Corporate Blogs

What are you in it for?

LinkedIn Official Blog -

The people we trust the most are the ones we know – the people we’ve been through some of life’s twists and turns with – most often in our personal lives but also in our professional ones. These are the people we connect with and turn to when we need help. We see this everyday on LinkedIn. A diverse community of people who come together to help each other out. Where a connection, by chance or design, enables the next career step or helps create an opportunity for another.   It is not really... .

Looking for a Do-It-Yourself Website Builder

InMotion Hosting Blog -

If you’re trying to create a website, you’ve probably debated about whether you should have someone design it for you or if you should try a do-it-yourself builder. Well, the fact is that today’s website builders are so responsive and user-friendly that it just makes sense to take on the role yourself, even if you have no real experience with coding or website design. With so many website builders on the market, how do you find one that meets all your needs? Continue reading Looking for a Do-It-Yourself Website Builder at The Official InMotion Hosting Blog.

Email Marketing for Veterinary Clinics: Follow-Up Appointments

InMotion Hosting Blog -

According to a survey conducted by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), more than one-third of the respondents claimed that they would be more likely to follow up with treatment for their pet if they received some kind of contact from the clinic staff. The majority of those respondents also expect to receive call-backs while only 52% actually receive these. As a veterinarian, you know that follow-ups to health checks are essential. So how do you make sure that you get these contacts? Continue reading Email Marketing for Veterinary Clinics: Follow-Up Appointments at The Official InMotion Hosting Blog.

Where to Start When Making Your Own Website

InMotion Hosting Blog -

If you’re trying to make your own website, there are a lot of helpful tools available including builders, plugins, themes, templates and the like. Any combination of these items will help craft a professional-looking website that can be used for business or just to have your own personal space online. Although it is now easier than ever to create your own professional-looking site, it can still be daunting when it comes to figuring out how to get started. Continue reading Where to Start When Making Your Own Website at The Official InMotion Hosting Blog.

5ks and Bringing Value to Your Fitness Program

InMotion Hosting Blog -

Does your fitness program include a running community? More often these days, gyms are offering clients the opportunity to work with a running coach, join group jogs, and even track their progress online. Why? Running offers a slew of health benefits and people are taking notice. According to the recent National Runners’ and Walkers’ Health Study, the advantages include reductions in BMI, improved cholesterol, reduced cancer risk, and decreases in gallbladder disease, cataracts, cardiovascular disease, and respiratory disease. Continue reading 5ks and Bringing Value to Your Fitness Program at The Official InMotion Hosting Blog.

