7 Do’s and Don’ts of Email Signature Marketing

Did you know that every single day, approximately 144.8 billion emails are exchanged? And what’s more mind-blowing is that 84% of this mails end up in your spam folder. Don’t you think this kind of makes it obvious that many people are totally unaware of the aspects that are accountable for great marketing strategy?

You may think nobody even notices an email signature but the smartest online entrepreneurs will tell you otherwise.

It is more than just a decoration, an email signature is your identity to somebody you want to build a professional collaboration with and who knows simply nothing about you.

In fact, reports have shown that successful email marketing campaigns can garner 4300 percent ROI. Below, we will discuss 7 do’s and don’ts that’ll help you reach your marketing goals.

Do Find a Good Layout: This is the first and most important step for creating an impressive email signature that’ll promote your business. A good email signature should be informative and neat.

What information you’d need to put in the signature will depend on the kind of business you are promoting. Remember that everyone is a fan of simplicity.

So, keep the information to-the-point.

Don’t Clutter It with Too Much Information: There is absolutely no point in using an email signature to write your autobiography. If you overstuff your signature with truckloads of links and information, that would be a major turn-off for your potential clients.

The chances of anyone opening the never-ending list of URLs in your signature is too less.

Do Include Social Media Links: 21st century is all about making your presence felt over the web and social media platforms have leveled the ground for everyone. If you or your company has no presence on social media, people will find your business shady. That’s plain psychology.

Adding Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin links to your signature will help you generate more traffic and most importantly, your business will be talked about, that’s the goal, right?

Don’t Use Multiple Fonts and Colors: Minimalism is in vogue right now. Treat your email signature like a signature only, it is not a medium to show-off your graphic designing skills.

In order to avoid making the design overly complicated, limit the number of color palettes in the signature and always use only one type of font.

Using the same font you use for writing the email for the signature as well gives it a nice touch of professionalism. Choose a type and size of font that’s easy to read, e.g. Ariel, Calibri, Tahoma, Verdana, Gill Sans and a few more.

Do not use Comic Sans at any cost because you wouldn’t want to come across as an unprofessional, unserious business person, would you? To make the design clean and eye-catching, again, opt for the minimalist approach.

A pro tip is to take inspiration from the colors present in your logo. This will help your clients and users connect to your brand more effectively.

Do Include Your Blogs: Including your blogs, Podcasts, Webinar in your signature is also a smart marketing tactic in the digital era. If you keep adding fresh content on your blog and hyperlink it to your email, the recipients will get an easy access to new content and will keep coming back for more.

Don’t Use Personal Quotes Unnecessarily: If you’re promoting a serious business, you have to create a solid impact on the email recipients. The best way to do is include information related to the brand only. Using personal quotes, unless you are a globally recognized celebrity, would be over-the-top and kick of tacky as well.

Do Keep the Font Palette Small: Previously, we spoke about keeping the color palette small, now we will talk about the importance of keeping the font palette even smaller. The whole point of chalking out an impressive email signature is to increase brand awareness.

Using different fonts for highlighting different texts would make it look like school project of a student who ran out of materials to write about. If you want to get a flexible typeface that can be customized according to your liking, the internet has a plethora of options for you.

Don’t Add Long Disclaimers: Inserting a long disclaimer in email signatures is a very common mistake people make. Now you might argue that it’s better to be safe than sorry. Well, sorry to pop the bubble here.

No legal advisor will ever tell you that email disclaimers hold any weight. Its function is strictly limited to just annoying people.

Do Use Dividers: Use dividers to keep the contents of the signature organized and maintain a strong hierarchy. Full-bleed dividers will help the most important pieces of information in your signature like Name, Contact Info highlighted so that they readily capture the attention.

Don’t Jam It with Social Media Buttons: This might counterintuitive to our suggestion to use your email signature as a medium to general more traffic to your social media pages. Having said that, overdoing anything in an email signature has more demerits than otherwise.

Tailor your signature according to your target customers and the brand. Use maximum 4 social media buttons (use icons instead of URLs) to keep the space uncluttered.

Do Use Professional Headshots: Using a headshot instead of a full body photo (do not use selfies) is another tip you must follow to create lasting impact on the recipients. Make sure to look professional in the photo, dress in formals and keep the hair well-groomed, look directly at the camera and pose against a not-so-flashy background.

Headshots are best of email signatures because it highlights your face and as the image size would be small, it will take less time to load.

Don’t Use Too Many Images: Once again, let’s stick to “the lesser, the better” policy. Including too many images in the signature can make the emails end up in the Spam folder. Limit it to maximum 2 images. The pictures you choose should be relevant to the service you’re promoting.

Do Make the Signature Mobile-friendly: Everyone has smartphones these days and the number of people opening emails from their phones is ever-increasing. Did you know that 48% of the total mails delivered everyday are opened on phones. That’s something to take note of.

To kickstart a successful email signature marketing, you have to pay attention to the scale of your design. For small screens, you need to optimize the size of the logos, images, shorten the long website links and email addresses. If you are going to use a wide logo, make sure to use a vertical template.

Don’t Overcrowd with Too Much Content: As you might have already remembered by heart now, less is more when it comes to designing a cool and catchy email signature. Including irrelevant content like quotes and sagas of your achievements will only backfire.

5 Digital Marketing Mistakes to Avoid as an Ecommerce Business Owner

Running an e-commerce website is probably the most straightforward and barebones way to make money online. You effectively set up a shop and try to sell as many products as you can while adhering to the vast majority of rules that have governed retail business for millennia.

