Monthly Archives: April 2016

This Week in Social: The Latest News, Trends and 5 Eye-Opening Stats You May Have Missed

The social media world moves incredibly fast and to help you stay up to date, we thought we’d round up some of the latest news, trends, research, and statistics that caught our attention this week.

From Twitter redefining itself and some big news from Facebook to new features on Pinterest and Periscope, it’s been an exciting week.

Let’s get started!

pablo (52)

What’s new in social this week

Want to jump to a particular story? Try clicking one of the headlines below:

Facebook reaches 1.65 billion monthly users

facebook-mau

In its Q1 2016 earnings report, Facebook announced it has now reached. 1.65 billion monthly users. That figure means Facebook grew 3.7%, from 1.59 billion monthly users last quarter (Q4, 2015).

The social network’s daily active user count has also grown significantly. It reached 1.09 billion daily active users in Q1, compared to 1.04 billion in Q4 2015, a 4.8% increase.

fb-dau

Twitter is no longer a social network

Highly alert Twitter users noticed it’s now categorizing itself very differently. In an update on April 28th, Twitter now sits in the News category rather than Social Networking.

This change moves Twitter away from apps like Snapchat, Facebook and Messenger in the App Store and the switch also boosted the app to the #1 spot in the News category (it was previously sat 6th in Social Networking).

twitter

Ranking #1 in a category could be a nice boost for Twitter, and could help attract new users who want to keep up with the latest news on mobile. Being ranked #1 will also help with App Store visibility and could lead to more organic downloads.

Could this be a sign of a significant shift for Twitter? Or maybe an experiment to see how App Store categories and rankings affect downloads? Keeping an eye on this over the coming weeks will be interesting.

Video consumption on Snachat has doubled

Daily video views on Snapchat have now hit 10 billion. TechCruch reports that the new numbers represent a 150% increase in video consumption on Snapchat in just under a year.

In February 2016, Snapchat reported 8 billion daily video views and in November 2015, 6 billion views. That’s incredible growth.

➤ For more on Snapchat, check out our ‘Complete Guide to the Ghost’ here.

Pinterest Featured Collections

pinterest

Pinterest has released Featured Collections, a way to keep tabs on trending topics and content. Every day, the brands, celebrities, and influencers, and Pinterest’s own editor’s will curate popular pins, users, boards, and searches within Featured Collections.

The Featured Collections will be localized to the UK, France, Germany, Brazil, and Japan, further strengthening the network’s relationship with international users.

Periscope launches sketch feature and deeper analytics

5 Best WordPress Ecommerce Plugins Compared – 2016

Are you looking to build an online store? Want to know which is the best WordPress eCommerce plugin? Choosing the right eCommerce plugin is crucial for your business because a better platform means more opportunity for growth. In this article, we will compare 5 best WordPress eCommerce plugins for 2016.

Best WordPress eCommerce Plugins

What to Look in a WordPress eCommerce Plugin for Your Site?

There are plenty of WordPress eCommerce plugins in the market. But not all of them have the essential set of features you would need to start your eCommerce site.

Some eCommerce plugins are good for selling digital goods like eBooks, photos, music, etc. While others are better suited for selling physical goods that need shipping and inventory management. There are also eCommerce plugins that are good at both of them.

You need to choose a plugin depending on what you will be selling and what kind of features you would need to efficiently run your online store.

Next, you need to consider which payment gateways you will utilize to accept payments. Make sure that the plugin you choose supports those payment gateways by default or through addons.

Your eCommerce plugin will not come with a theme. You would need to see that the plugin you choose has themes that work with the plugin. See our guide on how to choose the perfect WordPress theme.

It is impossible for an eCommerce plugin to have all the features. Most of them solve this problem by addon plugins. These addons extend the functionality of your eCommerce plugin. Make sure that there are enough addon plugins to connect your WordPress eCommerce website with other services.

Last but not the least, you need to see what kind of support options are available for the plugin. Even if you will be hiring a developer to work on your site, you would still need help from time to time. Make sure that the plugin has a support system where you can get help.

What Do You Need to Run an eCommerce Website?

Ecommerce websites are resource intensive, so the first thing you will need is the best WordPress hosting that you can afford.

If you’re on a budget, then you can start with Bluehost. The Ecommerce plan comes with SSL Certificate which you need to collect payments securely, dedicated IP, and a dedicated support line. They also install WooCommerce by default which when you read the article will find out is the most powerful WordPress Ecommerce plugin.

If budget is not an issue, and you want the best performance, then we recommend using a managed WordPress hosting provider like WPEngine.

Next, you will need to choose a domain name for your website. Here is our guide on how to pick the right domain name for your eCommerce site.

Lastly, you will need to choose essential business plugins that you will need such as OptinMonster which help you reduce shopping cart abandonment and increase sales.

Having that said, let’s take a look at the best WordPress eCommerce plugins.

1. WooCommerce

WooCommerce

WooCommerce is the most popular WordPress eCommerce plugin. It was acquired by Automattic (the company behind WordPress.com blog hosting service) in 2015.

There is a large number of addons and themes available for WooCommerce. They also have a large and passionate user and developer community behind it.

Pros of Using WooCommerce

Here are some of the advantages of using WooCommerce as your WordPress eCommerce plugin:

Extensions and Themes – There are hundreds of extensions and themes available for WooCommerce, which makes it easy for you to add new features to your eCommerce site. Large collection of themes means you have tons of options when choosing your site’s design and layout.

Supports Both Digital and Physical Goods – With WooCommerce you can sell physical as well as digital downloads (such as ebooks, music, software, etc.). With Envira Gallery’s WooCommerce integration, you can easily sell photos from your website as well.

Sell Affiliate or External Products – Using WooCommerce, you can add affiliate or external products to your site. Affiliate marketers can create product sites and provide users a better experience.

Complete Inventory Management – WooCommerce comes equipped with tools to easily manage your inventory or even assign it to a store manager.

Payment and Shipping Options – WooCommerce has builtin support for popular payment gateways and you can add many other payment options using extensions. It can also calculate shipping and taxes.

Support and Documentation – There is excellent documentation available online for WooCommerce. Apart from documentation, there is knowledge base, help desk, and community forums available.

Cons of Using WooCommerce

Too Many Options – WooCommerce is very easy to use, but the number of options available on the settings page can be quite intimidating for a new user.

Finding Addons – There are lots of addons available for WooCommerce, sometimes a user may not find the right addon for features that they need.

Theme Support – WooCommerce works with any WordPress theme, but it is not always as easy to setup or good looking with all themes. You need a WooCommerce ready theme to take full advantage of its features without too much hassle.

WooCommerce is the perfect choice for any kind of eCommerce website. It has a large community of developers and users, lots of addons and themes, excellent support for multilingual websites, and best free and paid support options.

2. Easy Digital Downloads

Easy Digital Downloads

Easy Digital Downloads allows you to easily sell digital downloads online using WordPress. It is very easy to use and comes with powerful features to create beautiful and functional digital goods store.

We use Easy Digital Downloads to sell our software like WPForms, SoliloquyWP, etc.

Pros of Using Easy Digital Downloads

Designed To Sell Digital Goods – Easy Digital Downloads is built from the ground up to sell digital downloads. Unlike eCommerce plugins that can be used to sell all kind of products, EDD provides a far better experience for selling digital goods.

Easy To Use – Easy digital downloads is very easy to use, from the start you would instantly figure out how to add products and display them. This is really useful for the first timers.

Extensions – There are hundreds of extensions available for Easy Digital Downloads. Addons for many payment gateways, platforms and services, and to add extra features.

Themes – Easy Digital Downloads works with almost any WordPress theme, however if you have not choosen a theme yet, then Easy Digital Downloads has themes built specifically for the plugin.

Awesome Support – The plugin is very well documented, and you have free support forums, videos, tutorials, and even an IRC chatroom. There is also a priority support option for premium users.

Cons of Using Easy Digital Downloads

Digital Downloads Only – As the name suggests, Easy Digital Downloads makes it easier to create eCommerce sites for digital goods. But if you want to sell non-digital goods along with digital downloads then it will become quite complicated.

Selling External Products – If you want to add an external product or an affiliate product to your EDD store, then you will need to install a third-party add on for it.

When it comes to selling digital products online, we believe that Easy Digital Downloads is the best plugin to do that. We have used Easy Digital Downloads with great success, not only on client sites but also on a few of our own projects.

3. iThemes Exchange

iThemes Exchange

Created by the folks behind the extremely popular BackupBuddy plugin, Exchange is a strong contender in WordPress eCommerce platforms.

Pros of Using iThemes Exchange

Multiple Product Types – iThemes exchange supports both digital downloads and physical goods. It also has a paid addon to sell memberships and subscriptions on your website.

Easy and Quick Setup – Upon activation, it takes you directly to a setup wizard where you can quickly setup your site by choosing what are you going to sell and how you will receive payments.

