A/B Testing Mistakes Businesses Should Be Avoiding

A/B Testing

A/B testing is a great method to use in order to really boost your digital marketing efforts and results. With so many different options to test in any digital marketing strategy, it’s no wonder many businesses tend to use this testing method to really push their campaign strategy just that little bit further. While A/B testing is popular amongst many business owners, many still tend to make some of the common mistakes which can impact any test results and marketing strategy greatly. If you A/B test and want to make the most out of it, then this expert guide is for you. Here you will learn the biggest A/B testing mistakes that many businesses need to be aware of and avoid to help improve their overall results. Let’s take a look the top A/B testing mistakes now.

Mistakes To Avoid When A/B Testing Any Part Of Your Strategy

Calling Off The Test In The First Few Days

One major mistake that many businesses make when A/B testing is cutting short their test in the first few days. Why do they do this you ask? Generally, it’s because they receive a significant sway result in the first few days and believe it’s the winner without seeing the test through to the end of the normal 7-day trial period. Unfortunately, what many don’t see is that in doing this, they won’t find out by the end of the week, the ‘losing’ version actually came out the winner. Instead when A/B testing:

  • Run the test for a 7-10-day period, or a little longer if the margin is close, to find the most accurate results. Another option is to wait until you’ve reached 200-500 conversions.
  • Never change any element on the test before the testing period ends as this will cause confusion and will cause a mixed result. You won’t know which element change caused the increase or decrease in the results.
  • A/B test noticeable changes that your visitors will visibly see for the best results. Changing the colour of the text may not be something that many people will actually notice or care about.

Not Testing The Right Elements

Sure A/B testing offers many different webpage elements that can be changed, however, the key is choosing the right ones that will create the most impact on your visitors and conversions. So what should you test to gain the best results? These examples are the top 3 elements that should be changed or considered:

  • Headlines – Headlines should be catchy, exciting, and interesting to make the visitor want to click into what you’re trying to offer. Choose headlines that bring a little mystery like:
    -New Secret Berry The Key To Anti-Aging; Beauty Companies Mad!

    Instead of

    -New Blueberry Mixture Helps With The Aging Process

As you can see the first headlines brings out some questions about what the berry is and why beauty companies are mad. The second one of the other hand takes the mystery away, leaving an ordinary headline. A/B testing headlines are great for improving visitor interest in your marketing campaign and content.

  • Images – Images and their position should also be A/B tested. Images should be of high quality, should be free to use, and should be interesting and relevant to the content you’re placing them with. If you like the images you already have, try positioning them in different locations. Generally, to the right hand side of the screen or underneath each content section is preferred but this isn’t set in stone.
  • Call to action – Call to actions are your gateway for the conversion process to start. When A/B testing your call to actions try to work on creating interesting variations to the normal. For example, instead of:

    -Call Now
    -Sign Up Now
    -Contact Us

    Try:

    -Join An Exclusive Club
    -Start Your Journey
    -Be Brave, Join Now

Call to actions which show more creativity can prove to be more impactful than the traditional call to actions. Try to be creative with fresh new ideas for A/B testing.

Running Multiple Tests With Overlapping Traffic

Running multiple tests seems like a great way of hurrying the testing process up, but in fact it actually slows it down. Cutting corners while running multiple tests on different pages like product pages, landing pages, cart pages or homepages can cause mixed results if you aren’t careful. Unless you have very strong interaction between each test, you’ll find that a large percentage of your traffic will overlap throughout each test which causes inconclusive results as to the popularity of one version to the next. Instead work on testing one key area at a time, even though it may seem like a tedious task, it will save you time and money in the long run. When setting up tests make sure you:

  • Create a sound hypothesis of why you’re testing this key area or element. You should also write down the desired outcome of the test you’re hoping to achieve for better measurement when the data is collected.
  • Run the test for a set amount a days and stick to it. As talked about above cutting your test short can lead to inconclusive results.
  • Analyse the collected data carefully to see if you can improve on it with a new A/B test or whether you should move on with a different element change.
  • Don’t just A/B test one element, be open to testing multiple elements across a few weeks to see which areas and changes are the best performers.

If you’re determined to run multiple tests however you should consider dividing your traffic between tests A/B and C/D for the best results.

Overall

AB Testing

A/B testing is a great way of improving your website design to drive in more leads, visitors and conversions. With the ability to make changes and to test them regularly you have a better chance of boosting profits and conversions for better ROI. So were you making any of these key A/B testing mistakes that so many other businesses make? Which one are you going to stop doing first?

This post is brought to you by Aaron Gray

Aaron is the co-founder of Studio 56 and is a passionate digital marketing expert who has worked with some of the largest digital marketing agencies in Australia. He has been working in the digital marketing field for ten years. Aaron loves to travel the world to not only enhance his cultural experiences but learn and enhance his skills in the digital marketing industry. He is dedicated to helping others reach their online marketing goals.

21 Money-Making Responsive Shopify Themes 2016

Best Shopify Themes

Every month thousands of merchants look for “the best Shopify themes” to enhance their Shopify store’s look in order to hopefully increase website conversions. Selling on Shopify but not willing to dish out money for a Premium theme? No worries, we got you covered with some free Shopify themes for 2016 as well! While there aren’t many free Shopify themes, there are some really excellent ones that you can use to get up and running. Check out our 21 favorite, money-making, Shopify themes for 2016!

1. Brooklyn

free Shopify theme that can be used to create a modern-looking store no matter what you are selling. Ideal for smaller stores, 20 to 50 products. The theme offers good features including edge-to-edge homepage, dynamic product page, amazing responsive and user-friendly design, unique typography and much more. It is currently our number 1 because it is simple, effective and it fits perfectly with design philosophy. You can get it for free, just click here.

brooklyn

2. SimpleGreat – Premium Responsive Shopify Theme

SimpleGreat is a universal multipurpose 100% responsive Shopify theme with built-in Blog for any kind of shop with modern design and powerful back-end. It is created using the latest HTML5 and CSS3 features so design bugs should be a thing of the past. The extensive admin panel with easy navigation and dozens of configuration options helps you somewhat easily attain a fairly customized Shopify store. It costs 59$ and you can buy the theme here.

simple

3. Lookbook – Retro

Lookbook Retro has a fully touch-friendly design, which allows you to scroll sideways on devices that support scrolling. This allows for a beautiful showcase of your products to all of your tech-savvy customers. It supports customer accounts, drop-downs and has a fantastic slide-out cart. It is best for shops with high-resolution photography. It is better than other themes because its full-page design focuses on the product and nothing else. Checkout is as simple as it can get. You can use this theme for free if you click here.

lookbook

4. New Standard – Sepia

This theme is ideal for selling any type of product. New Standard is a responsive theme with a clean and minimalist design. It comes with standard features including mobile-optimized responsive layouts, a slideshow, featured collections, products, and more. It’s simple, clean and looks great. It is free and you can get it here

standard

5. Milan

Another upscale theme for Shopify is the Milan theme. It is ideal for high-end products like expensive menswear or luxury accessories like watches and rings. It is a trendsetting, cosmopolitan theme with a striking presence. The classic vibe of Milan is coupled with advanced features for easy management of an online store. It costs 160$ and you can buy it here

milan

6. Blockshop

The Blockshop theme draws on flat UI design – boasting spacious, customisable layouts with a minimal user interface that endures trends with simplicity and style. Blockshop is a unique, premium Shopify theme, which is perfect for emerging and established businesses, start-ups, boutiques and artisans. It is made for everyone and built to sell anything. It costs 140$ and you can get it here

blockshop

7. Supply

Supply theme is excellent for new stores focused on jewelry and luxury items. The dark theme goes well with royal, prestigious, items. It is best because it is designed to make it quick & easy to browse through all the categories and products that your store has to offer. The theme features include prominent navigation, multiple homepage collections, sidebar filtering, and easy integration with the Product Reviews app which we suggest using in order to increase your conversions using social proof. It is fully responsive, simple, well-thought, beautiful & features nice cart functionality. Best part is it’s free. Click here and the theme is yours for free

supply

8. Simple – Light

This theme for Shopify is another simple, but very effective template that can be used for your online store. Sharing design elements from Simple – Beauty, this theme includes a zoomable product preview option and a simple website layout. It is a free ecommerce theme officially supported by Shopify. It can work as well on mobile devices as it does on large monitors. It features sleek animations, easy to customize settings, and a sidebar navigation with dropdown menus. Get your theme here for free

Simple

9. Weekend

The Weekend is one of the most impressive themes in the Shopify theme center. It offers top quality responsive layout that can improve on the idea of creating a fully-furnished theme with amazing visuals. Large, full-screen images make this theme look friendly on mobile devices including the iPad and iPhone, as well as Android. This theme also offers excellent “add-to-cart” functionality. The functionality can easily be used by the store owner to sell his/her items. With great support, excellent customization option and grid system. It costs 160$ and you can buy it here.

