Digital Strategy

How to Choose the Right Hosting for Your Website

by

Editor's Note: Jane Hurst is a business writer and regular OMI contributor. Today she joins us to explain the factors marketers should consider when picking the right hosting provider.

 

Having a great website is a very important step for any online business. However, choosing the right hosting is equally important: without it, your site will suffer from lag, crashes and downtime which can put a huge dent in your sales. In order to get the most out of your website, it’s vital that you find a great web host. So in this article, we’ll explain the different kinds of hosting plans you will come across, and how to choose wisely. Let’s get started!

Types of Web Hosting Platforms

There are three types of web hosting platforms:

  1. Individual Plans – Many companies will sell you a slot on servers they own and operate. This is the cheapest option, and it’s great for those who are just starting out on limited budgets. For example, an introductory package at HostGator is only $3.96 a month if you sign on for a three-year package. There are a few drawbacks: you can usually have only one domain, features may be limited, and bandwidth/data storage are lower than what you’d get on more expensive options.
  2. Dedicated Servers – These plans are much more expensive (they can be $139 or more each month), but if your business is growing, this may be a better option for you. Just make sure that your provider offers individual plans and dedicated servers so you have the option to switch if necessary.
  3. Reseller Accounts – Reseller accounts are way cheaper than dedicated servers, and in terms of functionality, they lie between individual plans and dedicated servers. With these, you can host multiple domains and websites on a single account. This is a good option for businesses that run a number of websites. You can expect to pay between $10 and $20 monthly.

What to Look for in a Hosting Plan

While you obviously need something affordable, price is not the only thing to consider when looking for a hosting plan. Free web hosts are never a good choice. Sure, they sound great, but you get a lot of on-site advertising, and not a lot of features. Other things to look for in a hosting plan include:

  • Customer Reviews – See what other users are saying about the host before you sign on and end up wasting your money. Look for multiple reviews from both current and past customers, and don’t base your judgment on a single review, positive or negative.
  • Customer Support – If the host doesn’t have great customer support, move on to one that does. You need to know that there is a dedicated staff you can depend on in case anything goes wrong. The best hosts will respond to queries 24/7, because the Internet never sleeps.
  • Storage and Bandwidth – Many plans offer unlimited disk space and bandwidth, so you probably don’t have to worry about this too much, but you still need to make sure that the host offers what you need.
  • Script Support – Make sure your host has built-in support for web scripts you will be using. For instance, if you plan on using WordPress, look for a host that makes installing the platform quick and easy. Some hosts limit MySQL databases which are necessary for running WordPress.

Know Your Hosting Needs

Once you have decided that you need a host, make sure you understand your requirements well. That way, you will know that you are not going to end up with features you will have to pay for but won’t ever use. If you don’t need WordPress, there’s no point dishing out extra money because a host will install it for you

Assess the following factors when making your decision:

  • The type of website you are building (entertainment, e-commerce, news?)
  • The need for WordPress or other common features
  • Whether you’d prefer a Linux or Windows based platform
  • Special software like Ruby, and up to date versions of special software like PHP
  • Anticipated traffic volume

Investigate Host Reliability and Uptime Guarantees

It is vital that your web host operates 24/7, and has a powerful server and stable network connection. If the score is less than 99%, you don’t want it. For obvious reasons, you should not trust what a server says about itself. You can get accurate uptime info by reading reviews, or tracking your web host with server monitor tools like Alertra.

Research Web Host Upgrading Options

Make sure that you research all of your upgrade options, because you may end up lacking what you need when you are ready to upgrade. You should have no problem using a shared web host which can handle a WordPress blog with up to 40,000 visitors monthly. But you may need more accommodation down the road, and you should have peace of mind that your host can manage the switch - if you expect to grow quickly, look for a web host that will grow with you.

Choose Hosting Based on the Site Engine

Unless you have a dedicated web design team, you’ll likely begin with a common site engine. Some hosts are better suited to these engines than others, so you can narrow down your selections by researching compatibility. For instance, WPBeginner has a great list of WordPress hosting providers, and HostingAdvice has a good list if you want to use Joombla.

Check Domain Options and Hosting Space

You should consider your host’s domain options and the size of its hosting space. Domains are cheap, and it can often be hard to have just one. In fact, a good number of site owners have more than five domains, and others have over 50. To manage this, you need more hosting space, so make sure that your hosting account will let you run multiple domains. Don’t make the mistake of signing up for a host that will only accommodate one domain.

Check Prices on Both Sign-Up and Renewal

Before you choose hosting, look at the prices for both sign-up and renewals. Sometimes web hosts suck you in with cheap sign-up rates, and then you are stuck with expensive renewal fees. This is a normal thing, but if you do your research, you can dodge this trick and avoid paying a small fortune in the long run.

Check Hosting Control Panel

A very important factor to consider before you choose a host is its control panel: it must be user-friendly and fully functional. You can use cPanel, Plesk, or a proprietary control panel such as the one used by GoDaddy. While IX Web Hosting is very inexpensive, the custom control panel is generally considered poor, and what you’ll save in money, you may pay for in the time it takes to get things done.

Conclusion:

The right web host takes a back seat to your website, runs consistently with little downtime, and adapts flexibly to your needs as your business expands. Hopefully this article has given you an idea what to look for, and what to take account of so you can find a host that will put your website first, and create a smooth experience for your company and visitors.

Learn more with these related OMI classes:

Building Digital Destinations & Customer Experience

B2B Website Design

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.

 


Infographic: Boost Your Social Media Presence Without Ads

by

Editor's note: Belle Balace is a social media strategist with Visme. Today, she joins us to explain how companies can maintain a social media presence with limited resources. A version of this article first appeared on The Blog Herald.

 

While social media should never be an afterthought for online businesses, remaining active can be a struggle without the resources to maintain a paid manager, or launch paid ad campaigns.

Good news! There are ways to boost traffic to your site and increase your social media presence without paying a dime. By launching a social media employee advocacy program, you don't have to find new talents or overload your staff with extra responsibilities.

Social media employee advocacy reasonably assumes that almost everyone uses social media on a day-to-day basis, and if everyone in your company pitches in a little by sharing the latest content from your brand, you can boost your social media presence quickly and organically.

In this infographic, we’ll explain how it’s done.

