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Twitter Lead Generation Cards: A Look Under the Hood [VIDEO]

Fri, 09/06/2013 - 06:00

Twitter released Lead Generation Cards to a limited number of advertisers back in May 2013. Now, Twitter Lead Generation Cards are open to everyone, including small and medium sized businesses who advertise on Twitter. These enhanced Twitter Promoted Tweets provide the ability to capture a name, @username and email associated with a Twitter account to enhance the reach of any business.

In this short video, we discuss detail about what a Twitter Lead Generation Card is, how it works, and how you can easily build one for your own business.

 

© 2013, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Turn Customers into Advocates

Thu, 09/05/2013 - 06:00

Humans are social creatures, and as such, we are far more likely to read books, watch movies or visit restaurants recommended by someone close to us than we are to stumble across them on our own. Some people go so far as to seek out the opinions of their friends before making even a simple buying decision. That’s why a glowing review of your product or service from a customer to one of their friends can be more effective than any marketing campaign—or serves as a great complement to one. But how do you turn lukewarm customers into raving fans, who will sing the praises of your business offerings to anyone within earshot? Here are some key strategies that can turn your customers into advocates, both in person and online.

Let your personality shine

“To get people to like you on Facebook, they have to actually like you, and I think that’s something that’s often overlooked by brands,” says Laura Roeder, founder of LKR Social Media, a series of online training courses that teach small business owners how to set up and leverage social media marketing. “There’s no way to trick someone into becoming a customer advocate. They have to genuinely love your business and love your brand, and in order for that to happen they have to feel like they have a relationship with you,“ she adds.

That involves being more personal and sometimes more vulnerable than a lot of businesses want to be. After all, “you can’t have a personality that someone can connect with if you don’t have any personality at all,” Roeder points out. Anything that you’d feel comfortable discussing with a casual acquaintance is okay fodder for sharing in your communication, and readers may relate to you more when you post pictures, for example, or share small details from your life.

Addressing (or ignoring) negative comments

Getting criticism online is an unfortunate reality of putting yourself out there, but it’s important not to get caught up in random people who aren’t customers complaining about your posts or your business. “When you do turn your customers into advocates, they do a lot of that work for you. You’ll find that you often don’t have to go in and address certain concerns because your customers will pop up before you even get a chance to and say, ‘That’s not right’ or ‘That’s not accurate,’” Roeder says.

However, customers are also looking to see whether you react positively to online haters or lose your cool. Roeder always advises small business owners not to engage. “If it’s comments on your blog and your Facebook page, you are welcome to delete them. There is no law saying you have to keep them up, and if it’s just people being negative and making the space not fun for anyone else, there’s no reason you need to keep it there.” Use your best judgment in these cases because some folks frown upon deleting comments, etc. and it can back fire on you.

On the other hand, it can be a good idea to publicly address legitimate concerns.

​“If it’s a more valid criticism that doesn’t feel like someone just being hateful, then you probably do want to answer it, and that adds cred to your business. But that’s a different beast than what happens on the Internet with people just criticizing you for no reason at all,” says Roeder.

Although she has many customer advocates, Roeder never directs her fans to negative posts written about her. “I have seen things written about me on other blogs and I have seen…comments defending me, but I would never add fuel to the fire by linking to the post and saying, ‘Go over there and tell them that they’re wrong and what you think.’”

Ask for shares, but avoid gimmicky campaigns

Leverage people’s excitement for your product and content by asking them to help spread the word on social media. “Asking people to share something on Facebook or asking them to retweet is something you don’t want to abuse,” Roeder says; so don’t include requests on every single piece of content you put out there. Save it for the important ones.

You’ll want to steer clear of gimmicky tactics, though. “A lot of people will have campaigns where you have to email five friends for a gift,” she describes. “I try to avoid stuff like that.”

​Trying to pressure people into emailing five friends to get a gift doesn’t create a great user experience. “ Sometimes they’ll even do things like make up fake email addresses, or they will email their friends but with the caveat that ‘I had to do this thing because I wanted a free gift, and you can get a free gift, too,’” Roeder explains. “It doesn’t come across as very genuine. Instead of trying to think of a little trick to get people to share, make something great and make it easy to share with social media buttons; make it easy for people to post on Facebook, post on Twitter and Pin on Pinterest.” Having great content is far more important than gimmicks or tricks.

Explain why you’re excited

Instead of just asking for shares, make sure to let people know why you’re so excited about what you’re asking them to share or retweet, whether it’s a new program or a blog post you think solves people’s biggest problems. Letting people know that a new blog post is one of the best you’ve written, and will really help people with a legitimate problem they are struggling with is surprisingly effective.

​“Be genuine and say, ‘I really think this is a great post and I think people really need it. If you agree, and if you find it useful, please use the Facebook share function and share it on your timeline and share it on your page,’” Roeder recommends. “People appreciate a genuine ask, and people will share things they find useful.”

This post contributed by guest author, Yael Grauer. Grauer is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer and editor. Find her online at Yaelwrites.com.

© 2013, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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4 Questions to Ask Yourself When Creating a Survey

Wed, 09/04/2013 - 06:00

You know you need to know your customers. Check. You also know that surveys can be a great way to get information. Check. You know how to create an effective survey. Not-so-much-of-a-check? Don’t be intimidated. Creating an effective survey is pretty simple, just keep these things mind and you’ll be rich with customer insights in no time.

What’s my goal?

You’re thinking about creating a survey because you want information about, or from your customers. But, have you thought about what specific pieces of information you want?

Are you just trying to get to know your customers or prospects better? Do you want specific information (like, “Do you plan to shop for a new car in the next 6 months?”) that will allow you to take action? Do you want feedback on your existing products or services? Determining your ultimate goal will help hone your survey.

What should I ask?

This is an art unto itself. The possibilities of what to ask in your survey are virtually endless, and specific to your business and goal. Think about what information will help you reach your goal, and ask questions that will elicit that information. For example, if my goal is to choose a new flavor of coffee for my café, income level is probably irrelevant.

To get objective information, there are a few things you need to keep in mind when creating your questions.

Good questions:

  • Ask non-leading questions: “How would you rate our customer service?” is much more objective than, “We have award-winning customer service. How would you rate us?”
  • Ask for only one piece of information: “Are you satisfied with our price and quality?” is really two questions.
  • Don’t presume facts: “What don’t you like about your current gym?” assumes the respondent is a gym member.

