Internet Marketing Tools Collection by TrafficMotion

This list is an ongoing work in progress. The goal is to provide a useful and broad list of internet marketing links. It will range from web analytics, to search engine optimization, social media, paid online advertising, conversion optimization, affiliate and email marketing, and more.

Online Marketing Tools from TrafficMotion

Stay tuned for weekly, if not daily, updates to this list of internet marketing tools.

Web Analytics

Competitive Intellligence

Call Tracking

Search Engine Optimization

Local SEO

Social Media

Paid Online Advertising

Keyword Research

Email Marketing

Conversion Optimization

Miscellaneous Tools

Adding Google, Bing, Yandex, and Pinterest Verification Meta Tags to Magento

Meta tags are an easy way to add verification to your Magento store for Google Webmaster Tools, Bing Webmaster Tools, Yandex.Webmaster, and Pinterest for Business accounts. In this article, we’ll go over two easy ways to add these tags to your Magento store.

Magento Tricks by Traffic Motion

One alternative to adding meta tags is to upload a file from each of these sites to your site’s root directory. Unfortunately, when developers, IT, and version control systems are involved, this can be a much longer process than it should be. Instead of taking a few seconds, it may take days or even weeks just to get a new file (let alone four) uploaded to the root directory of your store.

Thankfully, Magento provides a couple of workaround for this, one that is extremely simple, and one that is a little more sophisticaned but cleaner and easier to read and maintain. We’ll start with the simpler method.

Miscellaneous Head Scripts

Log in to the admin section of your store, and navigate to System > Configuration > Design > HTML Head > Miscellaneous Scripts, and simply copy-paste the verification code there.

The code for our TrafficMotion website would look like this:

<meta name="msvalidate.01" content="14B60B177AD73A9CB88E52E10DE81E9F" />
<meta name="google-site-verification" content="Y0KjL1s3sCz5_RnzmBPdNIiMKE7n-iPy3OzjlRlPvdI" />
<meta name="p:domain_verify" content="8c5c5b782d04896448cc802df0e4e97b" />
<meta name='yandex-verification' content='7754504dbf4109f0' />

Easy, right? So what’s the problem with this method?

There really isn’t one, but the scripts are added to the <head> of every page of your site, where Google, Bing, Yandex, and Pinterest only require it on the home page.

To put it simply, why clutter up every page of your site, when you don’t need to? Google or Bing aren’t going to bother verifying the tag on every single page of your store, so why bother including it? It’s just extraneous code for the vast, vast majority of your pages.

So let’s add these pieces of code a different way, and just get them on the home page.

Block & Layout Update

First, navigate to System > Configuration > General > Content Management > WYSIWYG Options. We’re going to change the setting for “Enable WYSIWYG Editor” to “Disabled by Default.” If we don’t do that, Magento’s WYSIWYG editor will strip out the meta tags we’ll be adding to a new static block.

Adding a New CMS Static Block

Once you’ve done that, go to CMS > Static Blocks > Add New Block. You can name it anything you want, but we’ll give it the Block Title of “Validation Codes” and the Identifier of “html_validation_codes” for the purposes of this tutorial.

Then, in the Content, copy-paste in your meta tag verification codes. Now, we just have to get that block into our home page.

Adding the Validation Codes Block to the Home Page

Now, go to CMS > Pages > Home page, and hit the Design Tab under Page Information. This is the part where it can get tricky for new store owners, but it’s really not too difficult.

There may already be some code in the Layout Update XML field if you’re using the base default theme, or it may be empty. In either event, we’re going to add a little snippet of code to reference our Validation Codes static block. Here’s what you would include if you’ve followed along so far:

<reference name="head">
<block type="cms/block" name="validation_code">
    <action method="setBlockId"><block_id>html_validation_codes</block_id></action> 
</block>
</reference>

Wrapping Up Validation Codes

Now, check the Page Source of your Magento store home page, and you should see the block of code just under our customized Google Analytics code. It looks just like this:

