What Is Buzz Marketing? A 3-Minute Rundown

On Sunday, the first episode of the last season of Game of Thrones not only made its fans the happiest people in the world for an hour, but it also shattered HBO’s record for the most amount of viewers a single episode of a show has ever attracted -- 17.4 million.

What’s arguably more impressive than the amount of viewers Game of Thrones’ season eight premiere captivated, though, is how long its fans have been waiting to watch this episode -- 20 months.

Game of Thrones is considered one of the best television shows ever made. It boasts a gripping and sophisticated storyline that’s chock full of twists, turns, and your favorite characters’ deaths, so there’s no wonder why the series has created a cult-like following and an irrational fear of admitting you’ve never seen a single episode of the show in your life.

However, Game of Thrones’ masterful storytelling isn’t the only reason why it’s season eight premiere broke HBO’s ratings record. The show’s marketing & advertising team also generated huge amounts of buzz for its final season and successfully sustained it for nearly two years.

Click here to download our comprehensive guide to effective and measurable  branding.

Two months before the final season of Game of Thrones premiered, Bud Light aired one of their Bud Knight advertisements during Super Bowl 53. But half way through the commercial, audiences immediately realized that this wasn’t just another hilariously witty Bud Knight ad. It was actually an intensely dramatic Game of Thrones ad.

Since almost every Game of Thrones fan recommends the show to all their friends, which generates a lot of word-of-mouth marketing, the series doesn’t really need any influencers promoting it.

However, Bud Light’s willingness to share one of their most-watched ads of the year with HBO and kill off the Bud Knight, one of their most popular mascots, to endorse Game of Thrones reveals how much the Beer company truly loves the show. And this amount of support not only skyrocketed the already astronomical level of hype for Game of Thrones' final season, but it also convinced the airheads like me who hadn’t watched a single episode of the show to start binging its first seven seasons.

Game of Thrones also built hype for its final season by launching a Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience, running an influencer marketing campaign with celebrities, like Jimmy Kimmel, T-Pain, and Aaron Rodgers, encouraging fans to rewatch the first seven seasons of the show to fully prepare themselves for season eight, and setting up Game of Thrones-themed blood drives and meet-the-cast events that supported autism research and physical rehabilitation programs.

How Buzz Marketing Can Backfire On Your Brand

Buzz marketing might seem like the most effective way to build as much hype as possible for your new product launch. But, before you start strategizing your next buzz marketing campaign, it’s crucial to remember that the new product or service you’re generating buzz for needs to meet the expectations your campaign sets. Otherwise, you’ll disappoint your customers, make them lose trust in you, and damage your brand equity.

For instance, in 2017, entrepreneur Billy McFarland and rapper Ja Rule organized a music festival called Fyre Festival in the Bahamas. To generate as much buzz as possible for the event, they paid some of the most notable social media influencers, like Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid, and Emily Ratajkowski, to fly down to the Bahamas, act in their promo video, and post the video to their Instagram profiles. With the help of some promotion of the festival’s stellar acts, luxury villas, and gourmet meals, Fyre Festival sold over 4,000 tickets.

Unfortunately for the attendees, Fyre Festival's marketing materials and the event itself were a complete scam. Instead of the luxury villas and gourmet meals their guests paid thousands of dollars for, McFarland and Ja Rule gave them tents and cheese sandwiches. Worst of all, there was no cell phone service, portable toilets, or running water at the festival, so thousands of people were basically left stranded on the island. And once the truth about Fyre Festival started circulating throughout social media, all of the festival’s acts cancelled.

Shortly after Fyre Festival's epic failure, its parent company, Fyre Media, shut down and Billy McFarland was sentenced to six years in prison and forced to repay $26 million to his company’s investors.

Your spectacle needs substance.

Game of Thrones’ and Fyre Festival’s buzz marketing campaign reveals an absolute truth about the viral marketing strategy: you can build all the hype in the world for your new product or service, but if it doesn’t meet the expectations your buzz marketing campaign sets, your customers will feel duped and lose trust in you, wreaking havoc on your brand. Even worse, Netflix could make a documentary about your artful deception

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The Beginner's Guide to Structured Data for Organizing & Optimizing Your Website

It’s Friday afternoon, and your team is jonesing for Happy Hour.

For the last few weeks, you’ve been going to the same ol’ bar by your office, so you decide it’s time to try something new. What do you do? Step outside and walk around until you find a new spot? No, you hop on Google and let it conduct the search for you.

Your ideal post-work pub is nearby, open right after work, and offers a few gluten-free options so your entire team can partake. You plug these criteria into Google, and you’ve got three viable options at your fingertips — in a handy map format to boot.

Pause. Have you ever wondered how Google can whip up such accurate, precise answers in so little time … and present them in such an easy-to-read way? Moreover, what are those restaurants doing do get featured so dominantly on Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs)?

Heck, I’d love my business to pop up when consumers search for criteria relevant to me … wouldn’t you?

No one knows exactly how Google’s algorithm works, but there are a few ways to organize and optimize your website content so Google knows what content to feature on the SERPs for the various searches people conduct to find you. This is where structured data comes in. 

Not sure what structured data is? That’s OK. By the end of this guide, you’ll be a structured data wizard — and your website will reap the benefits.

Access Now: 22 SEO Myths to Leave Behind This Year

We know that what searchers see online is much different than what search engines see.

While searchers see this …

structured-data-hubspotSource

… search engines see this.

structured-data-exampleView the source code for any website by going to View > Developer > View Source.

This behind-the-scenes code tells browsers how information should be organized on the website (as part of its website development) and tells web crawlers what’s on the page.

Structured data is also at play here. Embedded tags of code (a.k.a. “markup”) throughout the HTML of a webpage tell Google and other search engines what information to display in the SERPs and what this information represents. It also helps social media platforms synthesize your social media posts into snippets that preview the content using Open Graph Protocol (which we touch on later)

This markup is important. It educates search engines on what specific content is on the page, thus creating more relevant, informed searches and making the site a candidate for enhanced results like featured snippets, rich snippets, image and video carousels, knowledge boxes, and more. (We touch on this later, too.)

Here’s a simple example: In college, I used to take class notes very haphazardly. I’d literally scribble information down as my professors lectured … with little to no regard about its organization or legibility. (Well, I could read it, but no one else probably could.)

structured-data-gifMe, in class

When it came time to study for an exam, I’d pull out those chaotic notes and type them up to create organized, structured study guides, sorted by the various questions and subject matters I knew I’d be tested on. 

Therefore, I turned my unstructured data into structured data per my specific study system. 

In the case of SEO, embedding markup and coded tags that characterize each written element would be how to structure that data — much like I did with my class notes.

How does structured data work?

At this point, you might be asking: How can there exist a language (markup) that is consistently recognized by search engines and people alike?  

In order for this markup to be accurately and universally understood, there are standardized formats and vocabularies that should be used. 

Let’s go back to basics for a minute. When conveying information, whether you’re communicating with a human or a computer, you need two main things: vocabulary (a set of words with known meanings) and grammar (a set of rules on how to use those words to convey meaning).

Most terminology surrounding structured data markup can be organized into these two concepts: vocabularies and grammars, and webmasters can combine whichever two they need to structure their data (with the exception of Microformats).

VocabulariesGrammars
Schema.orgMicrodata
DCMIJSON-LD
FOAFRDFa

Okay … that’s enough of the fancy developer speak. What should you be using for your structured data?

Schema.org is the accepted universal vocabulary standard for structured data. It was founded by and is currently sponsored by Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Yandex. It’s flexible, open-sourced, and constantly updated and improved. Note: Schema is called such because it features markup for a wide variety of schemas — or data models — for different types of content.

Here’s an example of Schema Markup language (which is good for SEO) pulled from my latest article on branding.

"@context" : "http://schema.org",

"@type" : "Article",

"name" : "The Ultimate Guide to Branding in 2019"

"author" :

"@type" : "Person",

"name" : "Allie Decker"

,

"datePublished" : "2019-04-02",

"image" : "https://blog.hubspot.com/hubfs/branding-2.jpg",

"url" : "https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/branding",

"publisher" : {

"@type" : "Organization",

"name" : "HubSpot"

As for grammar, there’s no correct answer. Google recommends JSON-LD (and defaults to that grammar when using its Structured Data Markup Helper — as you see above), but it also recognizes Microdata and RDFa. It comes down to what your developers and webmasters are most comfortable with.

Structured data affects mobile a little differently — through Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). Accelerated Mobile Pages is a Google-backed, open source project to help all mobile pages load quickly regardless of device. Pages with AMP markup appear within Google’s special SERP features, such as Top Stories and News Carousels.

??Here’s how to create an AMP HTML page.

structured-data-amp-exampleSource

Structured data markup works a little differently for social platforms. This requires Open Graph Protocol and similar languages that ensure your website and blog content appear in an easy-to-read way when you promote this content on a social network. Two common social media features that use Open Graph Protocol are Pinterest Rich Pins and Twitter cards. We talk more about how to do this below

Here’s an example of Open Graph Protocol language (which is good for social media) using the same source.

<meta property=”og:title” content=”The Ultimate Guide to Branding in 2019”/>

<meta property=”og:type” content=”article”/>

<meta property=”og:URL” content=”https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/branding”

<meta property=”og:image” content=”https://blog.hubspot.com/hubfs/branding-2.jpg”

<meta property=”og:admins” content=”Allie Decker”

<meta property=”og:site_name” content=”HubSpot”

<meta property=”og:description” content=”Discover how to create and manage a brand that helps your business become known, loved, and preferred”

Google’s SERPs weren’t always as easy on the eye as they are today. Don’t remember? Check out this Google result for “pool tables” from 2008.

structured-data-old-googleSource

 Let’s compare. Here’s the same result from today in 2019.

structured-data-new-google 

Wow. That’s a world of difference. Not only are these results easier to read, but the extra features make for a much more informative, intelligent searching — and shopping — experience. Between the sponsored content and live map (plus the product carousel, question snippets, and related searches not shown in the screenshot), Google shows me pretty much all I need to know about pool tables.

Heck, sometimes I search for something and find the answer right on the SERP — I don’t even have to click on a result. Does that ever happen to you? If it has, you can thank structured data.

Note: Unfortunately, structured data doesn’t impact your organic search ranking (besides helping you grab a spot in a knowledge panel or Featured Snippet at the top of the list). It also doesn’t change how your content looks or behaves on your website — it only affects how and where it might appear on SERPs.

Examples of Structured Data

To the average internet user, structured data can’t be seen. It’s hidden among the code that makes up our favorite websites and online platforms. So, how does structured data affect what we (and our customers) see? What does it look like to the “naked” eye?

When webmasters adhere to structured data standards, search engines like Google and Bing reward their websites and organizations by featuring their content in a variety of SERP features (another reason to use structured data). 

Let’s talk about those features — specifically on Google. Google SERPs display a wide variety of information, but the ones we talk about below are specifically influenced by structured data. There are also a couple of ways that structured data can benefit your non-SERP marketing efforts on social media and email marketing.

structured-data-googleSource

First, it’s important to note that structured data can manifest on SERPs in two main ways: through content features (which appear as separate search results) and enriched result features (which enhance the search results themselves).

Content Features

Carousels

Carousels show up as images with captions related to a search, such as movie actors, cars, or news articles. Searchers can click through these images to access a separate SERP for that search. 

??Here’s how to use structured data to show up on Carousels.

structured-data-carousel

Featured Snippets

Featured Snippets display information relevant to a query — and link to a third-party website (which sets them apart from Answer Boxes and Knowledge Panels, which draw from public domain databases). They don’t count as one of the ten organic results on a SERP, so if you “win” the snippet, your website shows up twice. Featured Snippets can also be displayed as quotes, tables, jobs, rich cards (for movies and recipes), or the question section titled “People may ask”. 

??Here’s how to optimize your content for Google’s featured snippet box.

structured-data-featured-snippet

Knowledge Panels (a.k.a. Knowledge Graph Cards)

Knowledge Panels pull together the most relevant information from a search and display it as a separate panel on the right side of a SERP. They typically include images, dates, and category-specific information, such as stock prices for companies or birthdays for celebrities. You can use a structured data markup like Schema to tag your content with all of these categories, but there’s no guarantee that Google will reward you with your own knowledge panel. In fact, structured data doesn't promise anything, it only makes it easier for search engines and social networks to interpret your content. 

Also, Knowledge Panels aim to answer queries without requiring a click-through … good news for searchers, and bad news for businesses.

??Here’s how to make your site easier for bots to crawl (to increase your chances of showing up in a Knowledge Panel).

structured-data-knowledge-panel

Enriched Search Features (a.k.a. Rich Search Results or Rich Snippets)

Breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs “indicate a page's position in the site hierarchy,” according to Google. Breadcrumbs only appear on mobile devices, in place of a URL, and help searchers understand a page’s relationship to the rest of a website. 

