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Grow Your Business:

The Everything Guide To eCommerce Marketing And Increasing Sales

26 Things You Must Do To Continually Grow Your Business

Increase Your Site Traffic (SEO)

6 Things Entrepreneurs Are Doing Wrong

Website Security And PCI Compliance

How A POS System Security Scan Can Protect Merchants From Target-Style Security Breach

Importance Of PCI Compliance

What Are Trust Seals? Are They Necessary? 

How To Protect Yourself From A Security Breach (Informative yet awkward video)

An Overview Of Data Breach Legislation 

PCI DSS Security Version 2.0 Or 3.0

Everything You Should Know About Website Security 

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The Everything Guide To eCommerce Marketing And Increasing Sales

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Friends of mine are often surprised when I tell them they need social media for their small business, or to promote themselves as the artsy types they are. They’re surprised because the game only recently changed, and people who don’t work in online marketing, like yours truly, are often totally blind to it. Publishing houses now expect authors to promote themselves via social media and blogs, and are much more likely to take an author who already has a large Twitter following. Seriously? Yep. The last journalism job I applied for required a minimum of 2,000 Twitter followers AND high emotional intelligence which is also totally a thing now. The truth is, without social media and marketing knowledge it’s not likely that your Etsy store, eCommerce biz, or blog will get off the ground or that you’ll be able to compete effectively on the interweb of MEGA COMPETITION.

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How Site Customer-Centric Optimization Can Increase Conversion

One Call Now, is a message notification service that delivers mass automated phone calls, text messages and emails. Needing to establish its business in the professional sphere, One Call Now redesigned its website, leaning heavily on customer centricity and testing. 

Jacob Baldwin, of One Call Now, lead a presentation at the 2013 Lead Gen Summit, where he showed how customer centric website design, and marketing towards “customer personas” can increase sales conversion by as much as 81%.  His presentation is available here at MarketingSherpa.com. The slides and case studies are also available.

Baldwin began the presentation with One Call Now’s old website, and their reasons behind a total design optimization: They wanted better lead generation, better sales conversion. Baldwin shows a progression of slides to explain their optimization process, the choices they made, why they made them, and how the new pages tested compared to the originals.

When They Started The Site Redesign They Hoped To Improve The Following Areas:

Thought Sequence: Create a logical path for visitors to consume information.

Page Layout: Help visitors find information and get answers in a logical, simple, way.

Imagery: More relevant, specific imagery as opposed to generic images.

SEO: Take advantage of meta tags, URL structure, etc.

Segmentation Model: Who were they marketing to? How do those people make decisions?

Messaging: Multiple messages on the web pages needed to be turned into one concise message.

Baldwin and his team tackled every point, redesigned, tracked every change and tested it. The case tests revealed that the controls were crushed next to the new treatments. The conversion boosts were significant from nearly every redesign. One of the most interesting conversion boosts involved their call to action. They wanted to make their CTA more effective, lowering the chance of paralyzing visitors with too many choices, so they consolidated their CTA buttons into one small area of the homepage’s bottom right corner. Their conversion had a significant lift. Then, the most interesting part of the video happens around the 11 minute mark where Baldwin talks about Star Trek.

His marketing team created four customer personas based on the Star Trek characters for segmentation purposes: humanistic, methodical, competitive and spontaneous, and doing this allowed One Call Now to properly categorize its audience and plea to them as effectively as possible. They chose Star Trek in order to make it fun for the marketing team but also to put a face with the personality type. 

 

 

The Humanist: A touchy-feely type that enjoys reading about personal interest stories.

The Methodical: The logical type, the 16% who will probably read everything available to them before making a decision.

The Competitive: This type of person wants the best of the best. They want to WIN.

The Spontaneous: Knows what they want and are ready to purchase at any time. Doesn’t need to talk to sales people or read all of the copy before making a purchasing decision.