Intuitive UI – iThemes Exchange offers a very nice user interface to add products and manage your eCommerce store.

Free Stripe Addon – Most other plugins in our list are charging $40-$80 for Stripe addon, iThemes exchange has stripe addon available for free and for unlimited sites.

Cons of Using iThemes Exchange

Smaller Community – iThemes Exchange is younger than many other popular eCommerce plugins. Even though there is plenty of documentation, support, and addons available for it. You may feel that their community is still growing.

We feel that iThemes Exchange is a strong contender in the market with lots of potential. We would recommend it for users who know what they will be selling, and how they will be getting paid. Easy and quick setup wizard makes it a good choice for new users who don’t want to be bothered by too many options.

4. Shopp

Shopp

The fourth contender in our list of best WordPress eCommerce plugins is the Shopp plugin. Let’s take a look at some of it’s pros and cons.

Pros of Using Shopp

Separate Tables in Database – Developers of the Shopp plugin, believe that by using separate tables in the database, they improve the database performance, which results into faster queries and faster page loads for the users.

Multiple Product Types – Shopp plugin supports physical, digital, and virtual product types. Unlike other plugins on this list, Subscription product type in Shopp plugin allows you to sell products with recurring payments without buying an extension.

Security and Compliance – The Shopp Plugin is designed to be PCI compliant. The plugin pays special attention to security and safety which helps you create a PCI-DSS compliant eCommerce store.

Cons of Using Shopp

Limited Free Support – The most important disadvantage of using Shopp Plugin is that they have no free support forums. You will have to pay for support and access to community forums.

Creates Separate Tables – While we have already listed this feature as an advantage, it could also be a disadvantage. We do not think that using separate database tables significantly affects speed of a website.

Limited Themes – Shopp Plugin works with any WordPress theme out of the box. However, if you are looking for themes designed specifically for Shopp then there are very few options available.

Shopp is a great plugin to sell anything you want. But if you are a new user, then you would probably need to buy their premium support subscription. You may also want to use Shopp if you feel that other plugins are not helping you out getting certified for PCI-DSS compliance.

5. Shopify

Shopify

Shopify is a fast growing eCommerce platform that handles everything for you. Although it is a standalone service, it does come with a WordPress integration. Let’s look at the Pros and Cons of Shopify.

Pros of Using Shopify

Super Easy for Beginners – No need to worry about the technical aspects of an eCommerce store such as setting up SSL, integrating with different payment gateways, handling shipping, worrying about taxes, etc. Shopify handles it all.

Supports Both Digital and Physical Goods – Whether you’re selling physical goods like shirts or digital downloads like music, Shopify can handle it all.

Complete Inventory Management – Shopify comes with an inventory editor and bulk importer combined with an order tracker which makes managing inventory a breeze.

Payment and Shipping Options – Shopify makes it easy for you to accept credit card both online and in person. Their shipping system streamline your fulfillment process with direct integration with popular providers like USPS.

Facebook Store, Buyable Pins, and Twitter Buy Buttons – Shopify integrates with everything. Whether you want to create a Facebook store, add a buy button on Twitter, or create buyable Pins on Pinterest, you can do it all with Shopify.

Cons of Using Shopify

Monthly Platform Fee – Shopify charges you a monthly fee to use their platform which is comparable to purchasing hosting and individual addons using the other plugins in this list.

Shopify Payments – Shopify encourages you to use their payment platform which is powered by Stripe and is a very good option for beginners. However if you want to overcomplicate things and use external systems, then Shopify charges you an additional fee.

If you want to have a powerful platform without having to deal with technical issues, then Shopify is the solution for you. While the monthly fee sounds bad at first, the hassle-free approach and peace of mind is definitely worth it because it allows you to focus on what you do best, your business!

Conclusion – The Best WordPress eCommerce Plugin is:

If you want maximum control, flexibility, and features, then WooCommerce is the best solution for you.

If you are just selling digital goods, then you should check out Easy Digital Downloads.

If you want a quick setup and ease of use, then Shopify is the best eCommerce solution for you.

That’s all we hope this article helped you find the best WordPress eCommerce plugins for your site. You may also want to see our comparison of 5 best drag and drop WordPress page builders.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

The post 5 Best WordPress Ecommerce Plugins Compared – 2016 appeared first on WPBeginner.

How to Find Who Reads and Subscribes to Your WordPress Blog

Do you want to find who reads and subscribes to your WordPress blog? Part of building a website is to understand is how your users read and interact with your content. In this article, we will show you how to find who reads and subscribes to your WordPress blog.

Who reads and subscribes to your WordPress blog

Why You Need to Know Your Audience?

Understanding your audience is crucial for the success of your blog or business. It helps you learn: which pages on your website are most popular among users? How your users found those pages? Where those users came from? And what else they looked on your website?

All this information helps you decide what kind of content works for your audience. It also helps you find out what is not working with your readers.

This allows you to plan and create better content.

Having said that, let’s take a look at how to find out more information about your readers and subscribers.

Learn About Your Readers and Subscribers Using Google Analytics

Google Analytics is the most comprehensive analytics available in the market today. It can be used to track your site visitors as well as your RSS feed subscribers.

First you need to visit the Google Analytics website and signup for an account. Take a look at the section ‘How to Signup with Google Analytics’ in our guide on how to install Google Analytics in WordPress for detailed instructions.

Setting up Google Analytics for WordPress by MonsterInsights

For this tutorial, we will be using the MonsterInsights plugin. If you are already using the plugin and have it setup on your WordPress site, then you can skip to the next step.

First thing you need to do is install and activate the Google Analytics by MonsterInsights plugin. For more details, see our step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Upon activation, you need to visit Insights » Settings page and click on ‘Authenticate with your Google account’ button.

Authenticate Google Account to select your Analytics profile

This will open a popup dialog where you will be asked to allow Google Analytics plugin to access your Google account.

Google Account Permission

Click on the allow button to continue.

The popup will now show you a code which you need to copy and paste into Google Analytics plugin settings on your WordPress site.

Once you do that, the plugin will now fetch your account settings from your Google Analytics account. After that you need to select your analytics profile by clicking on select a profile.

Select a profile

Click on save changes button to store your settings.

That’s all you have successfully setup Google Analytics by MonsterInsights on your website. For detailed instructions, take a look at our beginner’s guide on how to use Google Analytics for your WordPresss site.

Tracking RSS Links in Google Analytics

Google Analytics can not only track visitors coming to your site, but it can also track links to your website from other sources like your RSS feed, email newsletter, social links, etc.

See our guide on how to track links in WordPress using Google analytics.

If you are manually sharing links, then you can add your own URL parameters. But the links in your RSS feed and newsletter are automatically generated by WordPress.

Here is how you can track your RSS feed links in WordPress using the Google Analytics by MonsterInsights plugin.

Go to Analytics » Settings in your WordPress admin area and click on the Advanced tab.

Tracking RSS feed links in Google Analytics

Check the box next to ‘Tag links in RSS feed with campaign variables’ option and click on the save changes button.

That’s all, you have successfully enabled tracking of links in your RSS feed.

Viewing Reports for Your RSS Feed Links in Google Analytics

Log in to your Google Analytics dashboard and then visit the reporting page. Go to Acquisition » All Traffic » Source/Medium tab.

Google Analytics Acquisition

There you will find RSS as source and as medium in your reporting. You can click on it to further drill down, and see which content they clicked.

Finding Subscriber Information

In order to find subscriber information, the first thing you need to do is give your users the ability to subscribe to your blog through an email newsletter. See why you should build your email list right away.

We also have an email marketing 101 guide that will help you build an email list in WordPress.

We’re going to cover how to find subscriber information in two of the most popular email marketing platforms among our users.

Find Subscriber Information in MailChimp

If you are using MailChimp, then it comes with its own built-in analytics. These reports tell you how your newsletter campaigns and your RSS to Email campaigns performed.

Simply login to your MailChimp account and click on Reports from the top menu.

You will see a list of emails sent to your subscribers. Click on the view report button next to an email.

View reports in MailChimp

This will show you an overview of your campaign. It will also provide you with information like how many users opened or didn’t open your email, bounced email addresses, abuse reports, total clicks, links clicked, etc.

Viewing MailChimp reports

Find Subscriber Information in AWeber

If you are using AWeber in WordPress as your email list provider, then you can use AWeber’s built-in reports feature. It will show you how your newsletter or RSS to email campaigns performed.

Simply login to your AWeber account and then click on reports.

Aweber Reports

The reporting dashboard provides an indepth overview of your overall opens and click rates. You can drill down the reports by clicking on shortcuts in the left menu.

AWeber reports shortcuts

That’s all, we hope this article helped you find who reads and subscribes to your WordPress blog. You may also want to see our list of 40 useful tools to manage and grow your WordPress blog.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

The post How to Find Who Reads and Subscribes to Your WordPress Blog appeared first on WPBeginner.

