

Reduce the number of plugins – Undoubtedly we are plugin fiends, but this can have a detrimental effect on page loads. You’ll want to get rid of plugins you don’t actually need. If you suspect other plugins, you can try deactivating to check out what the page load speeds are without them, and act accordingly.

Optimize images – Take the time to ensure your images are compressed to the smallest size possible, and that you are using JPEGs whenever you can. Also make sure that you remove image comments.

Enable page compression – Enabling compression on your pages, thereby reducing their size and allowing them to be loaded far faster is a really good idea. This is best accomplished with a tool called Gzip, and can result in page loads 70% faster!

What Makes People Buy Online

5 Reasons People Decide to Buy Online

Understanding why people buy online is crucial for anyone wanting to make money selling online. Not only does it make shaping your sales materials far easier, you’ll also have a leg up when considering how to spend money on advertising.

You may think that the reasons people give for buying online are all the same; mainly price. But you would be wrong. The reality is price is way down the list. It’s a given that the online prices are usually lower, given that there is no visible overhead. Even so, there are some very specific and sometimes unexpected reasons people give for purchasing online.

Let’s take a look at 5 of the top ones.

5 Reasons people give for purchasing online

They get a wider choice of goods – Shopping online offers you a far greater choice when it comes to buying. Most offline stores can’t afford to carry every color, size and large quantities of each. Not so with a warehouse!

People like to read reviews from other buyers – Absent having a friend who’s purchased the item in question, people will seek out whomever they can find for an opinion on the product, as long as it’s not from the company itself.

Time savings – These days all of us are crazy busy, and the thought of needing to get in your car, head out to shop several stores to find the items you’re looking for at the right price and model is downright daunting. It’s has become far easier and time efficient to do it all online, and have it sent straight to your door rather than fighting traffic and using up gas.

Free shipping – One of the top reasons people offer for buying online is the ability to get free shipping. In many cases, it’s been shown that free shipping trumps even a more lucrative price discount! Go figure!

Easy return process – Admit it, you might not like it. And if one trip outside the house was too much, imagine how much you’ll hate two! Having a rock solid guarantee and easy return process is a giant factor for people choosing to buy online.

Content Marketing

See How to Come Up with a Viable Content Marketing Plan

You’ve heard it a million times, but the truth is, content is still very much King. Google loves to rank new fresh purposeful content, and most businesses fail at least in part due to a dire lack of content.

And it’s not just words. It’s a lot of them, authoritative and compelling, original and unique that drive both search engine rankings and traffic. It’s also many other sources of content, particularly visual that gets the job done.

But how can we make this happen? The simplest and best way is by the creation of a content marketing plan, which helps you to maintain a steady stream of content flowing into your site, and giving you better search rankings while doing so. Let’s take a look at four steps toward developing a workable content marketing plan.

Creating your content marketing plan

Find your audience and provide them with what they want – All businesses have a unique audience all their own, and yours does as well. You need to identify who they are by creating your own customer “avatar” and understanding what they need.

Choose your types of content – You aren’t restricted to only blog posts; you have the whole content world at your feet these days. Never has it been so easy to create so many different varieties of web content, such as videos, podcasts, unique imagery, infographics, webinars and more. Pick which forms work best for you and start producing.

Create an editorial calendar and follow it – This part is key: be sure you commit to a publishing schedule and adhere to it. Schedule your content in advance, to ensure that not only does it get done, but so that it can coordinate with promotions, product launches and other activities you have going on in your business.

Market your content – Simply creating it isn’t enough, you’ll want to promote your content. With millions of new web pages showing up on the internet daily, it can be difficult to have your voice heard. Promote your content via your social media channels, cross promotions, and even paid ads if appropriate.

Your Website Rank

How Does Google Use Keywords to Determine Relevance on Your Pages

There are lots of factors that go into determining where your pages rank in the Google search results, at last count in excess of 200 and climbing. And mind you, this is only a guess, using the available empirical evidence SEO’s and webmasters have been able to divine from looking intently behind the curtain.

There are at this count more than 200 items that play a part in the Google search algorithm, and keyword relevance is one that we’d like to focus on here. We feel that keywords, while only a factor, influence the remainder of the ranking in many ways. In a way, it’s where everything starts.

In a search world not so long ago and far away, you could get top rankings just by stuffing as many of your primary keywords into your content as you could reasonable fit. Not any longer. These days Google’s search algorithm has gotten smarter, and is able to discern a lot more intent, and recognizes keyword stuffing instantly.

No longer. Google’s search algorithm is now so advanced it takes into account a large number of different aspects to determine where to place your page. Let’s have a look at how keywords affect this now.

How keywords fit into your search rankings

Shaping your page content to focus on a particular keyword ranking is something of an art. Often times the domain name may have little to nothing related to the keyword in question, and that is one reason keywords in domain names are no longer the signal they used to be.

Today having the keyword in your URL, title tag, H1-5 headings and sprinkled judiciously throughout the content is the best way you can help your cause.

What keyword tactics to avoid

There are several ways you can shoot yourself in the foot in this respect as well. Keyword stuffing, that aforementioned relic of yesteryear, is but one.

Another way is through the improper use of anchor text in your site’s backlinks. Having all the backlinks for a particular page show up with the same anchor text, and all be followed links, is a sure red flag in this current algorithm. Go for as natural a link profile as you can build, and vary your anchor text with natural phrases that would occur, such as a few “click here” and such.

Website Sales Copy

How to Craft Your Web Sales Copy with Great Copywriting

Copywriting is really an art, and if you don’t believe me, ask anyone who’s been tasked to create a sales page. The interplay between words and emotion, products and psychology is a craft, and should not be tried at home.

Being able to craft wonderful copy that moves and sells is one task you absolutely need to get better at, regardless of your niche. All of us want and need something for our web business, whether that’s simply more leads, more sales or more clicks. So how do you go about making your copywriting deliver the results? Here are 7 copywriting tips that can help you get closer to your goals!

7 Ways to strengthen your copywriting skills

Become a storyteller – Crafting s great story that reels your reader into a universe they are desperate to enter will leave them eager to hear, see or buy more.

Focus on benefits – The primary thing you have to remember about your readers is that they need to know what’s in it for them. They really don’t care what number of features your product or service has; they want to know how it will make their life better.

Make it valuable all by itself – If your reader comes away with the feeling that they’ve already received a lot of value simply by reading your content, you’ve got them exactly where you want them.

Employ questions to set the tone – If you can weave in questions that have them shaking their head “Yes” to all your points, you’ve managed to get it them into the proper mindset for saying yes to whatever else you might want to ask. (Hint, hint)

Inject emotion – Using emotion in your copy is a tested method to get your reader to take action, buy into whatever you’re saying or selling, and making a connection with you.

Write longer content – Currently the pages found on Page One of Google are running over 2,000 words. Longer, in-depth pieces that offer value and insight are what the readers want, and what Google wants to rank well.

Encourage and promote social sharing – There is more opportunity than ever before to have your content reach way beyond your own pages. Encourage and facilitate social sharing, and you’ll reap the benefits.