How to Automate Your Social Media Marketing

How to Automate Your Social Media Marketing

bunny

Automation helps businesses in all areas of their online operations, but social media is an area that you have to be careful with. The reason is simple – it’s social. It involves real people socializing and making personal connections online. If your business automates too much of its social media operations, your fans will know it and it will turn them off. However, there are certain tasks that can use technology to make your life easier.

Status Updates

You can automate some of your status updates. Status updates are simple messages that go out to all of your fans. But while many updates can be scheduled, don’t set it and forget it. When there’s something timely, like a new product you’re releasing or a news story you want share, bump your automated updates and save them for later.

Even if you’re automating your updates, don’t forget to check in regularly to read comments. You need to respond to comments and do so in a timely manner. Businesses that ignore comments lose fans.

Sharing Content across Platforms

There are social media automation programs that allow you to share content across platforms. One example is Twitterfeed, a program that lets you add your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn news feeds to your RSS feed. Whenever you add a new blog post to your site, it posts it on all of your social media profiles. Just make sure you’re not posting the same message twice in a row on the same site!

Automated Alerts

Automated alerts are an important part of all social media. On each social media site you can sign up for notifications whenever someone mentions you, connects to you, tags you, and so on. All social media sites allow you to sign up for these alerts through their system, but there are also specific tools like HyperAlerts that allow you to sign up for search terms and offer other features as well.

If This, Then That

There’s a handy tool designed especially for automating social media that’s similar to alerts and notifications but gives you a great deal of control. It’s called IFTTT – ‘If This Then That.’ This program connects your social media channels with profiles you create called recipes. Recipes are based on the simple concept expressed in the program’s name. You choose a ‘this’ – which is a trigger – and a ‘that’ – the action that the trigger causes. When the trigger is pulled, the action results. For example, your trigger is any mention of your name on Facebook. The action is an email notification sent to you.

Joining Groups

One of the most important things to do on social media is join groups and network. Finding groups can be a hassle, but there are automated programs that seek out groups for you such as Triberr. Triberr connects you to like-minded users and puts all of your content from all groups in one feed.

Dashboard Programs

Dashboard programs are web platforms that let you manage multiple social media accounts with one interface. You can simultaneously check your Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ accounts and handle all of their functions at one time. There are many dashboard programs available but one example that’s popular is Hootsuite.

Whenever you automate social media functions that are publicly viewable, put yourself in the shoes of your fans and check your profile to make sure it doesn’t look automated. Remember that the real personal component is the most important aspect of social media.

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6 Keys To Business Email Marketing

There are a lot of myths about online marketing. Now a few misconceptions may not matter all that much if they were harmless, but when it comes to your money, then it’s always better to be well-informed. Some of the worst, most damaging myths out there revolve around business to business email marketing. With that in mind, here are some things you should be aware of before running your next email campaign.

1. Know your customer. The more you know about your customer, the better. What are their problems? What are their current solutions? How can you help them? What do you know about their business? All of these questions need to be answered before you send a company an email message. First, you need to make sure they are a good customer for your offer. Second, it shows respect and they will appreciate that you know something about who they are.

2. Get to the point. Imagine you are meeting with your prospective customer at their place of business. You may start with a bit of small talk, but you wouldn’t linger on it. In other words, you can start your business to business email marketing with a friendly tone, but you also have to stick with a no-nonsense approach at the same time.

3. Remember who the message is for. Yes, you are sending out the email to generate profits for your own business, but the message it contains is for the person receiving it. In other words, you have to be very clear about how your offer benefits them.


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4. Ask for their business. One of the biggest mistakes people make when it comes to business to business email marketing is not being bold enough in closing the deal. You don’t have the benefit of making your presentation in a face-to-face setting, so you need to be clear and direct in what you want the reader of your message to do.

5. Don’t use trickery to get them to open your email. Sure, you may get them to open your message, but you will have done so through dishonesty. That will kill the sale before you ever get a chance to present your offer. You also need to bear in mind that there is a fine line between being clever and being deceitful; make sure you don’t cross it.

6. Track results. When doing business to business email marketing you should keep track of and measure everything you can. When you sent out each message, to whom, what the subject line was, the body of the email, open rates, click-through rates, how many previous messages you have sent, and so on. You can use any and all of this data to refine your sales message and improve your results over time.

In today’s world, mastering the art and science of business to business email marketing is one of the most important keys to success. It’s relatively inexpensive, especially when compared to traditional forms of advertising, and it can give you a very robust return on your investment.


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How To Go Viral on Twitter

how-to-go-viral-on-twitter

By: @Garin Kilpatrick

Virality on Twitter takes a combination of Science and Style.  Without the Science of spreading in action even the most stylistic tweet will go unnoticed.  Without any style even a well positioned tweet will fall flat.