How to Create the Perfect Facebook Page for Your Business: The Complete A to Z Guide

Facebook now has over 1.65 billion monthly active users. And as small business owners and brand managers, there’s a very good chance you’ll be able to reach and connect with your target audience through Facebook.

Great! So where should you start? And is there an easy blueprint to follow?

From creating our Facebook Business page to posting several hundred times over the past few years, we’ve experimented a lot with various Facebook marketing tips and have enjoyed figuring out the best way to create and manage our Facebook page here at Buffer. I’d love to share with you how the process has worked so far from start until now!

Since things continue to change regularly with Facebook and its algorithm, consider this A to Z guide as a great jumping off point for creating a Facebook business page and growing your audience. Start here, test what works for your individual business and brand, and make changes as you learn.

How to Create a Facebook Business Page in 5 Simple Steps

Creating a Facebook Business Page, Facebook, Facebook Business, Facebook Page

Step 1: Fill out your basic business info

Open the following URL to create a business page on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php

Once there, you’ll choose one of the following six categories for your page:

  1. Local business or place
  2. Company, organization, or institution
  3. Brand or product
  4. Artist, band, or public figure
  5. Entertainment
  6. Cause or community

facebook create a page

Keep in mind that you can change the category and name later on if needed.

Also, at this stage, it might be helpful to know that a physical address figures prominently in the setup of a local business or place, and the actual Facebook page will appear differently as well.

Here’s the look for a local business:

facebook page business example

Here’s the look for a company or brand:

facebook page company example

It’s something to think about when choosing a category.

Following the category selection, the next setup screen will ask for a descriptive sentence or two about your page, a URL, a Facebook page URL, and a profile picture. If you’ve selected a local business, you’ll also have the ability to select category tags to further define what your store sells.

About your page – You get 155 characters to describe your page. This description appears prominently near the top of your Facebook page on both desktop and mobile. Be as descriptive and helpful as possible.

URL – The web address for your store, company, or brand.

Facebook URL / username – You may have the option to choose a custom vanity URL for your page, i.e. facebook.com/yourbrandname.

(Facebook will ask that you reach 25 fans first before you can unlock a custom Facebook URL)

Profile picture – Upload a main profile picture/icon for your page. This photo will appear as your icon every time you comment on a post or publish in a news feed. Square dimensions are best. Facebook will force rectangular photos to be cropped to squares.

Profile pictures should be at least 180 pixels wide by 180 pixels tall. Here is a full list of the sizes that Facebook uses for your profile picture in various places around the site:

  • The main profile image on your page – 160 x 160
  • In a news feed – 100 x 100
  • In your timeline – 86 x 86
  • Next to comments – 43 x 43

The final two steps in the setup process include adding your page to your main Facebook menu (so you can access it quickly and easy each time you log in) and setting up a Facebook ad to promote your new page. These options can be skipped for now.

Step 2: Create an awesome cover image in a snap (no designer required!)

facebook cover image size

By this point, your page is live for all the world to visit. Let’s see if we can make it look even snazzier.

First thing, add a cover photo. The cover photo appears across the top of your page and is a great opportunity to deliver a visual element that supports your branding, draws attention, or elicits emotion from your visitors. 

A note on ideal Facebook cover photo size and dimensions: 

Facebook cover photos appear at 851 pixels wide and 315 pixels tall on desktop, however, Facebook crops out some of each cover photo on mobile devices. It specifically strips out 144 pixels off the right and left sides of the image.

Therefore, Facebook cover photo dimensions are 851 x 315px, but only the center 563 x 315px portion of the picture appears on mobile.

You can certainly hire a designer to make you something fabulous, or you can go the DIY route. Many photo editing apps like Pic Monkey or BeFunky can help with creating images of just the right dimensions. If you’re a Photoshop user, we’ve created a couple of Facebook cover photo templates that might be helpful. Canva is another super helpful tool for Facebook cover photos as it comes with several premade templates that look great right out of the box.

Here’s an example of a Canva template you could choose. You can upload your own image to use as the background, and you can edit the text to say whatever you’d like. If you’re looking for high-quality image options, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite sources for free social media images.

Canva template

Once you have created your cover image, upload it to your page by clicking on the “Add a Cover” button.

add a cover facebook page

If you happen to upload an image that isn’t quite the exact dimensions of the Facebook cover, you’ll have a chance to move and edit the image to fit the available window. When you’re happy with the final look, you can click “Save Changes,” and you’ll be set!

Facebook cover example

Here’s a pro tip: When you upload a cover photo to your page, the photo is added as an update to your timeline. If you edit the description of the photo, you can add a message to the update. Click on the photo to open up the photo viewer, and you’ll notice a link that says “Add a description.”

facebook image add description

You can add description, tags, location, and date to your photo. Once you’ve finished, the update to your timeline will be changed to reflect your edits.

facebook cover custom update

Step 3: Fill out your profile completely

Next, you can fill out your profile even more by adding information to your Page Info section. To access this section, click on Settings in the top menu bar on your page, then click Page Info.

page info facebook

Your name and category will be filled in already. Some of the most helpful bits of information to add next might be:

Start Info – You can choose when your company or product was founded, created, started, or launched. This information will appear on the history timeline to the right of your page’s feed and as an update at the very bottom of your main feed.

Address – Enter this if you want people to be able to check in via Facebook when they’re near your place.

Long description & Mission – Add additional details that explain your business or brand even further. This is a great way to go beyond the 155 character description that appears on the main page.

Phone number / Email address – Add additional contact information.

All of these details will appear on the About tab of your Facebook page.

example about section facebook

Step 4: Add collaborators to your page

If you plan on sharing your Facebook marketing duties with a team, you’ll want to grant access for various folks and various roles.

Here are the roles that you can choose from:

Admin – Complete and total access to everything (you are an admin by default)

Editor – Can edit the Page, send messages and post as the Page, create Facebook ads, see which admin created a post or comment, and view insights.

Moderator – Can respond to and delete comments on the Page, send messages as the Page, see which admin created a post or comment, create ads, and view insights.

Advertiser – Can see which admin created a post or comment, create ads and view insights.

Analyst – Can see which admin created a post or comment and view insights.

To add collaborators, go to your page settings and the “Page Roles” section. You can type in the name of any Facebook friend or person who has liked your page. Alternately, you can type in an email address associated with a Facebook account.

Step 5: Publish your first post

Add content to your page by publishing a post-a status update, a link, a photo, a video, an event, or a milestone. New, fresh content on your page will make it look all the more enticing once new visitors come over to check it out.

Keep in mind that visual content does exceedingly well and that Facebook is now ranking Live Video higher in people’s news feeds.

Here’s a telling graphic from a BuzzSumo study showing how Facebook posts with images receive 2.3x more engagement than those without photos.

Facebook, Facebook Engagement, Facebook Marketing, Facebook Pages

And there you have it!

Your Facebook Business page is up and ready to deliver awesome content to your fans and grow into something wonderful.

Read on to learn more about growing your Facebook page and posting best-practices!

How to gain your first 100 fans to your Facebook page

The temptation might be to share your Facebook page right away with all your Facebook friends. Not so fast. Take a moment to think strategically about your plan and to seed your page with content so that it looks inviting and engaging when visitors do stop by.

Publish three to five posts before you invite anyone. 

Then try out one of these strategies to get to your first 100 fans.

Invite your Facebook friends

Facebook has a built-in feature to tell your Facebook friends about your page. Click on the Build Audience link in the top right corner of your page, and choose Invite Friends from the dropdown.

Facebook page setup

You can then pick and choose which friends you’d like to invite, and you can drill down into specific sections of friends, filtered by location, school, lists, and recent interactions.

Once invited, your friends will receive a direct message with an invitation to your page. You won’t have a chance to edit the message they receive.

Invite your coworkers

One of the best sources of social media promotion for your company could very well be your coworkers. Ask everyone who works with you to like the page and-if willing-to recommend the page to any friends who might be interested.

Promote your Facebook page on your website

Facebook offers a full complement of widgets and buttons that you can add to your website to make it easy for website visitors to like your page.

One of the most ubiquitous plugins is the Facebook Page Plugin. With Page Plugin, you can easily embed and promote any Facebook page without visitors ever having to leave your website.

Facebook Page Plugin, Page Plugin, Facebook

Promote your Facebook page in your email signature

One of the most visible places you might find to promote your page is in your inbox. Edit your email signature to include a call-to-action and link to your Facebook page.

signature

Hold a contest

Facebook contests can be huge for gaining likes on your page. Two of the best apps for creating contests are ShortStack & Gleam which help you create custom campaigns to drive Likes to your page (or email capture or fan engagement or any number of different ideas you might have).