Check out more great advice for crafting a good survey at our help site.

I also like to add a couple of demographic questions when I create surveys for VerticalResponse, such as “how many employees do you have?” and “what industry are you in?” While it may not relate to your specific goal, it’s helpful in creating a total picture of you customers and prospects.

You also need to decide what type of questions you want to ask.  The two most basic types are multiple choice and open-ended.

If there are a limited number of possible answers to a question (“What day of the week do you shop for groceries?”), or you believe you know most of the likely responses (“What is your favorite flavor of our ice cream?”), multiple choice makes it quick and easy for the survey-taker.

Of course, there are many additional question types, such as rank order and differential scales, that are a bit more complex but can yield more detailed insights. Howto.gov has good review of different types of questions and pitfalls to avoid.

An important, often overlooked aspect of creating a useful question is, make sure your response options are not overlapping. Using the example of shopping for a car from above, if I want to know when you plan to buy a new car, giving options of 0-3 months, 3-6 months, and 6 months-12 months can lead to poor data. Someone planning to shop in 6 months could choose either 3-6 months or 6-12 months. Your plan for communicating with someone making a purchase within 3 months (the low end of one option) should be very different than someone who won’t be ready for a year (the high end of the other option).

How will I administer the survey?

You have a goal, and you’re armed with relevant questions. Now what? There’s always the good, old-fashioned paper survey you hand out or send in the mail. It’s simple to create and administer, but you have to tabulate all the data by hand and may get a low response due to folks having to mail it back.

An easier way to get your customers’ insights is through an online survey tool like the VerticalResponse survey tool or SurveyMonkey. Most survey products will guide you through creating your survey and give you a web link you can share through email or on your Facebook page. Best of all, you get built in reporting, so your data is right at your fingertips.

What do the results mean?

It’s tempting to get your results and think, “Woo hoo – I’m done!” After all, you now should have a better understanding of your customers. But don’t stop there – this is where the rubber meets the road. What actions can you take based on what you’ve learned?

Have you learned that your customers are time-crunched? Your marketing message can highlight how your product or service saves time. Do they want a wider selection of products? Follow up to find out specifically what they want. Did someone mention a bad customer service experience? Make it right for them. Take your new-found insights and take action with them.

What’s the most helpful piece of information you’ve gleaned from a survey?

© 2013, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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What Google’s Latest Panda Update Means for Your SEO

Tue, 09/03/2013 - 06:00

When Google’s so-called Panda update dropped in 2011, it turned the world of search on its head: quality, not keywords, would dominate from here on out and content would be king. Now Google has updated its algorithms again—call it Panda 2.0—and every marketer and small business needs to adapt once more…but this time Google is making it trickier by refusing to go public with its changes. We chatted with search experts to find out what you can do to make sure your company’s content and search strategies are firing on all cylinders.

The biggest difference between the original Panda update and the latest iteration is Google’s public silence: the search giant officially released virtually no details of the update, but the search marketing community is abuzz with talk of ongoing changes and rampant speculation about what it means for search optimization.

While details of the update are hard to come by, our experts all agreed that quality, audience and user experience are more important than ever. Here are some specific suggestions any small business can follow.

1. Focus on overall marketing, not just search optimization

“If you are devising a way to do anything that is built exclusively for links, and that strategy becomes popular in the search engine optimization community or the marketing community, at some point, Google is going to figure it out and devalue that technique,” says Ryan Evans, founder of public relations firm BiteSize PR . “Google’s job is to rank the best sites in the world for a given query. If whatever you’re doing isn’t the best content, you’re going against what they have a $300 billion interest in maintaining.”

Dan Reno, SEO director at online marketing agency Be Found Online, agrees.

“If you’re ever going to recommend something that could be affected so significantly by just one Google update, you’re probably doing several things incorrectly,” he says. “A lot of it comes down to common sense. If what you’re doing doesn’t have an impact somewhere else, or [would] be viewed as a viable marketing tactic for other reasons, chances are you’re probably barking up the wrong tree,” he adds.

Instead, consider SEO as just one facet of an overall marketing goal. Web content should draw attention and help individual readers, rather than just build search engine rankings.

2. Create valuable content

If you’re a business owner looking to draw attention to your products or services, you may have considered writing guest posts for high traffic sites in exchange for a backlink or two, either within the text or in your bio. But before you whip up these posts, you’ll want to make sure that they are remarkably useful for the reader, and that each post is individually crafted for the site where it will be posted. Writing similar posts for multiple sites isn’t recommended.

Writing a high quality guest post for a website in exchange for a backlink can be a good strategy to build awareness of a product or service, but Google now warns against “large-scale article marketing or guest posting campaigns with keyword-rich anchor text links.” Translation: don’t spam the Web with copies of your product pitch masquerading as an op-ed. That doesn’t mean that you can’t include a link back to your site with a high quality guest post, but it does mean that writing posts that are similar to one another for the specific purpose of getting backlinks is not advisable.

“If the intent for the guest post is greater than just getting a link back to that site, in most cases you should be in the clear, because there should be greater benefit than just that link; it should be adding value,” Reno explains.

3. Use “nofollow” for links Google may consider unnatural, including those in press releases

Many business owners include links to their own sites when distributing press releases en masse through newswires or other paid distribution services. But as Google continues to devalue what they consider “unnatural” links, they recommend using a “no-follow” attribute when embedding anchor text on press releases, which essentially tells search engines to ignore the link for SEO purposes and prevents your business from being penalized for seeding so many links around the Web.

The no-follow tag should also be used for links where money or products change hands—giving out free samples in exchange for reviews with a link to your product, for example, or paid links included in a directory service.

“That’s not really a change for Google, because they’ve always stated that if there’s a link to another site that’s considered to be an advertisement or there’s a business relationship between properties, then a no-follow be used,” Reno explains.

4. Backlinks aren’t everything

Receiving media attention from credible sites is far more important than a one-off backlink to your site.

“A physical book doesn’t have a link,” Ryan Evans points out, “but if the audience is relevant, it could be a good media opportunity. If you build relationships, do a lot of research, write really compelling content and have a great design, you’re going to rank better over time [in search results].”

The best way to receive that attention, and the links to your site that go with it, is by creating valuable content, says Evans. For example, his firm, BiteSize PR, recently received a natural link from Spin magazine to a post Bitesize put together on the 100 greatest publicity stunts of all time.