weekend

10. Everything – Multipurpose Responsive Shopify Theme

Everything is a Multipurpose Responsive Shopify Theme with modern, clean style design. It is fully responsive, include 22 different homepage layouts and unlimited colors. It looks stunning on all types of screens and devices. It is great as a starting point for your more custom projects. Easily considered one of the best Shopify themes for 2016it will run you 56$ and you can get it here.

everything

11. Pop – Toy

Pop is a free Shopify theme collection that includes a total of 2 free themes – Pop Bone and Pop Toy. The best thing about Pop – Toy Shopify template is the “kid friendly” design, soft colors and a nice featured products section. The design itself is very simple but beautiful. Get if for free here.

pop

12. Classic – Sharp

It is ideal for stores with large inventories, because the theme Classic is designed with the traditional ecommerce merchant and consumer in mind. The theme features a large sidebar that can be used to feature multiple levels of navigation and custom content like ads or promotions. Classic also includes a responsive design, a rearrangeable homepage and 3 modern styles to start with. Bring some color in your life! Try it for free here.

classic

13. Bewear – Fashion Responsive Shopify Theme

Geared towards the fashion industry, the Bewear Shopify Theme offers to you 2 different kinds of lookbooks, fully designed in detail and responding to the needs of these kind of subpages. You can add nice pics of looks to category header pages and invite the client to blog pages where he can get inspired – everything to make the client stay on your website and enjoy the time spent. The theme is yours for 56$ and you can get it here.

bewear

14. Everest – Multipurpose

This theme is inspired by modern e-commerce designs. It’s best suited for any store including fashion, furniture, lingerie, technology, accessories etc.  You can get it for 56$ here.

everest

15. Qrack Theme

Qrack – Responsive Shopify Theme with Mega Menu is a modern, clean and professional Shopify theme and it comes with a lot of great features that would take you months to develop. It is fully responsive, it looks stunning on all types of screens and devices. It includes easy to set up to your Instagram feed and Twitter widgets. Qrack theme is yours for 56$, buy it here.

qrack

16. Queen – Responsive Shopify Theme

It is great theme because it has piles of customization options, as well as quick and reliable support. It is highly recommended if you are using Shopify and want a powerful, feature-rich theme. It will cost you 56$ and you can get it here.

queen

17. Avenue

Another amazing fashion theme for shopify is the Avenue – Responsive Fashion  Theme. It brings you a very nice and neat design. Your online store is going to be so fascinating that once visiting the site, your customers will hardly take their eyes off. Buy it for 56$ here.

avenue

18. Parallax

Featuring a special layout that will easily help you define a modern, fashionable look for your shop. Other notable available functions are the blog, product image effect and the dropdown menu which allows better navigation for larger Shopify stores. You can buy it for 56$ here.

paralax

19. Minimal – Fashion

Minimal fashion theme is clean, fully responsive (it renders perfectly on desktop and mobile devices), and includes multiple, enlargeable product previews. It also allows you to add a “Sale” icon to any individual listings, which is a nice and conversion-enhancing touch. It’s packed with great features that you can customize according to your brand including the background layout, typography, product and collection views, navigation, color schemes and images. Get it here for free.

minimal

20. SAN_FRANCISCO Responsive shopify theme

Another great-looking Shopify theme is San Francisco. It exudes a fanciful treatment of what e-commerce shops should look. The fun and pleasing earth tone pastel colors will win the hearts of your customers. The advanced features of this theme also makes it a delight to use. This theme offers in-depth customization but the default design is already pretty and functional. This theme costs 160$ and you can buy it here.

san francisco

21. Salt Yard Theme

Salt Yard is a dynamic theme for Shopify. It comes with Live Search feature so customers can quickly find the items they want to buy. The homepage layout can be changed in a modular fashion, features or content areas can be toggled on or off. This theme also supports insertion of custom HTML codes. You can buy it for 180$ here.

yard

Those are our favorite responsive Shopify themes for 2016, we hope one of the above themes will help you achieve a more professional brand image as well as eventually a better conversion rate once your chosen Shopify theme is properly integrated.

If we missed any Shopify theme you’d like to recommend go ahead in the comments, we’ll keep posting about the best Shopify themes once in a while since new ones are launched almost daily!

 

2500 Words to Better A/B Testing for E-Commerce

A/B Tests for Ecommerce

What is A/B testing?

All websites have a goal. The goal for an e-commerce site is to convert visitors into buyers. So, the question is what can they do in order to convert more of their visitors into paying customers?  A/B testing, which is also known as split testing, is a comparison between two versions of a webpage or application against each other in order to determine which one performs better (gets more sales). Data and statistics are used to validate new design changes and to make decisions in order to increase your bottom line. Ready to start increasing your conversion rates? Here are some recommended tests that should help you grow your ecommerce site.

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1. Craft Compelling and Benefit-Oriented Headlines

The headline is your value proposition. This means that it must catch the reader’s attention within 5 seconds and of course give the proper message. If your title doesn’t sell your desired action, then your visitor isn’t going to engage further with your landing page. A Scandinavian Outdoor Store tested their plain version with a more compelling headline and bargain pricing text. What was the result? A 127% increase in conversion rate.  They increased signups by 38% too. So, what should we remember? Your headlines should transfer critical information to the user effectively and succinctly.

2. Navigation and Dropdown Menus

Extremely important to A/B test your drop-down menus and see which performs best. Even though drop-downs are considered to be an essential part of every e-commerce site, they annoy customers a lot, especially when browsing from a mobile device and to the older age group or people with disabilities. So if your audience is closely related to that group of people then you may have to consider removing the drop-down menu, but of course, test it first.

For example,  Casa Mineira is a real estate company operating in Brazil. In order to improve the conversions on their website, they set up a split URL test and about 7,500 visitors took part in it. The hypothesis was that increasing the usability of the search box by giving users clear choices will lead to more people giving their email ids to be approached by one of the brokers from Casa Mineira. The variation outperformed the original homepage and brought the company 57.25% more leads.

3. The Color of Your CTA Buttons

Your CTA buttons are some of the most important things in your whole e-commerce operation. The 1st and obvious tip is to make sure it’s a button and not some text with a link. Once you got that out of the way the trick is to fine tune the color, shape, message and size of your button.

CTA buttons have a very specific goal: to get your web visitor to click. Your button color matters. It matter a lot. In fact, if you’re going to take only one tiny single piece of advice from this post, it should be to give careful consideration to your button colors.

Generally speaking, green and orange buttons are reported to perform best. Ultimately though it will depend on your site design, as contrasting colors work best to make striking buttons that stand out. You wouldn’t want a green CTA button on a green background. If you’re not sure what looks best, you can run a super sophisticated squint test and see what comes off as most appealing. However, if you really want to know what color CTA button will work best on your page, testing is the only way to go!

Another A/B test connected to the call-to-action buttons is the text on the button. Try testing “Buy Now” VS “Add to Cart” and see which one will bring you a better conversion. You can even go out of the box and make the text even more targeted, for example if you sell coffee beans online you could use something like “Brew it!” instead of the generic “Buy it!” version. Careful with that, it strongly depends on your niche and your audience, what works for others may not work for you.

Ecommerce_sales

4. Images on your Lander

A picture is worth 1,000 words. This especially applies for the images on your landing page, homepage and product page. It’s basically your first impression and we all know just how much that matters. Once you pick your starting image, you’ll probably want to A/B test it with different versions. Use Adobe Photoshop to quickly create different versions, or even an online pic designer/editor such as Canva.

When testing images it’s important to make small and large changes. Meaning you can test an image featuring a real person vs a cartoon/illustration character/person and see how that performs. You should also do smaller changes for example the messaging in your image, or the background color. What’s important here is to always be testing and of course, track conversions and tests properly.

5. Recommendation of Related Products

A harder but definitely important test to run would be how you recommend products and feature related products to your customers. For example, currently you may be showing related products for a certain product from it’s same category. Let’s take a shirt, if someone’s on the shirt’s product page, you’ll recommend other shirts. That can work, but how about testing it vs an item that complements the shirt, for example a necktie or even a belt. Sometimes that performs much better and sometimes it doesn’t, again it depends on countless factors but the only way to find out if you’re leaving money on the table is to test those things.

6. Adding Languages

Not your average/obvious A/B test but one that has actually proven time after time to be profitable, adding more languages to your website. The idea here is to test your whole selling process and finding a market (location + language) which converts better and lowers your CPA (Cost per Acquiring a customer). For example, if you’re selling Nike shoes on your English website in America, you may want to test selling Nike shoes on a Spanish version of your website and targeting Spanish speakers in the USA, or even better, try selling in Spanish to people from Spain. Advertising to Spain costs way lower than to the USA, you might find yourself with a much more profitable business model if you just take the time to test different languages/markets.