One huge part of running a store of any kind has always been marketing and in the e-commerce world, the majority of it will happen online. Unfortunately, many e-commerce business owners believe that digital marketing is nothing special and that anyone can just pick it up. As a result, they end up making mistakes that undermine their business and any positive marketing efforts they make as a whole.

Today, we will look at the five most common and harmful digital mistakes you have to avoid as an e-commerce business owner.

1. Going At It Alone

This is something that has already been hinted at in the introduction, but it is such a massive mistake that it needs to be talked about some more. Namely, due to an enormous number of “digital marketing experts” that write collective tomes online, many e-commerce business owners think there is no skill or expertise to digital marketing.

They start following half-baked advice from a self-proclaimed guru and they end up wasting tons of money on various digital marketing practices that do nothing for them.

There is a reason we have digital marketing agencies and people who make a living from it. They know how it works, they know the numbers, and they know the best ways to accomplish certain goals. Even if you are not planning on doing anything spectacular marketing-wise, it is still a good idea to consult a digital marketing expert or agency of some kind to do an audit of your website and recommend a few practices down the line.

2. Ignoring SEO

Search engine optimization is still surrounded by an aura of mystique and, for some people, it is still a half-tolerable practice that is used by people who wish to “fake” the results in search engines. E-commerce business owners who happen to think this way will soon find themselves in all kinds of trouble, if for nothing else, then because everyone else is doing SEO.

SEO has become an integral part of the online existence of any business and for e-commerce websites, it is perhaps even more important than for others due to the brutal competition online.

All SEO efforts should start from the website itself – getting the right domain name, setting up an SEO-friendly sitemap, being careful with meta descriptions and alt tags, using robots.txt file to prevent indexing of duplicate content and more.

Some e-commerce website owners also invest in paid Google and social media ads, while others go the content marketing and link building way. The important thing is not to ignore SEO and to at least incorporate some basic smart practices.

3. Neglecting Email Marketing

Email marketing has become undeservedly maligned some time ago, probably because most writers still see it as this outdated, ancient method that goes to spam and is of no use.

In reality, every digital marketer understands that email marketing still gets the job done, at a certain steady rate, providing a solid return on investment that can be easily tracked and that allows for simple tweaks to make it even more efficient.

Besides a proven track record and a certain stability, email marketing has also become far more versatile than it has been in previous years. For example, it is now used to increase customer loyalty, to reward oldest customers, to reduce customer churn, to retarget customers who didn’t make a purchase and much, much more.

It is also important to point out that people actually want their favorite stores to send them email updates, as opposed to being bombarded by salesy stuff on social media where it feels intrusive.

4. Misusing Social Media

Social media is not ad space. The sooner everyone realizes this, the better we will be off. People tend to filter out the vast majority of promo material on social media, especially if it is done half-heartedly and without any tact.

Unfortunately, this is the way most e-commerce businesses do it.

Social media is about interacting with customers and potential customers, allowing them to engage with your brand and become more than just people who spend money on your products. Many e-commerce companies even use social media to provide customer service and help out their customers as quickly as possible.

Of course, you will be promoting your company and your products along the way, but it should never be the primary reason for your social media presence.

5. Falling For Hype

If there is one thing you should definitely avoid as an e-commerce business owner, then it is falling for various iterations of digital marketing hype. The reason why a certain practice or idea gets hyped to oblivion nowadays is that new stuff attracts clicks and everyone jumps on the bandwagon, from website owners to writers to aforementioned “digital marketing experts”.

And while these overhyped practices and ideas have their use in certain situations and for certain companies, they are almost never something that can be transplanted to just about any company on the web.

Before you get swept up in the latest digital marketing craze, stop and think long and hard whether it makes sense for your e-commerce store. For instance, account-based marketing, a perfectly effective B2B marketing technique will have absolutely no sense for an e-commerce store.

Be critical of new ideas. Do not be crusty or dogmatically negative, but make sure you have vetted every idea properly.

How to Make Your Business Blog Look More Professional

Your business blog has a lot of important jobs to do. You want to use it to establish your business as an authority in its niche, to keep in touch with current and future customers, and turn your readers into buyers. In order to do that, you need to have a blog that inspires trust. Your followers deserve a clean, professional looking blog. You’re trying to win them over, and how much care and attention you put into your blog just might be the most important factor in that process.

Choose the Right Color Scheme

Colors are more important than a lot of people realize. If they’re all mismatched, a cohesive theme is lost. If your blog is mostly black and white, it may look poorly maintained. Certain color schemes evoke certain feelings. Colors should match your brand and be consistent throughout your blog. You want enough contrast between your background and font colors in order to make the blog easy to read. Navigational features should be colored to stand out, and areas of interest should pop against plain content.

Improve Your Graphics

If you’re relying heavily on things like stock images and text tables, your readers are going to notice. You need custom graphics. For blog posts that feature a lot of information, it’s worth translating some of that information into an infographic. Since most people are visual learners, you want to make sure you’re paying enough attention to the visuals they’re getting. If you’re not a graphic designer, you can always hire one on Gumtree to refresh the graphics you currently have and generate new ones for posts.

Make Navigation Simple

You want your readers to click around on your business blog. The longer they’re there, the more interested they are in what you’re doing. If they can’t find the rest of your content, there’s no reason for them to stick around. Make sure your blog is highly organized. Get rid of clickables, widgets, and features that add no value to your blog. Keep your menus sleek and simple, and make sure all of your navigation is optimized for mobile. Since about half of your blog’s traffic will come from smartphones, you need to be sure everyone can use it.