5. Links serve your readers

“Google has said you should never sacrifice user experience for SEO,” Reno explains. But leaving out links can be just as bad for your audience as stuffing your posts full of them. “By not linking, you are not contributing to a positive user experience, which Google has also said that they frown upon. Not linking to someone because you’re afraid you’ll get penalized by Google is a little bit silly,” he adds.

Should you be concerned about existing links that look bad to Google?

“If you were involved in any kind of spun content ratings and haven’t already been penalized or cleaned that stuff up then, yeah,” Reno says. “Otherwise, I wouldn’t really spend too much time being worried about existing backlinks, just try to focus on quality going forward.”

This post contributed by guest author, Yael Grauer. Grauer is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer and editor. Find her online at Yaelwrites.com.

© 2013, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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RIP Google Keyword Tool – What to Use Instead

Mon, 09/02/2013 - 06:00

No need pop the bubbly for this retirement: Yet another beloved Google Tool has been axed in its prime, (anyone remember Google Reader?). The Google Keyword Tool has long been the standard for anyone in the SEO, SEM or content spaces, but early this week we received news that Google pulled the plug on the Keyword Tool. If you still want access to Google’s keyword data, you have the option to sign up for an Adwords account to use the new Google Adwords Keyword Planner. Google has a nice post that explains the differences between the two tools.

If you feel at a loss, don’t worry, we’ve got your back. The good guys at Internet Marketing Ninjas compiled a deep list of “12 Free Keyword Tools to Replace Google’s Keyword Tool.”

Here are our top three favorites:

1. Ubersuggest – This is a keyword powerhouse. Plug in a few relevant words (for your business) and Ubersuggest will give you hundreds of results.

2. SEMRush – This is a great replacement for larger sized businesses that were “power users” of the Google Keyword Tool. SEMRush provides a huge amount of organic data from both Google and Bing. They provide competitive results and even CPC data for the SEM folks out there.

3. Bing Webmaster Toolbox - Don’t forget about Bing, “the other search engine.” They provide the same type of data, but simply just for Bing. The numbers might be smaller, but the trends will be the same.

We’re sad to see the Keyword Tool go, but there are plenty of great tools to keep you on top of your keyword game. As Bob Dylan sang, “the times they are a-changin‘” and we’re keeping track so you don’t have to. Stay tuned to the VR Marketing Blog for more on Google and Bing’s changes in the future!

© 2013, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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What’s New Weekly: FitBark, iDoorCam and Mobile Marketing

Sat, 08/31/2013 - 07:00

We’re back with another episode of “What’s New Weekly.” In this episode, we highlight a cool new health tool for your dog called FitBark, a doorbell and camera combination called iDoorCam, and we check in on the latest mobile marketing post from Aaron Strout on Marketing Land.

As always, look for a new episode every week.

 

 

© 2013, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Facebook Friday – Shared Photo Albums, Gift Cards and Oh Canada! [VIDEO]

Fri, 08/30/2013 - 09:07

In the first episode of Facebook Friday, our VerticalResponse crew highlights several new Facebook items, including shared albums, the introduction of Facebook gift cards and a shout out to Canada.

 

© 2013, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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6 Hot Tips & Tools to Optimize Your Content

Fri, 08/30/2013 - 06:00

As a business owner, you’re doing all the right things; sending emails with good content to your customers, posting on social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. You may even have a blog. Those are all great tactics for creating and sharing content about your business. But how do you ensure that your efforts result in people finding your content and ultimately your business?

Leading the content marketing team at VerticalResponse has taught me a lot about optimizing our content; so let me share six hot tips and tools to optimize yours.

1. Your Content Must Be Useful

If your content is totally self promotional, then I urge you to stop and push the reset button. Above all, your content must serve your readers. It should answer questions, provide tips or how-tos and be helpful. If there is one hard and fast content marketing rule, it’s that if your readers don’t find value in your content, they won’t return.

2. Google Authorship

Chipper Nicodemus, our resident SEO expert at VerticalResponse wrote about the importance of setting up Google Authorship tied to your blog content. He says, “Authorship is a feature that Google has that ties your personal Google+ profile to the content you produce on the Internet.” After Google Authorship is set up, your Google+ image and byline appears in search engine results pages (SERPS) next to content you’ve written, adding a personal feel. Having this added turbo power in the SERPs can help your content get higher click through rates and increase your authority with search engines, resulting in more interaction with your content. Here’s an example:

3. Keywords

By developing content specifically around topics or keywords your audience is searching for, you’re halfway there. For instance, if you own a dog bakery and your target audience is searching for dog birthday cakes, you can create a number of different types of content related to this topic like recipes for dog birthday cakes in your email newsletter, pictures of dog birthday cakes on Pinterest, offers for a discount off a dog birthday cake and many more.

You can use the Google Keyword Planner (formerly Google Keyword Tool) to research and find related terms so you can create content around those keywords and terms.

4. Scribe

Scribe (from the folks at Copyblogger) helps you deliver the trifecta of content, search and social. This paid tool allows you to do keyword research to see what terms are most popular, optimize your content for sharing, helps you build your site authority and Google PageRank, and connects you with other sites that have authority so you can establish relationships with them. There is a monthly fee that ranges from $27-$97 per month based on the plan you select, but we find it worth every penny.

5. Syndicate

Did you know you can syndicate your content on sites that have high authority? We’ve been syndicating our content to sites like Business2Community and AllTop that get tons of readers. These sites also give us source credit and a link so folks know it’s our original content. We also guest blog for sites that may have a similar customer base to ours like Boostsuite. These efforts help establish our thought leadership and get us in front of new and diverse audiences that may never have heard of us.

6.  Yoast

This is the VerticalResponse content marketing team’s favorite tool. We know that in order to get our content found, we need to optimize it for search engines and make it valuable yet easy reading by humans. Yoast is a handy WordPress plugin that allows you to do just that. Did I mention it’s free? You and your team can use Yoast to optimize the heck out of your posts to make sure they are found by the search engines. My content team loves it because in just a few seconds, they can fill in the search engine optimization fields and see any changes they need to make.

These 6 tips and tools should start you on your way to optimizing your content so you can get found and grow your business.

Got any tips or tools to add to my list? Share away in the comments.