Shopify Translation

This kind of test used to be much more complicated and therefore reserved for bigger businesses/operations. Fortunately, there are new companies, including ours (Bablic.com) that now allow you to easily translate your e-commerce website. We offer a 14-day free trial, no credit card required, and if you’re using Shopify we actually just launched our Shopify Translation app and users are seeing great results. Definitely worth a try, need any help getting set up at all simply email [email protected] – we’ll be happy to hear from you!

7. Using Videos

Videos are the biggest thing online right now, both in advertisements and on actual websites (landing pages, product pages and so on). It makes sense, videos are the closest experience users can get online compared to actually touching a product in a brick and mortar store. The first thing to test would be video vs no-video on your product page. You can then A/B test your actual videos to see which performs best and leads to most conversions. A/B tested videos result in a greater impact on customer behavior and increases video views, shares and ultimately your conversion rates. Without testing them, poorly made videos can drive potential customers away from you and negatively affect your e-commerce site. When a product is shown in use in a video, it gives customers a better idea if the product is suitable for their needs. For example, the company “Zappos” used product videos in their website and sales of the products with the video demos increased between 6% and 30%

8. Right-column vs Left-column swap

Start this test to find out what’s attracting your customers more. Some e-commerce websites have increased their conversion by simply swapping the content in their columns from right to left and vice-versa. In this type of test, two scenarios are tested that are identical with the exception of one variant.  Tests are then run for the variant against samples of the same audience.  For example, a marketer may send the same email offer to sample groups, in his control version he’ll feature the product image and buy now button on the left-column and in his variant (test version) he’ll showcase the product image and buy now button in the right-column. As long as the samples for each test are large enough to provide statistically significant results, the results may be used to make important business decisions.

9. Provide 360° View of Products

Your product images are worth more than a 1000 words. They could be worth a 1000 more online sales. You probably know that larger, high-resolution and high-quality product images increase conversions. But do you know that giving your customers 360° view of your products will increase conversions even more?Especially when done properly, 360° product views convince people to buy your product by giving them a chance to get a better look at it and thus stops them from having any doubts about what they are buying. I recommend you to try the “Snap36” website and turn your images into POWERFUL SALES TOOLS.

video product

10. Personalize Visitor’s Experience

You can do this testing by using Behavioral Targeting which is considered to be the most underused technique in today’s marketing, meaning if you’re part of the first-generation of e-commerce sites who start using it you’ll have quite the competitive advantage. An example would be to offer a message to visitors based on their location. If someone comes onto your site from Australia for example, it would be nice if you had a message offering Free Shipping to Australia, it can be even more effective than a generic Free Shipping message. It creates personalization, your visitor right away feels a connection, like you’re catering to his needs, it comforts them and builds trust almost immediately.

11. Pricing

Try testing the way you are quoting your prices. A study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology has shown prices which include commas and cents can change how price is perceived by costumers. Just imagine that a research from the Journal of Quantitative Marketing and Economics has proven that prices ending in the number 9 were so effective that they were able to outsell lower prices for the exact same product line. Start testing today and use that to your advantage.

12. Messaging Location

We all know charging for shipping is the best way to kill a conversion.  But if you are one of those that charge for shipping let your customers know that in advance, meaning quote the shipping price before they proceed to the checkout and realize that they are being extra charged. However the best way to get a conversion, in case you haven’t realized, is to provide a free shipping.

13. Category and Navigation Repetition

This is a perfect case for A/B testing. One company, “Yuppiechef”, did this test and found out that removing navigation menu doubled their conversions. As far as designing the variation is concerned, the hypothesis was that the option without the navigation bar would provide fewer distractions, and help the user focus on the primary reason they had landed on this particular page.

14. Search Box

This is an easy A/B test with which you can test showing text suggestive of the range of products your site offers or the ways search can be used vs test showing a search CTA (Call to Action) and the value of an icon CTA vs. a word CTA. You can get deeper into search bars by testing different versions for your mobile or desktop experience, font, colors. Do you put the label inside the field or outside, on top or to the left, it’s endless. Some of these may not greatly impact a smaller site but can do wonders for a larger operation. Then again, the smaller sites are the ones that desperately need to increase conversions so it can be worth a try.

search box

15. Seals and Badges

A survey was conducted to know the security seals that are most effective. The respondents were asked which single logo gave them maximum assurance. Put recognizable security  seals because having security logos that are not recognized or trusted by customers are almost like having no logos at all. The testing that can be done here is to test which seal/badge performs better with your audience, depending on their age and location it can greatly vary.

16. Post-Purchase Messaging

Thank you pages are often ignored when people talk about increasing the conversion rate of a website, simply because they’re happy a sale has already been made, what’s the point in investing in what comes after. Keep in mind that not optimizing your thank you page is similar to asking people to leave your home. You can offer lots of different messaging on your thank you page and you definitely should. It’s the time they are most focused on you, they just gave you their billing details and their trust, a cheap thank you isn’t going to cut it. Test different offers, discounts, coupons, social sharing, referral programs and so on. You’d be surprised at the results that can be achieved from a well thought out thank you page.

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17. Live Chat or Not

A Forrester Research study have shown that 44% online consumers want live chat assistance when they are in the middle of a purchase. This way they can ask questions related to their purchases. Many e-commerce sites put FAQ on the websites but this is not as good as having a person answering your questions. Keep in mind that not every customers inquiry is answered in FAQ. What I must note is real estate on your page is extremely valuable, you need to test to see if giving some to a live chat widget is worth it. Does it increase conversions? For all you know it may be bothering the user experience, it’s just another thing that takes attention away from your ultimate goal, them buying something. Especially on mobile devices where there’s even less room for unnecessary widget. One thing’s for sure though, if no one’s available online for customer support on live chat, hide the widget.

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What is important to remember?

Study these 17 A/B tests carefully and use them in order to improve your e-commerce site. Keep in mind, you need to give the test a chance, meaning if you don’t get lots of traffic you need to let the test run for longer periods of time. There are tools online that can help you make an educated decision based on how much traffic you get daily and so on. Document any problems. Test as much pages and things as possible. Don’t obsess about an issue if it does not impact your overall user experience. Browsers won’t ever match exactly, it’s fine, just optimize for the ones being used the most with your audience.

We’d love to hear what kind of A/B tests you’ve done in the past and how they impacted your results.

If you enjoyed the post take a minute to share it with your friends and followers!

Secrets to Instagram Marketing for Restaurants

Instagram has over 300 million users, even surpassing their much older cousin Twitter. It began as two friends with a dream and it has grown into a global community that shares more than 70 million photos and videos every single day. Many users tap the like button 2.5 million times daily, proving that the visibility and the interest is at the highest level.

instagram food

Instagram is a fast-growing platform and businesses are eager to establish a presence and encourage engagement on the network. Specifically, local restaurants are gaining huge momentum and buzz online simply thanks to their Instagram profiles. Today we’re going to discuss Instagram marketing for restaurants since it is surely becoming the #1 driver of food traffic to both new and already established restaurants.

Instagram Marketing for Restaurants

Start off by creating your restaurant’s Instagram profile, make sure your logo, address and phone number are featured in your Bio section as well as your website’s URL if you have one and then apply these tips to get the most out of your Restaurant’s Instagram account.

1) Beautiful pictures

Probably the MOST important thing when it comes to building a profitable Instagram marketing strategy for a restaurant. On Instagram visuals are everything, especially when it comes to food/restaurants. We’ve all heard it before “you eat with your eyes first”, that goes to show you how important it is to ONLY post high-quality and unique pictures. Pay even more attention to detail when posting dishes/meals served at your restaurant, consider every little detail and make sure your plates, cutlery and glasses are spotless. Here are a couple examples from some restaurants who are doing Instagram marketing the right way. Keep in mind, I specifically chose smaller restaurants to show you it’s possible, you can do it too, not only big chains/brands are successful on Instagram.

A photo posted by Chris Bianco (@pizzeriabianco) on

2) Contests

Contests allow users to connect directly with the desired brand—specifically its food—in a personal and interesting way. There are many ways in which you can promote, share or advertise your meals, specials, happy hours and so on. Contests for a free dinner for 2 for example might encourage your followers to tag a friend they’d like to take to that free dinner, or to repost your contest’s promotional image explaining why they deserve to win and so on. There are tons of ways to make contests on Instagram enticing all while getting the exposure your brand/offer deserves. Contests can also help turn your followers into your ambassadors since they have to share your posts in order to enter your contests. Please make sure to follow the Instagram guidelines when creating a contest.

Instagram Restaurants Marketing

 

3) Build a community around hashtag

Creating your own Instagram hashtag and have it become a trend is every restaurant owner’s dream. The great thing about it is that it isn’t so hard to accomplish, you just need to come up with something clever that will entice your followers to start using your hashtag. Some great examples of this are Redbull’s #PutaCanonIt, Coca-Cola’s #ShareaCoke, Oreo’s #OreoHorrorStories. Those are huge brands since they easily came to mind and had extremely successful hashtag campaigns, but you can/should do it too.