Key takeaways:

  • Inform employees about the need for a social media presence and what it will do for your company.
  • Ask them to like or follow company pages across social media networks.
  • You or your company leader should take charge, and set the example by staying personally active in sharing brand content.
  • Have good content to share: interesting, informative, and not blatantly promotional. Everyone should feel good about it.
  • Start slow, and build over time. Less is more when employees do not feel coerced.
  • Incentivize social media sharing by issuing prizes to the most active employees.

Here’s the graphic. Enjoy!

Latest Visme Graphic

Learn more with these related OMI classes:

Social Media Strategy for Business

Creating and Curating Content People Love

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.

 


5 Ways to Boost Your Video Marketing Strategy for Millennials

by

Editor's Note: Joydeep Bhattacharya is a digital marketing evangelist who writes for SEO Sandwitch. Today he joins us to discuss good video strategy for attracting a millennial audience.

 

An extensive knowledge of all things digital make millennials a complicated segment of consumers to attract. So why do marketers put up with them? Maybe because millennials also have the greatest buying power of any generation, which automatically gives them the biggest consumer voice. Marketers are therefore willing to overcome a multitude of quantitative and qualitative challenges to fulfill their requirements, starting with a rapid pace of technological advancement.

Changing Face of Video Marketing Strategy

Out with the old, in with the new – that’s the mantra video marketing professionals should bear in mind if they wish to stay relevant and sell their products online to millennial consumers, who value originality, sincerity, and creativity above all else. Marketers should focus on finding an original voice for video marketing, one that captures the attention of a culture that gives precedence to personal expression.

At the same time, they should be also mindful of brand consistency and utilize performance marketing data to optimize their content. This is more complex than it sounds, and there is no single, overarching solution. But don’t let the messiness scare you away: by following generally good practices and mixing in your own ideas, it’s not hard to create video content that millennials will appreciate and respond to.

Below you will find five points for devising a competent video marketing strategy targeted to millennial customers -

1. Build Your Strategy on Video Marketing, Not the Other Way Around

In the millennial age, videos no longer play a merely supporting role in your marketing campaign: they have grown to become their own unique marketing strategy. A millennial audience will often begin by consuming video content before entering your sales funnel, and they respond to a style that emphasizes personal expression and reflects consumer sensibilities. For this purpose, the fundamentals of video communication are vital components in your new marketing strategy. Communicating effectively through videos will drive emotional engagement across various disciplines, from customer relationship management to product marketing and cross-platform paid advertising. Learn how a good video is constructed on a fundamental level, and use that knowledge to drive content across your marketing efforts.

2. Take Time to Analyze Your Target Audience

Some marketers think it’s important to deploy an especially complicated and well-researched video strategy when catering to millennials. This can give marketers a feeling of paralysis as they reflect on possible inadequacies in their finances, logistics and brand. It is true that best practice for video marketing geared towards millennials requires some fine-tuning, particularly in terms of identifying the right audience groups. However, that does not mean companies have to sit down and completely rethink their brand to accomplish this.

Narrowing the broader domain of ‘millennials’ into manageable segments is a much easier task thanks to digital marketing tools that largely automate the work. Insight into the best millennial-targeted video marketing strategy comes from testing, analysis, and scale. This is vital to your marketing strategy, since the millennial generation has a hard time trusting too many people too fast.

Instead of attempting to impress your target audience with a traditional advertisement-focused video marketing campaign, your video strategy should be different: it should be extremely visual, experiential, personal, and easy to comprehend.

3. Have the Right Video Marketing Support

Video marketing professionals should have provisions in place to counter the consumer shift in digital platforms. This means arranging for video support that complements your existing production plan:

  • Understand your budget. A large budget will allow you to create impressive 360-degree videos which are sure to draw audience’s attention. Even if you’ve got a smaller budget, you can still create amazing video marketing content in VR.
  • Kajabi is a great platform for people to create and sell content, courses etc. For video makers, this is a great way to make money from their work; for you, it’s a great resource for supplementing your video library.
  • ClickMeeting is a leading webinar solution that enables you to easily generate instructional campaigns.

In every case, you should not rely on any single solution to generate great video content. Creativity and thoughtfulness is essential to set your brand apart from competitors, which means that experimentation is a must.

4. Crowdsourcing, and other creative strategies

When settling on a long-term production strategy for your video content, there are three possibilities:

  1. You can rely on an internal video-marketing team
  2. You can outsource these responsibilities to freelancers
  3. You can crowdsource your content

While the end goal is always to become as self-reliant as possible, don’t forget the importance of creativity in reaching out to millennials. Before settling on a style, be willing to try things out. Find different approaches, and see what works best. By reaching out to freelancers from popular sites like Freelancer and Upwork, you can find diverse talents. Crowdsourcing platforms like veed.me will also give you instant access to new and exciting ideas.

When you find something that works well, you can stick with it and build from there, but don’t confine yourself in the beginning. Strict boundaries will only put a limit on your versatility.

5. Consider Utilizing Artificial Intelligence

The video marketing landscape has greatly changed in the last decade, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) is partly responsible for that. Believe it or not, AI can be used to generate creative ideas for video content. Understandably, some people find the idea of machines driving creative output bizarre and borderline offensive. But when properly utilized, AI will drive and augment human expression rather than supplant it. Don’t think in terms of creative cannibalization, but rather in terms of extended capability.

Martech Advisor has done a good story on how AI can empower video campaigners. New tools like Magisto can speed up the video production process by an exponential factor, helping you to set a good pace and dramatically decrease costs. While it may seem like a novel idea, it’s one more creative solution to consider in order to further differentiate your brand and appeal to a market driven by an appetite for innovation.

Conclusion

In an Internet-driven world, millennial audiences have become extremely fragmented, and video marketers must contend with new challenges if they wish to tap into the millennial market. That being said, the sheer potential of a properly executed video marketing strategy, combined with the purchase/social media power of millennials makes for a blockbuster formula.

The points mentioned above will help you in exploring and defining your video marketing strategy for a new generation of millennial buyers. The risk is small, and the upsides are massive, so find a point that seems helpful and get started today!

Learn more with these related OMI classes:

Marketing to Millennials

Video & Multi-Screen Strategies

How to Create a Content Segmentation Plan

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.

 


How Storyteller Marketing Can Build Your Brand

by

Editor’s note: Josh R Jackson is contributing editor at BestMarketingDegrees.org, where an earlier version of this piece first appeared.

 

People would rather be told a story than be told what to do.

That’s why instead of shelling out for traditional advertisements that simply tell us what to buy, organizations from almost every industry have also been using storyteller marketing to frame their purpose, scope, and reach. This is showing rather than telling, and it just so happens that more industries than usual are using this method today, from automotive, to education, to online media, to manufacturing, to construction.