Have a Thorough “About” Page

Who is behind your blog? How are your readers to know that you aren’t some lonesome guy or gal camping out in a basement? Make sure your “About Us” page features valuable information about your business. Let them see addresses, phone numbers, and contact information. Feature short profiles on the employees responsible for running the blog. It shows that you’re committed enough to what you do that you’re willing to put your name on it, and reinforces the concept that you’re all real people. This is great for both trust and professionalism.

Be Careful With Ads and Clutter

Blogs that are littered with advertisements, whether they’re for your own products and services or general ads placed for revenue, often translate as eyesores. If you have a lot of junk all over the place, your blog might seem less like a valuable resource and more like a clickbait scam. If you want people to take you seriously, you need to be very careful with your advertisements. If your readers feel like all you care about is making money, they’ll lose sight when it comes to the value you actually provide.

Always be willing to accept feedback from your readers. Make sure you’re active in the comments section. If they don’t like the way something looks or works on their blog, they’ll probably tell you. Be a good listener, and be willing to make improvements when your readers suggest them.

As part of a small marketing team, Margaret Austin, likes to write about digital marketing trends and anything that helps entrepreneurs to grow their businesses. She’s interested in photography and modern art.

Why Your Campaign Never Works Out The Way You Plan

You’ve been there, and you’ve felt it before. Your marketing campaign has failed – yet again. Even though the budget was large enough, and you did everything right, it turned out that final result is well below satisfactory.

If you want to be on top of the game in the fast-paced world of digital marketing,  it is of utmost importance to constantly adapt to new trends and changes. However, if you want to get in and stay in the game, there are a few basic rules you must abide to avoid most common mistakes of digital marketing campaigns.

Your plan isn’t solid, and you lack focus

Charging blindly into the battle will most likely result in utter obliteration of one’s armies –  unless they have an overwhelming force, that is. Similarly, unless you are equipped with ‘out of this world’ budget, choosing to start a campaign without the proper plan will most likely result in a failure.

Your digital strategy should embody your brand, include your audience, and have clear, measurable goals that focus on your business growth. However, the most important part is budget and finance managing – a thoughtfully planned and well-executed campaign can easily outperform lazy, mass-media ad buys.

Once you’ve made a solid plan, you have to maintain the focus and stick to it. First of all, invest your time in areas that will bring you quick and measurable reward. Only after that, you can turn to long-term goals, which should bring you the success of greater magnitude. The key component here is persistence, so keep your eyes on the prize and maintain focus at all costs.

You are setting unclear goals

Before you even start you need to know two things: what exactly you want to accomplish and how to make sure you’ve successfully achieved your goal. Therefore, sit your team down, set right expectations, consult your budget, and get cracking.

Goals of every campaign you launch should be realistic, no question. However, to determine if your campaign was a success or failure, you will need to measure it up against a certain metric. Choosing it is entirely up to you, but it may be nice to mention the most common ones:

  • Was the budget breached?
  • Did we reach the targeted audience?
  • Has our audience taken any desired action and in what manner?

Choose audience and numbers by taking a look at the past campaigns and reanalyzing them once again. Also, do not forget to make “from start till the end” timeline, as it will be crucial for determining milestones and deadlines.

You don’t know or care about your audience

If you are selling toy dolls, targeting middle-aged men would be absurd. Similarly, you will not try to sell a set of kitchen knives to 12-year-old children. Knowing your audience is the first place to start in building your digital marketing strategy. Without a clear understanding of their needs, it is very likely that your entire strategy will crumble. Also, your audience is constantly changing and evolving, so you may have to make minor or major shifts in your digital strategy.

So you have to take into consideration which your specific audience visits social media platforms. It is highly unlikely that 50-year-old man will have a Snapchat account just as a college student doesn’t necessarily visit LinkedIn that often. Trying to engage with users on every app available is hard (almost unachievable), so knowing your target audience and then utilizing the proper social media platforms to engage with them is a base for the success of your social media campaign.

Finally, respect them. If you are going to bombard them with email, make sure that all links included are working. If you are going to opt for coupons, make sure they are valid when your customer reaches the checkout site of your online store. As a marketer, you need to regularly walk through the customer acquisition and engagement funnels, and try to spot any errors or inconsistencies that confuse customers and prevent them from completing their purchase.

You are old fashioned and inflexible

Marketing is changing rapidly and constantly. Adapt or perish.

It’s simple: pre-internet marketing will never be applicable online. So if you are old-school marketing expert who thinks that 1980’s handbooks are still viable, then you are probably going to have a bad time. The fact of the matter is that people behave differently on the web than they did with the media of the past. The internet provides them with more control, choices and accessible information than ever before, so TV and Radio ads simply do not have the same impact. When it comes to digital marketing, it is all about pinpointing the right audience and targeting them with the right content at the right time.

One more mistake that old fashioned marketing managers make is forcing the single “Right” message across all channels. Yes it is less work, and yes it costs a lot less, but it is a lot less efficient. Modern market is incredibly diverse and fragmented, so campaigns should rely heavily on data and take multiple angles in the product advertising approach. The formula is simple – different information for different types of buyers. Most people you are trying to reach care for no one but themselves and their needs, which is why they became masters to shutting out everything that isn’t relevant to them.