??Here’s how to use structured data to display Breadcrumbs in your results.

structured-data-breadcrumbs
Sitelinks and Sitelinks Searchbox

Sitelinks are additional links displayed beneath a search result that navigate to different parts of a website. Google pulls them into a SERP when it thinks additional results would benefit a searcher. Websites with intelligent anchor text and alt text that’s informative, compact, and avoids repetition have a good chance of displaying a result with Sitelinks.

structured-data-sitelinksSitelinks Searchbox is like Sitelinks with a search bar directly featured in the result. That search box uses Google — not the featured website — which creates a brand new SERP. Sitelinks Searchboxes only show up in branded searches.

??Here’s how to get a Sitelinks Searchbox for your website.

structured-data-sitelinks-searchbox

Non-SERP Features

Social Cards

Social-specific markup doesn’t have a big impact on SEO, but it’s still important for marketers to understand. Not only does this markup enhance your social posts and ad efforts, but it can also be read by search engines — which could contribute to any SEO changes in the future.

Social cards display images and rich text when links are shared on social media. Any organization who uses social media to share content should be using proper social markup, such as Open Graph Protocol.

??Here’s how you ensure your social content displays social cards:

structured-data-open-graph
Email Marketing

Have you recently booked a flight or ordered something online? If you have Gmail, you might’ve seen your reservation or order details summarized at the top of the confirmation email. This is due to email markup. If you send emails for orders, reservations, confirmations, or bookings, consider using email markup to make your email recipients’ lives easier.

??Here’s how to get started with email markup in Gmail.

structured-data-email-markup

The concept of structured data might seem confusing, but its implementation isn’t nearly as complicated. In fact, there are a number of structured data tools that can help you along the way, namely Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper and Testing tools. Sure, you can implement structured data by hand, but Google’s tool ensures accuracy — and makes your life easier.

It’s important to note that adding structured data markup on your website doesn’t guarantee a Featured Snippet or Sitelinks Sitebox. Google can take weeks to crawl your new HTML markup, and sometimes, the information doesn’t show up at all.

However, taking the steps to implement structured data is critical. Google might be smart, but it can’t (yet) understand everything on its own. It might seem like a lot of extra work, but using the correct structured data markup will ensure Google can make sense of your content and can help you potentially increase your click-through rates and visibility.

Here’s how to implement structured data by using Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper tool.

1. Open Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper

Open up Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper tool.

structured-data-google-markup-tool

2. Select your data type and enter the URL

Make sure the Website tab is open. Choose the type of data to which you’d like to add the HTML markup. Plug the web page URL (or the HTML code) at the bottom , and click Start Tagging.

structured-data-google-markup-tool-2 

3. Highlight page elements and assign data tags

When the tool loads, you should see your web page on the left side and data items on the right. Highlight different components of your web page to assign data tags such as name, author, and date published. (The tool will suggest different data tags for different types of data, i.e. Events or Book Reviews.)

structured-data-google-markup-tool-3

As you select and assign data tags, you’ll see the information pop up under My Data Tags on the right panel. You can also add any missing tags that might not be visible on the web page; just click Add missing tags.

4. Create the HTML

When you’re finished tagging and assigning data items, click Create HTML in the upper right-hand corner.

5. Add the schema markup to your page

On the next screen, you should see your structured data markup on the right side. The tool automatically produces the script as JSON-LD markup, but you can change it to Microdata by clicking the JSON-LD drop-down menu in the top menu.

structured-data-google-markup-tool-3

Click Download to download the script as an HTML file. To read more about adding structured data to your article (or any other data type), click Articles in the right corner above the markup.

To “publish” your markup, copy and paste the new HTML markup into your CMS or source code of your web page. Lastly, click Finish in the top right corner to check out Google’s recommended Next Steps … one of which will bring you to this next one.

6. Test your markup with Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool

Open up Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. You can enter any URL of a web page you’d like to test, or you can enter HTML code. (In the example below, I’m analyzing the code previously produced by Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper Tool.) Click Run Test to begin.

structured-data-google-markup-testing-tool

7. Diagnose and fix any detected issues

The tool will show you your HTML markup on the left side and the markup analysis on the right. Note any red errors or warnings. Click on any data row to highlight the corresponding markup on the left.

If necessary, you can edit any errors in the HTML directly in the tool panel before “publishing” your tested HTML markup.

8. Be patient

This last step is simple but arguably the hardest — to sit back and wait. Google can take weeks to re-crawl new HTML, and even then, your content isn’t guaranteed to show up in rich snippets or other SERP features.

As long as you follow the correct structured data standards and markup, give Google all the information it needs to know, and be patient, your website and business can benefit greatly from structured data and enhanced SEO.

Conclusion

Google and other search engines continuously improve how they aggregate and present information. They offer enhanced, intelligent search experiences with the customer in mind. It’s up to you as a business to keep up, and you can do so through structured data

Structured data benefits businesses — through increased visibility — and consumers — through better usability. Use this guide, tools, and resources to optimize and organize your website and make your customers' lives easier. 

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16 Ridiculously Simple Ways To Get More Email Subscribers in Less than 5 Minutes

Businesses, bloggers, and entrepreneurs live and die by their email marketing.

“The money,” as it’s often said, “is in the list.”

That’s why there are so many great articles out there offering strategies for getting more leads and boosting conversion rates.

But what if you’re short on time? What if you’re not technologically savvy?

Since most list-building strategies are geared towards advanced users with seemingly infinite amounts of time on their hands, your Average Pat is often left out in the cold.

Not this time.

This article is for those sleep-deprived bloggers with day jobs. It’s for the parents juggling twenty things at once. It’s for the hopeful entrepreneur who is not quite ready for A/B testing, search engine optimization, and other gobbledygook.

It’s for anyone who needs easy list-building strategies that can be implemented in less than 5 minutes.

Ready? Let’s get started…

1. Add an Exit-Intent® Popup

Hey, did you know that over 70% of the people who leave your website will never return?

Did you know you can convert many of these abandoning users into email subscribers with one simple trick?

It’s called Exit-Intent® Technology. It detects user behavior and prompts them with an optin form when they’re about to leave.

Here’s How You Do It

You can create an Exit-Intent® popup in a matter of minutes.

Just follow our guide to create your first campaign. Then go to Display Rules » If… and choose “exit detected.” After that, choose the level of sensitivity you want.

Or, follow this easy video tutorial:

Don’t have OptinMonster yet? Click here to get started!

2. Add an Optin at End of Articles

Readers who reach the end of your article are primed.

Your headline grabbed their attention. Your introduction drew them in like moths to a flame. Your bullet points and anecdotes kept them on the edge of their seats.

Of the millions of articles they could have read, they read yours. And they read until the very end.

They like you. They really, really like you.

That’s why the end of your article is the perfect time to ask them to join your mailing list.

Here’s How You Do It

Adding a call to action in your author bio and the end of each article is a great way to strike while the iron is hot. Here’s how Jeff Goins does it:

But what if your blog’s theme lacks an author bio section? What if your website has numerous authors?

Then you can use OptinMonster to create an after-content widget with some enticing copy to compel your most-engaged readers to subscribe. All you need is an inline campaign and a compelling Call to Action (CTA). Lilach Bulloch uses inline forms to help her convert 57% of website visitors.

Case Study: See How Lilach Bullock Converted 57% of Visitors with Strategic Messaging Repetition!

Readers who make it to the end of your articles are focused. They’re engaged and looking for direction.

Direct them to your email list.

And while you’re doing that …

3. Turn Popular Posts into Lead Magnets

It has many names.

Lead magnets, giveaways, ethical bribes…

Whatever you call it, it’s mighty effective at compelling readers to subscribe to your email list:

“Want this neat bonus? It’s free! I just need your email address…”

But here’s the thing:

Creating lead magnets can be tricky.

What if you don’t have time to write an ebook or create a PDF checklist? What if producing an email or video series is more than you can do right now? What if creating dazzling infographics is beyond your current skill set?

If this describes you, it doesn’t mean you’re resigned to a fate of sitting on the sidelines while everyone else gains more email subscribers.

Not if you have 30 seconds to spare.

That’s all the time it takes to convert one of your popular articles into a handy, easy-to-print, PDF file.

Go to Print Friendly and enter the URL of the article you’d like to convert. Click the “PDF” button. Click “Download.”

Then all you have to do is offer it and deliver it to visitors. And that’s a simple process with OptinMonster.

Here’s How You Do It

All you need to do to deliver your lead magnet is to use one of OptinMonster’s Success Themes.

Go to the Success View in the OptinMonster campaign builder.

Choose the button on your optin and click Editing Button Element » Action. You’re going to edit the Action to redirect to a URL by entering the download URL for your lead magnet.

Here are some more ways to deliver your lead magnet when people sign up.

Pretty easy, right? Almost as easy as…

4. Using Content Locking

You know what’s a really quick way to get more subscribers without having to create new content?

Content locking.

It’s where you block off part of the content visitors are reading until they subscribe. And it’s easy to do with OptinMonster. In fact, Trading Strategy Guides added 11,000 new subscribers by using it.

Case Study: See How Trading Strategy Guides Added 11,000 Subscribers With A Content Locking Script!

Here’s How You Do It

First, you’ll want to identify which of your blog posts have the highest traffic. If you’re using WordPress, you can easily see your most popular posts in your dashboard by using MonsterInsights.

Or, you can use Google Analytics. Just click on Behavior » Site Content » Landing Pages. By default, it will show you data for the past 7 days. You can use the date range selector in the top right corner to get a longer view.

Create an after-post or inline campaign as described earlier, then go to Optin » Inline Settings in the OptinMonster campaign builder. Click the “Lock Content Below Campaign?” toggle to activate it, then choose how you want content to be blocked. You can either blur it with Obfuscation or remove it completely

That’s it! Once visitors subscribe, they’ll magically get access to the content, and you’ll have new subscribers.

You can check out our guide to gated content marketing for more details on this strategy.

You could also…

5. Use a 2-Step Optin

Want to know a neat psychological trick that’s proven to increase email signups? It’s the Zeigarnik effect.

This bit of human psychology just means we’re primed to finish an action we start. And it’s why OptinMonster’s 2-step optins are so successful.

Here’s How You Do It

Choose a popup campaign, go to Display Rules » visitor clicked MonsterLink™ to enable MonsterLink™. Then click the “Copy MonsterLink™” button to copy the code. You can add it to any page on your site.

When visitors click the link, your email subscription campaign will appear.

Here’s an example of a 2-step optin used by the US Student Loan Center. This is what visitors see when they click the link.

For more detailed step-by-step instructions, see our guide on how to use MonsterLinks to load your popup with the click of a button.

6. Try a Different Button Color

What color is your optin button?

If you answered “I don’t know” or “what does it matter?” you’re potentially missing out on an easy way to increase optins.

Did you know 85% of shoppers say color is a primary reason for why they buy a certain product?

Did you know the color blue creates a sensation of trust? Red a sense of urgency? Green a sense of relaxation?

By knowing how people perceive different colors and using this knowledge to your advantage, you can increase the likelihood someone will want to join your email list.

Here’s How You Do It

If you’re using OptinMonster, it’s pretty easy to change the button colors in any campaign. Just click on the button, and you’ll see the editing options on the left. Click on the color button to popup the color picker and choose your new color.

So what color should you use?

Research into color and conversions says it depends on the context.

All the psychology in the world won’t matter if your CTA color blends into the background, so be sure to choose a color that stands out from the rest of your blog or website.

And while we’re on the subject of buttons…

7. Split Test Button Copy

Do you use generic copy such as “Subscribe” or “Sign Up” for your optin buttons? If so, I have bad news for you:

It’s actually your CTA button’s copy – not its color or positioning – that matters most.

If you’ve never given your button’s copy a passing thought, it’s time to remedy the situation.

Provide value and relevance, but be sure not to exaggerate.

Keep it simple, but don’t be boring. It’s okay to use two sentences so long as they are short.

One particularly effective strategy is to personalize your optin button.

Joanna Wiebe of Copy Hackers suggests writing button copy in the first person. By personalizing the words, they become more appealing to the reader.

Let’s look at a few examples.

Which sounds better?

Which wording can you relate to?

Which button would you rather click?

The differences are subtle, but during her testing, Joanne found first-person pronouns (“I” and “my”) beat the competition by a whopping 24%.

Sometimes, “subtle” can be huge.

To get the same data on your button, you’ll need to split test. This is easy with OptinMonster.

Here’s How You Do It

Login to OptinMonster, and click on the three-dot menu to the right of the campaign you want to split test.

Select A/B Split Test,” then “Create Split Test.” Name your split test and you’ll get a duplicate of your campaign.

Then change one element of your campaign, like the button wording. Save and publish the campaign, and OptinMonster will automatically divide your traffic and collect data so you know which one works best.

8. Prominently Display Testimonials

Did you know OptinMonster is recommended by the likes of Michael Stelzner, Ian Cleary, and Yoast?

Of course you did.

OptinMonster prominently displays these heavy hitters on our homepage and Testimonials page. There’s no way you could miss them.

Why do we do this? Because it shows we’re the real deal.

People won’t give their hard-earned money or email address to simply anyone. They want to know you’re on the up and up.

Offering testimonials helps build trust, and more trust means more email subscribers.

Here’s How You Do It

Go find a great endorsement you’ve received.

Look at the reviews people have given you. Browse through your comments and emails. Search for mentions on social media.