<!-- END GOOGLE ANALYTICS CODE -->
<meta name="msvalidate.01" content="14B60B177AD73A9CB88E52E10DE81E9F" />
<meta name="google-site-verification" content="Y0KjL1s3sCz5_RnzmBPdNIiMKE7n-iPy3OzjlRlPvdI" />
<meta name="p:domain_verify" content="8c5c5b782d04896448cc802df0e4e97b" />
<meta name='yandex-verification' content='7754504dbf4109f0' />
<script type="text/javascript">//<![CDATA[
        var Translator = new Translate([]);
        //]]></script></head>

Then, you can check for the code on any other page of your website, and it won’t be there! It’s not a huge savings in terms of the amount of HTML on the page, but it does keep a few lines of extraneous code off of them. No website would pay much attention to those meta tags if they were on every page anyway, so let’s keep the category, CMS, and product pages a little cleaner.

How to Add Open Graph Cards for Products to Magento

In our last article, we looked at adding Twitter Cards to our Magento store, and specifically Twitter Product Cards. The next step is to integrate the Open Graph protocol, which is used by Google+, Facebook, and Pinterest, to name a social networks.

Open Graph Integration with Magento Product Pages

If you were able to follow along in adding Twitter Cards to your Magento store, then adding Open Graph cards will be a breeze. Essentially, we’ll be following the same exact process, targeting the Catalog Product View, and adding a new template file to the <head> section of the document, then inserting the Open Graph meta data for that particular product.

So, without further ado, let’s get started adding Facebook, Google+, and Pinterest integration to our Magento store! And then let us never speak of Magento layout updates again, shall we?

Creating or Adding to the local.xml File

Navigate to your theme’s local.xml file. For the vanilla Magento install with the base theme, the location is magentoroot/app/design/frontend/base/default/layout/local.xml

We’ll be adding the following code to this file:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!-- other code -->
<layout>
<!-- other layout code -->
	<catalog_product_view>
		<reference name="head">
			<block type="catalog/product_view" name="trafficmotion.opengraph">
 				<action method="setTemplate">
					<template>trafficmotion/social/opengraph.phtml</template>
				</action>
			</block>
		</reference>
	</catalog_product_view>
</layout>

Remember, if you went through our tutorial on the Twitter Card integration, you should already have some of this code. In particular, you’ll have the xml doctype declaration, the opening and closing <layout> tags, and the opening and closing <catalog_product_view> tags. You can just insert the above code that is applicable.

If you didn’t follow the Twitter Card integration, and you don’t have a local.xml file, then you’ll have to create one and all of the above code.

Directory Structure for Open Graph Layout

Next up, let’s set up a couple of new folders so we can add the actual Open Graph meta data. Create this directory structure:

  • magentoroot/app/design/frontend/base/default/template/trafficmotion/
  • magentoroot/app/design/frontend/base/default/template/trafficmotion/social/

If you followed along in our article on adding Twitter Card support, you should already have the /trafficmotion/ and /social/ folders, so you would not need to create them here. Now that the folders are there, we just have to add one file to the /social/ folder.

Creating the opengraph.phtml File

Our last step is another easy one, just copying and pasting in some PHP and HTML code. Create a file named opengraph.phtml and place it in the magentoroot/app/design/frontend/base/default/template/trafficmotion/social/ directory. Then, include the following code in the opengraph.phtml file:

<?php
$_helper = $this->helper('catalog/output');
$_product = $this->getProduct();
$currency = Mage::app()->getLocale()->currency(Mage::app()->getStore()->getCurrentCurrencyCode())->getSymbol();
if($_product):
?>
<!-- BEGIN OPEN GRAPH CARDS -->
<meta property="og:site_name" content="<?php echo Mage::app()->getStore()->getName(); ?>" />
<meta property="og:type" content="og:product" />
<meta property="og:title" content="<?php echo $_product->getName() ?>" />
<meta property="og:image" content="<?php echo $_product->getImageUrl() ?>" />
<meta property="og:description" content="<?php echo $this->htmlEscape($_helper->productAttribute($_product, nl2br($_product->getShortDescription()), 'short_description')) ?>" />
<meta property="og:url" content="<?php echo $_product->getUrlModel()->getUrl($_product, array('_ignore_category' => true)) ?>" />
<meta property="og:price:amount" content="<?php echo Mage::helper('tax')->getPrice($_product, $_product->getFinalPrice(), true); ?>" />
<meta property="og:price:currency" content="<?php echo Mage::app()->getStore()->getCurrentCurrencyCode() ?>" />
<meta property="og:availability" content="<?php echo ($_product->isAvailable() ? 'in stock' : 'out of stock') ?>" />
<!-- END OPEN GRAPH CARDS -->
<?php endif; ?>