You are keeping your team and clients in the dark

Leading a campaign should be a team effort. It is an endeavor that requires careful project planning and diligence, not only from you but your co-workers as well. Also, you are doing it for a client. That client could be the company you are working for or an outsider who hired your team for a ‘one time ride’.

Each stakeholder is essential for the campaign to function properly, so keeping any one (or worse everyone) in the dark is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Why? Well simply because your team members may be able to offer you creative suggestions which you didn’t even consider. Also, they might recognize opportunities you missed. Don’t do everything yourself – you don’t have to. Make a centralized platform for your team, gather ideas and delegate tasks. If anything, you will be more productive. If you opt for the right tool, you can include your clients as well, thus making client management issue a non-issue.

To conclude, a successful marketing campaign requires a lot of planning, communication, coordination, and flexibility. So plan well, set clear and attainable goals, mind your audience and include all stakeholders in campaign development. It may be difficult at first, but you can rest assured that over time these mistakes will become a thing of the past.

Here’s How to Make Your Boring Company Blog Interesting

Blogs succeed when they publish content that people find useful and entertaining. Knowing this, you want to make your business come alive and seem both interesting and fun. Unfortunately, not every business has a business model that naturally captivates the masses.

Already, you know that a blog can help you establish your firm as an authority in your industry. Through it, you can also pitch your products and inform your market about related issues and events. Still, earning something more than a “ho-hum” from the online public might seem almost impossible. You can change that.

Your blog can humanize your brand and give it personality. In fact, it can pleasantly surprise your readers by piquing their interest and stimulating their minds. Even better, people might find that your blog helps them solve problems while enjoying a fantastic customer experience.

Of course, talking about having an exciting blog sounds great, but making it a reality for your company might take hard work. Regardless of whether you need to revamp your existing blog or start a new one from scratch, here’s how to make your company blog interesting enough to increase your market share and boost your profits.

Blog’s Design: Make Content The Focus

Blogs of practically every kind crowd the Internet, so standing out requires a fabulous design that features the high-quality content that you produce. In light of your need to put your brand in the spotlight, make sure you keep advertisements away from your text and avoid inserting ads in the middle of your posts.

In the first place, your design communicates your priorities. When people see that your advertising is of secondary importance to your commitment to delivering value to the community, they will naturally reward your brand as they shop. In fact, creating an outstanding experience requires visually appealing text with short paragraphs, bold points, and fascinating images.

 

The Best Blog Content Answers Customer Questions

Make sure that everything you publish meets the real-life needs of real people. When you do this, you give people reasons to continue visiting your blog and keep up with your brand. Moreover, you create a reputation of having a company that first gives to others and later reaps rewards in the form of sales.

Your blog should also give people confidence that you stand behind every sale by answering questions that people have about your products and services after they buy. Needless to say, accomplishing this will require careful planning and creativity. Begin the job by developing an intimate knowledge of your ideal customers and finish it by addressing their questions and challenges.

As you display your expertise, make sure that you encourage conversations. If you do, people will visit your blog to participate in the community to get the latest updates and to leave comments and contributions that increase the value of your site.

 

Keep It Simple

You and your team have expert knowledge of your products and services as well as your industry. In the light of this fact, you should refrain from creating content that only experts can understand. In other words, the use of jargon and insider terminology on your blog can become a problem for new shoppers and prospects.

Make your blog interesting without sacrificing quality by conversing with your audience as you would with a friend. In the event that you cover difficult concepts, break them down into manageable chunks to keep readers engaged. Additionally, you can tell stories about real-life experiences that can build rapport with your audience and simplify your message.

Another way to keep your blog simple is to publish a series to deliver in-depth coverage of complicated topics. To begin with, this avoids discouraging visitors with lengthy articles that seem to never end. Furthermore, such an approach keeps visitors coming back for the next part of the series.

Increase Engagement

What is the purpose of your blog? Ultimately, your blog exists for the purpose of connecting with your audience. Making that possible, however, requires you to create a transparent aura to which people can relate. For example, you can talk frankly about the issues that have challenged you and your firm and how you overcame them.

If you operate a manufacturing company, you can use your blog to present prototypes of your product ideas that people can view online and then offer their feedback. As a result of your solicitation for feedback, you can gain valuable advice for creating a winning product while giving your audience a sense of purpose and value. When you increase engagement, you set your company apart from competitors who secretively develop products and expect customers to conform to their designs.

In addition to soliciting feedback, you can use your blog to post client interviews so that prospects can learn about the efficacy of your products from real-world accounts. To add to the engagement effect, you should also consider giving your blog visitors advance access to your new products and services. In summary, everything you do to improve audience engagement will help you build a loyal following that can lead to sustainable revenue growth.

Use Visuals to Complement Your Text

Plain text can cause weariness for the eyes and dull the mind. After all, endless lines of words can become tedious. Knowing this, why not create a diverse array of content types? A picture can indeed convey a thousand words.

Connect visually with your audience by incorporating visual content including videos and photos to communicate your message. Sometimes, especially in cases that involve complex ideas and complicated products and services, an infographic can accomplish more than a thorough text-based discourse.

Think about convenience in addition to effectiveness while contemplating visual content. Nowadays, people are busier than ever and need to quickly assimilate the information they need. Knowing this, when you answer their questions visually, you save them the time that a written article would require. Moreover, if you provide audio content such as a podcast, people can listen to your content while they do something else.