Why? Because good marketing is storytelling. In drafting a message, marketers intrinsically testify to a brand’s value for its audience. Simply put: every time a brand markets something to us, they are telling and selling us a story that is meant to persuade us that their brand is worth our time, money, and attention.

Brands also engage in storyteller marketing because the practice is one of the best, most surefire ways to build brand identity, and secure the trust of discriminating prospects.

So how can your brand harness the power of storyteller marketing? The answer is simple: understand and imitate the greatest minds in storyteller marketing history, and take a page out of their books.

Book 1: The Bill Gates Story

On January 3rd, 1996—over a year after the Internet was privatized—Bill Gates published a column on Microsoft’s website, decreeing “Content is King.” In what would only take a few short scrolls, Gates declared (in “Hear ye, Hear ye” fashion) that the Internet would soon become a boon to publishers everywhere, predicting that on the information superhighway, the value of “information and entertainment” would reign supreme, and that “Those who succeed [at monetizing its value] will propel the Internet forward as a marketplace of ideas, experiences, and products—a marketplace of content.”

What happened over the next 20 years bore out his prophecy. While the private Internet initially served as a two-dimensional billboard for advertisements that were based predominantly in brick-and-mortar businesses, it soon became a multi-dimensional space for the exchange of goods, services, and ideas: an online marketplace based on the concept of creating a global village where any transaction could take place.

The takeaway? Like Gates, pay attention to cultural trends that your brand can not only participate in, but drive. Write strong opinions that are based on the direction your brand is pushing the market, and work to ensure that your brand is consistently pushing the market in that direction—not just through marketing, but through investment and action.

The reason Bill Gates seemed to predict the future in 1996 is not because he was a prophet, but because he worked to tell and sell a story that many people at the time either believed or were already working to make a reality. Gates saw that the market was headed for the industry of communication and technology, and explained that direction in terms that anyone could understand. Then he worked tirelessly to ensure that story became a reality: Microsoft was an early adopter of the World Wide Web, and used the platform to build a website rich with content to promote both their products and their brand.

Book 2: The Content Marketing Story

A few years after Bill Gates’ declaration of the content monarchy, banner advertising gave way to paid content, while new and complex software became a hot commodity. Online businesses were starting to need people who could explain the purpose of their product, software, or service to those who weren’t tech-savvy. They started needing people to tell their stories, and they started needing a new medium with which to do it.

What they got initially was news coverage, like a CBS story from 2005 on a little startup called Facebook. Along with Google, Facebook quickly became one of the largest Internet companies in the world, and a medium that online brands would find indispensable for spreading their story.

Online businesses began to hire full-time, in-house brand managers to explain the value of their company. Creative role titles like Chief Storyteller, Explainer in Chief, and Content Manager were coined to refer to someone who tells a company story. It would be the job of these professional explainers to condense and simplify a company’s message into a few short sentences that were so easy to understand, even a five year old could get it.

The takeaway? Use every medium you can to tell your brand story. If budget permits, hire talent to accomplish this. That talent doesn’t have to be a seasoned storyteller with degrees in journalism, new media, and marketing—they just need to be a clear communicator.

The reason brands need this level of media engagement and talent is not only to earn a seat at the table. It is because, as communications guru Carmine Gallo has written, “no rhetorical tool is more effective than the story,” which means that working to spread a brand story with maximal talent carries a guaranteed return on investment.

Book 3: The Revolutionary Story

Five years after Facebook, four years after Twitter, and the same year as Instagram entered the scene, an industry had grown up that fed demand for creating and telling a brand’s story. By 2013, even small startups were grooming themselves to join the ranks of new media publishing companies that were participating in what has been called the “content marketing revolution”: the marketing movement in which storytellers have come to play the most important role, telling an informative story with every word, image, and video on this side of the screen.

As Alexander Jutkowitz tells it, this movement “signals more than a mere fad.” Indeed, it is a turn of the page to “a new chapter in the history of business communications,” the new chapter of “corporate enlightenment.”

The takeaway? Telling brand stories has become an art form. Do it in a way that places your brand firmly within the context of broader social, political, and ethical movements. Do it in a way that is artistically relevant.

The reason this type of marketing works is not because “all the cool kids are doing it.” If it were, all brands would be the same, and arguably none of them would be cool.

Storyteller marketing works because we’ve entered a new era of marketing history, and it’s become necessary for every brand to illustrate that it is different. A brand must prove itself to be more socially, politically, and ethically aware of its surroundings than its competitors are, or might have been in a previous day and age.

So What’s the Big Story?

The art of telling a brand story has become not only popular, but essential to surviving as a business in the twenty-first century.

The rest, as they say, is history.

How will you tell your brand’s story? Consider taking stock of your brand’s purpose, scope, and reach, and take a class on what makes for an effective storytelling strategy.

Learn more with these related OMI classes: 

Storytelling in the Digital Age

Best Digital Branding Practices for Small Businesses

Creating and Curating Content People Love

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.

 


Best Email Marketing Tools for Small Business

by

Editor's note: Stacey Marone is a social media marketer who has joined us today to explore the best tools for managing an email marketing campaign.

 

Social media is often portrayed as the ultimate marketing tool for small businesses. But before there were social networks, people relied on email to stay connected. In fact, everyone on a social network has an email address, but not everyone with an email address is on a social network. It stands to reason that you can reach a lot more people with email marketing than with social media marketing alone.

Even with a strong social media strategy, email marketing opens your business to many leads and opportunities you might otherwise miss. Furthermore, the two strategies can be combined to create more powerful campaigns.

What is email marketing?

Email marketing is a kind of targeted marketing.

If you’re like most people, you sometimes open your mailbox to find brochures and invitations from different companies offering product information, samples, free seminars and other promotional material.

Email marketing is something like that, except in digital form. In both cases, you need contact information to promote your business. When it comes to email marketing, this information takes the form of an email list compiled from your existing customers, or email addresses you got from site registrations.

There are many ways to obtain a list of email addresses. But once that’s taken care of, you have a new challenge on your hands: turning them into customers. In order to make the best use of your leads, it's essential to have a versatile email platform that will help you to send the right information where it counts.

To help you find what’s right for you, we’ve compiled a list of the best email marketing tools for your business. Let’s get started!

Mail Chimp

mailchimp

In spite of its humorous style, MailChimp is a very serious email marketing tool, and one of the most popular and user-friendly ones around. It is especially useful if you are just starting out on your email marketing journey.

