Derek Halpern Talk on Nonverbal Website Cues

Derek Halpern is the author of Social Triggers, a popular blog that shows how to use findings from academic research to be more effective in marketing and business. In this talk at Affiliate Summit, he discusses research that suggests ways to improve conversions on your website.

Some key takeaways from the talk:
-The British College of Optometrists found that 43% of people thought people who wore glasses are more intelligent and are more likely to get hired from a job interview.
-A study found that a fancy font on the menu made it seem like more time went into the preparation of a meal.
-A study found that people preferred a shorter content column width when reading online.
-If you get people to read the first three sentences of your copy, they will almost always read the rest of the copy.
-You should have one specific goal for each page.
-People don’t like to spend money. Don’t give them any reason not to buy.
-People prefer to read out of a book.
-Online people prefer consuming small chunks of content.
-Remove navigation on order pages to increase conversion.
-People have a tendency to look where other people are looking.
-It makes you feel good to see other people smile.
-Avoid using stock photos of people smiling. People are turned off by fake smiles.

Derek Halpern also hosts the excellent Social Triggers Insider podcast where he interviews authors and business people about psychology and business topics.

Creative Commons photo by Shashi Bellamkonda.

20 Helpful Resources for Learning About Keyword Research

A successful campaign to increase valuable traffic to your website starts with understanding the right keywords that you want your website to rank for. Keyword research can help you determine what potential customers are searching for and uncover opportunities where your site can move up to the first page in search results. The following resources provide helpful ideas and tips for conducting effective keyword research for your company. I have also included my top takeaways from each article or resource.

How to Do Keyword Research: 17 Industry Experts Shared Their Methods & Tools Rana Shahbaz
-Use Ubersuggest to get suggested keyword based on a root phrase.
-Look for keywords that are related to the problem you are solving.

How to Improve Your Rankings with Semantic Keyword Research SEOMoz
-Semantic search tries to determine what people mean when they enter keywords.
-Search for a keyword in Twitter search to see how people are talking about specific keyword phrases.

5 Tips for Conducting Semantic Keyword Research Search Engine Journal
-Related searches indicate what Google “thinks” are semantically related keywords.
-Write for humans first, search engines second.

The Ultimate Guide to Keyword Research Viperchill
-Use Yahoo Answers to find popular questions that people are searching for.

The Beginner’s Guide to SEO – Keyword Research SEOMoz
-There has never been a lower barrier to entry for understanding the motivations of buyers in any niche.

Keyword Research for Web Writers and Content Producers Copyblogger
-Keyword research indicates what people are interested in and what language they use.

Google Related Searches Blind Five Year Old
-Review “related searches” for keyword ideas and keyword modifiers.

Keyword Research for SEO SEO Nick
-Make sure to set the Google Keyword tool to exact match to get a realistic monthly search volume.
-“Local” in the Google Keyword tool refers to the local country, not the local area.

How to Take Your Keyword Research to a Higher Level Search Engine Land
-Keywords that you have not assigned to a specific page will be a distraction.

SEO Strategy For Business – How To Build A Keyword Opportunity Model SEONick
-Use this Google spreadsheet to estimate the value of specific keywords for your business.

4 Under The Radar Keyword Research Sources You Can Use To Find Hidden Gems Search Engine Land
-Use http://stats.grok.se/ to find out how many people have visited a specific page on Wikipedia.

Minimum Viable Keyword Research John Doherty
-Your domain strength helps determine which keywords you have a chance to rank for.

How to Research Keywords: Tips, Competition and Squirrels Orbit Media
-Use Google Trends to see if a keyword is becoming more or less popular.
-The competition level in Google’s Keyword Tool estimates competition for Adwords not organic search results.

5 Unexpected Keyword Research Sources Search Engine Journal
-Check popular industry forums and review titles of popular threads.
-Listen to how customers describe your offering over the phone.

Extending Keyword Research: Learn from Your Offline Audience Seer Interactive
-Think about questions that people are asking offline.
-Create FAQ pages to answer common questions.

Conducting a Keyword Performance Audit Zazzle
-Export your visits from keywords in Google Analytics into Excel and compare this to the values of the estimated monthly exact search volume from Google’s Keyword Tool.
-Google’s Keyword Tool might not be accurate for recently trending keyword phrases.