The History of WordPress: From B2/Cafelog to Managed WordPress Hosting

Liquid Web Official Blog -

For more than 15 years WordPress has been in existence, powering blogs, websites, and even eCommerce stores. One could argue that WordPress is a big deal in the web development space. Of all sites with a known content management system, WordPress accounts for 50-60% share of the global CMS market and powers 35% of the internet. Before we take a look at WordPress history, from whence it came to where they are today, I’d like to give a brief overview for the uninitiated. What is WordPress? So just what is WordPress? It is a free and open-source Content Management System or CMS. The main features are the template system and plugin architecture. Templates allow developers to build on a predefined structure as opposed to building out a site from scratch. Plugins allow for additional functionality to extend the tools that come “out of the box.” The founders of WordPress operated on the philosophy that great software should work with minimal setup. They aimed to make the tools easy to use and intuitive so that developers and designers spend their time creating. No matter what tools you use to build sites, there are many reasons why so many web agencies use WordPress. Subscribe to the Liquid Web weekly newsletter to get more WordPress content for bloggers sent straight to your inbox. WordPress History: Origins WordPress began as a fork of b2/cafelog in 2003 by Mike Little and Matt Mullenweg. They were looking to create an elegant and well-architected personal publishing system. B2/cafelog was developed in early 2001 by a French programmer named Michel Valdrighi. It was a unique concept that brought about a new way of creating web pages. This new concept, which gave birth to WordPress, was the idea of creating pages dynamically from MySQL database contents. By doing this, they were able to expand the power of the blog. Even before this, the main reason for the beginnings of WordPress was the fact that developer support for b2/cafelog became non-existent in December of 2002. While Michel Valdrighi worked throughout 2002 on the project, it was abandoned leaving users with concern over the future of the project. One of those concerned users was Matt Mullenweg. Fast forward to January 2003 where Mullenweg uses the source code of b2/cafelog to create a new platform based on the things that he thought was cool but with added features. He wanted it to have the flexibility of MovableType, the parsing of TextPattern, the hackability of b2, and the ease of setup of Blogger. FOSS WordPress The year 2004 saw tremendous strides for the platform and was arguably the turning point for WordPress moving from another blogging platform to the CMS we know today. The first thing they accomplished was obtaining the GNU GPL. What that means is that WordPress is now free and open source. The contributions of developers around the globe help open source projects thrive. Plugin System Around the same time, Ryan Boren created the plugin system. This key feature revolutionized WordPress’ capabilities. It allowed them to offer functionality outside of the core elements of WordPress, maintaining the core while users explore other things that work for them. Version 1.2, the first major update to WordPress, included support for plugins. Branding In 2005, we saw the branding of WordPress with the creation of their logo. Through private email communications, six developers and designers close to the project began the early workings of what would become the “W” we know now. After a process that lasted several months, May 15th was the day they finalized the logo. Theme Directory By 2008 WordPress launched their Theme Directory. Having a directory for themes allowed users to develop and upload themes for the public to use. Today, there are over 2,500 free themes that are available. The Foundation The creation of the WordPress Foundation completed in 2010. Automattic, the company that held WordPress’ trademarks, formed the foundation following the intentions of some of the founding contributors. The idea was to keep them separate from the company, and to prevent abuse and dilution should acquisition of the trademark guardian take place. REST API Infrastructure WordPress made considerable strides in 2015. This year saw the merger of the REST API infrastructure into the WordPress core. The integration of REST allowed for less complicated creation of custom API’s. REST, also known as RESTful API or RESTful web service, is based on REpresentational State Transfer technology. It is an architectural style and approach to communications often used in web services development which uses HTTP requests to GET, PUT, POST and DELETE data. WordPress Today Today, WordPress powers more than 20% of all self-hosted websites. Its architecture is mostly similar to that starting b2/cafelog foundation: PHP, a server-side scripting language for Web development, and MySQL (pronounced My-sequel or MY S-Q-L) which is an open source relational database management system. It is highly flexible and customizable. Matt Mullenweg was indeed successful in creating the very platform he talked about in his original 2003 blog post. Other technologies used for WordPress web server environments are Apache with the mod_rewrite module, Nginx, and Varnish cache. These tools are used to help your website run lightning fast. A recent major addition to the WordPress platform was the introduction of the Gutenberg editor, helping beginners and developers alike to easily create beautiful websites at any scale using the new Gutenberg Block. Gutenberg, coupled with a Managed WordPress host, could help streamline processes for digital agencies, developers, and freelancer with multiple clients and websites. What Kinds of Sites Can WordPress Host? WordPress for Personal: With all of the tools available through WordPress, the types of sites you can create are almost endless. Do you have a personal website used for informational purposes? There are plenty of tools WordPress offers to help enhance your site. You can even use it for an electronic resume or portfolio sites. WordPress for Blogs: Whether it is a public or private blog, there are plenty of themes and plugins to make your blog site pop. WordPress centers around bloggers as a platform for them to create and deliver their content. Blogs are one of the areas that it shines but not the only one. WordPress for eCommerce: eCommerce is another area that runs on WordPress. No matter the store plugin of choice, WordPress has many options for online stores to set up stunning websites. WooCommerce and WP eCommerce are among the popular platforms with tools developers need to transform a standard site into a fully functional store. We’re proud to say that our Managed WooCommerce Hosting platform has WordPress as its backbone. WordPress for Business: WordPress is not just for eCommerce businesses, by the way. Companies such as the New York Post, TED, USA Today, CNN, Fortune.com, TIME.com, and TechCrunch all use WordPress for their CMS. It is easy to quickly build and launch your site and grow as your business expands. WordPress for Non-Profits: Some businesses, such as non-profit organizations and religious groups, don’t exist in a profit-seeking capacity. Having access to free services wherever possible is of critical value to these groups. WordPress has many free and open source solutions that still allow businesses that don’t derive income from profit margins to create professional websites. WordPress for Directories: Job boards, business directories, and forums can all be created using WordPress. Building community is everything in today’s online climate and having the right online presence can prove valuable to your project. There are several plugins devoted to this task, like the bbPress forum. WordPress for Many Cultures: You can install WordPress in many languages. Multi-lingual support is a massive factor for developers that may not speak the same language as their clients or the intended site audience. Not only can your administrators have this feature, but you can also create sites in other languages as well. An Overview of WordPress Basics WordPress Themes A WordPress theme is a collection of templates and stylesheets used to define the appearance and display of a WordPress powered website. Changes to your design will alter how your site looks and what visitors see on the front-end. There are thousands of free WordPress themes available in the WordPress.org Theme Directory and many developers sell premium WordPress themes with additional functionality and support. Many WordPress sites also use custom themes for their website designs. Themes are what allow you to store your content in WordPress and then take the content and data and display it in the web browser. They let you decide the look of your site and how visitors interact with it. Even within the themes are customizable ways to display your content. Choose from static or responsive layouts and use columns where necessary. Beyond these basic forms, you can also choose where you want content to be displayed. Use tools to specify how your site looks on different devices or what actions make your content visible. Images and videos are additional elements that can be included anywhere in your theme. WordPress themes are amazingly efficient. There is more to them than meets the eye than color and layout. Having the right themes enhance engagement with your website’s content. Out of the box, WordPress comes with a pair of default themes. If they are not up to your standards or do not fit the direction of your site, you can use the theme directory to create an elegant website. You can choose from single page layouts to multiple pages with menus. Perhaps the most useful aspect of WordPress theming is the freedom to code or not to code. Change the typography and design elements by dragging and dropping or by entering your CSS code. What happens when all of these options still don’t meet your needs? You can create your custom theme, of course. With the click of a button, you can upload your custom coded, entirely original website theme. WordPress Plugins As you might understand by now, WordPress is full of features for every creator and developer. Still, there can be an instance where some features you may want don’t come included. Not to worry, there’s a plugin directory as well with thousands of plugins. Plugins are code packages used to stretch the core functionality of WordPress. They are made up of PHP code as well as images, CSS, and JavaScript. Most WordPress plugins exist as many files, but they only need one main file with a specially formatted DocBlock in the header. As with anything else in WordPress, you can use the plugins of other developers or write your own. By making your plugin, you further extend WordPress and its limitless functionality. Liquid Web’s Managed WordPress With all of the tools and tricks to WordPress, there’s no wonder that many creatives and agencies look to a hosting provider to manage their environment. Liquid Web is ready and equipped with a Manage Applications team to take care of the heavy lifting. With Managed WordPress Hosting, you can focus on your sites and content while we concentrate on the environment. Liquid Web Managed WordPress hosting features include: Easy to use dashboard that focuses purely on the management of WordPress sites Automatic Plugin updates using our Visual comparison tool Ability to add additional users Painless, plugin-based migrations make it simple to move websites Create multiple website templates at once using Stencils to save time Automatic core updates to WordPress ensures greater security and peace of mind Automated backups make it simple to restore from earlier points as needed or to download a backup any time they need to We don’t limit the number of installed plugins, allowing for even greater flexibility SFTP and SSH access for simple file management 1-click staging provides an easy way to try new themes or plugins without any risk to a live site if something needs tweaking Liquid Web manages the entire WordPress optimized backend, leaving our customers free to design and develop, rather than focus on administration Free, automatically installed SSLs on each site We make getting started easy, with helpful information on common tasks available right in the dashboard Easy database management utilizing phpMyAdmin iThemes Sync Pro is a dashboard that helps those managing multiple client sites save time by providing them with the tools and resources they need. Get back to developing and building websites for clients: White-labeled client reports for WordPress maintenance Control over what clients see in their WordPress dashboard (wp-admin) Site uptime, downtime, and performance monitoring Tracking and viewing Google Analytics data Mass install or update of commonly used plugins WordPress Is Changing History WordPress has changed much over the past 15 years. From the original self-publishing system adopted by Mike Little and Matt Mullenweg from b2/cafelog in 2003, all the way to the number one Content Management System powering 14.7% of the top 100 websites in the world, WordPress continues to grow and thrive. And with the introduction of the new editor in WordPress 5.0, also known as WordPress Gutenberg, WordPress continues to evolve. Need a WordPress Host? Managed WordPress hosting from Liquid Web makes it easy to manage multiple customer websites. Stop worrying about plugin updates, backing up websites, or compressing images so you can focus on developing beautiful websites for your customers. The post The History of WordPress: From B2/Cafelog to Managed WordPress Hosting appeared first on Liquid Web.