Wrapping Up Open Graph Integration

That’s all there is to it! Open a product page in your Magento store frontend, and take a look at the Page Source. You should see something like the following code.

<!-- BEGIN OPEN GRAPH CARDS -->
<meta property="og:site_name" content="English" />
<meta property="og:type" content="og:product" />
<meta property="og:title" content=" Olympus Stylus 750 7.1MP Digital Camera" />
<meta property="og:image" content="http://localhost/mage-test/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/265x/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/o/l/olympus-stylus-750-7-1mp-digital-camera-2.jpg" />
<meta property="og:description" content="A technically sophisticated point-and-shoot camera offering a number of pioneering technologies such as Dual Image Stabilization, Bright Capture Technology, and TruePic Turbo, as well as a powerful 5x optical zoom." />
<meta property="og:url" content="http://localhost/mage-test/olympus-stylus-750-7-1mp-digital-camera" />
<meta property="og:price:amount" content="161.94" />
<meta property="og:price:currency" content="USD" />
<meta property="og:availability" content="in stock" />
<!-- END OPEN GRAPH CARDS -->

How to Add Twitter Cards for Products to Magento

With social media signals becoming an increasingly important factor in search engine optimization, being able to share your products properly on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, and other social networks is imperative for Magento store owners. In this article, we’ll look at adding Twitter Product Cards to product display pages.

Integrating Twitter Cards into Magento

First of all, what are Twitter cards? Twitter has developed their own meta tag vocabulary to help websites share information on the popular microblogging platform. Read up on Twitter cards at the Twitter Developers website, or check out the specifications for Product Cards.

In a previous article here on TrafficMotion, I wrote about the importance of social signals, but didn’t go into how to do it specifically for WordPress, Magento, or other CMS platforms. If you’re just starting with social signals for SEO, read that article first and them come back here.

For Magento, let’s start with setting up the local.xml file, and then we’ll create a file just for Twitter Cards. In our next article, we’ll look at Open Graph integration, which is used by Facebook, Google+, and Pinterest. But first, Magento.

Creating or Adding to the local.xml File

I’ll be using the base/default template of the vanilla Magento install for this tutorial, so I start by going to the magentoroot/app/design/frontend/base/default/ folder and looking for the /layout/ directory. If it’s not there, I create it.

Next, we have to create or add to the local.xml file, and add the following information to it:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!-- other code -->
<layout>
<!-- other layout code -->
	<catalog_product_view>
	    <reference name="head">
	        <block type="catalog/product_view" name="trafficmotion.twitter">
	            <action method="setTemplate">
	                    <template>trafficmotion/social/twitter.phtml</template>
	            </action>
	        </block>         
	    </reference>
	</catalog_product_view>
</layout>

Directory Structure for Twitter Card Layout

Now, we have to set up the folder and file structure for our layout update. Create the following directory structure:

  • magentoroot/app/design/frontend/base/default/template/trafficmotion/
  • magentoroot/app/design/frontend/base/default/template/trafficmotion/social/

Creating the twitter.phtml File

Our last step is to set up the file that will include the Twitter Card data in the <head> section of each product display page.

