“Free” is the most awesome price of all. “Free” gets you started when you have nothing. “Free” took me from 0 to the first 1 million visitors to my blog.
“Free” is also the price that most people gravitate to when they are first starting out. But, the trouble is, most of those people also think that you have sign up for some big, expensive service once your audience numbers get serious.
You don’t have any excuses, because free web services and products available today are so good that you can easily use them to build up your own blog to 1 million visitors. You can start today, from scratch, and use every single one of these every day along your journey.
From idea creation, to producing, publishing and designing your content, to sharing, marketing and promoting your brand, you’ll find these tools free and accessible.
Here are the 17 best ones I myself used to grow my blog at iDoneThis:
At its most basic Quora is a Q&A site – you go there, ask a question and get an answer. It offers a seemingly infinite array of knowledge. But, when you start using the site properly, and you’re interacting with others, Quora blossoms into so much more.
Quora is a great place for content ideas. You can search for a topic, see what others are asking, and answering and then write it up, adding to the conversation. But there’s more: Kevan Lee at Buffer recently set out all the ways you can use Quora to market yourself for your business.
Quora helps you establish yourself as a leader in your area, if you use it right. If you have a product, you can use the site to get feedback from users and to generate new feature ideas.
Feedly is the best blog reader around. You have to be reading a lot of other blogs if you want yours to stand out. Once you start reading the top blogs from key influencers, you will learn the right style that drives traffic, and what sets top blogs apart from the rest.
When Google Reader shut its door a couple of years ago, almost everyone flocked to the then-new Feedly app. You can sign up for blog feeds from the app, share your favourite posts, bookmark the ones you still have to read and read them, in Feedly’s intuitive, magazine style.
BuzzSumo is an awesome tool,with one simple aim: It helps you find what articles people are sharing, and who is sharing them. From this simple start, you can gain a wealth of information: The best length, type and content for a POS. With the free account, you can only get limited information, but definitely enough to find out what works and what doesn’t.
The site can also help you target the key influencers in your area of expertise. One of the reasons I love BuzzSumo is that data is at the heart of it. The folks behind the site recently analysed all their data to find out what goes viral. They found that having just one key influencer share your post can increase your number of shares by over 30 percent. Just having three will double the number of times your post is shared.
There are a trillion word processing apps available, but Quip has my vote as the easiest and most intuitive app to use. It is by your words that you are going to live or die. So, write them in style.
What’s unique about Quip is that it was designed, from the ground-up, to be a mobile-first word-processing app. Bret Taylor, the co-founder, says that, “Offline and online are no longer separate binary states.”
Quip works as quickly as a local app, but everything is in the cloud. This particularly works well for companies like iDoneThis, where team members might be thousands of miles apart but working on the same post. With Quip, we can all edit documents as if they were on our local machines.
Related: How to Make Money Blogging
The Hemingway app is all about making your writing clearer and more accessible. For some people, writing flows naturally through their fingers; for the rest of us there is Hemingway.
The app helps you avoid complicated, hard-to-read sentences, passive voice and adverbs. Hemingway is ideal for people who have to explain complicated ideas to a lay audience.
Trello is an organisational tool, letting you organise work via “boards” where different ideas, pitches, outlines, drafts and articles are in your publishing pipeline. Richard White, CEO of UserVoice, described Trello as “a very open-ended product.” Yep.
When you first open Trello, it seems both simple and daunting. But what wins me over to Trello is that so much of the organisation is left up to you – there is no right way to use Trello, just your way.
There are countless content management system (CMS) options, but WordPress is still the best. Once you have got your site up and running, you need a way to publish your stories. Somewhere like Tumblr is great for your own personal blog, but if you are looking to get north of a million visitors, then you need the type of platform WordPress provides.
On WordPress you can customise your site and add plugins for a ton of different needs, from SEO optimisation to image presentation, from email forms to capture.
Plus, other apps on this list, like SumoMe and Google Analytics, have one-click setup plugins to get you up and running immediately.
