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Social Networking 101

which social media network is right for my businessSocial networks are a hot topic. With over 70% of consumers using online resources to find what they are looking for, it makes sense to step up your online presence. Many business owners have a website, an email address, and may have even started blogging. Networking is an important step to opening up your true professional potential.

Which site should I use?
What is the goal or problem you are trying to solve? The answer to this question may even mean that you completely change which social networks you take a look at. It may make more sense to create your own social media site or network (check back later for information on how to build your own social network). But for those of you interested in joining the pre-existing ones, here are a few of the more popular SNS, to serve your business well:

Social-Media/Social-Bookmarking Sites

  1. Reddit - Upload stories and articles on reddit to drive traffic to your site or blog. Submit items often so that you'll gain a more loyal following and increase your presence on the site.
  2. Digg - Digg has a huge following online because of its optimum usability. Visitors can submit and browse articles in categories like technology, business, entertainment, sports and more.
  3. Technorati - If you want to increase your blog's readership, consider registering it with Technorati, a network of blogs and writers that lists top stories in categories like Business, Entertainment and Technology.
  4. WikiHow - Create a how-to guide or tutorial on wikiHow to share your company's services with the public for free.

Professional-Networking Sites

  1. LinkedIn - LinkedIn is a popular networking site where alumni, business associates, recent graduates and other professionals connect online.
  2. Facebook - Facebook is no longer just for college kids who want to post their party pics. Businesses vie for advertising opportunities, event promotion and more on this social-networking site.
  3. Xing - An account with networking site Xing can open doors to thousands of companies. Use the professional contact manager to organize your new friends and colleagues, and take advantage of the Business Accelerator application to find experts at the click of a button. Market yourself in a professional context and open up new sales channels.

Image-Based Networking Sites

  1. Pinterest - Pin content from your website and repin others pins! Network by requesting others add to your boards, follow others and comment on pins.
  2. Instagram - If your business can deliver consistenly exciting imagery and content, Instagram will love you!

Set up your profile
Communicating works better when you have a good idea who it is you're talking to. Make it a point to add logos, company information, a bio or “about me” piece that identifies what your company does. Remember, social networking requires dedication. Most people set up a profile and then forget to go back to the site, to add friends, or to make use of it at all. Social networks are effective when you utilize them to the fullest. Your first objective in making your profile work for your business is to add friends; this virtual intro may take a little time but is well worth it if you are looking to grow your network. The second order of business is to use the site as your marketing resource. You should be active in posting blogs, commenting on profiles, and advertising your business.

Now that you know which sites to use, and understand what to do once you set up your site, keep in mind, that if you just jump into an established community with messages about how great you are, it can have exactly the opposite effect of what you’re saying. People inherently trust their peers more than messages from companies, so you’ll need to take the time to understand the community and the people who frequent it.

How to Use Google Analytics Data to Improve Your Website

How to Use Google Analytics Data to Improve Your Website This New Year

Google Analytics is the most comprehensive tracking tool available on the market. It gives you detailed data about your website visitors and the actions they take on your site. You’ll be able to see what people are doing on your site after they click on an email you send them and beyond.

By effectively using Google Analytics, you can stop making blind guesses and start making data-driven marketing decisions to boost your bottom line.

If you’re looking to get a head start to improve your website, we’ll walk you through how to make data-driven decisions using Google Analytics.

Add Google Analytics to your site
Before you dive in to access the data, you need to make sure that Google Analytics is properly set up on your website. Wrongly implemented tracking will skew your tracking data, leading you to take wrong decisions.

To implement Google Analytics, all you need to do is to create an account, connect your website with Analytics and add the tracking code snippet to the section of your website.

If you’re on WordPress, you can use this simple guide to help you get set up with Google Analytics.

Upon the setup, it may take a few hours to start gathering your website data. Let’s take a look at a few different aspects of using Google Analytics to improve your site.

Focus on your goals
To make informed decisions, you’ll need to have a clear focus on your goals and need to figure out how to accomplish them by setting objectives.

For example, in this new year, if your goal is to drive more conversions from your blog, it is vital to know what type of content resonates best with your audience.

One way to review your content is by going to your Pages report in Google Analytics. There you can identify which blog posts and pages drive the most conversions. It may not be worth your time to focus on content that drives tons of traffic without conversions.

Now that doesn’t mean every blog post needs to drive conversions. Instead, every piece of content you produce should meet your objectives.

For example, if you monetize your blog with AdSense, you might want to track AdSense clicks on your blog posts to figure out the type of content that generates the most revenue. This way you can create more similar content on your blog that is likely to generate more revenue.

After finding the type of content that brings positive results, come up with more content ideas for your blog and add them to your editorial calendar.

Study bounce rate
One of the most important metrics to keep an eye on is bounce rate. In simple terms, bounce rate is the percentage of single-page visits on your site. It tells you whether your visitors stick to your site or leave after their first-page visit.

Generally speaking, the lower your bounce rate, the more engaging your site is, the better for your business.

If a large number of visitors navigate away from your site after viewing only one page, this means you need to optimize your content or use better calls to action that intrigue visitors to dive deeper into your offering.

Some ways to improve your bounce rate are:

  • Make your content enticing and consumable in short span of time.
  • Reduce the loading time of your site and make your landing pages visually appealing.
  • Create an exit-intent popup that shows visitors another useful resource on your site. Using OptinMonster, you can show targeted pop-up campaigns throughout your site at the precise moment your visitors are about to leave.

Study behavior flow
Aside from showing you valuable metrics, Google Analytics allows you to conduct user flow analysis to understand how your visitors explore your site to take action that you deem to be of value.