How to Get More Views on Product Videos for Your Online Store

HostGator Blog -

The post How to Get More Views on Product Videos for Your Online Store appeared first on HostGator Blog. In a chaotic world where everything from technology and fashion to weather patterns seems to be in a constant state of rapid change, one statement will always be true: You need product videos for your online store. Why? Properly tagged and marked up videos can improve your site’s SEO, cause shoppers to spend more time on your site, and, yes, boost your conversions. Producing videos is easier now than it’s ever been, but production is just one step in the process. If you want more people to watch your videos, share them, and buy what they’re seeing, there are a few more steps you’ll need to take. Know Your Numbers Start by knowing how many views your product videos get now in a typical day, week, or month. It’s one thing to say you want more views, but your efforts will be more effective if you set a goal based on your current views in a set time period. Also, think about where people are seeing your product videos. If the only place they’re available is on your site, it’s easy to track view counts, but your potential audience is limited. Add your product videos to your social media marketing mix if you haven’t already – just make sure you track views on each platform as well as on your site.   Be Your Own Toughest Video Critic Set aside some time to re-watch your product videos and see how they perform on this checklist.   1. First impression Does your adorable video of a puppy playing with your custom chew toys have an adorable thumbnail image, or is it just a blurred frame? Most platforms will automatically pick a thumbnail image for you, but you can usually change it if you need a clearer shot of your product. After you’ve uploaded your video, go into the editing tools for your post and you should find an option to choose a new thumbnail image. People are much more likely to click on a puppy than a blur.   2. Background Is the background for your product videos a neutral color and free of clutter? This can be as simple as a white wall, to keep viewers’ focus on your goods and not the stuff around them, especially if your products are small items or highly detailed. If there are hands in the video modeling jewelry or showing how something works, are they clean and well-manicured? This bag demo video shows how to keep the focus on the features, without distractions.   3. Clarity Background aside, is your product easy to see, with proper focus, steady camera work, and good lighting? Remember that your video has to stand in for customers getting to touch the product before they buy, so make sure there are close-ups and lots of angles.   4. Length Most people won’t watch more than 60 seconds of a video, and that’s Instagram’s video limit anyway, so don’t go over the minute mark unless you have a very good reason. Also, don’t feel like you need to fill 60 seconds just because. This video for an eyeshadow palette runs 17 seconds and does what it needs to do by showing off the colors.   5. Orientation Does your product video display in portrait (vertical) format on phones? While most platforms, like YouTube, still favor landscape orientation, vertical is becoming the preferred format for mobile users. Mobile is now where most videos get watched, so go ahead and cater to that preference on your site and on platforms that favor vertical video, like Instagram. In fact, IGTV is building its brand on the fact that all its video content is vertical, so this trend seems durable.   Once your videos get two thumbs up on this checklist for watchability, it’s time to check some technical things that can affect your videos’ searchability and reach.   Make Your Videos Easy to Watch and Find Use the right video format. There are so many video file formats out there, but the only one you need to concern yourself with for product videos is MP4. That’s the preferred format for YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and pretty much every other social media platform. If your current videos aren’t in MP4 format, there’s a whole slew of free online video conversion tools you can use to convert them to MP4 for easier social sharing. Many of them also allow you to add watermarks and compress your videos to upload faster and start playing for viewers as quickly as possible.   Mark up your videos for SEO. You already know to tag your videos in your social media posts so people can find them, but you’ll also want to make sure you’re using the meta tags on your site to tell search engine crawlers what your videos are about. Meta tags are important for SEO, and so is schema markup, which is a library of user-friendly code snippets that categorize content for Google. Kristen Hicks has covered everything you need to know about getting started with schema markup for better video results in Google searches, like featured videos and video thumbnails.   Once your videos are critiqued, improved, tagged, and formatted, it’s time to start sharing them more widely. Again, make note of your views, click-throughs, and conversions now so you can track your improvement over time.   Where and How to Share Your Product Videos Besides your store’s product pages and blog posts, there are lots of places to share your videos. YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter all let you upload video directly, and you can pin YouTube videos on Pinterest. That doesn’t mean you need to post on all of these sites, though. Focus on the platforms where your customers and people like them spend their time, and don’t worry about the rest. You can also include product videos in your marketing emails. If you do this, it’s important to make sure that you code those emails correctly. That way, if the recipient’s email client doesn’t automatically load the video, they’ll see something other than blank space. If you sell or cross-list on a marketplace like Amazon, eBay, or Etsy, you can upload your product videos there as well.   More Video Views, More Sales Over time, you’ll get a clearer picture of which videos do best and which channels deliver the most views, click-throughs, and conversions. You can use that data to keep improving your videos, delivering videos that your customers like, and making more sales. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Increasing Sales for Your Business Using Your Website

InMotion Hosting Blog -

When you started an e-commerce website, you may have expected massive results right off the bat. Unfortunately, nothing happens overnight – especially when it comes to attracting visitors and making sales. That takes a lot of hard work. Luckily, the right website builder and hosting company can help make the process a lot easier. In this article, we’re going to talk about ways you can use your website builder to optimize your website and generate more sales fairly quickly. Continue reading Increasing Sales for Your Business Using Your Website at The Official InMotion Hosting Blog.

Hackathon 2019 Goes Boldly Where No Engineers Have Gone Before

WP Engine -

Innovation and ingenuity are part of the collective DNA at WP Engine, where we work hard to ensure the products and services we offer our customers are tapped into the latest and most powerful technologies.     While some of that spark comes from our roots as an eight-year-old startup, it’s also part of a pioneering… The post Hackathon 2019 Goes Boldly Where No Engineers Have Gone Before appeared first on WP Engine.

How to Build a Website for Your Essential Oil Business

InMotion Hosting Blog -

Essential oils have been used by indigenous cultures for thousands of years. As far back as 70AD, in fact, Greek physicians were using plant oils for medicinal purposes. Today, consumers use them to help get a good night’s sleep, stimulate their immune system, or even to clean the bathroom. It’s safe to say that the industry is booming. But with all the companies, both online and off, vying for customers’ attention, how can you make sure your business stands out? Continue reading How to Build a Website for Your Essential Oil Business at The Official InMotion Hosting Blog.

