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How Social Media Integration Can Boost Your eCommerce Store

HostGator Blog -

The post How Social Media Integration Can Boost Your eCommerce Store appeared first on HostGator Blog. eCommerce success depends on getting potential customers to your website. It’s a necessary step in every online sale. That makes eCommerce marketing one of the most important parts of any business plan. To get people to buy, you have to make sure they know you exist and where to find you.  But when working out an online marketing strategy, you have a lot of different social channels to consider. How do you decide which social media channel to invest in? A good online marketing strategy meets people where they are. And with the ubiquity of social media, chances are a lot of your target audience is on multiple social media sites. This is the future of eCommerce.  According to Pew Research, 72% of people in the United States are on social media. And most visit social media sites every single day. Social media isn’t the only way to reach your audience online, but it’s a powerful tool to include in your larger marketing strategy. And integration of social media with your website is a good way to make all your social media marketing efforts go further.  5 Ways Integration of Social Media Can Boost eCommerce Sales  Developing a presence on social media takes time and work, and it can feel like it’s not worth much if you fail to gain much of a following there. For your investment in social media to make sense, you need to know it will provide some return on investment. Integrating social media into your website can pay off in a few tangible ways. Developing your social accounts will grow your brand awareness and give you insight as to how eCommerce has transformed marketing in today’s market.  1. Promoting social channels on your website encourages follows. Outside of paid ads on social, the people who see your updates will usually just be those that already follow you. That makes building a follower base an important step in getting anything out of social media. But it can be hard and slow going.  By integrating social media into your eCommerce website, you’re telling people who already have an interest in your brand where they can find you on the other sites they spend their time on.  A one-time website visitor is much less valuable to a brand than someone who extends the relationship beyond that first visit. A social media follow is one option for them to do that. It ensures they’ll continue seeing updates from your brand, and makes it much more likely that they return to your website again down the line.  2. Social media integration makes it easy for visitors to share your site. Your social updates reach your followers, but every time a visitor finds something on your website valuable enough to share, it also reaches their followers. That’s powerful. It means you reach a whole new audience—people that might just click on a link and visit your site.  And it shows that audience that someone they trust likes your brand, which is a more persuasive case for checking you out than anything you can say about yourself. 83% of consumers in a Nielsen survey said they trust the brand recommendations of friends and family—making them the most trusted of all channels.  When someone shares a link to your website with their network, it serves as an endorsement. They’re saying your website is worth visiting. And people are more likely to take the step of sharing your website if you make it extremely easy for them. Social media integration with your website is how you do that. 3. New followers start an ongoing relationship with your brand. When someone chooses to follow you on social media, they’re saying they want to keep hearing from you. That’s a pretty big deal for brands!  People have a lot of different options for places to put their attention. Making an active choice to give some of it to you—not just once, but on an ongoing basis—demonstrates a genuine interest in your brand.  And the consumers that decide to start a relationship with your brand are the ones that are likely to develop loyalty. That means an increased likelihood that they’ll make purchases from you beyond the first—as long as your products and services are good enough to earn that loyalty.  4. Social media can amplify your special offers.        While a good social media strategy isn’t all about promoting your products, consumers actually want to hear about it on social media when you’re offering a new deal or having a sale. According to Sprout Social’s research, discounts and sales are the number one thing consumers want to hear about from brands on social media.  That may surprise marketers that have internalized the idea that a brand’s social presence shouldn’t be promotional. But the promotions are what customers expect and want from you. So the next time you’re offering a great deal or discount, make sure your social followers know all about it. It’s a good way to increase eCommerce sales.  5. A strong social following drives more traffic. One of the benefits of eCommerce and using your website to promote your social channels is that it drives more traffic back to your website.  A solid online marketing strategy recognizes that the various online channels are connected and support each other. Some of the same people that follow you on social media because they saw your social profile promoted on the website will return back to the website when they see your content or products promoted on social feeds. And some will help drive new traffic to the site by sharing your content and updates with their networks. Integration between the two channels just makes sense, as it helps both become more successful. 7 Methods of Social Media Integration to Consider for Your eCommerce Store You have a variety of options for integrating social media with your eCommerce website. Here are seven ways you can make them work together.  1. Show website visitors how to follow you. Possibly the most obvious and basic way to integrate social media into your website is to add social buttons that show visitors where to follow you. Include a button for every social channel you’re active on, then all visitors have to do is click on the button to find your profile on the site and follow you there.  You can choose from a number of free social button templates that use the most recognizable images for each social network, so visitors will know at a glance what each one is for. Put them in your header or footer, so they show up on every page of your website. That way every visitor that likes what they see on the site can find you on the social media network of their choice with one click.  2. Add social share buttons to website pages. When someone on your website likes what they see, they’re much more likely to share it with their own followers if there’s an easy way to do it instantly. If they have to open up the social media network and then copy and paste the link, that adds multiple steps to the sharing process. While technically those steps only add a few seconds, that’s all it takes to create a barrier to taking action.  Social share buttons remove those barriers completely. One click, and your visitors can share the page with their networks. Add social share buttons to any page you think visitors may want to share, including your blog posts and product pages. 3. Provide pre-written updates visitors can share. Social share buttons are a start, but you can make them go even further by pre-writing the message that will post with it. Use a plugin like Click to Tweet to pre-populate the social message your visitors will share. That way they don’t have to do the work of writing something, and you have more control over the message their followers will see.  For content like blog posts, Click to Tweet also lets you highlight key quotes throughout the post readers can tweet. That presents more opportunities to encourage them to share as they read, and more variety in how people will see the piece on social channels. 4. Add a social feed to your home page. Adding a social feed to your home page gives visitors a taste of what they’ll see if they follow you. If you’re proud of the social media presence you’ve developed, it’s a great way to make the case for why your social accounts are worthy of a follow.  It’s also potentially a way to get social proof in front of your visitors. If your existing or potential customers are talking about you on social, you can create social feeds on your website based on the hashtag they use. Instead of showing your own social updates on the homepage, it will collect the social updates of your customers. That way, visitors see your products in practice and see evidence of how enthusiastic your customers are.  You can add social feeds to your websites with the help of a plugin. The main options available are: Curator – free basic accountJuicer – free for small businessesEmbedSocial – starts at $24 a monthTaggbox – starts at $19 a month 5. Promote branded hashtags on your site. Talking about yourself on social media is one thing. But customers sharing how they feel about your products on their own social feeds is much more powerful. You can encourage them to do so by creating a branded hashtag and urging customers to use it. Encourage them to share photos of them using the product, or anecdotes about their experiences using it. You can amplify what they share by collecting examples on your website (as with the social feeds just discussed), or by re-sharing them with your followers.  Encouraging user generated content is a smart tactic for both gaining more content for your website and feeds, and for getting loads of examples of social proof and engagement at the same time. And customers are often happy to be featured on a brand’s website or feed, since you’re giving them a little visibility boost in the process. 6. Provide rewards for social interaction. If you have a rewards program, use it to encourage more social interactions. Customers that join your loyalty program are those most likely to be enthusiastic about your brand and product. That means they’ll be some of your best brand enthusiasts. Reward customers with additional points for following you on social media and/or sharing mentions of your brand.  Providing rewards points for social actions gives them an extra nudge to follow you on their favorite social sites, and talk about you to their followers. That deepens their connection to your brand and increases the likelihood that they’ll drive referrals your way—both results that are great for any eCommerce business. 7. Promote your website on social media. Most of these suggestions have been focused on how to promote your social media profiles on your website, but integrating the two channels goes both ways. Your social feeds should serve as a tool for driving traffic back to your website.  Use your social accounts to share the content you create and publish on the site. Share new deals and promotions with your followers. Announce new products across all your social feeds. And share any important brand updates on each social profile you manage.   The people that follow you on social media care about your brand. They’re precisely the people that appreciate your content, want to know about your new products, and will take advantage of your sales. Social media is good for promoting your website, just as your website is good for encouraging people to follow you on your social accounts. Social Media for eCommerce Works Better with Website Integration When creating an online marketing strategy for the future of your eCommerce site, you want to figure out what channels to include and how to approach each. But it’s crucial that you not treat each channel as separate from all the others. Your strategy for every online marketing channel and tactic should be connected to all others. Your actions in one channel will be far more powerful if they work to strengthen another, and vice versa.  That’s absolutely the case with social media and your website. Your website is an important resource for promoting your social channels. And your social updates are a great opportunity to encourage people to visit your website and drive engagement. By integrating the two channels, you make both work better. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

How to protect your account in the COVID-19 era Blog -

Our customer support agents and fraud team have recently reported an increase in phishing, hacking, and social engineering attempts over the last few months. Bad actors are taking advantage of the turmoil surrounding COVID-19 in an attempt to gain access to confidential information. We’re doing everything we can to increase security in response to this […] The post How to protect your account in the COVID-19 era appeared first on Blog.