What to post and when to post it

In general, there are three main types of posts you’re likely to publish on your Facebook feed:

  • Photo/video
  • Text update
  • Links

As mentioned above, posts with photos garner 2.3x more engagement than posts without photos. 

Definitely make visual content a huge part of your Facebook strategy as well as your larger social media marketing plan.

As far as the frequency with which to post, Facebook’s algorithm changes have made research into the topic rather difficult. The consensus seems to be to experiment as much as possible. As often as you have fresh, compelling content to share on Facebook, give it a try. Try testing post frequency in week-long intervals so that you can measure the results quickly.

With that, we recommend being consistent with your content. When your content is good, your audience will start to expect it on a regular basis. Even if you’re only producing enough content to post to Facebook once per day, try to stick to that schedule.

Social media scheduling apps like Buffer help make this easy by letting you schedule posts ahead of time. You can add to a queue so that your page always has fresh content being posted automatically on schedule.

Ideal length and timing of Facebook posts are another area you might want to experiment with.

HubSpot collected a ton of research from the folks at CoSchedule and from a variety of sources, including QuickSprout, SurePayroll, The Huffington Post, Buffer, TrackMavenFast Company, and KISSmetrics.

Their takeaway:

Facebook Posting, Facebook, Managing Facebook 

As far as ideal length, we partnered with our friends at SumAll to place the data and insights into a fun infographic. What we found was that Facebook posts with 40 characters receive 86% more engagement than those with a higher character count. 

Facebook posting strategy, facebook, managing facebook

How to tell what’s worked and what hasn’t

After sharing posts, you’re likely to want to know how they did. Your social media management tool would figure to have some built-in analytics that can help you better understand how your posts performed. Here’s a peek at what the Buffer for Business analytics look like:

Buffer for Business, social media analytics, Buffer Analytics

You can also gain a huge number of stats and numbers from Facebook Insights.

Once you’ve shared several pieces of content to your Facebook page, you’ll see an Insights tab at the top of your Facebook menu, between Activity and Settings.

Buffer

At the top of the Insights page, you’ll see your Page Likes, Post Reach, and Engagement stats for the week, along with a comparison to the same stats from last week.

facebook insights

Another neat area to check is the demographic information on the people who visit and engage with your page.

Click on People from the Insights menu, and you can drill down into demographic information of your fans, the people reached by your posts, the people who engage with your post, and the check-ins you receive at your physical location.

Here’s an example from Buffer’s page insights about the people reached by our posts.

facebook insights demographics

One of the newest features of Insights is the “Pages to Watch” section at the bottom of the page. You can add other pages that you want to monitor-a great way to grab some competitor research and take inspiration from the way that other pages market themselves.

To add a page, simply click on the Add Pages button at the top of the section.

add pages facebook

Search for the name of the page you want to watch, then click to add it to your watch list. Once a page has been added, you can click on the name of the page from your Insights dashboard, and you’ll see an overview of their best posts from the week.

Facebook Insights

Now I’d love to turn it over to you!

What Facebook page tips and advice do you have? What have you learned along the way? Is there any part of the Facebook page creation and management process you’d like to know more about?

Excited to hear from you in the comments!

Oh, and by the way: Buffer can help you drive more Facebook traffic and engagement in less time. Sign up for free and see how it works for you!

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in 2014, but we’ve updated it for accuracy and comprehensiveness for your reading pleasure. – Brian

The post How to Create the Perfect Facebook Page for Your Business: The Complete A to Z Guide appeared first on Social.

The Local SEO Agency’s Complete Guide to Client Discovery and Onboarding

Posted by MiriamEllis

[Estimated read time: 6 minutes]

Why proper onboarding matters

Imagine getting three months in on a Local SEO contract before realizing that your client’s storefront is really his cousin’s garage. From which he runs two other “legit” businesses he never mentioned. Or that he neglected to mention the reviews he bought last year. Worse yet, he doesn’t even know that buying reviews is a bad thing.

The story is equally bad if you’re diligently working to build quality unique content around a Chicago client’s business in Wicker Park but then realize their address (and customer base) is actually in neighboring Avondale.

What you don’t know will hurt you. And your clients.

A hallmark of the professional Local SEO department or agency is its dedication to getting off on the right foot with a new client by getting their data beautifully documented for the whole team from the start. At various times throughout the life of the contract, your teammates and staff from complementary departments will be needing to access different aspects of a client’s core NAP, known challenges, company history, and goals.

Having this information clearly recorded in shareable media is the key to both organization and collaboration, as well as being the best preventative measure against costly data-oriented mistakes. Clear and consistent data play vital roles in Local SEO. Information must not only be gathered, but carefully verified with the client.

This article will offer you a working Client Discovery Questionnaire, an Initial Discovery Phone Call Script, and a useful Location Data Spreadsheet that will be easy for any customer to fill out and for you to then use to get those listings up to date. You’re about to take your client discovery process to awesome new heights!

Why agencies don’t always get onboarding right

Lack of a clearly delineated, step-by-step onboarding process increases the potential for human error. Your agency’s Local SEO manager may be having allergies on Monday and simply forget to ask your new client if they have more than one website, if they’ve ever purchased reviews, or if they have direct access to their Google My Business listings. Or they could have that information and forget to share it when they jump to a new agency.

The outcomes of disorganized onboarding can range from minor hassles to disastrous mistakes.

Minor hassles would include having to make a number of follow-up phone calls to fill in holes in a spreadsheet that could have been taken care of in a single outreach. It’s inconvenient for all teammates when they have to scramble for missing data that should have been available at the outset of the project.

Disastrous mistakes can stem from a failure to fully gauge the details and scope of a client’s holdings. Suddenly, a medium-sized project can take on gigantic proportions when the agency learns that the client actually has 10 mini-sites with duplicate content on them, or 10 duplicate GMB listings, or a series of call tracking numbers around the web.

It’s extremely disheartening to discover a mountain of work you didn’t realize would need to be undertaken, and the agency can end up having to put in extra uncompensated time or return to the client to renegotiate the contract. It also leads to client dissatisfaction.

Setting correct client expectations is completely dependent on being able to properly gauge the scope of a project, so that you can provide an appropriate timeline, quote, and projected benchmarks. In Local, that comes down to documenting core business information, identifying past and present problems, and understanding which client goals are achievable. With the right tools and effective communication, your agency will be making a very successful start to what you want to be a very successful project.

Professional client discovery made simple

There’s a lot you want to learn about a new client up front, but asking (and answering) all those questions right away can be grueling. Not to mention information fatigue, which can make your client give shorter and shorter answers when they feel like they’ve spent enough time already. Meanwhile your brain reaches max capacity and you can’t use all that valuable information because you can’t remember it.

To prevent such a disaster, we recommend dividing your Local SEO discovery process into a questionnaire to nail down the basics, a follow-up phone call to help you feel out some trickier issues, and a CSV to gather the location data. And we’ve created templates to get you started…

Client Discovery Questionnaire

Use our Local SEO Client Discovery Questionnaire to understand your client’s history, current organization, and what other consultants they might also be working with. We’ve annotated each question in the Google Doc template to help you understand what you can learn and potential pitfalls to look out for.

If you want to make collecting and preserving your clients’ answers extra easy, use Google Forms to turn that questionnaire into a form like this:

You can even personalize the graphic, questions, and workflow to suit your brand.

Client Discovery Phone Script

Once you’ve received your client’s completed questionnaire and have had time to process the responses and do any necessary due diligence (like using our Check Listings tool to check how aggregators currently display their information), it’s time to follow up on the phone. Use our annotated Local SEO Client Discovery Phone Script to get you started.

local seo client discovery phone script

No form necessary this time, because you’ll be asking the client verbally. Be sure to pay attention to the client’s tone of voice as they answer and refer to the notes under each question to see what you might be in for.

Location Data CSV

Sometimes the hardest part of Local SEO is getting all the location info letter-perfect. Make that easier by having the client input all those details into your copy of the Location Data Spreadsheet.

local seo location data csv

Then use the File menu to download that document as a CSV.

You’ll want to proof this before uploading it to any data aggregators. If you’re working with Moz Local, the next step is an easy upload of your CSV. If you’re working with other services, you can always customize your data collection spreadsheet to meet their standards.

Keep up to date on any business moves or changes in hours by designing a data update form like this one from SEER and periodically reminding your client contact to use it.

Why mutual signals of commitment really matter

There are two sides to every successful client project: one half belongs to the agency and the other to the company it serves. The attention to detail your agency displays via clean, user-friendly forms and good phone sessions will signal your professionalism and commitment to doing quality work. At the same time, the willingness of the client to take the necessary time to fill out these documents and have these conversations signals their commitment to receiving value from their investment.

It’s not unusual for a new client to express some initial surprise when they realize how many questions you’re asking them to answer. Past experience may even have led them to expect half-hearted, sloppy work from other SEO agencies. But, what you want to see is a willingness on their part to share everything they can about their company with you so that you can do your best work.