Canva is a design service for people who can’t design. An image in a post will increase shares, and increased shares means more visitors. Ergo, you need images. So what happens if you are artistically-challenged? Welcome, Canva. Anyone can use it for anything: A sheriff even used the site to design a wanted poster.
The site uses simple drag-and-drop principles to help you create art and design for your site, allowing you to choose from thousands of images, fonts and colours to get exactly what you need to illustrate your story.
Images are also the best way to share ideas on social media, and Stencil lets you create amazing text-based images, helping you get more engagement and shares on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.
You can create quotes and daily inspiration messages, or just have a line from your latest blog post as a teaser. You can also take in information from images ten times faster than from text alone; and because visual processing is what our brains are designed for, sharing ideas as images immediately invokes a reaction in your audience.
Death to Stock Photo
Death To Stock Photo is what stock photo services should be like. A few years ago Wired published an article about stock photography, or laughing-stock photography as it should be called.
When the Wired article came, out Death To Stock quickly contacted the editors to say that not all stock services are bad. And they were right.
Death To Stock Photo shows that you can have awesome image content for your site for free. As I said earlier, images increase shares, and having great images will definitely get your blog noticed more.
Typeform helps you build contact forms and surveys, meaning you can interact with your audience and become a meaningful place for dialog. Tasked with surveying some of the top business leaders in the world, Mia Mabanta at Quartz turned to Typeform.
She got a survey completion rate of 55 percent (which is awesome) and surveyed 940 top executives. She spent zero dollars doing this.
Her team chose Typeform because responders could easily navigate it whether they were on a desktop or mobile, and users could stay on the page throughout, rather than wait for the next page to load – one of the main reasons people bug-out on a survey.
TinyLetter is a super-simple app that lets you create and distribute email newsletters, which are a great way to get your ideas into everyone’s inboxes each week.
Alexis Madrigal, deputy editor at The Atlantic, has grown his own newsletter to thousands and thousands of readers using this tool. TinyLetter let him get set up the moment he had the idea and distribute the newsletter to all his readers; it even lets people sign up straight from Twitter. The simplicity and ease of use of TinyLetter is why it is a great place to start building a following.
SumoMe is a suite of apps that lets people interact with your site better using share and social buttons. It also helps you build up an email list with popups, and can even tell you where people are clicking on your site.
Noah Kagan, founder of SumoMe and AppSumo, and employee #30 at Facebook, built a massive email list of over a million emails for AppSumo, so he obviously knows what he is talking about.
SumoMe gives you an in-depth analysis of what works on your blog and what doesn’t. It also integrates with other services’ email lists so you can seamlessly build your email list to grab all your visitors.
Wisestamp lets you link to your online presence automagically in your email signature, adding links to your social media, blog and latest posts.
A story illustrates its use: British Cycling used to be terrible. When Dave Brailsford took over as performance director in 2003, Britain’s best Olympics haul in cycling was still the one it had achieved in 1908.
But since 2003, British cyclists have won 18 Olympic gold medals, 59 World Championships and – though it hadn’t ever won the Tour de France in the race’s 112-year history – British cyclists have won it three out of the last four years.
Brailsford puts this down to marginal gains: If you break every problem down to its components and improve each by just 1 percent, you will have a significant improvement when you put it all back together.
When I saw Wisestamp, it reminded me of this story. Most people won’t see their email signature as a way to gain traffic, but that is exactly how Wisestamp sees it.
If you want to hit a million users, you have to look for every single marginal gain. Find all of Brailsford’s 1 percent improvements and add them up and they will eventually lead you to your million visitors.
Print Friendly and a PDF
Print Friendly is a Chrome extension that will transform your blog into a PDF, getting rid of all the extra crap and just leaving your audience with a well-formatted booklet of your posts.
A great way to gain a following is to create an ebook that’s a “content upgrade,” in the form of a PDF that visitors can download and read offline – in exchange for their email address.