MailChimp will do much of the work for you, including product follow-ups and stock availability updates. It will track what your customers are buying so you can target them with related product offerings. You can also integrate MailChimp with your Twitter and Facebook account, allowing you to bring social media and email marketing together.

If you have an e-commerce store, MailChimp has a lot of great options for you; it will connect directly to services like WooCommerce, Shopify, Magento, or BigCommerce. This integration allows you to create email campaigns directly from your store.

Beginners will appreciate the intuitive drag-and-drop interface in MailChimp’s email builder, and the dashboard is also very simple to navigate. To track success, you can easily generate reports of your campaigns to learn how many people opened their emails, which links got the most clicks, and what customer segments respond best to different offers.

MailChimp is also very fairly priced, with a free plan to send up to 12,000 emails to 2,000 subscribers a month. This is usually a great place for small businesses to start. Once you gather steam paid plans start at $10 a month.

Litmus

litmus

Next up on our list is Litmus, a versatile platform that takes analytics to the next level. Litmus specializes in testing and tracking emails with advanced features to help you fine tune your email marketing strategy. It’s a step up from MailChimp, but still quite easy to use, and makes a great supplement to email campaigns that you might be running on another service.

Litmus not only tests email optimization for PCs and laptops, but also mobile devices. Since the market is increasingly going mobile, this is an important strategy for success. If you test your emails before sending them out, you will see exactly how they look to your recipients. By refining the look and load time of the emails you send, automatically removing broken links and streamlining design elements, Litmus will ensure you get the most bang for your buck.

Litmus will also track your emails so you get important information such as what devices were used to open emails, when they were opened, and how much time recipients spent on them.

As a testing and tracking tool, Litmus takes the cake. Beginning with a 7 day free trial, using Litmus permanently will cost you a cool $79.00 per month. Given how much it can improve your results, the investment can be well worth it for those with a medium to large email marketing list.

Reach Mail

reachmail

For those with smaller budgets who would still like to benefit from email analytics and optimization, Reach Mail is a good, affordable option at a mere $10.00 per month.

Like Litmus, Reach Mail offers message testing and tracks email performance. It also has a Spam Checker, which tests your emails to see whether they might be flagged as spam. A nice feature of Reach Mail is that it considers your emails as entire compositions, taking into account both subject lines and content in its analysis. This is important for determining how successful your campaigns will be ahead of time.

Like MailChimp, Reach Mail offers hundreds of attractive templates for creating your emails, so you won't need graphic or layout chops to send a professional-looking email. And if you do want something a little more unique for a special occasion, you can easily request custom design directly through the service.

ActiveTrail

activetrail

Formerly known as TargetHero, ActiveTrail is an email marketing solution which specifically targets the growing population of users who read emails on mobile devices.

Aside from the usual email composition and sending features, ActiveTrail will automatically send targeted emails to people on your list who perform certain actions on your website, such as registering for a newsletter, or entering a particular campaign. These auto responses can be a “Thank You” or verification email which include product offerings and other promotional information relevant to the target user - you do your marketing every step along the way!

AvtiveTrail’s pricing comes in tiers. For $7 a month, you can manage up to 500 subscribers, and it goes all the way up to $55 a month for 10,000. This range of options makes it easy to start small, and expand according to your means. If you’d like to give this tool a spin, there’s also a free trial, so take advantage of that before committing!

There are many other options in the world of email marketing to help you accomplish your goals, but these are great choices for beginners; even simple tools like MailChimp are used by very large corporations to manage their email marketing needs. There’s no better way to learn than by doing, so pick one and give it a try!

Stacey Marone is a freelance writer and a social media marketer. She creates magnetic content optimized for search. In her free time, she also does volunteer work and organizes some activities for children. Her passions involve painting, reading, and writing. You can follow her on twitter.

Learn more with these related OMI classes: 

Using Social Data to Improve Email Marketing

How to Create Mobile Friendly Emails

Successfully Measuring Email Performance

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.

 


Content Strategy: To Outsource or Not to Outsource?

by

Over 200 million people use ad blockers, and that number is continuing to rise. This means that traditional online advertising is less visible than ever. In fact, the day may come when old methods fall entirely out of use. On the other hand, content marketing costs 62% less than traditional advertising, generates three times as much traffic, and is still an excellent way to market your brand. But who is going to do all the work?

In some cases, you can execute a content strategy alone or internally. In other cases, outsourcing content writing will definitely serve you well. Take the time to learn when and how to pass content marketing tasks to someone else.

Relevant Class: Introduction to Content Marketing Strategy

First, Discover the Right Time to Outsource

Can you handle your content strategy execution alone? It is a lot of work, and the idea of delegating it to someone else is enticing. But consider carefully before making any decisions. Here are criteria to help assess what’s best for you:

Reasons you should consider outsourcing content writing:

  1. Your internal team is running short on time or simply does not have the necessary skills.
  2. You have the budget to hire a specialized content writer.
  3. You understand the difference between freelancers and agencies.
  4. The project you are working on does not require much personal interaction.
  5. You can find a content writer / marketer specializing in your niche.
  6. You are clear on the process a freelancer or agency will take to complete the required tasks.
  7. You have or will set measurable, attainable content marketing goals.
  8. Content will compliment your other marketing and advertising efforts.

Reasons you should wait to outsource:

  1. You are not clear on your content marketing goals.
  2. You do not have the budget to hire someone.
  3. Someone on your team can handle the workload.
  4. You do not know whether a freelancer or agency would be the best fit for your project.
  5. Your current project requires too much personal interaction to be worth your time.
  6. Content marketing will not work with your current marketing efforts (this is rare).
  7. You cannot find the right person, externally, for the job.
  8. Your team has plenty of time to complete the tasks, and can train for certain aspects.

Relevant Class: Creating and Curating Content People Love

Which of the above scenarios looks more like your current situation? If you have taken stock of the relevant factors and think it’s time to hire help, read on. If not, invest your energy preparing for the time when you will want to outsource: raise the funds, learn about agencies vs. freelancers, and have a plan for securing help when you need it.

Then, Learn How Outsourcing Content Strategy Works

You might think outsourcing your content creation is as easy as a quick google search, contact with a professional, and sending an outline of your parameters. After that, you may expect your content marketing to work miraculously on auto-pilot. Sadly, this is not the case. There is much more that goes into it. This is how to outsource for true success.

