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7 Easy Ways To Drive Reader Engagement Using Social Media For Your Business

7 Easy Ways To Drive Reader Engagement Using Social Media For Your Business

Beyond • October 1, 2013

In the following post you will get a crash course on improving your reader engagement through social media. Whether you’re a lone blogger or managing the marketing efforts for a huge company, you need to take these tips on board to get more engagement which will ultimately amount to improving the amount of traffic and social shares your website gets at the same time. According to a recent post by Jeff Bullas, there are now over 1.15 billion active users on Facebook, 343 million active Google+ users and 288 million monthly Twitter users. There is a huge portion of the globe actively using these social networks and a sizable chunk using the smaller social networks and niche social networks. Everyone is jumping on social media and trying to make it work for their blog or for their business but most of them are throwing their time away. Engaging with the right people You need to ensure that you’re engaging with the right people, whatever social network you’re focusing on. If people don’t care what you have to say, how can you expect people to engage with you? This process can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it and ultimately it depends on what your end goal is. If you just want to connect with like-minded individuals then simply using the search function on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+ would work completely fine. If you want to step up your game and find influencers within your target market on Twitter for example, then there are a select are a number of tactics and tools that I mention here on the KISSmetrics blog. Open questions are your friend Let’s bring this back to the real world, have you ever tried to strike up a conversation without asking a question or asking a closed question? It doesn’t do too well at keeping the conversation going does it? Whatever you publish, whatever social network it’s on, you need to be asking open ended questions and driving the conversation forward. Next time you promote a piece of content, try adding a question to the end and see what sort of response you get. Don’t hide your social profiles This may seem extremely basic, but just mentioning your social profiles and putting them in a place where your websites visitors can find them seems to be something that falls by the way-side for a lot of blogs and websites. People want to connect with you and your business – there is an incredible audience of people that want to hear what you have to say and they won’t be able to if you hide your social profiles. You could take this a step further to include calls to action at the end of posts or pages on your website or within your author bio if you blog regularly. E.g. – “Follow Adam on Google+” You will be surprised the effect a clear cut call to action can have, and there’s a saying that fits quite well here: “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.” Take this a step further and include a call to action in emails to your mailing list, Benchmark Email has some templates that work quite well for this. Contribute to communities Social media communities are a great way of finding like-minded people that want to hear what you have to say. A lot of people do this wrong and use these communities as a way to drop links on auto pilot (Facebook Groups seem to have a lot of this going on). That type of thing just isn’t going to help you drive engagement forward, instead you need to ask open ended questions like I mentioned previously. Facebook groups, Google+ communities and Linkedin Groups are used heavily and chances are you will find a community that fits exactly with your target audience, if not quite a few of them. The power of mentions Just clicking that publish button isn’t enough anymore, there are some sites that don’t have this issue, but unless your Moz or Mashable then chances are you need to do a bit more than click publish. The next time you publish a blog post and you mention an individual or a company in that post, mention them in a tweet and ask them to help you share the content. I usually tend to go with this type of layout for example: “Blog Efficiently And Productively: How To Blog More In Less Time https://ow.ly/p5lZ3 (featuring @evernote)\" You could be even more direct and try: “Hey @evernote we mentioned you in a blog post https://ow.ly/p5lZ3 would you mind giving us an RT? please” I’ve use this tactic regularly and it gets me great results, sure not everyone will retweet or share your post but some will and it lets other people and companies know that you exist. You will probably find that the chances of the user sharing your content increases, the more mentions they get. Offer an incentive A lot of websites are jumping on board with incentives for sharing your content and that can come in various forms. The most popular of which seems to be contests where you offer up a prize and as a method of entry you can encourage users to share the post, follow your on Twitter or like you on Facebook for example. It’s easier than you may think as well, tools like Rafflecopter spit out some code for you to add into a blog post and take care of all of the hard work for you. Another way of giving an additional incentive to share is offering premium content in exchange for a share, or even for opting in to your mailing list. If your website is running on WordPress, there’s a number of plugins available to help you, I’d recommend checking out this post: 8 Top Social Locker Plugins for WordPress. Don’t forget the social element Real people engage with real people – if you think you can get away without being authentic then think again. That being said, being ‘real’ is an extremely time consuming task – just automating your social networking presence can seem like an easy option but it’s not engaging in the slightest. You need to be out there, asking questions, talking to like-minded people and engaging with them. You can offset the extra time that this takes by using some powerful tools for managing your social media presence. I’m a big fan of Buffer and Hootsuite, I use them both to do different things. Buffer is extremely effective at scheduling shares across Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook and G+ pages quickly while I find Hootsuite more effective as a general social media dashboard that I use across all of my devices – iPhone, iPad and my desktop computer. The takeaway If you take anything away from this post, you need to remember that people engage with people – starting a conversation and opening dialogue with other people is the only way to truly move things forward. It’s sometimes a bit too easy to forget that it’s another person at the end of that computer, but it is and it’s time to put the social element back into social media marketing. Do you have anything to add? I’d love to know how you’re driving reader engagement forward, whether it’s through social media or any other marketing channels.


