7 Quick Tips For Blogging With Squarespace

I’m sure those of you that have a blog with Squarespace, can already attest to the improved traffic and leads you’ve received as a result of blogging. But as you know, there are always new things to discover, and I’m also sure you’re always constantly looking for tools, tricks, and techniques to continue to refine your blogging efforts. In today’s blog post we’re simply going to look at 7 Quick Tips for blogging with Squarespace.  These will range from tips to setting up a Google analytics account, SEO tips, writing tips, to tips that will help you manage your content on the go. Let’s jump straight into it.

#1 Create a Google Analytics Account

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While not Squarespace specific – as this is a tip I’d recommend for any blogger – I will include Google Analytics here as it’s easy to overlook especially if you’re a small business owner with lots on the go.

You need to create a Google Analytics account so that you can track your traffic. Where is your traffic coming from? What social media channels? What country? What is the demographics of your traffic? How long do they spend on your site? What is your most popular article? What is your bounce rate? These, and many, many, more metrics can be analyzed with Google Analytics.

While Squarespace offers some stats, Google analytics will allow you to delve deeper. To setup Google Analytics for your Squarespace blog follow these steps:

  1. Sign up for a Google account (if you don’t have one already),
  2. Sign up for Google analytics (it’s free).
  3. Follow the instructions to add your website to Google Analytics
  4. You will be given a tracking code.
  5. Within Squarespace  Home Menu, click Settings, click Advanced, and then finally click External Services.
  6. Paste your unique tracking code in there and you’re good to go.

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#2 Create an SEO Checklist

This is a tip that I read in a post on Red Lantern Creative. It’s a simple, yet an incredibly effective tip for blogging with Squarespace.

As we know, WordPress users have access to a plugin known as the SEO Yoast plugin. This plugin gives you a ton of features. It lets you write your meta-description, insert your keyword, and in turn analyzes your content to let you know what your keyword density is, what it scores on  the Flesch Reading Ease Test and much, much more. Here’s an example of what this looks like in action:

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Squarespace, though as we know doesn’t have this plugin. However, what you can do is mold your Squarespace blog posts around the recommendations made by the plugin. In effect what you’re doing is creating a checklist which you can follow each time you create a blog post. This ensures you optimize your blog posts every time – without fail – when blogging with Squarespace.  Assuming you’ve done your keyword research, here’s a quick checklist you can use to optimize your blog posts on Squarespace:

  1. Keyword inserted into the title?
  2. Keyword inserted into URL?
  3. Keyword in the first paragraph?
  4. Keyword in the body of your post (avoid keyword stuffing)?
  5. Keyword in heading and sub-headings?
  6. Keyword in excerpt/meta description?
  7. Keyword included in your image Alt Tag?
  8. Is post length 300 words or more?

#3 Add “Subscribe to Blog Posts”

You want your readers to comment on your blog posts. This creates engagement and ensures your site doesn’t look like a ghost-town. While it’s all very well to have a ton of comments on your blog, what does it say about your company if you’re not responding to comments? To solve this problem we simply suggest that you subscribe to your own  blog posts.  By subscribing, you’ll get an email every time there’s a comment on your site.

To do this click on Home Menu, Edit Profile, and Subscriptions.


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#4 Classify, Publish, and Schedule Posts

As someone who loves writing, I’m continuously playing around with my writing process. When I started, I found that I would edit as I went along. The problem with this, I find, is that it stifles the creative process. I found I was trying to be perfect the piece as I went along, instead of letting my creative juices flow.

What I now do (or try do) is get it all out on paper in one go. Consider applying this to your blog writing process. Create the first draft and save it in the Needs Review Category. Then come back to it later with a new set of eyes and make the necessary edits. Once edited it is now the final draft and you can either hit publish, or schedule your post to go live at a later stage.

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The schedule feature works particularly well if you’re creating a backlog of articles for scheduling over the next few months. It ensures a constant flow of articles even when you’re not in front of your computer.

#5 Create a Blog Excerpt

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Blog excerpts are teasers of your post. If you don’t enable this, your blog post displays in full. This can be rather annoying for readers, especially when you have long blog posts. So simplify their navigation process by creating blog teasers so they can quickly scan your blog to see what content interests them. Follow these four steps:

  1. Visit your blog page by clicking Home Menu, Pages, and Blog Page.
  2. Choose your post and then click edit.
  3. Add a post excerpt by clicking on Options.

