Should I Still Be Blogging?

Over time, the internet has changed. People engage more with posts on social media platforms that they do with posts that you create on your own blog. Plus, blog posts tend to be much longer, typically 800 words or more. People have short attention spans and as a result, no one reads an entire post, much less a book. In fact, they don’t even read their emails. They just scan it to get the major ideas. Since blogs don’t have the traction they once did, the question is often asked, “Should I even bother writing blog posts anymore?”

It depends. Blogs are a great way to create fresh content that search engines find important. This in turn drives traffic to your website. So if you want to get quality, organic traffic to your website on a regular basis, then you absolutely MUST create new consistent content in the form of a blog.

On the other hand, if you don’t care about anyone ever finding your site, or you are willing to pay large sums of money for advertisements to drive people to your website, then by all means, don’t ever write another blog post.

OK, so I know this […]

Should I Write My Own Copy?

I expect to get hate mail and backlash from some copywriters out there for this article. I’ve heard all the arguments before, and even had them compare their skills to mine as an ecommerce web designer. After all, anyone can create a website today right? Templated website builders now allow anyone to create their own website and sell online, so why should they hire me? Copywriters are in the same boat: this is something you can do yourself, so why should you hire someone to do it for you?

Here’s the thing: You are the expert on what you are selling, so it makes sense that you should write your own copy. I’m a huge believer in creating content – lots of content that your followers will consume. If you hire a copywriter to create all of your content, you are either a very large company, or you will soon go broke. Copywriters will try to sell you on their services using arguments like freeing up your time, or that you aren’t any good at it, so let them do it for you. Most of those arguments are rubbish. The fact is, you need to be producing your own content. If you aren’t good at it, then you need to learn to at least become moderately proficient. Weekly blog posts, social media posts and other ongoing content is best produced in house by you, the expert on what your business has to offer.

I read an article recently about why a certain web designer doesn’t let her clients hire copywriters, and I completely agree. The underlying reason why people think they should hire a copywriter is something that no copywriter can solve for them, and that is the ability to sell their product or services to their customers. This is something you MUST learn yourself. You can read the complete article here.  If you have not given enough thought to your unique selling proposition and marketing strategy where you cannot clearly convey your message to someone else, you have a fundamental business problem. You absolutely must fix these issues first.

If you have not given enough thought to your unique selling proposition and marketing strategy where you cannot clearly convey your message to someone else, you have a fundamental business problem. Click To Tweet

Once you have your business issues resolved, writing everyday copy should be pretty easy. Just pretend you are talking to a friend. Nobody likes to be sold to, so simply tell a story about your product or service as if you are explaining it to a single person. Use and active voice and be concise. Use the rule of three when listing features and benefits. Address any objections upfront. If you follow these few simple steps, you will produce your own copy that is better than what a third party person is likely to come up with, because it will be coming from what you truly believe in. It will be more authentic and will resonate with your audience.

Stop hiding behind a copywriter. Writing your own copy will be better because it will be more authentic and will resonate with your audience.

Simple steps to writing effective copy:

  • Explaining your product or service to a single person
  • Use an active voice
  • Be concise
  • Use the rule of three when listing features and benefits
  • Address any objections upfront

Still…I believe that you should engage a professional copywriter for your business. What? Here’s why… […]

Every Content Marketer Should Know These Best WordPress Plugins

by Bilal Imtiaz

In today’s world, content marketing is on the rise. What with the obsession with consumerism, new and engaging forms of media and brand consciousness, it is key that businesses are able to capture the market’s attention. And what better way to do this than through the virtual world.

Now, if you are a content marketer striving to show your all in this fiercely competitive field, your best friend is WordPress and its many plugins. With so many to sift through, selecting the right one often becomes a puzzling choice. But fear not, we’ve compiled a list of the best WordPress Plugins that every content marketer just needs to know.

WordPress Plugins
What exactly is a WordPress plugin? Well, a plugin is a form of software that allows the user to add specific functions to a WordPress website, thereby enhancing their web design and making it more appealing. Here are some of the best:

1. Security Plugins
In the simplest of words, any business’ website is one of their most valuable assets. It is an asset that calls for security measures to be taken to ensure its safety. According to research conducted by WP White Security, seventy percent of all WordPress websites are exposed to hackers. This figure is unthinkably high, and in such circumstances, precaution must be taken.

The Plugins that prevent breaches of this sort fall under the security tool category. Specifically speaking, Limit Login Attempts, Wordfence and iThemes Security are examples of the most effective security plugins, to name but a few.

