15 Ways To Grow Your Business on a Budget

As a small business owner, you have a lot going on. There’s a lot you need to focus on, from acquiring new clients, retaining existing ones, to creating new products and services. Focusing on these areas not only requires a devotion of time, but also money, and you may feel you don’t have the budget to grow your business.

But you’d be happy to know you don’t have to spend a fortune to grow your business. In fact, there are ways, means, and tools that can assist you to grow your business on a budget. All it requires from your side is some resourcefulness. Here are 15 ways to grow your business on a budget.

#1 Offer Lots of Free Content

Whether it be blog content, a free seminar, a free webinar or even a free eBook, offering free high-quality content not only establishes you as an expert, but it builds trust among existing and potential new customers. Trust is crucial in the online space. Build trust before you try and push for a sale.

And when you finally offer a paid product, the chances of a sale will be higher because if the free stuff is good, the paid stuff must be out of this world right? Follow influencers like Neil Patel to help you with your content strategy.

#2 Use Social Media

Using social media is a great way to build your online presence by sharing blog content and keeping potential customers updated on what’s happening in your business and industry.

You’re also able to reach a larger target market and interact with your target market. Social media is all about building your presence, establishing conversations, and building trust among your prospects.

Use online tools like Buffer and Hootsuite to automate your social media management.

#3 Use Email Marketing

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Make use of email service providers like MailChimp and ConvertKit to build your eMail List. These email subscribers will be your prospects and potential prospects. Communicate to them via email and offer them immense value. Offer them free guides, content, and specials only available via email.

#4 Speak at Events

Volunteer to speak at events and connect with other businesses and potential customers. Speaking will help establish you as an expert in the industry, allow you to grow your brand and help you get more clients either through their attendance at events or through referrals.

#5 Help Solve Problems by Being Authentic

Setup a blog and provide high-quality content that you give your customers for free. They will thank you for it. Authenticity is of vital importance in today’s age. Being authentic works well for the millennial generation, who value it.

#6 Be Personal

People enjoy the connection and they enjoy doing business with businesses that remember their names. Greet them by their names, send correspondence in simple, easy to understand language. Don’t use unnecessary jargon and big words. It will only make you look like a pompous prick.

#7 Use Small Business Apps

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Make use of small business apps that will help you automate workflow, save you time, and allow you to focus on other revenue generating activities. Many of the apps offer free versions and cater for the small business on a budget. Here are a few apps to get you started:

  1. Trello: the project management tool allowing remote collaboration.
  2. Bablic: do it yourself website translation.
  3. Slack:  the instant messaging app for teams.
  4. Yendo: provides affordable accounting and CRM software for small business.

#8 Recruit Top Talent Wisely

If you recruit top talent you can have peace of mind knowing that these hires know what they’re doing and will look after your customers. Your employees are the lifeblood of your business so recruit wisely.

#9 Offer Loyalty Programs

For the customers that remain loyal and continue to make purchases, encourage them to continue this trend by offering specials and discounts for their loyalty. For example, as a coffee shop owner you can give your customers a free coffee with every 10 coffees.

#10 Send Cards

Send thank you cards when they buy your product. Send cards when it’s their birthday and/or offer them a voucher they can use for a discount on their next purchase. Also, consider doing away with email and send personalized handwritten thank you cards. This shows you care and that you are willing to go the extra mile.

#11 Hire an Intern

This is a win-win as interns are looking to gain valuable experience and you can make use of them to find new clients for a fraction of what a new hire would cost you. Alternatively, they hire interns to focus on other business areas while you focus on landing new clients.

#12 Speak to existing customers to gather feedback on your products and services

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What are you doing right? What are you doing wrong? Where can you improve? Your customers will have valuable insights as they buy your products. They use them. So, listen to them. Consider using SurveyMonkey to create online surveys to gather customer feedback.

#13 Co-creation

Involve your most loyal customers in the creation of products. This works particularly well for the millennial generation who values brand experiences.

And what better way to let them get involved with your brand, than helping them create a new product. You can make use of online research communities, online surveys and even use A/B testing to see what’s working on your site and what isn’t. You can also apply this to beta-testing new products, by letting your most loyal customers have first access to a new product.