The Cost of Customer Acquisition vs. Customer Retention

Liquid Web Official Blog -

Finding customers is a challenge faced by businesses of all sizes. Sure, there’s the initial buzz and influx of new customers that comes in the early days when your brand is shiny and new, but how do you sustain that interest over time and bring in new faces month after month? That’s where most companies look to a customer acquisition strategy. The trouble is, if those efforts are impacting how you maintain your relationships with current customers, you could be leaving money on the table. Obtaining new customers is important, but acquisition is not the only focus. Other activities around customer experience and content should be top-of-mind, too. And for many, it is. According to Econsultancy’s Digital Trends 2018 report, 38 percent of companies cite content and experience management as a top priority. What does this tell us? It tells us it’s not enough to sell customers on a product and expect them to continue to make future purchases based on that sale alone. Instead, you have to think about how customer journey will evolve over time, across touchpoints, and through different channels. That’s customer experience. Get industry-leading tips on growing your store. Subscribe to the Liquid Web eCommerce newsletter and get content like this sent straight to your inbox. But let’s circle back to the value of customer acquisition. We know it’s a critical part of growing any business, but how is it possible that something so important can sometimes be so distracting? How Much is Getting New Customers Really Costing You? You know the familiar song and dance. Your team spends time, money, and effort trying to get potential customers to convert … only to be met with little return. Cue the frustration and crescendo of pressure to fulfill this month’s quota around new customers. There’s no denying that acquiring new customers is a facet of sustainability and growth for any business. However, there can be a major (costly) downside when it comes to finding them. Customer acquisition can cost up to 7 times more than selling to existing customers — while the probability of selling to a new customer hovers around a mere 5 to 20 percent. Meanwhile, the likelihood of selling to an existing customer is between 60 to 70 percent. That’s quite the jump. Despite these figures, there’s still hope for cost-effective customer acquisition. With the recent influx of analytics software and tracking tools, marketers can now monitor every move potential customers make, and gain insight from their various journeys. This insight can then help determine how much is being spent on customer acquisition. Businesses can more accurately calculate ROI, and make data-driven decisions. By calculating your customer acquisition cost (CAC), you can accurately determine whether your efforts are profitable. This simple calculation can not only help you identify your best and worst efforts, but it can also help you make smarter investments that widen your profit margins. Calculating Customer Acquisition Costs Your CAC can be found by dividing all costs spent on acquiring more customers, otherwise known as your marketing expenses, by the number of customers acquired during the time that money was spent. For example, if your company spent $1,000 on marketing in one year and acquired 500 customers as a result, your CAC is $2.00. This simple calculation makes it easy to see how your money is being spent and if you’re actually seeing a return as a result. It may seem counterintuitive, but spending the majority of your time trying to attract net-new customers may end up costing you more in the end if you don’t have a pulse on your CAC. What About Customer Retention? You can’t let existing customer relationships fall to the wayside. After all, data shows repeat buyers can be some of your biggest spenders over time, making up for around 40 percent of a company’s total revenue. The same report showed that repeat customers often spend an average of 30 percent more per purchase than first-time buyers. It’s clear that maintaining positive relationships with your existing customers can be one of the best things for your business. Finding net-new customers isn’t always the right way to grow or increase your profits; there is a lot to be said for the customers who know your brand and have made a purchase in the past. Did you know that U.S. companies lose around $136.8 billion per year due to customer switching? That’s a ton of cash out the door for no good reason. So how can you prolong those existing customer relationships? The answer is simple: provide unmatched customer service. Top-notch Customer Service as a Retention Strategy Customer service is one facet of the overall customer experience, and 89 percent of companies see it as a key factor in driving customer loyalty and retention. It is also significant that more than half of U.S. consumers have decided not to go through with a planned purchase or transaction due to bad customer service. Our world of constant connectivity demands customer service that can keep up with customer behavior, and the difference between good and bad customer service could cost you. From live chat to designated customer service agents, there are several ways to take your customer service to the next level. Customers expect their issues and questions to be resolved on their schedules to make it easy for them. Provide a variety of channels where they can contact you. In addition to making it easy for customers to reach you, it’s important to collect feedback at different touchpoints. One example is after a customer makes a purchase. Customer feedback provides insight and can help you resolve key customer experience issues. This email from car2go makes it easy for customers to provide feedback by encouraging them to share their experience and ideas. This feedback creates a dialogue between the brand and customer which can be beneficial for both parties. Giving customers a voice can help you improve your customer experience and shows them their opinions are important and valued. Ways to Increase Customer Retention Let’s take a look at a few other ways you can improve your customer retention and nurture your existing customers. Personalize, Personalize, Personalize Whether it’s a tailor-made shopping experience in the form of product recommendations, a roundup of articles they are likely interested in, or a series of discounts based on a customer’s shopping history, personalization is powerful and makes every interaction feel tailor-made. Amazon is an excellent example of the power of personalization at work. Based on data it collects from the time you spend browsing the site, Amazon creates a list of high interest items which encourages more purchases. Use Referral Programs The “you win, I win” mentality is one that can work for you twofold when it comes to customer retention. By leveraging referral programs, you can inspire brand advocacy and gain new customers as well. Incentivizing existing customers to refer friends who may be interested in the brand can build brand loyalty and grow your customer base. Your existing customers have relationships with people you may not otherwise be able to reach. A/B Test Everything, Then Test It Again A/B testing can be used for a myriad of purposes. Whether you want to test the layout of an email or the effectiveness of a CTA button, you can learn what works best (and what doesn’t). As you make more money (and have less to spend on re-engaging customers), it’s crucial to understand the entirety of your online shopping experience. Consider A/B testing the following elements: Copy on landing pages, product pages, ad copy, etc. Site format and layout CTA buttons and other icons like social buttons Website pop-ups Images or photos Split testing will reveal how existing and potential customers interact with your site as they shop. You can use that information to optimize your pages and create a better overall online experience. Find a Balance Between Customer Acquisition and Customer Retention You can’t rely solely on your existing customers for revenue and sales, but they can be your most profitable customers. As for potential customers, you must grow your customer base at a sustainable rate and price. Finding a way to maintain a balance between acquiring new customers and nurturing your existing ones will help you maximize your profitability and grow your brand loyalty. Need a Smarter eCommerce solution? Our Managed WooCommerce Hosting platform reduces query loads by 95% while automatically handling image compression and backups, giving you more time to focus on testing and optimizing your store. The post The Cost of Customer Acquisition vs. Customer Retention appeared first on Liquid Web.

Deploying Workers with GitHub Actions + Serverless

CloudFlare Blog -

If you weren’t aware, Cloudflare Workers, our serverless programming platform, allows you to deploy code onto our 165 data centers around the world. Want to automatically deploy Workers directly from a GitHub repository? Now you can with our official GitHub Action. This Action is an extension of our existing integration with the Serverless Framework. It runs in a containerized GitHub environment and automatically deploys your Worker to Cloudflare. We chose to utilize the Serverless Framework within our GitHub Action to raise awareness of their awesome work and to enable even more serverless applications to be built with Cloudflare Workers. This Action can be used to deploy individual Worker scripts as well; the Serverless Framework is being used in the background as the deployment mechanism.Before going into the details, we’ll quickly go over what GitHub Actions are.GitHub ActionsGitHub Actions allow you to trigger commands in reaction to GitHub events. These commands run in containers and can receive environment variables. Actions could trigger build, test, or deployment commands across a variety of providers. They can also be linked and run sequentially (i.e. ‘if the build passes, deploy the app’). Similar to many CI/CD tools, these commands run in an isolated container and receive environment variables. You can pass any command to the container that enables your development workflow.Actions are a powerful way to your workflow on GitHub, including automating parts of your deployment pipeline directly from where your codebase lives. To that end, we’ve built an Action to deploy a Worker to your Cloudflare zone via our existing Serverless Framework integration for Cloudflare Workers. To visualize the entire flow see below:To see some of the other actions out there today, please see here.Why Use the Serverless Framework?Serverless applications are deployed without developers needing to worry about provisioning hardware, capacity planning, scaling or paying for equipment when your application isn't running. Unlike most providers who ask you to choose a region for your serverless app to run in, all Cloudflare Workers deploy into our entire global network. The Serverless Framework is a popular toolkit for deploying applications that are serverless. The advantage of the Serverless Framework is that it offers a common CLI to use across multiple providers which support serverless applications. In late 2018, Cloudflare integrated Workers deployment into the Serverless CLI. Please check out our docs here to get started. If you run an entire application in a Worker, there is no cost to a business when the application is idle. If the application runs on our network (Cloudflare has 165 PoPs as of writing this), the app can be incredibly close to the end user, reducing latency by proximity. Additionally, Workers can be a powerful way to augment what you've already built in an existing technology, moving just the authentication or performance-sensitive components into Workers.ConfigurationConfiguration of the Action is straightforward, with the side benefit of giving you just a ‘little bit’™ of exposure to the Serverless Framework if desired. A repo using this Action can just contain the Worker script to be deployed. If you feed the Action the right ENV variables, we’ll take care of the rest.Alternatively you can also provide a serverless.yml in the root of your repo with your worker if you want to override the defaults. Get started learning about our integration with Serverless here.Your Worker script, and optional serverless.yml are passed into the container which runs the Action for deployment. The Serverless Framework picks up these files and deploys the Worker for you.All the relevant variables must be passed to the Action as well, which include various account identifiers as well as your API key. You can check out this tutorial from GitHub on how to pass environmental variables to an Action (hint: use the secret variable type for your API key).SupportThe repository is publicly available here which goes over the configuration in more technical detail. Any question/suggestions feel free to let us know!