© 2013, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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5 Facebook No-Nos That Turn off Your Customers

Thu, 08/29/2013 - 06:00

There was a time when businesses had two choices for advertising: a daily newspaper or a local television station. Those days are long gone. Scott Hancock, a social media manager at Marketing Plus, says small businesses these days must have digital prowess, especially when it comes to social media.

“Businesses need to go where their customers are, and the majority of customers are on Facebook,” says Hancock, who manages social media for companies all over California.

As more small businesses join the Facebook bandwagon, Hancock has noticed some companies are repelling customers rather than attracting them. To make sure your content breaks through the Facebook clutter, Hancock tells companies not to engage in these five Facebook no-nos.

1. Don’t sell, sell, sell

The best way to drive customers away from your page is to constantly post ads, Hancock says. His company has an 80/20 rule: 80 percent of the posts are social in nature and 20 percent pertain directly to the company’s product or service.

“Posting ads all the time is the equivalent of advertising during your favorite television show,” he said. “You don’t sit through the commercials, you leave the room. Trying to constantly sell on Facebook will cause your viewers to leave your page in a hurry, just like you run from the room during commercials.”

2. Don’t hide positive comments

When a customer posts something positive about your company, be sure to highlight it on the timeline. These messages usually end up in the “comments made by others” section, which is hidden off to the right side of the page, Hancock said. To bring that post onto the timeline, just roll over it, click the X and select “highlight on page.”

“A positive message on Facebook is better than free advertising,” Hancock notes. “Don’t hide it where no one will see it, highlight it and show it off.”

3. Don’t ignore your audience

Interact with anyone who reaches out to you. Even if someone posts something negative, ignoring the message isn’t the answer, Hancock urges his clients. A discount jewelry store found this out the hard way. When customers accused the company of copying jewelry designs, the company ignored the comments and fans started protesting. That’s why Hancock says all messages should be dealt with right away.

“I tell clients they should never let a comment linger longer than 24 hours,” he says. “During an ideal business week, someone should respond within an hour.”

4. Don’t delete negative comments

Facebook is like a public suggestion box. People are constantly chatting about businesses online. If someone makes a suggestion or leaves a negative comment, it’s natural to want to take it down, but Hancock advises against it. He tells clients to stick to this motto: acknowledge in public, solve in private.

“Respond to the comment and have that person reach out in private so a solution can be found,” he explains. “In my experience, if negative comments are handled correctly, people will actually apologize on your page.”

5. Don’t post bad photos and bad content

Put effort into your Facebook page. Post content that’s relevant to your business and usable to your audience, Hancock advises. Be tasteful with your message because your virtual audience won’t hesitate to tell you when you’ve done wrong. A popular retailer got a shellacking when they posted an inappropriate comment about a hurricane.

Quality photography is another must. Bad photography, or no photography at all, can hurt a business.

“I don’t understand why a business would take the time to create a Facebook page and then post bad content and poor photos,” says Hancock. “That page represents your company, so take the time to invest in your digital reputation.”

This post contributed by guest author, Lisa Furgison. Furgison is a media maven with ten years of journalism experience and a passion for creating top-notch content.

© 2013, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Top 10 Marketing Blog Posts of 2013 (So Far)

Wed, 08/28/2013 - 06:00

We’re well through half of 2013 and what better way to celebrate, reflect, and/or refresh than with a roundup of the top 10 posts (so far) from the VR Marketing Blog. Since January, we’ve produced almost 200 posts chock full of helpful marketing tips, tactics, how-tos, industry news, secrets, insider knowledge, plus a chuckle or two. And, we’re still goin’ strong! To ensure you haven’t missed anything, check out the most popular marketing blog posts (favorited by all of you) of 2013 thus far:

10. Are You a Content Thief and Don’t Know It?

Is the act of producing engaging content encouraging nefarious behavior? Have you ever discovered a piece of your own work copied word-for-word on another website or blog without being given proper credit? Feels pretty crummy, and there are far reaching consequences for both sides. The majority of content “theft” or plagiarism is most likely unintentional, and in this post, we explore content curation vs. content scraping and how to avoid going to the dark side for great content. Read More

9. Writing for the Web (It’s Not What You Learned in School)

Writing doesn’t come easily for many people; let alone writing for the web. But now that almost everyone’s first destination for information is the web, content – and being able to produce it – is becoming more important, no matter what your industry. And if you’re a small business, having a website with informative, engaging content is crucial to marketing and growing your company. If you’re in need of a little writing refresher, here are five website copywriting basics to know before you start typing. (Hint: They’re probably not what your English teacher taught you.) Read More

8. The Dissection of a Bloody Good Email Newsletter

Anatomy, deriving from the Greek translation, “I cut up, cut open,” and the ability to piece together or dissect things carefully is also a test to your email marketing skills. Concoct an engaging email newsletter with all of the right parts and you win; otherwise, you risk losing a turn, or worse, readers. So what makes up the anatomy of a bloody good email newsletter? Let’s operate. Read More

7. 3 Simple Mistakes You Might be Making with Email Design

There’s an art to creating an email that your customers want to open and read. With the ever increasing number of businesses using email marketing, it’s important that your email stands out. And while there are lots of great tips on best email practices, sometimes it’s the little design mistakes that can send your email straight to “unsubscribe prison.” Here are 3 mistakes to avoid when designing your next email. Read More

6. 5 Google AdWords Tips for a Small Budget

You’re interested in marketing your small business online, but you don’t have a lot of money to spend. Google’s online advertising program, Google AdWords, allows you to place an ad in front of customers searching for products/services you offer. You can create an Adwords account with as little as $5. Google AdWords is a pay per click model, so you’re only charged when a user clicks your ad. But how do you compete with big companies with the budgets to match? What if you only have $100 a month to spend on online advertising? The key to advertising with a small budget is to narrow your campaign and be as targeted as possible. Read More

5. Top 6 Social Media No-Nos to Avoid

Everyone makes mistakes, but committing a major social media no-no has the potential of hindering your business’s hard-earned reputation. A good rule of thumb is, “when in doubt, don’t.” But, if you’re wondering about specifics, here are the top 6 social media mistakes to avoid, especially in the wake of some serious social media faux pas. Read More

4. Want Better Facebook Engagement? Stop What You’re Doing

When it comes to marketing your business or brand on Facebook, you think you know what works for engaging your followers… but it turns out, you might not.