Create a file called twitter.phtml in the magentoroot/app/design/frontend/base/default/template/trafficmotion/social/ folder, and include the following code in that file:

<?php
$_helper = $this->helper('catalog/output');
$_product = $this->getProduct();
$currency = Mage::app()->getLocale()->currency(Mage::app()->getStore()->getCurrentCurrencyCode())->getSymbol();
if($_product):
?>
<!-- BEGIN TWITTER PRODUCT CARDS -->
<meta name="twitter:card" content="product" />
<meta name="twitter:domain" content="<?php echo Mage::getBaseUrl() ?>" />
<meta name="twitter:site" content="@yourtwitterhandle" />
<meta name="twitter:creator" content="@yourtwitterhandle" />
<meta name="twitter:title" content="<?php echo $_product->getName() ?>" />
<meta name="twitter:description" content="<?php echo $this->htmlEscape($_helper->productAttribute($_product, nl2br($_product->getShortDescription()), 'short_description')) ?>" />
<meta name="twitter:image" content="<?php echo $_product->getImageUrl() ?>" />
<meta name="twitter:data1" content="<?php echo $currency ?><?php echo Mage::helper('tax')->getPrice($_product, $_product->getFinalPrice(), true); ?>" />
<meta name="twitter:label1" content="PRICE" />
<meta name="twitter:data2" content="<?php echo Mage::getStoreConfig('shipping/origin/country_id') ?>" />
<meta name="twitter:label2" content="LOCATION" />
<!-- END TWITTER PRODUCT CARDS -->
<?php endif; ?>

Remember to update the “yourtwitterhandle” lines to your actual site and creator Twitter accounts.

Wrapping Up Twitter Card Integration

That’s all there is to it — even easier than adding a custom module, and possibly more useful. Here’s how it looks in the Page Source of the default store with example data. Also check out the working 10% Google Site Speed Sample Rate, which we set up in a previous article.

<!-- BEGIN TWITTER PRODUCT CARDS -->
<meta name="twitter:card" content="product" />
<meta name="twitter:domain" content="http://localhost/mage-test/" />
<meta name="twitter:site" content="@trafficmotion" />
<meta name="twitter:creator" content="@trafficmotion" />
<meta name="twitter:title" content=" Olympus Stylus 750 7.1MP Digital Camera" />
<meta name="twitter:description" content="A technically sophisticated point-and-shoot camera offering a number of pioneering technologies such as Dual Image Stabilization, Bright Capture Technology, and TruePic Turbo, as well as a powerful 5x optical zoom." />
<meta name="twitter:image" content="http://localhost/mage-test/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/265x/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/o/l/olympus-stylus-750-7-1mp-digital-camera-2.jpg" />
<meta name="twitter:data1" content="$161.94" />
<meta name="twitter:label1" content="PRICE" />
<meta name="twitter:data2" content="US" />
<meta name="twitter:label2" content="LOCATION" />
<!-- END TWITTER PRODUCT CARDS -->

The one question you might have is why not put the Open Graph and Twitter Cards in the same layout.xml tag and same socialtags.phtml file? That’s a very good idea, and you can definitely do that if you want.

However, it is likely that Twitter and Open Graph will continue to evolve in separate directions, so it will be easier in the future to go in and change the file that only deals with one type of social sharing, depending on the changes made.

For your next project, take a look at our Magento Open Graph protocol integration, used by Facebook, Google+, and Pinterest!

Social Media Marketing Options: Blogs, Networks, Videos and More

Social media can be a conundrum for a lot of business owners. Is Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn useful as a marketing channel? What about picture sharing sites like Pinterest and Instagram? And how do you even start a social marketing campaign? Where should it be based from? Let’s explore these questions, with the understanding first of all that social media is any type of content that is shared in an environment that encourages the sharing of resources and discussion.

Social Networking is GlobalBlogs are the main tool that bridge the gap between a company’s main website and their social media efforts. They were originally conceived of as online journals or diaries, but are now the core of social media marketing, and the home base for many companies’ creation of content, sharing of resources, and publishing of news and promotions. The theory is that more content leads to more visibility, and blogs are one of the easiest ways to release more content.

This also includes microblogging, such as Twitter. Microblogs allow for the exchange and sharing of short snippets of information. These can be in the form of thoughts, ideas, links to full articles, pictures, links to video, and more. They result in short thoughts and resources being shared and for companies or individuals to be followed by hundreds or thousands of other users of the microblogging sites.