Spy on Your Competitors for Keyword Research Authority Labs
-Look for keywords where Google thinks sites like yours should rank well.

Keyword Research Mistakes to Avoid Single Grain
-Consider the competition level of the first page of Google; don’t be deterred by a large number of results for a keyword phrase.

Beyond Google Adwords Keyword Research Quicksprout
-Bing’s Keyword Research Tool shows the exact amount of times a keyword phrase showed up in search in the past 30 days or longer.
-Use strict mode for the equivalent of exact match.

When Keyword Targeting Gets Tough SEOMoz

-If it makes sense for users, put multiple keywords on the same page.
-Use natural language on your pages.
-Combine keywords that make sense.
-If it is a competitive keyword phrase, consider a separate page.

If you would like to suggest a helpful resource that we missed, please mention it below in the comments.

Top Interview Questions For Hiring an SEO Writer

Hiring for SEO can be tricky for two reasons: First, it’s difficult if you aren’t overly familiar with SEO yourself, and second, even if you do have an SEO background, it can be tough to know what questions to ask someone because it is such a new industry. Most colleges and universities don’t have classes regarding SEO, and it can currently be tough to find a writer who specializes in SEO content only. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be too difficult if you do a bit of planning ahead of time. It’s important to understand the industry and think outside of the box when it comes time to hire.

SEO Interview Questions and Possible Answers

One of the biggest things to keep in mind when hiring writers is your goal. You want to have a budget for writers and then decide how much training you’re willing to offer. If you want to jump into very advanced articles right away, you may have to pay a little bit more for a specialized writer. If you’re willing to hire someone who is a good writer and give him/her some time to learn, the way you interview might chance.

Below are some common interview questions that work well if you’re looking to hire an SEO content writer, as well as some answers that might help you make a decision:

1. Tell us a little bit about your background—where you went to school, why you chose the field you did, some of your past experience, etc.

Answer: In all honesty, someone doesn’t have to be an SEO expert to be a great SEO writer. You have to remember that it may take him/her a while to write an article because research can be tough, but it isn’t impossible to come up with a great article. It might take a while for a writer to really get a good grip on the subject, but it can happen. As stated above, it’s all about your goals and how long you have to invest in a writer.

2. Have you ever contributed guest content to a website in the past? If so, what was your process for pitching? How did you find new editors to work with? In other words, how do you analyze the sites you choose to write for?

Answer: This is something that can be taught and learned pretty easily, so I wouldn’t say this is a make or break. A good answer would be something about taking time to get to know the site by commenting and sharing content, and then sending a pitch complete with sample articles for the editor to check out. A great way to find new sites is to continually keep up with social media and check out the sites that your connections are associated with.

3. Do you work well on your own, or do you prefer to work in groups?

Answer: This was something I was asked before and it made me think. For this job, it’s important to be happy working alone and setting your own daily goals.

4. Do you have any background knowledge working with SEO related topics? If so, how do you continue to make sure you are creative and not regurgitating the same information as other blogs out there?

Answer: I typically go around to different blogs to find a topic, and then I take that topic and find a bunch of articles regarding that topic. I try to take bits and pieces of each, and the majority of the time a new angle or opinion will come to me through all of the research.

5. What do you know about your target audience, and how do you really make sure you are leaving a lasting impression?

Answer: This is a tough question to answer, but most good candidates will explain that the target audience is typically small business marketing departments. This of course depends on the type of company that the candidate wrote for in the past (which might very well be slightly different than your current audience).

6. Do you use any tools or specific strategies when writing?

Answer: There are tons and tons of different tools that a writer can use. Mentioning any sort of social tools for promotion (Buffer, SocialBro, etc.) is a great way to show that he/she understands the industry. Any talk of using analytics and analyzing CTR is also a great (and fairly advanced) answer. This is one of those questions that you’ll have a good feeling about right when it is answered.

7. What types of social networking techniques do you use to make sure your content is always earning visibility?

Answer: This is a great opportunity for the candidate to talk about the importance of Google+. This network is only going to get more important as Google begins to alter SERPs based on connections and shares, and this is something a writer should be aware of when it comes time to get involved with authorship and social sharing. You can learn more about authorship here.

8. How would you handle working with different clients?

Working with different clients often means having to change not only the topic of your work, but even the tone and style. This is where a very good writer is going to be your goal, and the research about the topic can be learned.