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Someone Stole My Content, What Do I Do Now?

Someone Stole My Content, What Do I Do Now?

Beyond • July 19, 2013

There are a large number of individuals, on the web that have a tendency to take short cuts. Really big short cuts. These individuals have been straight up stealing people’s content and using it on their own sites to save themselves time, money and effort. This could be done manually or by the use of some type of auto-blogging nastiness that scrapes content from RSS feeds for example. For many, it’s natural to seek out the easiest route and some people do this with no thought to others. The cycle then gets perpetuated by kooky internet marketers peddling horrible courses that say this type of thing is a good idea. They lure people in by presenting the glamorous internet lifestyle. The videos involved usually show a “guru” type sitting on their neighbours Ferrari and pretending it’s his or leaning against a balcony while he or she is on holiday in Hawaii. Whatever the case, this is not something that we want to happen. Why get the content removed from offending sites? While content theft can potentially damage your reputation and your brand name, in a lot of cases Google has become so good at detecting this type of thing that these sites usually get de-indexed. While in a lot of situations this is actually helpful, if the site is linking back to you then there is the potential for this link to become toxic and affect your search rankings in a negative way. If there isn’t a link back to your site, then that piece of content that was stolen from your site may never see the light of day. I have seen a few horror stories in the past, a travel agency had their entire website content taken and used on another travel agencies website. They were kind enough to change the design, name and logo, but everything else was the same ... right down to the sitemap. What made this worse was because it slipped under Google’s radar, it never ranked well but it did rank to some extent. The worst horror story that I have seen so far was a fishing ecommerce store that was launched as a brand new site. Within a few days, someone had managed to pull down their WordPress theme along with all of their content. Since it was a new site, Google hadn’t got round to indexing the content yet and subsequently the owner of the original site could not get anywhere at all in terms of search traffic. It simply isn’t worth the risk to not do anything about this type of thing. How can I get it removed? Generally speaking the 3 methods I have listed below involve the use of a DMCA take down request. This document relates to title II from the “Digital Millenium Copyright Act” which gives copyright owners scope to force content thieves to remove content or for other entities to remove the content instead. Below I have outlined the process to follow to get your content removed in the most effective way possible. Ask for the content to be taken down There are some more extreme measures you can take, but there are never any guarantees. That being said, it is always best to start off by asking the site owner to remove the stolen content. When you first ask a site owner, I wouldn’t mention the words “DMCA.” Sometimes just please is enough. If they refuse, inform them that if they don’t it will result in a DMCA takedown request being sent to them, and if the content still isn’t removed that this will then be sent their web host. In most cases, that’s usually enough to get content removed. The problem you may find is that contacting these site owners can be difficult. This is because websites that steal content are usually very sparse in terms of contact information or anything that can relate back to the site owner. It’s not uncommon for 100s of these sites to be owned by a single individual (or, dare I say it – company). Finding contact details A lot of sites that regularly steal content make it difficult for you to contact them, but there are tools and methods that will help you find out how to get in touch. You can start off by manually looking on the site for a contact email or contact form, these generally reside on contact pages or about pages. You can try adding the site to SEO Gadget’s tool. This will pull out a bunch of different metrics, but it will also pull out Twitter and LinkedIn profiles, contact emails and also WHOIS emails. If you’ve not heard of WHOIS before, it’s a protocol used for accessing domain registration information. Sometimes that includes email addresses. So if the site owner didn’t register the domain privately you’ll be in luck. If they did, then you are sometimes able to send your email through a privacy address that can sometimes forward your email on to the site owner. Failing that, you can use the BuzzStream email research tool to generate some advanced search operators that you can use to try and find the site owners email address in a Google search. What if you can’t find any way of contacting them? Move on to the next step. Ask their web host to remove the content Web hosts are obligated to act upon legitimate DMCA takedown requests so often you will find that a content thief’s web host is more willing to listen. In order to find out who is hosting the offending website, just type the domain into Who Is Hosting This.com and click search. You will then get a few pieces of information including IP address, domain name servers, link to the WHOIS information and of course; the web host that is hosting the offending website. Now you will need to visit the web hosts website and check to see if they have a process for dealing with DMCA takedown requests or copyright infringement. You will need to document the offending content, including URL’s and anything that may help. I suggest taking a look at some of the DMCA take down templates. This will give you a big head start. Once you’ve compiled all of the information, just send it over to the web host. If you don’t hear back in a while follow up with another message/email, or better yet, give them a phone call. Ask Google to remove the content from their index You can choose to submit a DMCA takedown request to Google or submit a spam report instead. I suggest starting by submitting a spam report because it’s most likely to yield some success since Google receives too many DMCA notices that it can’t effectively deal with it. Here you can see how many requests Google have had at the time of writing this post. That being said, a DMCA notice is still worth doing because Google does “downrank” websites that start to accumulate DMCA complaints even if Google doesn’t de-index the site entirely. Summary It’s not nice to be on the receiving end of content theft and there are no realistic ways to stop it from happening short of crippling the usability of our websites. There are steps that you can take such as claiming your content by setting up Google Authorship and using tools such as Tynt to add your URL to the end of any content that’s copied from your website for example – so tools do exist that can help us take back attribution for our hard work. There isn’t a definitive way to stop content theft but we shouldn’t make it easy, and at the same time we can’t lock things up so tight that it affects usability for our readers. How have you been affected by content theft? Have you managed to combat it successfully? I’d love to hear more in the comments. Disclaimer: this post deals with some legal issues, I am not a lawyer so this post should not be in anyway constituted as legal advice, if in doubt, consult a lawyer.


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7 Essential Factors for Creating a Powerful Landing Page