“Plotting out important drivers in the customer decision-making process allowed the team to understand motivations at every stage of the process.” What it all came down to was that One Call Now, optimized their site around what would best convert these four personas into customers from their copy to their design. They changed the language on the site and made it be more vernacular, direct, and used terms that would be easy to understand.  The new segmentation model also drove basic navigation, color scheme, basic layout and they added trust indicators or “trust seals” at the bottom of the page to give instant credibility and establish trust with their visitors. The video is full of marketing jargon and in depth case-studies which are great for anyone in the industry but for companies with a smaller marketing department, or small businesses owned and operated by only a few people, everything can be translated into one idea: Customer centricity. What I took from their case study more than anything is that it pays to care about your customers. If you put their needs first when writing, marketing, or designing your website, you’re going to be ahead of the game. When you think of what visitors need and want they respond. It just makes sense. 

Many websites are simply too egocentric, they fail to identify with their customers and their needs. The methods used to achieve Baldwins success were clever, sure, but it’s also common sense. The biggest takeaway is that every business can benefit from making their website more customer-centric. When a visitor comes to a site asking themselves, “what’s in it for me?”, your website should answer them right away.They didn’t necessarily reinvent the wheel by making sure their copy was customer-centric but they certainly made a strong case proving that it works.

 

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Why You Should Switch from Facebook to Google Plus: A Review of Rebekah Radice’s Article

I have a confession.  I am one of those typical social media users who has been unduly wary of Google+. After using Facebook for a solid decade, since around the time Myspace was widely abandoned, I have become very comfortable with it.  Part of that stems from the duration of my usage, and part of it stems from the fact that virtually every single person I know also uses Facebook.

My social media presence is obviously not limited to Facebook—I have joined Twitter and Instagram and Pinterest over the years—but I have been hesitant to really get into Google+.

Why?  Simply put, because Google+ seems like another Facebook, except a more difficult version that not nearly as many people use.  Also, I’ve fallen into that old rut of inertia where I would rather stay with something comfortable and defunct than make the switch to something unfamiliar and less ubiquitous.

Reading Rebekah Radice’s recent comparison of Google+ versus Facebook knocked me out of my rut.  Her ultimate conclusion that Google+ is not only better, but is the future of social media marketing for eCommerce, made me reconsider my social media complaisance and start reworking my Google+ profile and circles.  I will outline a few of her more salient points here, but her article is worth reading in its entirety.

One of Ms. Radice’s main points of contention with Facebook is that the platform no longer allows users to shape their own experience and decide which content they will view.  “Liking” a page does not mean that you will see that page’s posts.  In order to make sure that a lot of people see your posts (even your own followers) you now have to pay to “boost” your posts to increase their reach.  Pages with several hundred “likes” will often only have an organic reach in the single digits for their posts.  Starting with an organic reach that small makes it nearly impossible to get organic sharing of your content.  Which is exactly what Facebook wants: for you to have to pay to get your content in front of its users.

Not so with Google+.  Google+ will put your content in front of anyone in your circles and will let them decide what they want to view by determining who they place in which circles.  The platform is similar to Twitter in that if someone decides they want to see your content as it is posted, they will see it because Google+ will not suppress it.

Though Radice notes some issues with Google+ (a more difficult interface that is less user-friendly, fewer people and more tech-savvy people using it, etc.) the benefits of having a community of online marketers who want to share your content and are actually seeing your content (instead of having your posts suppressed by Facebook) outweigh all the potential negatives.

Another obvious benefit is that Google+ is still a completely free platform, so it will be a more cost effective option for marketing your content as well.

While Facebook has many valid uses, and I’m still using it regularly for interaction with my friends and family, the savvy eCommerce businessman or woman would do well to take a page out of Rebekah Radice’s book and transition to a social media strategy that incorporates at least as much Google+ promotion as Facebook promotion (and probably more).

