Make a Resolution to Keep Your WordPress Healthy in 2017

WPMaintenance_adJanuary marks a new year and new opportunity to make and achieve your business goals. If your WordPress website is part of your goals, you are going to need to make sure that it is as healthy as possible. What do I mean by a healthy WordPress? A healthy WordPress site is one that is backed up on a regular basis, always updated to new versions of the core and plugins, and is secure.

If your site is not healthy it risks being hacked which can decrease visitor’s trust in your website or cause it to not function at all. Fixing it after it has been hacked can be a huge headache in addition to being time consuming and expensive.

Did you know that the number one cause of hacked WordPress sites is outdated core software and plugins. Updating these things are easy, but many people get busy working on their businesses and don’t think about checking for updates. Others are afraid they may break something during the updates. Both are valid issues and the reason I have put together monthly security and maintenance plans to keep you backed up, up to date and secure.

For a $100 investment each month you get:

Backups

  • Scheduled backups of WordPress
  • Secure offsite storage of backups
  • 24/7 Up-time Monitoring

Updates

  • Updates to core WordPress application
  • Updates to plugins and themes
  • Restore most recent backup if update causes site issues. (extra fee for fixing issues once older copy is restored.)

Security

  • Protection against hackers and site breeches to keep your site up and running. (While precautions are taken, nothing can be guaranteed 100%. If site is compromised an additional fee will be charged to clean up site.)
  • Regular malware scans

Reports

  • Monthly reports regarding the maintenance performed during the month.

Discounted Hourly Rate

  • For any additional maintenance needed for WordPress a discounted rate of $65.00/hour will be charged.

Maintenance items included:

  • Fixing issues any updates cause
  • Cleaning malware from site
  • Adding new plugins
  • Replacing plugins
  • Updates to existing text and images. (doesn’t include creation of original images.)

Contracts run for 12 months. Pay for a year upfront and get a discounted rate of $1000.00.

Make sure your WordPress is healthy in 2017 by signing up now.

Complete the form and I will be in touch soon!

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3 Ideas for Getting Started With Instagram Stories

You may have noticed something new with Instagram. Stories is Instagram’s version of Snapchat in that it allows you to create stories that will last in your followers’ feed for 24 hours. This can be a an image, a video, or a set of videos and images. You can add text onto the images as well as doodles. People that already use Snapchat have been quick to jump into Instagram Stories, for everyone else there is a bit of a learning curve on how to view other people’s stories and how to create your own.

There is a great article on TechCrunch about how to use Stories, so I won’t cover that again, but I do want to give you a few content ideas to help you begin taking advantage of this new feature.

Slideshow

Use the picture functionality to create a slideshow of images that would be interesting to your followers. Imagine you are unboxing the latest shipment of your product that UPS just delivered. Take a a picture of a handful and load them in as a story. Put some text on top of the image to say what it is and maybe even a fun doodle.

Before, during and after

So I totally lifted this idea from my daughter who has already figured out how to put Stories to use. She was reorganizing her collection of Disney Tsum Tsums and shared a before, during and after picture of her process. It was short and fun and told a complete story from beginning to end in a few seconds. This could be a great way to put together a recap of an event with before, during and after activities.

How To

You could offer quick user tips on how to use your product or service. As long as the hints are short, this could be a fun medium to show people alternative uses for your product or service that may be new to them. You could also give a quick view of how you make your product or service without going into detail. The process for making your product may take a few hours, but using short videos or images, you can give your followers an idea of how the process works.

People love to know what is going on behind the scenes of your business, and because Stories are considered more laid back, it gives you license to be creative and have some fun with it. Now it is your turn to take these ideas and run with them. I would love to hear what you come up with.

Email List Segmentation

Have you ever started putting together an email campaign, but stopped because you realized that it wouldn’t be relevant to everyone on your list? Maybe you are having a local event and your subscribers on the other side or the country or world wouldn’t be interested. Maybe you want to send a reminder about a promotion to convert new customers, but don’t want it to land in a current customer’s inbox. It may be time to consider email list segmentation.

Segmentation is the act of dividing your email list into different groups based on characteristics such as demographics or interests. Segmentation allows you to send more relevant and personalized content to each segment which in turn increases responses. The good news is that most email service providers allow you to segment your list, so not additional software or tools are necessary.