Step 1: Set Measurable, Attainable Goals

If you have not already set measurable, attainable goals for your content strategy, this should be done right away. The aim of a new strategy is critical for success. No matter who you choose to hire, there must be a way to know whether or not the plan is working. As you move forward with any content strategy, you should analyze to see what is working, what’s not working, and make adjustments accordingly. When it comes time to interview someone for the position, they should know your goals, so they can judge whether they are right for the job.

Step 2: Create a List of Blog Topics That Can be Written

As the manager of this project, in the beginning at least, it is your job to come up with potential topics to be written. Whether you are posting everything on your own blog or using the content as part of a backlinking strategy - like guest posting on authority blogs - the topics you choose should be relevant to your target audience, or provide SEO value.

Fortunately, there are helpful tools to make this process a breeze. Try these tools and services to come up with topic ideas quickly:

Step 3: Seek Out Specialized Talent

You can’t just hire any writer for your project. You need to have someone on board with experience in your niche. You don't want to hire someone specializing in law to work on an art blog. You don't want a naturopath writing on a blog designed to promote prescription medications. So although writing skills are important, they are secondary to specialized experience. If you're especially concerned about proper style, you can bring an editor to the project as well.

It’s difficult to say where your perfect freelancer or agency is hiding. Try looking on freelancer websites, check out the recommended agencies listed with your marketing platform, consider academic writing services, and/or post an ad on a job website. The more people you interview, the higher your chances of finding the right person for the job.

When it comes time to hire the right person, make sure that your current strategy, goals, topic ideas, and expectations are laid out up front. Choose a freelancer or agency that is experienced and confident in helping you execute your strategy, and check their work. You may want to add your own personal flair, or make changes to the final product until your new employee understands exactly how you want your articles.

Conclusion

Now you know when outsourcing content marketing is appropriate and how it works. If you’re ready, follow the steps above to start your journey towards content marketing success.

Janice Kersh is a freelance writer with vast experience in content marketing. In her spare time, she likes to cook, read sci-fi, and write in her blog - Janice Writing.

Want to learn more about any of the subjects mentioned above? Here are some relevant classes: Creating and Curating Content People LoveIntroduction to Content Marketing StrategyContent Marketing Implementation: Executing a Winning Content Program

Visit the Online Marketing Institute  to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space. Ready to start learning? Sign up here here.

 


Improve Conversion Rates With Data Democratization

by

One of the most critical components of web analytics and conversion rate optimization is interpreting data, analyzing it, and turning it around like a Rubik’s cube. For instance, you can rotate and arrange the traditional 3x3x3 cube in 43 quintillion ways – 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 to be precise. Similarly, you can build billions of models from your data. However, only one of these models will give you the best conversion rate, and this is the elusive Holy Grail you must find to maximize your efforts.

Let me illustrate this with another example. As you can see in the image below, there are 3 expressways you can take to go from Chicago to Wyoming. The shortest route is the 196, but if you take a detour and go via 131, you might end up adding an hour to your journey. There are a couple of other routes to get there too, but both will take longer.

maps

Image Source: Google Maps screenshot

In the same way, any of your conversion tactics can prove lucrative and get you to your goal, but one will get you there faster than the others.

So how do you find the perfect, elusive model to reach the optimum conversion rate? The answer lies in data democratization, data decentralization, and data transparency. Let’s dig a bit further into the whys and hows of revolutionary data processes so you can play around with the data you’ve collected and find your conversion sweet-spot.

Data Democratization

We have more data than ever before, sometimes more than we know what to do with. If you were to narrow down data and scrutinize bounce rates on Google Analytics, you would probably start with entry and exit pages, then move on to user flow, keywords, location, language, device, browser compatibility, site speed, and more.

This is just one issue (bounces) and one data source (Google Analytics). Now imagine you add legacy data, POS transactions, social media conversations, survey results or feedback collected from trade events, and make inferences from the pool of data available: even if you are an insatiable data glutton, you’ll be quickly overwhelmed!

It is inappropriate, impractical, and immature to restrict data to the elite few, whether they are CEOs or domain-specialized data scientists, and expect them to make sense out of it for everyone. This is why 2016 has been heralded as the year of data democratization. Data democratization ensures everyone in an organization has access to data, and is therefore in a better position to make decisions.

Finish Line, an athletic apparel and footwear retailer with nearly 700 physical and online outlets, uses POS data, loyalty data, social streams, and beacon data to improve one-on-one communication and up-sell to customers. The results were impressive: Stephanie Bleymaier, Director of Digital Personalization and Loyalty, reported a 50% increase in email open rates and a 30% rise in return on social media ad spend. Guess where that would have taken conversions?

Related Class: Leverage Social & Customer Data for Email Relevancy

Other departments were able to “increase their efficiency...by tapping into the data pool,” Stephanie said. The first priority for any decent collaboration and data management tool is making data available to all users, ensuring healthy debate, consensus, leading to quicker, more informed decision-making.

The idea of data democratization may cause worries over security. But to protect sensitive data, you can use a sophisticated collaboration tool that offers secure file sharing, access control and group or individual level permissions, ensuring data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. For instance, campaign tracking and project management tool WorkZone allows users to share sensitive data and plans securely with a particular team, giving each person access to just the right amount of information.

workzone

Image Source: WorkZone screenshot

With this tool, users can send emails, comment, make changes or record meeting notes to data resources that are relevant to them. WorkZone also automates the approval workflow, sending requests to managers, tracking responses, and recording access. This way the entire team stays informed, and you have an organized, time-stamped record of all activity.

Data Decentralization

As we saw above, data democratization bought a significant jump in email open rates for Finish Line, but democratizing doesn’t happen on its own. You need to make your data more intelligent and intuitive for any layman to understand. A standard practice of data democratization is to collect data from all touch points and make it available to each and every user. This is known as data centralization.

From the conversion point of view, data centralization is an exercise in profiling every customer, by collecting data on their preferences and behavior from CRM, point of sale, logistics, customer services incident management, and other systems, integrating all of it in one common data bank. When you enter a particular query about the customer, their data is processed, de-duplicated, and cleaned to give you accurate search results in a simple, transparent and aesthetically pleasing format.

This is how data is crunched, in a cost-effective way in large organizations.

This is the way things have been done up until now.

This is a bad way to democratize data.

Data centralization makes your analytics sluggish and its results are unintuitive. Here’s an analogy: say you are a data scientist or a user, your furniture is your data, and your house is a storage unit. Data centralization means you put all your furniture in one single unit or a room so you have a single point of access. Now imagine finding and pulling something out of such a room.