Instagram food

4) Relate with your followers

Instagram food

Relate to your followers as much as possible, at this point you should already know who your target audience is (the crowd that you’ll usually find eating at your restaurant) and you should be able to keep them in mind when posting on Instagram. That means if you target a young-adult crowd you can try to keep your posts funny and entertaining using sarcasm and daily trends. Whereas if you’re more of a family restaurant try to incorporate that in your posts. It’s also extremely important to engage with your followers when trying to properly do Instagram marketing for restaurants. That means following people back, replying to their comments, commenting on their pics and so on. Make sure to keep a friendly and personal tone since that’s what Instagram is all about.

5) Don’t over post!

You must never over post! You need to know that this is not Facebook where all pictures will be grouped into a compact album or Twitter where your posts get washed out within seconds. Over-posting quickly makes you go from entertaining and interesting to simply shameless self-promotion which everyone hates. Your followers then quickly lose interest and visit your page for the last time in order to unfollow, usually forever. Post every-day but never more than twice a day, ideally once a day.

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6) Get inspiration from other companies

Learn from the best, that’s the easiest and quickest way to optimize your restaurant marketing on Instagram strategy. There are tons of credible and reputable small businesses doing Instagram right, use their techniques but apply your own twist. Why reinvent the wheel? If something works take advantage of it. Of course, as mentioned above, always add your unique spin to it, that is your only chance of becoming a leader and gaining real momentum on Instagram.

7) Use effects and filters on Instagram

You should utilize all the tools Instagram has to offer. Instagram has continued to make changes to the application at a decently fast pace. There is definitely a lot you can do on Instagram to beautify your photos, track performance too and always stay on-top of changes. You need to make your posts more creative and interesting if you want to attract more customers. Get to know all of Instagram’s filters, special effects, and the editing tools. You can use your creative team to help manipulate your photos to get the most visually irresistible result. Some of the most popular rated filters on Instagram are Low-Fi, Valencia, and X-Pro II. If you own a restaurant and you want to present your every day menus, using these effects and filters on Instagram is the perfect way to make your food on the photos look even more delicious and tempting to try.

instagram marketing

8) Find the beauty in your brand

A lot of companies already ruled Instagram out as an unusable platform for their business. Take photographs in the kitchen or of your restaurant’s garden environment to give your followers a sneak-peak into the day-to-day of your company’s unique culture. Get your employees involved so all of the work does not fall on your shoulders, it also helps create a more unique and creative feed than a bland one managed by just one person. For example, have your Chef upload pics of raw food as well as the process it takes to create his masterpiece meals. Behind the scene posts help people connect with your brand on a deeper level, they start feeling like they actually know you and your restaurant.

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9) Bonus

The easiest way to start your Instagram marketing campaign for your restaurant is to take advantage of your current walk-in/reservation traffic. Don’t impose on your guests, but offer them a free dessert or drink for example in exchange for a post on Instagram. Many are going to be thrilled to do it and appreciate the offer, some have thousands of followers, definitely worth the exposure in exchange for what it costs you to make that drink or dessert!

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What is important to remember?

For personal use, Instagram can be fun and spontaneous. But if you wish to use it as a marketing tool, you need to be a little more calculated and consistent with it. Take it seriously and you’ll benefit from it, don’t and you won’t see any result. Results can take time, getting a real following takes time, but what’s better than free advertising right?

Let us know in the comment what’s worked on Instagram for your restaurant!

 

 

41 Must-Read Blogs Start-Up Owners Will Find Useful

Building a successful business empire needs more than just your thinking. You need the input of experts and other successful people who have made it in your industry.

The internet provides an excellent starting point in your quest for free expert insight on the several challenges you face as a start-up. A good number of entrepreneurs, business investors, and bloggers share their opinions and tips on their blogs/websites, and it’s only from these blogs that you can (freely and on a daily basis) get the very information on how to drive your start-up to the top.

However, figuring out the most insightful and relevant blogs can be a huge challenge, given the thousands that exist today. Here’s a list of the must-read blogs for start-ups that you will find imperative for your daily dose of business advice and inspiration. These blogs have helped thousands of start-up owners take their businesses to the next level.

1. Shopify

shopify

If you are interested in e-commerce and insight on building a brand online, then you’ll find Shopify quite helpful.

Must Read: Referral Marketing 101: 7 Tactics to Launch Your Own Referral Campaign

2. Buffer

blog buffer

At buffer, you will be impressed with what Kevan and other members of the team have in store for you in terms of social media marketing.

Must Read; Referral Marketing 101: 7 Tactics to Launch Your Own Referral Campaign

3. Sixteen Ventures

sixteenventures blog

Here Lincoln, an expert in customer acquisition, conversion rates and building/marketing a SaaS product shows some tips on building better systems and user-flows for your clients.

Must read: CAC cost is the key to scaling your company 

4. Unbounce

unbounce blog

Unbounce discusses how to build converting landing pages and how to use landing pages efficiently, straight from their expert online marketers.

Must Read: How to write the highest converting AdWords ads, ever 

5. CoElevate

coelevate

Coelevate by VP, Brian is a blog by Brian Balfour that focuses on business growth.

Must Read: How to drive insights for growth 

6. Tomasz Tunguz

Get inspired by someone with more experience in start-ups, Tomasz Tunguz.

Must read: The compounding returns of content marketing

7. Andrew Chen

Here is one of the most resourceful experts in growth hacking. You’ll find most of his posts quite technical but useful and great reads.

Must read: This is the Product Death Cycle. Why it happens, and how to break out of it

8. Harvard Business Review

Get some daily inspiration and advice from Harvard Business Review which takes a different but exceptional approach to the business world in general.

Must Read: How to Spend the Last 10 Minutes of Your Day

9. OkDork

okdork

Noah Kagan teaches you some tips on data-driven marketing for your startup.

Must Read: How to grow your blog to 100,000 visitors in less than a year 

10. Moz

The co-founder of Moz, Rand gives you some fantastic actionable content you need for the success of your start-up, especially when it comes to search engine optimization.

Must read: Local SEO advanced competitive analysis

11. Joel.is

Also one of the co-founders of Buffer, Joel Gascoigne take you through a few lessons on a non-traditional way of growing a business, just like he did.

Must read: 3 reasons you shouldn’t outsource your startup and what to do instead

12. Seth’s Blog

Learn more about start-up success from the legendary Seth Godin.

Must read: Telling a story on the label

13. KISSmetrics

kissmetrics

KISSmetrics is also among the SaaS companies that value content marketing, use their expertise, advice and tips to your advantage.

Must read: How to Use the Psychology of Color to Increase Website Conversions

14. Social Triggers

This is a blog by Derek Halpern that revolves around the psychology of building and growing your business.

Must read: The Perfect Testimonial (use this to boost your sales conversions today)

15. Zapier

Zapier is a blog about productivity or as they say; work smarter, not harder.

Must read:  How to Scale Yourself and Get More Done Than You Thought Possible

startup blogs

16. Derek Sivers

An engaging blog with a different take on building/growing your business, some valuable stuff in there.

Must read: The Meaning of Life

17. WP Curve

Alex McClafferty and Dan Norris share with you what they had to do to get where they are, which is basically an authority site/company for the world’s most use CMS, WordPress.

Must read: 13 startup founders share what keeps them awake at night 

18. Vero

An email marketing powerhouse, and as we all know “the money is in your list”.

Must read: The ultimate lifecycle email marketing guide 

19. For Entrepreneurs

forentrepreneurs

The VC at Matrix Partners takes you through a few things you have to learn about start-ups and their successes.

Must read: Accelerate your startup: Tuning the engine

20. Less Accounting

A great resource when it comes to accounting which can be a big expense for startups especially since budgets are tight when starting out.

Must read: Small business tax tips

21. ConversionXL

ConversionXL

What we’re all after, better conversion rates. The experts at ConversionXL can turn you into a conversion rate expert if you just stick by them and keep absorbing their valuable content.

Must read: How to write copy people actually read

22. Copyhackers

Get to learn more about copywriting tips from a great team of experienced copywriters. Copy makes a huge difference on websites, it has a big impact on conversions and should definitely not be left to chance.

Must read: How to write a kickstarter pitch 

23. Copyblogger

Another copywriting/blogging resource, extremely important since marketing in general is shifting more and more towards inbound marketing where copy/content is a priority.

Must read: The best way to create hit content in record time

24. Quicksprout

Also the co-founder of Crazy Egg and KISSmetrics, Neil Patel is a serial-entrepreneur with a few successful startups and he goes in details and shares as much as he can in terms of how he grew his businesses. From getting traffic to increasing conversions, Neil Patel is a real genius.