Buddy Media analyzed user engagement on more than 1,800 Facebook Pages from some of the world’s largest brands. The results? A 32-page report telling us that as marketers, in some cases, we’ve got it all wrong. The extensive report, “Strategies for Effective Wall Posts: A Timeline Analysis” covers the best days and times to post on Facebook by industry, the type of content that resonates best with Facebook users, and posting strategies proven to increase interaction. Let’s uncover the truths about what really works for successful Facebook engagement. Read More

3. You Had Me at Hello – 5 Types of Subject Lines to Engage Your Audience

Your readers’ inboxes are a crowded place these days and with all that competition, you’ve got to up your ante to stand out. If you’re sending email on a regular basis to subscribers that have opted-in and want to hear from you, you’re off to a good start. But you’ve got to hook ‘em with attention getting subject lines, so you can reel them into the content of your email. Here are five subject line types and real-life examples to guide you on your way to success. Read More

2. 5 Cool Photos Apps to Make Your Images Pop

Using compelling images in your emails, blog posts, pins, Facebook status updates, and of course, on Instagram, the hippest social network around, is crucial in these image-centric times. But how can you set your pictures apart from the millions of other photos? We’ve got five photo apps that’ll make your pictures pop, and your friends jealous of your mad image skills. Read More

1. Copywriting Cheat Sheet: How to Write for Email, Social & the Web

Now we don’t normally condone “cheating,” but when it comes to writing effective copy for various online marketing channels, like Facebook, email, or a website, we wholeheartedly approve of you using our copywriting cheat sheet infographic.

Producing content and promoting it is a top priority for gaining and retaining customers, but not every marketing channel is the same. Your writing should also accommodate each channel and the audience it attracts. But what tone of voice should you use, how many characters do you include, when should you sell, or simply converse? Our cheat sheet answers these questions so that your content is both engaging and effective… And this is one cheat sheet you don’t have to worry about getting caught using. Pass it on! Read More

 

Love this content and want to stay in the know? You can get all of this and more in the weekly VR Buzz Newsletter. Have any favorite posts of your own? Share in the comments!

© 2013, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Update to Facebook Promotions

Tue, 08/27/2013 - 12:55

Facebook announced today that they updated their Page Terms allowing businesses to run promotions directly on Page Timelines not just in apps as before. According to the Facebook for Business blog, you can now:

  • Collect entries by having users post on the Page or comment/like a Page post
  • Collect entries by having users message the Page
  • Utilize likes as a voting mechanism
Businesses can’t administer promotions on personal Timelines which remains the same as before the page term updates announced today. One other change of note from an accuracy perspective is the updated Pages Terms now prohibit Pages from tagging, or asking people to tag themselves in content they aren’t actually featured in. Facebook cites the following examples:
  • It’s okay to ask people to submit names of a new product in exchange for a chance to win a prize
  • It’s not okay to ask people to tag themselves in pictures of a new product in exchange for a chance to win a prize

For more information on Facebook Promotions, consult their guidelines here.

© 2013, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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How to Email Often without Losing Readers

Tue, 08/27/2013 - 06:00

We know from experience that when we send email messages to our list, it typically causes a spike in traffic to our website, purchases and conversions resulting in revenue. But how many emails can you send to your list to maximize your revenue without annoying your readers? And how often can you send a pitch alongside non-sales content? If you’ve been looking for an exact number to help you optimize your email marketing efforts, you may be asking the wrong question.

Derek Halpern, founder of business training company Social Triggers, says there is no magical quotient.

“It’s not about a specific ratio. It’s about doing the right thing,” Halpern explains, which is “always keeping your reader, subscriber or customer as the main character in your story.”

Instead of worrying about your bottom line and revenue, Halpern says you have to make your readers the center of your world. If you do that, the ratio of sales to non-sales emails recedes in importance. Deliver amazing content and the revenue and numbers will take care of themselves.

Set expectations, and roll with them

Let readers know up front how often you’re planning to email them, so people who subscribe will know exactly what they’re signing up for.

“You should be open about how often the email comes, because that way you can set expectations,” Halpern says. You don’t have to stick to that planned frequency to the letter, though. You can deviate from expectations every once in a while, but giving readers a friendly heads-up before starting a product launch or promotion series is a nice gesture.

As it turns out, emailing more frequently doesn’t necessarily lead to a higher percentage of unsubscribes than a less aggressive approach. In fact, Halpern ran an experiment pitching his own products more and less frequently.

“No matter how many emails I sent into the funnel, I ended up losing two percent of the starting emails,” Halpern says. “The percentage didn’t change due to frequency. So feel free to send out those sales pitches.

But if people don’t unsubscribe because they get a sales pitch, why, then, do they unsubscribe?

“Because they’re getting an email that is not directly benefiting them,” says Halpern, whose marketing and psychology blog has over 105,000 subscribers.

That’s why you need to know your clients inside and out, and craft content that addresses their deepest needs. If you don’t know your readers well enough to do that with certainty, some of that time you want to spend emailing your list might be better spent getting to know the biggest problems your clients and readers face, so you can provide immense value with each and every message.

If you’re sending out emails that aren’t interesting or engaging, people are far more likely to see them as an intrusion and hit the unsubscribe button. But if each carefully composed email brings your readers closer to solving their problems, frequency won’t be an issue.

The needs of your readers aren’t going to remain static, either. Take Social Triggers. Halpern has not only amassed an email list of over 100,000 subscribers, he also has a widely watched web television show that reaches over 250,000 people. Halpern built his large following by listening closely to what his subscribers were asking for, so he could respond quickly when the topics they were interested in shifted over time.

“When I first started Social Triggers, I focused on the psychology of online conversions,” Halpern explains.

But he paid close attention to the needs of his readers, and segued into blogging when he noticed that’s what many people were asking about. Lately, he’s been focusing on softer content—how to meet people, for example, or how to stop procrastinating– in direct response to the evolving needs of his readers.

“If your emails are helping people figure out how to solve their problems, they’re going to want ten more emails about that,” Halpern notes. Surveying your readers regularly and responding to feedback will take your email to the next level.

The truth about email frequency

If you only mail once a month, readers may forget about you completely. If you’re truly meeting the core desires of your readers, they’ll want to hear from you more regularly.

However, focusing on quality over quantity is crucial. If you’re just getting started, Halpern recommends sending only once every 7 to 10 days, unless you have something particularly important you want people to see.