As the name states, Limit Login Attempts places a specific restriction on the number of tries one can carry out to log in to their account. This gives hackers a narrower margin of success. Another similar plugin is the WP Limit Login Attempts, which performs the same function but with more efficient results.

Wordfence, on the other hand, is a more comprehensive security plugin. Not only does it have the ability to scan files for viruses and bugs, but it can also ban certain IPs and IP ranges if it suspects that they are of a harmful nature.

And lastly, iThemes Security enables two factor authorization to be set up for all passwords and accounts. Its best feature, though, is the fact that it allows businesses to develop short term accounts for any individual that they may want to grant access of their website to, whether this be for the purpose of updating their web design, content or other features.

2. Yoast SEO
SEO is crucial for any content marketer, no matter how big or small. And here to help every content marketer achieve it, is Yoast SEO. This plugin allows for a number of specifications to be made, tailor-made to your web design and area of activity. And of course, always pushing for higher search engine rankings.

With Yoast SEO, the wand is in your hand. You can modify keywords, images, meta titles and descriptions all while pushing for a higher readability score. The option of such customization helps your website stand out amongst hordes of others.

If Yoast SEO isn’t your pick, then there are a number of other SEO plugins to choose from, including Squirrly, Link Patrol and Google XML Sitemaps.

3. Editorial Calendar
One of the biggest struggles of content marketing is time management. Keeping up with deadlines, ensuring that content is created and not missing out on important dates is sure to put any content marketer in a whirlwind. This is where the Editorial Calendar plugin comes in. With an easy to use select and place function, this plugin allows you to organize your very own schedule by marking key days and adding in short notes. It also notifies you of upcoming or missed deadlines, to help you stay on track!

4. Floating Social Bar
What any content marketer wants is for their website to be ranked higher up on search engine results. Well, one of the major factors that search engines study in order to allot rankings is speed. The higher faster your operating time, the more wonders it will do for your website’s ranking. The Floating Social Bar plugin takes care of speed, or at least it appears to. It displays a copy button with the accurate number count till the actual sharing process has been carried out. By allowing share buttons to be added in for each individual media platform, such as Twitter, Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn and many more the Floating Social Bar plugin increases social media shares.

5. Google Language Translator
Content marketing is a global phenomenon. It stretches to all parts of the world, targeting millions of people every day. This is why it is crucial for any website to be accessible to people speaking a range of languages, in order to boost user accessibility. The Google Language Translator plugin translates your website’s content into up to a hundred different languages, doing marvels for both your rankings and usability. The best part is that […]

Content Marketing for Ecommerce

Many of my recent blogs, social media posts, memes, live seminars, podcasts, videos and online training courses have all been about content creation. (Notice all the different content types I’ve been creating myself?) clearly I am a huge believer in content marketing as it helps you to stand out in a crowded marketplace. Content marketing has become the major digital marketing tactic, with over 90% of B2B and nearly 90% of B2C marketers including content in each of their marketing campaigns. But this growth in popularity has brought about several important outcomes:

  • Content creation is quickly exceeding content demand.
  • Consumers have access to more content they possibly need. It’s getting harder and harder to surprise or engage them.
  • It’s getting harder to compete with bigger content marketing budgets. The more that big brands start building content in your niche, the higher the content standards, and the more your target audience expects from any content they come across, including yours.

These trends cause concern for small businesses trying to gain an edge with their internet marketing. Most likely, you are already strained trying to create consist, quality content, but there is so much already out there, you wonder if you should even both. Will anyone even notice or care about what you are creating? Those are valid concerns, but content marketing is not going away, it is simply evolving. The great thing about digital marketing is that ingenuity and creativity can always win over big marketing budgets.

Here are some major content marketing trends (that are already happening) and how to use them to your advantage, especially if you have an ecommerce store where you are selling products online.

Content Collaboration

Content collaboration means working with other people (inside and/or outside your company) on creating and marketing your content. You might use influencers, joint-venture partners, affiliates, and non-marketing employees to help build your content. In a recent interview I had with my podcast, JV Crum III said that you should consider everyone you meet a potential partner. I believe this is true. My friend and colleague Ken McArthur says we can accomplish so much more by working together than by working alone. Try to think of ways that you can collaborate with others, both inside and outside your industry to create content that even large organizations with big budgets can’t compete with.

Try to think of ways that you can collaborate with others, both inside and outside your industry to create content that even large organizations with big budgets can't compete with. Click To Tweet

Take this a step further by guest blogging and being a guest on other people’s podcasts. Few ecommerce companies are doing this and it will help you spread your content and your message.