Be A Better Blogger found its featured testimonial when the great Amy Harrison tweeted the following:

This tweet was turned into a testimonial that’s displayed whenever a reader clicks on one of Be A Better Blogger’s MonsterLinks™:

That optin form? It’s currently sporting an awesome 26.09% conversion rate.

I’m no mathematician, but it would appear Testimonial + OptinMonster = More Email Subscribers.

Of course, all the awesome testimonials in the world won’t help you if readers can’t see them, so…

9. Remove Distractions

How many widgets do you have in your website’s sidebar?

How many different calls to action are at the end of your articles?

How many choices are your visitors given?

If you’re inundating your readers with options, how can they be expected to take the one action you want them to take?

Want more email subscribers? You need to cut down on the clutter.

Here’s How You Do It

The following screenshot from Henneke Duistermaat is a perfect example of a landing page that focuses on what’s important: getting that email address.

Per Henneke, this landing page has converted as high as 59.6 percent.

It’s easy to see why. Every aspect – from the headline to the testimonial – is designed to increase conversions. There are no social media icons, advertisements, or anything else to distract readers from the task at hand.

What lessons can we learn from Henneke’s landing page?

We should remove distractions. We shouldn’t prioritize our social media icons. We should move the “search” option (which few people ever use) to the footer. We should stick to one CTA for each article.

We should get rid of anything that doesn’t help us earn more email subscribers.

Here are some more tips on creating high-converting landing pages.

And while we’re removing unnecessary items…

10. Stop Asking for Too Much Information

On your optin forms, do you ask for “name” in addition to “email address”?

If so, let me ask you a question…

Do you need it? Do you do anything with that information?

If the answer is “no”, you need to stop asking people to provide it. A/B test after A/B test confirms the more information you ask from readers, the less likely they are to optin.

Keep it short and sweet.

Stick to the bare essentials. Only ask for the information you need.

Here’s How You Do It

Don’t need names? Don’t ask for them. Have no use for phone numbers? Don’t ask people to input them.

Just keep it simple.

The less data you request, the more email subscribers you’ll earn.

Customizing your optin form fields is easy to do with OptinMonster and it works on any campaign. Simply choose the fields you want on your form. It’s all drag and drop.

11. Share Your Campaign Everywhere

You know what the trouble is with some email campaigns?

There are limits to where you can share them.

It stands to reason that the more places you can display campaigns, the more chances you have to get more subscribers.

Luckily, this couldn’t be simpler with OptinMonster.

Here’s How You Do It

Once you’ve created a campaign you’re happy with, go to the publishing options. One of those is a Shareable MonsterLink™.

Grab the link, and add it anywhere you want to show the campaign – social media, author bios, email signature and more.

See how simple that was?

And speaking of places to add a link…

12. Link to a Campaign in Your Twitter Bio

Right now, what information is in your Twitter bio?

Your occupation? A personal quote that holds special meaning to you? Perhaps a hashtag or two or ten?

Why don’t you use that precious real estate to promote your email list?

That’s how Brent Jones used his Twitter bio:

Simple, effective, and takes minutes to implement.

Here are some more ways to get leads from Twitter.

Here’s How You Do It

While logged into your Twitter account, click the “Edit profile” button on the right-hand side of your profile page. You’ll then be able to change your name, profile and header photos, bio, and more:

Once you’ve added a link to your bio, click “Save changes” and admire your handiwork.

But there’s still somewhere else you can add that link…

13. Add an Optin Link to Your Email Signature

In a given day, how many emails do you send? Ten? Twenty? More?

If you’re like most people, the answer is: “A lot. I send lots and lots of emails.”

What if I told you each of those emails you send is an opportunity – either an opportunity lost or an opportunity gained?

By placing a hyperlinked CTA in your email signature, you have the ability to turn every recipient into a subscriber.

Here’s How You Do It

Each email provider is slightly different, but for Gmail go to Settings » General. Scroll down and you’ll find the Signature section:

The link in your signature could point to a landing page, your homepage (assuming it’s optimized), or an article with a particularly-appealing optin bribe.

14. Be More Social

Chances are you already spend several hours each week on various social media platforms.

That’s good – in a recent Social Media Marketing Industry Report, Social Media Examiner noted how a majority of marketers increase leads when they use social media for 6+ hours each week.

Ah, but there’s a catch.

How you’re using those 6+ hours each week matters.

Sharing videos of kittens and puppies won’t help you unless your business is related to kittens and puppies. Publishing photos of food won’t help you unless you’re a chef or restaurant owner. Live tweeting a Kardashian TV show won’t help you unless… well, it’ll probably never help you.

To see the lead-generating benefits of social media, you need to be purposeful with those 6+ hours.

Here’s How You Do It

Be helpful. Answer questions. Share worthwhile content. Reach out to people. Make connections.

If people find you indispensable on social media, they’re going to want more of you.

More helpful advice. More answers to their questions. More worthwhile content.

And where will they go to get “more”?

Your email list.

15. Add a “Subscribe” Check Box

If you’re a WordPress user, there are two plugins that can boost optins with little-to-no upkeep. Just ensure the plugins stay up to date and you’re good to go.

But don’t worry, you’ll be notified when there are updates available in your WordPress dashboard!

The first plugin is WPForms, which you can use to add a subscribe checkbox to any form on your site. This works with the most popular email service providers including MailChimp, Constant Contact, and AWeber.

With one simple click, readers can optin to your mailing list while submitting your contact form, or any other form. It makes subscribing very easy, and readers tend to like easy.

You can check out these step-by-step tutorials on how to add a MailChimp signup checkbox to your contact form or see the tutorials for AWeber and Constant Contact instead.

Ready for the second plugin?

16. Add a “Thanks for Commenting” Redirect

The second plugin we mentioned is Yoast Comment Hacks.

When someone leaves you a comment for the very first time, this plugin redirects them to a “thank you” page. Ramsay Taplin of Blog Tyrant uses this page to encourage subscriptions:

Check out these step-by-step instructions on how to set up an after-comment redirect on your WordPress site.

If you ask readers to subscribe when they are engaged (and it’s hard to get more engaged than “leaving a comment for the first time ever”), the odds of them taking you up on your offer are pretty good.

It’s Time To Increase Subscribers

You realize they’re yours for the taking, right?

Your ideal customer? Those readers who will hang on your every word? The people who will advocate for you and preach your virtues to their friends?

They’re all out there… ready to join your email list.

You just need to make it as easy for them to do so as possible.

OptinMonster can help, so if you’re not already a customer be sure to check out our list of features. For those who are short on time and tech savvy, we’re a breath of fresh, lead-generating air.

Next, check out our ultimate guides to email marketing, growth hacking, and SEO for even more success with marketing.

And be sure to follow us on YouTubeTwitter, and Facebook for more guides, tips, and tutorials.

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Application Web Hosting 101

The post Application Web Hosting 101 appeared first on HostGator Blog.

You’re still working out the details for your website and you’re facing two related decisions: what application will you use to build your website, and what type of web hosting will you choose?

While it’s possible to build your website without using one of the popular applications available, using an application such as a content management system (CMS) is an extremely popular choice for good reason. They make website creation and maintenance easier and can help you implement more of the elements and features you want on your website.

What Is Application Web Hosting?

To understand application web hosting, you should start by understanding what web hosting is.

Web Hosting

Every website you encounter online is made up of a number of different files and elements arranged in just such a way to create your website experience. While we tend to think of the things we encounter online as existing somewhere outside of physical space (we even call it “cyberspace”), all of the different parts that go into making up each website do take up space.

And it all has to be stored in a physical web server that’s powerful enough to hold the many files that make up the website, and to deliver them all up to every visitor that comes to the site. That requires a lot of space and bandwidth on a platform, which makes web hosting something that few website owners can handle on their own.

Instead, the vast majority of websites are hosted by companies that provide web hosting on a subscription model. These companies maintain the buildings required to house thousands of physical web servers. They do regular maintenance on the servers, provide the climate controlled environment required to keep them in good working condition, and put protections into place to keep them from being hurt by bad weather or accessed by malicious hackers.

In exchange for paying a set amount of money each month or year, you can rent out a space on one of these servers (or a whole server with dedicated server hosting, if you need it). It’s a necessary service all websites need in order to be accessible online.

Application Hosting Packages

The short version: application hosting is the term used to describe web hosting plans that specialize in providing hosting services for websites built on a particular application.

Many websites are now built and maintained using popular applications. This includes popular CMSs such as WordPress or applications specifically designed for building forums like phpBB.

While many types of web hosting services will work fine for websites built with a particular application, application web hosting plans provide specific features and benefits related to the application you built your website with. They can make it easier to install the application software when you’re getting started, and provide special compatibility that ensures your web hosting account and application software play nice together.

How Does Application Hosting Compare to Other Web Hosting?

The main difference is that you never have to worry about compatibility issues between your application and your web hosting service. Application web hosting plans often include easy one-click installation of your application, so you can get the two services working together on a single platform without any real effort or difficulty.

In addition, an application hosting plan may include features that allow you to more easily access or use the application’s features within your web hosting account, to make the experience of working on your website more seamless and efficient.

In short, while other web hosting services may work just fine for your website, finding an application web hosting plan that supports the application you use can make your life a little easier.

What to Look for In an Application Web Hosting Plan

If you’ve decided to seek out an application web hosting plan for your new website, there are a few main features you should look out for:

Compatibility with your preferred application

This is the whole point of getting an application-specific web hosting plan to begin with. Make sure the application hosting option you consider works specifically with the CMS, forum, or wiki application you’ll be using for your website. Application hosting isn’t one-size-fits-all, so find the option that will fit your particular needs.

Easy setup

A web hosting plan that offers one-click set up for the application you use will vastly simplify the set-up process. But also consider how intuitive the web hosting company’s account management and cPanel tools are. And look into what kind of resources they offer to help you get started using the web hosting service.

Your web hosting account will be where you complete important tasks like domain name management, setting up redirects, and managing your web hosting billing. You want to make sure it’s all easy to learn and use.  

99% uptime

One of the main jobs a web hosting company has is keeping your website up and available on the web. Realistically, web hosting servers do occasionally have to go offline for maintenance. And sometimes they go offline for other reasons, such as issues caused by improper maintenance, repair needs, hacker attacks, weather-related disruptions (the server warehouse floods, for example), or hardware glitches.

One of the main differentiating factors between different web hosting providers is how much of the time their service is affected by these kinds of issues. If you choose an unreliable application hosting provider, your website could end up offline frequently while they deal with various issues. Ideally, you want to find an application hosting provider that promises at least 99% uptime and backs that up with a guarantee. Some of the most reputable web host providers go even further, such as HostGator’s 99.9% uptime guarantee.

If you want people to be able to access your website every time they visit, make uptime a priority in your decision.

24/7 customer service

Working with websites, no matter the application you use, will present challenges and issues on occasion. When that happens, you want to be able to identify the issue and fix it fast. If your application hosting company doesn’t offer customer service at all hours, you could be stuck waiting for hours to fix a serious issue with your website, delivering your visitors a disappointing experience all the while.

Look for an application web hosting company that promises 24/7 customer support. And check that they provide your preferred option for communication when issues arise, whether that’s live chat, email, or phone.

Security features

Website hacks and data breaches are nearly everyday news lately. And the most popular website application are often targets of hacks because of their popularity. Website owners should always be on the offensive when it comes to security. While there are a number of steps you can take to keep your website secure, one of the first and most important is choosing a respected web hosting provider.

A web hosting company that invests in the infrastructure to keep their web servers protected and sets up firewalls to keep hackers out is the first line of defense you have. Many application hosting packages will also offer additional features or add-ons such as an SSL certificate or security software that makes your website’s protection even stronger.

Security should be a priority for every website owner today. If your website will be collecting any personal visitor information, such as names and emails, it’s even more important. And if you’ll be running an eCommerce store that collects customer financial information, it’s indispensable.  Do your due diligence when choosing your application hosting plan to make sure security is well covered.

The 6 Main Types of Application Hosting

As we mentioned previously, you don’t want a general application hosting plan. You want hosting that’s specific to the type of application you’ll be using. These are the six most common types of application web hosting to consider.

1. WordPress Hosting

WordPress is the most popular CMS in the world, with over half of the market share. That makes WordPress hosting the most common type of application hosting website owners are likely to consider.

Websites powered by WordPress are easy to build, update, and maintain, even for people that don’t know to code. You can make changes to the website through the WordPress interface rather than having to update the page code directly. And with a library of over 50,000 WordPress plugins and thousands of themes, you can easily add a lot of features and functionality to a WordPress site.

There are many reasons to choose WordPress hosting for your website and it is a smart choice that makes maintaining your website that much easier.

2. Joomla Hosting

Joomla is another popular CMS option that falls behind WordPress in the number of users, but still dominates a certain segment of the market. Joomla is a bit harder to use than WordPress, but it’s a little more powerful and customizable, which makes it a popular choice for website owners and designers who want a step up in functionality.

Joomla also has a comprehensive library of themes, extensions, and educational resources to learn how best to use the website. For anyone that chooses Joomla as the best option to build a website with, Joomla hosting is an obvious choice.

