15 of The Best 3rd Party Squarespace Integrations

There is often functionality that you wish to add to your Squarespace site. Functionality may include email marketing, social media integration, embedded video to something more complex like payment solutions.

Finding any solution, yet alone the right solution can be a timely and costly exercise. By using 3rd party Squarespace integrations, you’re able to solve such problems. This also improves the functionality of your site end enhances the user experience. Here are 15 of the best Squarespace integrations that will enhance the power of your site.

Blogging

#1 Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

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53% of people abandon their mobile visit if a page takes longer than three seconds to load. Research has also found that Mobile sites that load in 5s or less get 2x more mobile revenue. This is where AMP enters the picture. It is an open source project with a focus on optimizing mobile content for reduced load times. This not only enhances the user experience but drives revenue. It’s currently only available for your blog posts.

#2 Disqus

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Use Disqus for a more advanced commenting system on your blog compared to that of Squarespace. Disqus supports conversation threads, image comments and other functionality that Squarespace doesn’t currently offer.

Commerce

#3 Apple Pay

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Apply Pay ensures fast and easy checkouts for your customers. Your customers don’t have to manually enter their shipping and billing information. Currently, Apple Pay is only visible to customers who visit your site using Safari on a Mac and iPhone or iPad running the latest IOS. For customers accepting payments via Stripe, it is available via default.

#4 Stripe

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Stripe is Squarespace’s official and only merchant processing partner. 13 Currencies are currently supported (including US dollar, Euro, and Pound) on the platform. A host of customizable forms is available. This gives you the ability to handle any kind of payment and create some truly elegant designs. For full details on how to setup, your stripe account clicks here.

#5 FedEx

To simplify your shipping cost calculations and shipping procedures, consider using the FedEx integration. This integration automatically calculates shipping rates based on FedEx rates by package weight, dimensions and shipping address. Make sure the weight and dimensions of all products are accurately labeled.

#6 Xero

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Xero is online account software for small businesses. With Xero, you’re able to track your daily sales, run your business on the go and manage your cash flow (amongst other things). It will deliver a summary of the previous day’s transactions directly to your Xero account. This is a paid service, only available with the commerce product and within the United States.

Design

#7 Google Fonts

You have access to Google Fonts within your Squarespace editor. There is a choice of over 600 fonts to customize your site. You are also provided with a popular font selection to save you time.

#8 Typekit

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Typekit is a service offered by Adobe. Consider using Typekit if you want no limitations when it comes to your typography. Typekit gives you access to over 1000 high-quality fonts, “anywhere, anytime.” The Squarespace integration also allows you to add your own custom fonts for unique designs.

Images

#9 DropBox

Aside from being a powerful tool to store files, documents, and images in the cloud, DropBox allows you to publish images to your gallery pages on your site.

#10 The Adobe Creative Cloud Image Editor

Have a knack for image enhancing and editing? Why not consider using the Adobe Creative Cloud Image Editor. With this Squarespace integration, you have a built-in feature on your site which allows you to adjust the orientation, crop images, add a color filter, change brightness, add text and much, much more.

Marketing

#11 Mailchimp

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For E-mail marketing use the power of MailChimp. Design and send campaigns and e-mail newsletters. Mailchimp is available through your form block, newsletter block (subscribe option) and checkout page. Setup your Mailchimp account first, then connect Squarespace to Mailchimp. It’s free for the first 2000 subscribers and you even get A/B testing on the free option after you’ve sent a certain amount of e-mails.

#12 Google Analytics

This is a great way to track visitors on your website. View the source of traffic -according to a country, social media and device -, the bounce rate, demographics, and several other metrics. You can do all the above by adding a tracking code to the header of your site.

#13 Bablic

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According to Bablic:

  • 73% of internet users aren’t browsing in English.
  • 72.1% of users spend the majority of their time on sites in their own language.
  • 56.2% value browsing in their own language over price.
  • 46% say they won’t buy products if they’re not in their local.

No doubt many people have stumbled upon your website, only to leave because they don’t understand the language. Enter Bablic, a cost effective human translation tool that will reduce bounce rate and improve engagement. Translation can be manual or automatic. All you need to do is paste a line of code into your site header. With Bablic you can publish or unpublish as many languages as you like.