This is an awesome trick that Noah Kagan used to gain thousands of more subscribers from his guest posts. This might seem like an major extra hassle, but thanks to Print Friendly, it doesn’t have to be. The strategy is particularly great if you have a long, detailed post that would work well as an ebook. You just need a couple of clicks with Print Friendly.
Buffer seems like a simple tool to manage your online social media presence. But, in the right hands it can be turned into a demon of analysis, allowing you to reach more people with your posts and tweets and optimise your content for social sharing.
Madhav Bhandari handles growth at Hubstaff, and is using Buffer to analyse the site’s posts. Hubstaff has used Buffer to boost its social traffic by 350 percent, simply by analysing what makes posts shareable and what doesn’t. Once you start to analyse your posts at this level of depth, you will quickly realise what is worth the effort, and what is a waste.
So, how do you know when you have hit that cool million? You need Google Analytics. In fact, you need it way before then. You should be checking out your visitor numbers from your very first post, analysing what posts get the highest views and where those views are coming from. Then, you can start to tailor your operation around those ideas. Keep what works, and throw out the rest.
Google Analytics is the most extensive suite out there, and even the biggest sites are still using it. Google obviously knows its numbers, and if this is a major place your visitors are coming from, who better to tell you the good news?
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
10 Online Marketers To Watch In 2018
The more diverse your sources of news and inspiration, the better. These ten people can help get you there.
Online marketing requires experience, creativity and a working knowledge of the latest trends and technologies necessary to stay competitive in the modern landscape. And while there aren’t any shortcuts to gain more experience, there is a convenient way to stay up to date on the latest marketing trends and get inspiration for your creative campaigns.
That way? Following and paying attention to the best, smartest marketers in the industry.
With 2018 just getting started, I wanted to list some of my favourite marketing influencers, some of the most influential experts in the industry and some of the most promising creative minds to pay attention to this year:
The Best Conversion Rate Optimisation Tips To Help You Grow Your Business
Whether you’re the owner of a company, or an online blogger, knowing conversion rate optimisation techniques will help you immensely.
Conversion rate optimisation, otherwise known as CRO, is a 21st-century way to turn visitors to your website or blog into followers of your information or customers of your product or service.
Therefore, whether you’re the owner of a company, or an online blogger, knowing conversion rate optimisation techniques will help you immensely.
What Is Conversion Rate Optimisation or CRO?
Internet marketing, or what some people call online marketing, is promoting your product or service on the Internet through the digital channels available. Driving traffic is to your website or blog is hard, but it’s something you need to do in order to sell your product or service, so the last thing you want is to leave money on the table.
Traditionally, from the traffic you drive to your blog or website, a percentage of that traffic will become your customers or followers.
CRO is conversion optimisation strategies that puts a focus on your blog or website to determine what small or big changes need to be made to convert as many of your visitors as possible.
It’s the classic case of not working harder, but smarter.
Changes such as a new headline, new sales copy, a different coloured CTA (Call-to-Action) button, and more, are tested for effectiveness. This helps you take out all the guesswork and make changes that are proven to convert more sales.
Techniques such as A/B testing, where you create two different landing pages and send the same amount of traffic to each, is one example.
At the end of the day, the version that receives the most conversion is the one you would choose. A site with significant traffic may successfully test over a shorter time. On the other hand, in order to get accurate data, a site with a smaller amount of traffic will likely need more time than a larger one for testing.
What Happens When You Convert More Visitors Into Customers?
It’s a no brainer, when you convert visitors into clients and customers, your sales increase, and that’s the number one goal of any company or business. CRO can help you grow your business by receiving the same amount of traffic that you’re currently receiving.
Technically that means that you can make more sales without having to spend more money on marketing.
That also means that you’re not focused on the number of traffic you pull in with a mind on percentages, but rather focused on making the most of the traffic you currently have which makes the most of your marketing efforts.