#14 Connect With Employees for New Hires

As your business grows, so does the need to hire new top talent. Now, you can approach an agency to handle this process and/or place job ads in classifieds, the newspaper and on the internet, but often the best place to look is internally.

Consider approaching your staff to see if they know of anyone who would be suitable for the job. Better yet, hire internally. Hiring internally has many benefits, one of which is that the person is already knowledgeable about your company and there won’t be a big learning curve.

#15 Pay Attention to What the Competition is Doing

I don’t recommend spending days and days just monitoring and copying competitors products and services. But it helps to track what they’re doing well and then implementing those strategies in your own company. You can only hope to improve and grow if you’re constantly learning, tweaking, and implementing.

For example using SEM rush you can gather insights into your competitor’s strategies in display advertising, organic and paid search, link building, estimated keyword difficulty and much, much more!

The above 15 ways are proof that you don’t have to spend a fortune to grow your business. Do you use any of these techniques? How do you grow your business?

7 Ways Kit Will Boost Your Shopify Store Growth

All over the world, small business owners like yourself are faced with the similar, yet unique challenge of growing their business. Often the issue isn’t that their product or service isn’t good enough, it’s simply that they don’t dedicate enough time to marketing. And this can be due to a combination of factors. Firstly, there’s a lot vying for their attention and they simply have limited time at their disposal, with an unlimited amount that needs to get done. Secondly, they lack the budget. And lastly, they may even lack the know-how about how to market online. I’m currently seeing this first hand with a friend of mine who’s struggling to make sales. He’s struggling to grow his business.

The harsh reality is, if you’re not marketing and selling, you will fail, no matter how great your product is. The question then is: How do you overcome this? While there may be many different answers to this question, we found a Shopify App called Kit that can help you grow your online Shopify store.

What is Kit?

Kit is a virtual employee that solves the above problems faced by small business and solo-entrepreneurs. Here’s an introduction to Kit on the Shopify website.

“I’ll communicate with you via SMS, Facebook Messenger, or Telegram. I’ll send you a text, ask you a couple questions to learn about your business, make suggestions for marketing initiatives, and all you have to do is say “yes”. It’s really that simple!”

Kit is a professional, personal marketing assistant. It will send you a text on a daily basis with marketing suggestions. Kit integrates with your Shopify store and handles all of your marketing efforts. From email marketing, Facebook and Instagram advertising, to winning over potentially lost customers due to cart abandonment, Kit does it all. And it doesn’t only do what you say, it thinks ahead and makes recommendations. Watch the video below to learn more:

Such is the power of kit, that one client – cited in an article by Shopify on Kit and it’s benefits -saw a 220% return on his advertising spend. That’s nothing to sneeze at. Now that you have an idea of what Kit is and how it can solve your problems let’s jump into the specifics of what Kit can do for you.

1. Kit Helps You Grow Your Facebook Fans

We’re not talking about fake likes. You know those ones that pages get from click farms (yes, it’s a real thing)? You know those ones where you have someone who seemingly isn’t even in your target market liking your page? I’m sure you do.

Rather Kit focuses on capturing an engaging audience and will build this from 0-100, from day one. This is also important as Facebook uses this as a basis to determine what sort of customers you’re targeting in the future. These customers are also known as your Lookalike Audience.

2. Kit Helps You With Ad Targeting

Kit then will help you target these Lookalike Audiences. Targeting the right audience is crucial for your ROI, and ultimately the success of your business. All you have to do is tell Kit what you want to accomplish with the ad and how much you want to spend. This applies to both Facebook and Instagram advertising.

3. Creates Facebook and Instagram Ads that sell

Create Facebook advertisements by simply answering three simple questions pertaining to whether you’d like to run the ad, what product you want to promote and what your budget is. Together with information Kit pulls from the store, Kit creates a preview of the ad, which you can approve or make further tweaks to. Kit also creates previews for Instagram advertisements based on the same information.

4. Posts Facebook Updates to Boost Your Online Presence

Aside from creating ads, Kit can also assist with publishing Facebook updates on your behalf. This automates your marketing, saving you time and giving you peace of mind knowing your business growth is taken care of, and in good hands.