3. Drupal Hosting

Drupal is the third most popular CMS is in the world. While it lags behind WordPress and Joomla in number of users, it has a reputation for being more sophisticated and powerful than the other two. The tradeoff is that it’s harder for any beginners or amateurs to use, meaning it’s mostly used for websites that have professional developers behind them.

If that describes your website and you choose to go with Drupal, you can keep the web hosting part of running your website simpler by choosing a Drupal hosting plan.

4. Magento Hosting

Anyone building an eCommerce website will need an eCommerce app that enables shopping cart and checkout functionality on the website. The most popular option for that is Magento, an open source shopping cart option that’s currently used by over 240,000 websites.

Magento’s eCommerce features are both customizable and easy for even beginners to set up and work with. Magento is the obvious choice for anyone building an eCommerce website, and by choosing compatible Magento hosting you can ensure that your web hosting service works well with your eCommerce software.

5. Wiki Hosting

While slightly less popular than some of the other most common types of websites, Wikis are an important part of the web. They deliver valuable information on a variety of topics in a way that’s easy to browse, search, and contribute to. The most popular Wiki apps, such as MediaWiki, TikiWiki, PmWiki, and WikkaWiki all help users create functioning Wiki websites.

If you’re specifically building a Wiki, then you’ll want to use one of the Wiki apps to get your website up and running. And for that, investing in Wiki hosting is a solid choice.

6. phpBB Hosting

User forums are another important part of the web, enabling users from all over the world with common interests to find and communicate with each other. For websites that are either forum-based or plan to include a forum, phpBB is the primary application available for building online communities.

phpBB is an open-source bulletin board software that makes it easy to build a space for users to communicate with each other online. If you choose to build an online community with phpBB, consider phpBB hosting to provide easy accessibility to your users.  

Choose the Right Application Hosting Provider

You have a number of choices when it comes to finding the right web hosting plan for your website. If you’re using one of the applications described here, you’ll benefit from finding a provider that specializes in the application you use.

HostGator is one of the most respected application hosting providers in the industry. We offer hosting plans for all the most popular applications, and have a variety of plan options at different price points that are compatible with each. We provide a 99.9% uptime money-back guarantee, and 24/7 customer support. We can offer both compatibility and reliability for your website. Sign up today.

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7 Key Metrics Every Business Should Track

If you follow professional sports, you know that you can’t just boil a player’s value or ability to perform down to a single statistic. One metric can’t reveal that much about them -- analytics is more complicated than that. It’s only when you examine numerous statistics or metrics together that you can get a full picture of a player’s ability to perform and truly gauge their value.

In business, the same principle applies. You can’t just use one metric to measure a business’ financial performance. To truly gauge its value, you need to track numerous metrics together to get a full picture understanding of the business’ ability to perform.

In this blog post, we’ll cover the seven key metrics every business should track, allowing you to gauge your business’ performance from a more holistic point of view and measure your growth in a multitude of ways.

7 Key Metrics Every Business Should Track

1. Revenue Growth

Revenue is the amount of product your business sells in dollars minus the cost of returned or undeliverable items. It’s the key metric every business uses to measure their financial performance. Obviously, earning the highest amount of revenue possible is ideal, but the metric that’s more indicative of your business’ financial performance is year-over-year revenue growth.

You must remember that your business’ situation is completely different than your competitors’, even though you contend for the same customers, so it’s better to compete against yourself and compare your current revenue and revenue growth to your past financial performance than it is to compare it to your competitors’.

Otherwise, you could set a revenue or revenue growth goal that’s not attainable within your particular context, causing you to miss your goals, pressure your employees to cut corners in order to hit their numbers, and, ultimately, burn everyone out.

2. Average Fixed Costs

Fixed costs are your business’ costs that stay constant regardless if your business sells more or less of its product. For example, your rent on office space, website hosting costs, utility bills, manufacturing equipment, small business loans, property tax, and health insurance are all fixed costs because regardless of how much product you develop, ship out, and sell, these costs stay the same each month.

To determine how much your business will have to pay for each unit of your product before you account for the variable costs needed to actually produce them, you need to calculate your average fixed cost, which is your total fixed cost divided by your total number of units produced. This will help gauge the level of impact your fixed costs have on your product’s potential for profitability and how much you should spend on variable costs in order to turn a profit.

3. Average Variable Costs

Variable costs are the cost of all the labor and materials used to produce a unit of your product. Your variable costs directly depend on the amount of product you sell, so the more units you sell, the higher your variable costs, and the less units you sell, the lower your variable costs.

Some examples of variable costs are physical materials, production equipment, sales commissions, staff wages, credit card fees, online payment partners, and packaging and shipping costs.

To determine the amount of variable costs your business will have to pay to produce each unit of your product, you need to calculate your average variable cost. To do this, add each of your product’s unique total variable costs together and divide them by the total number of units of product made.

4. Contribution Margin Ratio

Contribution margin is calculated by subtracting the variable costs required to produce one unit of product from the revenue it generated. Since your variable costs are directly linked to producing your product and fixed costs are directly linked to keeping your business in operation and not producing your product, contribution margin helps you understand how profitable each of your products are. But to truly understand how they individually impact your bottom line, it’s better to calculate each of your product’s contribution margin ratios.

To do this, subtract each product’s total variable costs from their total sales revenue and divide that number by their total sales revenue. Your contribution margin ratio will be expressed in a percentage.

Once you know each of your product’s contribution margin ratios and, in turn, their profit potential, you’ll understand which products will generate more profit if you produce more units of them, and which products will generate less profit if you produce more units of them. These insights will help you develop a product mix capable of generating the highest level of profit for your business.

5. Break Even Point

Your business’ break even point is the quantity of product you must sell so that your total revenue equals your total costs. Knowing your break even point is crucial because it serves as the minimum goal your business should try to achieve in order to not lose money during a specific time period. Even better, if you surpass your break even point, your business will turn a profit during that time period.

To calculate your break even point, add up all your fixed costs and divide them by your contribution margin or the difference of your total sales revenue and total variable costs.

For example, if you sell baseball bats and your fixed costs are $500,000 and contribution margin is $50 for the year, you’ll need to sell 10,000 baseball bats to break even. If you sell more, you’ll turn a profit.

6. Cost of Goods Sold

Your business’ cost of goods sold is the cost of acquiring or making the products you sold during a certain time period, like material, manufacturing, and labor costs. In other words, they’re your cost of sales or cost of doing business.

Tracking your cost of goods sold, or COGS, is important because they directly affect your business’ bottom line. For instance, when your COGS increase, your profits will decrease, and when your COGS decrease, your profits will increase.

To calculate your COGS, you first need to pick an accounting method. Most businesses usually decide between three: First In, First Out (FIFO), Last In, Last Out (LIFO), and the Average Cost Method.

If you use the FIFO method, you’ll sell the oldest products you purchased or manufactured. Prices tend to rise over time, so the FIFO method will allow you to sell your cheapest inventory, which will decrease your COGS and increase your profit.

If you use the LIFO method, you’ll sell the newest products you purchased or manufactured. Prices tend to rise over time, so the LIFO method will allow you to sell your most expensive inventory, which will increase your COGS and decrease your profit, but you’ll also pay less taxes, which could help you offset or even overcome that initial loss in profit.

If you use the Average Cost Method, you’ll calculate the mean cost of your inventory, completely disregarding the recency or latency of their purchase or manufacture date. This method prevents periods of high inflation from influencing the level of your COGS.

7. Gross Profit Margin

Your gross profit is calculated by subtracting your COGS from your total revenue and reveals your business’ production efficiency or ability to optimize your material, manufacturing, and labor costs. However, since gross profit is a pure dollar amount and not a percentage of your revenue, it can grow even when your financial performance declines.

So to truly understand your business’ financial performance, it’s better to measure gross profit margin, which is your gross profit as a percentage of your revenue, instead of measuring gross profit. If your gross profit margin continues to climb over time, it’s a good indication that your business’ financial health is in good shape.

Image Credit: Investopedia

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7 Best Discount Wheel Popup Plugins to Boost Conversions

Ever feel like your popups aren’t getting the attention they deserve?

You’ve spent hours making them beautiful, funny, and captivating. Why are people ignoring them?

Sometimes you just need a little something extra to make your popups, well, POP! The good news is that you can still make engaging popups that capture your reader’s attention. And one way to do that is with a gamified discount wheel.

Discount wheel popups are optin forms that visitors can actively interact with. They click a button, spin a wheel, and win a prize – or not if you choose not to make every wedge a winner.

These popups are great because your visitors can play them as if they’re actual games. And that’s good for making your marketing campaign more memorable than your competitors’.

Sounds amazing, right?

Then let’s jump right in. Read on to see our picks for the top 7 discount wheel popup tools and start gamifying your optins today.

1. OptinMonster

Here at OptinMonster, we wholeheartedly believe in the value of gamified marketing. So much so that it made our list of 28 Best Growth Hacking Tools for Marketers. And if you’ve followed our blog for a while now, you probably also noticed that we believe in simplicity. It’s only natural that we combined those two elements to bring you the most intuitive discount wheel popup tool around.

OptinMonster has not 1, but 3 attention-grabbing discount wheel templates to choose from. All the “nuts and bolts” have been put together for you, meaning you can launch your discount wheel popup in minutes.

We also understand there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to marketing, so we made each template fully customizable.

Everything about your discount wheel can be customized to complement your brand image and marketing strategy. And we mean everything. You can tweak elements like your wheel color and the call-to-action button in seconds. You can even change the picture your wheel to a brand logo or any attention-grabbing image.

Choosing your rewards is just as easy. Simply type them into the “wheel selections” box and switch on the prizes you want to activate. OptinMonster will automatically calculate the probability of each prize every time you turn a wheel section on or off.

See the image below for an example of how easy it is to modify your prizes. Also, notice how we were feeling a little generous and switched off the “Not quite” slice.

As you can see, creating a spin-the-wheel popup for WordPress, Shopify, or any other eCommerce site has never been easier. Plus, you get a variety of sweet tools to growth hack your business.

You’ll need a Growth Plan to take advantage of these super cool discount wheel optins.

OptinMonster Is More Than Just a Coupon Wheel Plugin

Another thing that makes OptinMonster great is its versatility.

More than just a coupon wheel plugin, great OptinMonster features like Page-Level Targeting and Geo-Location Targeting let you choose who receives your popup and when. Managed WordPress hosting company, Flywheel, successfully boosted targeted conversions 4.7% thanks to Page-Level Targeting.

Case Study: How OptinMonster helped Flywheel multiply their leads and conversion rates!

Try our Exit-Intent® feature to engage visitors right before they leave your website. This isn’t exclusive to discount wheels, either. OptinMonster lets you engage visitors through landing pages, popups, light boxes, and more. And you can use our features with all of those. That way, you can change their minds by hitting them with your amazing offer.

OptinMonster works with all eCommerce websites, and you can integrate it into all email marketing tools.

Are you running WordPress or WooCommerce? Then activate our plugin and let OptinMonster take care of the rest. Using Shopify or any other type of website? No problem. Launching your campaign is as simple as pasting a few lines of code.

Don’t just take our word on how effective OptinMonster is at converting visitors. You can get a comprehensive breakdown of what you can achieve with OptinMonster’s coupon wheel by reading this guide on coupon wheel optins.

2. Wheelio

Wheelio markets itself as the first gamified popup to include smart tracking tools like on-exit overlays and time triggers. Like OptinMonster, Wheelio comes with a stellar template for designing attention-grabbing discount wheels in a few short minutes.

Great for gamifying optins, Wheelio offers a simple platform that’s quick to learn. That’s partly because Wheelio’s services are pretty straightforward. It creates coupon wheels and that’s pretty much it. We don’t recommend Wheelio to business owners trying to revamp their marketing strategy. But if you’re just looking for coupon wheels, Wheelio does everything you need it to.

With that said, here’s something to consider before purchasing a Wheelio subscription. Its baseline plan costs $14.92 a month and only comes with a wheel template and basic integration tools. If you need comprehensive analytics, segmentation, and custom fields, you’ll need Wheelio Pro. That costs $59.92.

At that price, you may want to decide whether you should spend a little more and get a comprehensive lead-generation solution.

Another thing to keep in mind is that Wheelio only works with Shopify at the moment. So, if you need a coupon wheel for WooCommerce and WordPress, you must find a Wheelio alternative for now.

3. Spin-a-Sale

Spin-a-Sale is a powerful tool that lets you design discount wheel popups for your website. Like Wheelio, Spin-a-Sale currently only works with eCommerce sites running Shopify. Sorry WooCommerce users, there isn’t a Spin-a-Sale WordPress plugin available at the moment. We hope that changes in the future.

Still, if you’re on Shopify and you’re looking for a powerful coupon wheel plugin, Spin-a-Sale is second to none. Its prices start at $9.99 a month for basic services and $24.99 for a premium subscription. This makes Spin-a-Sale one of the more affordable wheel of popups tools on the market.

Basic features include:

  • MailChimp, AWeber, and Klaviyo integration.
  • Advanced engagement tools like triggers, delay timers, and on-exit overlays for desktop and mobile.
  • Customizable wheel slices.
  • Adjustable win and loss probabilities.