Celebrating Healthcare Heros this International Nurses Day

LinkedIn Official Blog -

Today marks International Nurses Day - and it couldn’t come at a more important time as we continue to rely on healthcare workers to keep us healthy as we battle COVID-19. To help celebrate, we’re encouraging our members to share a post to thank nurses around the globe using #NursesWeek. Try mentioning a nurse that has had a direct impact on you. Helping to fill critical healthcare roles As healthcare providers work around the clock on our front lines, we are committed to doing everything we... .

7 Ways to Get More Email Subscribers for Your WordPress Site

HostGator Blog -

The post 7 Ways to Get More Email Subscribers for Your WordPress Site appeared first on HostGator Blog. Here is the bottom line. Email marketing is crazy effective. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking to sell a product, tell a story, or drive visitors to your website, email marketing is an excellent way to do it.  Not convinced? First fact: The average American still spends 5 hours a day on email. Second fact: the average email open rate for all industries is 20.81%. Finally, email marketing has a $44 ROI for ever $1 spent. That’s a 4400% increase—an investment worth betting the house on. It’s not difficult to make the argument that email marketing is the top way to get people visiting your website. But, subscribers don’t just come out of thin air. You have to follow some email marketing best practices to find the people who are dying to hear from you. This article will offer seven things you can now do to get more email subscribers to your WordPress site. 1. Add a subscribe bar to the top of your WordPress site If building your email list is one of your primary business goals, then ask yourself this question. What is the first thing your website visitors see when they land on your website?  If the answer is anything other than an email subscription box, then it’s time to re-evaluate. There are several handy WordPress email plugins (e.g., OptinMonster, Leadpages, Sumo) that allow you to add an email subscription bar to the top of your WordPress site. You can search for one of these tools by logging into your WordPress account, clicking on “Plugins,” clicking on “Add new,” searching for the desired plugin by name or keyword, downloading the plugin, and then uploading it to your WordPress site. Once you activate the WordPress email plugin, it will direct you on how to add your call to action (“Subscribe now”), what fields (email address, name, etc.) you want to add to your subscription bar and ask for your unique email service provider (e.g., Constant Contact) form code. This code ensures that email addresses get sent to your own Constant Contact list or the list of any other ESP you use. Viola! You’re done and ready to start capturing subscribers. 2. Use a pop-up subscribe form The top of your WordPress website isn’t the only place you can ask visitors to subscribe to your email list. Using many of the same plugins mentioned above, you can add a subscription form pop-up to your website.  You can add a subscriber pop-up in addition to the subscription bar at the top of your website, or your pop-ups can stand alone.  There are also several options for how you can program your email subscription pop-ups to appear on your website. You can program them to show up when a website visitor clicks into your site, or when they are about to leave your website. You can also tell the pop-up to appear when subscribers visit a specific piece of content on your website. Regardless of what you choose, it’s helpful to know that top pop-ups average a 9.28% conversion rate, according to research by Sumo. That means if you have 150 visitors come to your website daily, you’d have 418 signups in a month.  The average conversion rate for pop-ups is 3.09%. If you had 100,000 monthly visitors with this kind of conversion rate, you’d end up with over 3K new email subscribers each month! Remember, these numbers are just averages from one study. There are best practices you can employ to boost your pop-up conversion rates. 3. Spin it to win it! Be honest. The last time you went to a business expo and saw a booth offering prizes in exchange for a spin of the wheel, you stopped at that booth. Or, you at least wanted to. Because who doesn’t love freebies involving games? Using gamification on your website is equally, if not more, effective than the ole spin the wheel trick salesmen use to draw you into their expo booth.  With the help of a WordPress spin the wheel plugin, you can create a form that allows website visitors to “spin the wheel” for a prize in exchange for their email address. The prize could be a free bit of content, a discount code, or anything else your users find valuable. To keep it fun, you can include spaces that say “better next luck time,” or “try again.” This type of gamification campaign engages your audience and provides you with information that helps you connect in the future. 4. Turn your blog commenters into email subscribers It’s safe to say that people who are visiting your WordPress blog, reading your posts, and commenting want to hear from you. This makes blog commenters the best targets for your email list, and it’s easy to capture their email address with one simple hack. WordPress allows you to include a checkbox with a custom call to action under the commenter’s information. You can even say something simple like “Sign up for my newsletter by clicking this box.” When subscribers click the box, they are automatically added to your email list. Brian Dean of Backlinko employed this technique and saw an increase of over 200 subscribers in just a couple of weeks. Asking your blog visitors to subscribe to your email list is a softball. Jump at the chance to add these already engaged individuals to your email list. 5. Utilize downloads within your content The comments section isn’t the only part of a blog post where you can encourage visitors to subscribe to your list. Another popular and effective technique is to place useful downloads within your blog post. The first way to do this is with an inline download. It’s exactly what it sounds like. Somewhere in the middle of your blog post, you can include a section of text that offers a useful download. For example, “Download 100 free PowerPoint templates,” or anything that’s related to your website.  Once the users click on the link, it will prompt them to enter their email address to access the free download. Another way to do the same thing (with more style) is to include an opt-in box at the beginning or end of your content.  Take this example from popular blogger (and HostGator customer) Michelle Visser of Souly Rested. In nearly every blog post, she includes an opt-in box in exchange for free content from her Resource Library: 6. Use LinkedIn to your advantage The previous pointers are things you can do to your website to get more email subscribers. What if you want to capture the attention of people who haven’t yet visited your website, but may be interested in hearing more from you? There are several ways to do this, but creating a viral loop on LinkedIn is promising. Anna Vital boosted her subscriber list to more than 76k using this technique. What did she do?  To sum it up, she created a valuable and free download—content that likeminded individuals crave. Then, she wrote a LinkedIn article presenting her free download and included a catchy header image, a straightforward title, and basic terms and conditions. Then, she included a link to a landing page with an opt-in form. An opt-in form requires people to include their email address in exchange for the free content. Once the subscriber has confirmed their subscription to your list, it acts as a trigger for your linked email service provider to send the free content.  You may be wondering about the “viral loop” part of this process. In addition to including an opt-in form, Vital asked her audience to comment “yes” on the shared LinkedIn post, and she responded to each comment. LinkedIn rewards this extra engagement with a broader audience and additional options to capture the attention of more interested subscribers. LinkedIn is an excellent platform for finding and connecting with people interested in your niche. 7. Add a social bar to your outside curated content Sharing stellar articles on your social media sites is a standard practice among website owners. Every time you share a relevant article on your social media accounts, you are driving your followers to another website.  There is a smarter way to share content you love on social media and to capture email subscribers at the same time. A social bar tool (e.g. Sniply, ClickMeter,, allows you to post a social bar over the content you share via social media and promote your email list. You can enter a simple call to action like “enter your email to get similar insights delivered to your inbox.” This way, you are killing two birds with one stone. You are sharing valuable content and capturing email subscribers for your WordPress site.  Growing Your Email Subscriber List on WordPress Your WordPress website may be the star of the show, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t several other savvy marketing techniques you can use to attract your audience.  Putting effort into your email marketing efforts is a surefire way to capture email addresses and draw more individuals to your WordPress website. If you’re looking to get started with a WordPress site, the time is now. HostGator makes it easy to purchase a fitting WordPress hosting package, download the WordPress application, and get started with building your website asap.  You don’t have to know how to code or design. You just have to pick your favorite WordPress template and follow the in-app instructions on how to get started. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Tapping into the Power of Your Professional Network with Polls

LinkedIn Official Blog -

Your professional network can be a great asset when it comes to gleaning insights or getting a second opinion. Whether you’re debating which business tool you should invest in, curious about which LinkedIn Learning course professionals in your field find useful, or deciding which interview question to ask a prospective team member, getting input from your network can give you the confidence to pull the trigger or pursue another direction. That’s why we are introducing a quick, easy and... .