Must read: Ultimate guides

25. SaaStr

Here Jason Lemkin shows you as a SaaS company owner how you can get up to $100M in ARR, coming from someone who’s done it before, his tips are crucial.

Must read: How to sell to SMBs and still get to $100M ARR

26. OnStartups

Get a chance to hear from the HubSpot founder. HubSpot basically pioneered inbound marketing, learning from the founder can cause no harm.

Must-read post: Do fewer things better

27. Clarity

At clarity, you get advice straight from successful entrepreneurs who were in your position before. They also have a service worth checking out, you can have a 1-on-1 phone call with experts in many different fields on a pay-per-minute model.

Must read. Insanity: The secret of entrepreneurship

28. Crazy Egg

Crazy Egg

Actionable marketing advice on a successful marketing from industry leaders including Neil Patel who pitches in from time to time with some exclusive content.

Must read: 16 pricing page tips

29. Freshbooks

Apart from exceptional small business/startup accounting tips, you get a lot more information on how to grow your small business in today’s competitive market.

Must read: How to handle scope creep – 5 scripts you can use now

30. Smart Passive Income

Here Pat Flynn puts forth and implements a variety of tests on business growth and online marketing strategies you can put in to play.

Must read: From course concept to $141,659 in sales in 6 months

41 startup blogs

31. Startup Professionals

Martin Zwilling shows you a variety of tips on customer success, productivity and more.

Must read: 8 battle strategies every startup business needs

32. Kabbage

kabbage

Kabbage’s blog is more focused towards small businesses but provides tons of valuable information in terms of increasing productivity, the hiring process, dealing with hard clients and more.

Must read: 7 strategies for turning unpaid client bills into cash

33. Intercom

Learn everything from design, product strategy to business and customer success.

Must read: The only competitor that matters

34. OpenView Labs

openviewlabs

Expert advice on growing a software product including actionable advice and interviews from today’s most powerful software founders.

Must read: How to motivate your sales team 

35. Chaotic Flow

chaotic flow

Joel York has more than 20-experience in SaaS sales and is more than willing to share it with you.

Must read: Aligning SaaS customer acquisition

36. Wider Funnel

widerfunnel blog

This blog covers practical insights on real-world optimization tests and findings for online sales funnels.

Must read: Checkout Funnel: Is the shortest path always best?

37. Work Awesome

Work Awesome teaches you some tricks and provides valuable insight on how to be more productive both at work and in life.

Must read: 4 keys to lasting productivity

38. Steve Blank

Steve Blank is an entrepreneur recognized for coming up with customer development, this is where he shows you how to do it.

Must read: There are 4 types of startups

39. Close.io

close blog

Close.io is an authority blog when it comes to building SaaS Sales Strategies, a must-read for anyone involved or inspired by SaaS products.

Must Read: 5 pieces of wisdom that will change the way you sell SaaS 

40. Predictable Revenue

Here Aaron Ross who is predictable revenue’s founder shares with you some tips and tricks on how to make it big.

Must read: How to find a sales marketing niche

And lastly…

41. Both Sides of the Table

Get a lot of lessons on how to become a successful start-up founder.

Must read: Do more with less

It’s not easy to get your start-up off the ground and elevate it to the next big thing, but you can get some help, advice and inspiration from those who’ve been there before. Reading the 41 blogs mentioned above daily will not only help you get some answers but will inspire you to get your business off the ground.

Easily Boost Your Organic Social Media Engagement

Did you know that there are over 1.82 billion social network users worldwide?

That number is expected to increase to approximately 2.33 billion by 2017. Those numbers speak for themselves, being active on social media is a crucial part of your marketing plan today.

Social media is one of the most effective ways to increase exposure of your brand which is why 8 out of 10 small to medium businesses use social media in order to drive the growth of their business. However, not all of those businesses are getting the most out of it, or doing it properly at all in fact. Some businesses will obtain impressive and significant results with social media and while others achieve none and see it as a waste of time.

The difference between them is simple, it’s called engagement.  What engagement represents is a two-way dialogue between brands and customers. More technically, it determines what percentage of your audience is viewing your content, sharing it, and ultimately looking forward to seeing more of your content.

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Increasing engagement becomes easier with larger budgets, however it can be a problem if you’re a small business with a tight budget. We’ve put together a list of actionable tips you can apply today to your social media marketing in order to grow engagement organically, for free.

Make Use of Free Social Media Listening/Monitoring Tools 

As you may have heard before, online reputation can make or break your brand. Thankfully there are tools that can help monitor what people are saying about your brand online. Here are some that offer a free version to get started:

Be Visual 

Social media and visual content go hand in hand. In fact, using images or graphics has huge advantages for social media. Research has discovered that images can bring up to an 85% interaction rate on Facebook and could increase retweets by 35%.

Below is an example of a Twitter profile that used an image to highlight a blog post that was being shared on the platform.

twitter image

Not a professional graphic designer? No worries, get started with a free service like Canva, just make sure you keep your branding in mind when designing images and banners for social media.

Include  Contests and Giveaways

What’s great about contests and giveaways is that they boost engagement on the social media platform of your choice because they use gamification and of course, the fact that they can get something for free always helps . For example, you can ask followers to fill-out an entry form, like your page or share their favorite story about your brand for a chance to win a free product or subscription from your brand.  Giving away something is key.

Post About Current Events

Another way you can create valuable content is by leveraging current events. Oreo did this during the 2013 Super Bowl, when there was a major power failure.

oreo

Their technique worked so well that they managed to generate over 10,000 retweets in one hour.

Another example, Papa John’s Pizza posted about the March Madness basketball finals on their Facebook page. They asked fans to pick the winning team, and received more than 50 comments within a few hours.

pizzaa

When you create content connected to current events that people are already talking about, it creates real engagement and a deeper connection with your fans and their behavior.

 Ask, And You Shall Receive

Asking your followers and audience questions is another way to get them active on social media. You could ask them to give you advice, content ideas, what they would like to see from your brand in the future or just a general question like “What are plans for the weekend?”. Another idea would be to hold frequent Q&As on Google Hangouts, Twitter, Reddit, etc. for a more behind the s

When you ask a question on your social media page, you turn it into a community and encourage your customers to respond and share their opinion, it means you value their ideas. The best way to raise your engagement is to make your followers feel important, after all everyone likes feeling important.

Repurpose Your Content 

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest are just four of the numerous social media networks out there. Moreover, they all serve different demographics and have different features. This is the reason why you should repurpose your content to fit the preferences of the specific social media audience you want to reach. For example, you could create a how-to-list for LinkedIn and convert that into an image to share on Facebook. You could even just update or republish one of your most popular articles. The point is that you can use the same idea and awesome content to reach different audience across various mediums.

 Calls to Action

Calls to action are important, but you need to be careful about how you’re using them. That’s because Facebook no longer appreciates promotional posts and has lately started to penalize posts that directly ask for ‘Likes’ & ‘Shares.’ In the eyes of Facebook, promotional posts lower the quality of the user experience.

Here’s an example of a post that Facebook considers to be too promotional.

promotional

Instead, look this example for the Oreo Facebook Page and notice how well they tell you to take an action: they avoid using words that Facebook doesn’t like such us ‘Share’ or ‘Like.’oreo

However, not all social media platforms think like Facebook.

Twitter, for example, doesn’t mind as much if you ask for people to retweet your content , basically the same thing of asking people to share your content on Facebook. In fact, asking people to retweet your content on Twitter has the power to dramatically increase your engagement levels.

retweet

As you can notice, the phrase ‘RT’ generates on average 73.48 retweets, and it works much better than asking people to ‘PLS RT.’

Not every question is equal, however.  Some words work better than others when it comes to constructing your questions.

formulate

 

Another tip is to keep an eye out for questions asked on your social media profiles, people expect answers quickly as you can see in the image below.

 

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Encourage User-Generated Content

User-generated content (UGC) is a brilliant way to get your fans talking on your page. It’s the most convenient way to get engagement.

Starbucks’ #WhiteCupContest is an excellent example of a successful UGC contest. In 2014, they launched the first #WhiteCupContest, where customers were asked to design the cup, take a photo and share it on social media using the hashtag. The campaign received more than 4,000 entries in just three weeks.

starbucks

Connect With a Social Cause

Even if a social cause doesn’t directly relate to your brand, you can still promote it on your page and find a way to connect with it, if not then just supporting one your company believes in should be enough.

Estée Lauder is a world-renowned beauty product manufacturer. When they conducted a Breast Cancer Awareness (BCA) campaign, it made them a socially aware and sensible brand. The call to action of the campaign was “Hear our stories. Share yours.” And that’s what their fans did.

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They asked their audience to visit BCAcampaign.com to hear from breast cancer survivors and share their own stories. When they started the program, hundreds of people shared their stories on the platform.