Premium users get page-level targeting, protection against duplicate emails, and auto-generated coupon codes.

And all subscribers get access to a beautiful range of ready-made templates. So, finding the perfect theme for your Shopify site is a piece of cake.

4. WP Optin Wheel

Looking for a way to create gamified popups, but:

  • You don’t need a comprehensive digital marketing solution like OptinMonster?
  • You aren’t running your business through Shopify?

If so, then WP Optin Wheel has everything you need to create a WordPress and WooCommerce spinning wheel in minutes. You can also integrate it into most of popular email marketing platforms out there, including:

  • MailChimp
  • Klaviyo
  • GetResponse

Like the other platforms covered, WP Optin Wheel offers several ready-made wheel templates. Its easy-to-use setup wizard makes changing prizes and probability a breeze. Plus, you can integrate into Zapier and use it as part of your lead generation strategy.

But what about pricing?

There’s a free version of WP Optin Wheel as well as a premium subscription. The free version gives you access to the general template so that you can create gamified popups. But you’ll need to go premium if you want to:

  • Fully customize your wheel.
  • Gain access to fun and quirky seasonal templates.
  • Enjoy the full spectrum of marketing tools that come with the plugin, like on-exit overlays, integrated statistics, and comprehensive coupon settings.

Premium subscriptions cost a yearly fee of $39 for 1 site, $99 for 3, and $199 for unlimited sites.

5. OptinSpin

OptinSpin is another gamified coupon wheel plugin for WordPress and WooCommerce platforms. What’s cool about OptinSpin is that you can have coupon codes emailed to visitors that engage with your wheel. Visitors can use the code for immediate purchases, or they can save it for a later time. This gives customers time to think about their purchase without losing the sweet discount they won.

But wait, isn’t urgency a good thing?

Yes! We’ve covered the benefits of urgency extensively. But urgency can also backfire, as it usually does when you’re not using scarcity alongside it. For this reason, giving visitors the option to save their coupons is a great idea.

Other great OptinSpin features include:

  • Email templates for both winners and losers – if you have losers.
  • A customizable spinning wheel. You get unlimited wheel slices, customizable forms, choose probability, etc.
  • Displaying wheel as a popup or as an element inside your webpage.

OptinSpin is also one of the cheaper plugins, only costing $29 for 6 months and $38 for the full year.

6. Popup Maker

Just like the name suggests, Popup Maker lets you create engaging optins for your eCommerce site. It supports major platforms, like WordPress, WiX, Magento, and Shopify, as well as a number of other websites.

Popup Maker lets you choose from 10 popup templates, including a coupon wheel.

Each template helps you achieve a specific outcome in the easiest way possible.

Popup Maker’s Silver Plan costs $4.95 a month and gives you all the basic tools needed for creating engaging popups. The downside is that you’re limited to only 100,000 monthly pageviews on this plan.

If you’re looking for something a little more powerful, there’s the Gold Plan. It costs $11.95 a month and comes with a lot of cool marketing tools. Key features include advanced analytics, on-exit overlays, and age restriction popups. This plan works for 500,000 pageviews.

Finally, there’s the Platinum Plan. It’s going to cost you $18.95 a month. With that comes smart marketing tools like geotargeting, scheduled popups, and time triggers. This subscription gives you 1 million pageviews.

7. Wheel of Popups

Wheel of Popups is a one-size-fits-all popup tool that works for all eCommerce websites. Whether you’re running Shopify, WooCommerce, Magento, or building your own site from the ground up, you can use Wheel of Popups to generate leads and convert visitors.

Wheel of Popups comes with a standard discount wheel popup template, which you can customize to look and operate the way you want it. Everything from its visual design to the prizes you want on the wheel can be changed in seconds.

It also features an assortment of marketing tools, like time triggers and movement tracking. And you can even choose to have your popups viewed on specific devices. Say you wanted to reach out to mobile users. Wheel of Popups lets you restrict popups to mobile traffic, ignoring desktop users completely.

Signing up to Wheel of Popups is free and you get a 10-day trial to see if you like it. If you choose to purchase a subscription, you have 4 packages to choose from:

  • Personal: $19 a month for 1 website.
  • Developer: $49 a month for 5 websites.
  • Agency: $149 a month for 20 websites.
  • Reseller: $249 a month for 50 websites.

All subscriptions are 20% off if you pay for the year upfront.

Putting a Spin on Your Marketing Campaign

Now that we’ve covered each product, you’re probably wondering which one to buy.

Well, every company is different. We recommend looking at your own goals and business objectives beforehand. You can start by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Do I only want to gamify popups or do I need a comprehensive set of marketing tools?
  • Roughly how many pageviews will my discount wheel popup receive in a month?
  • Am I using the popup on one website or many sites?
  • Will I use advanced tools like geotargeting?

Answering these questions will help you determine whether any discount wheel popup plugin will do, or if you need something that’s scalable and targets specific segments of your market.

If you’re looking for a marketing tool that’s more than just a WordPress spinning wheel plugin, check out OptinMonster today. Its tools make it possible to create laser-targeted engagement campaigns that boost conversions and beef up mailing lists. That way, you can spend more time on what matters: building an awesome eCommerce brand.

The post 7 Best Discount Wheel Popup Plugins to Boost Conversions appeared first on OptinMonster.

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Why Your Website Redesign Will Fail to Lift Sales Much (And What To Do Instead)

Planning on a website redesign soon? Hoping it will finally get the sales or leads you’ve been hoping for?

I’ve got some disappointing news for you. Unfortunately, most website redesigns don’t work as well as planned and have barely any impact on sales or leads, and some even have negative effects.

In fact, a recent HubSpot.com study found 68% of marketers did a site redesign in the last 12 months – but 1/3 were unhappy with the results.

And you really don’t want to waste an average of $55,000 dollars on a failed website redesign do you? (as the same study also determined the average redesign cost to be).

So how can you ensure much better results from your next website redesign?

I have created this article to show you the most common reasons why website redesigns fail, and what to do instead to ensure greatest success for improving sales or leads. So let’s get started!

Why your new site redesign will fail to lift sales or leads much

Regardless of the potential lost traffic impact from effect on search engine optimization (which can often be a nightmare when redesigning a website), the are many other reasons why your proposed redesign will fail to increase sales or leads very much.

1: The major reason is that too much is changed at once. Some of your redesign changes will be positive, but unfortunately some will be negative. So the impact of the better changes will be outweighed by your poor changes. And without A/B testing, you won’t know easily the exact things that caused a positive or negative impact on sales or leads generated. For example, your  new signup flow might be much better, but your new homepage headline or call-to-action button might not be converting as well as before.

2: Too little feedback gathered from visitors. This is one of the major reasons for redesign failure. Your most influential and important audience are your visitors, and if you haven’t got considerable feedback from them on your existing website and proposed design mockups, this will alienate and frustrate many of them when you launch. This is what happened with a recent poor redesign of MarksAndSpencer.com – while the website looked fantastic, it was too modern and many visitors didn’t understand how to use it properly, causing an 8% drop in online sales.

Ideally you need to spend several weeks getting in-depth feedback from your visitors and usability sessions (UserTesting.com is excellent for this), and then involve them at every stage of the redesign process. A key part of this determining the most important visitor tasks and making sure your proposed redesign can easily solve those main visitor needs.

3: Poor use of web analytics to gain insights, reliant on best guess. Many redesigns aren’t powered by insights from web analytics, and instead are often reliant on hoping that ideas will be successful based on best guesses or demands from HiPPOs (highest paid person’s opinion). Without web analytics insights, marketers are essentially blinded by not knowing what pages or elements are performing badly, or their current website performance.

To prevent this, ensure you do a complete analysis of your current website performance, including overall website conversion rate (amount of sales or leads divided by visitors, times by 100), shopping cart (or sign-up flow) abandonment rate, and then bounce rates and conversion rates for your key pages. This benchmark is essential for determining the success of any content you are launching or redesigning, and for future post-redesign launch improvements.

4: Website designers aren’t experts in conversion.  Website and UX designers are visual experts can create great looking websites, with gorgeous color schemes and sizzling imagery. But unfortunately very few of them also know how to design a website that ensures highest conversion rates (and why should they? its very hard for them to be trained and experts in web analytics, marketing and conversion rate optimization best practices).

While its really important to get a good designer to create a compelling and stylish website, you really need to also involve some conversion rate optimization experts – either internally if you are lucky enough to have them, or from experts in the industry (look no further than experts like myself, Brian Massey, Peep Laja, Chris Goward, Bryan Eisenberg and Tim Ash).

5: Redesign processes often take much too long. Many website redesign projects don’t launch on time or never even get finished – the same report from HubSpot.com found that this was the case with 49% of website redesigns. And many take so long that by the time they are launched, it quickly will get out of date again. Using an incremental approach to evolve and improve your website over time is much better (as we will discuss shortly) – and remember your website is never truly finished!

6: Too many chefs in the redesign kitchen. Its really frustrating being in many redesign meetings, with too many people thinking they know what’s best for the redesign. Marketers often clash with designers, who often both clash with senior management (the HiPPOs), with often little being resolved/decided. Ultimately though, its only your visitors who know what will best convert them into sales or leads! That’s why it’s vital to involve them as early and often as possible.

7:  You won’t be able to easily roll back to your old site if the new one performs badly. Sometimes website redesign will work so poorly, that sales or leads will actually DECREASE, even with the same amount of traffic. You may be tempted to quickly flip the switch and restore your old version – but this often much harder to do that it seems. And it will also confuse your visitors, making your business look a bit foolish. An incremental, A/B testing approach will make this much easier to manage and roll-back poor performing new pages or features.

Free Bonus Redesign Conversion Checklist!
Ensure your next website redesign maximizes your sales or leads by downloading this free bonus redesign conversion checklist. Download my redesign checklist (PDF)

Go for incremental, CRO-based website improvements instead!

So those are the main reasons why your new website redesign won’t work that well. But what’s the solution? I have alluded to it above, but essentially you need to use an incremental, CRO (conversion rate optimization) based website improvements instead of full website redesigns. Here are the main components of this, and why it works so well:

  • Instead of launching major website redesigns once every 2-3 years, go for more frequent but smaller highly-performing changes instead (2-5 changes per month). This allows for continual website improvement, rather than hedging your bets on the success of a full major redesign.
  • For these smaller incremental changes, using A/B testing is essential to find out which versions of your proposed redesign convert more of your visitors into sales or leads. Avoid launching a new page or feature on your website without A/B testing it first to find the best variation. You can then use the learnings from your test results and apply them to future improvement tests. And if you don’t have enough traffic, read this low traffic guide for improving websites.
  • By using your web analytics tool, figure out which pages/elements of your website need optimizing or redesigning first – rather than just trying to improve everything at once. For example, your product pages may already be converting well, but your homepage or your navigation menu may not be. Checking the bounce rates and conversion rates for your top entry pages is one of the best ways to find the highest potential pages to improve.
  • Use visual analysis tools to help understand which pages elements need optimizing first. To gain these important visual insights you should use a tool like Hotjar.com to run visitor clickmaps and visitor recording sessions on your key pages. Doing this will help you discover and form A/B test ideas for elements that are most/least engaging to your visitors. For example, you may find that one of your most important CTA buttons isn’t being clicked much, or a particular field on your sign-up form is confusing visitors.
  • Involve your website visitors and target audience feedback early on and continually while making these smaller improvements. For every proposed change you want to make, get visitor feedback from a service like UserTesting.com or UserFeel.com, or run your own usability studies. Make sure they can easily complete common tasks and your major use visitor taskes for all proposed new webpage changes, and ask for feedback on what needs improving or seems confusing.
  • Running surveys are highly recommended to get feedback too, including onsite surveys and customer surveys by email. Single question surveys work very well for gathering page specific feedback on key pages (e.g. using Hotjar.com), and is one of the quickest feedback wins to take advantage of. For example, asking a pricing related question on a pricing page.
  • Get some other great insights for the small incremental changes by frequently checking what your competitor websites have recently launched. Not just design-wise, but also new content, and promotions and they have added, and how their overall unique value proposition. Don’t just copy though and presume they know what they are doing – they often won’t – always try to improve on their ideas and what they are doing.
  • Always try to get some feedback on proposed changes from CRO experts like myself. This is because while it’s essential to get your website visitor’s feedback, unfortunately they often don’t know best or which versions of web pages would convert them more often.  This also works well because it provides fresh outside perspective on the current website experience.

Also, don’t forget about the potential big negative impact of search engine ranking changes for your redesign too (a whole other discussion) and this is a great guide on SEO redesign considerations. You obviously want to ensure that you keep your same traffic SEO traffic levels, as well as increase conversions!

Download my free redesign conversion checklist to maximize success!
Ensure your next website redesign maximizes your sales or leads by downloading this free bonus redesign conversion checklist. Download my redesign checklist (PDF)

Now over to you… which of these techniques will you try first?

Do you have a website resign coming up? Which of these techniques are you interested in trying? What challenges are you facing? Perhaps you have already had some success? Please comment below.