There are many benefits to using list segmentation including:

Decrease your unsubscribes. Many people unsubscribe because they don’t feel like the information you are sending is relevant to them. By creating segments, the relevancy increases for each subscriber segment.

Increase open rates. With segments, you can tailor the subject line making it more attractive to the email subscriber to open because, again, it is personalized for their interest.

Increase click-through rates. The more relevant the content, the more likely the reader is to open and interact with the email including click on the links in your message. Segmentation has been shown to increase the click-through rates for email marketers.

Increase conversions. Using segments, you should have a more targeted and motivated reader. This makes the conversion to purchase or act much higher than sending the same offer to everyone on a general list.

Getting started in segmentation can feel overwhelming because there are so many options for slicing and dicing your list. The key is to start small and expand from there. You may want to start as simple as breaking your list into customer and non-customer. Just think of all the different types of emails and promotions you can create based on this simple segmentation.

Now is the time to consider how segmentation can help your get more out of your email list.

Retargeting vs. Email Remarketing

Retargeting and remarketing are very similar words and have similar purposes, but are executed in different ways. I am willing to bet you have seen both in action as a consumer. Let me explain.

Let’s say one day you are doing some searches on Amazon.com for a new camera. You look at several cameras, but you are not ready to make a purchase so you leave the site and go about your business. The next day you log into Facebook and you see ads in your timeline from Amazon and the included picture and product information is the exact camera you looked at yesterday. Coincidence? Nope. That is retargeting in action.

When you were on Amazon’s site, they placed a cookie in your browser which communicated with Facebook to serve you that ad. Facebook isn’t the only place you will see these retargeting ads. They are pretty commonplace on a lot of sites. As a consumer, I still find these ads to be a bit like Minority Report, but as a marketer it is a powerful tool to remind people of what they were looking at and entice them to return and make the purchase.

Remarketing has to do with email and abandoned shopping carts. Shopping cart abandonment is a huge problem for e-commerce websites of all sizes. A person puts products in their cart, fills out their information and then for some reason leaves the site with products sill in their shopping cart. Maybe they were interrupted by something or changed their mind due to shipping costs. Using email remarketing, the merchant is able to follow-up with an email to see if they had problems during the buying process. They can even follow-up days later to offer a discount that may entice the buyer to go back and complete the order.

Email remarketing is another great example of marketing automation at work. Many marketing automation tools allow you to program this into your e-commerce site, set up the emails you want to send and set the time between emails. Companies often see an increase in revenue due to adding email remarketing into their mix.

If you are one on my email subscribers, you will get another way you can use email remarketing on Sunday. Not a subscriber? Sign-up using the form below.

Dipping Your Toe into Marketing Automation for Small Business

According to Wikipedia, Marketing automation refers to software platforms and technologies designed for marketing departments and organizations to more effectively market on multiple channels online (such as email, social media, websites, etc.) and automate repetitive tasks.

If you begin to do some research into what marketing automation is, you can quickly get overwhelmed. There are so many tools you can use and there are even more features and processes to try and manage. The term automation can be pretty deceiving when it comes to marketing automation. Yes, it does automate some tasks, but the strategy and tactics needed to get to that phase is anything buy automated. This is why it can be so overwhelming especially to small businesses with limited time.

Just to introduce you a bit to marketing automation, here are a list of features that are often included in marketing automation software solutions:

Central database
– Prediction and scoring
– CRM integration
– Lead management

Engagement tools
– Landing pages
– Campaign management
– Content marketing
– Email marketing
– Social marketing

Analytics
– Marketing analytics

As you can see from this list, it can get overwhelming, very quickly. When I sat down to write this I really thought I was going to be able to put together a thorough overview of marketing automation, but it quickly became obvious that wasn’t going to happen. There are so many moving parts and for a lot of small businesses it is just too much to tackle at once. One of the most effective areas for small business to introduce marketing automation is to their email marketing. Some of the tools you are using for email marketing already have basic automation tools. For this reason, during June I’m going to introduce a few concepts to you.

How is Technology Impacting Sales?