Making Video Intuitive: An Explainer

CloudFlare Blog -

On the Stream team at Cloudflare, we work to provide a great viewing experience while keeping our service affordable. That involves a lot of small tweaks to our video pipeline that can be difficult to discern by most people. And that makes the results of those tweaks less intuitive.In this post, let's have some fun. Instead of fine-grained optimization work, we’ll do the opposite. Today we’ll make it easy to see changes between different versions of a video: we’ll start with a high-quality video and ruin it. Instead of aiming for perfection, let’s see the impact of various video coding settings. We’ll go on a deep dive on how to make some victim video look gloriously bad and learn on the way.Everyone agrees that video on the Internet should look good, start playing fast, and never rebuffer regardless of the device they’re on. People can prefer one version of a video over another and say it looks better. Most people, though, would have difficulty elaborating on what ‘better’ means. That’s not an issue when you’re just consuming video. However, when you’re storing, encoding, and distributing it, how that video looks determines how happy your viewers are.To determine what looks better, video engineers can use a variety of techniques. The most accessible is the most obvious: compare two versions of a video by having people look at them—a subjective comparison. We’ll apply eyeballs here.So, who’s our sacrificial video? We’re going to use a classic video for the demonstration here—perhaps too classic for people that work with video—Big Buck Bunny. This is an open-source film by Sacha Goedegebure available under the permissive Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license. We’re only going to work with 17 seconds of it to save some time. This is what the video looks like when downloaded from Take a moment to savor the quality since we’re only getting worse from here. For brevity, we'll evaluate our results by two properties: smooth motion and looking ‘crisp’. The video shouldn’t stutter and its important features should be distinguishable.It’s worth mentioning that video is a hack of your brain. Every video is just an optimized series of pictures— a very sophisticated flipbook. Display those pictures quickly enough and you can fool the brain into interpreting motion. If you show enough points of light close together, they meld into a continuous image. Then, change the color of those lights frequently enough and you end up with smooth motion.Frame rateNot stuttering is covered by framerate, measured in frames-per-second (fps). fps is the number of individual pictures displayed in a single second; many videos are encoded at somewhere between 24 and 30fps. One way to describe fps is in terms of how long a frame is shown for—commonly called the frame time. At 24fps, each frame is shown for about 41 milliseconds. At 2fps, that jumps to 500ms. Lowering fps causes frames to trend rapidly towards persisting for the full second. Smooth motion mostly comes down to the single knob of fps. Mucking about with framerate isn’t a sporting way to achieve our goal. It’s extremely easy to tank the framerate and ruin the experience. Humans have a low tolerance for janky motion. To get the idea, here’s what our original clip reduced to 2fps looks like; 500ms per-frame is a long time.ffmpeg -v info -y -hide_banner -i source.mp4 -r 2 -c:v h264 -c:a copy 2fps.mp4 ResolutionMaking tiny features distinguishable has many more knobs. Choices you can make include what codec, level, profile, bitrate, resolution, color space, or keyframe frequency, to name a few. Each of these also influences factors apart from perceived quality, such as how large the resulting file is plus what devices it is compatible with. There’s no universal right answer for what parameters to encode a video with. For the best experience while not wasting resources, the same video intended for a modern 4k display should be tailored differently for a 2007 iPod Nano. We’ll spend our time here focusing on what impacts a video’s crispness since that’s what largely determines the experience.We’re going to use FFmpeg to make this happen. This is the sonic screwdriver of the video world; a near-universal command-line tool for converting and manipulating media. FFmpeg is almost two decades old, has hundreds of contributors, and can do essentially any digital video-related task. Its flexibility also makes it rather complex to work with. For each version of the video, we’ll show the command used to generate it as we go.Let’s figure out exactly what we want to change about the video to make it a bad experience.You may have heard about resolution and bitrate. To explain them, let’s use an analogy. Resolution provides pixels. Pixels are buckets for information. Bitrate is the information that fills those buckets. How full a given bucket is determines how well a pixel can represent content. With too few bits of information for a bucket, the pixel will get less and less accurate to the original source. In practice, their numerical relationship is complicated. These are what we’ll be varying.The decision of which bucket should get how many bits of information is determined by software called a video encoder. The job of the encoder is to use the bits budgeted for it as efficiently as possible to display the best quality video. We’ll be changing the bitrate budget to influence the resulting bitrate. Like people with money, budgeting is a good idea for our encoder. Uncompressed video can use a byte, or more, per-pixel for each of the red, green, and blue(RGB) channels. For a 1080p video, that means 1920x1080 pixels multiplied by 3 bytes to get 6.2MB per frame. We’ll talk about frames later but 6.2 MB is a lot— at this rate, a DVD disc would only fit about 50 seconds of video.With our variables chosen, we’re good to go. For every variation we encode, we’ll show a comparison to this table. Our source video is encoded in H.264 at 24fps with a variety of other settings, those features will not change. Expect these numbers to get significantly smaller as we poke around to see what changes. Resolution Bitrate File Size Source 1280x720 7.5Mbps 16MB To start, let’s change just resolution and see what impact that has. The lowest resolution most people are exposed to is usually 140p, so let’s reencode our source video targeting that. Since many video platforms have this as an option, we’re not expecting an unwatchable experience quite yet.ffmpeg -v info -y -hide_banner -i source.mp4 -vf scale=-2:140 -c:v h264 -b:v 6000k -c:a copy scaled-140.mp4 Resolution Bitrate File Size Source 1280x720 7.5Mbps 16MB Scaled to 140p 248x140 2.9Mbps 6.1MB By the numbers, we find some curious results. We didn’t ask for a different bitrate from the source but our encoder gave us one that is roughly a third. Given that the number of pixels was dramatically reduced, the encoder had fewer buckets to put the information in our bitrate. Despite its best attempt at using the entire bitrate budget provided to it, our encoder filled all the buckets we provided. What did it do with the leftover information? Since it isn’t in the video, it tossed it.This would probably be an acceptable experience on a 4in phone screen. You wouldn’t notice the sort-of grainy result on a small display. On a 40in TV, it’d be blocky and unpleasant. At 40in, 140 rows of pixels become individually distinguishable which doesn’t fool the brain and ruins the magic.BitrateBitrate is the density of information for a given period of time, typically a second. This interacts with framerate to give us a per frame bitrate budget. Our source having a bitrate of 7.5Mbps (millions of bits-per-second) and framerate of 24fps means we have an average of 7500Kbps / 24fps = 312.5Kb of information per frame.Different kinds of frames There are different ways a frame can be encoded. It doesn’t make sense to use the same technique for a sequence of frames of a single color and most of the sequences in Big Buck Bunny. There’s differing information density and distribution between those sequences. Different ways of representing frames take advantage of those differing patterns. As a result, the 312Kb average for each frame is both lower than the size of the larger frames and greater than the size of the smallest frames. Some frames contain just changes relative to other frames – these are P or B frames – those could be far smaller than 312Kb. However, some frames contain full images – these are I frames – and tend to be far larger than 312Kb. Since we’re viewing the video holistically as multiple seconds, we don’t need to worry about them since we’re concerned with the overall experience. Knowing about frames is useful for their impact on bitrate for different types of content, which we’ll discuss later.Our starting bitrate is extremely large and has more information than we actually need. Let’s be aggressive and cut it down to 1/75th while maintaining the source’s resolution.ffmpeg -v info -y -hide_banner -i source.mp4 -c:v h264 -b:v 100k -c:a copy bitrate-100k.mp4 Resolution Bitrate File Size Source 1280x720 7.5Mbps 16MB Scaled to 140p 248x140 2.9Mbps 6.1MB Targeted to 100Kbps 1280x720 102Kbps 217KB When you take a look at the video, fur and grass become blobs. There’s just not enough information to accurately represent the fine details.Source Video100 Kbps budgetWe provided a bitrate budget of 100Kbps but the encoder doesn’t seem to have quite hit it. When we changed the resolution, we had a lower bitrate than we asked for, here we have a higher bitrate. Why would that be the case?We have so many buckets that there’s some minimum amount the encoder wants in each. Since it can play with the bitrate, it ends up favoring slightly more full buckets since that’s easier. This is somewhat the reverse of why our previous experiment had a lower bitrate than expected.We can influence how the encoder budgets bitrate using rate control modes. We’re going to stick with the default ‘Average-Bitrate’ mode to keep things easy. This mode is sub-optimal since it lets the encoder spend a bunch of budget up front to its detriment later. However, it's easy to reason about.Resolution + BitrateTargeting a bitrate of 100Kbps got us an unpleasant video but not something completely unwatchable. We haven’t quite ruined our video yet. We might as well take bitrate down to an even further extreme of 20Kbps while keeping the resolution constant.ffmpeg -v info -y -hide_banner -i source.mp4 -c:v h264 -b:v 20k -c:a copy bitrate-20k.mp4 Resolution Bitrate File Size Source 1280x720 7.5Mbps 16MB Scaled to 140p 248x140 2.9Mbps 6.1MB Targeted to 100Kbps 1280x720 102Kbps 217KB Targeted to 20Kbps 1280x720 35Kbps 81KB Now, this is truly unwatchable! There’s sometimes color but the video mostly devolves into grayscale rectangles roughly approximating the silhouettes of what we’re expecting. At slightly less than a third the bitrate of the previous trial, this definitely looks like it has less than a third of the information.As before, we didn’t hit our bitrate target and for the same reason that our pixel buckets were insufficiently filled with information. The encoder needed to start making hard decisions at some point between 102 and 35Kbps. Most of the color and the comprehensibility of the scene were sacrificed.We’ll discuss why there’s moving grayscale rectangles and patches of color in a bit. They’re giving us a hint about how the encoder works under the hood.What if we go just one step further and combine our tiny resolution with the absurdly low bitrate? That should be an even worse experience, right?ffmpeg -v info -y -hide_banner -i source.mp4 -vf scale=-2:140 -c:v h264 -b:v 20k -c:a copy scaled-140_bitrate-20k.mp4 Resolution Bitrate File Size Source 1280x720 7.5Mbps 16MB Scaled to 140p 248x140 2.9Mbps 6.1MB Targeted to 100Kbps 1280x720 102Kbps 217KB Targeted to 20Kbps 1280x720 35Kbps 81KB Scaled to 140p and Targeted to 20Kbps 248x140 19Kbps 48KB Wait a minute, that’s actually not too bad at all. It’s almost like a tinier version of 1280 by 720 at 100Kbps. Why doesn’t this look terrible? Having a lower bitrate means there’s less information, which implies that the video should look worse. A lower resolution means the image should be less detailed. The numbers got smaller, so the video shouldn’t look better!Thinking back to buckets and information, we now have less information but fewer discrete places for that information to live. This specific combination of low bitrate and low resolution means the buckets are nicely filled. The encoder exactly hit our target bitrate which is a reasonable indicator that it was at least somewhat satisfied with the final result.This isn’t going to be a fun experience on a 4k display but it is fine enough for an iPod Nano from 2007. A 3rd generation iPod Nano has a 320x240 display spread across a 2in screen. Our 140p video will be nearly indistinguishable from a much higher quality video. Even more, 48KB for 17 seconds of video makes fantastic use of the limited storage – 4GB on some models. In a resource-constrained environment, this low video quality can be a large quality of experience improvement.CC BY 2.0 - image by nezWe should have a decent intuition for the relationship between bitrate and resolution plus what the tradeoffs are. There’s a lingering question, though, do we need to make tradeoffs? There has to be some ratio of bitrate to pixel-count in order to get the best quality for a given resolution at a minimal file size.In fact, there are such perfect ratios. In ruining the video, we ended up testing a few candidates of this ratio for our source video. Resolution Bitrate File Size Bits/Pixel Source 1280x720 7.5Mbps 16MB 8.10 Scaled to 140p 248x140 2.9Mbps 6.1MB 83.5 Targeted to 100Kbps 1280x720 102Kbps 217KB 0.11 Targeted to 20Kbps 1280x720 35Kbps 81KB 0.03 Scaled to 140p and Targeted to 20Kbps 248x140 19Kbps 48KB 0.55 However, there are some complications.The biggest caveat is that the optimal ratio depends on your source video. Each video has a different amount of information required to be displayed. There are a couple of reasons for that. If a frame has many details then it takes more information to represent. Frames in chronological order that visually differ significantly (think of an action movie) take more information than a set of visually similar frames (like a security camera outside a quiet warehouse). The former can’t use as many B or P frames which occupy less space. Animated content with flat colors require encoders to make fewer trade offs that cause visual degradation than live-action.Thinking back to the settings that resulted in grayscale rectangles and patches of color, we can learn a bit more. We saw that the rectangles and color seem to move, as though the encoder was playing a shell game with tiny boxes of pictures.What is happening is that the encoder is recognizing repeated patterns within and between frames. Then, it can reference those patterns to move them around without needing to actually duplicate them. The P and B frames mentioned earlier are mainly composed of these shifted patterns. This is similar, at least in spirit, to other compression algorithms that use dictionaries to refer to previous content. In most video codecs, the bits of picture that can be shifted are called ‘macroblocks’, which subdivide each frame with NxN squares of pixels. The less stingy the bitrate, the less obvious the macroblock shell game.To see this effect more clearly, we can ask FFmpeg to show us decisions it makes. Specifically, it can show us what it decides is ‘motion’ moving the macroblocks. The video here is 140p for the motion vector arrows to be easier to see.ffmpeg -v info -y -hide_banner -flags2 +export_mvs -i source.mp4 -vf scale=-2:140,codecview=mv=pf+bf+bb -c:v h264 -b:v 6000k -c:a copy motion-vector.mp4 Even worse is that flat color and noise might only be seen in two different scenes in the same video. That forces you to either waste your bitrate budget in one scene or look terrible in the other. We give the encoder a bitrate budget it can use. How it uses it is the result of a feedback loop during encoding.Yet another caveat is that your resulting bitrate is influenced by all those knobs that were listed earlier, the most impactful being codec choice followed by bitrate budget. We explored the relationship between bitrate and resolution but every knob has an impact on the quality and a single knob frequently interacts with other knobs.So far we’ve taken a look at some of the knobs and settings that affect visual quality in a video. Every day, video engineers and encoders make tough decisions to optimize for the human eye, while keeping file sizes at a minimum. Modern encoding schemes use techniques such as per title encoding to narrow down the best resolution-bitrate combinations. Those schemes look somewhat similar to what we’ve done here: test various settings and see what gives the desired result.With every example, we’ve included an FFmpeg command you can use to replicate the output above and experiment with your own videos. We encourage you to try improving the video quality while reducing file sizes on your own and to find other levers that will help you on this journey!