#14 Geolify

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Geolify allows you to target different web content based on the unique location of your visitors. Geolify provides you with an intuitive dashboard for setup and full control over your geo-targeting services. You don’t need to be a technical whizz and integration occurs via one line of javascript. Price is on a per-page basis, starting at $0.005 per page up to 1000 page views.

# 15 Muut

Muut is the “complete discussion system for your website”. By powering live discussions, you create a sense of community on your website. This increases engagement and improves the likelihood of visitors returning to your website. Create forums, a blog commenting section and even have a private discussion with Muut.

The above Squarespace integrations provide added functionality and power to your Squarespace site. For these and other Squarespace integrations be sure to visit the Squarespace Integrations page.

What integrations do you currently use?

How To Improve Weebly Website Engagement

In a previous post, we highlighted 8 apps that will increase visitors to your Weebly site. Boosting traffic is one thing, but once visitors land on your site you need to engage them. And you need to do so quickly. According to data by Tony Haile of Charbeat, 55% of visitors spend 15s or less on your website. Yes, you heard right, 15s!

Our attention spans have dropped over the past 16 years due to technology. One study revealed that our concentration has plummeted from an average of 12s to 8s. That’s lower than the attention span of a Goldfish (9s)! But it’s not all doom and gloom, you can still engage your visitors. Here are 4 ways to increase engagement.

1. Create a Quality Site Design

First impressions count. Your site needs to look professional and be visually appealing. With the low attention span of visitors, this is even more important. “But how do I create a high-quality site design?”, you may be asking.

Here are a few pointers:

  • Use of color: use two or three primary colors and stick to it. Keep things simple.
  • Create Readable Text: use black or dark gray text on a white background. Make sure the text is large enough to read.
  • Use high-quality images:  Not only is this visually appealing but a sign of professionalism.
  • Use free images if you can’t afford a photographer. This post by Buffer provides 53 free image sources. Make sure you provide the necessary credit where it’s due.


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  • Strive for Simplicity: white space is your best friend.
  • Remove clutter so your visitors can engage with your content.
  • Don’t dilute your website with ads. This makes you look like a profit monger; you’re here to solve your client’s problems. Do this and the money will follow.

2. Create High-Value Content

Consider starting a blog. Make sure the content is informative, relevant and actionable. For example, after reading this post you need to know how to improve the engagement on your website.

A few pointers to consider:

  • Show Them How: Avoid fluff e.g. Show someone how they can create an engaging website, don’t tell them why they need to.
  • Understand Your Target Market problems in great detail and find unique solutions to their problems.
  • A unique solution may take the form of an actionable blog post. Read this as an example: “How To Embed Livestream Video On Your Site.”
  • Blog Regularly: maintain a consistent blogging schedule, but not to the detriment of quality.

3. Include Video and Animations

According to a study, 44.1% of web video viewers tune out after 1 minute. The implications of this are clear: your message needs to be short and enticing.

A few pointers:

  1. Write a detailed copy of your message before shooting a video.
  2. Consider your goals e.g. Is this an instructional video? Are you communicating your business vision?
  3. You need adequate lighting. For example, use halogen lamps for indoor shooting. This is a cost-effective alternative to professional lighting.
  4. Use the right hardware. You can find affordable high-tech gear if you shop around. Search for high definition camera like these.
  5. Through planning correctly and investing some money you’ll ensure you craft a video of high quality.
  6. For those of you on a tight budget, give this article a read: “How to Produce High-Quality Videos for Under $1000.”

If you feel video animations are a fit with your brand, consider using PowToon.

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PowToon has ready made drag and drop templates. They allow you to create professional animated videos and engaging presentations, quickly and easily.

You can sign-up for free. PowToon provides three instructional videos. They detail the importance of writing your copy and planning your story beforehand. Be sure to watch those videos.