Social networks are the powerhouses of social media. They are where a blog goes from part of a main website to a key component of social marketing. Because of the widespread use of social networking sites, there is a built-in easy communication channel, and communicating with users and be fast. The largest social networks such as Facebook and Google+ also have global audiences, broadening the potential customer base for companies. Best of all, it is free and easy to set up official company Pages on most social networks.

Video sharing has been increasing in popularity, especially over the last half decade or so, as the availability of high speed internet has become cheaper for the average internet user. Video sites have an entertainment factor, as videos that are enjoyable are more likely to be shared. For marketing purposes, short videos of 15-45 seconds seem to work best, and hosting videos on YouTube can increase the chances of them showing up in Google search results.

Social shopping and review sites are another type of social media that is becoming more popular as the search engines focus on local businesses. Sites like Yelp and Google+ allow users to leave reviews of companies they have interacted with, and ratings are now showing up in natural search results for companies. These sites provide a forum for customers to share their experiences, and also serve as a way for businesses to build credibility by establishing a company page and interacting with customers. One great use of social review sites is monitoring any negative feedback and addressing it as quickly as possible.

Social news sites are another form of social media, but one that is becoming less popular as people move to Facebook and other large social networks. Social news sites include Digg, Reddit, and other sites mainly focused on sharing links to relevant, enlightening articles. Social bookmarking sites are also closely related, and these allow users to save their favorite sites, categorize them, and access them from any computer.

Social events sites have their own niche and can be used well for marketing. Facebook has an event calendar with invitations and multiple features, while dedicated event planning sites like Meetup provide information on local groups with shared interests. These can help increase live foot traffic to a company’s retail stores, and mobile check-ins can build brand credibility.

Social media marketing should be a part of a company’s overall marketing strategy, with a focus on collecting useful resources, collaborating with other industry experts and customers, and engaging in conversation with a community. Social profiles and accounts are accessible to all sizes of business, so there is no reason to avoid them, especially if they are used wisely enough to contribute to the business objectives, build brand awareness, and support other marketing channels.

Five Must-Have Social Media Tools for WordPress Sites

Here are five of my favorite social media integration and promotion tools. With literally thousands of social media measurement, marketing, and promotional tools available, this is just barely scratching the surface of what’s out there. However, in any site I do marketing for, I try to use these five tools and websites as often as possible.

You need tools for social media marketing successI’ve also added an alternate for these plugins, websites, or analytics programs when available. In most cases, I use the tool listed under the main header, but sometimes you just need an alternate. Some of the main alternates I would recommend are SXC.hu for stock images, and Just Unfollow for managing your Twitter followers.

Social Networks Auto-Poster

This is a WordPress plugin with a free and paid version. The paid version adds in functionality for posting to Google Plus and Pinterest. In essence, it allows writers to automatically post an update to various social media sites when a new blog is published. With a small amount of content being published, this might work well for a business to get announcements on social media sites in an efficient manner, without having to go out to each website and individually post updates. The ability to customize directly in WordPress the message that appears on the social media site is extremely useful in this regard.

Alternate: Jetpack WordPress Plugin doesn’t give as much flexibility and usefulness as the Nextscripts one. The premium version of the Social Networks Auto-Poster is on almost every site I use and will be for as long as the plugin is supported and workable.

Slick Social Share Buttons

This is another free plugin for WordPress sites that show the number of likes, shares, tweets, and other types of social media votes that have been given to individual pages on a website. The main use for this plugin is simply for social proof – if a lot of people are liking or sharing a particular page, then it seems more credible and popular for new users just discovering the information.

Alternate: Social Media Widget is on the Traffic Motion site over there on the sidebar. It’s a great alternative to the Slick Social Buttons.

Tweeter Karma

This tool is especially useful when just beginning a new website and Twitter account. The easiest way to get followers right away is to follow other people, but not everyone always follows back. Furthermore, Twitter has limits to the number of other people that can be followed, which is based partly on the user’s number of followers. This can make expansion more difficult. The Tweeter Karma tool is useful for displaying Twitter accounts that do not follow back and their last activity date. It can be helpful to prune some of the accounts that are being followed but have not used Twitter in several months or a year.