But with a tactfully written tweets your posts stand the best chance of spreading like wildfire.

The following fifteen traits of viral tweets are a distillation of the most important elements of getting more retweets with an infusion of scientific retweet data.

The tactics in this article will explain to you how to go viral on Twitter so that the chances of your tweets spreading virally on Twitter will increase dramatically!

 

1. Viral Tweets are Shared by Influencers

go-viral-on-twitter

The more influential you are on Twitter the more likely your tweets are to go viral.  Even if you are starting on Twitter today you can still get the power of influence working for you by making a connection with an influential person on Twitter.

As I explained in my recent article about the golden rules of Twitter, reciprocity can be a powerful way to grow your Twitter influence.  Retweet an influencer often, comment on their blog, connect with them on Facebook if you can, and help them out as much as possible before you ask them to share something for you.  The idea is to help them out so much that when you ask them for help they feel obligated to oblige.

If you can get even one influential Twitter user to retweet you the chances of your tweet going viral increase significantly.

Even if you can’t get one of these users retweeting you, there are many influencers on Twitter, and gaining the favor of a person with influence is often as simple as purchasing a product they offer and engaging with them on Twitter and their blog.  Do favors for a person with influence first, and then ask them to help you with a retweet, and they will be much more likely to help you out.

Where can you find influencers?  You can start with my influencers Twitter list and for a list of the most followed people on Twitter by city, check out Twopcharts.

2. Viral Tweets Usually Contain a Link

Tweets containing a link are retweeted more often than those tweets without.  I suspect that a reason for this is that many of the links that are tweeted direct to a page that contains a retweet button.rt-with-links

Many people are conditioned to click this button and retweet content when they see it, which is why I use the Digg Digg plugin on all of my WordPress blogs so that the tweet button is contantly in view as my readers are checking out my content.

You can also install the tweet button manually into pages.

3. Include a Call to Action

In email marketing one of the best subject lines for getting an email opened is simply: check this out.  I have found that this call to action works well for getting tweets retweeted as well.  I often write tweets like this: “Check this…whatever it is…out:”

A call to action can be indirect as well.  If you hint about the content that a link contains in a way that sparks curiosity people will be more inclined to click.

4. Write an Exceptional Headline

Man’s Head Explodes in a Barber’s Chair.  Got your attention?  That’s what a great headline is all about.

Headlines are alot like tweets.  Both are short and punchy.

If you want to sharpen your headline & tweet writing skills check out this post on how to write mind blowing headlines.

5. Breaking News

By breaking news you can get your tweet shared like crazy.  @jkrums posted a picture of a plane that landed in hudson bay and it has since been viewed over 600,000 times!  This has netted him hundreds if not thousands of followers and the clout that comes with having a truly viral picture.

Pictures retweet really well, so if you want to go viral on Twitter a good place to start is by working on your photography skills, and posting pics to TwitPic or other Twitter photo sharing tools on a regular basis!

6. Tweet Content with Twitter Sharing Widgets

This is a simple tip, but essential if you want your link to go viral.  If you are tweeting your own content make sure you install a tweet button first!

7. Perfect Timing

Twitter has peak traffic times, depending on the day of the week, and the time of the day.  For your tweet to have the best chance of going viral you should time it so that it can ride these waves of Twitter traffic to viral success.rt-by-hour

The busiest times on Twitter are Thursday and Friday afternoon.  The exact best time really depends on the time zone of the people in your afternoon, but mid-afternoon is typically best, from 2-5pm.

Tracking the click through rate of your tweets with a link shortener like bit.ly or Hootsuite and with some calculated testing you’ll be able to tell when the best time is for you.

8. Provide Immense Value

Value goes viral.  The more valuable the content is that you are giving away, the greater the chance is that people will share and retweet it.

One way to deliver immense value is by creating a high quality product that you give away for free.  This could be a .pdf, a video, Mp3, or any other valuable content you can imagine!

An eCourse is one way that I personally like to use to deliver value to my network, and I have developed free Twitter, Facebook, and Fitness eCourses, which have been retweeted many times.

9. Use Retweetable Words

After analyzing 10,000 retweets Dan Zarella found the following words to be the most common:

1364 you
1138 twitter
701 please
598 retweet
397 post
389 blog
352 social
306 free
304 media
269 help
262 please retweet
262 great
237 social media
229 10
222 follow
187 how to
165 top
164 blog post
128 check out
118 new blog post

Think about how you can integrate these words into your tweets more often and you will be amazed at the difference they can make!