Here’s hoping that in a few years Facebook will go the way of MySpace and the primary social network will be one that allows users to create their own experience, view content without suppression, and organically share that content without having to pay for it—a more useful social network that looks a lot like Google+.

 

Other posts by Harper Roark:

A Fresh Look At Using Story for Branding: A Review of Chase Reeves’ Podcast on Fizzle.co

Facebook for Business: A Comprehensive 8 Step Guide

Converting Interest to Sales With Trust Seals

Internet Explorer Bug Has The Internet Scared And Laughing

First thing, stop using Internet Explorer! Second thing, WHO STILL USES INTERNET EXPLORER?

The Department of Homeland Security has announced that users should stop using Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser immediately.  Researchers discovered a security flaw over the weekend that they believe allows hackers to potentially take control of your PC.

On Saturday, Milpitas, Calif.-based FireEye Research Labs identified a vulnerability that only affects Internet Explorer. The bug exploits corrupted Flash content allowing hackers to attack windows computers and essentially take them over (SkyNet style).

The United States government said in a recent statement that they have yet to come up with a solution to the problem. Microsoft said that while it is working to find a solution for the bug they have yet to announce anything. The company is urging users to update their software, but experts are warning users to can Internet Explorer altogether.

The internet is spreading the news at lightening speed, although, there is an air of humor about this vulnerability that you don’t see with others such as Heartbleed.

“I’m not sure what’s worse, that there is a huge #InternetExplorer security breach or that there are people that still use IE.”— Drew Pope (@PopesGoneFishin) April 29, 2014

“Homeland Security urging people not to use #InternetExplorer due to security problem. Also fix your Flux Capacitor and come back from 1998.”— Dave Rubin (@RubinReport) April 29, 2014

“Internet Explorer users are vulnerable to hackers. All 16 of them are worried.” #InternetExplorer — Social Mime (@Social_Mime) April 29, 2014

This isn’t to say that the bug shouldn’t be taken seriously. It’s important that you stop using Internet Explorer immediately. Personally, it’s a lot easier (and better) to simply use another web browser. Chrome, for example, is a great service.

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How To Increase B2B Sales In 3 Moves

It was easier back in the day when decisions were linear. One of the biggest challenges in a B2B campaign is often understanding that prospective clients no longer make direct decisions. Now, they decide they need something, shop around, do some reading, come back poke around a bit, do more investigating, and then, and only then, do they hand over the credit card to make a purchase. Here are three ways you can make your marketing and sales efforts more effective using the idea of the CDJ or “Customer Decision Journey,” which aims to understand the customer decision making process and their needs.

1) Find out what matters to your prospective clients. It’s not enough to just know your demographic, you also need to understand what influences them to make a buying decision. What are they looking for and what do they need? Your company efforts should be focused in these areas so your budget results in the turnaround you’re looking for. It’s not uncommon for a company to discover that the budget given to the efforts that actually influences their prospective clients is low, while the budget for areas that has little impact is high. Putting your money into the right area is crucial and that requires knowing what prospective clients want.

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7 Tips To Effectively Manage Remote Workers

Technology allows people to communicate easier than ever before so a lot of companies are allowing certain employees to work from home. Currently 2.3% of the US workforce is remote and that number is growing every year. When you don’t see employees in an office every day it presents new problems and new solutions. Below you’ll find some useful tips for managing remote employees.

1. Hire The Right Person. Hire people for the quality of work they can produce not based on their resume. In my experience, some people are better qualified for remote work than others. I highly recommend a slow hire process, or a test run before making a commitment to hire. Test potential employees on all areas of their job and most of all on their ability to problem solve, and communicate effectively.