How To Sell A Domain Name

HostGator Blog -

The post How To Sell A Domain Name appeared first on HostGator Blog. Did you purchase a domain name with every intent of starting a website? But time caught up and you lost interest or never got around to starting the website? Now you’re thinking about how to sell a domain name. Instead of just letting the domain sit there, there is a way to make some extra cash from your unused domains. Now, not every domain you own is going to sell for a huge fee. But, you might be sitting on some unexpectedly valuable domains. Below you’ll learn how to sell a domain name, the best ways to find buyers, and places online where you can list your domain for sale. How to Sell Your Domain Selling your domain is going to be a lengthy process, and you might not get any bids straight away. It depends upon the existing value of your domain and how well you market it. The process will differ from selling a website, however. Below we cover the process of discovering the value of your domain name and hopefully selling it for a nice sum. 1. Determine the Value Of Your Domain The first thing you’ll need to do is properly price your domain. A lot of people end up overpricing their domains and wonder why they never have any interest. Just because you’ve owned a domain for a while doesn’t mean that it has any inherent value. For example… Is your domain a .com, or does it have some other random suffix? A .com domain will carry a higher price.Is your domain name short? Or does it contain a lot of words? Shorter domains tend to sell for a lot more.Is your domain easy to spell? Or have a common abbreviation? Domain names that include common words or regular abbreviations will fetch a higher price.Do you have hyphens or other elements in your domain? Domains that contain fewer words (preferably even one), and don’t include hyphens will sell for much more. Spend time researching what other related domains have sold for. You can use the tool Namebio to determine what other similar domains have sold for. There are a variety of online estimation tools you can use, but these don’t tend to give very accurate quotes. You can use them as a general indicator, but not as a true measure of value. 2. Decide How You’d Like to Sell With a better understanding of what your domain is worth, it’s time to start looking for buyers. You’re going to have a few different ways to find buyers for your domain. Some of the most popular sites are shown below: eBayAfternicFlippaSedo.com 3. Make sure your contact information is public on the WHOIS directory. Most people don’t want their contact information publicly listed online. However, when you’re ready to sell a domain, this is the time you DO want your contact information available. Let’s say someone searches for a domain name to purchase, but you already own it. If they can find your contact information in the WHOIS directory, they can contact you directly and offer to buy the domain name from you. You can update your contact information through your website host or read more about how to update your contact information on WHOIS. 4. Prepare Your Domain Listing. Once you’ve chosen your marketplace it’s time to optimize your listing. A lot of sellers just upload their URL and call it a day. However, you can maximize your chances of selling your domain by making it more attractive. For example, does your domain have any existing traffic? Does the domain have considerable age? Does your domain have any existing authority? By highlighting the current and potential value of the domain you can help to justify the price and make it more attractive to buyers. 5. Use an Escrow Service to Receive Payment. One way to safeguarding the selling of your domain is to use an escrow service. This will help you avoid being scammed or tricked by a potential buyer. An escrow service will act as a neutral third-party that will safely hold and process the funds. Some selling platforms like Sedo have a built-in escrow process for every transaction done through the site. This will take a percentage of the final price, but safeguarding your domain is well worth it. 6. Transfer the Domain. Finally, it’s time to transfer your domain to the new owner. The process you use will differ depending on how you decided to sell your site. However, the general process is outlined below: The seller will submit the authorization code to start the transfer process.The seller will them transfer the funds from escrow once the transfer is completed.There might be restrictions on the amount of time the funds must stay in escrow, so double check this before you initiate the transfer. Learning how to sell a domain name is a lengthy process, but one that could be potentially financially rewarding. Hopefully, the tips above have given you some guidance on evaluating your own domain names, and maybe even selling a few of them. What about you? Have you sold a domain name and have tips for others on how to negotiate the process? Leave a comment below. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

How To Buy A Website Domain

HostGator Blog -

The post How To Buy A Website Domain appeared first on HostGator Blog. If you want to establish yourself online and build up a personal brand or online business, the first step to start is to buy a domain name. Without a domain name, you won’t have a website. Plus, buying the wrong kind of domain name, or paying too much, is only going to set back your online success. Below you’ll learn how to get a website domain, why your domain name is important, and learn the answers to common questions about purchasing a domain name. How to Buy a Website Domain Name When the time comes to get a website domain name you’ll have a few different options. You can often get a free domain name by signing up for a new hosting account, or You can purchase a domain name separately through a domain name registrar. Many hosting companies also act as domain name registrars, however, there are also registrars that focus solely on helping you secure a domain name. If you want your hosting and domain name all under one roof then it’s recommended that you find a hosting company that also lets you purchase a domain name (HostGator is one of these!), as companies who function primarily as a dominant name registrar, but also have add-on hosting might not be able to offer your site the hosting performance you require. Now that that’s out of the way it’s time to buy your very own domain name. 1. Sign up for a new hosting account and get a domain included. One of the easiest ways to purchase a domain name is to buy it through a hosting company that also offers domain registration services, like HostGator. Some companies even offer a free domain name when you purchase a hosting package. Since you’re going to have to purchase hosting anyways, you can take advantage of the “all in one” purchase price that some companies offer. To buy a website domain from HostGator, follow the steps below: Navigate to https://www.hostgator.com/domainsInput your URL of choice to see if it’s availableGo through the steps to purchase your domain and set up your account You’ll also have the opportunity to add hosting to your existing domain before checkout if you don’t have a hosting account already. 2. Purchase a Domain Without Hosting If you aren’t ready to launch your website yet, but you want to reserve your perfect domain, consider purchasing a domain without hosting. You can buy your domain name now and select a hosting plan later. Many website companies will allow you to transfer a domain name that you already own. Keep in mind that you’ll also need to forward your nameservers towards your hosting account (that you purchase separately), and add the domain to the backend of your hosting account. If this process sounds too technical for you, then it’s recommended that you purchase a domain from a provider that also offers hosting. Common Domain Name Questions Chances are you probably still have questions related to getting your domain name. Below you’ll find answers to some of the most common questions: What’s the best domain name extension? A domain name extension is the part of your URL that follows the period, so, .com, .org, .net, etc. There are tons of different extensions for you to choose from, but the best is still .com. It’s one of the easiest to remember and is the most authoritative out of the bunch. What are nameservers? Your nameservers will forward your URL to your host, so it can display your website’s files. To change your nameservers you’ll need to navigate to your domain manager within the registrar you’ve chosen. Next, find the nameservers for your current domain, select, ‘use custom nameservers’, and change those nameservers to the ones provided by your host. Should I buy a domain at auction? Sometimes you’ll be able to find a single word domain that’s available at auction. It can be tempting to pick up these domains, but often they’ll be incredibly pricey. Sometimes they range up into the multiple thousands of dollars. For those just getting started online, it’s recommended to avoid purchasing a domain through auction and instead, purchase your own cheaper custom domain. Hopefully, you have a better understanding of why a domain is important and the steps you can take to get your very own domain name. Why Is a Domain Name Important? Choosing the right domain name is important for a few different reasons: Your domain name tells your visitors what your site is about. Choose a poor domain and you’ll send visitors scampering for the back button. On the other hand, choosing the right domain can inspire trust and confidence in your visitors.Your domain is the embodiment of your brand. It’s the foundation for your online efforts moving forward, so choose wisely.If you’re in the local arena choosing a domain with the right keywords can actually help you rank in the search engines. Plus, it’ll give you a leg up by letting your visitors know exactly what your site is about. Now that you have a better understanding of why your domain name is important, it’s time to start the process of actually getting a domain name for your new website! Visit HostGator’s domain name checker to see if your domain name is available! Find the post on the HostGator Blog