5. Helps With Cart Abandonment

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Statistics show that 67.45% of online shoppers abandon their carts before making a purchase. Now imagine if you could convert these potential customers? It’s possible with Kit. Let me explain.

Kit Seamlessly integrates with other Shopify Sales Apps; one such app being Kit Kart. Kit Kart will send you an SMS notifying you of the previous day’s abandoned carts. By simply replying with a “Yes” to allow for follow-up e-mails, Kit Kart will send emails to all customers who abandoned their carts, giving them a slight push to make a purchase. Kit Cart is only available if you upgrade from the basic plan ($10/month) to the pro plan ($24/month).

6. Kit Integrates With Other Shopify Apps

Integration with other Shopify Apps takes place through an app known as Kit Skills. By integrating with other Shopify Apps, you don’t find yourself jumping between apps. Your marketing efforts with Kit will be taken to the next level with app integration. Here are three (among others) apps – in addition to Kit Karts- that integrate with Kit:

  1. Retargeting on Autopilot – turn visitors into customers through re-targeting ads on Facebook and Instagram
  2. Product Discount – we discussed this in a post on “5 of The Best Shopify Sales Apps“. But just to recap, the idea is to sell more on your online store through price reductions. It’s the number one Shopify Sales App.
  3. Pop-ups – build your email list, drive conversions, and reduce cart abandonment with this app by Justuno.

7. Helps You Prioritize and Accomplish Goals

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Kit helps you prioritize with Kit Goals. Kit Goals will help you set goals based on your unique business needs and works with you to achieve these goals. For example, if you want to increase your sales by 15% – you can simply tell the app you want to do this and Kit takes care of the rest.

Final Thoughts

Kit is a powerful tool to help you – the solo-entrepreneur and/or small business owner. Because let’s face it you face unique challenges. You have a lot on your plate, your budget is tight, and often you simply lack the experience to grow your business.

Not only will Kit help with your marketing efforts, but it will free up time to focus on other important business activities e.g. inventory management, building partnerships, and creating new product lines. And with seamless integration options with other apps and smart technology that recommends certain marketing efforts before you’ve thought of them, Kit is an indispensable tool to drive your Shopify store growth.

Have you tried Kit?

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.

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.

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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.

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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!

Bablic is Hiring – NodeJS Developer

Do you want to be part of the founding team in a small (but well-funded) startup that is going to become a great company? Here is your chance to demonstrate technological leadership and make a true impact in a great SaaS company that is going to leave a mark on the internet.

We are looking for a NodeJS developer, with server side experience, and which has participated in building complex javascript projects.

Bablic is built with cutting-edge technologies and lives on the cloud. You must know your way around web standards HTML5\CSS3, SSL, S3 and CDN and able to integrate with 3rd party services via API.

For sure you…

  • Have at least 3 years experience in javascript
  • Have at least 3 years experience in server side development
  • Have at least 1 year experience in NodeJS
  • Have at least 2 years experience in NoSQL Database, preferably MongoDB.
  • See the big picture and have system architecture approach
  • Are self managed and can take responsibility for your projects estimation and delivery
  • Are a team player. If there are problems, inconsistencies or underperformance you will report and discuss this promptly and openly. We like challenges and opportunities to learn from mistakes.

You probably…

  • Have experience with Linux OS
  • Made tons of RESTful integrations, and built an API for web or mobile clients yourself.
  • Have played around with real-time web frameworks (like Meteor/Socket.IO..)
  • Used a cloud service before for hosting/storage/analytics/emails
  • Have initiated or managed a web development project before
  • Are ambitious and eager to create
  • Like to work in an informal setting, where you are given a lot of freedom to be creative and think outside the box,

Who we are:

Bablic is a SaaS solution for SMBs that completely automates the website localization process. We are able to turn mono-lingual websites into multi-lingual (using professional human translation) by simply pasting a code snippet in the site. This significantly reduces execution times and costs for businesses. Bablic works with any website and requires no programming, no project management and no alteration to the website’s existing CMS system.

Bablic provides easy and intuitive tool to manage any website using reverse proxy and crawling methods.

