A Healthier You!

We now live in the first generation that most will not outlive their parents. Our aim is to do something about this!

With the help of other local community groups and organisations our aim is to encourage people to adopt healthy lifestyles! With their mind, body, soul and their finances!

Some of the services that we would like to provide include:

  • Free wellness checks at the Seaside Community Hub.
  • Free financial healthcheck in partnership with East Sussex Credit Union along with free training in managing your money.
  • Free training and work experience opportunities with us at Helen Owen Marketing Enterprises (HOME) CIC.
  • Courses on looking after your mind and spirit with Soulfood.

Here’s some statistics to show why we are working with others to do something about people’s health:

  • Diabetes Type 2 has gone up 43% on last year.
  • Obesity is now a global epidemic and costs the NHS 1.2million every hour.
  • Over 80% of the population are dehydrated.
  • 92% of people do not have a healthy breakfast which is the most important meal of the day.
  • Nutrients in food are nearly 70% deficient compared to the same foods back in 1960.
  • 33% of children living in Eastbourne are obese.

A Healthier You is a trial project and is being funded by Devonshire West Big Local from November 2016 to April 2017 which includes the daily blog (available here).  By adopting healthier lifestyles we believe that people will feel better about themselves and be in a better position to access work and with 1 in 4 young people being out of work we hope to do something about this however we need your help!

Due to the popularity of this project so far we are seeking funding in order to continue to make a difference to people’s physical and mental health. If you know of an organisation that can help then please contact us.

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HOW TO GET WORK DONE AT HOME WHEN YOU’VE GOT KIDS

While it may not be ideal to be on the phone with a client or working on preparing invoices while you’re at home with your children, sometimes it’s the only way to get things done. If you find yourself snapping at your kids or neglecting your work, try these simple tips for getting work done at home while keeping your children entertained (and you won’t even have to resort to using a screen – though we’ve all done it from time to time).

Work Early, Late, and In Between

You already knew it wasn’t going to be a 9-5 gig. When you have children, it may be anything but. For many parents who work at home, the early hours before the children wake, naptime, and bedtime can be the very best times to be uninterrupted. If you can’t concentrate when you know your children need you, don’t be torn between snapping at them and feeling guilty for not getting anything done. Instead, simply do as much work as you can when they’re sleeping. Fortunately, the younger they are, the more sleep they need, so if you can readjust your schedule to match their snoring you’ll both be happier.

Let Them Work Too

You know what kids need? A job. I don’t mean flipping hamburgers or mowing lawns (unless they’re old enough, in which case, yes, I absolutely mean that). But kids are happiest when they’ve got something productive to do. If you’re sitting down to work, it’s an ideal time for older kids to be sitting down beside you and doing their homework. You can take a break to stretch and have a snack together (and use that break to help them if they’ve got questions – knowing when a break is coming will make it easier for them not to interrupt you). Are they too young to have homework? Even toddlers enjoy having their own paper and pencil to write “letters,” and older kids really can write to a penpal, friends, or relatives. You can even dust off a calculator and find a toy (or broken) cell phone so they can pretend to work just like you do. Remember, you’re setting a good example for them when you show them what diligent work looks like – great motivation to stay off social media when you’re supposed to be getting stuff DONE.

Set a Time Limit – and Stick to It

You don’t want to have your kid have the following words carved into your gravestone someday: “She said just one more email.” While the tasks you need to complete seem never-ending, the whole work/life balance thing can only be a reality when you give yourself a limited time in which to accomplish a project. Tell your child you’re going to work for 45 minutes and then read them a book; then set a timer, and when it goes off, it’s pencil down, laptop closed for you. You’ll be re-energized by the break, and connecting with your children really can be just as (if not more) fulfilling than chatting with a coworker.

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It’s Payback Time!

So now we’ve got your attention we’re not talking about the payback as an act of revenge but more like the ‘Pay it Forward’ that was made popular after the film was released in 2000.

‘It’s Payback Time’ is the name of our new campaign and it’s all about giving something back because others have helped us in the past.

Helen Owen Marketing Enterprises (HOME) CIC wouldn’t be here today without the many people that have helped us to get started, these include those offering us a room space, funders, volunteers and many more people that have offered their expert advice (usually for free).