#6 Add a Thumbnail Image

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It’s important to have an image and a suitable image at that, as it grabs the readers attention, improves click-throughs, and increases the chances of more shares. Humans are after all visual beings.

So while you’re creating a blog excerpt, take things further, make your site more social media friendly, and add a thumbnail image. This is the image that will be visible when shared on social media channels like Facebook. This is the image readers will see in addition to the blog title and meta-description.

#7 Download the Squarespace Blog App

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A final tip to blogging with Squarespace is to download the Squarespace Blog App. With the App, you’re able to write, edit, tag, and schedule posts from your smartphone. Managing and responding to blog comments is also possible. This means instant access on the go. And if you find a typo that you missed after publishing, you’re able to immediately fix it.

There we have it – seven quick tips for blogging with Squarespace. Do you have any additional tips? We would love to hear from you in the comments below.

10 of the Best Online Tools For Your Small Business

Being a small business owner means that at any given time you’re working on marketing, accounting, taxes, sales, development, customer support and a host of other activities. We understand it can be difficult trying to juggle all of this. This is where online tools can help you! Understanding though that there are many to choose from, most of which are simply confusing, we curated a list of 10 of the best online tools for your small business. This list is divided in four categories:

  1. Note-taking and Brainstorming
  2. Finance
  3. Project Management
  4. Marketing

Here are 10 of the best online tools for your small business.

Note-Taking and Brainstorming

#1 Evernote

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With Evernote, you can make a note of almost anything. And the beauty of it? You’re able to access in the cloud, with any device. With this cloud-based software you can:

  1. Create a project to-do list.
  2. Take a picture of a sketch.
  3. Jot down a reminder.
  4. Save interesting articles and organize your reading list.
  5. Organize all your thoughts and ideas so you can access it in one place.

If you’re looking for something more visual, consider using Mindly in conjunction with Evernote.

#2 Mindly

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Mindly harnesses the power of associations, allowing you to create Mindmaps on your mobile device (or any device for that matter). Clear the clutter and showcase your thoughts in the form of mindmaps

With Mindly you can:

  1. Capture ideas
  2. Write a quick summary
  3. Plan presentations
  4. Create visual associations

Aside from note taking and brainstorming, there are some seriously powerful online tools for finance.

Finance

#3 Freshbooks

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PayPal and the majority of payment processing platforms charge you 3% to make or receive payments. With Freshbooks, there is a flat fee of $0.50, regardless as to the size of the transaction. Consider the cost saving on this, particularly as your business grows, and your international client base grows.

PayPal is one of the largest online payment processing platforms. So if you’re currently using them and concerned about how to switch, you’re in luck, as PayPal and Freshbooks have an agreement. It’s possible to send PayPal invoices using Freshbooks and pay a flat fee of $0.50! Freshbooks offer a free 30-day trial.

#4 Mint

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Mint allows you to effortlessly create budgets and stay up to date on how you’re spending your money. Through their phone and tablet apps, it’s also possible to manage your finances on the go and receive money saving tips.

Mint is totally automated. Through giving the platform permission to view your finances, it will begin to track, categorize – in the form of graphs and analytics – , and manage your spending. Setting up an account is free!

Project Management

#5 Trello

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Trello is the perfect collaboration app, particularly for geographically dispersed teams. Trello allows you to create, boards, lists, and cards which help you stay organized. Each individual card has the option of leaving comments and attaching a file.

Download for IOS, Android or desktop. There is a free plan with the option to upgrade. For maximum productivity consider using it in conjunction with Slack, another online business tool for your small business.

#6 Slack

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Available for IOS and Android, Slack is the perfect instant messaging tool. Create different channels for open communication, direct communication for specific teams, or private one-on-one communication.

Through integration with other apps, like Dropbox, all your files are available on the cloud. Available on IOS and Android, there’s a free plan, a standard plan ($6.67), and a Plus Plan ($12.50/month).

Marketing

#7 Bablic

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Business is not what it used to be. Having a website means you open yourself up to a global marketplace. The implications of this are:

  1. People from countries all over the world will visit your site.
  2. These people will speak different languages.

It then becomes imperative to tailor your website to their language preferences. Enter Bablic. Bablic is a cost-effective human translation tool tailored toward small business.