I started my business over 17 years ago when the majority of Internet users were still on dial-up, websites were coded by hand and we walked uphill both ways to school in the snow. Ok, so maybe that last one isn’t true, but technology has become easier to use and less expensive to implement than ever. Technology that was only available to large Fortune 500 companies is now available to smaller businesses with much smaller budgets. Technology has leveled the field with regards to sales in many ways, but for now I would like to focus on better tracking and engagement.

It is now easier to track a prospect through your sales cycle with tools like Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and marketing automation. As a prospect enters your website for the first time, you are able to track their behaviors even if you don’t know exactly who they are yet. Once they interact with you via your website by filling out a form, you are able to continue to collect what pages they visit, how often and what they download. Through your CRM, you can share this information with your sales team so that they are better prepared when it is time to contact the prospect. This brings us to engagement and personalization.

Now that you know what the prospect or customer is most interested in, you can engage them with the correct information either through direct contact or email. The email can be a one-time message or a series of messages “dripped” to the prospect through your marketing automation software. This technology helps you deliver the correct messaging, at the correct time, and at the correct touchpoint. This provides a better experience for the user and allows your sales team to be more involved in the process of converting the prospect to a customer.

I’m going to dive into marketing automation a bit more in June, so I hope you join me.

Using MailChimp Subscribe to Collect Emails “On the Go”

MC_SubscribeWe all know to collect email addresses on our websites, but if we interact with our target audience other places such as your store, a craft fair, tradeshow or speaking event it can be a little more difficult. The standard solution has been paper and pen. Once you collect those addresses on paper, someone has to then type all those contacts into your email software. This takes a lot of time and can be difficult to do if you have trouble reading people’s handwriting.

Let me introduce you to one of my favorite tools, MailChimp Subscribe. Subscribe is an app that runs on your iOS or Android device and allows you to create email subscription forms. Interested subscribers can fill out the form on your device by typing in their information which will subscribe them to your desired list. If you are on the Internet, the new subscriber will instantly be added to your list, if there is no WiFi, they will be added once your device is again connected to the Internet. This app saves you so much time and helps your accuracy from the old way of doing things with paper and pen.

I have used this app at craft shows while selling our soaps. We tied a chance to win something if they signed up for our newsletter and because it was so easy, we had several people subscribe. At speaking events, I also use MailChimp Subscribe on my iPad to allow interested people to easily sign up after my presentation. I haven’t done it yet, but I intend to put the app on my phone, so when I am at networking events and discussing my business, I can invite them to subscribe right then and there.

In addition to it being time-saving and more accurate, the app, itself, can become a great conversation starter because many people have not seen anything like it before. The app is easy to use and you can brand your sign-up form with your logo and coloring helping you stay consistent with your messaging. If you are a MailChimp user, be sure to download this free app and give it a try.

What is a Touchpoint?

Anyone that knows me and my family personally, knows we love all things Disney and always look forward to our yearly trip to Disney World. As a marketer, these trips are also research into how to provide the best customer experience possible.  The most impressive thing with their customer experience is just how consistent their messaging and branding is across all their touchpoints.

What is a touchpoint? A touchpoint refers to any interaction between a buyer and a seller before, during and after the purchase. For Disney, some of their most important touchpoints at the parks are their cast members including bus drivers, hotel employees, janitors and park personnel. These are just some of the touchpoints you interact with once you get to the resort and don’t include the cast members that may help you plan your trip. In addition to people there is the website, their films, etc. Disney’s corporate purpose is to provide happiness to anyone that enters the resort and boy do they deliver. Every touchpoint for Disney tries to provide happiness to their audience before, during and after their time at the park.

So how do touchpoints relate to small business? We all have touchpoints, though on a much smaller scale than Disney. If your employees interact with anyone in your target audience they are a touchpoint. Beyond employees, we can also include any marketing materials and outreach that is produced by your company including website, packaging, POP displays, social media to name a few. After the sale, touchpoints can include billing, email communications and customer service.

With each of these touchpoints, you need to determine if you are providing the correct information and experience for your target audience. Does your packaging tell enough of your story to stand out on the shelves of a retailer? Does it answer the needed questions to convert a prospect into a paying customer? Think about your website and whether it provides the right information and call to actions for site visitors. You want your target audience to review your messaging and take the desired action. Does your branding and storytelling go through to the billing stage or does it drop off at that point? The goal is to provide a experience that is consistent with your culture and purpose at every touchpoint.