The Month in WordPress: February 2019

WordPress.org News -

A new version of WordPress, significant security enhancements, important discussions, and much more – read on to find out what has been going on in the WordPress community for the month of February. Release of WordPress 5.1 Near the end of the month, WordPress 5.1 was released, featuring significant stability and performance enhancements as well as the first of the Site Health mechanisms that are in active development. Most prominent is the new warning for sites running long-outdated versions of PHP. You can check out the Field Guide for this release for a detailed look at all the new features and improvements. The next release is already in development with plans to improve the Site Health features, PHP compatibility, and a number of other things. Want to get involved in testing or building WordPress Core? You can install the WordPress Beta Tester plugin, follow the Core team blog, and join the #core channel in the Making WordPress Slack group. Gutenberg Development Continues The block editor that is now a part of WordPress core started out as a project named Gutenberg with the lofty goal of creating a whole new site-building experience for all WordPress users. The first phase of Gutenberg resulted in the block editor that was included in WordPress 5.0, but development didn’t stop there – phase 2 of the project is well underway. This month, one of the initial goals for this phase was reached with all of the core WordPress widgets being converted to blocks – this will go a long way to allowing full sites to be built using blocks, rather than simply post or page content. Want to get involved in developing Gutenberg? Check out the GitHub repository and join the #core-editor channel in the Making WordPress Slack group. Block Editor Comes to the Mobile Apps As Gutenberg development continues, the Mobile team has been working hard to integrate the new block editor into the WordPress mobile apps. Near the end of February, the team shipped a complete integration in the beta versions of the apps – this a significant milestone and a big step towards unifying the mobile and desktop editing experiences. Both the iOS and Android apps are open for beta testers, so if you would like to experience the block editor on mobile today, then join the beta program. Want to get involved in developing the WordPress mobile apps? Follow the Mobile team blog, and join the #mobile channel in the Making WordPress Slack group. WordPress Triage Team Announced One of the goals for 2019 that Matt Mullenweg (@matt) announced in his State of the Word address last year was to form a team who would work to manage the ever-increasing number of tickets in Trac, the bug tracker that WordPress Core employs. This team, known as the Triage Team, has been announced. Their work will involve coordinating with component maintainers, release leads, project leadership, contributors, and other WordPress related projects with issue trackers outside of Trac to ensure that everyone is empowered to focus on contributing. The team was formed based on nominations of volunteers to take part and will be led by Jonathan Desrosiers (@desrosj). The other members of the team are Chris Christoff (@chriscct7), Tammie Lister (@karmatosed), Sergey Biryukov (@sergey), and Sheri Bigelow (@designsimply) – all of whom have a strong track record of contributing to WordPress, have exhibited good triaging practices, and are overall good community members. Further Reading: In this year alone, the WordPress meetup program has hosted 800 events across the world, all organized by local community members.An important discussion has been opened regarding the future of the WordPress Community Summit.The Polyglots team has started planning the fourth Global WordPress Translation Day to take place on 11 May 2019.The Theme Review team is working on a useful tool named Theme Sniffer to assist theme developers and reviewers in making sure their code is standards-compliant.The first WordCamp Nordic is coming up on March 7-8.The WordCamp Europe team is looking for feedback on their designs for a Progressive Web Application (PWA) for WordCamp.org.The Design team has been working hard on designing the new Navigation Menu block and are looking for feedback. Have a story that we should include in the next “Month in WordPress” post? Please submit it here.