Were there any questions that you found incredibly helpful? If you were once a candidate, what questions seemed to catch you off guard?

Amanda DiSilvestro gives small business and entrepreneurs SEO advice ranging from keyword density to recovering from algorithm updates. She writes for HigherVisibility, a nationally recognized SEO agency and local SEO company.

Starting an Online Marketing Consultancy: Interview with Alex Avery

I recently had the chance to chat with Alex Avery, an online marketer who started his own SEO and web design consultancy, Webology Marketing in Seattle, Washington. In this interview he shares insights from his experience of starting an independent SEO business and things that have helped it grow.

How did you get started in online marketing and what led you to start your own business?

I started with a small advertising firm in 2009. I worked as a production assistant and began learning the ropes of SEO from day one. At that time, most of the organized education materials were focused on keyword density. It was painfully obvious that there was more to SEO/online marketing than keyword density. That’s when I found SEOmoz, which was instrumental in helping me understand the comprehensive approach to organic web marketing.

Once I had a better understanding of the industry, I built out an internal model at the agency to follow these best practices. And while the concepts were well-received, the approach was a little daunting for this small ad agency. After a couple of years, I moved to an even smaller, more focused SEO firm in Seattle. Sadly, these same comprehensive strategies were not the ideal approach for this firm, either.

I decided to start my own firm in 2011. Since then, we’ve seen a lot of success for our clients. My hope is to continue to grow and offer more comprehensive marketing services to small/medium size businesses.

What activities do you spend most of your time on and what things make the biggest impact for your business?

Most of my time is spent writing. New and updated content is vital to the success of any website.

Another significant part of my time is spent on website design/development. I find that efforts spent writing content, link building and other off-page tactics are not as effective unless I have a strong on-page, development plan in place. Having a professional design and clean site architecture makes a significant impact in both rankings and conversions (sign-ups, emails, etc.).

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started your business?

Getting started with Webology, I underestimated the need for a strong sales force. As many entrepreneurs have learned, new client acquisition is very time-consuming. It’s not that it’s impossible to do on your own, but once business starts booming, you need some support to keep things moving/growing.

How did you determine where to set your prices for your services?

Our pricing model has changed/evolved quite a bit this last year. When we first started, we ran our campaigns based on an hourly model. This approach was problematic for several reasons. One reason was that it gave the impression that we only spent X hours on a campaign because that’s what we billed for. What this didn’t reflect was the countless hours of research, outreach, client meetings, and other time spent that we didn’t feel comfortable billing to the client.

Another reason why the hourly model was troublesome was that clients would want to decrease or increase their work on a month to month basis—this lead to some surprises, come invoicing time.

The retainer model, if done transparently, eliminates these issues. The client is billed a consistent amount each month and time spent on a campaign is still tracked and accounted for. Again, transparency is essential here. Be sure the client knows exactly what you’re working on at all times. Start by providing frequent, transparent reports that detail ongoing and completed projects. And, of course, show competency and effectiveness by tracking traffic, rankings, and conversions.

What things have worked for you to acquire customers for your business?

For our company, the single most important channel for growing our client base has been our relationships. Forming relationships, and even partnerships, with the right people led us to those initial clients that have built the foundation of our business.

The second half of this plan is to practice what you preach. Develop and implement a social networking strategy, invest in design and development tactics to help improve your own site, and even consider buying ad space (AdWords, display, remarketing, etc.). Here at Webology, we are definitely guilty of the age-old “the cobbler’s kids have no shoes” scenario but it’s something we are excited to work on.

How do you ensure that your clients are happy and feel like that their expectations have been met or exceeded?

Two things: set reasonable expectations and be transparent. Setting reasonable expectations will only help you in the long run. There’s no need to hype up your tactics/strategies. The results will speak for themselves.

Transparency will eliminate surprises when it comes time to evaluate your services. Whether you’re an in-house SEO or an agency, you’re typically working with a marketing manager (or similar) within a company. Quite often, these marketing managers are pulled aside by their bosses and asked to explain what it is you’re working on and what results they’re seeing. This is when your transparency model is put to the test. They (the marketing manager) should be able to explain your services, current projects, and results-to-date with a high level of confidence. If they can’t, you could be subject to budget cuts or worse, without notice.

Can you describe a mistake that you have made in your business and what you learned from it?