I know this may sound a little intimidating, but it is important to begin to identify all of your touchpoints as you interact with your target audience. You may be surprised about all the different places these interactions take place. If you are still overwhelmed and not sure where to start, contact me about one of my customer experience workshops. I come into your office and we spend half a day evaluating your target audience, your current marketing efforts and touchpoints to see what is working and what needs changed.

The Anatomy of a Niche

(This post was originally a guest post I did for Wood Street’s blog)

It’s no secret having a niche is important in business these days, but it can be hard to identify the niche that will work best for you. Let’s take a look at a few characteristics that go into making the anatomy of a good niche.

Authentic.

By authentic, I mean you should be both knowledgeable about your niche and you should like it. If you are going to provide a service to a specific industry, you better know a lot about that industry and it should be of great interest to you because you are going to be spend a lot of time talking and working in that industry.  This is why your passion is such driving force in choosing a niche.

Bigger companies can get away with forcing a niche a bit more than a small business because you, as the owner or head of marketing, are often the face of your business. People will know if you are forcing it and tune you out. It really needs to become an extension of yourself.

Easy to communicate.

It should not require a long and involved explanation for your niche, because often you will not have the chance to explain it. Many people’s first interaction with you and your product/service will be seeing it on a shelf or reading a social media profile. You want something that can be quickly and easily explained to your target audience both visually and in descriptions.

With a strong niche it is easier to know where to communicate your message. You are better able to zero in on your target audience allowing you to engage them with the tools they use most. The messaging itself also becomes more focused because you can keep it inline with the goal of your niche.

Has a market.

There has to be a market that your niche can serve or you won’t be in business very long. It is preferable that your market is passionate about you, your product/service and your niche. A loyal fan base is so important to a company when there are so many competing messages vying for their attention. This loyalty leads to repeat customers and referrals.

Your market doesn’t have to be huge, but it does need to support your financial goals. You define what success means to you and if your market can support that definition of success then you have a good niche. In addition to meeting those goals, you have to know if you are able to scale your operations as you grow. If you are afraid you may struggle, you may have to adjust your pricing to achieve your long term goals.

While simplified, this gives you a good overview of how to evaluate your company’s niche. If you are still trying to identify the best niche for your business, take a look at my latest free resource in the Marketing Roadhouse member library – Uncover Your Niche. It will teach you the benefits of having a niche, different types of niches, and how to use the 4Ps of marketing to uncover yours.

Who Are You Selling To?

This was sent to my email list a few months ago. As I have said before, what I send to my email list is not published or shared anywhere else. It is exclusive to my subscribers, but I decided to make an exception today for 2 reasons. One, I think this topic is very important and the basis for everything I am doing for clients right now. Second, I want to share with you the type of information you are missing if you have not subscribed to my list. I hope you like the content and subscribe to my weekly email.

As I was getting ready for my panel discussion at Downtown Frederick Partnership, I was reviewing the list of questions. I noticed a few of them have to do with how to choose a target audience. If you have a niche this is fairly easy to determine because you have built your marketing around a specific target audience or two. For many companies, especially established companies, this can be harder for them to define. This is why I think that you have to begin by evaluating who your current customers are to get a better picture of your target audience.

Even if we do have a defined target audience, we need to understand who we are already selling to. What does your customer base look like? Are there any consistencies in demographics or psychographics that stand out to you? If you interact with your clients on a one-to-one basis, it is easier to evaluate similarities and identify any trends. Years ago, when I looked at our customer base I realized we worked with a lot of technology businesses. We asked some of our technology clients why they liked us and we were able to use that information in bringing on more technology-based clients.

We can also get insights onto our target audience by looking at who follows and interacts with our social media accounts. You can look at your analytics to get a snapshot of the demographics of your followers. If you have people that you interact with on a regular basis, check out their social media profiles to get a sense of who they are and what they like. This can become the basis for a customer persona.

The point is if you haven’t already defined who you want your target audience to be, you should start with your current customer base to see where you are now. That doesn’t mean you can’t expand your audiences, but it gives you a start. You also may find that you are selling to a group of people you never would have thought about as a target audience. Use that information to expand your reach. I will say when you do this evaluation, use your best customers, not the bad ones.

Do you know who you are selling to?