Data decentralization means letting your data stay where it is, so each unit is able to localize, process, and analyze data in an agile manner. This way, you go directly to the kitchen if you need to access the chopping table, and consequently, get the job done quickly.

Telecom major Vodafone successfully kept their decentralized systems in operation and created a unified view of customer data for their customer service agents, while minimizing data replication by using Denodo’s data virtualization platform. Denodo added a data virtualization layer to legacy systems, liberating data by keeping it where it was, but allowing users to get a complete, updated view of customer data, even though it was scattered across disparate sources.

denodo

Image Source: Denodo

Vodafone was able to reduce average service response time from 6 to 2 minutes. They also found better upselling and cross-selling opportunities, retained more customers, and stretched the usability of existing data infrastructure as a result.

Related Class: Drowning in Data: How to Effectively Leverage Web Analytics

Data Transparency

The last piece of the puzzle is to increase the clarity and comprehensibility of data. When I say “data transparency,” I mean inside and outside the organization. In a bold move, Omniconvert (formerly Marketizator) announced a product revamp strategy that allows marketers and customers to decide on the features and capabilities for what they call “the first democratic CRO software.”

Source: Omniconvert screenshot

Perhaps Omniconvert’s strategy is risky. But it is also rewarding. It allows organizations to build products while maintaining close contact with their communities, ensuring customers get what they want. With this master stroke, Omniconvert has banded experts and users together to create a successful product that has the features and agility of an open source platform while maintaining the reliability and robustness of proprietary software.

Valentin Radu, CEO and founder at Omniconvert is optimistic about the move since “everyone can publicly see the priorities of the features as they are voted for.” The whole voting system is completely transparent, as every planned update with new features is publicly shown on the site. There’s also video streaming of all the kick-off meetings, making the whole process more engaging and open-sourced.

Over to You

These are just a few ways you can liberate data and make it more accessible to users, getting you to your goals faster. How does your organization use data in creative and intelligent ways to increase conversions? Let’s hear your stories in the comments below!

Tracy Vides is a content strategist and researcher who gives small business and entrepreneurs marketing and social media advice. Tracy is also a prolific blogger - her posts are featured on Engadget, She Owns It and Usability Geek. Connect with her on Twitter @TracyVides for a chat anytime!

Want to learn more about any of the subjects mentioned above? Here are some relevant classes: Leverage Social & Customer Data for Email RelevancyDrowning in Data: How to Effectively Leverage Web AnalyticsHow to Create a Data-Driven Culture

Visit the Online Marketing Institute  to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space. Ready to start learning? Sign up here here.

 


11 Ways to Acquire More Leads Using Your LinkedIn Profile

by

LinkedIn can be a great source for generating potential B2B leads if you know the right tactics. In this article, we’ll go over the top 11 strategies to acquire more leads from LinkedIn:

1- Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile to Connect with Potential Prospects

The very first step is optimizing your LinkedIn profile. In order to do this, you must expand your network by connecting with other industry users. The trick is to form connections with people who you’re unfamiliar with, with the goal of establishing a long term relationship whenever possible. However, this requires subtlety; otherwise, you might be seen as a spammer.

When LinkedIn users receive an invitation, there are two ways they can see it: their notifications bar, and the message inbox. The notifications bar showcases a small preview including your name, title, and the beginning of your message. If these are people who don’t know you, chances are they require more information before they accept your invite. To learn more about you, they’ll click on the invitation to view the full message.

The full message contains your name, picture, your title and tagline, and your message. A profile picture is very important, and without it, you won’t be taken seriously. Your job title will help users decide whether you’re worth connecting with or not.

The main thing that people check for when poring through your profile is legitimacy. The best thing you can do to help increase this is to simply make sure you’ve completely filled out the details of your profile page, including links to your website and published works if applicable. You may also try adding a line that lets people know you’re willing to connect with new users.

1

2- Tag Prospects and Influencers in Your Conversation

LinkedIn tags are a great way to enhance your efficiency and provide your sales cycle with a more streamlined process. These tags enable you to group your contacts any way you want, and though LinkedIn offers some generic options to start, the real fun begins when you create custom tags.

Filtering and organizing your connections becomes very simple with LinkedIn tags. Tags make it easier to understand various segments of your connections, based on details that are not available on their profiles. A maximum number of 200 tag categories may be used at a time.

You can tag based on location, clients, prospects, industry, media contacts, event tags, and strategic partners. It’s even possible to use LinkedIn tags in your sales process to identify their position in the sales cycle; you no longer have to worry about forgetting leads and tracking prospects.

2

Just click on the Tag button and select appropriate tags from the drop down, or create new ones

3- Frequently Add Connections to Your Network

It’s a good idea to invest a bit of time each working day to build your connections. Using the “People You May Know” list, you are able to broaden your social network easily. At the same time, you’ll become known as a person who reliably expands their network, which is important. Keep in mind that every person you speak to regarding work or business in the course of a business day is a prospective LinkedIn connection waiting to be added to your network.

3

4- Join Groups and Share Updates

LinkedIn enables you to interact with people who are present in the same groups as you. You can use this as a targeted method to add value to other users, expand your present networking with connections and prospects, or exchange helpful business insights. All it will cost you is five minutes of your time each day to post an update to your network. You can use this daily update time to post videos, blogs, or articles that will be of interest to your customers and prospects. You might even use the “Pulse” feature present on your dashboard. Every time an update gets posted, your profile is displayed on the feeds of all your connections. However, take care never to sell when posting updates. Use them only to share your business expertise and add value to your network.

4

Go to Interests, click on Groups, and step into the world of LinkedIn groups.

5- Buy LinkedIn Ads

LinkedIn ads allow you to get in front of suitable prospects. Ads improve your visibility, thereby increasing your “know, like and trust” factor in the community. LinkedIn ads possess great targeting options, and micro campaigns allow you to limit advertising costs, gain more visibility, and track your progress easily. Learn as much as possible about paid ads to maintain a high score and run the most effective campaign possible.

Ads can be bought in two ways: CPM, also known as cost-per-mille (‘mille’ meaning 1,000 impressions), and cost-per-click (CPC). For sponsored content, it’s probably best to go the CPC route. CPC ads generate fewer clicks in the short term, but LinkedIn will continue to show them until money is earned. This is helpful when you want visibility and recognition.

In the case of text ads, CPM is the way to go. These are great for lead generation.