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Article Roundup: The Best Marketing Articles This Week By Harper Roark

1. “25 Smart Ways to Promote Your Latest Blog Post” – So, you’ve written and published another great blog post!  You’ve only completed step one.  If you want comments, shares, and new readers, you will also have to allot time to effectively promoting your new blog post.  This thorough article by Rebekah Radice lists the best ways to market your latest blog post, including promotion on social media sites, blog-sharing sites, bookmarking, guest posting, and commenting on other blogs.  She also includes how to tailor your promotion to each location.  To read the full description of each location and strategy, read her full article here http://rebekahradice.com/ways-to-promote-your-latest-blog-post/

2. “How to Get More Blog Comments – Killer Ways” – Are you just hearing crickets after you publish your blog posts?  This useful article by Chetan Gupta details 7 ways you can generate and manage more comments on your blog posts.  These strategies include using an easy commenting system, including a “call to action” for comments in your blog post, engaging in conversation with your readers, rewarding your commentators, use a “top commentator” widget on your blog, and more!  To get the complete list and all the details on each strategy, read the full article here http://www.globalcraze.com/2013/10/05/how-to-increase-blog-comments-on-your-blog/?utm_content=buffer0c953&utm_source=buffer&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Buffer

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The FCC doesn’t want to destroy net neutrality, but it’s going to anyway

This could change the way we see the internet. What are you thoughts?

Gigaom

The Federal Communications Commission doesn’t want companies like Netflix or Viacom to have to pay to get their content to end users of broadband networks, but it doesn’t see a way (or maybe even a reason) to ban the practice. In a call with reporters on Thursday, FCC officials laid out the agency’s thinking on new network neutrality rules and tried to address concerns that the internet as we know it is broken.

The agency’s hope is to have new rules in place by the end of this year, and it plans to release a public document called a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) outlining its thinking and asking questions about the new rules. It plans to release this NPRM in three weeks at its May 15 open meeting. Once the documents are released, the public will have a chance to comment on them.

What was once unreasonable…

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Converting Interest To Sales With Trust Seals By Harper Roark

We all know that the single greatest way to convert interest into sales is to build trust between your company and your customer.  But establishing that trust can be more difficult than it initially seems.  What are the best strategies to build trust and increase sales?  There are a lot of different pieces to the trust puzzle, but most of them can be categorized into the following 3 main ideas: be authentic, be uncompromisingly scrupulous in how you deal with your customers, and take web security and the privacy of your customers seriously.

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Great Business Resources To Check Out This Week By Harper Roark

1. “8 Steps to Effective Content for Social Media” – If we want to convert new contacts into new customers, we cannot merely create informative content about our brand.  We must also engage our potential customers by telling stories and sharing images.  This article by Michael Brenner briefly covers eight strategies for creating more helpful and entertaining content for your viewers and readers, including listening better, finding the right rhythm, following the “golden rule” of effective content (being helpful), and more.  He also links to his slideshow that provides examples of effective content and how to create it.  For the complete list and examples, visit the article here http://www.b2bmarketinginsider.com/social-media/8-steps-to-effective-content-for-social-media

2. “Want a Retweet? Include a Photo” – Think twitter’s 140 character limit is keeping you from really getting your message out to your followers and other potential customers?  Wrong!  To get more retweets and reach more new people, you just need to include a photograph.  In this article, Kurt Wagner reviews recent studies that detail just how much a photograph will increase your likelihood of being retweeted (hint: it’s a lot).  But not any photograph with do, links to other imaging sites, like Instagram, don’t yield the same results.  For the full details, read the entire article here http://mashable.com/2013/10/07/retweet-photo/

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A Fresh Look at Using Story for Branding: A Review of Chase Reeves’ Podcast On Fizzle.co By Harper Roark

The concept of using story for brand building is certainly not a new one, but once in awhile I come across a marketing professional who can really bring the concept to life in a new way.  Enter Chase Reeves, co-founder of Fizzle.co, who has spent considerable time creating what he calls “mash-ups” of his reading about story and his work creating stories for clients and for Fizzle.co.  In a recent Fizzle Show podcast, he describes his strategies for better using story for marketing.  While I will go over a few of his points here, giving his actual podcast a listen would be well worth your time.

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