10. Incentivize Retweets

By offering an incentive for people to retweet you increase the liklihood that they will.  One way to do this is by offering a free report, or some other free content, by using the free service pay with a tweet.  Pay with a tweet enables you to deliver free content after a tweet is tweeted.

The most successful viral campaign I ever witnessed was when a company offered to donate a penny for every time the hashtag #beatcancer was tweeted.  This hashtag was tweeted tens of thousands of times, and became a trending topic and a viral success!

Leave room for RT + @YourUsername

Some people (myself included) still usually retweet in the classic style, by writing RT and then the persons Twitter username.

By leaving enough room for people to retweet in this style you maximize your chance of having the most people possible retweet you.

12. Social Proof

The power of social proof is show by how the more times a user sees a retweet the more likely they are to retweet it as well.

rt-reproduction-rates

What this may indicate is that social proof (or imitation more specifically) plays a role in a user’s decision to ReTweet. The more users a Twitterer sees ReTweet something, the more likely they are themselves to ReTweet it.

Another factor in the decision to ReTweet that this data point may be highlighting is that when the act ReTweeting is called to a user’s attention, they may be more likely to ReTweet.

Depth Reproduction Rate
2 7.57%
3 11.47%
4 22.31%
5 48.44%

13. Say Please

rt-please

Manners work.

I have tested using “Please RT” and it does get your tweet retweeted more often.

If you liked this post will you pleaseretweet it on Twitter?  I’d appreciate it! :)

Have any of your tweets gone viral on Twitter?

Let us know about your most viral tweet in the comments below!

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Without Social Media Your SEO Is Going Nowhere

Two years ago you could get your webpages ranked in the search engines if you followed a simple formula. You started with keyword research to find the right keywords, you then wrote content which the search engines loved, and finally you’d build some high-quality links to let Google and others know that people valued that content.

Today, the SEO game has drastically changed. Today, if you want your website to even show up in Google, you need to harness the power of social media.

Having A Website Is The First Step

Recently, I was speaking with a potential client about building a lead-generation website for her. She asked a fairly common question – if her website would rank in the search engines once it was built. What she was really asking was whether or not a website we built for her would help her get found online. Here is what I told her.

If you want people to be able to find you online, you must have a website that does a few things:

  1. Capture leads and/or sell products
  2. Allow you to publish content on a regular and continuous basis
  3. Speak to your ideal clients with its design as well as its copy
  4. Be fully integrated with social media
  5. Rank in the search engines

No matter what business you’re in, a website is the minimum you need when it comes to online marketing. Why? Because once someone finds out about you, whether it’s word of mouth, an online or print advertisement, television, radio, a flyer on their car, or whatever, their next step is to find out more about you. And where do they go? A search engine.

Put this to the test: log out of any Google products you’re in – Gmail, Google+, etc. – and then search on Google for your name. Does your website rank #1? What else do you see there?

Case In Point

We launched a new website for Rachel Kerr Schneider in May of 2012, just in time for her attending the Meet Us In Maui retreat with Jack Canfield. The site was composed of a handful of pages with no other content. On June 20, 2012, her homepage ranked number 1 for her name – a full month after the launch.

Over time, we’ve been able to rank her website for 47 keywords that are relevant to her target market and her business. What really did it was creating optimized content (blog posts) with a variety of content (text, audio, video) that was shared in social media.

Using Social Signals To Rank Faster

When it comes to SEO, we still perform keyword research, and use those keywords as we’ve done for years – in the title, description, and content of a post or page. However, to get that content ranked faster, we need social signals.

Social signals include tweets, Facebook likes, LinkedIn shares, Google +1′s and many others. Since June of 2012, Google has been tracking these social signals, and factoring them in when ranking web pages. If you use Google Analytics, which I highly suggest you do, you can find this information by going to Traffic Sources and clicking on the Social drop down.

 

From there, you’ll find a wealth of social media stats including one of my favorites – conversions.

Social signals are important because they tell Google that people like your content enough to share it. And what is Google trying to do? Get the best results in front of people for any given search. Tweets, shares, Facebook likes – these are all indicators of “relevant” and “good” content, a handful of many factors Google uses.

The Bottom Line

A few years ago SEO used to be simple, and to an extent it still is. However, with the rise of social media, all of the search engines now take social signals into account. This means that you must as well, if you want your potential customers to find your business online.

The bottom line is this – first you need a website that can capture leads and/or make sales, that speaks to your ideal clients and customers with its design and content, that allows you to publish content on a regular basis, and that ties in with social media and helps you rank in the search engines. From there, you need to publish optimized content (blog posts, videos, podcasts, etc.) on a continuous basis and get that content shared on social media networks.

Do all that, and people will be finding you online.

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The Latest Software Offering by MemberSpeed Inc.

