Secrets of a Killer Blog Post [Infographic] - SociallyStacked - Everything Social for Small Businesses and Agencies


A blog post is a great way to add extra value to your website and it’s a proven strategy for attracting new customers. The catch is that you have to add new content all the time. And it has to be the right kind of content: informative, eye-catching, straightforward.

The Secrets of A Killer Blog Post, an infographic, from Marlon Gallano at Who is Hosting This, serves as a checklist of sorts. Among the tips:

• Catch readers’ attention with a compelling headline

• Create a sense of urgency

• Ask a question

• Avoid jargon

Readers: What would you add to this list?

- See more at: http://www.sociallystacked.com/2014/03/secrets-of-a-killer-blog-post-infographic/#sthash.dBYcaj1x.dpuf

nasdaq:

Here are simple solutions to help entrepreneurs manage their most valuable asset- time.

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shipworks:

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Insurance. It sounds easy, right? Especially since many carriers include insurance protection up to a certain amount. That’s what most people think until an item is lost or damaged and they have to file a claim. That’s when they wish they had researched insurance a little more from the get-go. After all, your business is about growing revenues and lost, stolen or damaged shipments eat at the bottom line. If you know your insurance coverage in advance, you’ll be much happier when (if) you ever have to file a claim.

Shipping insurance comes in two flavors: Cargo Insurance and Declared Value. They are night-and-day different from each other. Here are five questions you must ask yourself about insurance, so that you make sure you’re getting protection you need:

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Article by Neil Patel, co-founder of Crazy Egg and KISSmetrics

With myriad retailers offering products at varying levels of price and quality, it’s no wonder that online shoppers continue to make piecemeal purchases from a variety of firms. But your business depends on continuing revenue to stay in business, and currying repeat business can be a challenge in a market of this nature. Fortunately, online membership programs offer a real opportunity to breed loyalty and deliver value in return, provided your business model accommodates this sort of consumer activity. Here’s what to ask yourself when determining if a loyalty club is right for your site.

Does your business model accommodate repeat purchases?

Before building a list of member benefits and pricing, it’s important to identify whether your business model is the kind that breeds repeat purchases. Online membership programs are built on the idea that returning customers, and those who may become returning customers, will benefit from consistent usage. For shops that facilitate large, one-time purchases, an online membership is unlikely to build consistent revenue, simply because the nature of the purchase is limited to particular occasions.

For online retailers and suppliers, however, the model makes perfect sense. For example, if your shop sells dog food to veterinarians or shelters that require a steady stream of fresh food in order to keep animals happy and healthy, then offering a membership program would allow them to receive a bulk discount in exchange for continuing business. Another instance would be an online clothing retailer who regularly circulates seasonal fashions. By offering a club discount and exclusive access to style experts, the temporary cost is offset by a steady stream of revenue.

What can you offer members?

In either of the examples mentioned above, the business involved has examined what they have to offer and made that available to members to sweeten the deal. The two offerings are also completely unique to the nature of the business involved.

Identifying what you could give to members of your program is key in shaping your efforts. If you’re a tractor supply company, you could distribute a publication that updates members about developments in farming technology. If you’re a video game retailer, you could provide early access to pre-orders for highly anticipated games. Examine your business and determine what you can provide that would make membership in your program worth the price of admission. If you’re at a loss for ideas, free shipping or discount expedited shipping is always an attractive option, regardless of your specific business model.

Regardless of the specifics of your member benefits, keep in mind that delivering value is the goal. The reason that early-access to video games is attractive lies in the fact that gamers wish to be ahead of the curve on developing trends and upcoming titles. Exclusivity, beta-testing, and early demos all help satisfy their need to be a part of the cultural narrative, and therefore constitute real value in their eyes. 

How much will it cost?

Of course, providing these services will not come without cost. Online discussions with stylists represent time your staff could use to accomplish other tasks. However, the sacrifice of time and resources is rewarded when done successfully, so evaluating what cost your firm can absorb is essential to offering an attractive deal. 

Once you’ve evaluated the internal cost of your program, evaluating its perceived value is the next step. Pricing an online membership program is tricky. The cost must be sufficiently high as to offset your costs and create an air of exclusivity, but sufficiently low as to facilitate entry. In addition, the services provided must be fairly priced based on the perceived value they deliver.

Marketing research can help shed light on the discussion. Closed surveys solicited to high-volume customers are a great way to tap your target market for their choice of benefits and idea of fair valuation. You may also find it worth the investment to conduct focus groups, both in order to gauge reactions to potential member benefits and pricing and drum up ideas regarding what repeat customers consider worth their money.

Does it breed additional business?

If your business model accommodates repeat purchases, your member benefits are attractive, and your pricing is fair as confirmed by your market research, then a membership program may be right for your business. The next step lies in implementing the program and gauging the response to determine whether the endeavor is worth it.