4. Make your website multilingual

How often do you think someone has stumbled upon your site only to leave because they don’t understand the language? I’d say pretty often.  Consider the below statistics which are rather telling:

  • 73% of internet users aren’t browsing in English.
  • 72.1% of users spend the majority of their time on sites in their own language.
  • 56.2% value browsing in their own language over price.
  • 46% say they won’t buy products if they’re not in their local.

These statistics highlight the importance of having a multilingual website for reduced bounce rates and better engagement. In the past translating your website was a large and costly undertaking. With advancements in technology, this is no longer the case. Bablic, for example, is a cost-effective professional human translation tool.

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Here’s how it works:

  1. Translate your content: you choose from machine, professional or manual translation.
  2. You’re able to translate the content yourself using Bablic’s manual content editor).
  3. Paste the unique Bablic code into your website’s header.
  4. You don’t require any coding knowledge.
  5. Publish or unpublish the languages of your choice with a simple click of a button. It’s as simple as that!

You can also just use our Weebly app, get it right here.

There’s no doubt we live in an era where our attention spans are a fraction of what they used to be. Technology and the proliferation of online content have contributed immensely to this.

As a small business owner to break through the clutter you need to maintain a high level of quality. This means a professional website design that focuses on high-value content, both written and visual. It means tailoring your site according to the preferences of a global village.

8 Ways Facebook Can Increase Traffic to Your Squarespace Site

When it comes to Social Media Networks, Facebook is still king and it’s unlikely to lose its crown anytime soon. According to Statisa, as of September 2016, Facebook was the first social network to exceed 1 billion registered user accounts. Sitting at a whopping 1.71 Billion active users, Facebook towers over the nearest competitor – WhatsApp (1 billion). It’s no surprise then that Facebook drives more website traffic for businesses than any other social sharing platform. It also reigns supreme in terms of audience reach and engagement.

As a Squarespace website owner, it’s essential then to refine your Facebook marketing efforts to leverage the power of Facebook. Here are 8 ways to use Facebook for increased website traffic.

1. Tweak Your Facebook Page for Websites Clicks

Facebook page optimization is crucial. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stumbled upon a Facebook page – had the desire to find out more about a company – but could not, for the life of me find a link to their website.

Make sure you include your website link where it makes sense! For example, your “About” tab, in product and image descriptions, timeline milestones (if there’s a milestone where you introduced a new product), page posts and even event pages.

Also consider including a call to action button, that takes visitors directly to your site or sign-up page. Squarespace does this perfectly on their Facebook page below:

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Another option is to include various tabs on your page, such as a blog tab. By adding a blog tab, your blog articles are automatically streamed to your tab page.

2. Make Your Facebook Images Big

Include photos in your posts as research shows that engagement increases by 120%. By including large photos, your engagement will be even higher; meaning more likes, shares, comments, click-throughs and traffic to your site. Here’s a great example from the Squarespace Facebook page:
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Here are a few guidelines to remember:

  1. Upload images directly via Facebook.
  2. Analyze page insights and metrics to see what’s working and make adjustments
  3. Use a shortened link to keep text clean.
  4. A rule of thumb is to set images to 1200×628.

3. Write Short, Compelling Updates

Concise and witty is what you want. Short and witty updates, typically get the most engagement and traffic to your website. With so many people using smartphones and reading content on the go, short content is also more geared towards the mobile market.

Some guidelines to follow:

  1. Keep updates to one sentence, preferably below the 140 character count for Twitter.
  2. Make your update a summary of your blog article, if that’s what you’re sharing.
  3. Write out several variations of your update and choose the most compelling and enticing one.
  4. Remember your mobile market in terms of text, images & website.

4. Be Creative: Include Questions and Quotes

Aside from concise and compelling updates, consider how else you can tweak your text. Be creative; the options are infinite. For example, use questions and quotes.

Questions invoke interest because they naturally require a response. Again, though, when asking questions, remember point three: make it compelling. Below is a perfect example, from the Bablic Facebook Page:

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Some tips for asking questions:

  1. Keep them concise.
  2. Use curiosity invoking questions.
  3. Play with different question types e.g. searching for an opinion, trivia etc.