If there’s a cause your company supports, create a campaign or just spread the word on your social pages. Fans are likely to engage with socially responsible content.

Conduct Polls and Surveys

People are often willing to provide you their opinion, and this is particularly true on social media networks. This means that conducting polls and surveys about your services, products, and brand in general are great ways to engage your followers and obtain valuable information about your customer base as well as feedback from your audience.

It also shows them that you care about their opinions, which in turn helps to build trust and loyalty, further strengthening your brand identity and reputation.

Use survey creation sites like SurveyMonkey to easily create polls to post on your social media profiles.

If used properly, social media has the power to dramatically change the way you acquire customers. Using social media is not as hard as it sounds, you just need to understand how to play the game in the proper way.

What do you think? How do you engage your social media followers? What inspires your fans to communicate and share on your page?

Work Smarter, Not Harder – The Secret to Time Management

If you’re the owner of a small business, you may often think you don’t have enough time to accomplish all your tasks during the day. For a small-business owner, every minute that ticks on the clock represent money, that can either be earned or wasted.

In a study conducted by Microsoft, researchers found that workers used only about 60% of their available work time. This means that out of a five-day work week, they were productive only three of those days. Now, apply that to your own business. If time is money, then how would you feel about earning only 60% of what you could/should be earning?

The truth is that time is easy to waste, and unless you have a detailed plan of how you’ll spend it, it will go by before you even realize it.

According to a survey conducted by eVoice, a virtual phone service, most small business owners would love to add more hours to the day. In fact, one in four small business owners believe an extra productive hour in the workday would be worth more than $500.

Knowing we don’t have the power to slow down the clock, here are 8 tips that every small business owner can use to make the best use of their time.  Applying these effective time management tips and tools will help you to use your work time more effectively and get most of your tasks done.

Ignore Your Email

This probably sounds a lot easier than what is actually is since most people tend to check theirs every 5-10 minutes. If you add up all the minutes that it takes to constantly check your email and then answer, it’s easy to see why it’s such a time waster.

Instead of being a slave to your email, make it subject to your time constraints. Plan two time periods during the day to check and answer to all of your messages. This will take some serious motivation and discipline, but it will allow you to devote more focus and time to other tasks that might otherwise be continually interrupted by checking email.

If you’re worried that people will get offended by how long it takes you to reply, set up an auto responder that lets people know that you take 10-12 hours to respond, or even 24 hours if your business allows it.

Set Step-by-Step Goals

There is a big difference between setting a goal and setting a detailed goal where the steps and improvements needed to conclude it are marked before. A large number of people set general goals and then never really follow them because don’t know how to implement them.

Therefore, your day should be made up of a series of goals that have specific milestones in order to make the best use of your time for your business. For example, if your goal for the day is to find a new supplier, you should write down all the steps that you will be required to take in order to reach your goal. For example, emailing potential new suppliers, reaching out to old contacts, making a list of items and quantities you’ll need from said new supplier and so on.

Breaking large goals into smaller steps is a great idea to be able to more effectively accomplish your goals since you know in advance what steps must be done along the way. And since they are smaller, they feel more realistic and easier to achieve, making it more motivating.

In addition, once you know you have completed certain steps toward reaching your goal can boost your motivation and you will be eager to perform better afterwards.

Don’t Multi-Task

Researches show that only about 2.5% of people are able to effectively multi-task and still do a good job at each activity. Moreover, the Institute of Psychiatry at the University of London shows that a person’s IQ falls 10 points when they’re extremely stimulated by emails, texts, and phone calls.

On the contrary, time management experts estimate that focusing on one thing at a time will double productivity, work output, and performance. And when you’re running a small business, that can mean the difference between success and failure. Push yourself to do one thing at a time by setting a clock or timer for a certain amount of time, and then focus on that one task until it’s finished.

Organize Your Time and Space

It is quite hard to work in an organized way when everything that surrounds you is a mess.  A study done by Esselte shows that 43% of Americans consider themselves unorganized, and that lack of organization causes them to stay late at the office at least two nights per week. This is not the right way to work.

Organization experts agree that the first step in order to increase productivity is to organize your space. Eliminate everything that is unnecessary, then create a system for the things that are necessary. For example, use a color-coded file folder for the items that are urgent, to be done that day, and another for things that can wait until tomorrow. Or if you’re a technological person, use your scanner and create files on your PC or Smartphone using the same kind of system.

You will be required to organize not only your space, but also your time.  With great free online tools such as e.ggtimer, a gadget that works just like an egg timer, you can set the time, and then be alerted when it’s over.

If you realize that you spend a lot of time answering basic sales questions, you should consider the idea to write some template responses that you (or an employee) could personalize in response to questions. In the same way, adding an FAQs page to your website could help free up more of your time. Customer relationship management software can also save a lot of time and effort.

Put It In Writing

Writing your plan on a paper makes it stronger in your mind. By writing down your plan of action for the day, including your goals and milestones in a detailed way, you will be helped with a plan that should support you efficiently during the day. You’ll of course still be confronted with distractions, but if you have a clear understanding of what you need to accomplish for the day, you’ll be more likely to get right back to the task at hand, rather than wasting time with other tasks.

Some experts believe you should create this list the night before. This way, you’ll be able to begin the next day completely prepared, rather than wasting time deciding how to approach tasks and figuring out what you need to get done.

Track Your Time

Without tracking your time, any attempt at improving time management will be a failure. If you don’t track where and how you spend your time, you’ve no idea on how to measure your current time management, or identify what wastes your time or tasks you could delegate to someone.

Start off by recording what you do each day and how long it takes you.
If you think that the amount of additional time you’ll waste tracking your time is not worth the effort, try one of those free time management tools that can help to make this task easier: Toggl,  Yast or  WorkTime.

Delegate Appropriate Tasks

Have a close look at your current workload and see if there are applicable tasks you could delegate to others. Small businesses owners usually think that they do the job better and so are very reluctant in delegating tasks to other people. However, delegation can give you valuable time so you can focus on growing your business rather than spending all your time focusing on the day-to-day activities involved in running of your business.

Prepare a list of tasks you could delegate. Most employees desire to develop in their jobs and would value the opportunity to have added responsibility or the chance to learn new skills. Try not to fall into the trap of only delegating the jobs you don’t really like doing  and remember that you want to free up as much time as possible to allow you to work more strategically and effectively.

Work to Your Personal Productive Times

It makes sense to work when you work best. We all have different cycles and preferences. If you’re a morning person, use this time to accomplish important projects. Schedule more routine things or less creative tasks for the afternoon when you’re in your less productive cycle. Avoid routine production planning meetings during your most productive times.

If you’re not a morning person, get those routine tasks in the morning and then schedule important meetings or big projects for when you’ll be able to give your best.

The old proverb “time is money” is based on reality that isn’t going to change any time soon. If you own a small business, the simplest method to get your income higher is to pay attention to how you’re spending your time, and then make adjustments to help you manage your time in the best way possible.

How do you manage you time?

 

30 Tips to Optimize Your Landing Page

It’s a fact: Landing pages can help generate qualified leads and increase your sales and business goals while lowering your advertising/marketing costs.

Optimizing Landing Pages

The easier you make it for your visitors to see who you are, what you’re offering, the value you provide and what you’re asking in return, the more likely that person is going to convert.

perfect-landing-page

Here are 30 tips you should immediately use to make the copy, design, layout and ease-of-use of your landing page more effective today.

Easy to Navigate

Keep your page free of too much information, too many pictures and too much clutter. Make it easy to see why your visitor is on your page and what they need to do. Keep in mind, online users have an attention span of about a few seconds, if you can’t clearly deliver your message within a few seconds to a visitor who lands on your page, you’re doing something wrong and it’s costing you big time.

Bullet Points

Make it easy to understand your advantages and more people will want what you are offering. See how Wishpond does this properly on one of their many landing page templates with easy-to-read bullet points.

bullet

Clear and Concise Headlines

Being one of the first things your visitors will read, your landing page headlines should not confuse or bore, but convince a visitor to take a closer look and pay attention. Addressing a specific point that is related to the content of the website will catch a reader’s attention more than having an imprecise and boring headline. Use your headline to immediately show how your visitors will benefit if they keep reading and click on your CTA.

Whitespace

Use clean designs and direct your client’s attention to your offer, benefits and Call to Action. Leave empty space on your page to increase conversions by providing a clear design of what it is you’re offering and what your visitors’ next step should be, no better way to do that than by using whitespace to your advantage.

Images

You know that pictures tell a thousand words. This is specifically true online. Images are the most shared and liked content on social media. They can be very productive and convincing on your lead-generating landing pages too. The more a potential customer likes your page and relates to your design/images, the more likely they’ll convert.

Complementary (and contrasting) Colours

Colour design is extremely important in optimizing your landing page. Use complementary colour schemes to make your page appealing to the eye. Make your Call-to-Action in a contrasting colour to stand out.