After all, writing valuable emails, the kind that help solve your readers’ most pressing problems or address an urgent need, takes time. Trying to send out messages every single day, especially for a new list, makes it more difficult to consistently send out content that’s engaging, informative and compelling. If you succumb to the pressure and pump out emails as an afterthought, you’ll get more unsubscribes. Take your time creating content that’s interesting and relevant, don’t worry too much about frequency and pitch percentage, and the results will speak for themselves.

This post contributed by guest author, Yael Grauer. Grauer is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer and editor. Find her online at Yaelwrites.com. 

© 2013, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Get Shining Online Business Reviews

Mon, 08/26/2013 - 06:00

It’s now easier than ever to share an online business review – good or bad. But fear not, small business owners! You hold the power to better business reviews and higher search results right in the palm of your hands.

Why are online business reviews so important?

More people are turning to online reviews for future purchase decisions. A recent research study by  BrightLocal, an SEO company, found that 85% of customers read online reviews for local businesses before making purchasing decisions. Over 70%of respondents said that reading positive reviews made them more likely to trust a business.

While all sorts of businesses can be reviewed online, some are more commonly written about than others. Here are the top 5 local business types by review consumption according to BrightLocal:

  1. Restaurants
  2. Doctors/Dentists
  3. Hotels/B&B/Guest House
  4. General shop
  5. Hair/Beauty Salon

If your business is in one of these top 5 sectors, you’ll want to be especially attuned to what customers are saying about your business. Once a person has decided they’re in need of a product or service, online review sites are typically the last stop before the final purchase.

Reviews & Search Engine Optimization

Did you know that the more reviews your business has, the higher it’ll appear in local search rankings? The quality of the reviews plays a role as well; so the higher the star rating, the better. Businesses with the most volume and highest quality of reviews appear first. This is why it’s important to obtain as many positive reviews as possible from your customers!

Here are some frequently used review sites you’ll want to become more acquainted with if you haven’t already: Yelp, Google+ Local (formerly Google Places), Yahoo! Local Listings, Citysearch, and Angie’s List. Some of these sites will be more or less relevant depending on your industry. For example, Angie’s List is very popular for finding service providers such as home repair and contracting companies. Yelp is commonly used for finding restaurants and retail stores.

Once you know where you want your good reviews to show up, you can look to your loyal customers for support!

Here are the top 2 ways to get good reviews from your customers:

1. Ask – or – make your presence known –Ask your customers if they use online review sites and let them know you have a presence there. While you don’t want to be pushy, you do want your customers to know that you care about your reputation. Yelp offers some additional helpful tips to increase your engagement, such as posting a check-in offer. When customers check-in to your business on Yelp, not only are all of their friends able to see it, they are also prompted to share a review. You can reward these customers by offering them something special for checking in. WARNING: Whatever you do, be sure NOT to offer any freebies like gift cards, chips, or even a soda for a shining review! Trading goods for a positive review violates Yelp’s, Google’s and many other site’s terms of service agreements.

2. Provide excellent customer service – It’s probably not surprising, but a recent survey by Dimensional Research found that customer service is the #1 influencing factor in a customer’s decision to write a positive review. When customers are highly satisfied with a purchase, they’re more likely to write a review (whether you ask or not!).

What to do about a negative review

Sometimes negative reviews happen (sniff, sniff). Try to see them as an opportunity for even more awesome customer service. If a customer was truly unhappy with their service, in many cases you can contact them and offer a refund or a future free service. You can also add a comment to the review that tells what steps have been taken to improve this particular issue. If the negative review appears to be falsified, you can submit a request that the review be removed.

So there you have it… People talk, and a little positive feedback from your customers goes a long way. When you know where to look for your business reviews and whom you can ask to contribute, you’re well on your way to building a better online business reputation.

How do you manage business reviews for your biz? Share your experience in the comments.

© 2013, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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What’s New Weekly: Google’s 20% Time and Docalytics

Sat, 08/24/2013 - 06:00

We’re back with another episode of “What’s New Weekly.” In this episode, we highlight changes to Google’s 20% Time and a document analytics program called Docalytics.

As always, look for a new episode every week.

 

 

© 2013, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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9 Things to Never Do with an Email Unsubscribe

Fri, 08/23/2013 - 06:00

As the CEO of VerticalResponse, it might seem strange for me to write about how companies should handle email unsubscribes, but I had to do it.

You see, I make my email address very prominent on my company’s website and as a result, unscrupulous businesses scrape it, load it into their email lists and spam the heck outta me.

It’s the process that some businesses require for people to unsubscribe that ticks me off because, as an email service provider, my company tries to make it as seamless as possible when someone wants to unsubscribe from our lists or one of our customers’ lists. Others, however? Not so much.

To stay in the good books with your subscribers, avoid these nine don’ts I’ve honed over the last 12 years in the email marketing biz:

  1. Don’t provide an opt-out email address that doesn’t work.
  2. Don’t tell me my “request” for an unsubscribe has been received and will be processed. Just do it.
  3. Don’t ignore my unsubscribe request. 1) It’s against the law and 2) it’s not good for your brand.
  4. Don’t make me fill out my email address on a form. You sent me an email; you should already know it.
  5. Don’t ask me if I’m sure. Automatically unsubscribe me.
  6. Don’t redirect me to your website’s home page to shop; redirect me to a “you’ve been unsubscribed” confirmation page.
  7. Don’t send me an email telling me you’ve unsubscribed me. Hello, I just unsubscribed from your email! Don’t send more of it.
  8. Don’t obscure the “click here to unsubscribe” link or have it in four-point-sized font.
  9. After I click unsubscribe, don’t send me to a page that has a box checked to subscribe me. Then when I check the button to take me off of all lists, you make me then check another box to unsubscribe me. #fail

There you have it; nine simple rules to make your unsubscribe process a good customer experience for everyone involved. Want to know how to keep your subscribers engaged in the first place? Check out this post I did recently for Inc. and kick unsubscribes to the curb.

Have you had to jump through hoops to unsubscribe from an email list? Share your experience in the comments (and companies, listen up!).

This article by VerticalResponse CEO and founder Janine Popick originally appeared on Inc.com.

© 2013, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Infographic Dos, Don’ts and Must-Haves

Thu, 08/22/2013 - 06:00

We live in an age of data, but visualizing that data and making it tell a story can be challenging: enter the infographic. Presenting complex information visually makes it that much more digestible, which may explain why infographics have surged in popularity. In fact, a single infographic has the potential of being viewed by up to 15 million people, according to Top Marketing Schools and the field of data visualization is growing both within business and academia, media and elsewhere.