It’s usually a joy to review MemberSpeed products, because they always take the extra effort to make whatever it is, fun. This time the software’s interface was replete with what can only be called “Ninjaisms” an obvious tie-in to the products name. They’re funny and quirky but unobtrusive so they add to the over-all experience without slowing down the work-flow.

Granted this is a small thing but for any entrepreneur struggling with motivation, this makes a huge difference, especially when faced with a long day filled with what might otherwise not be your favorite tasks. The other reason I look forward to reviewing MemberSpeed products is because they work.

This isn’t something you can take for granted when downloading software, even though it’s something we should expect. SqueezeNinja, the product I will be reviewing, promises to make and upload professional quality squeeze pages and thank you pages, plus a little more.

I’ll try to cover everything as we go, however, let me begin by describing the process of securing your copy of SqueezeNinja and uploading it to a URL so you can use it. Seconds after you pay for the program you’ll receive your download link and a link to the introduction and instructions videos.

The introduction video says that you’ll need the .ftp file transfer software FileZilla, to place this software on yourwebsite, as it is a self hosted web-based application. You might be able to upload the software using your hosts control panel but by using FileZilla they were able to rightuniversal directions that would work at almost every hosting service.

In fact, watching the section that explains how to upload these files using FileZilla might just make your entire online experience better by helping you to understand why perhaps something else you bought might not have worked.

FileZilla makes it easy to upload, create, and organize files on your server so learning this skill from the SqueezeNinja tutorials could easily be considered a bonus, although it’s not listed on the sales page.

You’ll find lots of hidden “bonuses” like this throughout SqueezeNinja! Incidentally, FileZilla is a Free open-source software that everyone online eventually needs to learn, so don’t be confused about SqueezeNinja being a complete product. It is, and more! That said, uploading SqueezeNinja to your website is a cinch, it’s a relatively small file and takes anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes to upload depending on your bandwidth.

Once it’s uploaded you simply copy and paste the product license numbers you have received into the form and you are ready to start! You also receive access to step-by-step tutorials for every step of the SqueezeNinja page creation process.

All of the tutorial videos are clean, the sound is good, the picture quality is excellent, (I could read every word onthe screen, even without my reading glasses!) and the moderator’s voice is pleasant and his instructions thorough. Surprisingly, with as much power as this software provides the instructions videos only took about a half hour to complete. However, after watching them, and then looking at SqueezeNinja’s intuitive control panel I’m not sure the instructional videos were even necessary.

The simple control panel in SqueezeNinja is the only thing you need to concern yourself with whenever you want to create a squeeze page. It’s set up so all you need to do is fill in blanks, and click buttons.

Every decision you need to make has a “Question Mark Icon” next to it, and if you hover over them, you’ll get a complete explanation of what exactly you should be doing. I thought this “Question Mark Icon” tool to be an especially good feature, because if you don’t use this program very often, it will be nice to have these pop-up explanations there at your fingertips, to help jog your memory and move you along your way!

You can build your entire squeeze page and everything following the SqueezeNinja eight step form. Let me go over this so you can understand how it works. Any time you want to create a squeeze page, you’d start by logging into your control panel but if you’re already logged in, you can create several pages at that time. Once at your online control panel, to begin creating a squeeze page you need to simply “click” the “Create New Site” button at the top of the page.

As I said, “I feel confident I could have figured this out without watching the videos!” Once you “click” the “Create New Site” button, you’ll be instantly redirected to the eight step form.

The real genius in this control panel is that it’s so straight forward! Any options that don’t apply are hidden, unless you need them, so the entire thing is uncluttered and easy to follow. For instance, in step #1 you can choose whether or not to have tracking codes inserted. In the control panel, you’ll see a question that says “Use Tracking” and two radio buttons.

You’ll also see a helpful “Question Mark Icon”, also. If you leave the box checked “No” which it is by default, you’ll have no fields with which to concern yourself. However, if you check “Yes” the control panel will expand, giving you the options related to tracking codes and the forms needed to make them work!

The control panel is ingenious in this way because it only gives you the information you need when you need it! This is why, try as I might, to fool the software, every-time I created a squeeze page it looked and functioned beautifully!

Every option you could hope for is at your fingertips! You can decorate your site using gradients, different backgrounds, using images from the pre-loaded library of images that the software includes, or by uploading your own images using the “Browse” and “Upload” buttons in the control panel!

That’s right, once you have SqueezeNinja uploaded you won’t ever need to use your .ftp or hosting control panel to upload images! Everything is created using the SqueezeNinja control panel! It even includes a WYSIWYG editor so editing your squeeze page content is super simple, with the ability to change font color, size and style as easy as typing into Microsoft’s word program.