Membership programs work because the initial cost of providing additional service is offset by repeat revenue. This occurs both through regular customers increasing their purchase volume, and through tepid customers seeing value in the program and increasing their purchase volume. If, according to your analytics, either event isn’t occurring, then it may be necessary to make adjustments to your pricing or offerings. Continue to monitor progress and evolve your program so that it delivers consistent, worthwhile value and your customers will return the favor with additional business.

It’s true that online membership programs are not for everyone, but those who combine an appropriate business model with proper implementation will see attractive results. Determine whether your business facilitates repeat purchases and, if so, evaluate what you can give your members. Determine the cost of such offerings and leverage market research to determine a fair price. Continually monitor the program, making adjustments as necessary, and you’ll find that the added value, engagement, and incentive can make hay for your business for a long time to come.

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Article by Neil Patel, co-founder of Crazy Egg and KISSmetrics

There was a time when flyers and direct-mail marketing were kings of promotion. This time has, fortunately, passed. What event planners are faced with now is an ecosystem of promotion options that can take attendance and excitement to new levels. But promoting effectively still takes a little know-how, and combining this knowledge with the potential of social networking will mean profound success when the conference hall opens.

Test the Waters

At its core, promotion is about conversation. RSVPs, registrations, invites, and promotional materials all represent a back and forth between your organization and current/potential attendees that creates commitment, generates interest, and drives participation. This occurs in multiple phases leading up to the event, but even well before the conference is organized, social media offers invaluable insight.

With your particular customer base, certain social networks will resonate more than others. If your target audience is younger, Twitter will see more results. If they’re more professional, LinkedIn may be the way to go. Post promotional materials and information on each of your social networks and identify which ones see the most feedback in order to more efficiently allocate resources in the weeks leading up to the event.

This early contact has the added benefit of helping to inform your efforts. Early posts can include a “sneak peak” of sorts in order to gauge interest. “We’re considering holding a Q&A panel with our web designer. Thoughts?” This kind of calculated inquiry allows the community to have a voice in the organization of events and helps your company avoid costly speakers that fall flat.

Generate Buzz

Once you’ve processed this information and determined the best social network for your efforts, it’s time to create excitement. Events represent a large investment of time, money, and mental resources, which means that potential attendees will need to be sufficiently motivated in order to take the plunge.

Creating hype means tapping into the fickle “science” of vitality. Publishing content on social networks that see more sharing will translate into better traffic at the event website and better attendance at the event. In the weeks prior, publish photographs that hint at the events to come. Participate in discussions that arise around these posts and help fuel the hype machine. Create Pinterest boards telling a visual story of past event experiences and use short videos in Vine to add a more dynamic component to the pre-event coverage.

If you wish to up the ante even further, consider holding a pre-event social media contest. Offer the opportunity to submit entries through social media sharing, including retweets, shares, and +1’s. Bolster this strategy with an event hashtag that will raise awareness as usage increases, eventually trending if your campaign is successful enough.

Tap the Community

The cornerstone of these efforts is, as mentioned, conversation, and conversation does not occur without community. While your publications and posters carry a well-honed marketing tone, those on the fence are far more likely to be convinced by fellow community members than by your calculated rhetoric. Fortunately, there’s a solution to this problem.

So-called “brand evangelists”, dedicated members of the community who prosthelytize the virtues of your products, help provide precisely the kind of motivation needed to turn hold-outs into converts. Get in contact with prominent bloggers and satisfied fans and offer them incentives to spread the word on social networking. This can come in the form of interviews with keynote speakers, early-access to products and services, or even the opportunity to participate in the conference in some way. The effectiveness of this method cannot be overstated, as even small companies in the past have seen great success by tapping the influence of enthusiastic individuals.

Maintain Presence

Even after the event has begun, it’s important to stay relevant in the minds of those who did and did not attend. The same channels you used to encourage participation can be used to share the experience with those who came, and offer incentive for those who did not. Use Vine and YouTube to show clips of the event in action. Leverage Instagram to capture memorable moments. Even something as simple as asking “who’s enjoying #EventHashtag?” on Twitter can make a big difference in keeping your event on the minds of the public at large.

Afterward, stay relevant by posting continuing photographs and participating in conversations. As fatigued as you and your staff may be once the event is over, building hype for next year’s event begins as soon as this year’s ends, and that work will pay dividends when generating you begin buzz several months down the road.

The potential for in-person events to provide valuable information and improve brand perception makes the challenge of promotion worth the work. Fortunately for your firm, an era of ubiquitous social media makes your job easier than ever, as long as you focus on the right channels and produce content that resonates with the public. Find out what networks work for our customer base and tap the power of visuals and community influencers to make your event memorable in order to generate momentum for future events, relationships, and sales.