Alternate: Just Unfollow is a similar tool, but only allows you to follow 25-50 accounts per day. It’s faster and more stable than Tweeter Karma, but you’d need a premium account for unfollowing larger numbers of Twitter users.

Facebook Insights

This is a free tool that is integrated directly into Facebook pages in the admin section of that page. It displays a number of interesting metrics, including the total number of likes, friends of fans, and total weekly reach over time for a particular page. Ideally, it can help businesses track the reach of their social media marketing efforts. It also includes demographic information, such as gender, age, and country of origin.

Alternate: True Social Metrics is perhaps even better for measuring social media success from an actionable, KPI-focused web analytics perspective. Unfortunately, for the few sites I’ve tried it on, the metrics haven’t seemed that accurate, so it might be good to wait on this tool until it’s optimized a little better.

Flickr Commercial License Search

This is a Search Tool that can be added to Firefox browsers and will search images on Flickr that are available for use on commercial websites with no royalty fee. This is great for small businesses that would not want to pay for images to begin with, and do not want to break copyright laws. Many of the images offered through this license must be credited, but are available for free use on blogs and websites.

Alternate: SXC.hu also have hundreds of thousands of royalty free images, many of which you can see used on our site. It’s an absolutely indispensable tool for images.

Pros & Cons of 5 Types of Social Campaigns

There are a number of different types of social media campaigns that companies should consider for a full-scale promotional effort. Which one you choose for your business will depend heavily on the ideas your marketing department has come up with, the personality and reputation of your brand, and how much of a social media following you already have.

The five main types of campaigns are using scare tactics, attacking someone, using humor to engage, debating over a topic, or giving something away for free. Each one has its pros and cons, but all have the potential to go viral.

For instance, people will share information that scares them. Facebook is full of home remedies for keeping spiders away, warnings about certain types of foods and allergies, and potential dangers of all sorts of household products. The benefit of this campaign is that you can more easily entice people to share information directly relevant to them. The drawback is that you better have a solution if you are going to scare them about something!

Spider
Bugs. Perhaps the easiest way to scare potential customers. But do you have the solution they need?

In an attack social media campaign, you might compare your superior brand to that of a competitor, as the Apple vs. PC commercials did over the course of several years. The benefit is being able to draw a distinction between your brand’s strengths and your competitors’ weaknesses, while the drawback is that you may receive a backlash from proponents of the other brand. Be prepared to be attacked back, and ready to respond.

With a humor campaign, you can almost do no wrong. If your funny video or image succeeds, it has the potential to go viral very quickly. And if it fails, it’s more likely ignored than directly attacked. The only caveat here is if your humor is really edgy, you may offend some people. Just make sure that the campaign’s humorous focus reflects the brand’s reputation as being edgy or conservative, and act accordingly.

Laughing
Can you make people laugh? You may have a future in social media marketing!

In a debate social campaign, you take a position on an important topic, either within just your industry or within society as a whole. Again, be prepared for a backlash in some instances. However, even being willing to engage in this type of societal debate may garner you a lot of attention and give you valuable feedback from current and potential customers, as well as society as a whole. You can do this wrong, but you can also do it right, and you can always learn from it while engaging in the larger conversations going on in the world.

Finally, we have giveaway campaigns, perhaps the most potentially-viral, but also the most risky from an economic point of view. By giving away something for free, you may be able to gain more customers and populate a newsletter list very quickly. Of course, you also have to have the budget to afford such giveaways, with the hopes that giving away something now will result in higher returns later on.

The type of campaign with the greatest potential for backlash is an attack campaign, while the one with the least risk is one based on humor. Other types of campaigns, such as scaring people or debating, fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum from safe to risky. The free giveaway campaign should exist as its own type of social media promotion, due to the impact on a company’s financial statements and uncertainty of success.

Five More Tips to Dominate on Social Media

Yesterday, I wrote “Five Universal Tips for Social Media Success,” beginning a series of quick tips and ideas for businesses looking for success on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other popular networking sites. But I’m back today with five more important tips that you can start implementing your blog right away!

social media blog iconTip #1. Keep the 80/20 rule in mind for your blog.