7 Essential Factors for Creating a Powerful Landing Page

Beyond • April 19, 2013

In this post you are going to learn what a landing page is, how it can benefit you and also 7 important factors that you must consider when you put together a landing page in order to maximize conversions. A landing page is a page that exists solely for the purpose of directing a visitor to complete an action. For example, signing up to a mailing list or purchasing a product. The ultimate goal is to convert, whether you want to capture an email address from a visitor, sell a product or to urge a potential customer to pick up the phone. There are a lot of different factors that you need to consider when you’re creating a landing page, but I’ve distilled this down into 7 essential factors that can make or break a landing page. 1. What Is Your End Goal? Before you do anything you need to know what you want the end result to be. Do you want to capture an email address or some other information or do you want the visitor to perform a different action? If there are multiple goals that you have for people once they get to your landing page then I suggest that you make this easier by breaking this up into a single primary goal and then secondary goals. It needs to be 100% clear to anyone viewing the landing page which goal is the most important and in turn which action you want them to complete. 2. Who Are You Targeting? Your landing page needs to speak to your target customers but this can be difficult depending on the type of industry that you’re operating in. I have found that the most straight forward way of doing this is to develop personas for your target customer(s) and then plan the individual elements of your landing page around them and speak to them directly. This will help a lot when it comes to writing copy, adding your call(s) to action and deciding on which colors to use. 3. Include a Powerful Call to Action (CTA) If you haven’t come across this before; a call to action is where you ask the visitor or reader to complete an action. This is part of the reason for your landing page existing in the first place and without it you’re definitely not going to convert anyone into a lead or buyer. By now you will already know what action you want people to complete after they visit your landing page so you can work around that into your call to action. This can be as simple as a button with just two or three words such as: “Sign Up Now” “Download Now” “Access Now” “Apply Now” The wording of your call to action can make quite a difference on your conversions so this is definitely something you need to test, in order to see which works best for your landing page. I’ll talk a bit more about testing further on in this post. 4. No Distractions There’s no reason why your landing page shouldn’t be visually appealing but be careful that you don’t distract visitors away from your call to action. For example, don’t add links to other pages (internal or external) and avoid is adding advertisements to your landing pages, I’ve seen this happen a lot in the past and it won’t help you – Why trade a possible life time customer for a few dollars or even a few cents from AdSense? 5. Write to Sell Remember, that in some shape or form, whatever your end goal maybe, you need to write to sell. This is where buyer/customer persona’s become incredibly powerful because you can tailor the entire landing page around how they purchase products/services and really speak to them on a deep level. Use emotional words in your copy and speak directly to the wants, fears and desires of your target customers. Generally short and snappy content works well but if you operate in a technical industry then you may need to add some more detail to your copy. Don’t forget to build trust, if you’ve worked with big clients or you have something to shout about – then SHOUT about it. When you have stellar copywriting then the rest usually falls in to place. 6. Think about Colors There is a deep level of psychology behind the use of color and it can be an extremely valuable tool when utilized properly in your landing page. Have you ever looked at the logos of major brands and noticed that in certain industry sectors there commonly used color combinations? Look at the banking sector for example. There are an extraordinary number of banks that use blue, green or a combination of the two. When you look at the psychological effects of these colors it makes a lot of sense too because blue is generally perceived to convey trust and security, while green has a big connection with wealth. From your customer persona(s) you should be able to identify what colors should be worked into your landing page. For example if you have identified that your target customers are impulse buyers then using red within the design of your landing page can work really well especially when used as the color for your call to action (maybe as the button background). When it comes to things like your call to action, orange seems to be quite a common color to use because it brings together both a psychical and emotional reaction. The colors you use need to be thought about upfront to ensure that you can get the best results, that way you can work them into the design rather than them just being an afterthought. 7. Test, Test And Test Some More Even if you create your landing page using all the best practices and guides available, there is still no guarantee that the page will convert. This is where testing comes in. There are two main types of testing that you can use, the most common is split testing (or A/B testing). This involves testing two different elements. You could test different landing pages against each other or individual elements but I’d suggest you start off with individual elements because even individual elements can make a huge difference. For example Neil Patel removed a form field from his contact form and managed to increase his conversion rate by 26%. Just think, what a 26% upturn would do to your bottom line? The second testing method is called multivariate testing which involves testing of more than two different variables. Here’s a useful guide that makes this really easy. Whichever testing method you choose, the important thing is to keep testing because what works today may not work tomorrow and vice versa. Trends in design change and so do trends in human behavior, so it’s important to keep our landing pages up to speed. Summary Creating a powerful landing page isn’t that easy but if you remember these 7 factors and really go to town when it comes to the planning and customer persona(s) then you will have built yourself a very stable foundation to build upon. For some inspiration it is well worth checking out Neil Patel’s landing pageand one of the Sales Force landing pages. When you next look at a landing page, take a look at how it’s put together and I’m sure you’ll soon be able to spot the good from the bad and get a really good idea on what can work for you.


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