   

When it comes to ecommerce sales, a customer can be won or lost based on the appearance of your product pages. These images and copy have the opportunity to showcase the most important part of your business and must be structured correctly. Customers should be able to easily (and quickly) glean all necessary information from your product page. Equally as important, pages should be formatted so that they are optimized for search engines. A well-structured product page can increase page rankings and convert browsing consumers into buyers.

Shopify has 5 suggestions for optimizing your product pages for SEO ranking and potential customers:

1) Upgrade Your Images
2) Play the Word Game
3) Keep it Real
4) Show Your Wares in an Uncluttered Way
5) Go the Extra Mile

Check out their full article for more details on each one. 

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Article by Neil Patel, co-founder of Crazy Egg and KISSmetrics

Grabbing the attention of tired readers is a difficult task. Compounding the problem is the wealth of prolific sites already successfully capturing the limited time of busy Internet browsers. But asserting your presence alongside the heavy-hitters is a very real possibility, thanks to the power of authority and its ability to shape the perception of the public. The key lies in finding your area of expertise, marketing it properly, and staying consistent until your work, and your knowledge, precede your firm, garnering traffic and sales in the process.

Find Your Niche

Every business has knowledge about a range of topics. From logistics, to management, to production, each company is charged with handling a breadth of responsibilities, and the know-how they glean is a useful resource for others. The problem is, others have already written about management, production is well-tread territory, and logistics has its very own science.

While your company knows a great deal about a number of topics, becoming an authority requires finding your specialty. Everyone manages employees, but does everyone sell competition-ready road bikes? By focusing your efforts on an area of niche expertise, you narrow the scope of your authority and create space in the Internet ecosystem especially for your efforts.

Know Your Target Audience

In the same way that your business covers a range of topics, but specializes in one area in particular, your customer base is largely relegated to a specific demographic. Everyone, aged teenager to senior citizen can buy a road bike, but your core audience, the individuals that keep you in business and purchase multiple products, are probably young, fitness savvy, and maybe even compete in road races on a regular basis.

Much like drilling down your area of expertise, your audience should be focused as well. It’s impossible to be all things to all people, and doing so alienates your biggest evangelists. Instead, tap into your knowledge and cater to the center of your clientele that’s most likely to respond to and share your unique information. There are others out there, ready and excited to hear what you have to say, but starting with your base is an important first step to reaching them. 

Generate Content

Now that you have a “who” and “what”, it’s time to leverage these resources. Content marketing, if you’ve never heard the term, is the practice of creating valuable and entertaining pieces of content (videos, text, infographics, etc.) that boost your reputation and engage your customers. What does this mean for your business? It means generating ideas based on your identified area of expertise and creating content that stems from that knowledge.

The key to doing so successfully, however, lies in understanding the importance of value. Your organization can spotlight its new products, but doing so without placing emphasis on what these products provide for your customers is a waste of their time. In every effort, look at what your content provides to your readers and highlight that. A self-indulgent piece about your staff’s own racing exploits is going to mean far less to viewers than a back-and-forth conversation about your communal enthusiasm for cycling.

Distribute in the Right Channels

Unread content is useless. It’s a difficult truth, but it’s a motivating one as well. Becoming an authority requires imparting a positive impression in the minds of viewers, and you don’t reach those viewers without distribution.

Again, we tap our customer base. Where do they exist? Are they Twitter fans or Facebook people? Furthermore, when do they interact with their social networks? All of these are important for creating a distribution plan. If your customers are working individuals, posting after dinner and around lunch time on their network of choice works with them, leveraging their peak usage times and enthusiasm to generate buzz.

Cultivate Your Reputation

With all the pieces in place, it’s simply a matter of time. Providing valuable, specialized information to the right eyes in the right channels encourages sharing, and delivering consistently high-quality content will curry more and more positive press over time. The greatest challenge for most businesses is sticking with the practice, but doing so not only consistently satisfies your biggest brand cheerleaders, it generates a wealth of material that others can stumble upon, rendering your business a valuable, prolific, and knowledgeable authority.

Cutting through the din on the Internet can be a real challenge, but finding your wheelhouse and strategically placing your information is a proven way to turn your shop into a resource for others. The practice takes time, but the rewards are many, and the business and traffic generated will more than compensate for your hard work when that authority turns into revenue.

For ecommerce marketers, deploying major site updates can be an incredibly stressful process. It is crucial to introduce new features and stay ahead of the competition, but this process can also leave a large margin for error. The fear is that making changes to your site would result in persistent bugs, diminish user experience or (worst case scenario) crash your site.