If you don’t have a graphic designer, there’s a number of free colour scheme tools online such as Hex Color Scheme Generator or Adobe Kuler! Check them out!

5 second rule

The ‘5 second rule’ applies to landing pages too. You’ve got about 5 seconds to attract and draw in your visitors. If your page doesn’t appeal immediately, your potential customer won’t hesitate to visit a competitor, which might even be your competitor’s one!

Impeccable Grammar

Not just landing pages, but all website grammar needs to be perfect. Always double and triple check your copy, and have someone else read it through. In the case of an online retailer who is asking for visitors to purchase and provide personal and billing information, the trust of the customer will be risked if there are spelling errors and  grammar mistakes.

anatomy-spelling

This page has one small grammar error, but that one error can make a difference in conversions. You’re asking visitors to trust you. Grammatical errors are not a great beginning.

Call To Action

Your Call to Action (CTA) is the action you are asking your visitor to take. Your CTA should be the most noticeable characteristic on your landing page. Make your Call to Action buttons clear and use contrasting colours. Keep them short and use action-oriented words to invoke an immediate reaction. When possible, try to include a benefit in your CTA.

anatomy-cta

Blue Apron has a strong call-to-action on this page. It’s clear what the user should do and even highlights a per person price.

Buttons & Call to Actions Should Stand Out

Determine the keywords people interested in your service might be looking for and use words such as free, new, buy, or download now. A conversion button should stand out and be placed right below a call-to-action or have the call-to-action as the button. In addition, the button should be big, bright, and above the fold.

Keep it Above the Fold

The space a visitor sees without having to scroll is where the most relevant parts of the webpage should be. Place the call-to-action button above the fold and in a location where the viewer’s eye will scan to. Never have the button or form in a place where it has to be searched for.

anatomy-above-fold

 

Competitive advantage

Use your marketing smarts to show how and why you’re better than your competition. Show off your unique selling point for your campaign. The more convincing you are to your market, the more sales you will get.

Sense of urgency

Use scarcity tactics such as a limited supply of your product offering, limited time for your offer, or a coupon that expires shortly for example.

To create urgency, use phrases such as “only two days left”, “limited supply”, “don’t miss out”, “click now, while supplies last”.

Know your offer

Before you create your landing page, figure out what your offer is. Answer questions like:

  • What problem are you solving?
  • What are the specifics of your campaign?
  • How will your offer most benefit your customer – and why should they care?

    Know your customer

    In order to design and create a fully optimized landing page, you need to know who it is you’re marketing to. Make a list of demographics for your target market, or even write out a number of buyer personas that detail the daily behaviours of your intended consumer. Make customer personas to understand your consumer, their needs and their online behaviors.

    Taking Advantage of Trust Indicators

    For an effective way of building trust, include testimonials, reviews, press mentions, and 3rd party trust and security certification.

    anatomy-trust
    This landing page from Mayflower uses the company’s average rating to display trust in their service.

    Always Be Testing

    Optimize a landing page for conversion over time. Run A/B tests, change copy, images, and call-to-actions to see what resonates most with users. Moreover, testing two completely different site designs against each other will be beneficial in the long run.

    Know your competition

It’s business. Check out your competition and do a competitive analysis for their landing pages. Your research can help you reach two goals: inspiration to outperform their page, or generate creativity to innovate something unique.

Contact Information

Show your phone number, social network links, and even the address and a map of your location. The more accessible you are, the more friendly and ‘open for business’ you look. Don’t hide from your customers if you want their business.

Example of a renovation landing page with a clear phone number in the upper right hand corner.

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Don’t oversell

Don’t over-promise only to under-deliver. That is the fastest way to lose trust – and customers. Say what you’re offering, and give your customers what you’ve promised. Once they’ve got what they want, then give them a little more. You may be pleasantly surprised at the word-of-mouth marketing you gain as well as returning customers.

Use Oversized Buttons

Donʼt be afraid to design big shiny buttons that really stand out. They donʼt need to be grey or be the same height as a standard text field. Go big to stop your visitors from going elsewhere.

Don’t Repeat Errors of The Past

It might sound simple, but unless you make the effort to record problems in old campaigns you will never learn from them. Put a big poster on the wall with your top 10 things to avoid doing, or reminders of things you’ve learnt from previous landing pages.

Colors

Colors that attract a visitor will vary between different sites, audiences and so on. Applying the right colors might draw in traffic, bore viewers, or scare others away. They set the mood of a landing pages and influence a viewer’s actions. It’s important you choose the right colors for your lander, product and even more so, your visitors. Pick a color that associates itself with trust in your industry.

anatomy-colors

Go Easy on The Links

Links connecting the user to a a lot of other sites or pages will distract them and have a negative result on conversions. Lots of links may make sense on a regular home page, but on a landing page, simplicity is key.

anatomy-links

This landing page is well designed, but look at all those headers links getting in the way of the message! Remove excess links in order to reduce the distraction level on your landing page!

Show a Face

Studies have shown that using smiling faces increases trust. Show the face of you, you and your team or a happy customer. Increasing trust is a big step towards increasing conversions.

Speak to Your Customer

Use “you” in your landing page copy. Think of your landing page as a place where someone is visiting you in-person. If your demographic is the millennial generation, use language and images that relate. if you’re marketing to a geo-location target, use local references to give trust that you’re a business that relates to them personally.

Use Customer Testimonials

Share good quotes from your customers – and show their face and name or website if possible. People trust the opinions of other people, particularly those of friends. Social endorsements are an efficient way to gain trust in future customers.

Use Images and Videos that Relate to Copy

Implementing motivational speeches, videos of user testimonials, and product images into a home page can have a positive impact on viewers, as well as give shoppers additional motivation to look further into a product.

anatomy-imagery

Bellroy uses great imagery and videos on many of their pages. Every product page has a great video and a large number of pictures of that wallet. This makes selecting the right wallet extremely easy for buyers, it’s a close as a visitor can get to actually touching the wallet without being in its physical presence (in a retail store for example).

Use keywords in your Page Title

Make sure to include your targeted keywords in your page title, this will help less with conversions but more with SEO, and who doesn’t want free traffic?

Include Social Sharing Buttons

Google “likes” a highly shared page. Make your social sharing buttons easy to see on your page. Put them at the top of your page, and make them highly visible on your landing page. They help with SEO, getting more social traffic for free, and most importantly they serve as social proof which definitely helps increase your landing page’s conversion rate.

Start with a few of these tips – or try them all – to immediately increase your landing page’s success.

Which ones are you already using, and which ones are you thinking of trying out? We’d love to hear about optimization strategies that are working for you, so leave a comment below and make sure to let us know how your next landing page performs!

How to Create an Effective Video Ad for Your Small Business

Video marketing is a strategy that every small business owner should consider. Not only is it an extremely effective way of marketing in order to increase sales as well as brand recognition, but customers actually prefer it.

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Nowadays, audiences are more willing to spend time watching an informative video about your company than scroll down a long page of text. In fact, reading takes much more time and can give less of a taste of what you are trying to offer to your audience.  Your small business can easily get involved today by creating a video and sharing it online.

Video ads can offer value to businesses of all sizes. Small businesses in particular have found that online video advertising is a great tool for boosting awareness, converting interest into sales and growing your brand online in a cost effective way.

As a business owner, you have a limited advertising budget so you want to be entirely sure that you’re using your money efficiently. A good video ad can be inexpensive to produce and can be used on social media sites, your webpage and in e-mails.

Creating an effective online video advertisement might not be as easy as it may seem. Here are some tips to help you create an effective video ad for your business.

Make the First Few Seconds Count

The beginning of your video is crucial. You need to grab the interest of your target market immediately if you want a chance at them watching the whole video and getting the full message. So a tip is to start the video with a statement that will get the attention of your audience within the first few second by telling them a common problem, and mentioning how your company can solve it.
Take into consideration that someone will start your video on mute, and the message can only be heard when the user clicks on the audio button.  Therefore it is also important to begin your ad with great and powerful visuals that encourage viewers to press the button and continue watching your video.

Highlight What Makes Your Brand Great

Why should your audience be interested in your brand? Answering this question in your video is critical!  Emphasize what makes your company great at what it offers. Tell viewers why your brand is unique and what makes it different from competitors. Share your achievements. You can even include customer testimonials and positive feedback. The more you highlight the benefits of your company, the more effective your video ad will be.

Keep it Brief

Don’t forget you are just creating an online video to grab the attention of the audience. Therefore, it’s fundamental to get rid of unnecessary content, and spread your message as quick as possible to keep viewers watching and engaged.
In fact, the shorter the video is, the less number of people will stop watching your video and are instead more likely to watch it until the end.

Try to make your video clear, concise and persuasive. Save more detailed information for your web page. A majority of the video ads online are 30 seconds or less. Keep this optimal length in mind as you create the script for the video.