How to Produce High-Quality Videos for Social Media

Social Media Examiner -

Need to do more with social video? Wondering how to increase the quality of your videos? In this article, you’ll discover practical tips to produce polished videos that perform well on social media. #1: Look Better on Camera I’m sure you’ve seen many social media videos where the person is looking down at the camera, […] The post How to Produce High-Quality Videos for Social Media appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

Pros and Cons of VPS Hosting: Important Things to Know Before You Buy

BigRock Blog -

Owning and running a successful website allows you to extend your reach, get more business, and claim an impactful digital space for your business or brand. Your website is your digital address where people can reach you, do business with you, and know more about the products or services you offer.  Whether you’re an e-commerce store, a blogging platform, or a business that offers services, one of the most important factors to consider is complete stability and security. This includes security of all the data you may collect from your website, the security of all your files, stable running — everything that offers a hassle-free and seamless experience for your website visitors.  Assuming you understand what is web hosting, and the different kinds of web hosting, let’s dive in and learn more about VPS Hosting — a highly advanced and secure hosting plan for websites.  VPS, or Virtual Private Server, hosting allows you to host your website on a virtual but private server that stores all your data and files needed by your website for smooth running. Although Shared, Virtual Private Server security is higher as your website’s resources are not being shared with other users. Think of this like owning a commercial property within a mall. While the mall shares space with multiple brands, your commercial space is exclusively owned by you, thus allowing you to completely control everything you store in there.  There are many advantages of a Virtual Private Server, especially for websites that receive medium-sized traffic. At this stage, a Shared Hosting plan may pose a certain risk to your website security, but with VPS hosting you can control security risks. Virtual Private Server security is undoubtedly high, but there are both advantages and disadvantages of VPS hosting that you must consider before you choose the right VPS hosting plan for your website. Advantages of VPS Hosting Cost-Effective As compared to Dedicated Hosting service that needs to use a physical server, instead of a virtual one as in the case of VPS, making it less expensive and cost-effective in the long run.  Customizable VPS hosting gives you root access which allows you to install scripts and software, making it customizable to fit your needs.  Security Unlike Shared Hosting, Virtual Private Server security is much more enhanced, allowing you greater security and minimizing security risks.  Stability Since the server is private, fluctuations or surges faced by other users do not affect your website, thus boosting the stability of your website functioning.  Control VPS Hosting offers you higher control with full root access, giving you complete control over the management of how your server resources are deployed.  Disadvantages of VPS Hosting Budget If you’re just starting out, or have a limited budget, VPS Hosting may be slightly more expensive as compared to shared hosting. Although, if your website traffic is medium to large-sized, Shared Hosting may not be able to offer stable functionality.  Management VPS Hosting requires a higher technical understanding to self-manage. However, you can always opt for fully-managed VPS Hosting.  Technical issues In case you’re planning to manage your VPS Hosting, you need to ensure proper configurations or your website may be at a higher security risk.  How to Run a VPS Server  Now that we know everything about VPS Hosting, and the pros and cons it brings with it, you may have a fair understanding of the type of hosting service you want for your website.  If your website sees medium-sized traffic, VPS hosting is definitely the best option for you. Once you have chosen the type of hosting, the next step is to choose a hosting provider. BigRock, one of the industry leaders in web hosting and domains, offers great hosting plants and services, allowing you to run a VPS server, with a team of experts that provide complete support and customer-first services. Just choose your plan, and let the experts take over!  Grow With Virtual Private Server Security  Security is of paramount importance when it comes to running a successful website. Your clients and customers rely on you to offer a completely secure and reliable website experience, and this in turn also allows you to continue delighting them. With virtual private server security, you can be sure that your files and data are safe and risk-free — allowing you to grow, do more, and get more from your website.  Ready to get hosting? If you have any more questions, please feel free to share in the comments below.  To know more, and to stay updated with the latest in our hosting world, head to our Hosting Blogs category. 