Anecdotally, I’ve fully refunded the down payments of a few incoming clients who claimed they couldn’t take the time to fill out my forms, because I detected in their unwillingness a lack of genuine commitment to success. These companies have, fortunately, been the exception rather than the rule for me, and likely will be for your agency, too.

It’s my hope that, with the right forms and a commitment to having important conversations with incoming clients at the outset, the work you undertake will make your Local team top agency and client heroes!

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

Taking your analytics practice to the next level

As both a Googler and ClickZ team member, I recently attended and participated in the always-inspirational ClickZ Live New York event.

Along with Katie Morse, Vice President, Social and Search at Nielsen and Pierce Crosby, business development and experienced data analyst at StockTwits, we had a panel discussion on how brands can take their analytics practice to the next level.

First, a quick description of the panel:

Data has become everyone’s domain, in all aspects of your marketing and business. Most companies do a good job at collecting and reporting data and have a basic process in place. But many are stuck as to what to do next to elevate value of data in their company.

As our conversation, and those questions the audience asked, were so good, I wanted to pull out some of the best questions and summary of answers we shared with attendees.

ClickZ NY analytics

Pierce, Katie, and Adam presenting at ClickZ Live NYC. Photo by Search Engine Watch columnist Thom Craver (used w/permission).

1. Most companies have varying groups that need access to analytics insights. How do you efficiently get them all what they need and how do you ensure it’s most useful for them?

The answer is process. Ensure that you have the right metrics delivered to the right people at an anticipated frequency. Also ensure that you have conducted proper resource allocation in order to allow time not just to share dashboards, but flesh out insights for your teams to take action on.

If you are just delivering dashboards without context, you’re not doing your job. Actually, you’re performing the job a script can do – which isn’t a good place to be.

The more formalized you can be with your processes, the better, as this will make you incredibly efficient and free up time for the creative, valuable (and fun!) analyst projects.

2. How do you see a breakdown of time spent on analytics between data capture, reporting, and analysis? What are the best ways to help get organizations to move up the value chain?

The more time you can spend on analysis, the better. But if you’re not capturing the right data and reporting it in an articulate way, your analysis won’t be accurate or defensible. That’s why it’s important to spend time up front on ensuring your data quality is excellent and you’re effortlessly generating beautiful reports.

Need some hard numbers to serve as a guideline? Aim for 10% of time spent on data capture, 20% on reporting, and 70% on analysis and delivering insights to your team (my previous ClickZ column goes over the reporting part in more detail).

The way to get an organization to move up the value chain is easy: trend down the time you spend on capture and reporting. It’ll happen organically.

3. Can you talk about how you are using data across tactics – such as how does search inform social, email or other areas of marketing?

Data should not exist in a silo. You should be using it to inform everything you do, and you should be using it to understand your users, not simply to fill in dashboards.

For example: if you notice visitors to your ecommerce site are frequently querying a product name or type you don’t have in site search, you should share this data with your product team and persuade them to offer it. Marketing isn’t just about promoting products anymore.

Marketing now needs to be involved in the actual strategic decisions companies make, and data is how we get a seat here. Our user data should be informing what we do next, not just showing successes of our sites and apps. This all starts with breaking down silos and using insights cross functionally – beyond marketing.

4. Let’s talk about goal setting: how you can quantify success outside of just ROI? What are some other metrics that we might want to take a look at?

ROI in dollar terms is great. Everyone can understand this, especially your CFO. But generating revenue is just one outcome from your marketing and content, and just one thing to optimize.

For example, if your call center or social CRM team notices a recurring question about your company’s product they have to answer repeatedly, that’s a huge opportunity. What you need to do in this type of situation is measure what your user’s problems are and use this information to power answers in an automated / self-service fashion such as an FAQ page on your site or chatbot.

Creating this type of content in a data-driven manner can help trend down easily answered questions, freeing up your customer service team to focus on tougher problems which require a human touch and making your customers happier by simply getting the information they need immediately. That’s a win-win: and very measurable!

5. What are some actionable ways or things we could all do to become better at analyzing the “what happened” and “why” at our metrics?

This is an area of practice makes perfect. The answer is to hire skilled leaders for your team that can inspire and grow your team’s analyst skills. But personal growth helps too: so attending events like ClickZ Live, trainings and courses (such as our Analytics Academy) and reading blogs and books (like Avinash’s definitive book, Web Analytics 2.0).

Although, there is simply no substitute for hands on experience at making data-drive decisions and becoming fluent in the world of digital measurement.

Working at an agency and on hundreds of clients across industries helped me get to where I am, so that’s a path I can personally recommend. Although there’s no reason you can’t build your skills in-house too.

To learn more about the changing face of digital marketing, come to our two-day Shift London event in May.

How to Get Your Ideas to Spread with Influencer Marketing

When 50 fashion influencers on Instagram posted a picture of themselves in the same Lord & Taylor dress, it sent out signals that this dress was a must have fashion piece. The following weekend the dress was completely sold out.

lord-taylor

This Lord & Taylor campaign is a perfect example of the power of influencer marketing.

65% of brands now run influencer campaigns and according to an infographic by The Shelf, 92% of consumers trust recommendations from other people-even if they don’t know them personally-over promotional content that comes directly from brands.

We’re more likely to buy a product if it’s recommended by a friend than pushed at us by an advert and an eMarketer study found that advertisers who implemented an influencer marketing campaign earned $6.85 in media value on average for every $1 they spent on paid media for influencer programs.

Influencer marketing opens up endless opportunities for brands to amplify their content, connect with consumers and build relationships more organically, and more directly.

But how do you get started with influencer marketing? What makes an influencer? And how can you build relationships with influencers?

In this post, I’d love to give you the lowdown on influencer marketing and some actionable tips to help you find the best influencers for your business.

Let’s dig in.

pablo (50)

How to get ideas to spread

Success in marketing often comes down to one simple concept: getting your ideas to spread.

Traditionally, mass-media adverting is the go-to way to spread ideas. Here’s how it works (in theory)you buy some ads, put those ads in front of your audience, and that’s how your idea spreads. In turn, these ads drive sales and then you can buy some more ads, to reach some more people. And so on…

The problem with this approach is that we live in a time where choice is abundant and time is sparse.

Consumers are spoiled for choice when it comes to what to spend their money on and have too little time to consume content and engage with adverts. What this means is that most advertising is just ignored.

Time Choice 3

As technology advances, traditional marketing techniques have become less and less effective. This is where influencer marketing can help.

What is influencer marketing?

Consumers have always looked to fellow consumers to inform their purchasing decisions, and with the rise of social media, it’s becoming easier for brands to discover and partner with influencers to get people talking about their company and products.

To help us give you the best tips and advice on influencer marketing we spoke with social media agency, SocialChain:

“Influencer marketing is a marketing style that focuses on using influential people to share a brand’s message with their chosen audience,” explained SocialChain’s Anna-Marie Odubote.

“Influencer marketing is beneficial to businesses because it arguably creates more meaningful engagement than traditional advertising.”

“Influencers have very trusted voices. They are real people that appear to be unbiased; a traditional advert or a post directly from a brand will often be ignored. But an endorsement from an influencer is like your friend, brother, sister or parent ‘having your back’ and telling you about something you need to check out. And regular social media ads are a little bit like strangers shouting random things at you – after a while you just tune them out.”

Primarily, influencers act as a mutual friend connecting your brand with your target consumers. An endorsement from an influencer has the power to drive traffic to your site, amplify your message across social media platforms, and even directly sell your product through their recommendation.

Marketing and The Diffusion of Innovation

The Diffusion of Innovation is a theory that seeks to explain how, why, and at what rate new ideas and technology spread through cultures.

What the Diffusion of Innovation shows is that adoption of new technologies doesn’t happen simultaneously for everyone. Facebook, for example, was first adopted by college students and only now has it started to be used by the late majority and mass market.

The Diffusion of Innovation is broken down into five adopter categories:

  • Innovators: These are people who want to be the first to try the innovation. These people are very interested in new ideas, very willing to take risks, and are often the first to develop new products and technologies.
  • Early Adopters: These are people like to adopt new ideas and enjoy being amongst some of the first people to try new technologies and spread the word about them. Often these people are leaders and share their experiences with the people around them.
  • Early Majority: These people are rarely leaders, but they do adopt new ideas before the average person. Typically they like to see that an innovation will work before they’re willing to use it.
  • Late Majority: These people are skeptical of change, and will only adopt an innovation after it has been tried by the majority.
  • Laggards: These people are bound by tradition and very conservative. They are very skeptical of change and are the hardest group to bring on board.

Innovators

Editor’s note: for more on the Diffusion of Innovation and marketing, check out this great talk by Simon Sinek

Most marketing is traditionally aimed at the mass market (Early Majority and Late Majority in the above graphic). The problem with this approach is that it’s much harder to get these people to care about your product.