One mistake I’ve made (and continue to make) is losing sight of the big picture, when it comes to the growth of Webology. It’s easy to get caught up in the day to day and forget to step back and evaluate the overall strategy. This has led to short-sighted decisions and relationships that end up causing problems down the road. An example was bringing on an employee that didn’t know online marketing very well. Hiring and training new team members is not necessarily a bad tactic. However, when you’re just starting out, you need all the time you can get. It’s best not to spend time training and find someone who can help ease the workload.

Learn more about Alex’s company at Webology Marketing. You can follow him on Twitter at @alexanderavery

5 Marketing Takeaways from Brandwashed

What kind of behavior brought upon the notion of the Pepsi challenge? Did Pepsi suddenly get curious, wanting to battle with competitor Coke without prompt? No, Pepsi wanted to clean the ‘brandwashed’ associations residing in Coke drinkers’ heads.

A number of consumers are ‘brandwashed,’ routinely seeking the same services and products, forming an allegiance to particular brands. Is it just consumerism running its natural course, or is it a part of the larger, marketing plan of brands?

Martin Lindstrom, author of Brandwashed, thinks the cycle of consumerism is purposeful, having worked for major brands like McDonald’s, Pepsi, and Nokia. In his book, Martin gives readers a view into branding insights, exercised by major suppliers.

Start Young

Like with developing skills and honing talents, advertisers start early, seeking to make impressions in young people. The same person who loved their McDonald’s happy meal as a kid is likely to do the same for their children one day, continuing as a consumer of the brand throughout their life and making impressions on others along the way.

Lindstrom encourages brands to think beyond one-off purchases, making consumers true brand advocates and ensuring they come back again, forming a lifelong buying habit. What does your brand do to attract the younger generation, those who grow to be dollar-spending consumers.

Stroke the Ego

Sigmund Freud, in his exploration of the human psyche, identifies three major components of the ego – the id, the ego, and the superego. The id is the ‘childish’ or irrational part of our egos.

While adults often exercise maturity and restraint from primal urges, Lindstrom mentions advertisers use primal urges (such as sexual attraction) in marketing campaigns, thus the notion, “sex sells.” 80% of teen girls mention shopping as a hobby. Feeling attractive and getting attention is on any teen’s list, and advertisers know how to prod primal and generally-held human urges.

Reference Heydays

Notice how people of varying generations debate about music. Debaters often believe the sounds respective of their younger years or heyday as superior to others. Lindstrom relays that advertisers seek to develop associations to good memories, such as those in one’s childhood or teen years.

Consider the Hershey’s brand, producing special wrapping and products for various holidays, such as Christmas and Valentine’s Day. Nostalgia stirs good emotions, emotions advertisers hope extend to include products and services too.

Be Social

What are some of the funniest things you’ve seen on YouTube this year? Most people gain word about viral or well-shared content through peers. Lindstrom instructs viral marketing as a major weapon of branding campaigns.

One of Pepsi’s recent viral triumphs blurs the line between reality and fiction, turning a disguised NBA star into a seemingly un-athletic and elderly man for an entertaining and well-shared video series. While billboards and magazine ads make impressions, stronger ones are created by social sharing.

Express Urgency

You can save 50% on that car, but you need to act now! New members get a free iPod while supplies last! Delivery is free to the first 200 callers! All of these ad messages express urgency, as if the viewer is missing out or something bad will happen if they don’t react.

Lindstrom mentions the creation of paranoia as a selling tactic, compelling consumers to make quick decisions when faced with impending embarrassment, failure, or doom. If you don’t buy deodorant, you’ll smell. If you don’t go to the dentist, you’ll get tooth decay. If you don’t buy diet foods, you’ll get fat. If the initial thought of purchasing isn’t enough to entice consumers, brands insert levels of urgency and paranoia, introducing negative associations to not buying respective products and services.

Matthew Rayfield is business marketing consultant. He has a penchant for business websites and enjoys passing on his expertise through blogging. Visit InvenioMarketing.com for more ideas.

David Meerman Scott Talk on Inbound Marketing

David Meerman Scott, author of several successful marketing books including The New Rules of Marketing and PR and World Wide Rave, gave this talk about inbound marketing at the Inbound 2012 conference.