Continue Reading Why Your Website Redesign Will Fail to Lift Sales Much (And What To Do Instead)

15 Ecommerce Conversion Rate Optimization Wins to Test

Ecommerce platforms rely on sales to survive. If you operate one of these websites, you know how important sales are for your business.

Whether you sell products exclusively online or have an ecommerce site in addition to your brick and mortar store, you need high conversion rates to be successful.

On average, ecommerce sites in the United States convert at about a 3% rate.

If you’re hovering somewhere around that number, you might think your website is already optimized for high conversions.

Even if you think you’re doing well, there’s always room for improvement.

In fact, some of the top performing websites, such as the Google Play Store, have a conversion rate close to 30%.

Companies such as the Dollar Shave Club have roughly a 20% conversion rate.

Do you still think 3% is sufficient?

I don’t.

Whether you sell products exclusively online or have an ecommerce site in addition to your brick and mortar store, you need high conversion rates to be successful.

If you want to improve your conversion rates and generate more sales, all you need to do is make some changes.

For the most part, these changes won’t cost you much money but will bring a massive return.

You could double, or even triple, your conversion rates in just a few months by implementing some of these conversion rate optimization (CRO) strategies.

Those of you who don’t know how to optimize your ecommerce site for conversions are in luck. I’m an expert in this space and have plenty of experience consulting businesses about their CRO.

I’ve come up with a list of the top 15 ways for ecommerce sites to increase their conversions.

First, let’s take it from the top.

What is conversion rate optimization?

In layman’s terms, conversion optimization is the process of increasing the number of visitors who take a desired action on your site.

Any number of activities can count as a conversion. It depends on your goals.

Signing up to an email list, creating an account, making a purchase, and downloading software are all examples.

Here are some more examples:

The more often these conversions happen, the more revenue your business receives.

In theory, it’s pretty simple.

In practice, it’s a little more complex than just getting more people to take action.

Why so? You need to get the right people to take the right actions at the right time.

That means there are quite a few pieces that need to be moved to ensure your conversion funnel is working as it should.

What can conversion rate optimization do for your business?

1. You can have a fighting chance against Goliath competitors

Every time I think of competition, I think of this simple yet profound quote:

The strong eat the weak.

It’s true in life, and it’s true in business.

Ecommerce is extremely competitive. Just look at the increase in sales within the industry over the span of eight years:

New players are entering your space every single day with the sole goal of snatching up your customers.

The only way to combat this is to make your customers so loyal to you that the competition doesn’t matter.

That can’t happen without first moving them through your sales funnel.

There’s one mistake I see small ecommerce businesses make all the time.

They focus on traffic generation without first having the systems in place to:

  1.  convert that traffic into leads;
  2.  convert leads into loyal customers.

If you already have some traffic coming in, I recommend you spend some time optimizing your conversion funnel.

Because guess what? You may not be able to bring in as much traffic as larger sites. They have more resources, larger teams, and bigger advertising budgets.

You may not even be able to compete on price.

But you can still have a competitive advantage if you make use of conversion optimization.

2. You can learn more about your users behavior

The way users interact with your site is everything.

It’s the closest you’ll get to reading your prospects’ minds.

It tells you what they’re looking for, what they respond to best, and what turns them off.

This means you can give users exactly what they want when they get to your site. Conversions would happen much faster because web visitors would have what they need at hand.

But you shouldn’t just glance at your analytics and make changes to your site based on that one analysis.

You need to monitor user behavior over time.

It’s the only way to notice patterns you can capitalize on.

My advice?

Get a solid grasp on how to navigate Google Analytics. It’s one of the most powerful free tools for analyzing user behavior on your site.

Salesforce found that 56% of businesses rely solely on Google Analytics for their web analytics. Only about 11% don’t use it at all.

Here are a few things you can track right now:

  • Where are your web visitors coming from? You can target these sources to get more visitors.
  • Which channels are driving the most traffic? This will tell you where to focus your time and resources.
  • Where on your site are visitors spending the most time? This will tell you where users’ interests lie.
  • How “sticky” are your site pages? Check your bounce rates for that info. You want them to be low.

These are just a few ideas. User behavior has many aspects.

How do you get this info?

First, find the behavior reports within your Google Analytics account:

You’ll see several subsections, each with insights on how visitors interact with your site:

Hopefully, you already have Google Analytics fired up.

Go through the reports, and collect all historical data.

Identify what’s yielding the most results, and double down on it. Then, you can pinpoint underperforming areas and improve them.

These insights are crucial not only for conversions but for every aspect of your digital marketing.

Content, social media, and email marketing are all areas that can benefit from analyzing user behavior.

Here’s the other thing about using analytics for conversion optimization: It prevents you from making changes to your site based on a hunch.

You’ll have concrete data to base your decisions on, and that’s how you avoid making costly mistakes.

3. You can maximize your profits

Put simply, more conversions lead to bigger profits.

But know this: you need to tighten every aspect of your sales process.

There’s no point in optimizing for conversions at the top of your funnel if you can’t keep momentum as web visitors move through the funnel.

The best way to capitalize on all customer touch points is first to map your customer journey.

This is a map that illustrates the path your customers go through when they interact with your business.

Once you have that figured out, deciding what to optimize at each stage should be obvious.

Here’s an example of a customer journey map:

4. Your customer acquisition cost will be lowered

Conversion optimization is the silver bullet for reducing your customer acquisition costs (CAC).

Here’s the textbook definition of CAC:

In short, it’s the price you pay for acquiring a customer.

This one metric can make or break your business.

If it costs too much to convert a customer, your profit margins will be restricted.

Larger profit margins, on the other hand, give you more flexibility in your market. You’ll be able to serve your customers with more value and secure a spot as a dominant player in your space.

What does conversion optimization have to do with all this?

Here’s a scenario.

Let’s say you’ve decided to optimize your site for more conversions.

With a few strategic changes, you see a 3% bump in conversions.

The amount of traffic to your site hasn’t changed. Your ad spend is still the same. The only variable is what you’ve done to optimize your site.

The 3% increase in conversions means you’ll be acquiring more customers, resulting in more revenue, without employing more resources.

Granted, it may cost you to make changes to your site. However, the result is still the same.

Your CAC will decrease while your ROI increases. Now, that’s a sweet deal.

Now that I have explained a few of the reasons that you should focus your efforts on your Ecommerce conversion rate optimization here are 15 conversion rate optimizations that you should test today.

Top 15 conversion rate optimization wins to tests

1. Simplify your website

Websites with simple designs have higher conversion rates.

Depending on your company, you might have hundreds or even thousands of products for sale on your website. But trying to cram all of those products onto one page is ineffective, and it’s crushing your conversions.

Clutter overwhelms the customers. Instead, focus on your top selling products or items with the highest profit margins.

Let’s look at a globally recognized brand as an example. Here’s Apple’s homepage:

When in doubt, it’s always a great idea to look at successful companies as examples. Apple is an industry leader, and their website is about as simple as it gets.

Think about the number of different products they offer. They have all kinds of different desktop computers, laptops, phones, and other electric accessories, not to mention the digital products like software and music.

If they tried to fit everything they sell on their homepage, it would be an absolute mess.

Instead, they promote one product and have a navigation bar at the top of the screen that lists different categories.

This makes it really easy for shoppers to find exactly what they’re looking for.

In the fourth quarter of 2017, Apple reported $52.6 billion in revenue— a 12% increase compared to the fourth quarter of 2016. It’s safe to say they don’t have a problem with conversion rates.

2. Include a search box

Users should be able to browse through your products quickly and conduct searches without fuss.

That’s where a prominently-placed search box comes in: 30% of site visitors use search on an ecommerce store.

The quicker you can get customers what they want, the quicker you make the conversion.

That’s the point of navigation.

As such, it should be simple and distraction-free.

Add-to-cart buttons and checkout signs must be clearly visible.

3. Have clear CTA buttons

I’ll admit. The right-colored CTA button won’t make your sales funnel.

But it can certainly hurt you.

Don’t think this is a major problem?

These statistics show the many ways businesses neglect their CTAs:

If you don’t have a color that stands out and compels visitors to click through, it can take away from the user experience.

This is where color psychology can come into play. Make sure you choose the right colors for your ecommerce site, and your CTAs will perform as they should.

It’s not just about color though.

The words you use have far more impact. I recommend using words like “now” and “today” that convey urgency.

These are just a few elements.

Here’s a good rule of thumb for deciding how your web pages should be designed.

Step #1: Decide the primary goal of the page. Zone in on one thing.

Step #2: Decide on the secondary goals of the page. These should be related to your primary goal.

For instance, let’s look at product pages.

The goal is to get users to add products to their carts, right?

Your secondary goal can be a catalyst to get your primary goal moving along. For example, you may decide you want more persuasive product descriptions, more social proof, etc.

These will help advance your primary goal.

Makes sense?

Step #3: Make your primary call to action the most prominent element. This way you’re deciding for the user which action they should take.

Step #4: Include your secondary calls to action and nothing else. You don’t want to have anything on your page that doesn’t lead web visitors to your primary and secondary calls to action.

For creative elements, I always recommend split tests.

This is how you’ll know for sure which version of your site provides the smoothest user experience.

You should also always make sure your call-to-action buttons are clear.

They should be bold, standing out from other content on your website.

You can even put a box around the CTAs, clearly separating them from other text on each page.

Take a look at how The North Face does this on their website:

It’s clear which buttons on their homepage will direct customers to the right page.

Even though they have lots of different options, their website isn’t cluttered, and it’s organized in a professional way.

This makes navigation easy.

Now their customers can find what they’re looking for faster and start adding items to their carts.

Look at how the CTA button changes when a customer views an item:

Now the button is even more apparent because it’s red.

It stands out, so it’s clear what the customer should do.

Don’t hide your CTA buttons.

It should be easy for customers to navigate and add items to their carts.

Big, bold, clear, and colorful call-to-action buttons can help improve your conversion rates.

4. Highlight items that are on sale

Most online shoppers—86% of them— say it’s important for them to compare prices from different sellers before making a purchase.

It’s no secret price is an important factor when it comes to a purchase decision.

That’s why you shouldn’t hide your discounted items.

Take a look at how Macy’s highlights markdowns on their homepage:

The website is absolutely plastered with buzz words like:

  • free
  • X% off
  • markdowns
  • sale

That’s why they are able to get higher conversions than their competitors.

Customers love to get a deal.

Buying something that’s on sale makes your customers feel better about spending money.

All too often I see companies try to hide their sale items.

They would rather sell items listed at a full price.

That’s a big mistake.

Instead, highlight discounted products and services.

You can always try to cross-sell or upsell to those customers later by enticing them to buy something else through other marketing efforts.

5. Display multiple pictures of the product

You shouldn’t be selling anything based on just a description.

Your customers want to see exactly what they’re purchasing.

Make sure your images are high quality and portray the item in question accurately.

Here’s a great example from Lululemon to show you what I’m talking about:

There are six different pictures of just one pair of shorts.

They show the product from different angles and even zoom in on some of the top features like a pocket that’s designed to keep a cell phone secure.

Pictures are much more reliable in relating information about a product than a written description of it.

You can apply the same concept to your ecommerce site.

Sure, it may take you a little bit more time to set up each product.

You’ll have to take more pictures and include additional images on your website.

But I’m sure you’ll notice a positive impact in terms of your conversions after you implement this strategy.

6. Include a detailed product description

In addition to photos, you’ll want to thoroughly describe what you’re selling. With items like clothing, it’s usually self-explanatory.

However, if you’re selling electronics or something that has a bit of a learning curve, an accurate and detailed product description could help you close the sale.

Think of it like this. If a customer were to walk into a physical store, there would be employees to answer questions and help explain how different products work.

Shoppers don’t have that luxury when they browse online. It’s your job to make sure they aren’t confused about a product.

Even if you’re selling something simple, such as a t-shirt, point out how it differs from others. Does it keep you cool when it’s hot? Does it keep you warm when it’s cold?

These are things that can’t be determined from a photo alone.

Check out how Amazon accomplishes this with one of their TV wall mounts:

Just like companies in our previous two examples, Amazon is another industry leader across the globe. They know how to sell products online.

While the photos are helpful, the description really helps the consumers.

It explains which kinds of TVs this mount is compatible with as far as size and weight are concerned. The description also covers the various mounting patterns based on what kind of TV you have.

Without the description, you wouldn’t know how far off the wall the mount comes or how close to the wall you can push it.

Not everyone is an expert in mounting televisions. The majority of people probably never have to do this. And unless you install home theater equipment for a living, it’s probably not something you’ll do more than a few times in your life.

For a unique and somewhat niche product like this, accurate descriptions can really help drive the sale.

7. Offer easily accessible customer service

Even if your website is very informative, some customers may still have questions while they’re shopping. But what if there’s nobody there to assist the consumer when they’re shopping online, unlike in a physical store?

Conversions rates drop.

Do your best to replicate that customer service experience. You may have photos, videos, and a great description, but customers will still have questions.

Make sure you give them several options to reach a customer service representative:

  • phone
  • live chat
  • email

Offer as many options as possible so each customer can contact your company based on their personal preference.