Not Utilising CRO Means You Are Leaving Money on The Table
Let’s say you’re a small company with a goal of R50,000 a month in revenue. Your job is to turn a percentage of your visitors into customers. Without the correct conversion rate optimisation strategies, you’re looking strictly at numbers. You find that 1,000 visitors turn into 50 customers with a revenue of R20,000, which is R30,000 away from your goal.
Without the correct CRO strategies in place, you would work to increase the number of visitors to your site. However, with CRO, you implement e-commerce CRO tips that result in those 1,000 visitors turning into 125 customers. That brings you to your R50,000 goal. Without performing conversion rate optimisation, you’ve left R30,000 on the table.
Now that you’ve reduced your cost per acquisition, or what you pay per sale or click or form submit, you can either invest more in advertising or just bank the profits. Now that you understand what conversion rate optimisation is all about, let’s have a look at some of the best strategies that can help you take your business to a whole new level.
20 Of The Best CRO Strategies
You can spend loads of money on a fancy website or blog, but if it isn’t converting correctly, you’re losing customers and sales. That’s why conversion rate optimisation is becoming the number one priority with websites and blogs in the 21st-century.
1. Create an Effective Headline
If you are trying to convert visitors into followers or customers from a specific post, then your headline is one of the most important elements. It’s not there for a hard sell; it’s there to draw your potential customers to your site so that they’ll check out your product or service.
Your headline must show people what benefit they will receive from using what you have to offer.
Keep changing up those headlines till you find a strategy that works.
2. Reduce Huge Blocks of Text with Bullet Points
The way you present the content on your website is crucial. Give a potential customer too much information, and they’ll leave your site with eyes glazed over. Any material you present should be not only easy to understand but short and to the point. One of the best ways to do that is with bullet points.
Bullet points create an organised presentation that keeps potential customers interested.
3. Include Your Contact Information
Significant changes can be done to your website or blog to increase conversions, but so can small ones. Include your contact information on your site or blog. This shows that you’re accountable and don’t mind being contacted, which can lead to customer trust and eventually sales. Include your phone number, email address, and even your mailing address.
4. Replace Phony Stock Photos
You know what a phony stock photo looks like. It’s the kind that you purchase from stock photo sites, and they’re the kind that you often see at more than one website. These types of photos look phony, and they reduce your credibility. Replace fake-looking stock photos with professional, unique photos or good quality photos that you’ve taken.
For example, instead of using a stock photo model with a cheesy grin, use a picture of one of your employees.
5. Use a Pop-Up Form
One effective way to convert visitors into followers and subscribers is a pop-up form. When visitors come to your side, a form pops up that encourages them to leave their name and email address, or just their email address, to become a subscriber. When you have a list of subscribers, you can then turn them into customers through newsletters, emails, etc.
6. Eliminate Unneeded Form Fields
A website or blog that is not user-friendly when it comes to form fields may not translate to customer conversion. A form field is where your customers type in their information. What is the bare minimum of customer information that you need? You ask for the name, but do you also need the company name, for example, or can you do without having a customer type that in?
7. Remove Automatic Image Sliders
Images that flash before your eyes automatically may look attractive, but automatic image sliders have been proven to create banner blindness and therefore, reduce conversion. Use static images instead.
8. Include Videos
Videos have proven to be effective in drawing visitors and turning them into customers. If your site sells fishing products, for example, include a video of an expert fisherman using one of your fishing poles. Make sure the video is no more than two to three minutes long and be sure to put one on your landing page.
9. Make Your Call-To-Action Button Pop
Here is another strategy that seems small but that may prove to be very effective. Alter your call-to-action or CTA button. For example, is it more efficient for your button to say “Download Now” rather than “Buy Now”? Is it better for your CTA button to be a bright red rather than a navy blue? By testing changes to your call-to-action button, you can determine if such a change will be effective.
10. Limit Your Call-To-Actions
If you have one call-to-action button on your website, that’s a wise choice. Too many call-to-actions can confuse potential customers and turn them off from your site. Put your focus on one effective call-to-action.