Takeaways from the talk:
-Hubspot generated a million dollars of business from the free tool, Website Grader.
-Amanda Palmer fired her record label and raised 1.2 million dollars on Kickstarter for her new record.
-“On the Web, you are what you publish.”
-Newsjacking is creating inbound marketing content at the moment when journalists are looking to write about a breaking story. Example: TIO insurance offered free crocodile insurance to President Obama when he visited Australia on their blog.
-The Wynn Hotel generated tons of media mentions by waiving Prince William’s hotel fee in Las Vegas.
-Get rid of goobledygook like “innovate” in your marketing and press releases.
-There is something wrong with using stock photos to represent your employees or customers.
-Make some of your inbound marketing content totally free with no registration.
-More people own mobile phones than toothbrushes.

Books by David Meerman Scott:

Tips for Promoting Your Content with Email (Infographic)

This instructographic by Portent Interative provides some helpful tips if you want to reach out to bloggers, editors, and webmasters to try to get a link to your content. Even if you create an awesome piece of content, you still have to promote the content to get it in front of influencers who can help spread it. Getting organic links to your content is great, but you often need to be proactive to get the links that a great piece of content deserves. Check out the helpful tips in the instructographic below.

How to Write an Effective Outreach Email

In my experience, it can be helpful to mention a recent article that they have written that you liked or explain why you think your content is a good fit for their site based on a related piece of content on their site. It also helps if you can be helpful or add value before you ask for help or pitch them on adding a link. You can be helpful by pointing out any broken links on their site or leaving a thoughtful comment on a blog post. A branded email from the company you work for is ideal because it makes your email seem more trustworthy (as long as your company is known). By personalizing emails and making them short, I usually receive many positive responses and negative responses are very rare.

Categories SEO

The Marketer's Quick Guide to Getting More Done With Tablets

I recently received a Google Nexus 7 which is a great compliment to a larger tablet like the iPad. The smaller form factor of the Nexus 7 (it has a 7 inch screen) is more convenient for times when you don’t want to carry the larger device. The 1.33 pound iPad 2 can start to feel heavy pretty quickly if you are holding it while lying in bed while the Nexus 7 is about half the weight and easier to hold with one hand. The Nexus 7 is also easier to take with you when you leave the house, since it can fit in a large coat pocket.

Tablets can be a useful tool for marketers for tasks like creating content, using social media, and consuming marketing content.

Here are some of the ways that I use tablets to get more done:

Catching Up on Marketing Books
The Kindle App is my go-to tablet app for reading books. My favorite features are the ability to read a preview of almost any book (like browsing a huge virtual book store) and the ability to highlight key passages for future reference. In the iPad version you can read the most popular highlights by other people who have read the book (I couldn’t find this feature on the Android version).

Taking Notes at Conferences
It can be a huge pain to have to lug around your laptop at a conference. A Nexus 7, which weighs less than a pound can be a great alternative. You can also use a bluetooth keyboard if you are live blogging and need to type thousands of words like I did here for the 2012 Mozcon conference from my iPad 2.

Blogging Away from the Desk
Blogging on a tablet can be more comfortable than sitting on your sofa with a hot laptop on your lap. And as regular bloggers know, inspiration for a great blog idea often occurs when you are away from your desk. I sometimes write small pieces of a blog post on my tablet throughout the week, rather than trying to sit down for a couple hours and force out a full blog post.

Watching Conference Videos
Marketing conference videos are often more enjoyable when you are using a tablet rather than sitting in front of your computer. I like to watch Distilled conference videos, which are currently available to subscribers of Distilled U ($40/month). You can also enjoy relevant TED talks like Simon Sinek’s talk on figuring out the why behind your company. This Google Doc lists links to over 1300 TED talks.

Watching Marketing Videos on YouTube
There are many great marketing videos available on YouTube including these 13 marketing talks that can be enjoyed on a tablet device. Along with countless interviews, there are several great series of online marketing videos that you can watch on your device while you are doing the dishes like Whiteboard Friday and Koozai TV.

In Person Meetings
If you are meeting a business contact for coffee or making a sales pitch over lunch, a larger tablet like the iPad is excellent for showing examples of what you are talking about.

Updating and Monitoring Social Media
I like to use the application Tweetdeck to post to Twitter and view Tweets from my curated Twitter lists. I create lists of specific groups of people like marketers, Seattlites, and SEO professionals so that I can view Tweets from specific segments on demand. I also create a private list of “cool” people who provide exceptionally valuable information. Tweetdeck is useful for updating your Twitter status and it lets you post from multiple Twitter accounts if you want to Tweet for your company or client. I’ve heard great things about the Buffer app which sends out your saved updates at an optimal time.