New Firewall Tab and Analytics

CloudFlare Blog -

At Cloudflare, one of our top priorities is to make our products and services intuitive so that we can enable customers to accelerate and protect their Internet properties. We're excited to launch two improvements designed to make our Firewall easier to use and more accessible, and helping our customers better manage and visualize their threat-related data. New Firewall Tabs for ease of accessWe have re-organised our features into meaningful pages: Events, Firewall Rules, Managed Rules, Tools, and Settings. Our customers will see an Overview tab, which contains our new Firewall Analytics, detailed below.All the features you know and love are still available, and can be found in one of the four new tabs. Here is a breakdown of their new locations. Feature New Location Firewall Event Log Events (Overview for Enterprise only) Firewall Rules Firewall Rules Web Application Firewall Managed Ruleset IP Access Rules (IP Firewall Tools Rate Limiting Tools User Agent Blocking Tools Zone Lockdown Tools Browser Integrity Check Settings Challenge Passage Settings Privacy Pass Settings Security Level Settings If the new sub navigation has not appeared, you may need to re-login to the dashboard or clear your browser’s cookies.New Firewall Analytics for analysing events and maintaining optimal configurationsInsights into security events are critical for monitoring the health of your web applications. Furthermore, distinguishing between actual threats from false positives is essential for maintaining an optimal security configuration. Today, we are very pleased to announce our new Firewall Analytics which will help our Enterprise customers get detailed insights into firewall events, helping them to tailor their security configurations more effectivelyOur new Firewall Analytics now enables our Enterprise customers to:visualise and analyse Firewall Events in one place to better understand their threat landscapeidentify, mitigate, and review attacks more effectivelyAfter speaking with many of our customers, we learned a lot about their processes to identify and analyse attacks and the kinds of insights they needed to improve these processes. We then translated these learnings into useful features and charts that would help answer some of the most common questions such as ‘What kinds of security events occurred in a certain time frame?’ and ‘What caused a spike in a certain type of security event?’.   Firewall Analytics and Firewall Configuration can be found together in the Firewall tab. A tight feedback loop between Firewall configuration and the resulting events allow for rapid iteration, ideal for security-focused teams.To best demonstrate the power of Firewall Analytics, here’s a workflow that  would answer a popular question our customers ask: “Why did I have a spike in threats?”. In the screenshot below, we can see a set of activity which triggered a number of ‘Blocks’ events:To minimize the possibility of polluting our TopN statistics with event types other than ‘Block’ and get the most accurate diagnostic information, we will need to filter down to just ‘Block’ actions.Now that only Block events are displayed, checking the Service Breakdowns will help us to identify which of our Firewall features was triggered.From the Events breakdown, we can see that the Block events were triggered by a Country Block configured within Access Rules. Digging deeper and looking at our TopN breakdowns, we start to get a much more granular understanding of which Networks, IPs, User-Agents, Paths etc, were targeted.Looking at our TopN breakdowns, we start to get a much more granular understanding of which Networks, IPs, User-Agents, Paths etc, were targeted.From here, we can see that there are two specific IP addresses which were targeting my application to “/”. To get the most detailed information, we can drill down further in the refreshed Firewall Event log, now controlled inline.Whilst these TopNs and filters are great for clearly identifiable threats,they can also help identify false positives. Using the power of Cloudflare’s filters, it is possible to add a user-defined filter, which can be a RayID, User-Agent or IP address.This is just one example of how the new Firewall Analytics can help expedite the process of identifying and mitigating threats. Firewall Analytics is now live for all Enterprise customers. Let us know your feedback by reaching out to your Enterprise Account Team.