Content Personalization

Despite all the growing privacy concerns, dynamic personalization is a significant trend that customizes the web experience for each particular user. This is not the same as segmenting, which simply provides a customized experience to an identified group of customers, and it goes beyond simply inserting a person’s name in an email. Amazon has been providing customized user experience for ages, and while this is the gold standard to emulate, you probably don’t have the programming budget of an amazon or Netflix. Still, even with a WordPress website, there are certain things you can do to engage your visitors with more personalized content. for example, the plugin “If-So,” offers many personalization options. Watch this video for more information:

Interactive content

One advantage in-store shopping still has over the online experience is, in most cases, interactivity. Shopping in person can be a more engaging experience, and many still find it relatively fun. E-commerce retailers can […]

Ratings & Reviews

Reputation management is essential on review sites

Consumers are talking about a business whether that business is aware of it or not (and whether businesses have claimed their business profile or not). As a result, we all know that ratings and reviews can make or break a business. Consistently poor reviews can put a company out of business, while consistently great reviews can help create exponential growth. One or two bad reviews can be overcome with lots of great reviews, but just one or two great reviews will not overcome lots of bad reviews. The fact is, you need lots of good reviews about your business to remain competitive in today’s online world. That means you need to provide not just a good product or service, but a great product or service that people want to talk about.

Incentivized reviews (you offer something in exchange for a review) are frowned upon, and can even get you banned from some platforms. So, how do you go about getting lots of great reviews? And what platform or platforms should you concentrate on? For example, are Facebook reviews as important as Yelp reviews? The answer is that it depends upon your business. Let’s explore your options.

Are Facebook reviews as important as Yelp reviews? It depends upon your business Click To Tweet

Google

Google is probably the number one place people look for reviews on your business, if for no other reason than that is where they are searching for your business. Your “Google My Business” listing is a free tool for businesses to manage their online presence across Google, including Search and Maps. It displays information about your business, including reviews that people leave directly on Google.

There is a button on your Google My business listing that allows people to click on it and write a review. You should do this yourself, then copy the link and share it with your customers. You may want to shorten the link with a url shortner like bit.ly to make it easier to share and more memorable, such as bit.ly/reviewwebstores.

You’ll notice that […]

Google’s June 2019 Core Update

Over a 5 day period earlier this month, ending on June 8th, Google rolled out a Core Update to its search algorithm. Unlike past updates that were given names like Panda or Penguin, this update is simply referred to as the June 2019 Core Update, but its impact is just as big.

Google frequently updates their algorithm, so ranking your site on the first page of the search results is a constantly moving target. And of course, Google never tells you exactly what the changes are, but based on my research here is what I have discovered from multiple sources.

The focus of this update is on quality and relevance. Google is no longer concerned just with keywords, but rather with the user’s intent. Google built its current algorithm around RankBrain, a machine learning (AI) algorithm Google uses to help sort and improve the search results. According to Backlinko:

In short, RankBrain tweaks the algorithm on its own.

Depending on the keyword, RankBrain will increase or decrease the importance of backlinks, content freshness, content length, domain authority, etc.

Then, it looks at how Google searchers interact with the new search results. If users like the new algorithm better, it stays. If not, RankBrain rolls back the old algorithm.

Notice that content freshness and content length continue to play a huge role in what Google determines to be important. Blue Corona has identified these items to be Google’s top ranking factors in 2019: […]

Today’s Most Effective Marketing Tool

Several years ago, SMS marketing became a very popular tool. You’ve seen it. “Text ‘PIZZA’ to 55-555 for regular coupons at your favorite pizzeria.”

Texting is the most used data service in the world. People text for hundreds reasons every day! And virtually all messages are read almost instantly – 96% are read within 3 minutes of being sent. The average response time for text messages is just 90 seconds! This blows away every other marketing tool, including email which averages a 20% open rate. Because of its prevalence and popularity among consumers, texting could be the single most beneficial tool for your business that you’re not already using.

But how do you turn texting into an automated marketing tool instead of texting your customers one by one? The answer is to use a bulk SMS mass text-messaging platform like TextMagic. The fact is, customers would rather text you than have to call someone else. Last year, only 14% of phone calls to businesses were answered without being placed on hold.

A fully-featured 30 day trial of TextMagic is available for you to try and no credit card is required!

Have you ever been given a list of contact information with address and phone numbers but no email addresses? Most often those phone numbers are cell numbers! and you don’t need to worry about clogging up your personal cell number with business messages or making yourself open to everyone, as TextMagic uses virtual mobile numbers and messages can come back to you via email or through your online dashboard. Click here to start your 30 day trial of TextMagic.

iTunes is Dead!

I don’t know if you’ve heard?

But Apple is killing iTunes.