Final Words


Even if you operate in a boring, mundane industry you can find ways to intrigue your audience. In fact, some products are so boring that no one would ever predict that you could make them interesting.

Rise above audience expectations by creating content that meets the real-world needs of your audience. Additionally, when you present your message in simple ways, you make your products and services easy for your new prospects and customers to understand.

Now that you know how to make your boring blog interesting, get to work! Interact with your audience, communicate visually and watch your sales and profits soar.

Author Bio

Heather Redding is a tech enthusiast and freelance writer based in Aurora, Illinois. She is a coffee-addict who enjoys swimming and reading. Street photography is her newly discovered artistic outlet and she likes to capture life’s little moments with her camera. You can reach Heather via Twitter.

7 Harmful Mistakes Businesses Should Avoid on Social Media

Businesses have discovered the power of social media and have flocked to popular social networks to attract leads, pitch sales, and service customers. Despite their concentrated effort to connect with audiences via social sites, only a few businesses have thrived there.

All things considered, improper approaches to social media provide the best explanation for failure. Unlike some conventional thinking, companies cannot achieve success only by opening accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other venues. In fact, a successful social media strategy takes a lot of work.

If you want to achieve great things using social media, you must have realistic expectations and invest your time, money and effort in ways that will contribute to your goals. Additionally, you should learn to avoid making the following seven harmful mistakes on social media.

1. Making Aggressive Sales Pitches

Some businesses assume that social media exists as a channel for promoting products and pushing sales. Even though you can at times announce promotions and make special offers on your social media profiles, too much of that activity will turn off your audience and cause your reputation in the online community to fade.

As you avoid making the mistake of constant advertising, remember also to avoid bragging. Rather than constantly hyping your products and showcasing the excellence of your brand, focus on building relationships. If you make people feel important and create value for them, they can become enamored with your business and have reason to choose you over your competitors.

2. Bombarding with Messages

In the first place, you should remember the difference between creating value and becoming a nuisance. In contrast to the many social media failures of the companies who bombarded their audience with incessant messaging, try to take it easy. As much as you want to get noticed on social networks, you should always ensure to post content in moderation.

By all means, you should create valuable content that solves problems and improves lives. As you go about your work, however, make sure you always make your content interesting and diverse: from insightful articles to short and funny reminders. Always create fresh content rather than sending out repetitive messages that can quickly bore your followers.

3. Being Too Passive

Moderating your use of sales pitches and restraining the number of messages you send on social media should never keep you from having an active social presence. Such a mistake goes on display countless times when companies create a Facebook page only to leave it idle, hoping for people to discover it.

Actively engage your audience by maintaining a lively interactive presence. Such an approach requires a lot of time, so make sure you enlist the help of your staff. Also, you should respond to every comment and feel free to share fun content such as jokes and memes that your customers might enjoy.

4. Ignoring the Community

Your effort to engage social media users should help you avoid the common mistake of ignoring the community. In contrast to firms that only use social networks to publish information, your business should create a two-way street where you and your followers routinely converse and share content. When you talk to your fans and socialize, you give a human touch to your brand.

Even when businesses create meaningful dialogs on social media, they sometimes fail to leverage the full value of their audience. How to achieve the latter? For example, you can actively solicit feedback from customers to learn about their experiences. Doing so helps your brand appear transparent and sincere while supplying you with a stream of information that can help you better serve your customers.

5. Poor Customer Care

Speaking of customers, successful firms have discovered that social networks provide a fantastic channel for customer service. Never make the mistake of ignoring their comments, especially when they come from dissatisfied customers. Rather than allowing customers to feel unimportant and ignored, make sure you promptly address their concerns.
Even when people say embarrassing things about your brand, you can use the situation to display your dedication to customer satisfaction. Furthermore, as the world looks on, you will earn their trust by demonstrating that you stand behind every sale. As a matter of fact, news of your excellent service will quickly spread.

6. Acting Like a Robot

Make your brand come alive by letting your personality shine as part of your brand. People want to connect with other people on social media. Notwithstanding, many companies use a robotic tone on social networks and create a mechanical, sterile aura for their brand. You can do better! Allow yourself to use humor, emoticons and casual speech as you interact with others.

Above all, make you and your brand approachable. Do this not only by avoiding arrogance but also by making friendly gestures and sincerely communicating your feelings. Of course, you must always stay vigilant because you never want to say anything offensive or behave flippantly. In other words, stay professional, but personable at all times.

7. Lack of Grammar Skills

Repeatedly, companies that attempt to use social media hurt themselves through their writing. When you write with improper grammar and fail to spell words properly, you communicate a lack of professionalism. So spend the necessary time to proofread your content to make sure it reflects positively on your business.

Poor grammar can also cause social media failure when you produce video and graphic content. The greatest message in the world can quickly become the subject of ridicule if the messenger comes across as either ignorant or uneducated. Knowing this, make sure that everything you post to social media communicates competence, professionalism, and confidence.

Conclusion

In summary, you can use social media to grow your business, but doing so requires you to learn from the mistakes of others. By working hard and ensuring that you create both a personable and professional image for your firm, you can build profitable relationships and a stellar reputation for your brand.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Helen Eagleton, a freelance blogger from Boston, follows topics in the realm of education, technology, digital marketing, and business in general. When she’s not researching for her next article, she enjoys watching documentaries and exploring the nature. Reach her @eagleton_helen

Top 7 Free SEO Tools for Small Business Owners

Search engine optimization involves a lot more than just keywords and XML tags. Effective SEO requires market research, competitive analysis, coding, evaluation of website analytics, content marketing, and converting visitors into customers or followers. Choosing the right tools is the key to accomplishing all the work needed for competent SEO. Fortunately, many of these tools are available for free:

1. Google Analytics

This is the most powerful weapon in the arsenal of SEO professionals. All it takes is a few lines of code implemented into a website to unleash a treasure trove of insights about visitors, their actions on your website and their preferences.