Innovators and early adopters, however, care deeply about new products and technologies. For example, a tech product reviewer on YouTube will be extremely interested in using the latest smartphone technology, whereas someone in the early majority will likely only care when their old phone is outdated.

If you’d like to get your ideas to spread, reaching the innovators and early adopters within your niche can be a great way to go. This is something Apple has mastered over the years…

Influencer marketing on the grandest stage

When Apple have new products to launch, the first people they talk to are those who want to listen. The people who actively opt-in to hear Apple’s message.

When Tim Cook gets up on stage at the WWDC conference, he’s not talking to the mass market; he’s talking to innovators and early adopters in the hope that what he says will inspire them enough to pass the information on to their audience.

WWDC

These innovators and early adopters care deeply enough about Apple to give up their time and watch a whole keynote presentation purely focused on Apple products. For Apple, it makes much more sense to talk directly to influencers who care, rather than push a message out to the mass market directly.

After the WWDC conference has finished, Apple knows their message and news about their new products will reach the masses through content produced by journalists and social influencers.

When you think about marketing your business, try to think about the innovators and early adopters within your target audience: Who sincerely cares about the problem your product or services solves? Who can you speak to that will really listen?

What makes an influencer?

SocialChain describes an influencer as, “an individual that has a significant audience, who listens and makes decisions based on his/her opinions.” And influencers come in various shapes and sizes:

  • Journalists
  • Industry experts
  • Celebrities
  • Academics

Editors of highly read blogs can be influencers as can highly viewed YouTuber’s like MKBHD, and influence isn’t just based on follower counts and audience size.

A celebrity may have a large following purely because they’re famous, or someone may have acquired hundreds of thousands of followers on Twitter because they’re great a curating content. But a large following doesn’t necessarily dictate influence.

Measuring influence

SocialChain has developed a simple method for measuring influence across the main platforms; T-Score (Twitter) F-Score (Facebook) Y-Score (Youtube) I-Score (Instagram).

The scoring system is aimed to decipher exactly how much of the meaningful engagement you’re actually paying for and how cost-effective an influencer is, as Steve Bartlett, SocialChain’s founder explains on his blog.

Here’s an example of the T-Score in action:

– Tom is a real YouTube influencer who we’ve worked with [SocialChain] on a number of influencer marketing campaigns 

– Influencer Tom’s last 50 tweets have 17,600 engagements combined (replies, likes, retweets). 

– He has 210,409 followers on Twitter

– He charges £100 per tweet

17,600 (combined engagements from last 50 tweets) / 50 = 352 (Average engagement per tweet)

352 (Average engagements per tweet) / £100 (total following) = 3.52

Tom’s T-score = 3.52 and you’re effectively paying £1 per 3.52 engagements that Tom is generating for himself.

(This doesn’t mean you’ll get 3.52 engagements per £1 on your sponsored content, but it gives you a good idea of how much engagement you will hope to see per £1 spent.)

How to find influencers

The type of influencer you’re looking for will depend on the goals of your campaign.

“To find influencers that fit your business, you need to have an in-depth understanding of your own brand and how you want to be perceived,” Anna-Marie Odubote explained.

“There are many influencer discovery tools online that you can use to search for influencers in certain categories and countries. If you want to find more bespoke influencers, the best way would be to manually search social media.”

Here are a couple of tools to help you discover influencers in your niche:

Followerwonk

followerwonk

Followerwonk is a brilliant tool from Moz. It allows you to search for keywords in Twitter user bios to find those with the most authority and largest reach.

Klear

klear

Klear allows you to search for keywords and discover relevant influencers on both Twitter and Instagram. You can also filter users by skills and location as well as add all your selected influencers to a list.

Content + Distribution: The perfect mix

When you’re looking for an influencer to partner with, the ideal influencer tends to have two key abilities:

  1. The ability to create content
  2. The ability to distribute content

Reach and content

Content

Great content is the heart and soul of any influencer marketing campaign.

Most influencers have managed to build their audience through creating their own, unique brand of content, and if you’re simply asking them to share a piece of content you’ve created, it can feel a little inauthentic and stand out as an advert or sponsored posts.

Ideally, you’re looking to partner with influencers who can create content alongside your business. Rather than only sharing content, you’ve already created.

Distribution

I like to look at distribution as a combination or reach (audience size) and engagement. Sometimes it can be easy to feel that someone with say 100,000 followers on Twitter or 10,000 subscribers on their email list is an influencer. But really, it doesn’t matter how many people follow someone. What’s important is how many people engagement with them. And how many people click the links they share.

The SocialChain scoring system mentioned above can be a great way to measure engagement various influencers receive on their content.

How to build relationships with influencers

Once you’ve identified your influencers, the next step is to start building relationships with them.

“If an influencer manages themselves and all of their enquires, you always need to be personable and make the influencer feel valued and unique. Although influencers are their own business, the majority aren’t businesspeople. Too much corporate talk can scare them away, and it’s best to arrange a face to face meeting/ Skype call as soon as you can,” said Odubote.

“Depending on the influencer’s reach, [some larger influencers have management teams] you’ll often speak to their management (the influencer will see the initial enquiry and forward it to their management if it’s something they’re interested in).”

Over to you

Thanks for reading! I’d love to continue the conversation about influencer marketing in the comments below. Have you tried any influencer marketing campaigns? Any tips on building relationships with influencers?

The post How to Get Your Ideas to Spread with Influencer Marketing appeared first on Social.

Measuring Content: You’re Doing it Wrong

Posted by MatthewBarby

[Estimated read time: 10 minutes]

The traditional ways of measuring the success or failure of content are broken. We can’t just rely on metrics like the number of pageviews/visits or bounce rate to determine whether what we’re creating has performed well.

“The primary thing we look for with news is impact, not traffic,” says Jonah Peretti, Founder of BuzzFeed. One of the ways that BuzzFeed have mastered this is with the development of their proprietary analytics platform, POUND.

POUND enables BuzzFeed to predict the potential reach of a story based on its content, understand how effective specific promotions are based on the downstream sharing and traffic, and power A/B tests – and that’s just a few examples.

Just because you’ve managed to get more eyeballs onto your content doesn’t mean it’s actually achieved anything. If that were the case then I’d just take a few hundred dollars and buy some paid StumbleUpon traffic every time.

Yeah, I’d generate traffic, but it’s highly unlikely to result in me achieving some of my actual business goals. Not only that, but I’d have no real indication of whether my content was satisfying the needs of my visitors.

The scary thing is that the majority of content marketing campaigns are measured this way. I hear statements like “it’s too difficult to measure the performance of individual pieces of content” far too often. The reality is that it’s pretty easy to measure content marketing campaigns on a micro level – a lot of the time people don’t want to do it.

Engagement over entrances

Within any commercial content marketing campaign that you’re running, measurement should be business goal-centric. By that I mean that you should be determining the overall success of your campaign based on the achievement of core business goals.

If your primary business goal is to generate 300 leads each month from the content that you’re publishing, you’ll need to have a reporting mechanism in place to track this information.

On a more micro-level, you’ll want to be tracking and using engagement metrics to enable you to influence the achievement of your business goals. In my opinion, all content campaigns should have robust, engagement-driven reporting behind them.

Total Time Reading (TTR)

One metric that Medium uses, which I think adds a lot more value than pageviews, is “Total Time Reading (TTR).” This is a cumulative metric that quantifies the total number of minutes spent reading a piece of content. For example, if I had 10 visitors to one of my blog articles and they each stayed reading the article for 1 minute each, the total reading time would be 10 minutes.

“We measure every user interaction with every post. Most of this is done by periodically recording scroll positions. We pipe this data into our data warehouse, where offline processing aggregates the time spent reading (or our best guess of it): we infer when a reader started reading, when they paused, and when they stopped altogether. The methodology allows us to correct for periods of inactivity (such as having a post open in a different tab, walking the dog, or checking your phone).” (source)

The reason why this is more powerful than just pageviews is because it takes into account how engaged your readers are to give a more accurate representation of its visibility. You could have an article with 1,000 pageviews that has a greater TTR than one with 10,000 pageviews.

Scroll depth & time on page

A related and simpler metric to acquire is the average time on page (available within Google Analytics). The average time spent on your webpage will give a general indication of how long your visitors are staying on the page. Combining this with ‘scroll depth‘ (i.e. how far down the page has a visitor scrolled) will help paint a better picture of how ‘engaged’ your visitors are. You’ll be able to get the answer to the following:

“How much of this article are my visitors actually reading?”

“Is the length of my content putting visitors off?”

“Are my readers remaining on the page for a long time?”

Having the answers to these questions is really important when it comes to determining which types of content are resonating more with your visitors.