If you want red titles in the “Impact font”, simply choose it from the drop down. You can choose to have the body textbe in Tahoma or Arial the same way. Want to bold a single word or italicize it? Then simply highlight the word with your cursor and click the style you find appealing!

This software doesn’t confine you to the old-fashioned out-of-date squeeze pages produced by other software. You trulyget full control of how your website looks and feels. It’s even easy to place video into your squeeze pages to really modernize them and push-up conversions!

Integrating your auto-responder account’s opt-in (regardless of which auto-responder you use) is a copy and paste snaponce you retrieve the code from your auto-responders website. You can also add social sharing icons to your squeeze page so it promotes itself!

After you have designed the look and feel of your squeeze page, it is on to creating your thank-you page and choosing if you want to take advantage of any of the other options this software provides. All of this still within the eight step form at your SqueezeNinja’s control panel!

You can upload your thank-you gift, right through the upload link the same way you would a custom header image, and people will only be able to download your gift after giving you their email address!

This process is automatic. You’re even reminded to add customer service links, but you don’t need to include them if you don’t want. Finally, you’re given the last option which is whether or not you want to monetize your opt-in squeeze page. This software gives you several ways to make money just by building websites designed to give stuff away.

The first is by choosing whether or not to leave a “Powered by SqueezeNinja” link in your footer. This option allows you to earn commissions each time someone clicks on the link and buys the software you are using. If you feel that option is gauche, or you just want to take full credit for creating these incredible pages yourself, simply check “No” in the “Powered by” when completing the “bottom of squeeze page” section of the form.

The other way you can monetize your squeeze page is by adding affiliate offers, or your own offers to the mix! This can be accomplished by either adding your JVZoo code or of course, you can fully customize your download page by adding any affiliate product link and image you’d like.

(You can even add your own products image and link, too!) I’m not even sure I covered half of the customization options SqueezeNinja provides! But the entire process is so simple, and best of all, it works! As soon as you click “Done”, you’ll be spoon fed the links to your pages and if you’re a coder, you can go in and further customize them with your own special codes.

(It’s on your site so you have total control!) However, simply by filling out the forms, you now have a fully functional squeeze page system with all the links and back pages included! You can visit your squeeze page’s link, test it out, (it will work) and then start driving traffic to it!

I love this new SqueezeNinja software; expect to see many more squeeze pages from me in the future!

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Make Traffic Count – How To Convert Traffic Into Sales

Make Traffic Count - How To Convert Traffic Into Sales

The primary goal of internet marketing is to bring traffic to a website. But let’s face it: While a lot of us are successful in bringing in traffic to our website, this does not mean that we are successful at our marketing campaign unless we make a sale.

Unfortunately, it has never been easy to convert website traffic into sales. A lot of websites are very successful in attracting visitors but very few can really convert visitors into customers.

If you are not gaining any sale from your web traffic, you are wasting a lot of your time, energy, and money in your marketing campaign. If this is the case then it’s time to re-evaluate things and figure out what’s wrong with your online strategy.

Below are handy online marketing tips that can significantly contribute change to visitor response rate in your website:

The target market

When it comes to your market, it is very important that you really ‘target’ your website visitors. The more targeted your market is, the better it is for you to provide them the right information that cater to their needs.

Additionally, try to find visitors who are ready to buy. You can do this by carefully selecting your keywords. While it is better to consider high volume searches like women’s  watches, try to also get more specific keywords like product names such as Timex GPS watch or Timex 1440 Sports.

If you are successful at targeting your market by choosing carefully your keywords, it’ll be easier for you to attend to their specific needs and you’ll be able to easily address these needs in your marketing materials.

Content

After you conduct a thorough research of your target market, the next step is to figure out how to effectively communicate with them.

It is very important that you consider “humanizing” your content rather than being too sale-sy. For example, instead of providing customers with 500-800 word content on the benefits of using your product why not give them something that will connect you to them personally? You may write something about how your previous customers felt and experienced after using the product.

Of course, if you are able to target your market, you should also be successful in creating the right content for your market. This means that you supply your market with complete and right details as much as possible. This is another way to connect to your market.

If your website is about hair straighteners, do not just provide your readers a list of products with pictures. Try to give as much information as possible to fulfil your market’s need for information. You should also include important details like features, pricing, and reviews.

The problem with most website owners is that they supply information that does not really ‘connect’ to their target market. Again, it is very important that you think of your market- what are they looking for in the first place? What are their needs?

Quite importantly, do not forget to do on-page optimization. Make sure that your webpages are well optimized. Like for example, your title tag and meta description are the first content that your visitors will see when they search online.

Thus, make sure that these sections are well optimized using your keywords and at the same time include a sentence or two that describes your product or service. Try to also add a call to action type of message to draw attention.