New tools, easy access to raw data and social media make it practical for even small businesses and entrepreneurs to take advantage of this trend. Caitlin Rogers, communications director at data design firm Simplicity Metrics, provides some pointers for people creating visual representations of data for the very first time.

1. Don’t assume the audience is well versed in your topic.

“If you’re presenting information to a really broad audience, make sure to define the terms you’re using,” Rogers suggests.

For example, if you’re creating an infographic about heart disease, you may wish to define exactly what heart disease is before delving into how many people it affects.

2. Maintain a clear focus.

It can be tempting to try to cram every piece of information you have on your industry or customer base into an infographic. Just like when you’re writing a blog post, it’s important to limit in the amount of information in your infographic to the story you want to tell.

“Prioritize what you want people to walk away with,” Rogers recommends. “If you put too much information in, people stop paying attention, even if it’s visual.”

3. Keep the ‘graphic’ in infographic.

One common mistake is to write something out in a paragraph when you can simply use an image. “Make sure you’re visualizing everything you can. Show your story, don’t tell it,” Rogers says. At times, you’ll need to add context or information in words, “but you might be able to find an icon to go next to each sentence that corresponds to it.”

At other times, a diagram or map will work even better than pure text.

4. Make material easy to understand.

Defining key terms isn’t the only way to make your material accessible to a wide audience. Sharing context before delving into data helps, too. And having a clear reason for the sequencing of information that you’re sharing makes it far easier to digest. In addition, the way you use numbers can have a big effect. “Translate percentages into social math,” Rogers recommends. ‘20 percent of people’ become ‘one in five,’ helping the data hit home.

5. Write for your audience, not for your business.

“If you want infographics to go viral, you need to write them with your audience in mind,” something many companies miss, says Rogers. “A lot of organizations will want to create an infographic about themselves to demonstrate their effectiveness or brag about their success rate, but nobody’s going to be interested in sharing that.”

Instead, create something that’s relevant and genuinely interesting to your readers, making them far more likely to tweet out your link or share it on their own blog, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Having your organization’s branding on an infographic that’s truly useful and widely shared is a great way to get out the message that you’re an expert in the field, and is far more effective than creating an infographic all about you that nobody’s interested in looking at or sharing.

Have you created an infographic for your business? Share your successes or challenges in the comments.

As an extra bonus here’s an infographic about infographics from Customer Magnetism:

This post contributed by guest author, Yael Grauer. Grauer is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer and editor. Find her online at Yaelwrites.com. 

© 2013, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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How to Create an Effective Small Business Advertisement

Wed, 08/21/2013 - 06:00

Ever dabbled in print advertising, or thought about it? I’ve done marketing for my family’s small business for the past 10+ years and I’ve learned a few things about making advertising look professional even on a tight budget. My family’s business, like a lot of small businesses, doesn’t have the time or resources to have ads professionally made. So what’s a small business to do?

Here are some tips, tactics and examples of small business advertising; what they’re doing well, plus, what can take their ads up a notch. But first, here’s what you should include in every advertisement:

  1. Your logo or business name – If your business’s logo/name doesn’t contain what you do, make sure to clarify that in the ad. For example saying “Klimisch’s Inc Collision Repair” instead of just “Klimisch’s Inc.”
  2. A CTA (call-to-action) with supporting contact information – Say exactly why people should contact your business and what you can do for them. For example “Call us at (415) 000-0000 to save money on home insurance today.”
  3. Additional information about what your business does and how you intend to help your potential customer. Don’t go overboard with copy because you want to make sure they can read it quickly and easily.
  4. Supporting visual elements like a photo or graphics. This can be your logo, a picture of your business, or a graphic related to your business.

Using these elements can make an effective ad, but here are a few additional guidelines to follow:

  1. Hierarchy of information – Choose the information from the above list that’s most important and make it your main element of the ad. Every piece of information in your ad should be weighted according to its importance. It’s hard to read an ad in which everything is the same size.
  2. Less is more – Don’t overwhelm people with information. Keep it as simple as possible while getting the useful information across to the viewer.
  3. Use your space wisely – Don’t use every inch of white space because you can. Leave some “breathing room” so people can digest your message.
  4. Use contrasting colors for fonts and backgrounds to make sure that your copy is readable. The best combo is dark type on a light background because it’s easier to read.
  5. Fonts, fonts, and fonts – Use mostly sans-serif fonts, use different font sizes to differentiate the importance of the copy, however, don’t use too many font types or too many font colors (think one or two max). The biggest font offenders that tend to thoroughly annoy people include comic sans, curlz, and papyrus.
  6. Have at least one other person who isn’t working on your ad read it over to make sure there aren’t spelling errors, incorrect information, or missing information.

Now, you might be asking yourself “what does this all really mean?” Here are some examples that I’ve scanned from small business print publications to illustrate my points. Keep in mind these ads are smaller then they were printed in the publications.

  1. Stanley Steemer – A little color and a lot of white space goes a long way. Stanley Steemer has includes all of the information from my “must include” list plu, they added coupons. Their message is very clear and understandable.
  2. Napa Valley Rug – This ad has all the info needed. Two things that could use some improvement, however: The ad is in black and white (when all the other ads on the page were color) and most of the fonts are the same size. By adding color and font size variation, they could have really spiced things up!
  3. BusinessMixers.com – This is a prime example of how a simple ad can be effective. It’s straight and to the point and very understandable without using too many graphics, words, or fonts. Yes, it’s also in black and white like the above ad, but that’s how it was supposed to be printed. Make sure to check the specifications of each publication or website before creating your ads (see more info about this in the “pro tip” below)!
  4. The Book Worm – This charming ad wonderfully illustrates hierarchy of information. The logo with supporting visual element is attention-grabbing, while the description and CTA (in a smaller font) tell me exactly who they are and what action they want me to take, (i.e., “Visit us online!”). The font they used is clear and they varied the font size to show the importance of the information. The Book Worm must have studied up on its advertising techniques!

These are all print ads but the same elements apply to online ads. The most important part of advertising is to show who you are as a company, so have a little fun with it!

*Bonus Pro Tip: Ask for the “specs” or specifications for each ad. This will tell you what ad size is needed, the resolution, bleed/no bleed, acceptable formats (i.e., jpg, tiff, pdf), unacceptable formats (i.e., Microsoft Word or Microsoft Publisher) and weather it’s full color or black and white.