Helping news publishers control how their content is displayed in Bing

Bing's Webmaster Blog -

As part of Bing’s continuing efforts to empower news publishers, Bing has announced that publishers will have more tools to control the snippets that preview their site on the Bing results page.   A simple and efficient way for news publishers to submit their content for potential exposure to millions of Windows, Outlook, and Bing users who get their news through these channels is to submit their site for inclusion in the Bing News publisher portal, Bing News PubHub.   All news publications are strongly encouraged to register. By submitting your site, you may benefit from the following: You are providing the most up to date information for your site so that Bing can make your content accessible in multiple formats and across many devices.   You are informed of new or improved Bing features and products, and best practices on how to leverage them to drive users to your content.   You are informed of opportunities to partner with us on creating the future of news experiences.   You have a line of support when you need it. To be considered, first ensure that your site meets both the Bing Webmaster Guidelines and Bing News Publisher Guidelines, then visit Bing News PubHub to get started.

5 Easy Tips to Secure your Website

BigRock Blog -

You’ll be surprised at how common data breaches are! According to a study by the University of Maryland, hackers attack every 39 seconds, on an average that’s around 2,244 times a day. Well, given the statistics, keeping your website secure is of utmost importance. Securing a website not only helps your website avoid bugs but also makes sure you don’t lose your data and, in turn, the money invested to run your website. The question that arises is ‘How should one secure a website?’ Here are 5 simple tips to keep your website safe and secure: Install an SSL certificate Installing an SSL certificate is the simplest way to keep your website secure. An SSL certificate ensures that your website is protected by encrypting the transmission channel between your website and the server.  One of the easiest ways to know if the SSL certificate is installed properly is by checking the green lock symbol in the address bar of your web browser and the ‘https’ at the start of your website URL. The ‘s’ in HTTPS stands for Secure and is added once the SSL certificate is in place.  SSL certificate makes sure that your connection is secure and private even when you enter credit card details, passwords and other sensitive information, along with the data on your website. At BigRock, we value our customer’s website and website security. To ensure this our web hosting packages come with a free SSL certificate to keep your website secure from the moment it is up and running! 2. Keep your website software up-to-date Whether you run your website on a pre-built CMS (Content Management System) like WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, etc. or have coded your own website backend, it is important that you keep the software up-to-date.  One way to ensure this is, by regularly updating the security patches that the software rolls out. This is important as hackers can take advantage of the bugs and security loopholes and exploit your website. Updating to the latest software version helps fix bugs if any.  Open-source software codes are more vulnerable to hacker exploits as they are available for all to use. If you use open-source software it is more important that you regularly check the software repository for the latest version updates to keep your website secure. If you use WordPress CMS your web hosting provider may regularly update the software version, nevertheless, it is a good practice to login to your WordPress dashboard and update your CMS regularly.   3. Install security plugins Plugins are another simple way to keep your website secure. There are tons of security plugins available that offer protection against hackers and malicious codes. Depending on the CMS you are using you may choose the security plugin of your choice.  Here are some security tools that you may find helpful: WordPress Plugins: WordFence Security All In One WP Security & Firewall Cerber Security, Antispam & Malware Scan iThemes Security  Drupal Security Modules: Challenge-response and spam detection modules like Captcha and reCaptcha Authentication modules like Secure Login and OAuth Password module like Password Policy Joomla Security Extensions JomDefender RSFirewall Antivirus Website Protection Eyesight 4. Use strong passwords  Setting strong passwords is sage advice. Most people despite knowing the threat a weak password poses, choose to keep it simple, only because it is easy to remember! Well, everything easy comes with a price and the price of an easy password can be quite high. Some of the common passwords that hackers will have no issues cracking include ‘123456’, ‘qwerty’, ‘qwerty123’, ‘iloveyou’ and other such easy to remember passwords.  Few steps you can take to set up a strong password are: Your password must be 8 to 12 characters long Your password must be a combination of at least 1 uppercase character, lowercase letters, special characters and numbers Don’t set up predictable passwords like date of birth, name, company name, country name, website service name, etc. depending on your website Remember, if you do run an e-commerce website it is of utmost importance. That said, even if you’re not an e-commerce website it is important to have a strong password. ! 5. Invest in automatic backups  It is always important to be prepared for the worst. Assume, the worst-case scenario of losing all your website data despite having all the security checks in place. At a time like this, it is important that you have an option to recover all your website data as trying to gather lost data can be quite a task.  Regular automatic backup services make sure that your data is backed up regularly and, in case of a data breach, recovering data is easy and less stressful. Moreover, automatic backups are not costly if that’s what you are worried about. Depending on your data you can choose a plan. One backup service we can vouch for is Codeguard. Codeguard is affordable and takes backup over the cloud, so you always have your data whenever you need it!  Learning how to secure a website and keeping it protected is a major part of keeping it safe and healthy. If you don’t have these security measures in place, it is time you make sure to take care of these to keep your worries at bay. Remember, time is of the essence and keeping your website secure goes a long way when it comes to mental peace and the future of your website. We at BigRock, aim to safeguard your website by providing security features. You can check our website for the same or get in touch with our support executive via call, chat and email.* *In these times of the COVID-19 pandemic, our support teams are still available on Phone and Chat. We regret any delays or difficulties that may be caused as we adjust to the countrywide lockdown. If you would like to know more about how to secure your website, check out our other blogs in the Security category.