Unlike questions, Quotes are some of the most shared content on Facebook. Here are some tips for using quotes:

  1. Find a quote that summarizes your article.
  2. Combine the quote with an image of the person you’re quoting – creates personalization.
  3. Where applicable use a quote that invokes controversy – creates, even more, engagement, click-throughs, and traffic to your site.

5. Use Video

Through embedding video in your posts, your Facebook fans know what your article is about. And if it’s enticing enough, they will click on it, driving, even more, traffic to your Squarespace site. Also, keep video’s short. The Squarespace video below is 15s! When using video, remember that most people initially have the volume turned off, so adapt your videos to that.

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A few quick pointers to bear in mind:

1. Keep videos short.
2. Make sure the video is embedded directly on your post for engagement.
3. Consider personalizing it with faces and products.

6. Delete that link!

It’s not necessary to keep the link in your post as the image and summary of your article is clickable. Adding an additional link has been proven to actually lower your reach based on Facebook’s algorithm. Here’s an example:

  1. Make a Facebook update with a link to your content:

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2. Highlight and delete the link:

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3. Hit publish, for a clean post:

Take note: The only time you’ll need a link is if you’re using a full-sized image.

7. Share other people’s content

Why on earth would I do that, you may be asking? Yes, on the face of it, it seems rather counter-intuitive, like you’re increasing traffic for your competition. However, this is a superb strategy to increase your traffic. I’ll explain why.

Sharing articles that are relevant to your market and relate to your business, makes your business look more willing to share simply for the benefit of your followers and not only for yourself (improves reputation). Not only do you gain reciprocal fans (increased following), your customers appreciate your informative content (increases your authority) and the businesses whose article you shared will be more likely to return the favor and share your content (improved social media presence and more traffic to your site).

As an example here is a post by Bablic, sharing an article by Entrepreneur:

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Social media is all about sharing and this applies equally to your business, not just your customers. So share away! But keep these pointers in mind:

  1. Share other content when you feel it’s relevant to your market and can benefit your readers.
  2. Share when it’s from a trustworthy source e.g. if you share stats about a specific industry trend and it’s not from a credible source your credibility can be dented.

8. Use Facebook Advertising

Whilst you can generate traffic without paying a cent, also consider increasing your reach through Facebook advertising. This is increasingly important as organic reach for business pages on Facebook is decreasing. Many businesses have reported this fact. This is not a post about this issue, but feel free to read up on it here if you’re interested.

Facebook ads will allow you to achieve more reach among existing fans, new markets and even target your competition’s followers. You can promote posts, your page, and even your web-site, all of which present opportunities for increased traffic and conversions.

Your target market can be selected via a wide range of metrics such as age, gender, demographics, location and interests. You can target, right down to the niche. And from as little a $5, you don’t need to spend a fortune to achieve a return on your investment. Make sure you engage in A/B testing to see what’s working and what’s not.

With the reach Facebook has it’s important to refine your Facebook marketing strategies for increased engagement, social sharing and ultimately increased traffic. There are many ways you can do this as was highlighted above.

Pro tip: When using Facebook ads, translate your Squarespace site using Bablic, you can then target new/other markets and achieve a cheaper cost-per-click compared to English speaking users!

What other techniques do you use?

8 Apps to Boost Weebly Website Traffic

As a growing business, you understand the importance of driving traffic to your website. More website traffic means more leads, opportunities for engagement, social media sharing, and ultimately the chance to convert leads into sales.

Best Weebly Apps

No doubt, you would’ve encountered several articles highlighting a variety of ways to increase traffic. These include – among others – maintaining a consistent blogging schedule, producing highly relevant and targeted content, ensuring social media integration, tweaking your SEO, building links, maintaining a responsive website and monitoring Google Analytics to understand your market in great detail.

Let’s look at 8 Apps that do a combination of the above to help you boost traffic to your Weebly site. All these apps are available in the Weebly App Centre.

Swell


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Not only will Swell boost your website traffic, it will help you build your social media following, create an engaged audience, and drive sales (if you have an online store). In a few simple steps, Swell can create your own custom reward program that’s linked across channels (think social media campaign combined with a follow-up e-mail).