This is so important. If you aren’t familiar with it, the 80/20 rule for blogs is that 80% of your visitors will be there for the first time, while the remaining 20% will be repeat visitors. Many sites have 90% or more rates of new to returning visitors, and new blogs could be 95% new visitors until they gain some traction. But if your blog has been around for 6-12 months and you aren’t at or approaching the 80/20 rule, you should determine how best you can optimize the blog to attract repeat visits.

Tip #2. Polling is good.

Poll illustration
Want to know what your readers think? Poll them!

One of my favorite aspects of the ESPN website is the vast number of polls they have on so many of their articles. Just today, I stumbled across three of them while researching for an article for a client. And you know what? I answered every one of them and wanted to know if I was in the majority or minority of responders! Polls are engaging, both for your readers and for your business, as you can gain valuable insights into what people are thinking of various topics. Creating a poll is extremely easy in WordPress and other Content Management Systems, so do one on occasion!

Tip #3. Blog consistently to retain visitors.

So you’ve started blogging, you’re keeping to your content publishing schedule, you’re getting regular readers. Mission accomplished, right? You can go back to your normal daily work schedule and forget about blogging? Wrong. People who visit your site for daily content will not keep coming back if you post only sporadically, shifting to a weekly or monthly article. This is why it’s important to establish a schedule in advance, so you don’t get burned out or run out of material or motivation to keep writing. People need a reason to come back to your site.

Keep on bloggin'
Keep on bloggin’

Tip #4. Jokes & News. Your new two best blogging friends.

It’s been shown that people are more likely to pass along and share information that is either funny or topically relevant to them. You can always use your Facebook to post quick jokes or funny stories around your workplace, or to relate your business to the most important news of the day. You may find these stories to be shared much faster than your regular educational, how-to content. While you don’t have to do humorous or news-type writing everyday, remember to include some of it as sharing bait and to get your visitors to think about your company’s products and services in a different manner.

Tip #5. Give it away, but watch the bottom line.

Free giveaways are one of the easiest ways to create a viral marketing campaign, but also the most risky for a business. Obviously, giving away a product causes an immediate impact on the bottom line, and even giving away a free download means that time needs to be invested to design, write, and proofread that content. Visitors will love you for giving them something for free, but make sure they love you enough to share your other content, spread your message further, and buy other items or services to make up for the free giveaways.

free icon
Free for them. Not for you. Account for giveaways carefully.

There, five more daily tips for social marketing domination! I’d like to get some other projects done this week, including a fairly extensive book review, but I’ll keep up on these social media tips. They’re great for brainstorming ideas for social media campaigns that our company is working on. If you have any other tips, leave them in the comments below!

[And if you need a social media campaign designed for your company, don’t hesitate to check out the online marketing services we offer, or contact us today to discuss your goals and how we can help you achieve them, and how we can help you track your social media success.]

Five Universal Tips for Social Media Success

Since I’ve been writing a lot about social media marketing lately, and doing a lot of extra reading and studying of how to be successful on social networking sites, I thought I might share some quick daily tips for success.

social media blog iconTip #1. Above all, do no harm.

There are a lot of factors that drive influencers to share your stuff, but trying to harm or discredit someone else’s business isn’t one of them. Appeal to people’s passion, offer them a reward for sharing, appeal to their ego, or establish yourself as the authority, and people will share your articles and content. Try to harm someone else, though, and you’ll likely just be ostracized throughout your industry, even if you convert a few people to become strong supporters (usually these people are existing detractors of your competitor).

Tip #2. If you want to start a blog and get exposure, be prepared to participate in the discussion on other people’s blogs.

Few people will find your site right away, so leverage your participation in the discussions on other relevant, popular sites to get some traction on your own. Also, people who visit those popular blogs may see your comment as useful enough to become regular visitors of your website.

Tip #3. If you want people to link to you, link to them first.