11. Have You Included the Word “Free”?
If there’s one thing that people love, it’s free stuff. What can you offer potential customers that are free?
For example, let’s say you sell psychic readings. Offer your potential clients a 10-minute free reading and display the offer prominently on the front page of your site. Chances are you’ll get a lot of conversions for your niche. Once you’ve drawn in customers with the free deal, you can better bring them to your paid services.
12. Match Your Landing Page to Your Ad
When your ad matches your landing page, the colour co-ordination and organisation can translate to conversions. In addition to the colour, the copy you use on your ad should match, in some way, with your landing page. So, when you draw potential customers to your ad, you gently move them to your landing page with no sharp differences.
13. Incorporate Trust Seals on Your Checkout Page
If there’s one thing that draws customers to a product or service, it’s trust. Incorporating trust seals on your checkout page and other places on your website is an excellent way to show that you are legitimate and to increase conversions.
For example, if you are offering dental products, a seal from a trusted dental association helps with customer trust.
14. Convey a Sense of Urgency
When you are promoting a product or service letting your potential customers know that a particular price will end soon, or that a product or service will only be offered for a limited, time greatly helps with conversion.
For example, let’s say yours is a site that sells cookware and you’re providing a crock-pot at a temporarily discounted price.
You would display on your blog or website a photo of the crock pot, along with content and possibly a video, and you would show the price and when the price ends.
15. Give Them a Money-Back Guarantee
There will always be a percentage of customers who are on the fence about your product or service. So how do you get them over that hump and create a conversion? One way is to offer a money-back guarantee and to display it where it can be seen.
Keep in mind that it’s good to put a time limit on the money-back guarantee to something like 30 days or 60 days.
16. Include Live Chats
Many companies are adding live chat prominently on their websites to answer customer’s questions in real-time. This is an effective solution that can lead to conversions. It allows you to take care of all a client’s issues to lead them into a sale. Many companies utilise chat apps to help with this process.
17. Retarget Your Ads
There are large and small changes that can be made to your website to increase conversions, but changes to the way you’re handling your ads could be done as well. Retargeting customers, can help increase conversions period.
When visitors come to your site, you create a customised targeted ad to get to them as soon as they leave.
If a visitor has come to your cosmetic store looking for an eye shadow, when they leave your site you target them with an ad for a different eye shadow in your line. The goal is to keep a visitor engaged with your product or service while staying top of mind.
18. Give Them Free Shipping
Shipping costs for a product can often make or break a sale. So, if there’s one thing that can contribute to conversion, it’s free shipping. Let your customers know that shipping is not a cost that they have to concern themselves with.
If free shipping seems unaffordable for your company, work with ways to cover shipping costs with your product prices.
19. Include Real Testimonials With Photos
One of the best ways to instill confidence in your product or service is with real testimonials. Have customers write testimonials of 50 to 100 words about your product or service and include a photo of the customers next to their testimonials. Include their full name with their picture.
20. Get Customers to Share Their Purchases on Social Media
These days, almost all of your clients are likely to be on at least one social media site. Encourage them to share the purchases they’ve made of your products on social media, such as Instagram.
Every time a customer buys one of your products or your services, automatically give them an opportunity to share and talk about what they’ve bought with a user-friendly share process included on your site.
The sooner you work on conversion rate optimisation tips on your blog or website, the sooner you’ll be bringing in customers in the most efficient way.
Customers translate to profits and profits translate to a successful company or business. CRO takes time, but with patience, your website or blog will see vast improvement in conversions.
Implementing 2 Advanced Google AdWords Strategies
Find out how Dynamic Search Ads and Call-Only Campaigns can give you that competitive edge you need on Google AdWords.
Let’s explore two advanced Google AdWords campaign types: Dynamic Search Ads and Call-Only campaigns. Give these two campaign types a try. They’ll let you squeeze even more from your AdWords account.