It will reduce bounce rates, improve engagement and drive sales, as 46% of people say they won’t buy products if a website is not in their own language. Getting started is as simple as pasting a line of code in your website header.

#8 SumoMe

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SumoMe is arguably one of the best online tools to grow your e-mail list. Building an e-mail list is essential if you want to grow your business and make money online. Through capturing e-mails you capture leads allowing you to engage in e-mail marketing.

SumoMe has a large suite of tools that allow you to create popups, improve mobile sharing, create sign-up forms, scroll bars, and monitor how visitors engage with your website through Heat Maps. Whilst the free version has more than enough to start, by upgrading to a premium version you’re able to engage in A/B testing and much more.

Seamless integration is available with all popular e-mail marketing service providers like Mail Chimp and Aweber. Also, link directly with your Google Analytics account to track analytics.

#9 Canva

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Hiring an agency or a graphic designer to create presentations, designs, eBooks, Facebook headers, and more can be expensive. It needn’t be this way. Canva has positioned itself as the design tool that anyone can use to create stunning presentations. With Canva you’re able to:

  1. Choose from a vast gallery of images and presentation designs.
  2. Edit images by adding text, cropping, filtering, blurring.
  3. Choose from pre-made designs and templates.
  4. Select icons from a vast gallery.
  5. Select social media layouts for Facebook, Twitter headers and much more.
  6. Upload your own photos and incorporate them into the design.

The above features touch but the iceberg. Sign-up for a free account. Though the features are limited with the free version, it’s a perfect start for the small business. In-app purchases are available for certain images and designs, although the bank of free options is more than adequate.

#10 Buffer

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The final online tool for your small business is Buffer. This social media sharing tool allows you to plan your content calendar, and schedule content weeks in advance. Save time, and have piece-of-mind knowing your content is being published across social media channels, even when you’re out of the office. For $10 a month it’s an absolute bargain – I mean that’s one beer or a meal in some countries.

What online tools do you use for your business?

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

contact

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.

video-content-marketing

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.


jdbfh

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.

16 Tips to Easily Increase Shopify Conversion Rates

The online shopping industry is an extremely competitive one. Unlike a physical shop, customers have far more choice about where they spend their money, all just one-click away. They can flit from site to site quickly comparing deals, reviews, shipping timelines and a hundred other things before they choose where they’ll buy. That is why, as an ecommerce shop owner, you can’t afford to leave anything to luck, it’s extremely important to constantly work on your website in order to increase conversion rates. But before getting into testing and real optimization, there are some basics every ecom store should have.

One thing I’d like to start with is the product page since it’s often neglected, here we go. To help you beef up your sales, I’m going to share some simple ways to help increase conversions which you can implement today.

Product Page

Your product page is where the majority of your customers will finally make the decision between buying your product and leaving your store. Unfortunately, it’s an often-neglected part of the sales funnel. Most store owners tend to focus on improving their checkout page or tweaking what happens after a visitor adds a product to their cart, they forget customers won’t get that far unless you have a solid product page that converts.
Shopify Increase Conversions

A great product page contains elements that inform potential customers, show social proof, highlight all the features and benefits of your product, and build trust between your visitors and your business.

Design

Your web design should be kept simple and easy to navigate. When a visitor lands on your site they need to immediately understand the layout and how to navigate the website. If a customer cannot navigate the menu and interact with the site they will click off and find a competitor that offers a more user friendly experience.

Product Images

The product images should be allowed to speak for themselves without being overshadowed. That is why you need fantastic product photography to really sell your goods.  Blurry or small photographs are one of the easiest ways to put a customer off. Including professional pictures alongside a seamless zoom function on a product page will give a boost when trying to improve ecommerce conversion rates. But don’t worry, professional photography doesn’t necessarily mean big budget, check out the DIY guide from Shopify.

Create an Account? NO!

Creating an account on your website should be a choice, not a requirement, unless you enjoy massively losing sales. According to this survey by eConsultancy, 25% of shoppers abandon their purchases because they are forced to create an account. To understand what a big deal this is, look at the problem from a shopper’s point of view. They come to your website to buy stuff. When they see something they like and add that item to cart, they don’t want to be forced to make up a password and create an account. They want instant gratification, not in-advance commitment to your brand.