We are located in Tel Aviv, our paying customers are growing quickly and our users LOVE our product. Contact us for more information or send us your CV at dev[email protected]

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!

25 Best Conversion Optimization Tools

The ultimate goal of an online marketing strategy for your small business or startup is to increase conversion rates, which means turning more of your visitors into users or customers. You want to get them to buy your product or use your service, so you create a funnel strategy: first you lead them to the website, then you offer them your services, and ultimately you convert them into customers.

Conversion Optimization Tools

In theory, the internet marketing funnel procedure sounds like the perfect plan. The issue is that there is no way to create a successful funnel without first testing it; and once you’ve tested it, you’ll notice that it didn’t work exactly as you had planned it. You can therefore realize that conversions are not an easy matter.

There are so many different ways to optimize your conversion rates. In this post, I’ll list some of the most useful tools for conversion optimization.

First, I’ll start from the Analytics tools, a huge part of optimizing conversions is getting the right stats, analyzing them properly and of course, acting on them.

A quick note before I jump into this, I’d like to mention Bablic (our tool) which lets you easily add languages to your website. Often overlooked, one of the best ways to optimize your conversions and increase your conversion rate is to add languages to your website. We’re currently offering a 14-day trial, no credit card required, just enter your URL on our homepage to get started. Alright now back to business…

Analytics are tools that allow you to track every movement on your website. From Google Analytics (which is the most popular, free option, used by 73% of marketers) to KISSMetrics, from Mixpanel to Clicky — you can use these software tools to track the behavior and actions of your visitors, both individual and group.

Best Conversion Optimization Tools

A tool like KISSMetrics tracks the visitors’ behavior through the entire funnel process. With this tool, you can find leaks in the funnel, use cohort reports (which analyze the data over time and allow you to know which strategies work best), and do A/B tests (to validate your choices for design, content, etc.)

Clicky is also a popular alternative for analytics; along with the basic information about visitors and locations, it shows real time heatmaps of individual visitors’ sessions.

If your website relies on forms a lot, especially when it comes to conversion, I suggest you check Formisimo, the must-have analytics tool for forms and checkouts. Formisimo might have the answer to your biggest conversion-related questions: why do potential costumers disappear from your website, abandoning the conversion process after starting it? For a relatively cheap price ($50/month for startups, $95/month for small businesses), this tool beautifully presents the data and shows you what’s not working with your forms.

Looking at the data Analytics tools provide, however, isn’t enough. You may acknowledge their behavior but still have a hard time understanding what the issue with your conversion strategy is as well as how to optimize your funnel for better conversions.

That’s what User Testing tools are for!

These tools help you observe the way the users interact with your website.

Tools for Optimizing Conversions

ClickTale turns your visitors’ behavior from secret to open information without the need to read and interpret humongous pages of data. Through this tool, you can easily know which pages and links engage your visitors the most, and ultimately which ones lead to conversions and which ones don’t.

Another useful User Testing tool is CrazyEgg: similarly to ClickTale, it also allows you to see what people are doing on your website — how they scroll the pages, where they’re coming from, and where they’re going to. CrazyEgg is easy to use and can help you realize what works and what doesn’t in just a few clicks.

SessionCam allows you to track the movement of your visitors’ mouse. It’s a great way to analyze the behavior of your potential customers and improve your website.

If you’re not sure of what keeps your visitors from becoming customers… why don’t you just ask them? There are hundreds of User Survey tools out there, just pick your favorite and find out how to improve your conversions directly from your visitors!

You can’t always formulate hypotheses — sometimes it’s good to have a direct, honest feedback. As I’ve already states there are tons of user survey tools available, however I’ve tried a few myself and have some favorites. First of all, the objective of these surveys is to (1) understand what kind of customers and potential customers you have and (2) ask them what’s preventing them from using your service or buying your product.

You can ask them things like: why didn’t you purchase my product? And they can answer things like: well, the delivery price was too high. You can ask: how likely is it, from 0 to 10, that you will recommend this service to someone else? Otherwise just go for a more open-ended question trying to understand what’s wrong.