To ensure that your updates to your site run smoothly or re-platforming changes are effective, follow these 10 tips from Econsultancy:

1) Always Have a Roll Back Strategy
2) Check Payment Processes
3) Have Multiple Development Environments
4) Think About Timing
5) Never Deploy on Friday
6) Consider Database Processes
7) Communicate
8) Shrink Deployment Size
9) Documenting is Key
10) Have All Of Your Code Ready

For a more in-depth look at these suggestions, read the full piece on Econsultancy

With nearly 100,000 people in attendance and over 100 million people tuning in to watch the Super Bowl each year, it’s not surprising that so much money is spent on merchandising for the big game.

Although you may not realize it, a lot of work and planning goes into ensuring that the winning team gets to proudly sport hats, shirts, and other merchandise only seconds after the final score flashes across the scoreboards and TV screens across the country. 

In the following infographic, we’ll give you a behind-the-scenes look at the processes involved with producing, preparing, and shipping Super Bowl merchandise each year. We’ll provide information about what manufacturers do once the world knows which two teams are heading to the Super Bowl, what it takes to get merchandise to the big game in time, and what happens to the losing team’s merchandise once the final score is announced. 

Want to share this infographic on your own blog? Copy and paste the code below!

(Continuing my annual look at the top trends in small business.)

One of the best things about being in business today (or worst, I suppose, depending upon your point of view) is that it is always changing; not only do you need to be a savvy entrepreneur now, but you better be a life-long learner as well if you are going to stay in business.

Back in the day, a businessperson could be just that. Know your products and customers, be good at marketing and have a few other tricks up your sleeve and you were good to go. Not so now. In today’s world you have to be a jack-of-all-trades, and then some. Business, technology, social media, marketing, SEO, outsourcing – it all comes into play now.

And so it is with today’s trends. These are the things that are likely going to be important for you to know or learn going forward.

Today, the top 5:

5. Content is Emperor: Whenever I give a speech about business growth or small business marketing, a question I inevitably goes something like this: “How do I get on Page 1 of a Google or Bing result?”

SEO (search engine optimization) is a tricky business. Over at my site, TheSelfEmployed, our search traffic increased almost ten-fold over the past year. How did we do that? Good, old-fashioned hard work. We post a lot of quality content, share it via social media, and get people to share it as well.

There is no magic potion. Search engines like Google and Bing are increasingly rewarding sites that post great content that people like and share. For instance, in this past year Google has made some significant changes to its search algorithm.

It’s all very technical of course, and secretive, but the upshot is that Google is working to increase the rankings of sites and pages with high quality content and decrease the visibility of pages with “low quality content.” What is considered “high quality”? Essentially it is content that is original, shared, contains links that provide value, and which avoid SEO tricks. Longer, more in-depth articles also seem to be getting more SEO love lately too.

It used to be said that “content is king.” That is truer today than ever. As Rupert Murdoch observed, content is now emperor.

4. You will be paying more attention to healthcare than you want to: You bet, we are all sick (ha!) of hearing about healthcare.

Too bad.

Unfortunately, healthcare – it’s costs, delivery, and so forth – isn’t going away anytime soon. Delays in the business mandate and the small business online exchanges (SHOPs) mean that we will continue to be plagued by the Obamacare “debate” and its effects on small business.

If there is any good news here, it is that healthcare costs have begun to slow down significantly in the past year.

3. Social loses some luster: Social media! You have to be involved in social media! You have to increase the time you spend on social media!

Yes, the drumbeat continues for small businesses to spend ever more time on social media, and many small businesses are hearing the siren call. But guess what? Most still don’t see a return. According to a Manta survey issued last year, while small businesses continue to increase the time and money they spend on social media, only 39% see a return on their investment.

That means that more than 60% of small business owners do not get great value out of social media, even though a whopping 81% either have increased the amount of time they are investing in social media or stayed the same.

2. Mobile matters more: A recent Harris survey found that 63% of women and 73% of men check their cell phones at least hourly. People are shopping more on their mobile and searching way more on their mobile phone.

  • According to Yelp, almost 60% of its searches on done on mobile
  • According to comScore, 40% of the time spent on the Internet is done via mobile phones
  • More than half of all Facebook users are on mobile.

And, according to Google, 61% of mobile searches end up in a phone call being made, with 30 million click-to-calls now being made per month.

And, the Number 1 small business trend of 2014:

1. Have it your way: Business used to be a top-down endeavor: The owner, boss or manager would say the way it was and that’s the way it would be. 9 to 5. Business casual only on Fridays Company issues BlackBerrys. How quaint.

In 2014, what we are seeing is the advent of a new era where business is becoming far more individualistic. Take, for example, the phenomenon of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). Rather than fight the current, businesses are now allowing, nay encouraging, employees to bring and use their own personal gadgets and devices to work. It’s easier and cheaper than buying new for everyone.

Or what about the cloud? Now that people can access company info and documents from anywhere, they work everywhere. The mobile phenomenon above equally means that people work how, when, and where they want. Watch a Ted talk and you know that corporate dress may also be a thing of the past.

Welcome to the future.