This is one of the most important tips when starting a business blog. You don’t have to inform every single person that you’re linking to them beforehand and extract some commitment that they link to you later. However, you should be willing to use your blog to share resources that you find useful or interesting, and your blog will become a resource itself in the process.

Links
Link to others on your blog, and they’ll link back to you.

Tip #4. If you’re going to pitch someone, do it the right way.

There are several best practices for pitching other bloggers, whether for them to write for your site or when you are offering to guest blog for them. Read their posts before you blindly pitch, and comment on a few of their existing articles. Write a unique message for them, even if you are pitching other bloggers at the same time, and make sure you know the person’s name when you email them. They’ll be more likely to respond to “Hey Jeff,” than “Dear Webmaster.” Also,it should be noted that you don’t HAVE to buy anything from them before pitching, although that might be appreciated a little extra.

Tip #5. Give credit (or hat tips) to other bloggers.

If you come across an interesting idea for a blog, or want to expand on someone else’s thoughts, remember to give credit to them. They may even link back to you to show that others are engaging in discussions with them outside of their own site. Giving credit to other bloggers in your industry or community can build your credibility, give them reasons to give credit back to you, and attract some of their readers to your own website.

Those are five quick tips to get you started on different ways of thinking about your company’s blog. I tried to make these initial ones relevant to all business bloggers, but future tips may to into more detail on certain circumstances and situations that won’t apply to every company.

[Also, if you are a business that needs a blog or a publishing schedule, take a look at all of the website design and internet marketing services that we can offer your company for reaching people through social media marketing.]

Seven Easy Tips for a Great Business Blog

The statistics speak for themselves. Blogging for businesses results in an average of 67% more leads, 55% more visitors, 90% more inbound links, and 434% more indexed pages. But how do you go from just having a blog to having a great blog? Here are seven easy tips to design a blog that can reap all of these benefits.

social media blog iconTip #1. Publishing Calendar

Establishing an editorial calendar is one of the most important steps in planning a blog. Content should be relevant and topical to the company’s products and services, and content should include calls to action back to the main site. Remember to have the blog support the sales-focused main site.

One of the most depressing things to come across is a decent blog that has not been updated in weeks, months, or even years. This illustrates the importance or regular updates, whether they be daily or weekly. But a consistent publishing schedule is one easy way to keep visitors engaged and coming back.

Tip #2. Make Your Blog SEO-Friendly

Blogs should be search engine friendly with relevant content. Some questions to ask to make the blog easier to find include these: Who is the audience of the blog? What is the purpose of blogging? Is the content-publishing or promotional campaign sustainable? How can the business measure success for its blogging efforts?

Tip #3. Blog Category Structure

One additional tip related to making the blog search-friendly is to create a category structure for the blog. This helps people navigate the site better and see which categories are being updated most often. While many people will use a site search, developing the category structure will help to keep related content grouped together over time.

By writing content with these questions in mind, it will be easier to write articles that address SEO issues that the main site does not (deep links, for instance), while keeping it focused enough to address the needs and interests of the primary audience.

Tip #4. Establish a Personality

Next, the personality of the blog should be established during the planning stages. This is a concern for larger companies that may have multiple authors publishing content on a regular basis. But establishing a style and consistent voice is an important part of creating consistency and credibility.

Tip #5. Show Author Biographies

Building on the idea of using a consistent voice and establishing credibility, using author biographies is almost mandatory these days. People do not want to read blog articles by nameless, faceless “admins” or “authors.” Put a bio box or just a link to a longer biography on each post by that person.

Tip #6. Have a “Best Of” or “Popular” Section

It is a great idea to have a list of the most popular articles linked somewhere on the blog. This can be the most popular based on Facebook shares, blog comments, or just views, for instance. It can also be a Best Of list, with 5-10 or more articles that the writers think are particularly important and relevant to readers.

Tip #7. Establish the Balance Between Sales and Education

Blogs should have the right balance between sales and education. Because 80% of the readers will be new, with 20% being repeat visitors, then only 20% of the blog should prominently push sales. The other 80% of the posts should be more educational in nature, so as not to drive away new readers with too many sales messages.