After 18 years, Apple decided to end the app and move on to other ventures. (Sort of…)

Why should you care?

I’ll tell ya. […]

From Marketing Gimmick to Pop Culture

Recently,  I read an article about how pedometers have proliferated in smartphone apps and wearable fitness trackers. The article discussed how a new benchmark has entered our lives: Take at least 10,000 steps a day, which is about five miles of walking for most people. I-Min Lee, a professor of epidemiology at Harvard University, says “It turns out the original basis for this 10,000-step guideline was really a marketing strategy. In 1965, a Japanese company was selling pedometers, and they gave it a name that, in Japanese, means ‘the 10,000-step meter.”

Based on conversations she’s had with Japanese researchers, Lee believes that name was chosen for the product because the character for “10,000” looks sort of like a man walking. As far as she knows, the actual health merits of that number have never been validated by research.

This got me thinking about other marketing gimmicks that have become part of our pop culture, and how brands can have this type of impact on society.

In the 1930s, Coca-Cola, in need of a spokesman to spur sales in the slow-for-cola winter months, took the images of Santa and galvanized them into the red-suited, white-bearded, sack-carrying, merry, rotund figure we have today.

In 1924, Macy’s welcomed the world’s largest department store with their first parade in New York City. Although held on the morning of Thanksgiving, it was presented as a Christmas parade with floats featuring favorite nursery-rhyme characters, matching the theme of their window display that year. Today, it is an American tradition.

On the morning of October 21, 1892, children at schools across the country rose to their feet, faced a newly installed American flag and, for the first time, recited 23 words written by a man that few people today can name, Francis Bellamy. The Youth’s Companion, was the country’s largest circulation magazine, and in a marketing gimmick, the Companion offered […]

Layout Options for Web Design

Recently, I was asked to give a presentation in California on layout options for web design, so I’ve decided to share that information with our readers. Whether you are a web designer or a business owner, it is important to understand the basics of good web design to help you make decisions about your website. The first and most important thing to understand about ANY website, is that is primary purpose is to share content with your visitors. This is true whether you are selling physical goods on your site or you have an informational brochure site for a service busienss where you are just trying to attract customers to call your office. As Bill Gates said way back in 1996, “Content is King.” And it remains so today.

So, what exactly do we mean by “content?” It has been said that “Content is anything that adds value to the reader’s life.” It can include:

  • Text
  • Images
  • Audio
  • Video

Ryan Diess say, “Content marketing is about transforming people that DO NOT know, like, and trust you into people that DO know like, and trust you.” As we can see from that quote, this is why it is so important that you are able to share content with your visitors in a way that […]

Incentivized Referral Marketing

Soon after I reached 1500 followers on Instagram, I was asked to join a company’s “ambassador program.” I was flattered, so I checked it out. Basically, they wanted me to promote their product and in return, they would pay me a 20% commission for everyone that bought their product through my link. That sounds like the definition of an affiliate program, so it got me thinking…What’s the difference between an Influencer, Brand Ambassador, Advocate, Affiliate and JV Partner?

Word of mouth is the strongest form of marketing there is, but there is no reason why it all has to be organic. Click To Tweet

Truth be told, all of these are some form of incentivized referral marketing. No matter what you call it, the idea is to provide some type of incentive to get other’s to market for you. Word of mouth is the strongest form of marketing there is, but there is no reason why it all has to be organic. Giving people a reason to share your product is a smart move for any company (as long as there aren’t industry regulations preventing it, such as in the financial services industry).

How do these different marketing terms relate?

As previously stated, these types of marketing have been used interchangeably. A lot of businesses name their referral programs with the term ambassador or advocate in the headline. It doesn’t necessarily mean that is a true ambassador or advocate program. Some people may refer to them as “rockstars” or “road warriors” (a term we used with my first business).

So are there any significant differences between a Brand Ambassador, Influencer, or Affiliate Partner? Technically, there are differences depending upon someone’s definition. For example, an influencer often has tens of thousands of followers and is paid a lump sum by the sponsoring company, regardless of the actual number of sales made, whereas anyone can be an affiliate marketer no matter how many or few actual followers they have, since they are paid for each sale they bring to the company. You can do a Google search on the differences between each of these terms if it is really important to you, but the one thing that they they all have in common is that they are content creators.

Each of these types of marketers is creating their own unique content on behalf of the company. It might be a blog post, an Instagram photo, an online review, a YouTube video, or a simple recommendation vie email, but what makes referral marketing work is that the person promoting the product has created their own unique spin on why someone should buy the product. And that is the reason why this type of marketing is so much more effective than traditional marketing (where the company is the one producing the content).

Think about it… […]

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