Design and navigation

You need to know how your visitors use your site. If you want to make a sale, you need to seamlessly combine content and page layout to get your visitors to purchase.

Most customers who are ready to buy often seek these things- contact information (specifically a phone number), satisfaction guarantee, and good support or customer service.

Again, when it comes to content, always create something that will ‘speak’ to your customers- provide them with clearer messages, assist them with their needs, and then eventually place a ‘call to action’ at the end of your message.

You’ll be surprise how little things can make a huge difference in online shopping. Make sure that your website is set-up in a way that people can find their way around effortlessly.

This is where split testing is needed. Most website owners only focus on their content and marketing strategies that they do not even bother to install a split testing software into their site.

Always consider and treat your website like it’s your real (offline) store and you are the store owner. All store owners know everything that is going on around their stores. This includes the number of people going in and out, the number of people buying, the products purchased, and so on.

Store owners have all these information and at the end of the day, they evaluate everything and check which needs replacement and which needs to be improved.

As a website owner, running and maintaining a website should also work that way. Having a split testing software installed will help you keep track of all elements that are working and not working in your site.

A good split testing software is able to provide you with good comparison between two or several elements in your site (like the headline or opt-in form) and suggests you the version that provides you with better results.

By constantly conducting split tests in your site can get you ahead of your competition since this will mean you’re always finding ways to improve your website pages.

Web analysis

Analysis and measurement of results should not be neglected. Make sure that your tracking software is accurate so all your efforts won’t be put to waste.

Always allot time to analyze your website statistics. This is the only way to know your visitors and to find for ways to convert them to customers.

Google Analytics for example can provide you with important information about your visitors and your website- the keywords that bring them to your site, the page entry, the exit pages, the links they click, and so on.

Use all this information to improve your website and develop ways on how you can convert visitors to customers.

That’s it guys! Go ahead and try to incorporate these things in your website. Hopefully, you can also share your thoughts here. I would love to hear them! 🙂

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Greatest Concern About Facebook Home? You Guessed It, Privacy

If there is one thing that we have been conditioned to do over the years whenever Facebook so much as hiccups is to wonder just what they have or have not done to the privacy of Facebook users.

Facebook has a reputation of running roughshod over its users’ privacy and then acting as if there is a ‘no harm, no foul’ attitude that we should all adopt. Whether you let them off the hook or not is your call. Most simply put up with it and move on regardless.

The level of mistrust that has developed over the years is a healthy one but let’s be realistic here. It’s mostly shared by a vocal minority that Facebook is smart enough to realize is confined in a relatively tight echo chamber. After all there are about 1 billion users of Facebook and it is probably safe to say (in an extremely non-scientific manner) that at least 95% of them either don’t have a clue about what Facebook knows about them nor do they care. When it comes to how privacy is viewed by Facebook users, Facebook knows that its best result falls under the ‘ignorance is bliss’ category. They’re not stupid. Oh, and let’s not forget, this is for Android users only which is, for the most part, a different crowd than folks using iOS for their mobile experience.

 

So with the new Facebook Home offering that was announced last week that is set to start appearing in the wild on April 12, Facebook is looking to get out in front of any privacy issues. It’s a smart move and one that is pure CYA since we recognize that Facebook wants as much data as they can possibly get on every single user of Facebook. Why? For advertisers to target better. It’s a simple formula and if they act as if they have their users’ best interest at heart they can likely get away with gathering more and more data from the vast majority of users who are relatively clueless.

Here are a few of their ‘answers’ to privacy questions that users of Home will likely never truly investigate. The first question of the post speaks to just how uneducated many Facebook users are likely to be. In other words, Facebook has little to worry about.

Q: Do I have to use Home to access Facebook on Android?

A: No. Home is a new way to experience Facebook, and we hope people enjoy using it. But you won’t get Home unless you specifically choose to do so — either by downloading Home from the Play Store or by purchasing a phone with Home preinstalled.

Q: What information does Home collect?

A: Like other parts of Facebook, Home collects information when you interact with the service, such as liking or commenting on a post or sending a message. Home also may collect other information about how you use it. For example, Facebook maintains a list of the apps that you have in the Home app launcher. We store this information in identifiable form for 90 days and use it to provide the service and improve how it works.

For devices that come with Home preinstalled, Home can display system notifications, meaning that it will show notifications from apps on your phone. Since these notifications appear in Home, Facebook collects information about the notification (such as which app is generating them) but not the content of the notification itself. We remove identifying information from this data after 90 days.

Personally, I have no interest in Home. I don’t have specific reasons but it is a general feeling that how I use Facebook presently is more than sufficient and there is no reason to get sucked into a Facebook social vortex. I also doubt very much that iOS users will be rushing to Android devices just so they can get on board either. For these two reasons alone I wonder just how pervasive Home can actually become.