Website Conversion Tools

Qualaroo is one of the most popular survey platforms for these kind of inquiries. They offer a small business plan for $63/month, which is very convenient if you own one single domain.

If you want something less expensive, try Survey Monkey. Otherwise, one tool I personally used several times — also for some academic research — is SurveyGizmo: I love the sleek designs of their surveys, and the automated analysis they do is very easy to interpret and useful if you don’t want to get lost in the data.

Kampyle is another cool tool to get feedback from your visitors. Hear the voice of your customers and make straight-to-the-point optimizations to your conversion funnel.

More awesome conversion optimization tools

Create the best-looking forms with TypeForms to increase your conversions — I used this tool and found its designs outstanding.

AttentionWizard is a revolutionary heatmap tool that simulates human vision of a page for the first 5 seconds of exposure. It gives you some valuable information on which elements (content, visuals, colors…) of your page catch the eye of the visitors by showing an eye gaze path.

Another testing tool is Treejack, which allows you to test your IA (information architecture) through tree testing. For $109/month, this tool evaluates the findability of topics on your website and quickly lets you know what isn’t working in your IA setup.

Tools for Website Conversions

If you want to optimize your design you can also try UsabilityHub, which measures the first impressions of your visitors through Five Second Tests, Click Test, and more. Just upload your design, show it for five seconds, and then ask the testers what they recall. Their answers can be converted into a useful list of keywords: it’s one of the most reliable techniques for feedback and design optimization.

To recruit testers, try Ethnio: find participants for UX research and put your work to the test! A good alternative is UserTesting.

There are also multiple wireframing and mockup tools out there. Both Balsamiq Mockups and MockFlow help you see the interface of your website, improve your design, and work out new solutions together with designers and developers.

I’ll conclude with a few more useful tools. The first, for A/B split testing, is called Optimizely: it’s a simple platform which allows you to improve engagement and increase and optimize your conversion rate both through desktop and mobile apps. At the moment it’s considered to be the most popular A/B testing and personalization software out there: you definitely want to check it out.

Also SiteSpect deals with A/B testing, as well as with speed and mobile optimization. It’s considered to be a leader in its field. One more A/B testing tool is Conductrics.

Another tool I’ll discuss offers an underestimated — and yet fundamental — service. Ever wondered how your website design appears in different browsers, both on desktop and on mobile? Browershots shows you your website’s compatibility in just one click: paste your URL and see how it appears on Firefox, Chrome, SeaMonkey, Opera, and many more! A valid alternative to this tool is BrowserStack, which gives you instant access to any browser.

Let us know in the comments below which of these tools you found particularly useful to increase your conversion rates.

7 Tricks to Write Better Emails & Increase Open Rates

Emails are business’ main means of communication nowadays. We keep in touch with our relatives and friends, send requests to our employees and coworkers, ask for favors, share opinions, make compliments or critiques, send our condolences, RSVP — all via email.

Email Marketing for Small Businesses

As the owner of a small business, you will often use emails to market your product/services, reach out to journalists, speak to customers and so on. This blog post will feature some of the tips and tricks we take into consideration when using email to grow Bablic, we’ll give a few useful tips to ensure your receivers read the emails you send them and click on the links you include.

While Chrome offers a series of useful plug-ins to maximize your email experience (Bananatag, Rapportive and Boomerangs, just to name some of my personal favorites), you can also improve the effectiveness of your electronic communication by writing shorter, smarter, valuable emails.

Take your business to the next level with these 7 tips:

1 ) Specific Subject Lines

Your receivers most probably receive dozens of email every day; it is quite unlikely that they will open each and every one of them. Help them by creating a direct, specific, to-the-point subject line. It’s not rude — it’s helpful! Receivers often don’t even bother clicking on vague subject lines; if you don’t keep them simple and specific, don’t be surprised if your open rates are extremely low!

2 ) One Goal Per Message

The most annoying thing on earth is to receive a long, vague email that aims at touching multiple issues without really getting to a specific point. This rule — one goal per message — will:

1. Make it easier for you to write a winning subject line
2. Increase the probability that your recipient will open the message
3. Ensure you will receive a clear answer to your question/request

If you have multiple questions to ask, you can do two things. Either you anticipate all the issues in the subject line and write the message as a concise numbered list; or you send different emails with different subjects.