Taking Notes
If I don’t take notes when reading or listening, I tend to forget most of the content. The act of taking notes forces my brain to scan for takeaways and I tend to pay better attention and retain more information. The notes can also be repurposed as useful Tweets. One app that I use frequently for note taking is Evernote because I can access my notes from multiple devices and can take photo notes like a great magazine ad that can be added to my swipe file.

Favorite Tablet Apps:

Kindle App – my favorite application for reading digital books.

Stitcher – this app allows you to stream your favorite marketing podcasts on demand.

TweetDeck – great for viewing your Twitter lists in separate columns.

Evernote – great for saving photos that can be used for inspiration or for examples on your blog.

Are there any tasks you find tablets particularly useful for? Please share them in the comments.

Creative Commons Photo by Houang Stephane

Full disclosure: Staples provided me with this Google tablet. The words opinions express in this review are strictly my own. To see the full line of tablets visit Staples.com.

Make the Most Out of Your Business WordPress Site

We all know having a website for your business is crucial if you’re going to stay relevant to your customers. Unfortunately, a lot of small business websites are less than stellar. I would argue that having a bad site can be even more damaging than not having a site at all, because a site with bad content and terrible design can project a negative image of your business. For business owners, setting up a website might seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be.

WordPress is one of several services that makes setting up a website for your business completely doable. WordPress has tons of tools and resources available to get your site going, but it can be confusing to navigate the myriad of features if you aren’t familiar with them. We’ve compiled a series of steps to get you started on your business’ WordPress site. For more WordPress help, refer to the guide below, created by Simply Business.


Click image to open interactive version (via Simply Business).

Decide on Your Domain Name
Your domain name is the name of your website (i.e. smithwidgets.com). Selecting a domain name can be very straight forward, but there are several tips you need to take into consideration:

  • Brainstorm keywords: Think of keywords people might use in their searches to find your business. Will people be looking for “local widgets,” or “high quality widgets”? Brainstorming a list of several keywords can help you get a list of possible words for your domain name going.
  • Keep it unique: If you’ve come up with several possible domain names, do a thorough Google search for those domain names. If they already exist, come up with something different. You don’t want to have a domain name that’s similar to another site, as that will likely cause a lot of confusion.
  • Keep it simple: Your site will be much more successful if your domain name is short, simple, and easy to remember. Keep all words relevant to your purpose, and change any longer words. Your site will likely be spread by word-of-mouth much more often if your name is easy to remember and simple.

Hosting
Don’t let the technicalities of hosting scare you off; it’s actually easier than it sounds. A web hosting service allows your website to be available online. There are several types of web hosts available: free, shared, VPS, dedicated servers, and managed WordPress hosting. The hosting service you choose will be based on your needs, and there are plenty of resources that can help you evaluate your website needs.

WordPress recommends three hosting services, all of which would be a great starting point for WordPress beginners.

  • Bluehost offers unlimited disk storage, unlimited monthly data transfer, unlimited domains on one account, one free domain name, control panel, SimpleScripts, and mirrored storage backups.
  • Dreamhost offers WordPress 1-click install, auto-updates, unlimited hosted domains, a free domain name, unlimited disk space, bandwidth, MySQL databases, and email addresses.
  • Laughing Squid is a smaller, local service that focuses on small business and quality service.

Learning Plugins
There are literally thousands of WordPress plugins that you can use to extend the usability of your site. Plugins provide extra “features,” like Google maps, social share buttons, search bar, contact forms, or a calculator. Obviously you don’t need the majority of plugins that are out there, but there are plugins specific for business websites that can help you and your customers make the most out of your site.

You can install your plugin from your admin panel within WordPress, under the “appearance” bar. You can simply search for your plugin, and click “activate.” Plugins are great features, but don’t get carried away by using too many. Install the ones you believe will benefit you and your customers most, but pass on ones you won’t use.