10 Ways to Move an In-Person Service Business Online

DreamHost Blog -

We know you’ve been adapting to a new normal these days.  You’re a slave to your in-home wifi, your social interactions are taking place behind a screen, and your work “watercooler” moments are happening online, not around the office Keurig. But if you’re a business owner, those aren’t the only ways your working life has been transformed over the last few months.  Businesses are being profoundly affected by the global state of affairs. This is an unprecedented time for everyone, and as such, we’re learning to adapt and pivot how we do business. “It’s absolutely critical for businesses to pivot right now because the economic environment has completely changed,” says Jeremy Knauff, CEO of Spartan Media. “You can’t keep doing what used to work because everything is different right now. We’re facing a Darwinian business event unfolding.” Service professionals especially have been feeling the strain of how to transform their in-person business models into streamlined digital operations. Difficult? Absolutely. Impossible? We don’t think so. In this guide, we’re outlining 10 creative and lucrative ways that your service-based business can continue to make money and provide value during quarantine, while still planting seeds for future growth.  Web Hosting Shouldn’t Be Your Biggest ChallengeWe’ll make sure your website is fast, secure, and always up so your visitors trust you. Plans start at $2.59/mo.Choose Your Plan 10 Ways to Move Your In-Person Biz Online 1. Analyze Your Business Plan Before you jump into a new money-making effort, it’s helpful to take a look at your business as it currently operates (or did, pre-pandemic). With that in mind, consider: What will pivoting really look like for your business? “It could be a very small change in your business model, such as how you’ll deliver your services,” says Susana Fonticoba of Clear Path Marketing. “Or it could be a major change that disrupts the who, what, where, and how. Whatever changes you make in your business model, it must always satisfy the revenue you need to survive, the income you want to thrive, the type of clients you’ll serve, the clients’ deep goals, and the offers you’ll sell to fulfill it all.” Take the restaurant industry, which has been hit particularly hard during quarantine. Many have pivoted by offering curbside and delivery service but have still faced massive loss. Na’ama Moran, co-founder and CEO of the restaurant supply company, Cheetah, took a unique approach to deal with her industry’s changing business landscape due to COVID-19. Moran switched from serving as a wholesale restaurant supplier into a grocery delivery service, selling direct to consumers. “Moran leveraged Cheetah’s infrastructure, staff, inventory, and technology to provide a streamlined way for people to purchase food and cleaning supplies without any contact with other people,” Knauff explains. “This unique pivot enabled the company to continue moving their inventory while supporting their local community. Related: How to Set up Curbside Pickup and Delivery Through Your Website 2. Adapt Your Services Even if your business offers in-person service, there can be ways to safely continue providing those services — with necessary modifications and added digital provisions.  Take the recent adjustments made by lawn care company GreenPal. “We have changed up processes for how our vendor partners interact with their clients,” says Bryan Clayton, GreenPal co-founder. “We now have instituted a contactless procedure for when a homeowner hires a lawn care professional to mow their yard.” Because of these adjustments in operations, GreenPal has “seen a 17% conversion rate in many of the markets that we operate in,” Clayton adds. If your target audience is more hesitant to loosen the purse strings during an uncertain time, you can utilize digital tools to yield future growth. “More than anything, people are afraid to spend money right now,” says Bri Henke, owner and Design Director at Dig. “Because everything that used to be guaranteed just isn’t anymore — jobs, food, school, toilet paper — nothing feels safe about our world right now. So spending money on a luxury, like design, is slowing down. Right now, people are thinking about what they want to change about their home, and for that, I am trying to build up an e-design/concept package level to my business where we don’t have to physically interact, but we can make some positive changes to their space” Related: DreamHost’s Ultimate Small Business Resource Guide 3. Offer One-on-One Training or Tutorials Even when you’re taking your business online, you can still provide that essential person-to-person experience indispensable to service-based businesses. “A service is a personal experience,” says Jermaine Amado, photographer and owner of J Amado Photography. “It’s about building on the relationship with your client. So why not find a way to offer one-on-one support to your client through a video call? You could guide them through the process of taking photos, planning meals for the week, or a pedicure.” And pivoting your business for COVID-19 helps you not only prepare for future economic challenges but offers you a chance to target new audiences. “By offering one-on-one online photography courses and camera training, I feel like I was able to reach a new client base,” Amado says. “Adapting my services has allowed me to venture into an all-digital world where I don’t have to travel to offer my services.” No matter what field of industry your business occupies, you can adapt to bring offerings online. Related: How to Build an Awesome Online Store with WooCommerce 4. Offer Value Through Online Learning In addition to providing virtual services, you can make the most of the digital landscape by sharing your hard-earned knowledge, while establishing yourself as an authority and building your brand visibility. This strategy can help your business remain viable during a crisis and attract clients. For example, as a result of COVID-19, Southern Tax Preparation & Services moved from providing educational resources as part of its paid services to making those materials readily available through social media platforms and online communities, email campaigns, live video conferencing, and a podcast. This strategy shift is boosting the business in big ways. “We are establishing ourselves as an authority in the accounting and finance industry, and our audience’s desire to establish and maintain a stable financial structure has also increased,” says Jasmine Young, MBA, CPA, CFE, andSouthern Tax founder. “The increase in revenue from client referrals to purchase services that assist in creating a stable financial foundation is an obvious indication that our decision to pivot . . . was a step in the right direction for our company, as our gross income for the past quarter was 75% of last year’s gross income for the entire year.” The knowledge you have is valuable. Utilize it! Related: Easily Set Up an Online Course on Your WordPress Website  5. Curate Customized Product Kits Pivoting your traditional business in difficult times is necessary to establish multiple revenue streams to compensate for the loss of income from main offerings. This has been especially vital for hair salons in the UK, as governments may limit their re-opening for another six months.  HairCraze by Naomi, a salon in Wales, has innovated new strategies to offer value and boost its online business. They filmed a video on DIY haircutting, and a banner ad was placed on their website and Facebook page notifying visitors that the video is accessible to people who subscribe to their email or newsletter. According to their marketing company, this tactic has helped the business build up a stack of email addresses from potential customers to hit up and market to once the lockdown ends. HairCraze by Naomi has also contacted their current clients that regularly utilize hair coloring services, offering to make dye for them based on their individual hair profile. These dyes can be mailed or delivered to customers at a discounted cost, helping them maintain color between salon visits — a better-than-boxed-dye solution at a cheaper-than-a-salon-visit price.  Now that’s creative innovation. 6. Learn and Incorporate New Tech The health and fitness industry is seeing creative solutions to the prohibition on in-person gatherings as they seek to incorporate innovation and recoup lost earnings through digital offerings. Soofi Safavi, an entrepreneur and hot yoga enthusiast, pivoted his yoga business to operate virtually during the pandemic. When COVID-19 caused him to close his studios, instructors struggled with online class logistics and lost income, and his customers were without the habits they needed for their physical and mental health. Safavi acted quickly to create, an integrated fitness app that allows instructors to virtually teach classes, collect payment, and instruct in a way that simulates a live studio.  Adapting to offer your business’ services on a digital platform doesn’t have to be a lengthy process. With the right network and tools, you can get virtual offerings up and running fast. “There are a myriad of opportunities available online for service-based workers,” said James Dyble, Managing Director of Global Sound Group. “For example, if you’re a personal trainer, jump on YouTube and start providing your services with that method. Possibly, even have a membership website or a mentoring program. . . . If the content is right, then the revenue will follow.” 7. Improve How You Engage Running a business behind a screen can be a challenge for service-based companies that rely on an in-person relationship. Use this time as an opportunity to refine and improve the ways that you engage and connect with audiences. First, update your website during this crisis. Make sure your customers are aware of what new or adjusted services you’re providing during social distancing. Then, take connection a step further. “As an events producer, I enable entrepreneurs, speakers, and organizations to have engaging events. Wow, did COVID-19 ever change that!” says Connie Zeller of C.Zeller Events. “I’m fortunate that I have amazing clients who could see the value of a pivot. While a virtual event can’t deliver the energy, physical connection, gift bags, food, and the overall live experience, it can still deliver an impactful message and reach the goals and visions of a live event.” Thoughtfully consider and plan how you’re going to provide your winning service in digital environments. Without the in-person connection, your business needs to use available tech in innovative ways to prioritize your audiences and nurture relationships. “Technology is allowing connection in such a productive way without having to leave your home,” Henke says. “So the opportunity to offer your clients your time still exists; it will just be through a screen. Reassuring your clients that they still get you, I think, is key in all of this — rather than just them feeling that they are only worth an email. [Clients] need to know that we are still there with them, it is just in a different capacity than before.”  Related: 20 Ways to Stay Social in an Age of Social Distancing 8. Expand Your Virtual Marketing Techniques As a professional organizer, Diane Eisenstein, founder and “Chief Organization Officer” of The Tidy Abode, has been experimenting with the addition of virtual services to her in-person business, offering coaching via FaceTime, Skype, and Zoom. “The most exciting part of it is that I have reached people from all around the country this way,” she says. “So many people staying at home want to be productive and get organized, but they get stuck on one part of the project. That’s where I come in! I give them advice on potential solutions and the products they need to get it done. I don’t get the big reveal moment at the end of a project, but I do see the ‘aha moments’ when I give my clients a suggestion that would work for their space.” Social media is likely already a part of your marketing strategy, so continue to expand your social media techniques to boost business! Host live tutorials on Instagram, Facebook, Zoom, or Youtube Live so you can communicate with your supporters in the comments in real-time. You can then upload these videos online to boost engagement and visibility. As a writer and vocal teacher for, James Croad has been utilizing YouTube Tutorials to continue his vocal and guitar lessons remotely. “As a service professional, the transition hasn’t been easy, but it wasn’t impossible either,” Croad says. “It just takes a little bit of ingenuity! Regardless of the service you provide, we live in a digital age where there are multiple online platforms that can improve your business regardless of the quarantine. If you’ve got some grit and are willing to experiment, you can find a goldmine of efficient and profitable business practices online.” As you pivot and find things that work, market them vigorously.  “We are offering both free training and paid virtual 30-day masterminds to help businesses creatively explore their options and accordingly tweak or pivot their services,” says Janis Pettit, CEO of The 10x Zone. “For example, one company provides in-home occupational therapy for special needs children, and their business was down 70%. They decided to try teletherapy and it was approved by the insurance companies. After testing it and getting great results, we developed an aggressive marketing plan to promote it. It’s working, and weekly visits are going up quickly. And the best part? They can now serve clients not just locally as before but in the entire state!” Taking advantage of every opportunity to make $$$ (and build a loyal audience) can serve you well and help you develop the creative entrepreneurship needed to run a successful business, no matter the conditions. Related: 12 Marketing Strategies to Promote Your Local Business 9. Expand Your Offerings Why not try something completely new? Offering a novel service to clients can expand your business — and your audience. “Since lockdown, I have recorded myself making healthy meals and putting them in the Whatsapp group that I have set up with my clients,” says Elliott Reimers, a certified nutrition coach at Rave Reviews. “They’re contributing a small amount each per month for these tips. In addition, I am making up batches of the meals I recorded and then dropping them outside clients’ houses once a week.” By supplying unique offerings, checking in with clients, and keeping a positive attitude, you can meaningfully connect with your audiences and provide value. How can other businesses do this? Nail salons can curate and send clients boxes of supplies with illustrated (or video) instructions on how to care for their nails.  A massage therapist can film a video of how to pinpoint trouble spots in muscles and how a tennis ball or foam roller can alleviate the pain. Then they can sell and schedule a private one-on-one session via Zoom to walk through this process with the client.  An esthetician can schedule private video sessions to examine clients’ skin and recommend and order specific products for the client. Physical trainers can provide virtual workouts or home-workout tips, creating video tutorials or doing it with them virtually to boost both of your physical activity and gains. They could also sell different protein shakes or guided meal plans. Cleaning companies similarly can sell their cleaning products, supplied with step-by-step tutorials on how to clean various home spaces.  And all businesses can offer gift cards! Related: How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy 10. Continue to Incorporate Digital Options Bringing parts of your business online can be a massive benefit to you as you target new audiences and expand your offerings. So don’t stop that momentum when things return to business as (mostly) usual. Keep utilizing the power of tech to boost your business.  “One valuable aspect of a digital service-based business is the convenience factor,” Eisenstein says. “In-person services require travel time, prep time, and schedules that need to be matched up. Even after COVID-19 conditions end, I will most likely conduct consultations over video calls, plus I plan to incorporate more virtual coaching into my schedule so I can reach more people around the world.” Looking for Remote Work Tips?Whether you want to stay focused at home or increase team engagement, we can help! Subscribe to the DreamHost Digest so you never miss an article.Sign Me Up Re-Homing Your Business in a Digital Landscape Pivoting your business into a digital landscape isn’t just valuable — it’s essential right now. Not only can virtual adaptation help you keep your business afloat, but it can ultimately help you run a better, more successful business in the future as you refine how you market, engage, and incorporate technology.  “The economic environment and marketplace have shifted, and the ‘new normal’ will not go back to the way things were,” Pettit says. “Businesses that don’t have a way to serve their customers’ needs as they are now will struggle or even fail. Look at businesses in the past that didn’t — Blackberry, MySpace, Sears, and many more. There is great opportunity here if you can creatively embrace it.” If you want to get your business up-and-running online and flex those creative muscles, you need to start at the beginning: partnering with a great web host for your site. We can help you set up your online presence — at a safe, virtual distance. The post 10 Ways to Move an In-Person Service Business Online appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