What tips would you ad to our list for creating effective print advertisements? Share away in the comments!

© 2013, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Productivity Secrets for Savvy Small Business Owners

Tue, 08/20/2013 - 06:00

As a small business owner, there are an unlimited number of tasks you could be doing at all times. How do you know which task to do first? How do you stay efficient while completing tasks? Check out these productivity secrets to help you work smarter, not harder.

1.  Stop multitasking

While this might seem counterproductive when you have a million things on your plate, you actually get more done if you focus on one task at a time. A study in the Psychonomic Bulletin and Review found that only about 2.5% of people can multi-task and still keep the same level of success at every task. Completing one project at a time helps you keep your concentration and really delve into a single task. Don’t get sidetracked by jumping from one thing to another.

Doing bits and pieces of different projects also pushes the finish dates farther into the future. Finishing a task and then starting another staggers your end dates so you have more to show for your work, instead of going days without any results at all.

2.  Minimize interruptions

Always being accessible can hinder productivity. First things first: stop checking your email constantly. Instead, set aside five minutes every hour to check your inbox. Most emails can wait for a response; an immediate response is not worth your sanity (or your productivity).

Next, turn off things that go “ding.” When you’re not at the office, it’s great that your smartphone alerts you every time someone comments on Facebook or when you receive a new email. But when you’re at work, turn your electronics on silent to prevent them from distracting you from the task at hand. Make time for social media and smartphones the same way you make time to check your email (but maybe less frequently).

3.  Prioritize your upcoming tasks

When all of your projects seem equally urgent, it can be hard to decide which item on your to-do list should take priority. Don’t fret – we have a game plan to help you decide what task you should complete first.

Choose two items from your to-do list and pretend you can only complete one of them (even though we both know you’ll get both done). The task you choose to tackle first is the winner, and goes on to compete against another task on the list. Continue going through the list in this manner, and by the end of the match you’ll have a to-do list ranked by importance.

4.  Organize your office

It’s easier to get your work done when your workspace is neat and organized. Organization makes you feel better and allows you to find things when you need them – this one is a mental and physical productivity tip!

So schedule some time at the end of a workday to go through all the mess on your desk. Put loose items into drawers, desktop organizers and the trash. Can’t decide what to remove from your desk? If you haven’t used the item in one month, it may not need to be on your desk. When you’re done, you’ll have better physical and mental clarity.

What do you do to stay productive at work? Share in the comments.

This post contributed by Emily Farrar. Farrar is the Lead Customer Advocate at Shoeboxed, the fastest way to turn a pile of paper receipts into digital data for effortless expense reporting and bookkeeping.

© 2013, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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8 Search Engine Optimization Tips Everyone Should Know

Mon, 08/19/2013 - 06:00

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Three words that can seem big and scary for most people, but SEO isn’t all the fire and brimstone it’s cracked up to be. There are a handful of easy-peasy SEO tips that everyone should know, especially when getting started, and luckily we’ve laid them down for you. The main over-arching theme here is not to overdo any “tactics” or “tricks,” but to make your site really awesome for your visitors. How? Let’s dive in, shall we?

1. First, you need to get into the right mindset and remember: Optimize for people NOT search engines. We know that sounds the opposite of what SEO stands for, but it’s what Google wants. Plus, if you think about it, if someone really enjoys your site, they’ll come back again and also share it with their friends. Oh boy, I see foreshadowing.

2. Quality content is king! This is a simple theory, but just keep in mind that it can take some time to get a backlog of quality content – Keep at it!

3. Have your “stuff” make sense. Here’s the deal; Meta data, URL structure and internal linking matter, so have them make sense to visitors. For meta data, when your site pops up into the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), you want it to grab someone’s attention, much like a good email subject line. Make your title short and sweet (under 70 characters) and the description a brief summary of no more than 160 characters. Have URLS that make sense. If your page is about coffee mugs then a URL like: site.com/coffee-mugs makes the most sense. Something like, site.com/dhfg23-ee45 will confuse both the GoogleBot and the people searching. Neither is good. Have your internal linking make sense. If you’re talking about how to get started on Vine, the visitor would expect the link to lead to the Vine article, not your homepage or some unrelated page.

4. If a little of something on your site is great, then a ton must be amazing right? WRONG! This is the downfall of SEO. The SEO industry finds something that works, and then does it until Google has to step in. The newest culprit to be assaulted by Google is guest blogging. This was, and still is in some ways, a great way to earn a high quality link, but people have diluted the value of guest blogging by spinning articles, (taking an existing article and adding very little value to it, then reposting it), and allowing very low quality, keyword stuffed articles. Just keep optimization trends in moderation – Like everything!

5. Grab some free tools from this list of 100. Here’s a quick five: GetListedGoogle AnalyticsGoogle Webmaster ToolsMajestic SEO and Moz Analytics.

6. Use WordPress plug-ins to make your life easier. We aren’t masters at HTML code and nobody expects you to be either. Luckily, WordPress offers tons of plug-ins to help make running your site easier. For us, Yoast SEO for WordPress is the winner here.

7. Don’t leave mobile users in the cold. Make sure they’re getting some love by having a responsive template for your website. Nothing frustrates both visitors and the Googlebot more than when a site redirects a mobile user to the homepage rather than the article they wanted to see. Get responsive and give mobile users a big hug!

8. Don’t forget about social! Make sure you have social sharing buttons set up on your web pages, so that when your amazing content rocks readers’ socks off, they’ll share the heck out of it. Social signals are becoming more powerful, so you don’t want to miss that boat.

Boom! Eight tips and done. If you’re hungry for more, there are mountains of information to dig into, if you so choose. Check out The Complete Guide by Google  for all the “Google Approved” actions to take with your site. The cool cats over at Moz have a Beginner’s Guide to SEO, (and we do too)  which is a great resource as well, so give them a look through! Which tip did you find most useful?  Share in the comments.

© 2013, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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What’s New Weekly: Emotiv Insight and Screen Color Control App f.lux

Sat, 08/17/2013 - 08:45

We’re back with another episode of “What’s New Weekly.” In this episode, we highlight a hot Kickstarter product called Emotiv Insight and a screen color control app called f.lux.

As always, look for a new episode every week.

 

© 2013, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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