So in turn we have promised to help others that can’t necessarily afford to do it themselves. Some of the ways that we are able to help include:

  • Providing free or low-cost website services for charities, community groups, small businesses or social entrepreneurs just starting out.
  • Providing free training to charities, networking groups, businesses etc.
  • Providing free work experience to job seekers and volunteers.
  • Providing free or low-cost marketing services for event organisers and groups.

We are now asking for your help to ‘Pay it Back’

We have several volunteers that are eager to start work and just need a helping hand to get started! We are looking to either provide them with apprenticeships so they can continue their training or place them in a work situation where they can gain further experience.

Some of the skills that they have include:

  • Administration
  • IT Help Desk
  • Graphic Design
  • Journalism

We need to raise £500 a month for each apprentice so if you have received help in the past and have the financial resources to help then maybe this is something you could consider. We’re not expecting you to donate the whole – just 10 people giving £50 a month could make a difference to one young person in Eastbourne that is struggling to find work.

So if you have ever received free training from us, or you have now employed one of our volunteers then maybe you could help so we can help another young person get their ideal job.

Together we can do something about improving the unemployment statistics of young people in Eastbourne!

You can donate here however you may want to set up a regular standing order with your bank.

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Hot WordPress Security Trends for 2017

WordPress occupies the largest piece of the CMS market, powering over half of the entire internet. Although this is great for the platform and those who use it, it also makes WordPress an obvious target for hackers.

A compromised website is not only a pain to fix, it can also dramatically decrease revenue and damage your site’s reputation long-term.

As bad guys come up with more and more ways to wreak havoc, website owners must continue focusing on WordPress security in the new year. Here are five key security trends to pay attention to in 2017, in no particular order.

6 Important WordPress Security Topics for 2017

1. Two-Factor Authentication

One way to increase security is to use two-factor authentication during login. This involves two checks to make sure the person logging in is legitimate. These checks can be any combination of the traditional login information, a secret code, set of characters, and more.

Two-factor authentication essentially adds another layer of security to protect against hackers trying to break in. 2017 will likely see more websites using two-factor authentication and new and stronger authentication methods.

One top-rated two-factor authentication plugin, Clef, can be quickly downloaded and uses a code scanned on the logging in user’s mobile device. The login scan can be added to restrict access to any page or post using a shortcode.

Clef_Two-Factor_Authentication_—_WordPress_Plugins

2. SSL Encryption

In 2017, the use of Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificates is expected to become even more important. Starting this year, WordPress will only be recommending hosting companies that offer SSL by default. In addition, WordPress will roll out new features that require websites to have HTTPS.

https-cminds-secure

WordPress websites without SSL and HTTPS will need to add it to their website soon to stay onboard with the trend. This can be done by purchasing an SSL certificate through a hosting provider and easily implementing it with a plugin such as CM HTTPS Pro.

3. Managed Hosting

An alternative to shared hosting, which website owners can purchase for as low as 4 dollars a month, managed hosting offers a more customized, comprehensive hosting experience. With managed hosting, the hosting company often focuses on WordPress and offers expert support.

While the monthly cost is much higher than for shared hosting, managed hosting takes care of many tasks important for security, such as backups, uptime monitoring, and WordPress updates. Paying for managed hosting can help website owners keep up with the latest security threats through an entire support team.

4. Strong and Evolving Passwords

One of the most common methods hackers use to get into a WordPress site is by guessing the username and password or using stolen login information.

Especially if your website has multiple people logging in, make sure passwords are strong enough to keep bad guys out. Easy to guess passwords offer no defense and are an invitation for security issues. Also, frequently change passwords to keep hackers on their toes.

login-security

If you’re having trouble thinking of strong passwords, try online resources like this free random password generator.

5. Vetting & Updating Plugins

This security tip is important every year, but as time passes, more and more plugins are developed with vulnerabilities. Attacks that take advantage of plugin vulnerabilities are numerous. Often, attackers rely on WordPress users not updating plugins in order to wreak havoc.

It’s important to choose well-coded plugins from reputable developers and always make sure to update plugins whenever there are updates available. Bugs happen and reputable developers will quickly issue updates with patches to fix the issue. Also, if there’s a plugin you’re not using, get rid of it.