You also need to have support ready at all hours. As an ecommerce platform, I know you’re aware that customers all over the world have access to your website 24 hours a day.

Let’s play out a scenario. A customer is interested in one of your products but has a few simple questions. They try to contact customer support but don’t get an answer.

They won’t complete the purchase process. But if their questions get answered right away, your conversion rates will improve.

Try to offer an online shopping experience they would get inside a physical store, with a sales associate available to assist them.

Look at how Apple does it. They offer a live chat for shoppers on their website, and it looks like this:

They make it super easy for customers to get all their questions answered online.

This is especially important if your company sells products that may need some extra explanation.

Realize not all of your prospective and current customers may be experts in your industry.

Although your product descriptions may be accurate, it’s possible there’s some terminology the customer doesn’t understand.

Rather than forcing them to pick up the phone or do outside research, offer them a live chat. Receiving this type of help can be the deciding factor that leads to a conversion for this customer.

8. Include all your contact information

On top of providing customer service, you should have as much information as possible about your company available on your website.

Clearly display your:

  • address
  • phone numbers
  • fax
  • email

If this information isn’t on your site, it could appear sketchy. Customers may think you’re not a reputable company.

What if they have a problem with their order? If your contact information isn’t available, how will they get their issue resolved?

That uncertainty could prevent people from buying things on your website.

9. Simplify the checkout process

How long does it take for someone to complete a purchase once they’re done browsing on your website?

Studies show 27% of shoppers abandon their carts on an ecommerce website because the checkout process is too long and complicated:

On average, the number of steps to check out on an ecommerce website is 5.42.

If you’re somewhere in that average range, nearly 30% of your prospective customers think your checkout process is too long.

Think about how much money you’re leaving on the table.

The more steps a customer has to take to complete the checkout, the more likely they’ll abandon the cart.

It gives them too many reasons to back out.

Don’t give them an excuse. Finalize your sale.

Get back to the basics, and narrow down the information you actually need from the customer:

  • shipping information
  • payment information
  • email address to send a receipt.

That’s really it.

You don’t need to know their favorite color or who referred them to your website.

While additional insight may be beneficial to your marketing department, you still have plenty to work with from just those few pieces of information.

Based on the shipping location, you know where the customer lives. You have their name from their payment information. And you have a way to contact them via email.

Now you can send them a confirmation email as part of an actionable drip campaign to try to cross-sell and upsell products based on the customer’s current order or location.

You can even personalize that message since you know the customer’s name.

Don’t force your customers to fill out a form that’s longer than paperwork at the doctor’s office.

Simplify your checkout process and only ask for essential information needed to complete the sale.

10. Offer multiple payment options

Imagine this.

Someone wants to buy something on your website, but they can’t because you don’t accept their preferred payment method.

This should never be the reason for you to miss out on conversions.

While I realize some credit card companies may charge you higher rates than others, it doesn’t mean you should restrict payment options for your customers.

Try to accommodate as many people as possible.

While I’m not suggesting you need to accept cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, you should be accepting every major credit card, e.g.:

  • Visa
  • MasterCard
  • American Express
  • Discover

You should even offer alternative payment options such as:

  • PayPal
  • Apple Pay
  • Venmo

Here’s an example from American Eagle:

They accept nine different payment methods on their ecommerce site.

You need to offer as many options as possible for your customers.

It all comes down to convenience.

Some companies may just accept MasterCard and Visa.

They figure those are popular options, so everyone must have one, right?

But here’s the thing: you don’t know everyone’s financial situation.

While someone may have a Visa, it could already have a high balance on it, forcing them to use a different payment method.

Others may want to use their American Express card or Discover card because they get better rewards there.

And some people may not want to use a credit card at all if they have a sufficient PayPal balance.

The more options you offer, the greater the chance you’ll appeal to a wider audience.

Don’t assume everyone wants to pay with the cards you accept if that selection is limited.

Assume people will find a similar product elsewhere, where their preferred payment option is accepted, which will crush your conversion rates.

11. Include user reviews

Consider this: 88% of shoppers say they trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations.

That means nearly 90% of people trust a stranger’s opinion online as if it were coming from their spouses, best friends, or family members.

Furthermore, 39% of people say they read product reviews on a regular basis, and only 12% of customers say they don’t check online reviews.

Basically, this means customers want to see what their peers have to say.

Encourage customers to review products they’ve purchased, and display those reviews on your website.

Take a look at how Johnston & Murphy does this on their ecommerce site:

More reviews means more credibility.

Obviously, you’re going to say only great things about the products you’re selling.

But other customers will be truthful about their experiences.

That’s why consumers trust these ratings and reviews.

Customers share personal stories about the uses of the products they purchased and the reasons for recommending them (or not).

Notice I also highlighted the chat option on the Johnston & Murphy website—a topic I covered earlier.

Don’t be upset if not all your reviews are absolutely perfect.

You’ll get some negative comments.

It happens.

Those negative remarks can actually help you. It shows shoppers your reviews are legitimate.

Hopefully, the positive ratings will largely outweigh the negative ones.

This will help you get more shoppers to convert and complete the purchase process.

12. Add a video demonstration

If your products are unique, include video demonstrations showing how to use them.

Here’s an example from the Training Masks website:

They have workout videos to show people how to use their product to train harder and smarter.

Since this product isn’t something you see every day, the majority of the population may not know how it works.

But don’t think you can’t use videos even if you’re selling something simple.

For example, everyone knows how to use a piece of luggage, right?

Well, that doesn’t stop Thule from including a video demonstration on their website:

The video shows all the hidden compartments of the bag.

It also shows customers how they can adjust the handles and straps and utilize other features.

In addition, you can include a video demonstration highlighting the features that set your product apart from similar products.

Even if you’re selling something simple, like a shirt, a video can show customers the item’s versatility for different occasions, scenarios, or weather conditions.

You just have to get creative.

13. Don’t surprise your customers with extra fees

Consumers are sensitive to price. You have to be upfront and totally transparent with the prices on your website.

The customer expects to see the same price for the same product on all pages, including in their shopping cart.

Adding hidden charges, taxes, and shipping fees will crush your conversions.

Look at the top reasons for shopping cart abandonment:

Extra costs are the number one reason why consumers abandon their shopping carts.

Look, I realize you’ve got to pay sales tax and shipping isn’t free. But rather than surprising the customer when they check out, include those costs in the original price.

You’ll still get paid enough to make a profit, and the customer won’t be surprised with extra fees. It’s a win-win scenario for everyone.

Plus, it will reduce cart abandonment and improve your conversion rates.

14. Send shopping cart abandonment emails

While you can certainly do things to improve your shopping cart abandonment rates, some customers still won’t always complete their purchases.

You can’t ignore this.

Someone was just a click or two away from buying something on your website. They identified what they wanted and added it to their cart.

It’s going to be much easier to try to get this customer to convert than to find a new customer.

This person is already familiar with your brand and obviously interested in at least one of your products. Sometimes they just need a bit of extra motivation to complete the sale.

Send out a shopping cart abandonment email to remind the consumer of your products. Here’s an example from Oakley:

This product will still be fresh in the customer’s mind—they just left it in their shopping cart. They wanted it, but for one reason or another, it just didn’t happen.

Receiving this email could be enough to trigger an impulse buy.

15. Recommend products to enhance the shopping experience

If your site is using cookies to track browsing behavior, you can recommend products to your customers based on what they like. Use their previous order history as well to personalize recommendations.

This shows the consumer you care. Their browsing experience is different from everyone else’s.

Here’s an example from Bed Bath & Beyond:

You can also try to upsell to your customers when they add something to their shopping carts. For example, if they buy a pair of headphones, you can recommend a carrying case for them.

Again, it reflects their personal experience. This strategy works.

Research shows that 49% of consumers said they bought something they weren’t initially planning on purchasing after seeing a personalized recommendation.

Conclusion

Your ecommerce site should be making more money.

If there’s one thing you choose to do for your ecommerce site today, let it be conversion optimization. Don’t settle for average.

Take steps to improve your conversion rates. It’s an especially powerful tactic for small businesses.

Why?

Because you can get better results by using the same resources you have. It means you can start to scale your business and make headway on your competitors without outspending them.

That’s golden.

Whether your business is brand new or has been around for a while, there is always room for improvement.

You can make simple modifications to your ecommerce website to get more conversion and the tips I provided are the best place for you to start.

You can start applying some of these elements to your website right away.

I’m not saying you need to implement all of these strategies overnight. In fact, you may even have a couple of these in place already.

But over time, you need to optimize your ecommerce website if you want to get as many sales as possible. Follow these tips, and I’m sure you’ll see an improvement.

Trust me, they work.

Continue Reading 15 Ecommerce Conversion Rate Optimization Wins to Test

Beauty Blog 101: Makeup Affiliate Programs to Help Get You Started

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I read the title of this post and I hear a collective groan from our male affiliate marketers. Beauty Blog? Beauty Blog!? Like, what is that? 

For all of those not in the know, a beauty blog is a blog with a focus on fashion and makeup. It's really all about makeup, but some bloggers have expanded to include fashion in their content. After all, a pretty face goes perfectly with a pretty frock. 

Beauty blogs publish makeup reviews like this and feature how-to articles or videos like this one. The average blog starts out as a personal repository of one's experience, likes and dislikes, adventures and misadventures. 

I can see a few of our gentlemen readers cringing. I'm sure you're going to hit that red "X" on the top right of your browser any minute now, but please hear me out. Beauty blogs are big these days, and they're going to get bigger. You might want to pay a bit of attention (and get your wife or girlfriend to read this post with you!). 
 

So Just How Big is the Makeup Niche?

People love to look good, and it shows: The cosmetics industry is HUGE. 

The cosmetics industry is definitely a large one, with an estimated annual worldwide turnover of USD $170 billion. You can see the consistent growth of the industry on this graph by Statista:

Yep, those numbers are in the 50s and 60s of billions of dollars. In the U.S. alone, that much money is being poured into these products every single year. And it just keeps growing! This infographic from MapsofWorld.com, "Are We Obsessed With The Way We Look?" details how much the global population spends on beauty.

There's a strong need in all of us to look good, and this is why these types of blogs are growing in numbers. They're not limited to women, either: There are beauty blogs for men, too. 
 

What's the Competition Like?

A high level of demand often means a high level of competition. That doesn't mean you can't do it, you've just got to be savvy with your keywords. 

You can skip this part and jump right into the makeup affiliate programs you can promote, but I suggest you don't. There's plenty of competition in the cosmetics/skincare niche, and it pays to look at how you can outsmart the competition by targeting the right keywords. 

To start, we must ask a common question: Is it "makeup" or "make up"? The two are similar; however, "makeup" refers to lipstick, eye shadow and all other things applied to the face, while "make up" is a verb that can refer to the act of applying makeup. 

In AffiloTools, though, they mean the same thing, and variations of both have a medium-high difficulty:

So we need to get more specific. Just from this search I've managed to find some keywords that are commonly searched for but don't have a great deal of competition. 

The types of keywords you'll want to home in on for your website content or ad campaigns should revolve around specific terms with a lot of searches but less competition. In this case, for example, you might want to consider "Makeup looks" or "Wedding makeup" or "natural eye makeup" as keywords for blog topics. 

If you go ahead with any of the affiliate program options that I've outlined below, make sure to do some further keyword research to ensure your success. If you're generating keywords to use as content topics, try this method here. The AffiloTools Keyword Research module makes keyword research like this easy, so feel free to check it out and have a play around. 

When coming up with keyword ideas for this niche, don't forget to try "how-to" phrases, such as "how to put on eyeliner." 
 

10 Affiliate Programs for Your Beauty Blog 

Here they are! The 10 best makeup affiliate programs for you to choose from to promote on your blog. 

I've tracked down some of the most popular brands and products in the cosmetics industry so that you can find out everything you need to know about them here and now. In no particular order, here are the top 10 makeup affiliate programs: 

 

1. e.l.f. Cosmetics

About e.l.f.
e.l.f. Cosmetics is a makeup brand well-known all over the world. The company offers everything from lipstick to makeup brushes to nail polish.

How much can I make?
Affiliates receive a 5% commission for each sale. 

How do I apply?
The affiliate page is outdated, as it links to the CJ Affiliate network where the program is no longer active. However, I found e.l.f. on the Rakuten Marketing (LinkShare) affiliate network, so if you'd like to sign up to promote produs an affiliate you can apply to do so there. 
 

2. Sigma Beauty

About Sigma
Sigma Beauty is a fast-growing cosmetics company recognized not just for its makeup line, but for its innovative makeup brushes as well. There's a neat 'affiliate spotlight' page here where you can see how other makeup blog affiliates are doing. 

 

How much can I make?
Sigma offers a 10% commission on all sales. If you do really well the program has rewards systems, with giveaways and cash bonuses.   

How do I apply?
You can apply for the Affiliate program via the Sigma affiliate signup page here
 

3. Benefit Cosmetics

About Benefit 
Benefit Cosmetics is a San Francisco–based makeup manufacturer popular for its pretty, original packaging. The world-famous "Benetint" is a rose-colored cheek and lip tint.