Free Shipping is the new Standard

I cannot stress the importance of providing free shipping as a conversion method.  A recent E-tailing Group study revealed that unconditional free shipping is the number one criteria users look at when making a purchase online. In another study 93% of respondents indicated that free shipping on orders would encourage them to purchase more products. High shipping costs were rated as the number one reason why consumers were not satisfied with their online shopping experience. Try to incorporate delivery costs into the price of your products if you are worried about losing out.

Live Chat

When a potential customer has a question about a product you stand a much better chance to close the sale if you answer that question immediately and while they are still on the website. A simple chat popup can be a low-friction way to get the conversation flowing with your customers. What’s great is there are some free live chat apps out there for Shopify, like this one, but make sure you have someone answering the chats to get the most out of it.

Increase Shopify Conversions with Live Chat

FAQs

When customers are on the fence about purchasing your product, oftentimes it’s because they have unanswered questions. Including a list of frequently asked questions and answers on your product pages helps get them off that fence. Think shipping times, accepted payment methods, return/refund policy and so on.

Use your 404s

Inevitably, users will hit an error page on your site, and they will likely get frustrated and leave. Instead of telling them to press the back button, consider a button directing them to a particular category page, a search field or even an automatic live chat popup that offers to help with whatever the visitor was trying to do. Another, more tricky, conversion booster would be offering a coupon code they “earned” by falling on a page not found. 

Videos > Pictures

One of the biggest downsides of shopping online is not being able to touch, feel, or physically examine a product you’re thinking about buying. When you go down the street to your local mall, you can touch products, better judge their size & quality, and get a better sense of what owning the product will be like. Pictures on your product page can only do so much. Often, a well shot video that gives a thorough look at your product can help potential buyers make those missing connections.

Real Reviews

Reviews from legitimate customers are one of the biggest gamechangers in an ecommerce store. A 2010 study by The Nielsen Company confirmed that people read reviews and decide by them. Nearly 60 percent of online shoppers said they consult reviews prior to purchasing consumer electronics and 40 percent of online shoppers claimed that they would not even buy electronics without seeking reviews about the product online first. Imagine users being able to read reviews without even leaving your product page? Plus, seeing that your business allows for reviews lets your visitors know you have nothing to hide and builds trust, the most important factor when selling online.

Increase Shopify Conversions with Customer Reviews

Endorsements

If your product is endorsed or certified by a reputable firm, let visitors know with a badge or seal. Any certifications or important characteristics of your product (such as safety, legitimacy, officiality) should be included and highlighted on your product page.

Refund/Exchange Policies

Proudly display your money back guarantee or exchange policy on your product page. Show off that you stand behind your product, make it risk free for your potential customer. If you put the risk on yourself, and give visitors more confidence, they’ll be more likely to trust you and in turn, purchase your products.

Social Media

Making sure your ecommerce store is connected to all your social channels is key for boosting conversion rates. Make sure that your social media profiles are easy to locate from the website. This builds trust within the brand. Consumers love social media and take every chance they can to interact with brands that they are interested in.

Payment Methods

Make sure you have a number of ways to pay available on your ecommerce site. It is also a good idea to display what payments you accept in the footer of your store. There is nothing more annoying than filling up a shopping cart, getting to checkout and realizing they don’t accept your preferred method of payment. Not only will the customer not convert but they will be left with a bad first impression of the site in general, and we all know first impressions are everything.

Blogging

Creating a blog that has interesting information in regards to your niche will help people use your website as a source rather than just a shop, you can quickly become an authority in your niche simply by blogging consistantly. Fashion brands should work on creating reputable blogs that have news, reviews and tips rather than just pushing their products. Your blog represents your brand and the ideals that your customers look up to so make sure you represent it. It can also become your number 1 marketing method, but more on that later.

Exit Popups

Show some interesting offers to your visitors when they’re about to leave your website. Discount offers, free shipping or anything that you can offer, could be a catchy way to grab your visitors.

Big budget, low budget or no budget, most of the above Shopify tips can be implemented today for free on your shop and they will definitely help increase your overall sales, it just takes a bit of time and effort. Before paying for an app, always look for a free version, especially when starting out. If you can’t find a free one then look for one with a free trial at least so you can test it out and see if it’s worth the money.