One of the best features of this tool is the vast amount of learning and training resources available to beginners and advanced users alike. The free version of Google Analytics is powerful enough to be used by Fortune 500 companies; the premium version has, even more, features that can be used to fine-tune SEO, content and website layout strategies.

2. Google Search Console

Similar to Google Analytics, this tool is a must-have for website administrators, SEO practitioners, and internet marketers. Previously known as Webmaster Tools, the Search Console can be used to see how Google crawls and indexes a website so that improvements can be made.

One of the most powerful features of this tool includes the Disavow Link option to eliminate negative inbound URLs. Another useful function is the crawl report, which lists errors that should be corrected to improve page rank and search engine visibility.

3. Google Keyword Planner

Another fantastic free tool offered by Google; this one is actually part of the AdWords online advertising machine but it can be freely used to conduct keyword research and to analyze search trends.

It is important to remember that the estimates given for monthly search volume may not be accurate, particularly since Google intends to get users to launch AdWords campaigns. Nonetheless, this is a great tool to evaluate longtail keywords. Since the Keyword Planner is plugged into Google Search Insights, users can trust that their research will be current and congruent with ongoing search trends.

4. Moz Open Site Explorer

One of the most important aspects of modern SEO is to cultivate good backlinking practices, which can be greatly augmented with this tool by Moz, a very respected name in online marketing.

The ranking of websites by domain authority is very useful not only in terms of pursuing inbound links but also to get ideas on potential content and layout strategies. The Site Explorer determines the keywords that are actually working for websites based on visitors and content, thus allowing administrators to work on increasing the authority of their pages.

5. MozBar

This abbreviated version of Open Site Explorer provides a lot of functionality in a single browser bar. With a single click of the Moz button, the bar provides users with Domain and Page Authority metrics according to various search profiles that can be customized to account for the geolocation of the searchers.

With the MozBar, search profiles can also be changed with just a couple of clicks to learn more about the browsing and searching habits of audiences in other countries. With the premium version of this tool, users can also view the keyword difficulty for any search term or string, and they can also investigate the page optimization options related to specific keywords.

6. Yoast

Hands down, this is the best SEO plugin for WordPress websites. The best way to use Yoast is to install it at the same time the website is being created. By doing so, website administrators will be able to create the global metadata necessary to start publishing and optimizing.

Once new pages or posts are ready to be posted, the Yoast plugin examines the content and structure to issue SEO recommendations based on a traffic light scheme of red, yellow and green. Content creators who use Yoast regularly will notice themselves becoming more proficient in terms of creating blog posts, articles and new pages that are truly SEO-friendly.

7. SEMRush

This is the tool recommended by SEO professionals for advanced keyword research. The powerful features of SEMRush are intuitive and easy enough to use for the benefit of small business owners and website administrators who handle their own SEO.

For many users, SEMRush will feel as the only tool they will need for their online marketing needs. Users can access keyword intelligence for any website to learn how frequently those terms appear in search queries every month. SEMRush integrates with the SEOBook and SEOQuake products created by associate developers. The free version of this tool allows a few searches each day; with the premium version, users get more insight and freedom to explore more keywords.

Bonus: 8. Linkio

Anchor text has come into the cross hairs for Google over the past several years. Getting a good anchor text strategy is important for results, but it’s not always possible to carve out time for the deep analysis (or have the expertise for it).

Linkio.com makes this exercise easier by automating much of the grunt work associated with a deep analysis.

This includes automated backlink imports, an anchor text categorization algorithm and suggesting the next anchors to use based on ideal percentages.

In the end, becoming proficient with SEO requires some research to learn the basics followed by constant practice that can be accomplished by regular use of the tools listed herein. Small business owners who master the use of these tools will be well on their way to staying ahead of their competitors.

Choosing the Best E-Commerce Platform – 5 Tips for Entrepreneurs

Once you have decided to launch an e-commerce store, your next step is to choose the best e-commerce platform. Even after a brief online search, you will find that there are numerous e-commerce solutions on the market. They all have different features, support options, and customer ratings.

Avoid making a hasty decision about this important part of your online business. Instead, look for the e-commerce platform that best meets both the present and future needs of your company. Your choice can affect your business for many years to come, so take your time making the right decision. To help you decide, here are five tips that will help you choose the best e-commerce platform.

1. Look for Functionality and Ease of Use

You want to find an e-commerce package that combines advanced features with ease of use. After all, what good is a platform if no one knows how to use it? Similarly, you should think about your future plans and make sure that your solution will support them.

Your new e-commerce platform, regardless of its price or capability, should have the ability to import and export data into other formats. In addition, it should make adding and creating content as easy as possible. Failure to consider these vital matters can degrade the customer experience and cost you much in terms of lost sales.

While assessing the functions and simplicity of any e-commerce solution, remember to look for one that has a robust content management system. Such platform will help you speedily update your website without distracting team members from their core responsibilities.

There are more and more customers who use mobile devices to shop and will probably not buy from you if your site is slow or hard to navigate. This is why it is crucial for your platform for online sales to work well on mobile devices. This means that it will load quickly on smartphones and provide an uncluttered interface with easily accessible elements such as buttons.