Some recommended WordPress plugins:

  • All in One SEO Pack: This plugin makes it really easy to customize your title tags and meta descriptions for the pages on your WordPress site so they are better optimized for search engines.
  • Tweet & Like: This is one of the many plugins available to help you add buttons on your site to make it easy for people to Facebook Like, Tweet, or +1 a page on your site.
  • Top 10 – Popular Posts: Tracks visits to each post and shows your most popular posts in the sidebar.
  • Yet Another Related Posts Plugin: Algorithmically recommends related posts based on the content of a post.
  • Google Analytics for WordPress: Makes it easy to connect your Google Analytics account to your WordPress Account.

Maintaining Your Site
The key to a great business website is to maintain it well. If you create an interactive community on your site, where people can ask questions, or you post articles/information, people will rely on your site for information and service. You shouldn’t simply create your site and leave it alone, but rather maintain its relevancy and design.

About the author: James Daugherty is Seattle based blogger focused on marketing and social media.

Modern Media Icon image from Shutterstock.

4 Ways to Use Email Marketing to Boost Holiday Sales

The holidays present wonderful opportunities to email marketers. They give you another reason to connect with your subscribers at a time when offers and the promise of savings are more enticing than ever. If you have a product or service to promote, they can be an integral part of the strategy that helps you generate more sales.

The intimacy, immediacy, and proven impact of email makes it the ideal tool to couple with your holiday marketing initiatives. However, making an impact you can be proud of is easier said than done. Incorporate these tips in your strategy, and you will be well on your way to increasing your sales during the holiday season.

1. Divide and Conquer Your List

Segmentation is a vital part of email marketing success. It is even more important when you are trying to get attention in the midst of a busy and competitive holiday. Segmentation is all about dividing your email list into smaller lists that contain groups of subscribers with similar needs, preferences, and tendencies. Here are some ideal segments to target with your holiday marketing efforts:

  • Big spenders
  • Budget spenders
  • Male spenders
  • Female spenders
  • Spenders shopping for children

The point is targeting these groups with content that is most likely to get them to take action. So whether it’s sending special offers to your local customers or treating new subscribers to something nice, identify the segments within your list and treat them to exclusive email experiences.

2. Make Your Subject Lines Count

If there is one thing you take from this article, it needs to be the importance of composing compelling subject lines. Whether it’s Thanksgiving or Christmas, email activity is sure to increase around a holiday. The very same subscribers you are trying to convince to buy your product or service will be under the same pressure by legions of other email marketers. Whether directly or indirectly, this is the competition you must content with.

So how do you make your subject lines stand out? Treat them like headlines that sum up what your message is all about. If you are giving away offers or discounts, let the subscriber know that savings are waiting for them on the other side.

3. Optimize Your Landing Pages

Convincing subscribers to open your message is good. Getting them to click a link is even better. Both are feats to be proud of, but opens and clicks don’t automatically translate to sales. Once the subscriber clicks through, you need to make sure they are arriving at a destination that is specifically designed to convert. In most cases, that destination will be a landing page.

An optimal landing page helps complete a seamless transition from the inbox to your website. More importantly, it should be consistent, meaning it serves as a follow-up to the content the reader saw in their email. So if you promoted web design services in your message, don’t try to sell them cloud storage space once they get to your landing page. Last but not least, it must provide an easy way to purchase whatever you’re selling. Fail to keep these points in mind and you will probably lose that sale.

4. Prepare for the Post-Holiday Rush

Even after the holidays have come and gone, there are still plenty of opportunities to be had. People are out returning gifts, making exchanges, and making new purchases with the credits on their gift cards. If you truly want to end things on a high note, you will make sure your email marketing strategy is ready to go into overtime.

Send out emails that outline your return policy in crystal clear clarity. Many consumers will be on the hunt for the annual post-holiday deals, so if you’re still running sales during that time, make sure your subscribers know how to take advantage. You can put a pretty little bow on your email campaigns and wrap things up early, or you can milk the holiday season for all its worth. If boosting sales is your goal, the latter is probably more your speed.

Business is sure to boom during the holiday season. But it isn’t just the big three (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s), holidays in general are primed for marketing. Are you ready to seize the moment? Hopefully so because it is very possible to grow both your business and your sales with a little planning and sound execution.

What methods are driving your email marketing strategy for the holidays? Don’t be a scrooge. Share some knowledge with the rest of us.

Aidan Hijleh is a freelance copywriter and serves as the Non-Profit Partnership Liaison for Benchmark Email. Aidan advocates free email marketing services to assist with the flourishing of grassroots organizations.