5

Go to the Business Services menu and select the Advertise option to create an ad and explore your options.

6- Use Ad Rotation Strategically to Prevent Banner Blindness

When using LinkedIn ads, it’s best to create a bank of different ads for rotation, rather than putting all your eggs in one basket. This not only helps to prevent banner blindness, it also allows you to determine which ads perform the best. Choosing the winning ad can lead to a massive spike in conversions and clicks generated.

Applying for ad rotation is easy. You can rotate your ads evenly, or enable the LinkedIn algorithms to pick the best one. You should allow your ads to run for at least a couple of weeks before evaluating their performance, to make sure you have a large enough sample size. When you’ve found the best-performing ads, you can easily swap out the losers and begin testing new ones.

6

7- Regularly Post Your Articles on Pulse

Pulse is an amazing tool for LinkedIn users to discover meaningful, reliable content that they can share with their target market. Users who remain active on the platform will stay at the top of their network. This sort of passive awareness comes in handy when reaching out for an introduction. It is good practice to promote guest contributions on your LinkedIn profile and engage with potential customers by seeking feedback on your content. Posting articles frequently on Pulse gives you a chance to educate leads, which in turn adds to your value and leads to stronger relationships.

7

8- Adopt the Auto-Suggestions Provided by LinkedIn to Constantly Improve Profile Visibility

You will receive frequent notifications from LinkedIn to add new users to your network. Your ultimate goal should be to establish a connection with them and ensure that when they view your profile, they will see helpful and relevant information about your business. Growing your network on a regular basis will boost your profile visibility. Auto-suggestions are extremely helpful in connecting you with the right users in your industry. When it makes sense, it’s a good idea to ask for recommendations, and provide them to members of your network. This will strengthen the connections you already have, and increase the overall reputation of your profile.

8

9- Add Valuable Content to Your Sponsored Updates

Sponsored updates are a more subtle form of advertising that allow for more precise customer targeting. To use them effectively, you must first generate lots of quality content, then create different sponsored updates within a fixed time frame to promote that content to your target audience.

While this may seem like a lot of work, you can reap rich rewards as a result. The point of this method as opposed to CPM or CPC is to deliver value upfront in order to attract customers. When using sponsored updates, make sure to track your campaign’s success after it’s begun to evaluate the most valuable incentives and implement any changes to your sponsored updates in the future.

Take the time to learn how effective content is created to give your advertising strategy a tremendous boost.

9

10- Make Use of Advanced Search

Advanced search filters are a great way to search LinkedIn users based on their relationships, company size, seniority level, and function.

The first criteria you should use in the Advanced search is location, title, and industry. The trick to B2B sales is  targeting the same level of employer or employee in every company, and this is where the title filter comes in handy. If location is a factor to doing business, use the location filter ensures that all the contacts you find have the potential to do business with you, similarly, you can use the industry filter helps you scope out targets within your target industry.

10

Click on the Advanced option to the right of the search box on your LinkedIn homepage to access advanced search.

11- Run an Email Marketing Campaign on LinkedIn

LinkedIn has its own personal messaging system called InMail to help you connect with new users. It’s easy to apply for your own marketing campaigns. All you need to do is ask your round table and webinar guests to cover an event on their networks. This method works best if you send focused messages to recipients using the filtering tools offered by InMail. It is easy to filter recipients on the basis of industry, company size and role, and thereby locate ideal targets for boosting your campaign.

11

Final Thoughts

Nothing beats LinkedIn when it comes to highly relevant social media marketing. As an entrepreneur, creating an effective LinkedIn engagement strategy is a surefire way to acquire more leads and connect with the people who matter. With the profile management tips and tricks we’ve shared above, you’re now ready to leverage your profile to attract more leads than ever.

About the Author

Joydeep Bhattacharya is a digital marketing evangelist and author of the SEO blog, SEOsandwitch.com. He is a Google Adwords and Analytics certified professional helping brands increase their presence online. He can be reached via Twitter or Facebook.

Want to learn more about any of the subjects mentioned above? Here are some relevant classes: Creating a LinkedIn Engagement StrategyCreating and Curating Content People Love, Email Marketing Tactics

Visit the Online Marketing Institute  to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space. Ready to start learning? Sign up here here.

 


4 Critical Steps to Gain an Impressive B2B Online Reputation

by

Is the online reputation of your business heading south?

Do more negative than positive reviews come up when someone Googles your business?

Does your potential client-base prefer your competitors over you?

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, then this article is for you!

Why Online Reputation Matters for B2B Businesses

B2B decision-makers are forming an opinion of your business based on what the search engine giant Google has to say about it. Here are few stats that prove this fact:

  • 42% of potential clients Google the people that they are going to do business with.
  • 45% of people change their mind after reading about a company online.
  • 68% of business owners consider reviews to be the most important trust indicator.

Furthermore, although most B2B businesses have a higher profit margin when compared with B2C businesses, they also have a smaller customer base. Additionally, generating a lead in B2B is more difficult than in B2C. It is therefore vital for B2B businesses to build a solid reputation online.

There are a number of ways for a B2B business to build and maintain its online reputation. Here, I have assembled a list of 4 tactics to help you build a solid reputation for your firm in the industry vertical:

Step #1: Capitalize on the Benefits of Client Testimonials and Case Studies

To evaluate vendor products and services, the first thing a potential client will do is Google the business. The very next step is to visit the corporate website: this makes it vital for B2B entrepreneurs to ensure that no  mistakes are made when designing the website.

Website visitors tend to make decisions on impulse, so you only get a few seconds to impress them.

How can you turn visitors into customers in less than a minute?

The best way is by leveraging ‘Social Proof’.

Positive reviews and recommendations from clients on your website will entice visitors to stay longer and motivate them to take action. B2B entrepreneurs must therefore publish captivating client testimonials on the homepage. Another great way to build a positive reputation of your firm is to publish detailed case studies about client experiences with your firm.

You should also include snippets of your clients’ feedback in other marketing arenas such as email, social media posts and PPC ads.

Step #2: Harness the Potential of Social Media

Social media has revolutionized the world. Millions and millions of people are using social platforms to inform purchasing decisions, as well as to keep up with friends. This is true for B2B firms as well. If reports are to be believed, almost 81% of B2B decision makers use online communities to analyze a business.

This whopping figure makes it vital for B2B businesses to be actively present on social platforms. Moreover, search engine giant Google gives social platforms high authority. As such, positive comments on social platforms will lead to higher rankings with search algorithms.