Social Lift

BuzzFeed’s “Social Lift” metric is a particularly good way of understanding the ‘virality’ of your content (you can see this when you publish a post to BuzzFeed). BuzzFeed calculates “Social Lift” as follows:

((Social Views)/(Seed Views)+1)

Social Views: Traffic that’s come from outside BuzzFeed; for example, referral traffic, email, social media, etc.

Seed Views: Owned traffic that’s come from within the BuzzFeed platform; e.g. from appearing in BuzzFeed’s newsfeed.

BuzzFeed Social Lift

This is a great metric to use when you’re a platform publisher as it helps separate out traffic that’s coming from outside of the properties that you own, thus determining its “viral potential.”

There are ways to use this kind of approach within your own content marketing campaigns (without being a huge publisher platform) to help get a better idea of its “viral potential.”

One simple calculation can just involve the following:

((social shares)/(pageviews)+1)

This simple stat can be used to determine which content is likely to perform better on social media, and as a result it will enable you to prioritize certain content over others for paid social promotion. The higher the score, the higher its “viral potential.” This is exactly what BuzzFeed does to understand which pieces of content they should put more weight behind from a very early stage.

You can even take this to the next level by replacing pageviews with TTR to get a more representative view of engagement to sharing behavior.

The bottom line

Alongside predicting “viral potential” and “TTR,” you’ll want to know how your content is performing against your bottom line. For most businesses, that’s the main reason why they’re creating content.

This isn’t always easy and a lot of people get this wrong by looking for a silver bullet that doesn’t exist. Every sales process is different, but let’s look at the typical process that we have at HubSpot for our free CRM product:

  1. Visitor comes through to our blog content from organic search.
  2. Visitor clicks on a CTA within the blog post.
  3. Visitor downloads a gated offer in exchange for their email address and other data.
  4. Prospect goes into a nurturing workflow.
  5. Prospect goes through to a BOFU landing page and signs up to the CRM.
  6. Registered user activates and invites in members of their team.

This is a simple process, but it can still be tricky sometimes to get a dollar value on each piece of content we produce. To do this, you’ve got to understand what the value of a visitor is, and this is done by working backwards through the process.

The first question to answer is, “what’s the lifetime value (LTV) of an activated user?” In other words, “how much will this customer spend in their lifetime with us?”

For e-commerce businesses, you should be able to get this information by analyzing historical sales data to understand the average order value that someone makes and multiply that by the average number of orders an individual will make with you in their lifetime.

For the purposes of this example, let’s say each of our activated CRM users has an LTV of $100. It’s now time to work backwards from that figure (all the below figures are theoretical)…

Question 1: “What’s the conversion rate of new CRM activations from our email workflow(s)?”

Answer 1: “5%”

Question 2: “How many people download our gated offers after coming through to the blog content?”

Answer 2: “3%”

Knowing this would help me to start putting a monetary value against each visitor to the blog content, as well as each lead (someone that downloads a gated offer).

Let’s say we generate 500,000 visitors to our blog content each month. Using the average conversion rates from above, we’d convert 15,000 of those into email leads. From there we’d nurture 750 of them into activated CRM users. Multiply that by the LTV of a CRM user ($100) and we’ve got $75,000 (again, these figures are all just made up).

Using this final figure of $75,000, we could work backwards to understand the value of a single visitor to our blog content:

((75,000)/(500,000))

Single Visitor Value: $0.15

We can do the same for email leads using the following calculation:

(($75,000)/(15,000))

Individual Lead Value: $5.00

Knowing these figures will help you be able to determine the bottom-line value of each of your pieces of content, as well as calculating a rough return on investment (ROI) figure.

Let’s say one of the blog posts we’re creating to encourage CRM signups generated 500 new email leads; we’d see a $2,500 return. We could then go and evaluate the cost of producing that blog post (let’s say it takes 6 hours at $100 per hour – $600) to calculate a ROI figure of 316%.

ROI in its simplest form is calculated as:

(((($return)-($investment))/($investment))*100)

You don’t necessarily need to follow these figures religiously when it comes to content performance on a broader level, especially when you consider that some content just doesn’t have the primary goal of lead generation. That said, for the content that does have this goal, it makes sense to pay attention to this.

The link between engagement and ROI

So far I’ve talked about two very different forms of measurement:

  1. Engagement
  2. Return on investment

What you’ll want to avoid is actually thinking about these as isolated variables. Return on investment metrics (for example, lead conversion rate) are heavily influenced by engagement metrics, such as TTR.

The key is to understand exactly which engagement metrics have the greatest impact on your ROI. This way you can use engagement metrics to form the basis of your optimization tests in order to make the biggest impact on your bottom line.

Let’s take the following scenario that I faced within my own blog as an example…

The average length of the content across my website is around 5,000 words. Some of my content way surpasses 10,000 words in length, taking an estimated hour to read (my recent SEO tips guide is a perfect example of this). As a result, the bounce rate on my content is quite high, especially from mobile visitors.

Keeping people engaged within a 10,000-word article when they haven’t got a lot of time on their hands is a challenge. Needless to say, it makes it even more difficult to ensure my CTAs (aimed at newsletter subscriptions) stand out.

From some testing, I found that adding my CTAs closer to the top of my content was helping to improve conversion rates. The main issue I needed to tackle was how to keep people on the page for longer, even when they’re in a hurry.

To do this, I worked on the following solution: give visitors a concise summary of the blog post that takes under 30 seconds to read. Once they’ve read this, show them a CTA that will give them something to read in more detail in their own time.

All this involved was the addition of a “Summary” button at the top of my blog post that, when clicked, hides the content and displays a short summary with a custom CTA.

Showing Custom Summaries

This has not only helped to reduce the number of people bouncing from my long-form content, but it also increased the number of subscribers generated from my content whilst improving user experience at the same time (which is pretty rare).

I’ve thought that more of you might find this quite a useful feature on your own websites, so I packaged it up as a free WordPress plugin that you can download here.

Final thoughts

The above example is just one example of a way to impact the ROI of your content by improving engagement. My advice is to get a robust measurement process in place so that you’re able to first of all identify opportunities, and then go through with experiments to take advantage of the opportunity.

More than anything, I’d recommend that you take a step back and re-evaluate the way that you’re measuring your content campaigns to see if what you’re doing really aligns with the fundamental goals of your business. You can invest in endless tools that help you measure things better, but if core metrics that you’re looking for are wrong, then this is all for nothing.

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17 fascinating stats about beacons and location marketing

Today we embark on our fifth weekly #ClickZChat, where the good people of SEW and ClickZ take to Twitter to discuss with our expert friends and followers a particularly burning digital marketing related issue.

For this week’s chat, we’ll be talking about location marketing, NFC, beacons, and their usefulness for marketers, so please join us at 12pm EST (5pm UK) on Wednesday 27 April.

As preparation for the discussion, I’ve pulled together as many stats relating to beacons as I could possibly find, many of which should provide fuel for the conversation and maybe aid your own location marketing strategy.

1) The value of in-store retail sales influenced by beacon-triggered messages in the United States in 2015 and 2016 was $4.1 billion.

2) In 2016, an extraordinary $40 billion increase is estimated. Statista suggests that beacon messages will trigger retail sales worth $44.4 billion in the US.

ibeacons

3) Men are more likely than women to make a purchase based on personalized advertising they saw on an in-store beacon or display.

4) Among responding male internet users aged between 18 and 34 years, 91% said they were influenced by personalized in-store advertising. Female internet users influenced by in-store beacon tech amounted to 76%.

ibeacons by gender

5) More than 42% of companies already have proximity marketing (such as beacons and geolocation) in place. 39% say they will implement it in the next three years. 18.6% say they have no plans for beacons.

6) The future plans for beacon technology integration is trailing in popularity behind online basket comparison (42%), in-store Wi-Fi (54.3%), scan-and-go (59.3%) in-store bookmarking (62.8%).

[Source: Statista]

7) 46% of retailers have launched beacon programs in 2015, up from 15% in 2014.

8) 71% retailers are able to track and understand customers’ buying patterns using beacons.

9) 65% feel they are able to target customers down to the aisle level.

10) 59% feel customers are more engaged in the store.

11) 53% retailers feel they are able to create more relevant and compelling offers in the store.

12) 24% retailers saw an increase in sales.

13) 24% retailers saw an increase in offer redemption,

[Source: Retail Touchpoints and reported by Beaconstac]

14) 82% of customers make purchase decisions in-store. [Google]

15) By 2018, the beacon installed base will consist of 4.5 million active beacons overall, with 3.5 million of these in use by retailers.

bii-beacons-installed-base-estimate-1

16) Half of the top 100 retailers in the US tested beacons in 2014, this was expected to increase to one-third of their store locations by the end of 2015.

17) Globally, it’s estimated that 570 million Android and Apple smartphones are compatible with Bluetooth low energy (BLE), the signal used by beacons to trigger smartphone apps. This is one-third of the smartphone installed base.