What are your impressions of Home? Will is make an impact in the marketplace? Since it is an Android only play is this simply Facebook’s way of further locking in those who have cheaper phones and are less likely to care about what Facebook is doing to them rather than what it is doing for them? And if the folks who may be the target of Home are not the ‘cream of the crop’ of Internet users what kind of advertising or what type of advertisers will likely benefit from the Home crowd?

Your thoughts?

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Get Found, Make Money: Optimizing Apps for Search

State of App Search: Needle in a Haystack

Have you ever tried to meet someone at Grand Central Station or some other incredibly crowded venue? It sounds so doable and yet it is so not. There are too many people, too many distractions and too much stuff in the way.

App (tablet and phone applications) stores, both iTunes and Google Play Store have the same problem. Both have in excess of 750,000 files to paw through, download, try, remove and lather, rinse and repeat. It is likely true that for any problem “there’s an app for that,” but not an app tofind the app.

Now I know what you’re thinking. App stores are online and I can use the handy search feature to find the app of my dreams or needs. Well….maybe.  I ran a search using keyword productivity on both sites. In the search department, Google gets extra credit for a more pleasing search results display with icons, star ratings and a nifty description. However, points off for egregious self-promotion by soaking up 3 of the top 10 slots for Google Keep, Google Calendar (a productivity app?) and Google Drive.

Apple dispenses with search entirely and favors the top-down directory approach similar to that phone book you’re using to prop open the garage door (and equally as useful). An iTunes app category landing page is as easy to navigate as airport flight information boards. I am uncertain what the organization scheme might be, although it bears a striking resemblance to the one I use for my home office. I guess that Steve Jobs never had to use iTunes search or he certainly would have done something about that display.

Chart comparing Google Play and Apple iTunes app stores.

So, if you want customers to find your app for either location, you will have to “make it so” yourself and here’s how:

On the page app optimization

As with traditional SEO, both app stores start with traditional information retrieval systems that emphasize the presence of the query terms in the body content and the placement on the page to put together a search results page. Position on this results page is based on magical thinking (for Apple) and a variety of algorithms (for Google).

Keywords

Apple encourages the assignment of keywords to your application and makes it as difficult as possible. They must be using some sort of Stone Age search in Cupertino, or they all know where everything is and do not need any sort of search functionality at all.

There is a 100 character limit to the keyword field that includes the required comma separators. There is no phrase matching. If you want your app to appear for a phrase like “business news,” the keywords would appear together, e.g. business, news. Google stopped paying attention to keyword metadata a long time ago and Google Play Store is no exception.

Name

For both the Google Play Store and iTunes, the presence of keywords in the app name is rewarded. The keyword-rich name should also include terms that reference the app’s functionality e.g. Weather+ International Travel Weather Calculator.

Apple limits the app name to 255 characters with full display on that page-o-links that serves as search results. For its Staff Picks on the Google Play homepage, app name display is limited to 17-21 (I have seen more at 17 than 21) characters (including spaces) with anything that follows represented by an ellipsis.

App icon

Icons are a very good idea and eye candy is the purpose. The icon appears on the download page as well as in the Google Play search results.

Details page

In iTunes, the details page is limited to 4,000 characters with 700 cited as a best practice. One screen shot is required with the ability to include four additional screen captures. The description of the application and functionality should be keyword-rich with a compelling call to action as customer interaction is a significant indicator of relevance. Additional components that can be included: an instructional video, customer ratings and reviews.

Chart comparing Evernote Apps in Google Play and iTunes

Categories

In iTunes the app will be listed under a primary category with the opportunity to select a second category for additional customer query option. The best practice recommendation is to use the customer pain point resolved as a guide for the second category.

Off the page factors that influence ranking

There are influences outside of download page text that can influence ranking in iTunes application search results. The primary off the page ranking factors are:

Downloads: the number and rate of downloads are key drivers of results placement.

Installation base: how many customers actually install the app.

Removals: whether customers dislike the app enough to shake off their lethargy to remove it entirely. Both Google Play and iTunes take note of uninstalls as an indicator of relevance.

Customer reviews and ratings: whether customers give you stars or actually write something down on the page. It is very important that you pay attention to the feedback from your users and respond in some way.

Recommendations

Optimize the application itself.

  • Make sure that the performance speed is smokin’ fast
  • Reduce the file usage weights
  • Keep the application fresh with updates and enhancements

Build and sustain support from external assets.

  • Website support: placement of a permanent download icon or graphic on your website
  • Social media support: schedule tweets with a tiny URL, post to Facebook, pin on Pinterest and don’t forget regular updates on Google+ to sustain momentum

Reach out to key influencers.