How much can I make?
Benefit offers affiliates a 4-7% commission on sales.

How do I apply?
You can find the affiliate information on the Benefit affiliate page here. You can apply through the Rakuten Marketing (LinkShare) network here
 

4. BH Cosmetics

About BH Cosmetics
BH Cosmetics is a manufacturer of reasonably-priced cosmetics. Like other makeup brands, it offers everything from eye shadow palettes to makeup brushes.

How much can I make?
At 15% per sale, this is one of the higher commission rates for makeup products. The program also offers monthly incentives. 

How do I apply?
Once again we have a brand that operates through Rakuten Marketing. You can search for BH Cosmetics there, or get more information about the affiliate program here
 

5. ULTA

About ULTA

ULTA is a group of beauty stores in the US. The company offers skincare products and fragrances for both men and women, on top of its extensive makeup line. 

How much can I make?
Ulta affiliates get between 5 and 7% commission depending on the total amount they have earned in the month.

How do I apply?
Ulta runs its affiliate program through CJ Affiliate by Conversant. You can signup and search for the program there, or learn more about the ULTA affiliate program here
 

6. Avon

About Avon
Avon has been marketing through word of mouth and third parties for longer than just about anyone. Does the term "Avon lady" bring anything to mind? There is a huge range of makeup products here that you can promote as an affiliate. 

 

How much can I make?
Avon offers a 6% commission on all sales, with opportunities for bonuses. 

How do I apply?
You can apply to join the Avon affiliate program on the Rakuten Marketing affiliate network
 

7. Black Opal Beauty

About Black Opal
Black Opal is a cosmetics company that specializes in "issues specific to skin of color". These products would be great for a sub-niche site or blog post that addresses makeup techniques for darker skin tones. 

 

How much can I make?
Black Opal offers a 6% commission on all sales. 

How do I apply?
You can apply to be an affiliate with Black Opal on the Rakuten Marketing affiliate network
 

8. Pür Minerals Cosmetics

About Pür Minerals
Pür Minerals has a range of cosmetics and skincare products that are made without animal testing and manufactured mostly made in the USA. The company prides itself on being eco-friendly, and the best sellers are foundations and other skincare products. 

 

How much can I make?
There's a 5% commission to be made here. 

How do I apply?
You can find more information about Pür Minerals and apply for the affiliate program under "Astral Brands" on the CJ Affiliate network
 

9. Colorescience

About Colorescience
Colorescience is a "premier luxury mineral makeup line." It focuses on makeup products with high-quality ingredients that are easy to use and great for the skin. 

 

How much can I make?
Colorescience offers affiliates a 10% commission. 

How do I apply?
You can find all that you need to know about Colorescience on their Affiliates page or apply for their affiliate program on the CJ Affiliate network
 

10. Elizabeth Arden

About Elizabeth Arden
Elizabeth Aden is a very prestigious beauty company with everything from anti-aging skincare products to perfumes. The company also claims to offer "trend-setting color" with its cosmetics. 

 

How much can I make?
Elizabeth Arden offers affiliates a 5% commission. 

How do I apply?
You can learn more about Elizabeth Arden and apply for its affiliate program on the CJ Affiliate network.

11. Nanshy

About Nanshy
Your makeup palette is no use if you do not have the right brushes and sponges to apply them to your face. Nanshy offers well-crafted makeup brushes to promote along with the other make up affiliate programs here.

How much can I make?
Nanshy affiliates get 10% commission on all sales. It may not be much but as their affiliate, you get 25% on your own purchases of Nanshy products.

How do I apply?
You can register as an affiliate through the Nanshy Affiliate Program page.

12. Scentbird

Scentbird is a subscription service for perfumes and colognes. Scentbird was created for the pickiest girl (or boy), allowing you the chance to “date” luxury fragrances before “marrying” them. With Scentbird, you get access to a 30-day supply of over 450 top designer fragrances delivered right to your door

How much can I make?
US$14 per sale.

How do I apply?
You can sign up from their affiliates page

 

Found these beauty blog affiliate programs useful? Share the news! :)

How to Promote Your Beauty Blog

No blog promotes itself. These are the best methods for promoting a beauty blog. 

A beauty blog is like any other website or blog, and you can promote it through most conventional methods, such as social media marketing. You can't use every tactic at once, so like I've always said, have a link-building plan or strategy guide to get you started. This will help you define your SEO and link-building goals and determine which methods work best for your site. Here are some other methods you can use to promote your beauty blog: 

  • YouTube Marketing

Put all those how-to videos to good use. Make sure your videos are properly optimized and contain either your affiliate link or a link to the related content on your site. You may refer to this excellent information on video marketing: "Video Content: Super Fun! Super Effective." You can also learn how to link back to your website (if you have one) from YouTube with this lesson on associated website annotations

  • Blog and Forum Posting 

There are a lot of other beauty blogs. Don't be a snob! These blogs may be competition, but they are still in the same niche, so participating in discussions will do a lot more good for your site than harm. 

Participating in blogs often leads to guest posting, since the website owner or blogger gains enough information about you through your comments to trust you. A guest post is great because it not only brings traffic to the site, but also gives you a backlink or two. 

We actually teach you how to promote your site on websites and blogs in AffiloBlueprint, so if you're interested in this method I'd check that out. It also teaches you how to build your blog, so if you're thinking you'd like to build a beauty blog but haven't yet, then I'd most definitely recommend it. 

  • Content Strategy

It's important that your site is always up-to-date with the current makeup trends as well as popular products. Reading up on what's new will help with the planning and research of your posts so that you will be able to publish on a regular basis. 

We have a whole variety of free lessons on content creation right here, but first I'd check out the blog post about building a strong content strategy here

Remember that there are also other forms of content, like videos and infographics, that you can create for your site so as not to bore your readers. Keep a working schedule of where and when new posts are published and what they contain.

Having a few make-up tutorials as your core content with some updated info coming out regularly on a blog is a great way to go. This might sound like a lot of work, but new beauty products are coming out all the time. The more you keep your website up to date with the latest and greatest, the more you'll encourage a following of people looking for MORE MAKEUP. 

  • Email Marketing

Speaking of new products coming out all the time, if you build a mailing list you can make sales to people over and over again rather than losing them when they leave your site. This is especially useful for any niche that has a high rate of new products and deals, and luckily for you, this is one of those niches. You can check out our free lessons on email marketing here
 

Can Beauty Blogs Give Way to Pretty Profits? 

There are some low commission rates and high competition here which provides a challenge, but there's a lot of demand for these products so there's definitely potential. 

 

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Looking at the commissions these makeup affiliate programs give to affiliates, this isn't going to be as lucrative as other niches unless you can get a lot of traffic and sales. In saying that, the popularity of this niche means that there is potential for you to do just that with the right marketing techniques. 

You want to aim for a target audience of the kind of readers who like to go for a beauty "haul" (where they purchase lots of products at one time). 

To beat out the high competition and conquer the low commission rates of these products, you really will need to constantly update your site with new content so as not to lose your readers and their interest. That's going to be a major challenge, particularly if you're not a writer. 

Despite all this, a beauty blog is very appealing to me. For one thing, this is a niche where lady affiliate marketers with a passion for makeup and fashion can really dominate. You may not get paid much as far as commissions go, but some of those makeup affiliate programs offer freebies and/or affiliate discounts on makeup purchases that can more than make up for it.

This niche is definitely for those with a love for fashion and makeup. If you're such a man or woman, then go for it! I'm sure that it's going to be an enjoyable, rewarding endeavor for you. 

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GET THE 5-STEP FORMULA TO EARNING $10,000/MONTH ONLINE
WITH YOUR BEAUTY BLOG

Note: I HATE spam as much as you do. Your email address will never be given out to any 3rd parties.

 

Before you go I'd love to ask, do you know of any good makeup affiliate programs that I've missed? What types of makeup products are you interested in promoting? Let me know in the comments below.

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Continue Reading Beauty Blog 101: Makeup Affiliate Programs to Help Get You Started

Embracing automation and maximizing SEO performance

Creating an automation strategy should be top of mind in 2019 – indeed, it was identified by 61 percent of marketers as the top priority for optimizing marketing automation efforts in a recent industry survey. Researchers also identified the delivery of personalized content and integration of marketing systems as the most challenging barriers to your success with marketing technology. SEO and Automation is a big part of the solution.

Automation is critical in making informed, data-driven decisions in a world in which the amount of data companies are attempting to manage is unprecedented. But we’re at the point now where, as marketers have attempted to automate various tasks, many are struggling with unwieldy stacks of different technologies all vying for resources and budget.

If you or your clients are spending more time trying to find workarounds for your tech than putting insights to work, money is being left on the table. As creative marketers with technical and analytical skills, SEOs are in a great position to lead the creation and implementation of automation strategies companies now need to succeed.

SEO, automation and the customer experience

Automation in your SEO and content process can create efficiencies and ease the burden of redundant tasks, but we’ve evolved so far past that (and quickly). Today, automation alone is not enough. SEOs must automate intelligently — not only to complete tasks but to analyze data and make decisions about which tasks to prioritize (and how to carry them out), as well.

AI is enabling the collection and analysis of datasets we simply cannot get through on our own. Layers of natural language processing and machine learning enable smarter optimizations driven by predictive analytics, pattern recognition, and evidence-based learning.

Source: Search & the Customer Experience: Utilizing AI to Drive Continuous Performance

Site audits, competitive analysis, monitoring rankings and other SEO tasks are made easier and more efficient with automation. But are you ready to take the next steps?

AI is already reshaping content marketing, all the way from ideation, planning and optimized content creation through to promotion to specific market segments. This isn’t new technology; in fact, the Associated Press has been using artificial intelligence to write business news since 2014 (and even then, the program could churn out 2,000 articles per second). We’re now at the point where automation can help identify new revenue opportunities and make recommendations on content topics, attributes, optimizations, strategic CTAs and more.

Intelligent automation also allows SEOs to schedule tasks and immediately activate data, to inform smarter optimizations. You can target specific content to searchers who interact with your chatbot, for example, depending on what led them to the interaction in the first place.

Automation – Data analysts, real-time research, content and communications

Intelligent automation is giving SEOs greater insight into – and control over – how search optimizations impact customer experience throughout every stage of the journey. Now, the insights gleaned from the real-time analysis of customer interactions can help shape every aspect of the customer experience, from discovery to conversion.

Source: PWC

How AI is driving superior search performance

Google’s dedication to AI is resulting in far more interactive search results that speak directly to searcher intent, as in these three similar queries that each produces different results:

Google is using taller organic cards, the local three-pack, Quick Answers, images and video, carousels, site links and dozens of other enhanced results to better answer searchers’ needs. The algorithm is listening to searcher cues and constantly learning to bring back the most relevant result. More and more often, that result will answer the need in such a way that the searcher doesn’t even need to click through to learn more. This is Google’s RankBrain technology at work.

Last year, research by BrightEdge (my company) revealed that 80-plus percent of queries return universal search results. Optimizing, structuring and marking up your content to show Google its relevance for queries of varying intents helps increase your visibility when and where it matters most. At the same time, you’re providing more compelling content and may even convert searches to sales without the consumer ever having visited your site.

SEO is moving further away from the static website; what you are optimizing for spans the entire search-based experience. And as Google’s ability to determine intent continuously improves, SEOs and marketers need to keep pace with AI and automation to stay on top and produce properly structured content.

  • Optimize for voice search. Use a more conversational tone in your content and incorporate longer-tail keywords. Applying a question and answer format to some content can help you rank in Instant Answers and as the best voice response. Be sure to apply proper schema markup, too. Read how visual and voice search are revitalizing the role of SEO for more.
  • Enable voice search on-site, where possible. Incorporate speech recognition in your app or on-site, if possible. You can extend the same hands-free convenience that delivered a searcher to your site by enabling some voice-free functionality.
  • Make good use of descriptive text. While many of your audience members crave visual imagery and video, some will not be able to render, watch or hear this content. AI can help in the creation of descriptive text and also with categorizing all kinds of content to improve both your accessibility and SEO.
  • Use intelligent automation to complement your skills. It’s important to understand that automation can’t ever entirely replace the creative and the strategist—they will continue to decide which technology to apply, and where. However, the Intelligent use of automation will help you do your job more effectively, so you can focus on more important and higher impact tasks.
  • Monitor regularly for new opportunities. Google is constantly testing and launching new features in the SERPs. It’s not a static space, and you cannot afford to sit still. Use automation to regularly analyze your search presence, as well as that of your most important competitors. Ensure that you have properly formatted, optimized and marked up content in place to take advantage of new SERPs features.

Embracing automation will be increasingly important to your ability to scale and succeed in all facets of digital. If you’re just getting started, try automating time-consuming, repetitive tasks like keyword research, data visualization, reporting, data collection, SERP similarity comparisons, testing JS rendering, generating content ideas, link building and technical auditing.

Next, look to AI to begin simplifying complex decision-making and prioritizing your SEO and content efforts, all with improved consumer experience in mind. SEOs who can embrace automation are making great strides in positioning themselves as the digital marketing leaders of tomorrow.

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