6. Concerns About PHP 7

WordPress users may also be concerned about the move to PHP 7 this year. PHP is the scripting language of WordPress and the latest version is the first update in 11 years. Sometime in 2017, WordPress is expected to shift the recommended PHP version from PHP 5.6 to PHP 7.

While the newest PHP version offers WordPress performance gains, many users have voiced concern over the security of PHP 7.

Conclusion

Many of 2017’s hot WordPress security topics have also been concerns over the years. Updating plugins and using strong passwords have been touted as easy ways to maintain security for years. These tried and true approaches, among others, will be important as attackers continue to find new ways to wreak havoc on WordPress websites.

What will be interesting this year is how security topics such as SSL encryption, two-factor authentication, and the use of managed hosting will continue to evolve, especially in the ever-changing landscape of WordPress.

How will developments in worlds of WordPress and WordPress security affect users at the front-lines of attacks? We’ll have to wait and see!

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How to Embed Videos in WordPress

In this tutorial, you will learn:

  • How to embed YouTube and Vimeo videos into WordPress posts and pages.
  • How to enable extra shortcodes with JetPack.
  • How to enable shortcode support in Widgets.
  • How to embed YouTube videos into Widgets.
  • How to embed YouTube playlists into posts and pages.
  • How to show YouTube videos in a lightbox.

Steps for Embedding Videos into WordPress with Plain Video URLs

  1. Embedding a video into WordPress is often as simple as pasting in the video URL into a post or page. Many video providers are supported including YouTube and Vimeo, which I will demonstrate today.
  2. First, copy the video URL from YouTube.
  3. From within your WordPress Dashboard, create a new post by clicking Posts, then Add New.
  4. Give the post a title, and paste in the URL. Providing that the URL is pasted plainly without being hyperlinked, and is on its own line in the editor, WordPress will be able to leverage the OEmbed API to get the Embed HTML needed to display the video. You should see the video immediately within the Editor.
  5. You can do the same with a video from Vimeo. Let’s do that now. Copy a Vimeo video URL to the clipboard, and paste it above your YouTube URL in the Post Editor, and view your changes.

Steps for Adding the YouTube Shortcode to Allow Video Embedding

  1. You can get finer control over YouTube videos, as well as include them in Widgets, by using a Shortcode. The YouTube shortcode is a feature of JetPack so you will need to install Jetpack to use it.
  2. The video above covers the exact steps for installing and activating JetPack, because the process is slightly different than typical plugin installation.
  3. After JetPack is installed, enabled, and connected with WordPress.com, click on JetPack, then click on Settings.
  4. Click on the Writing tab. Then activate Shortcode Embeds by sliding the slider. Now you can use the YouTube shortcode, and others, for embedding video and other Media.

Steps for Testing Shortcode Support in Widgets

It’s possible that the steps for adding shortcode support for Widgets aren’t necessary for your web site because your currently activated theme, or any of the activated plugins, may have added shortcode support for Widgets already.

  1. To test this, first copy a YouTube video URL to your clipboard.
  2. Then go to Appearance, Customize, and Widgets.
  3. Choose a Widget Area such as Sidebar, and click on the Add a Widget button.
  4. Scroll down and find the Text Widget and give it a click.
  5. In the Content area of the widget type an open square bracket, then the word youtube, then a space, then paste the YouTube URL, then type in a closing square bracket.
  6. In the Live Preview screen, if you see the video, then you are in luck. Otherwise, you will see just your shortcode text. If that’s the case, that means that shortcodes are currently not enabled for Widgets on your web site. Let’s correct that now by creating a small plugin.
  7. First, you can save your changes, or else copy your shortcode, so you can quickly paste it back in later after enabling shortcode support for Widgets.

Code used in the above steps:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TX6dXRL-jPU]

Steps for Adding Shortcode Support in Widgets

I find that it’s very easy and straightforward to use the Pluginception plugin to create a small plugin for purposes such as this.

  1. To get started, in your WordPress Dashboard, go to Plugins, then Add New.
  2. Do a search for Pluginception, then click Install, and then Activate.
  3. Now, under the Plugins menu is a new link called Create a New Plugin. Click that link.
  4. Give it a name such as Add Shortcode Support for Widgets, and then click the Create a Blank Plugin button.
  5. Now copy in the code seen on the screen.
  6. Click the Update File button.
  7. Now, go back and see if the video is now rendering, by going to Appearance, Customize, and Widgets. Paste in your shortcode into a Text Widget if it isn’t already there.