Tell Viewers Why

Your video should tell viewers why they should choose your brand.
Why are you the right choice of your audience? Whether it’s of great value, a free trial, unlimited warranty, or patented technology for creating a unique product, you need to give viewers a reason to go with your company. It’s important to emphasize this when planning and filming your online video ad.

Use a Call to Action

The aim of every adverstisement is to support viewers to take an action. So don’t forget to add a call to action (CTA) in your video. It can either be filmed or added through graphics and text. The best would be to include it at the end of your ad. No ideas? Show your audience how they can visit your website to receive more info, sign up for a discount or buy your products and services!

Call-to-Action-Above-The-Fold

Write a Script

It is fundamental to have a well prepared plan for the production and publishing of the video. It should describe every visual and audio element in detail. Great buildings, movies and videos are all made on paper first. So whether you hire a script writer or do it yourself, take the time to get the script right before you spend any time or money producing a video. After doing so, get it reviewed by friends, family, and those with a good understanding of your brand. Feedback is a great tool for making the necessary adjustments.

You don’t have time to write your own script? You can post an ad on a website such as Elance to find a good and cheap script writer!

Personalize Your Video

A simple to make your video look better is adding pictures of yourself, your employees and your customers, it makes it real. If you have customer testimonials, it could be nice to include them. If possible, show a customer using your product or service, your audience will greatly appreciate it! Just to save yourself possible future problems, have your “actors” sign a release granting you permission to use their names.

Find a Voice

Are you not comfortable speaking in front of a camera? Have someone else record your message for you! For example, this company, vADz, offers professional voice artists known as “vadzvoices” to do voiceover on your script, you can also check out Fiverr.

Check the Lighting

If you don’t have professional lighting, make sure your video is recorded during the day in front of a window, and turn on the overhead lights. If you’re making multiple videos, you can buy a video light kit online for about $100. It is usually better to film indoors where you can control the lighting and background noise.

Select an Appropriate Setting

If you have a restaurant, you might desire to capture your chef at work in the kitchen. If you own a beauty center, show your employee giving massages to your costumers. If you are a service business, like a mechanic for example, show one of your employees arriving at your customer’s door in a spotless uniform bearing your logo. Your video reflects your business so make sure to show the image that you want your audience to remember and look for.

Jokey Video? It Depends!

Many videos get spread very quickly due to a smart and well planned joke. However, this can be a smart strategy or a disastrous one. If humor comes natural and fits with what you are trying to say and sell, then consider the possibility of including it. If it doesn’t, don’t force yourself, you don’t want your brand to turn into a joke.

kit kat

Make Viewers Envision Using Your Product

Allow your target user/customer to imagine him or herself using and experiencing the product and having a positive reaction. This leads him to think he should take the next step and buy it since positive feelings are associated to your product. It requires you to showcase your product’s benefits and ultimately the solution it provides but all in a natural way using creative language, visuals and tone.

Build Relations With Viewers

Trust and engagement are two essential elements in successful video marketing strategies.  A good tip for creators is to  focus on building relations with the people who view their videos. For example, think about creating a series of videos that follow each other, or even make a series of videos that drop once a week or once a month so your customers can anticipate and look forward to them.

Whether your goal is to increase sales, or brand recognition, you’ll find video ads to be an extremely effective strategy.

With the help of the tips mentioned above and a little luck, videos can quickly gain traction and become your number 1 sales driver!

Have you used video for your small business? Any tips we left out? Let us know in the comments!

10 Tips to Customize your Squarepace Website

As most of you already know, Squarespace is a fantastic tool for business owners and bloggers who need an easy, attractive platform for building a website.
Learning how to use it is not complicated and best of all, it’s affordable for small businesses and even entrepreneurs just starting out on a new venture.

However, the fact that Squarespace templates are beautiful, simple, and easy to setup is also why many users have a hard time customizing their site and making it look different, unique and personalized all while remaining efficient from a marketing perspective.

I’ve prepared some helpful tips that I’ve found for switching up the look and feel of your Squarespace site as well as helping gain more traffic and an increased conversion rate. Some of these might be new to you and some you might already know or use on your Squarespace site, but I hope you’re able to dig deeper by implementing the following Squarespace tips.

Labelling Images- Alt Tags

Alt tags is text associated with an image that mostly search engines will see instead of the image. Search engines use them to identify the content of a image. Adding alt-text to images is a fantastic way to give your site a quick and easy SEO boost to climb higher in search engine rankings. This tip can require a lot of time according to the amount of images your site has but it’s certainly good practice for all websites as it’s excellent for SEO if done properly. Try using targeted keywords in your image alt-tags as a bonus tip!

Set Image Focal Points

With focal points (the small grey circles that appear over images you’re editing), you can control the focus area in your images.

In many cases, the system will crop an image so it fits efficiently in your template. When you move a focal point in an image, you reposition the image within its container and adjust what displays in the cropped area. For example, you may want it to focus on someone’s face, or another specific part of an image.
set focal

Simply go to the image you want to edit, and drag the small circle to the area you’d like to highlight to ensure it doesn’t get cropped in the wrong place.

Upload a Browser Favicon

Customization is all in the details, from the color of your navigation menu to that little image that appears beside your website’s name in a web browser tab, also known as branding. Get rid of that black box and add a touch of your brand to the browser by uploading a custom favicon. In the main menu, click Design > Logo & Title and under the Browser Icon (Favicon) section, upload a .png file with a transparent background (a white box around your image doesn’t look quite as professional). Not sure how to make your own Favicon? Just upload an image here for free to get yours.

 

genesis-favicons (1)

Don’t forget  that favicons don’t appear very big on the tab, so try to find something simple, something that doesn’t show many details like a letter or an icon. By adding even a small detail like a favicon, your site will appear more professional, exclusive and customized.

404 Error / Page Not Found Custom Page

This isn’t essential, but it is something that can make an important difference to your website. You can personalise your 404 Error page to make it friendly and approachable rather than a mistake when someone types in an old or incorrect URL relating to your site. Just add a new unlinked page with your chosen graphics and text, then go to Settings/Website/Advanced/404 Error / Page Not Found. Here you can select the dropdown and choose the page you’d like people see. Bonus tip, try collecting an email from it by offering a coupon, a free ebook or anything of value.

Multiple Languages in the Same Squarespace Site

Localization is a huge topic in terms of Squarespace, unfortunately there’s no easy way to have a multilingual Squarespace site by just using Squarepace, you’ll have to build several versions which turns into a mess. Thankfully, we (Bablic) offer an extremely easy way to translate Squarespace (Bablic X Squarespace tutorial) using just one line of code. Try it now, for free, just visit our homepage and enter your URL to get started.

Squarespace Cover Page Autoplay Video Backgrounds

Are you asking if asking if is it possible to create cover pages with automatically looping background videos? The answer is yes!
Get this FREE addon that allows you to install looping video backgrounds on Squarespace Cover Pages. This solution uses a locally hosted video rather than a video from YouTube, Vimeo or other streaming video services.
To learn more about how to do this, read here.

Using Google Analytics to Measure Visitor Engagement

“78% of you will start reading this article but only 31% of you will read all of the way to the end. Find out how I know.”

If you want to understand how people are engaging with your Squarespace website, you should perform a test to measure visitor engagement and to work out whether single page “bouncing” visitors are engaging with the site at any level. If you are not sure how to do it, then check this link.

 A Scroll Hint that Fades out When the Page is Scrolled Down

Facebook Object Debugger for sharing pages

Sometimes you realise that Facebook is either picking up the wrong image, or no image at all.

The Facebook Open Graph Object Debugger is a free tool that allows you to preview and understand how your page will look when shared on Facebook. It also allows you to change its cache and force the changes you would like to make.

Enter the page URL you’d like to check and select ‘Show existing scrape information’. At the bottom of the results you’ll find a preview of what Facebook has recorded and how your post will be shared.

From there you can go back to your website to edit your image accordingly if it’s cropped oddly and alter your page title and description if required.


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Facebook+Object+Debugger+results

Connected Account for Social Media

One obvious but important thing you should make sure of is if your Squarespace website is connected and consistent with all of your social media accounts.

Go to Settings/Website/Connected Accounts and you’ll find the option there. You can then click on “Connect Account” and choose the ones you’d like Squarespace to link up. Make sure you have your usernames and passwords accessible.

Create Custom Buttons, Borders, and Graphics

The best way to customize your Squarespace site and make it your own is to fill your brand into it, and one of the best ways to do that is through photos and graphics; they’re a great way to bring in colors, fonts, and other visual elements of your brand.

There are unlimited things you can do to change and customize your Squarespace website. What you need is to try to use some of the tips mentioned above, a little of coding experience and some creativity!

I hope this post will help you! If you have anything to add or ask, just keep in touch or leave a comment below and we’ll be happy to answer you.