20 Social Media Quick-Hits for Small Business

HostGator Blog -

The post 20 Social Media Quick-Hits for Small Business appeared first on HostGator Blog. You know you’re supposed to be on social media—it seems to be recommended in every small business publication you read and event you attend. But it’s hard breaking out of the mindset that social media is a time waster (and frankly, it can be!).  However, social media can potentially open the door to a more direct connection with your customers, which can pay off not only in a higher number of customers, but in customers that are more loyal and care more about your brand. As nice as that sounds, you don’t have much time to work with. If you’re going to use social media for your small business, you need to figure out how to make sure you’re not wasting your time. You need an efficient approach that actually gets results. Here are twenty tips for making sure you don’t spend any more time on social media than you have to, and that the hours you do put in pay off. 4 Steps for Smarter Small Business Social Media Marketing While it may sound counterintuitive, to make sure the time you spend on social media is efficient and worthwhile, you first need to devote some time to studying what works so you can create a plan that makes sense.   1. Decide which channels to prioritize. First off: good news! You don’t have to be everywhere, and you don’t have to divide your time evenly between the platforms you do join. Just because you keep hearing about Snapchat or have that one friend who swears by Periscope doesn’t mean those channels are right for your business. The social media channels you want to be on are: The ones where your target audience spends the most time.  Look at the demographic breakdown of who’s hanging out on which platforms. If your business sells clothing for middle-aged women, Pinterest is more important for you than Twitter and you can ignore Snapchat altogether. The ones that are a good fit for your products and strengths. Some channels are much more image than text heavy. Some move fast and thrive on shorter messages, while others allow you some room to take your time and make longer statements. There’s a chance you’ll have to stretch a little out of your comfort zone to be where your audience is, but figure out where that comfort zone is and which channels will be a better fit for your particular strengths. And of course, think about what’s best suited to your products or services. If you sell jewelry or run a gorgeous resort, image-focused sites like Instagram are a must. If you offer IT support, Instagram won’t be as important as the more text-centered channels like Facebook and Twitter. As you research what each social media channel is and who uses it, work up a list of the ones you know you need to be on and the level of priority you should give each. The channel(s) on the top of your list will get more of your time, and you’ll increase efficiency by not stressing out too much over those lower on the list or left off altogether.   2. Analyze your competitors. One of the frustrating things about social media is that it’s hard to know what will work until you try it. And learning by trial and error eats up a lot of your valuable time. But there’s a shortcut to getting an idea of what works with your audience: spy on your competitors. Identify 4-5 main competitors in your space that are active on the social media channels you’ve decided to focus on and look at what they’re doing. Compare how well each of them is doing in terms of followers and engagement. And pay attention to which of their posts get the most engagement. Can you find any trends in what’s working and what’s falling flat?   3. Identify relevant influencers. The best way to get more out of social media while doing less: use influencer marketing. Whatever your industry, you can find people on social media who have large followings and regularly spend time sharing useful information. Follow them. Pay attention to what they share. Interact with them and their community. Following the lead of the top influencers in your industry is an efficient way to start finding the people you want to reach on the platform and connecting with them. Influencers will provide a good model of what works well with your audience. If you share their stuff and interact with them enough over time, you could develop a relationship. If that happens and they share your stuff or signal boost one of your updates, that’s a quick path to new followers and higher visibility.   4. Create a (realistic) social media plan. Your time on social media will be much more productive and effective if you’re strategic about it. Use what you learned in the first few steps to sit down and work up a social media calendar. Include: How often you intend to post on each platform – Make sure you keep this realistic. If you overextend yourself, you’re more likely to stop doing anything on social media. While posting frequently will get better results on many platforms (particularly fast-moving ones like Twitter and Pinterest), consistency is generally a better goal than frequency. The types of posts you’ll share – Think about the types of content formats to use, the mix of your content and other people’s, and how often to share questions, polls, videos, promotions, etc. A posting schedule – When do you plan to post on each platform? Create a calendar template now that provides an outline of the times you aim to share something on each platform throughout the typical week and fill in the actual updates that will go in each slot as you go.    Keep in mind the times of day your audience is most active on each platform. Your plan won’t be set in stone, you’ll likely make changes to it as you learn more about what your audience responds to. But having a plan to begin with will help you stick with updating your social media channels and make sure your overall approach is strategic and thought out.   11 Ways to Make Your Social Media Sharing Go Further While the details of what works best on social media will vary for different businesses, there are some tips that are useful to everyone.   1. Make use of your bio. Each social media site will allow you a space to describe who you are. The amount of space you have varies, but you should always use it to full effect. In your social media bio, include: Your unique value proposition – who are you and what makes your business special? Relevant details about your business – If you have a storefront, where are you located? How can people get in touch with you? A link back your website – A lot of your social media efforts will be about driving people back to your website, so get straight to the point in your bio with a link. Crafting a good social media bio is a quick but important step to take for each platform you’re on.   2. Use a social scheduling tool. If you’re intimidated by the idea of having to be on social media frequently throughout the day, don’t worry, the small businesses you see posting frequently aren’t actually on social media as often as you think. Most businesses that do social media marketing use scheduling tools like Buffer or HootSuite to schedule updates in advance. Instead of logging on multiple times each day to post updates, you can devote a couple of hours each week to planning all your updates at once. The most popular social media scheduling tools have a free version that will do as much as most small businesses will need, so you can take advantage social scheduling no matter your budget.   3. Identify relevant social communities. On different social media platforms, people with common interests find ways to gather. You want to be a part of the communities on each of the platforms that are relevant to your audience. On Twitter, research Twitter chats in your industry or in topic areas relevant to you. On Facebook and LinkedIn, go looking for relevant groups. If you own a pet store, look for communities of dog or cat lovers. If you’re an accountant, a small business Twitter chat could be a good way to connect with potential clients. Find where on the channel your audience is hanging out, join, and start participating.   4. Share your own content. If you’re doing content marketing, then social media is one of the best venues you have for promoting your content. And posting updates about the content you produce is an easy way to increase your sharing frequency. It’s win-win. Don’t be afraid to create multiple updates about the same piece of content, especially on the high-volume sites like Twitter. Research shows that instead of annoying your followers, it vastly increases the likelihood that they’ll see and interact with it.   5. Use what you have. What makes social media so intimidating from a time management perspective is the idea of having to continually find new things to say from scratch. You can probably save yourself a lot of time and trouble by doing a survey of everything you already have to work with. Much of your content can be repurposed into short social media updates. You can easily use social media to highlight your employees—who they are and what they’re up to. The conversations around the office could yield useful social media ideas. And look around you and see if there are any interesting items or moments around the office that could make good social media images or posts.   6. Share the love. Even if you’re doing content marketing, sharing your own stuff will only take you so far. And social media shouldn’t be all about you, it’s about interacting with other people. So fill your social media calendar more easily by finding content and updates from other people in your industry to share. Those influencers you followed can help with this. So can your audience—pay attention to the things they share. And anytime you read something on your own that you know would be valuable to your audience, make a habit out of sharing it. Be quick to retweet and share any social media updates you like, and respond to others on social media when you have something useful to add to the conversation. This will both get you on more people’s radars, and increase the frequency of your sharing without having to create more content.   7. Use hashtags (where relevant). Hashtags aren’t just for Twitter anymore, many of the social media platforms now have hashtag functionality. Hashtags are useful because they group your post in with other posts on the same topic. Someone searching a social media site for posts about financial advice can quickly find a lot at once by searching or clicking on the #personalfinance hashtag and could see your post, even if they never followed you. When you use hashtags, there are a few best practices to follow: Make sure you’re using hashtags others are using. If you try to make a hashtag out of a phrase that’s too long or specific, it won’t be worth much. Usually one or two word phrases that describe the category your tweet or content falls into work best. Make sure they’re relevant. Your hashtags should be directly related to the social media post they’re a part of. Otherwise you risk confusing people and creating a bad experience for them. Don’t overuse them. Stick to 1-3 hashtags. Overloading an update with hashtags makes your update look sloppy and means you risk including hashtags that are no longer relevant to your post. Be careful about how you use them, but get in the habit of always adding a hashtag or two to your posts where it’s appropriate to do so.   8. Be social. This one may seem obvious for something called “social media,” but too many small businesses start up social media accounts only to push out their own content and offers, without interacting with anyone else. You want to be a part of conversations on social media, and maybe even the one getting them started. So create polls, ask questions, and reply to other people’s posts.   In addition to the posts you schedule in advance, set aside a little time throughout the week to go onto the social media platforms and look for opportunities to interact with people. Retweet a post you really like with your own commentary, or reply to a poll with results you found surprising. People will care a lot more about you on social media if you devote just a little time to actually being social.   9. Use (good) images. You could craft a line that’s as brilliant as anything written by Mark Twain but, when people are scrolling through their social media feeds, they’ll scroll right past it if it’s nothing but text. Images are one of the most important tools you have to stand out on social media and get people’s attention. On platforms like Pinterest and Instagram, images are pretty much the entire point of the platform, so you better make them good. But even on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, they make a big difference to how likely people are to stop and read your post and click through. Tweets with images receive 35% more retweets, and Facebook posts get 37% more engagement when they include an image. As much as possible, include images with your social media updates. And try to make sure they’re good ones. Stock photography is easy, but it doesn’t work as well as using original images if you can make it work.   10. Invest in social advertising. If you don’t have a budget to give to your social media efforts, this option will be out of reach. But if you can afford to spend a little money, you can make your social media efforts go further faster by using social advertising. Social media platforms offer valuable targeting options that help you get your account in front of the right people faster. You can use ads to grow your followers so that your unpaid social updates will begin to be seen by a much larger audience. For small businesses just starting out on social media in particular, social media advertising can give you the initial boost you need to start getting more traction and engagement on the platform.   11. Keep an eye on your analytics. Social media platforms typically provide analytics both for all your updates on the platform, and for any advertising you do. In addition, your website analytics provide valuable information on how often people are coming to your website through social media channels. At least once a month, do a review of all the analytics you have to better understand how your social media efforts are doing. Pay particular attention to the types of updates that are getting good engagement (shares, follows, replies) and driving traffic back to your website. Use this information to tweak your social media strategy as needed to improve your results.   5 Tips to Integrate Social Media with Your Overall Online Marketing Social media marketing works best if you treat it as a part of your larger small business online marketing strategy. To make sure social media supports your other efforts (and vice versa), there are a few extra steps to take.   1. Add links to your social media channels on your homepage. This is a quick and easy way to let your website visitors know where they can find you on social media. Add a few icons to the bottom of the page with links back to your social profiles.   2. Add social share buttons to your website. Your content will go a lot further if  your readers help you share it. You want to make it as easy as possible for every visitor to your website that likes your content to share it with their own networks. Install a social sharing plug-in that allows your visitors to share your stories with one simple click. 3. Promote your email list on social. Social media followers are nice, but email subscribers are even better. As you work to grow your social media following, you can accomplish two goals at once by also using your social media efforts to grow your email list.   4. Promote your social channels to your email list. Your email subscribers are people you already know like your brand and want to hear from you, so they’re some of the best people to promote your social media profiles to. In the same way that you can use social media to build your email list, you can include links to your social profiles in your emails to help grow your social media followings.   5. Share your promotions and sales on social media. At the end of the day, all your marketing should lead back to sales. You definitely don’t want a majority of your social updates to be promotional, but any time you’re offering a good discount or an attractive sale, your followers will want to know. As long as you don’t overdo it, you can use social media to promote your deals and special offers to increase your sales.   Social Media Doesn’t Have to Be a Waste of Time As long as you’re strategic and stick with tactics that are efficient, you can start getting real results from social media without spending hours a day. And as you go, make sure to continually analyze your efforts to see what’s working best. If a channel is taking more time than it’s worth, it’s okay to cut it and focus more of your efforts on the platforms that are working for you. There aren’t clear rules for using social media for small business, it’s just what works for you. Figure out the approach that makes the most sense based on your unique audience and the time and resources you have available to you. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

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