New gTLD Report – April 2020

Reseller Club Blog -

April might have passed in quarantine and lockdown amidst the COVID-19 pandemic yet it continued to sound promising when it came to the online industry! From .SITE claiming the top spot with a staggering 251% spike in its registrations to .XYZ and .SPACE retaining their third and fourth positions respectively, and with 365% hike in its registration count .TOP made it to the top 5 list for the first time since the start of 2020 during the month of April, all-in-all these new gTLDs continued to trend and make an impact. Along with this, .ICU witnessed a 90% jump in its registration numbers and can be attributed to the increase in the overall number of new gTLD registrations.  Let us now take a quick look at the top 15 new gTLDs that made it to the list in April.  New gTLD Report – April2020Infogram *Registration Numbers Facilitated by ResellerClub .SITE: With a leap of 251% in their total registration count, .SITE was able to secure the top spot in the top 15 new gTLD registrations in the month of April. This new gTLD was running at a promo price of $5.99 and the Global markets* can be credited for .SITE reaching the top position. .ONLINE: Priced at a promo price of $6.99 .ONLINE secured the second spot by grabbing a 14% share in the overall new gTLDs registered in April. The Global markets* can be credited for the maximum number of registrations.   .XYZ: .XYZ has held onto its third spot second time in a row on the trending new gTLD list. The discounted price of $0.99 has helped this new gTLD to score 8% of the overall new gTLD registrations with majority registration credited to the Global markets*. .SPACE: This new gTLD has consistently been able to retain its fourth spot in the new gTLD list. The promo price of $0.99 has aided .SPACE to jump its registration count by 54% in the month of April. The Global markets* can be credited with the maximum number of registrations. .TOP: .TOP was running at a price of $7.99 and was able to secure the fifth spot in the top 15 list for the first time in 2020. The new gTLD witnessed a humongous leap of 365% in its registration count. The China market can be credited for the increase in the registration numbers of .TOP. Apart from the top 5, .ICU and .STORE saw a spike of 90% and 34% in their registration numbers respectively in the month of April. Furthermore, .LIFE saw a jump of 31% in its overall registration count with maximum registrations credit to the Brazil market. Along with this, .LIFE, .LIVE .and .HOST each moved one position ahead in the month of April. Here’s a peek into the exciting domain promos we’ve got lined up for the month of May: Empower pet organisations this COVID – 19 to protect your furry friends with .PET domain name at just $4.99. Help give your customer’s business an inbox on the internet with a .EMAIL domain extension at just $2.99. Get the all-time trending domain extension .SPACE at just $0.99 for your customers! That’s all folks! Check out all our leading domain promos and help your customers get the right one for their online business. You can also head to our Facebook or Twitter pages to get all the updates about our trending domain promos. Just lookout for the posts with #domainpromos. See you there! Lastly, Stay Home, Stay Safe! If you would like to know more about domain extensions, check out our other blogs in the Domains category. *Global market – US, Australia, Canada, Sri Lanka, Thailand and others fall under the global markets.  .fb_iframe_widget_fluid_desktop iframe { width: 100% !important; } The post New gTLD Report – April 2020 appeared first on ResellerClub Blog.

2020 Social Media Marketing Industry Report

Social Media Examiner -

Wondering how fellow marketers are using social media? Want to know what marketers plan to do with organic social activities, video marketing, and social ads? In our 12th annual social media study, we surveyed more than 5,200 marketers who reveal details you won’t find anywhere else. How Are Marketers Using Social Media? To understand how […] The post 2020 Social Media Marketing Industry Report appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

Follow the Changemakers Driving Change in the World of Work

LinkedIn Official Blog -

We’re all dealing with a world that is very different than it was even a few weeks ago. Never has our generation experienced such levels of change and global uncertainty, not knowing what the next week will bring. But the one thing we can try to control is how we react and adapt to these changes. COVID-19 has seen organisations and professionals come together to support one another. Social media has played a key role in making this happen, allowing us to both give and get help from our phones... .

New Pinterest Tools for Marketers

Social Media Examiner -

Welcome to this week’s edition of the Social Media Marketing Talk Show, a news show for marketers who want to stay on the leading edge of social media. On this week’s Social Media Marketing Talk Show, we explore Pinterest’s new shopping capabilities, Verified Merchant Program, and new marketing tools with special guest, Jennifer Priest. Tune […] The post New Pinterest Tools for Marketers appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