[Source: Business Insider]

Beyond local SEO: Greg Gifford on how to win the visibility race

Last Friday at a packed-out Brighton SEO conference, expert local search consultant Greg Gifford delivered a fast and furious presentation on the secrets of local marketing visibility: it’s not just about local SEO.

In a slide-show brimming with references to classic car movies, Greg Gifford raced through a host of tips and tricks that can massively improve your business’s local visibility and let you storm ahead of the competition.

The days of “just having a website” and trying to make it rank near the top are over; it takes more than just SEO to market to local customers. That’s not to say that local SEO isn’t important, of course, but it shouldn’t be your only consideration.

By thinking about local SEO as just one part of a wider visibility strategy, you can ensure that your business has a presence across multiple channels, not just in search. That’s better for your customers as well as for you.

In his talk, Gifford gave a run-down of other key areas to pay attention to, and how to optimise each one to target exactly the local audience you want to attract.

But first, because search is still hugely important for a local business, here are some handy tricks that Greg Gifford shared which will help you get ahead in the SEO game.

Quick tips for local SEO

Future-proof your SEO tactics

You only need to look at pizza delivery for an example of how much weight local visibility now carries in search, more than ever before. If you Google “pizza delivery”, even without specifying a location, Google will serve you local results – whether you asked for them or not.

Any algorithm changes that Google makes to its local search results have the potential to shake things up hugely, and the businesses who adapt fastest are often those who end up on top.

Google’s ‘Pigeon’ update in 2014 was a massive game-changer for local SEO, and mobile-oriented ranking changes like Mobilegeddon can have a huge impact on local given that 94% of mobile searches have local intent.

But if you live outside the US, you’re in luck (for once!): Google algorithm updates always hit the US before they roll out anywhere else, so by keeping an eye on what’s happening in the States, you can ‘future-proof’ your SEO tactics and know exactly what to do by the time the update comes to you.

And even if you live in the US, there’s still a way you can get ahead: Gifford recommends keeping an eye on Moz.com’s local search ranking factors research, an extensive survey conducted across SEO experts analysing the changes in ranking factors they have observed over the past year. This will give you the low-down on what changes search experts sense in the winds and how they recommend dealing with them.

Make your blog a local destination

Maintaining a blog is still an excellent content and SEO strategy, giving businesses a platform to publish regular, fresh and insightful content and build a relationship with their visitors.

But in the words of Greg Gifford, “Don’t just market your shit!” Make your blog a local destination; share all sorts of things that people want to read.

Visitors will be turned off by a blog that is clearly just another mouthpiece for the company to promote its products. By thoughtfully curating all sorts of valuable local content, you can turn your blog into a go-to destination, boost its visibility and build relationships and links with other local blogs and businesses.

And speaking of local businesses…

Get those local business links!

When it comes to inbound links to your website, businesses will fight tooth and nail to try and get links from sites with the most domain authority. But Greg Gifford’s tip is one that many businesses wouldn’t even consider: go after “crappy little church websites”. You know the ones, with Microsoft Word clipart and neon green Comic Sans font in the header.

These kinds of tiny hyper-local websites have a huge amount of local relevance, and so their links carry a lot of weight. Best of all, none of your competitors will be going after them, so you can snap them up and enjoy the boost.

A photograph of a village church with a tower and a spire, underneath a blue sky and surrounded by trees and gravestones.Increase your local SEO with inbound links from highly hyperlocal websites – even if they aren’t always of the best quality. Photo by Lincolnian, made available via CC BY-SA 2.0

Build ‘local silos’ to show up in nearby cities

If you want your site to show up in search for a city you’re not located in, Gifford recommends building what he calls ‘local silos’ targeted at nearby cities.

A silo is the name given to a system or sector that operates in isolation from others. You’ve probably heard a lot about we should be breaking down silos, but in this case, they can work to your advantage.

To build ‘local silos’, create little self-contained zones of information within your site that are based around the city or neighbourhood you want to target and optimise the heck out of them.

Publish blog posts about that city, get links back from local businesses, and make sure they point to pages within the silo; and before too long, you’ll see your silos start to rank in local searches for that area.

A photograph showing a row of grey silos against a blue sky, with hay bales piled at the foot of each.Building silos can be a good thing, when it comes to local SEO. Photograph by Doc Searls, made available via CC BY 2.0.

Track your Google My Business clicks

In the midst of all the cool local SEO hacks, it pays to remember the basics, like making sure your business is listed on Google My Business and your profile is complete.

Gifford also advises adding tracking parameters to your Google My Business links in order to monitor the traffic coming to your site via that page. Local SEO Guide has a good guide on how to do this with Google’s URL builder tool.

It’s also worth keeping an eye on developments with Google Posts, which Google seems to be prepping as a significant platform for business promotion, and which could possibly be the next major development in local search if Google rolls it out on a larger scale.

How to optimise your email marketing

So we’ve covered the ‘local SEO’ part of local visibility; how about the ‘beyond’? Greg Gifford’s first tip might seem a little old-school, but it’s still one of the most effective marketing tools at your disposal: email marketing.

Gifford advises making sure that you’re using a responsive email design. Brands who have fully embraced responsive emails see 55% more Clicks to Open (CTO) from mobile and 23% more from desktop compared to brands who haven’t, according to research by Yesmail.

Adding video to your emails can increase their attractiveness and interactivity, and a survey conducted by Forrester Marketing Group found that including a video in email marketing increased Click-Through Rate by 200 to 300%.

That statistic is from 2010, but more recent statistics have shown that just including the word “video” in an email subject line can raise open rates by 19% and Click-Through Rates by 65%.

Having a carefully curated list of email addresses to target can also come in handy when using Facebook Ads, as we’ll see later on.

Go beyond YouTube

If you’re going to commit to using video in your marketing strategy, Gifford has one key recommendation for you: don’t use YouTube. Instead, the video hosting service that Gifford recommends for keeping control of your content and tracking the important metrics is Wistia.

Here are some of the reasons he lists for opting for Wistia instead of YouTube or another major video host:

  • Wistia provides detailed video analytics, including engagement statistics, trend graphs, and individual viewer ‘heatmaps’ which show the parts of a video each user watched, skipped and rewatched.
  • You can tie user information to email addresses, and also use Wistia’s ‘Turnstile’ tool to add a form that requires users to input their email address at any point before, after or during the video.
  • Wistia allows you to give your videos a custom play button, which according to Wikia’s former Director of Growth and Acquisition Casey Henry can increase your play rate by 19%.
  • Similarly, you can also add a custom thumbnail to your videos, which can potentially boost your play rate by as much as 35% (and often winds up looking much nicer).
  • Wistia embeds on Facebook play in the news feed, and on Twitter will expand into a Twitter card that also allows users to play them in-stream.

Facebook ads

“Facebook ads used to be the drunk guy that showed up late to the party; now, they’re the cool guy that everyone’s stoked to see,” says Gifford. And if you’re looking to gain local visibility, Facebook ads have a lot of valuable advantages.

  • Facebook’s demographic targeting is incredibly diverse and exact, allowing you to target users based on location, age, gender, interests, and some mind-bogglingly specific parameters like education level, device and mobile connection.
  • You can also load in email lists and use them to create a custom audience of Facebook users who have accounts registered with those addresses.
  • Facebook also allows you to create Lookalike Audiences which will target new groups of people who are similar to audiences you’re already targeting.
  • Facebook’s ‘local awareness ads’ are an incredibly powerful local advertising tool. Google research on local search showed that roughly 70% of users want ads customised to their city or zip code, and between 60 and 70% want ads customised to their immediate surroundings.

Facebook’s local awareness ads allow you to drop a pin on any point on a map, and ads will be shown on mobile devices within a certain radius of that point. Try dropping a map pin on your competitors, on an event or at a conference!

Use Beacons

Gifford’s final hot tip for local visibility is to use Beacons. Beacons are “small, Bluetooth-enabled hardware devices that can be installed in physical locations, like retail stores. They silently broadcast a message to any Bluetooth-enabled devices in their proximity, kind of like a lighthouse with text”, as Dan Cristo writes.

Usually Beacons require a dedicated app to work, but Beacon providers have begun setting up app networks which will allow Beacons to pop up a message on someone’s phone as long as any app in the network is running.

The apps are location-aware, so they can be tagged by the Beacon even if they aren’t running. You can then connect directly to Facebook’s API, allowing you to retarget ads at actual foot traffic.

DealerOn, Gifford’s marketing and advertising company, ran some tests with Beacon and found they led to anything from a 34.6% to a 45.7% increase in Click-Through Rate on ads. At a recent conference, the Beacon at DealerOn’s booth tagged 687 unique users.

Beacons are still an emerging technology, but they have the power to improve the customer experience and potentially revolutionise search – especially in a hyperlocal context. So watch out for opportunities and get creative with how you use them.