Dynamic search ads (DSAS)
Dynamic search ads are magical keys to reaching your customers. And the best part? Using them is easy once you master the setup.
What Are DSAs?
Google knows it’s hard to keep your campaigns perfectly in sync with your website. If you have an e-commerce site with thousands of products changing regularly, it’s a chore to be constantly creating new keywords, new ad groups and new ads inside your AdWords account.
DSAs were created to fill this gap. They let you show ads to excellent prospects who might be searching for items you sell on your site even if you don’t have a corresponding keyword for them in your account.
Why should you set up a DSA?
As long as you set a low cost-per-click, dynamic search ads typically have a decent CPA and provide additional relevant traffic. They’re also great for research as you get to uncover new search terms that people are using to find your site. (You can use this intelligence after the fact to add new keywords to your account.)
Let’s say you’ve just started selling wrought-iron fire pits on your e-commerce site but you don’t have the keywords for them yet in your AdWords account. A new prospect – we’ll call her Kim – is currently online searching for this by name. Kim types it in verbatim: “wrought iron fire pits.”
If you have a DSA campaign set up, you’re in luck: Google instantly recognises that you sell these but don’t yet have keywords for the purpose. Thankfully, you don’t miss a beat with Kim – Google shows her your Dynamic ad, then she clicks, comes to your website and makes a purchase.
How do they work?
It starts with Google regularly scanning your website and keeping an index of all its pages. When you’re starting out, you can choose to point Google to your entire site – we recommend this for your first DSA campaign – although later on you can target specific categories within your site.
Google knows what keywords are in your account and, more importantly, what keywords are not there. This means they can make accurate judgments about when to step in and show your DSA ads.
When setting up DSAs, Google creates the headline and you write the description. They choose the final URL and you set the bid.
Here’s how to set up a DSA:
- Create a new campaign. One of the options you’ll see is to create a DSA campaign. We suggest not using that as it would limit your options further along. Instead, create a new Search campaign with “all features.” Your plan will be to only use DSAs inside that campaign.
- You’ll need at least one ad group to hold your DSAs, and one is typically enough if you’re just starting out.
- You still want to be split-testing, even though Google chooses your headline for you. So, create two different DSA ads with different body copy in each.
- Choose the target. Start with the “all webpages” default. Save the advanced targeting for later.
- Add in ad extensions just as you would for a regular campaign.
Ongoing management of your DSA
Review your data. Keep an eye on the search queries Google chooses, particularly in the first few days. This lets you add any new negative keywords that you don’t want your ads shown for. And it’s a good way to identify and add new keywords you hadn’t yet thought of for other functioning campaigns. (You can add these new keywords as negatives in your DSA campaign, which forces that keyword traffic over to new campaigns in your account. Your DSA campaigns won’t be affected.)
These allow you to create search ads where Google shows your phone number rather than a headline. As such, they only show on mobile devices capable of making calls.
A person clicks on your ad, which starts the process of calling your business directly from their mobile, rather than taking them to your site.
Why use call-only?
Call-only campaigns force people to call your phone number rather than visit your site. If generating more phone calls is high priority for your business, call-only campaigns are worth testing.
How to set up call-only campaigns
Setup is simple. You can create a new campaign from scratch or just copy your existing search campaigns and change the ad type. Replace regular ads with call-only ads.
Tip: Google wants to see individual ad groups with a reasonable number of impressions at the ad group level. So a small number of ad groups with more keywords in each one – generating more impressions per ad group – will work better for call-only campaigns.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com
Start-up Advice2 months ago
9 Quotes Every Entrepreneur Should Live By
Lessons Learnt2 months ago
15 Wise Insights From 15 Entrepreneurial Icons
Company Posts2 months ago
Enhance Your Entrepreneurial Flair With An Online Postgraduate Diploma From The University Of Pretoria
Personal Finance2 months ago
If You Think These 5 Things, You’ll Never Get Rich By The Time You’re 30