The same applies when you’re promoting a product or a service that your business offers. Keep it focused and direct. It’s preferable to market one single service rather than your entire business.

3 ) Increase your CTR

Click-Through-Rates are fundamental when you are using emails to promote your business: you want your recipients not only to open the emails you send, but also to click on the links you include within the message.

How can you make that happen?
It’s easy — along with having an eye-catching design and well-written content, you should ensure the message sparks the curiosity of your readers. Leave some of the information out and they will click on the link to discover the rest of your story. Make them feel as if they were missing out by not clicking that button.
One last tip to increase your CTRs is to make the receivers feel as the main characters of your campaign. If the link leads to some sort of action — Get Involved! Discover More! — they will be more likely to click on it.

4 ) How To Introduce Yourself To Strangers…

When emailing a stranger, you might be wondering whether and how to introduce yourself. For the record: if it’s the first time you ever talk to your recipient, an introduction is vital, and you should not open your message with a direct request. At the same time, it’s important you don’t bother your receiver with a three-paragraph long story of your life.

The trick is to write a general, short introduction you can copy-and-paste every time you need to include it in your messages, but keep it personalized. This intro should not be longer than a few sentences at most and should provide essential information only.

Here’s an example:
“Dear Vivian,
My name is Joseph Brown and I’m a marketing strategist at Zebra Strategies.”

5 ) …And More Specifically To Journalists

You need PR for your company just as much as you need air to breathe. You will often attempt to contact reporters to get some coverage about your business, however you will soon discover how hard it is not only to be covered, but most importantly to get a reply!

I’ve been working in journalism for several years now and can give you a golden rule: reporters are human beings, not machines. Before contacting them, do some research about their recent work and the type of stories they usually publish. Once you’ve finished your research, you’re able to contact them with a personalized message.

Personalized messages — as opposed to recycled ones — are definitely going to increase the likelihood that your receivers will reply your messages.

How can you personalize a message to a journalist?
1)  Say hi. Don’t ever write anything that sounds like “To Whom It May Concern.” If your reporter is called Paul, say “Hi Paul.”
2)  Introduce yourself (see previous paragraph: keep it short and simple).
3) Acknowledge who your receiver is. In one sentence, tell them why you decided to contact specifically them and not anyone else. Compliment them on a story they just published. Tell them you’ve been following them on Twitter for one year.
4) Make your request.

6 ) Brevity ≠ Screw Grammar

Being direct and concise is a priority, true. However, it doesn’t mean you’re allowed to overlook grammar!

A well-written, grammatically correct, proofread message is easier to read and makes a better impression on the receiver. On the contrary, a poorly written email which contains multiple grammar mistakes does not show that you’re busy and too-cool-for-English; instead it shows you’re an unprofessional, uneducated individual.

There is not one circumstance that allows you to disregard grammar. If you are typing your email on your iPhone while running from one meeting to the other, then make sure to include an automatic signature that says “Excuse any typos.” Yet, don’t forget — grammar mistakes are not typos!

7 ) Your Signature Is Your Business Card

If you want to make your receiver’s life easier, one fundamental (and easy) tip is to include a comprehensive signature at the bottom of your email.
Along with the ubiquitous “Best regards,” here’s the information that should never be missing from your signature:

First and last name
Position and workplace
Office/cellphone number

If you do not include these, your receiver won’t be able to easily reach you on the phone and know exactly who he/she’s talking to. How annoying is to have a conversation with an anonymous person? And how annoying is not being able to call them on the phone if needed? Especially when contacting a journalist, you need to give your receiver the ability to contact you.

As a journalist, I personally get upset when I receive an email from someone who doesn’t specify what their position in the company is. Take advantage of the signature to do that!

Furthermore, there are extra details you could include in your signature. They are not mandatory, but could be helpful:

Website
Skype ID
Social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter…)

Your receivers will expect to find a comprehensive signature at the bottom of your messages. Don’t disappoint them.

Let us know how your business does emails in the comments below and remember to share this post if you enjoyed it.