  • Contact app blogs and promotion networks to get them excited and talking about your swell new app!
  • Encourage customer reviews and ratings

Gotchas for both

You will want to submit the app to both iTunes and Google Play Store at least two weeks before release as it takes time for the files to make their way through the Apple and Google processes. To do this, Google requires that you set up yet another account with the Google Play Developers Console to upload apps. The fee for doing so is $25. At least Apple lets you play without having to pay.

Is it just me or does this sound like the early days of SEO, the way it used to be 10 years ago with keyword sort-of-stuffing, key influencer outreach, and review “acquisition”? We might as well enjoy the waning days of this Luddite approach to SEO. No doubt Google is working on Panda-app as I write this post. Look for the icon below at the Google Play store. Or, more likely, it will come looking for you.

Panda in front of Google logo

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Grow Some Leads This Spring

Spring is finally here!  The weather is improving and everybody is starting to get outside.  The flowers are in bloom, and we can only hope that winter does not attempt to make a resurgence.

Spring is a great time to start anew and grow.  This is also a great time for businesses to catch some spring fever and attempt to grow their customer base.

If you are generating web traffic, especially to your landing pages, you have the seeds planted.  Now it is time to foster this traffic and create a strong CTA to let these visitors blossom into quality leads.

It only takes the smallest mistake to have your potential lead wither away and die, but don’t panic.  By making sure that your landing page and CTA have certain characteristics you can become a lead generation green thumb in no time!

10 Tips to Create a Strong CTA:

1. Keep it Short

Words to customers are like water to plants.  Too many of them and you will drown your visitors’ attention spans.  You only have a limited time to impress a visitor.  Make sure your visitors know what you are offering them, and entice them to provide you with contact information before they go elsewhere.

2. Be Direct

Just as many plants enjoy direct sunlight, most customers prefer direct language when choosing to take action.  Lengthy wording can come across as very shady and will turn customers away.  Don’t waste a customer’s time.  Use clear language that is consistent with the other pages of your website.

3. Give each CTA its own page

You wouldn’t put two large plants in the same pot, so why put two primary CTA’s on the same page?  Two CTA’s on one page creates conflict and confusion that could ultimately end up strangling the life out of both.  Your visitor was focused on doing one thing when they navigated to your landing page.  Keep it that way.

4. Promote your CTA through multiple channels

Feed your call to actions, just as you would feed your plants.  Give your CTA support from various outlets, including social media and your blog.  The more exposure that your various CTA’s get the better.

5. Personalize your CTA’s for various customers

Different potential customers are exactly like plants: they are all different.  Don’t link every customer to the same call to action, because it may not be applicable to them.  Try leading customers to various CTA’s to improve your chances of generating a lead.  Try A/B testing to drive traffic to your most popular CTA’s.

6. Utilize white space effectively

Think of the type of plant that you would put in your front window.  That is your call to action.  You want to showcase your CTA and make sure that it is visible to the customer.  Don’t clutter your CTA with multiple colors and text.  Use white space to draw the attention to your CTA and lead capture form.

7. Make your CTA’s something customers want

Would you give a plant soda?  I would hope not.  Just as plants don’t want human beverages, visitors don’t want to do something that does not benefit them.  We understand that you want a way to contact your potential lead, but remember your marketing.  The best way to create a strong CTA is to give customers what they want and create a mutually beneficial relationship.

8. Make sure your landing page is mobile friendly

Not all plants are lucky enough to be in the ground.  Some are confined to a much smaller pot.  Similarly, not all visitors are lucky enough to access their computers at all times.  Sometimes potential customers will only have access to their mobile devices.  To keep your channels of communication open, make sure that your landing page and CTA are mobile friendly.

9. Position testimonials on your landing page

Think of positive feedback from current customers as Miracle-Gro.  Statistics of benefits that you can provide and testimonials can provide an extra boost to grow your customer base.  Attempt to include some impressive statistics or testimonials on your landing page to support your call to action.  However, just like Miracle-Gro, don’t use too much!

10. Include secondary CTA’s

It is always nice to have a feature flower or plant, but one is the loneliest number.  Despite being focused, a landing page is still another chance to internally promote your business.  Rather than letting multiple primary CTA’s battle it out on one page, try linking to a secondary CTA.  Something as simple as a small link encouraging customers to subscribe to your blog is a great way to start an internal loop.

Sometimes it is the little things that you do that make all the difference.  Traffic is a great thing to have, but without some nurturing it fade away and those potential leads will wilt.  Make sure to feed, water and encourage your visitors to grow into customers.

Happy spring everyone!

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