2. Ensure that Your Payment Gateway is Supported

Practically all online sales require a secure payment gateway. If you already have a gateway, you need to make sure that your e-commerce platform supports it. If you have yet to sign up with a payment processor, now is a good time to think about how you want to get paid.

Every e-commerce package needs to connect with a secure service that allows customers to pay for their orders using a credit card or alternative methods such as Google wallet, Apple Pay or PayPal. You want to get maximum flexibility, which makes a digital solution that connects to a broad range of payment options your best choice.

Some e-commerce platforms offer low transaction fees but have unwieldy interfaces that add unnecessary steps to the checkout process. Ideally, you need to find a healthy balance between cost, security, and simplicity. Doing so will allow you to offer your customers multiple payment options without causing headaches.

Remembering that not every e-commerce package works with every gateway could be one of the most important factors in your decision. If you end up with a store and a payment processor that are incompatible, you might have to spend a lot of time and money creating a viable custom solution.

3. Make Site Security a Priority

The security of e-commerce businesses continues to rank among the top concerns of online shoppers. Although your payment gateway is vital to online security, the software or service that runs your store also plays a major role. Your payment processor should abide by PCI security standards that are designed to enhance confidence in e-commerce experience. Still, you should learn about those best practices and verify that your online store supports them.

Many digital solutions for online stores include enhanced security features and optional packages that help protect your company from fraud and other malicious activity that can affect you and your clients. Even if you want to avoid the added expense of those features now, keep in mind that you might decide to add them later. Choosing an e-commerce product that has such options can, therefore, save you time, money and inconvenience in the future.

4. Consider Your Current and Future Needs

You can improve the performance of every part of your business by considering both future and present needs. Such an approach creates a clear path for growth and maximizes the use of your financial resources. By acquiring an e-commerce platform that is a long-term solution, you insulate your business from the disruptions caused by changing technology.

Focusing on the current needs of your business ensures that you have an online store with adequate capabilities. If you want to have a smooth future operation, however, you should remember that your business will evolve as products, markets, regulations change.

If your company has extended customer lifecycles, you will need to have an e-commerce platform that can track the behavior of every customer over time. This also requires features that help your firm supply personalized engagements which can lead to high levels of satisfaction and loyalty.

Remember that your business will probably change over time, so you need an e-commerce platform that can be easily adapted. Just as you should create a business growth strategy that fits your e-commerce business, you should also choose the e-commerce platform that gives you the flexibility and scalability needed to accommodate new strategies that you might develop in the future.

5. Focus on an Active Support System

As an entrepreneur, you want to focus on developing fantastic products and services that transform the lives of your customers. Moreover, you want an exceptional customer service strategy that builds a solid reputation for your brand. Your e-commerce system can help, if it comes with active support options.

Automated and self-service customer support options minimize the cost of customer service while supplying customers with the rapid and accurate responses that they deserve. The around-the-clock support made possible by a robust e-commerce platform can, in fact, create a major competitive advantage for your company.

What will you do if your online store crashes? Every second your online store is down you lose customers. You need to make sure that both your payment processor and the vendor supplying your e-commerce platform have sufficient people and systems in place to quickly respond to any issues.

Final Thoughts

Your decision to expand your business online can either fulfill your dreams or give you nightmares. You can use the above tips to guide you as you search for the platform that meets all your present and future needs. By carefully comparing the capabilities, specifications and support options of available packages, you will have the confidence needed to create an outstanding customer experience and build a renowned brand.

About the Author

Lisa Michaels is a freelance writer, editor and a striving content marketing consultant from Portland. Being self-employed, she does her best to stay on top of the current trends in the business world. Feel free to connect with her on Twitter @LisaBMichaels.

Essential Tips for Growing your Following on Social Media

If you want to grow your brand in the modern day, making the most out of the power of social media is the way to go. This means that the more following you on social media, the more audience you are able to reach.
There are right ways, wrong ways, and smart ways harness the power of social media. How can you grow your following on social media to build an audience of customers around your business? Here are some methods that you can use to build a following, and increase engagement for your brand.

1. Decide Which Social Networks You are Going to Target

Create an account on all the top social networks; Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest. It makes it easier for potential customers to find you, or talk about you, on Twitter, for example, one can easily mention you on a tweet if they are talking about your business. This makes it easier for someone following the conversation to find you.
Do your research. Find out where your target market is spending most of their time and focus more on those social networks. This will help you build your customer base and satisfy the ones you already have.

2. Optimise Your Social Media Profiles

People mainly post the same thing in the exact same way on all social media platforms, this isn’t right. All of the posts you are putting out there should be different depending on the social media platform you are using. For example, you’ll need great photos to go with an Instagram post and a short precise post for your twitter account. Everysocial media account should have a suitable delivery style.

3. Have Consistent and High-Quality Content

Creating a social media presence is more than just the number of likes a single post gets, it always comes down to content. It’s tempting to put up a post that will get you instant likes, but, it will not help in building your brand if the content doesn’t go hand in hand with your message.
If you are putting up high-quality posts on a regular basis, that is consistent with your message, you will build a fan base on social media that will continuously follow and share whatever it is you post, provided it’s relevant to your brand.
Remember, not all content will be popular but it is still important. Things like testimonials won’t get a lot of likes or shares, but they are important pieces if you want to make the market perceive you as a successful business.