How to Set up Curbside Pickup and Delivery Through Your Website

DreamHost Blog -

COVID-19 has had severe ramifications, not only from a health standpoint but economically as well. With most people staying home and practicing social distancing, businesses that rely on in-person transactions are moving online. We’ve already outlined how to pivot your business model, update your website, and lead a team remotely during the coronavirus outbreak. But there’s something else small business owners will want to consider as part of their crisis management plan: offering curbside pickup and delivery options for customers. By enabling shoppers to place orders online and receive their items with minimal contact, you can do your part to keep your community safe, while also continuing to bring in revenue. In this post, we’ll take a look at some alternative shopping options for local businesses. Then we’ll show you how to set up either curbside pickup or a delivery option for your customers using WooCommerce. Let’s go! Related: DreamHost’s Ultimate Small Business Resource Guide Alternative Shopping Methods During the COVID-19 Pandemic In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) issued several public health guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. These suggestions include: Stay home as much as possible. Keep six feet between yourself and others. Avoid gathering in groups of 10 or more. Unfortunately, these guidelines make it difficult for small local businesses to welcome customers and conduct sales normally. To maintain even a limited revenue stream, most retailers and restaurants have had to develop alternative methods for serving customers. Curbside pickup is one of the best and most popular ways of doing that. It enables customers to purchase products online, and then visit your store to receive their items. Rather than having them go into your building, you or one of your employees brings the customer’s things out to their car. Think of it like takeout. With local delivery, your customers stay home while you bring their orders to their doors. Both methods go a long way towards minimizing contact between people since shoppers won’t be gathering in your store. However, you can take further precautions as well, such as: Wearing gloves when packing customers’ orders. Requiring online payments to avoid contact with customers when exchanging cash. Place pickup orders directly in customers’ trunks. Leaving delivery orders at customers’ doors, and calling or texting them to let them know their packages have arrived. Providing face masks and hand sanitizer to employees involved in pickup and delivery orders. Fortunately, the risk of transferring or contracting COVID-19 via an object is very low. By setting up curbside pickup and delivery and minimizing contact between your employees and customers, you can significantly reduce the health risks for all involved. Related: The 10 Most Popular Online Payment Gateways for Your Website, Compared How to Set Up Curbside Pickup and Delivery Through Your Website (In 4 Steps) Below, we’ve outlined steps for setting up both curbside and local delivery options for your small business. Note that these instructions assume you already have WooCommerce installed and configured on your store’s website. If that’s not the case, please check out our tutorial on getting started with WooCommerce, and then you’ll be ready to get rolling! Trust Us, You Can Build a WebsiteWhether you want to start a blog or run a small business, DreamHost makes it easy to begin your online journey. Our shared hosting plans give you everything you need to thrive online at an affordable price.Learn More Step 1: Configure a Local Shipping Zone The first thing you’ll need to do is pick a WooCommerce shipping zone for your local area. This will prevent a shopper who is outside your service area from placing an order for pickup or delivery. In your WordPress dashboard, navigate to WooCommerce > Settings > Shipping. Click on Add Shipping Zone. Add a descriptive name for the shipping zone and then select your region. Click on Limit to specific ZIP/postcodes to narrow your pickup and delivery range. Remember to save your changes when you’re done. Related: How to Create a Restaurant Website Step 2: Enable Local Pickup as a Shipping Option Next, while still on your local shipping zone page, select Add shipping method. WooCommerce includes a local pickup option out of the box. Select it from the drop-down menu, then click on the Add shipping method button. That’s all you have to do to enable curbside pickup for your local business. However, if you would like to refine this option, you can purchase and install the Local Pickup Plus WooCommerce extension. This optional add-on enables you to specify a pickup location, set hours, offer discounts to customers who select curbside pickup, and more. Step 3: Add a Flat Rate Shipping Option WooCommerce no longer offers a “local delivery” shipping option. However, you can still configure one without the need for an additional plugin. On your local shipping zone page, add a second shipping option and select Flat rate. Then click on the Edit option for that shipping method. Change the Method title to “Local Delivery” (or however you want to present this option to your customers at checkout). If you want, you can also add a flat rate delivery fee. Finally, click on Save changes. Your local pickup and delivery options will now both appear on your site’s checkout page, where customers can select their preferred methods. At this point, you’re ready to start offering curbside pickup and delivery to your customers. However, you may want to take a few extra steps to make managing your orders easier. Related: 20 Ways to Stay Social in an Age of Social Distancing Step 4: Install Order Delivery Date for WooCommerce to Manage Requests While you can technically set up curbside pickup and delivery for your business using WooCommerce alone, its native features don’t enable you to manage or schedule orders. This could lead to problems if you have multiple customers placing pickup and delivery orders at the same time. One way to solve this issue to enable customers to schedule their pickups and deliveries. Order Delivery Date for WooCommerce can help with this. After you install and activate this plugin, navigate to Order Delivery Date in your WordPress dashboard. Then configure the following settings: Select the checkbox next to Enable Delivery Date capture on the checkout page. Choose which days you’re available for delivery. Set the minimum number of hours you need to prepare an order for delivery. Specify how many days in advance customers can schedule an order. Select the checkbox next to Selection of the delivery date on the checkout page will become mandatory. Set the maximum number of deliveries you can handle per day. Select the checkbox next to Enable default sorting of orders (in descending order) by Delivery Date on WooCommerce > Orders page. You may also wish to make additional adjustments in the Appearance and Holidays tabs. Remember to save your changes when you’re done. Now, when customers reach your checkout page, they’ll have to choose a delivery date. Once the maximum number of orders for any particular day has been reached, that date will become unavailable in the calendar. This will prevent you from receiving more orders than you can physically manage at one time. On your WooCommerce Orders page, you’ll be able to see the customer’s specified delivery/pickup date listed for each order. Note that you’ll still need to contact customers to inform them what time their orders will be ready (especially for curbside pickup). Looking for Remote Work Tips?Whether you want to stay focused at home or increase team engagement, we can help! Subscribe to the DreamHost Digest so you never miss an article.Sign Me Up Curbside Takeout or Home Delivery? Curbside pickup and delivery options enable your customers to purchase their favorite products from you with minimal contact. This could help your business survive the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic side effects and is a valuable strategy for building customer loyalty. Fortunately, you can enable both local pickup and delivery using WooCommerce in just four steps: Configure a local shipping zone. Enable local pickup as a shipping option. Add a flat rate shipping option. Install Order Delivery Date for WooCommerce to manage requests. The foundation of any successful e-commerce site is a reliable hosting plan. At DreamHost, we provide quality shared hosting services for small businesses at affordable prices. Check out our plans today! The post How to Set up Curbside Pickup and Delivery Through Your Website appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

5 Creative Ways Specialty Stores & Artists Can Drive Sales via Social Media Now

HostGator Blog -

The post 5 Creative Ways Specialty Stores & Artists Can Drive Sales via Social Media Now appeared first on HostGator Blog. Remember craft fairs, window shopping and in-store events? If you’re a local retailer or artisan whose income depended on making in-person connections with customers and letting them see your products up close, you may miss the old pre-quarantine days more than most.  How can you connect with customers during shelter in place orders? Social media. Before the pandemic, Facebook, YouTube and other platforms were popular. During stay-at-home orders, social media is a lifeline for people stuck at home, missing their friends and worried about their local communities.  Even if you’re an old hand at using social media to promote your boutique, craft business or creative side hustle, there are some specific approaches you may want to adopt or increase while everyone’s searching for connection, creativity and items to brighten up the same four walls.  1. Use your local handmade, arts and crafts hashtags A lot of people worry that their favorite local businesses are struggling during closures, and they’re looking for ways to support their local faves from home. For makers and shop owners that means making the most of hashtags and keywords that show where you are and what you do.  For example, here are a few Instagram posts by different Austin area artists, all using the tag #atxart:  Each of these artists is appealing to local buyers. Some offer local delivery. And each of them has a link to their online store in their Instagram bio to drive visitors to their site to keep browsing.  Not sure which tags to use on your posts? Do a little research. For example, when you search for #atxart on Instagram, your search results will include a list of related and similar hashtags: You can do the same kind of hashtag search for whatever’s relevant to your niche and location, look at the posts using those tags, and build a list of hashtags that local shoppers may follow at home. 2. Team up for a special event or community deal Another way to raise your profile is to support your fellow local businesses and boutiques. Here, a local magazine promotes an at-home, citywide picnic with meals available from local eateries. And a local yarn store lets its fans know how to get gift cards that can help other local businesses weather the current shutdown.  3. Create “making of” videos that show how you work Another way to connect with customers is to make videos to let them see how you make the things you sell. These don’t have to be how-to videos—they can simply tell the story of how your art or crafts happen.  Here’s a great example of a “making of” video from an Austin bead artist that gives viewers an idea of how long it took the artist to create the finished piece.  A video like this can drive traffic to your website and online store. Even if the item you feature in your video is expensive, visitors may decide to pick up less pricy items–if you have them for sale. For example, this artist’s site includes handmade jewelry at lower price points than the deer skull piece in her video. 4. Auction your work in the comments It’s possible to sell your items first-come, first-serve on social media. But adding an auction can generate more views and interest at a time when we’re all seeking distractions and a little novelty.  For example, this local needlework artisan paired with another creator to make a series of throw pillows. That kind of partnership can generate more traffic on its own by getting your work in front of new people who follow your creative project partner, and vice versa.  The auction is the icing on the marketing cake, though, because  There’s a time limit, which can get people excited to buy. The designs are unique, which appeals to home décor shoppers. The auction winners will have a story to tell about the artisans behind their throw pillows. Auctions get people excited about competing to win, so they’re often eager to keep bidding.  How well did these auctions do? Winning bids ranged from $160 to $200, and one of the posts got more than 1,100 likes. And the bidders who didn’t win can shop the artisan’s website for other pillow designs.  5. Host an event or teach a class on social media live If you sell creative supplies or can lead a live class, consider video meetups that you host on social media or another platform like Zoom or Google Hangouts. Live classes and hangouts can break the monotony of staying home, help your students or customers keep up their skills, and generate interest and/or income for your business.  For example, many dance teachers have moved to live online classes while their studios are shuttered. Other artists, artisans and shop owners are launching online classes and hangouts, too. Some are hosting free online how-to sessions on social media and selling kits of supplies on the websites for delivery so students can craft along in real time at home.  Social media works best when it brings local shoppers to your online store Social media channels are great for connecting with local audiences, showing them how you work and generating excitement about your products.  And while you can auction or sell your products directly from your social media feeds, you’ll almost certainly sell more over the long term if you’re also driving your social media traffic to your online store. Why? Your website store offers an easier shopping experience. With a social media feed, customers have to open each post to see information about the item pictured, including whether or not it’s for sale, the price, dimensions and how to buy. A good eCommerce platform, on the other hand, shows your customers all of that information at a glance. It’s easier to update product availability, pricing and shipping information on your eCommerce site than in social media. That means you spend less time on administrative tasks as items sell out or prices change. Tagging and describing your products in your store helps with SEO. When people Google “Austin bead artist” or “Portland soap maker,” your social media posts won’t appear in those results. But if your online store is active and optimized, those customers will find you. There are other benefits to expanding your eCommerce operations, too. And more ways to use social media to get people to your website. Is it time to set up or step up your online store? Get started with HostGator. Find the post on the HostGator Blog


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