However, not all social platforms are a good fit for your business. You need to figure out the ones where your target audience is present. Popular social platforms for B2B firms include Twitter, Linkedin and APSense.  

Being actively present on relevant social platforms gives you a golden opportunity to build brand awareness, establish credibility, and ensure that your business has a competitive advantage over others in your industry. It's important to study the best social media practices for business in order to succeed.

Step #3: Make Your Brand A Thought-Leader Through Content

The best tactic for a B2B business is to have an outstanding online reputation!

According to reports, content marketing is considered an important marketing strategy by 88% of B2B companiesso there is a high chance that your competitors are leveraging this tactic. To stand out from the crowd and create a strong impression of your company, brand yourself as a thought leader.

The key to being a thought-leader in your industry vertical is to regularly publish relevant, informative and fresh content.

To make your content contagious, figure out exactly what your target audience needs, what their problems related to your market are, how your product/service can help them in solving their problems, and build this information into engaging articles. Take the time to learn how engaging content is crafted, and make sure to keep track of the latest changes in your industry to prevent your platform from becoming irrelevant.

Maintain a content calendar and stick to it. This way you will get desired attention, build reputation in your industry, and generate qualified leads for your business.

Step #4: Invest in Monitoring Tools

These days, word-of-mouth travels almost at the speed of light, thanks to technology. The negative impact of this on B2B companies is that years of brand-building can be tarnished by a single negative comment or tweet on social media. Even worse, if the negative reviews are on review platforms with high search engine rankings, any potential customer doing a Google search on the company will probably see them. These negative search results can jeopardize your company’s online reputation.

This makes it crucial for all B2B companies to monitor and analyze conversations about their brand that are occurring in the social-sphere and on review platforms.

Social monitoring tools such as Mention, Topwalker and Topsy allow you to track conversations, demographics, geographics, keyword tags and more. Monitoring social conversations can help you alleviate a social media crisis before it spirals out of control. Monitoring tools can therefore help to strengthen your brand and improve your overall reputation.

Implementing a Reputation Strategy for Your Business

If you are not taking the aforementioned steps to build your online reputation, don’t forget - your competitors are.

It’s critical to tie your reputation strategy to your digital marketing strategy. Invest your dollars in building and maintaining your brand reputation. A strong reputation online will automatically promote your brand, generating more leads for your business.

Author Bio:

Kim Smith is a Content Consultant at GoodFirms, a full-fledged research firm that offers a transparent and unique platform for web development agencies to stand out from competition and magnify their industry-wide credibility and visibility. Online you can find her on twitter: @contactkim11

Want to learn more about any of the subjects mentioned above? Here are some relevant classes: Social Media Strategy for Business, Creating and Curating Content People LoveCrisis Management with Social Media

Visit the Online Marketing Institute  to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space. Ready to start learning? Sign up here here.

 


How to Create a Blog That Converts

by

If you are like most bloggers, you aren’t blogging as a hobby: you want to make some money. Making money boils down to converting traffic into sales. The first step is to figure out what you want to write about. It should relate to your business, and be valuable to your readers. Next, you need traffic, and various ways of getting visitors to buy your product or service. That's the short of it. Let's dive in a little deeper with 9 tips to help you on your way to a successful blog.

1. Speed Up

You need to have a fast website. Otherwise, your visitors are going to move on to one that is faster. According to Google, speed is one of the main things looked at in search ranking algorithms. Make sure that your site is as fast as possible, and don’t use a lot of high resolution videos that will slow things down. Videos are important, but to prevent long loading times,  it’s best to sparingly use shorter videos that will retain the attention of your visitors.

2. Make Sure Copy is Scannable

Many users will not give your page their full attention, so you need to make sure that it’s scannable. Keep paragraphs short so readers can easily discern the structure of your content. Use bullet points, dashes, arrows, etc. to get your points across, and readers will be more apt to pay attention to what you have to say. This will let you effectively lead them to the CTA.

3. Build a Subscriber List

It’s important to have an email marketing list if you want to grow your blog. Use your list to make connections and market your products or services. You will need to find the right email marketing tool, and you need a platform for storing subscribers. Once you have your list, you can send out regular newsletters, announcements, personalized notes, etc. to keep your business fresh in the minds of your customers. Be sure that your email content offers something of value to your customers, and draws them back to your website.

4. Use Visuals

Our brains process visuals a lot faster than text: 60,000 times faster, in fact. So, it goes without saying that content containing  a lot of visuals are going to be viewed more often than content with no visuals. Having awesome visuals engages visitors, and show readers what your business has to offer. Visuals include both photos and videos; the better they are,  the better your sales are ultimately going to be.

5. Use Your Call-to-Action

In order for you to get sales, customers have to act. That is why you need a call-to-action (CTA). You must ask your customers to do something. Use a CTA that is going to grab their attention, but make it simple: think titles like “Buy it Now” or “Download Now”. Make sure that the offer is tempting enough that they will want to take advantage and click on the CTA. If your CTA is persuasive and the customer finds your product valuable, chances are that they will go to the next step.

6. Make the Design Stand Out

Your landing page should be attractive and eye catching, and never cluttered. Take advantage of color psychology; soft blues create a calming sense, and red stimulates. Leave a bit of white space so that the page is easier to read. Use images and videos to grab attention, but don’t go overboard and bombard the senses of your readers with too much flash and bang. This often comes off as pushy and inauthentic.

7. Conduct Regular User Surveys

In order to know what your customers really want, you have to come right out and ask them. This is why it is so important to do customer surveys on a regular basis - for instance, users who create CoSchedule accounts are asked to take part in surveys at the point of registration, which allows CoSchedule to see what users are looking for.  You will need to use the right tool, such as Survey.io, which lets you create user surveys regularly. Use this feedback to make sure that you are giving customers what they need.

8. Offer Validation from the Big Guys

When you are able to do affiliate marketing, you can use name brands to draw readers to your own brand. It may take a bit of time and effort, but try to get brands that are well known, and avoid the lesser known brands. When people see brands they recognize on your site, they are going to associate you with the brands that they already know and trust.

9. Start a Podcast

Podcasts are a great way to build your personal brand and credibility. Through podcasts, you can inspire other bloggers and help them by offering guidance and support, using various online marketing tools. This is a great way of adding personal touch to your blog. Seize every opportunity to connect with your audience and deepen the relationship between your brand, and your readers.

Want to learn more about any of the topics discussed in this article? Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space. Ready to start learning? Sign up here.