Customers are rewarded for following you on social media, sharing content on Twitter and Facebook, reading a blog post, purchasing from your store, signing up for your email newsletter and more.

Visitors can collect reward points by simply visiting your website. Signing up to use Swell is simple and you’ll also have access to numerous marketing tools. For an example of a website using Swell, visit Babies at the Barre.

Their pricing model is designed for your growing business. You can, at no cost, run up to 10 campaigns. More advanced features are available for a monthly subscription, starting at $49.

Market Goo

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If you’re not tech savvy or lack SEO experience, Market Goo is perfect for you. This SEO and web marketing tool is simple, yet packs a punch! Follow simple steps and tasks to improve your position in search engines.

With the web marketing tools, you can monitor performance and see how you’re doing in comparison to the competition. You’ll be notified via the smart app when something of importance happens on your site.

You can sign-up with a plan starting at $19.95/month for one website, or an agency plan at $79.80/month for 5 websites.

Site Booster

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To increase your Weebly website visibility in search engines, use Site Booster. By following a few simple steps, Site Booster ensures your business details are listed – and monitored – in places that matter such as major search engines and leading business directories.

The app also integrates with online maps, review sites, Pinterest and WhatsApp so potential visitors can find your location and more. With a free plan, you’re given two listings and for a mere $6.99/month you get Top-Tier listings.

Better Coupon Box

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Better Coupon Box drives traffic to your Weebly site by offering visitors a sweet deal. You’re able to create a powerful call to action, in the form of a pop-up Box that offers visitors a discount.

With the ability to integrate seamlessly with social media channels you can also offer discounts and unique codes to customers if they follow you on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Better Coupon Box then, is a great tool to build your fanbase. Effortless integration with e-mail marketing services is also available. Visit Dharma Yoga Wheel to witness this in action. All of the above is free.

Ranking Coach

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Ranking Coach, is for the business owner with a limited budget, but still requires powerful marketing techniques. Ranking Coach allows you to market online. It’s the app for DIY marketing.

The local directory scanner ensures business listings in all notable business directories. It will help you with SEO, track Google rankings, monitor competitors rankings, and other online metrics. Try it for free for 14 days. Thereafter it’s $14.95/month with an opt-out option.

Welcome Bar

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As the name suggest, Welcome Bar is a fixed bar/strip, located at the bottom or top of your website, allowing you to “welcome” visitors in a variety of ways. You can add a mail sign-up box, Facebook like button, promotional links or a short promotional message

Additional features include – among others – mobile compatibility, full customization options, ability to post a message and news, Twitter share button, bulk e-mail download and the capability to link to other pages.

All Weebly themes are supported, aside from Stripes and Oasis, with the following notable exceptions: (1) with Clean Lines, only the bottom bar is supported, Lucent, the top bar and Dusk and Unite, the bottom bar in mobile. There is a free plan or a monthly fee of $3.99 for premium features.

PagePart AdVisor

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With over 1 Billion users on Facebook, Facebook advertising is crucial to building an online presence. PagePart AdVisor helps you place ads and reach your customers on Facebook.

With PagePart Advisor you’re able to run simple, yet targeted ads, directly from your Weebly Dashboard. There are guided prompts and pre-defined templates to assist you in ad creation. Product information is readily available through integration with your Weebly store.

PagePart will deliver the ad following your choice of customer (according to interests, location, and demographics). Following launch, your campaign is tracked to ensure your expectations are met. The pricing plan is fixed, starting at $45/month.

Positionly

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Positionly allows you to grow traffic through providing simple SEO tools. The cloud-based software solution takes professional level tracking tools and displays it simply on a user-friendly dashboard.

Features include daily rank tracking, keyword analysis, ability to see who’s linking to your site and competitor observation. You can sign-up for a free 14-day trial, after which plans range from $15-$499 depending on desired features.

Make sure to also check out the Bablic Weebly app in order to easily translate your Weebly website and grow your traffic by catering to new audiences and markets.

These 8 apps are powerful tools to drive increased traffic to your Weebly site.  To download these or see more, be sure to visit the Weebly App Centre.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

alltwitter-social-media-signpost

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.

 

respond

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.

cancer

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?