Some of the above tips sounds like they are for more professional, advanced users or even bigger companies but the truth is they are for everyone. Having a proper product images, or running a blog for example is something every online business should be doing, big or small.

Hope you enjoyed the post, please share if you did and check back later for more advanced tips on how to increase your sales on Shopify as well as other platforms.

Let us know about your Shopify tips and tricks in the comments!

20 Growth Hacks to Increase Blog Traffic

Growing Your Blog

With the holiday season almost over, it’s now time to start focusing on growing your online presence and what better way to do that than with a blog? No matter what kind of business you’re in, blogging consistently will definitely get you and your brand some exposure. Best of all, it’s free to blog and depending on if done properly, inbound blog traffic generally has the highest conversion rates out there, much better than PPC or even social media campaigns.

But blogging isn’t enough, blogging only becomes powerful when your target audience actually reads your posts. That’s why we put together a list of 20 growth hacks to increase blog traffic – follow it and we guarantee your blog traffic will increase:

Attention Grabbing Title

You know what they say, first impressions are everything. Your posts’ first impression is its title –  it is also what will be shared on social media so make sure it is attention grabbing and makes your audience want to click. Forget want to click, need to click.

Over 1200 Words

Extremely important, don’t blog just to blog. Blog to provide your audience with value they can’t, or at least aren’t getting anywhere else. If you’re providing real valuable content then the longer your post is the more value there is in it. Posts with over 1200 words also tend to be shared way more.

Include Sources/References

Especially if you’re new at blogging and aren’t seen as an authority figure in your respective field yet. Adding sources and references are going to help legitimize your post as well as its quality and how reliable it is. You never know, some of these sources may even link back to you or share the post since it mentions/involves them.

Email Those Sources

As mentioned above, part of the strategy behind using sources is also so they could link to your content if it truly is valuable. Getting those natural/organic links is priceless for your SEO strategy, and it may get you some direct readers as well. Don’t wait for those sources to find your blog, email or even tweet them, let them know about the post.

Write in a Conversational Tone

Don’t be boring, write in a conversational/approachable tone and show off a bit of your personality. Your readers want to connect and relate to you, if they wanted to read some neutral, boring, research paper they would be searching for that on Google.

80-20 Rule

Spend 20% of your time writing great content and 80% of it promoting that content, especially at the beginning where every single new reader matters. Make sure to not become annoying, promoting doesn’t mean spamming, watch out for that – it can easily backfire.

Include Images

1200 words without images may not only seem boring and long, it also just isn’t appealing and doesn’t look professional. Images make the post more visually appealing as well as help break up all of the content. Another tip is try to customize the images you use in your post with some sort of branding, keep it consistent, build an image for your blog; a huge step towards becoming an authority blog in your field.

SEO-friendly Content

I don’t mean write for the search engines, but I definitely do mean pay attention to the search engines and searches. If using WordPress make sure to have an SEO plugin installed, if you aren’t still make sure you’re properly formatting your URLs, using unique title and meta tags. Use H1 tags, alt tags and so on. Those should all include your keywords and/or the searches you’d like to come up for. Rename your images to reflect those as well. Even when writing a post make some research on Google, make sure it’s a searched topic so you’ll actually get traffic when you do rank it. SEO is a fine art, there’s ton of free content available online, learn and apply, and keep learning.

Google Analytics

Not so much of a growth hack, more of an absolute requirement/need but can be used for growth as well. Take a look at where your traffic is coming from and optimize those channels. Take a look at which of your posts are getting the most traffic/attention and use a similar recipe or expand on it (for example use similar titles or make a part 2 to a successful post your audience is engaging with). Analytics is also helpful in telling you for example that most of your readers are on mobile, then you can optimize your layout, images and so on even more for mobile. Analytics provides countless insight and it can all be used to your advantage making it the ultimate growth hack. It’s an obvious ones but the growth hack in it is to use to it’s full potential.

Sharing Buttons

Face it, people are lazy. I mean it’s possible they want to share your content but if you make it hard and just unpleasant, they won’t do it. Make it easy, make it fun, make it approachable. Have social media sharing icons well placed and highlight them. Not only that, but make sure that when the “sharing” popup/window opens, that it properly includes the post (images, title, description) so all they need to do is confirm it. If it comes up with a random image from somewhere else on your blog and a generic title, best believe they won’t take the time to edit it and share it. We strongly suggest testing your share button locations as well as sizes and even design.