4. Be Real

One of the things that make a social media page successful is if it’s real. If your fans can feel a connection to your brand, they will be more likely to follow you. Connect with your followers; reply to mentions, engage, and build relationships with your customers.

5. Link your Social Media Profiles

If you have a website or a blog, which you should, put up links to all of your social media profiles. For example, include a link to your Instagram account and website on your Facebook account. This makes it easier for someone who has found your Facebook page, to get to the Instagram page or your website and vice versa.

6. Make Use of Sponsored Posts

At a fee, some social media sites will promote a post for you. This makes it possible for your posts to reach a much larger audience, depending on your budget. This will help in making more people aware of your brand.

How to Make Content Marketing Work Without Breaking the Bank

On today’s Internet, content is king. The days of being able to throw together a website and do some search engine optimization magic to get immediate traffic are over. Google and other search engines value high-quality content more than ever, and creating it is the key to your online success. Content creation has a high return on investment, helps tremendously with search engine optimization, and can bring you increased leads and sales. When compared to other methods of customer acquisition, it is typically much more profitable as well.

If your company has a large budget to work with in the content creation realm, that can significantly speed up the process of implementing your content plan. However, many companies don’t have the budget to pay for a great deal of custom content. Although you can definitely spend as much money as you want on content creation, there are ways to go about it that won’t bankrupt your company. In reality, you can create great content without spending a lot of money. In some cases, you can do it for almost nothing.

Content Marketing Strategy

While content marketing doesn’t have to be expensive, it can cost you a lot of wasted time and energy if you’re not careful. What do you want to accomplish with your content marketing strategy? Do you want to convey a certain image or voice for your brand? Are you hoping to educate people on a complex topic or generate some buzz and attention? Do you hope to get more leads, more visits to your website, or look like the authority in your area of expertise?

Set achievable goals in relation to your content strategy. Make sure that the goals are specific, written down and measurable. Using vague descriptions of what you want to accomplish will result in vague results. The more specific you can be, the more realistic your goals become.

Start doing some research. Think about the ideal person that you’re trying to reach with your content. What are they searching for? What are they hoping to accomplish? Look at their current pain points and what issues they are having. In addition to looking at the pain points of your ideal customer, you should also take a look at the types of content that your competitors are making. If you can make similar content, only better, your chances of success will increase substantially. You don’t have to recreate the wheel if you find something that’s working well.

Before getting started with the content creation, you should also figure out a way to measure your performance. If necessary, get some software that will track all of the key performance indicators (KPI) that will determine if you’re successful. Google Analytics is a free platform that does much of what you’ll need, but if it’s not what you are looking for, there are many other programs out there to choose from.

Spend some time thinking about how you will promote your content. Depending on your target customer and your region, you’ll want to make sure you choose the correct social media platform to work with.

Before you begin making the content, you should also create a content calendar. A content calendar will guide your content creation strategy and help you stay on task.

Starting a Blog

One of the most basic and most important steps you can take in content creation is starting a blog. It only takes a couple of minutes to get started on WordPress, and it is a very simple platform to use. Although you always have the option of hiring a copywriter to write your posts for you, it’s not always necessary. You can write the posts yourself. If you have a staff to work with, pick some with the best writing ability and take turns writing posts. The writing quality doesn’t have to be perfect to make a difference. The important thing is that you’re creating content and improving as you go.

If you are going to utilize the talents of your staff for writing, you should give them the option to do it from home. Working remotely can increase productivity and it will make them more likely to actually do it. Your employees may jump at the chance to do some work from home.

If you’re in a situation where you don’t have any employees and you don’t have the time, you could consider hiring a copywriter. It’s possible to get a quality post written for $20 to $30, depending on the level of depth required. If you’re going to do a lot of content, that adds up quickly, but it’s definitely better than not creating content at all.

Another option is to hire a staff writer. If you decide to go this route, consider letting them work from home. This will be less expensive than giving them office space.

Content Creation

Go for quality over quantity. Search engines love quality content and do not value quantity anymore. Try to repurpose existing content that you have into new content instead of coming up with it all from scratch. You can spin the same content into a few different formats.

For example, you could turn a blog post into a video, slideshow, or podcast. Instead of creating a new post from scratch, you can also use old content that is outdated and update it with current information. This can cut your content creation time in half for each piece of repurposed content and costs next to nothing.

Another great way to get content is to accept guest posts. Other bloggers may want to offer you a free piece of content to put on your blog in exchange for a link to their website. You don’t have to accept every pitch for an article, but you can pick some of the best to feature. Accept only high-quality writers who are willing to contribute in exchange for exposure.

You can make a page about guest posting on your site and even reach out to some other blogs. Consider writing guest posts on other blogs and link back to your own articles on your blog, this will help you build additional exposure.

Promotion

Once you have content, it’s time to promote it. Share it on Facebook, tweet it, and post it to Instagram. If you have a mailing list, send it out. Use a variety of platforms to promote it. Visit other similar sites and comment about your content with a link. Get the word out.

Regardless of what kind of content you decide to create, focus on quality. Even if you’ve got a small budget to start with, content can take you from relative obscurity to a massively popular online brand. Focus on adding value in your content and the results will come.

About the author

Jen McKenzie is a freelance writer from New York, NY. She is fascinated by all things having to do with words, business, education and cutting-edge. When Jennifer is not busy writing, she enjoys taking long walks and spending time with her two pets Brando & Marlon. You can reach Jennifer @jenmcknzie