By studying behavior flow of your users, you can figure out leaky spots in your sales funnel. Once you identified those areas, you can take measures to reduce the drop-off and boost sales and revenue.

For tracking conversions, be sure to set up Google Analytics goals in the first place. And to track sales and revenue, you’ll have to enable e-commerce tracking in Google Analytics.
Conduct an annual content audit

If you’re investing in content marketing, you’ll need to focus on a few different metrics to determine your content marketing return on investment (ROI). Calculating your content marketing ROI enables you to identify whether your content marketing investment is paying off.

For most websites, the primary goal of content marketing is to attract quality leads and turn them into customers.

However, you can’t expect to convert every website visitor that lands on your site into customers. That means besides conversions, you’ll have to focus on other key metrics, like lead quality, traffic, and onsite engagement.

When conducting a yearly content audit on your site, below are a few things you need to consider.

  • Find keywords that attract the most traffic to your site. Understand the intention of your organic visitors and figure out whether your articles deliver what your visitors want.
  • Identify your past content marketing pieces that have performed best in terms of driving traffic and engagement. Be sure to add similar article ideas to your editorial calendar.
  • Eliminate content that no longer reflects your business.

I hope the above tips give you some insights into using Google Analytics to improve your website’s bottom line.

It only takes a few minutes to get going, and you’ll be on your way to creating marketing strategies that will help you improve your website.

3 Ways to Stand Out This Holiday Season Without Offering a Discount

santa social media

There’s just a lot of marketing noise this time of year. Many businesses think they can capture subscribers’ attention with increasingly desperate offers: 15% off one week, 20% off the next, then 25% off, etc. etc.

But it is possible to stand out during the holiday season without offering those kinds of discounts. You may not win the price war, but you can expect to capture your audience’s attention with relevant content, a mobile presence, and customer reviews. And that will benefit you in the long run, not just between now and the end of the year.
Here are three ways to stand out:

1. Relevant content. Plain and simple: If you are sending relevant content, you will stand out. You’re reading this blog post because it’s covering a topic you care about. Your customers are going to read your emails and social media posts for the same reason. Not only does relevant content based on your customers’ interests help you stand out, it can lead to as many sales as free or discounted shipping offers can.

Delivering relevant content is easy to do! On your social media pages, pay attention to what your fans and followers respond to and engage with. Create more posts like that. For email, pay attention to what subscribers are clicking on and what they said they wanted at sign up, and send them targeted relevant mailings about those topics. Just in time for the holidays, you’ll see a higher open rate and clickthrough rate when you need it most.

2. Mobile. Your customers are on their mobile devices, and the businesses that are there too are the ones that stand out. It’s not just about having a mobile-friendly website but thinking about all the places people can find your business online. You should expand your presence because, according to Microsoft, 70% of all mobile searches result in action within one hour. Be there when customers are looking for you! And don’t stop there. Continue to engage them at your location. Make it easy for people to join your email list with their mobile phones using Text-to-Join.

3. Reviews. Do you trust ads? I don’t, and apparently, the majority of consumers don’t either. What your customers do trust is consumer reviews. They search for them online, they ask their social networks, and they rely on those before making a purchase. In fact, 71% of consumers say online reviews are important when considering purchasing a product. Reviews are important, so ask for them! Ask people to share their thoughts and opinions in an online survey, a Facebook poll, or just by directing them to your Yelp page. Once you have the reviews, don’t stop there. Promote them! Quote customer comments in your emails, link to them from your Facebook Page, or use a QR code to link to them in your store.

By talking to your customers about what they care about, engaging them where they are with mobile, and validating your messages with reviews, you can set your business apart this holiday season, no discounts needed.

PART II: How to Blog

how-to-blogWith a bit of creative writing, a small business can have big results from a blog. Many of my clients often ask, "What do I blog about?" and to this I have a question for them, "What are they interested in?" Below are other ideas to spark that creative writer hidden within all of us.

What to write about - a mini-brainstorming session

  • Future developments in your industry
  • Newsworthy (industry related) items that affect your clients directly
  • Ways you are incorporating "Green Living" into your life or business (studies show internet buyers are most interested in purchasing/doing business with people who are environmentally conscious).
  • How is your business different from your competitors? Quality? Variety of Services? Price?
  • Articles that address ways your product/service can help/benefit your customers
  • Broadcast sales or promotions
  • Announce new services
  • Share links about your industry, new products in the industry, etc
  • Include photos and descriptions of your [new] products

Just to give you an example: A friend of mine is starting up a business for her husband who does carpentry, building furniture, etc. I told her she should put a blog on her site and received the typical, "Why, what would we write about?" My reply was this. If someone is looking into a reputable carpenter for building furniture, I would want to know more about the furniture, his skills, what makes his furniture of the quality I would want, or how his is different from something I could purchase at IKEA. This definitely was an "ah-hah" moment for the client.

Promoting your blog

    • Post each new blog on your site, then spread the word to Social Media sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc. Here you can create an account and post a link back to your website blog article. Email your friends/contact that you've posted it. They can then vote for it on StumbleUpon, Digg it, Reddit, etc. This gets the visitor to your site to continue reading, to help your SEO.
    • Add an RSS Feed to your articles so readers can stay abreast of new postings.
    • Monitor what people leave for comments too. Comment on their comments. Keep the communication going.
    • eMail (eNewsletter, eVite) Marketing can also be a valuable way to get out informational and educational blog articles out to potential clients. Start the article in your email and link back to your site for them to continue reading.

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