Internal Linking

You want to keep your readers engaged with your blog for as long as possible, the longer they stay it the more chances they’ll be back. What better/easier way to do this then by pointing to content inside your blog from a post they are already reading. Keep them engaged, if you’re mentioning something previously covered on your blog then link to it!

Remarketing

Use remarketing ads to promote new blog posts to users who enjoyed a previous post on your site. You can even dig deeper, for example retargeting can be based on URL meaning you can target only visitors who read a certain post on your blog. Pick a post with high engagement (sharing) and a high time on site (meaning people read it) and then write a part 2 to it. Make ads for that part 2 post and retarget the visitors who enjoyed part 1 (the original blog post). This should get you clicks, engagement and subscribers for an extremely low price compared to traditional advertising.

Speed/Performance

Almost always overlooked but speed and performance are MAJOR players when it comes to getting readers to stay on your blog. If you have a buggy design or platform, people are almost immediately going to leave no matter how good and valuable your content is. The most important thing is making sure it loads as fast as possible and in a user-friendly, visually appealing way. Your readers need to be comfortable not annoyed.

Grow Subscriber Base

Do whatever you need to collect the emails of your visitors/subscribers. Offer a free ebook, course, a coupon for a product you’re selling, whatever value you can give them in exchange for their email, do it. And once you figured what you want to give them, start optimizing and testing the offer in order to get the best possible conversion rate. Getting a big, engaged, subscriber base is priceless – whenever you shoot out a post you have guaranteed readership and engagement to start it off properly and help go viral.

Transparency

There’s tons of content available online, lots of it is wrong. Lots of it is also people giving advice about topics they don’t know much, just rewriting stuff they read on other blogs, from “gurus” and experts and so on. The best and quickest way to become an authority blog/blogger is to be transparent. Meaning if you’re giving advice on what the best time of the day to tweet is, what better way to do that then to actually show your stats (screenshots) and talk about your own experience? Being transparent connects your audience to you and makes them feel like they’re involved in your journey and vice versa.

Throwbacks

There isn’t a limit to how many times you can share a post on social media, in fact the more the merrier – just make sure there’s valuable stuff being shared in between as well. Don’t share the same post 16 times over the 1st day of it being published and then forget about it for 6 months, that’s useless and annoying. Do share it 16 times during the first 2 months of it being published, nothing wrong with that. People aren’t always online at the same time, even if they are they aren’t always ready to read a post right when they saw it. You also accumulate new followers as you go so sharing old posts/articles is a great way to get new users and engagement, especially posts that originally did well.

Write More Often

In fact, write as often as you can, as long as it doesn’t ruin the quality of your posts. If you could put together a proper blog posts at least once every 2-3 days then that’s a great start.

Be Consistent

No matter if you choose to blog once a week, once a month or once every day – be consistent. Your readers want to know what to expect. I personally get annoyed when I come across this great blog, read 3 valuable posts on my first week and then nothing for 3 weeks. Consistency is key, let your readers know what and when to expect your next piece so they can build a pattern and fit you into their routine.

Join Communities

Join relevant communities, not to spam your blog but to provide valuable information, advice, insight and so on. The internet is a big beautiful place and depending on your niche there are definitely at least some communities where your target audience hangs and you should be a part of those as well. Some examples include GrowthHackers, Reddit, Quora, HackerNews and so on – provide good value, share stuff that really caught your attention and when you have a post you’re proud to have your name on then share it too.

Guest Blogging

Reach out to blogs that complement yours and see if they’d be interested in you writing a post on their blog. The best way would be to already have a pre-made post related to something you read on their blog (that received lots of engagement) the 1st time you approach them. Some bloggers don’t have the time or patience to go back and forth but if you send them the post right away with a friendly note then they might just bite. And if they don’t, then email other similar blogs!

These 20 growth hacks are definitely going to help grow your blog if you actually do them consistently. It takes time, dedication and hard work but it will pay off!

Let us know in the comments if we missed any, and especially how are you growing your blog?

Keep in mind, these blogging tips apply to personal as well as company blogs, put them to good use!