Code used in the above steps:

add_filter('widget_text','do_shortcode');

Steps for Embedding YouTube Videos into Posts, and Pages Using Shortcodes

Now, let’s embed a YouTube video into a Post using a shortcode.

  1. Start by going back to the Post Editor for any post, and have a YouTube URL ready.
  2. In the Content area of the Post Editor type an open square bracket, then the word youtube, then a space, then paste the YouTube URL, then type in a closing square bracket. Save and preview the post.
  3. You can append values to the YouTube URL to modify the display, such as change the width and height, change the start and stop times in the video, affect the alignment and style of the player, etc. To change the dimensions of the video to 320 by 240 for example, append &w=320&h=240 to the YouTube URL and Save and Preview these changes.

Code used in the above steps:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TX6dXRL-jPU&w=320&h=240]

Steps for Embedding YouTube Playlists into Posts, and Pages

Now, let’s embed a YouTube playlist into a Post.

  1. Start by getting the URL for a YouTube Playlist. It’s very similar to a regular YouTube Video URL, but will have a list= parameter appended to it.
  2. Now, just like pasting a YouTube URL into the Post or Page Editor, you can paste this Playlist URL plainly, and on its own line. Do so, and Save and Preview how the Playlist looks on your web site.

Steps for Displaying YouTube Videos in a Lightbox

Now, let’s go through the steps to add a YouTube video to a light box, using the WP Video Lightbox plugin.

  1. First, install the WP Video Lightbox plugin. From inside the WordPress Dashboard, click on Plugins, then Add New.
  2. Do a search for WP Video Lightbox. Click Install Now, and then Activate.
  3. This time, rather than getting a YouTube Video URL ready, we just need the ID, which is the part after the v= in the Video URL. Get that now before continuing.
  4. Create a new Post by clicking Posts, then Add New.
  5. Add a title for your post, and in the content area add the lightbox shortcode. As seen on the video or below the written instructions, the shortcode is as follows: type an open square bracket, then type video underscore lightbox underscore youtube, then a space, then video underscore id, then equals, then open quote, then paste in the Video ID from the previous step, then close the quotes, then a space, then width equals open quote, the desired value, then close quotes, then a space, then height equals open quote, the desired value, then close quotes, then a space, then auto underscore thumb equals open quote, the number one, then close quotes, and close the square bracket.
  6. Save and test.
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Guide to Content Marketing in WordPress

“Content is king” has become a commonplace phrase to Tweet, throw out in conversation, or tape above your desk. It’s true that content has become incredibly important for today’s businesses, something Bill Gates predicted in 1996.

Successful content requires “content marketing,” a popular term in the business and marketing worlds. Take a look at search interest for this term via Google Trends:


It’s obvious people are wondering what content marketing is and how they can use it to grow their businesses. What’s all the fuss about?

We’ll tell you and share some ways to make content marketing in WordPress easier and more successful with five steps.

Table of Contents

Introduction to Content Marketing

Content Marketing in WordPress: The Basics

Step 1: Organize your Strategy

Step 2: Create Content

Step 3: Build an Email List

Step 4: Share on Social Media

Step 5: Analytics

Conclusion

First, what is content marketing and why does it matter?

Content marketing is the act of using online content to meet marketing goals. This involves creating and distributing content that will attract and retain an online audience.

Content is anything that sends a message to people. It can be emails, social media posts, blog posts, product pages, etc.

The goal of content marketing isn’t only to have any ole audience, but one that is engaged with a brand and will drive profit.

For those skeptical about the power of content marketing, consider these points:

  • Content marketing is the #1 priority for 57% of marketers
  • 86% of businesses use content marketing
  • It’s 62% cheaper than traditional marketing methods (think newspaper, TV, flyers, etc.)
  • It generates 3x as many leads as traditional marketing methods

There are so many in-depth content marketing guides out there (seriously, try not to be overwhelmed). Here are two from some of the biggest content marketing experts in the business definitely worth reading:

Content marketing is great because it’s accessible to businesses and organizations of all sizes. It isn’t limited to those with the right budget.

Here are some benefits of content marketing, tangible and intangible, according to the Moz guide:

  • Increased brand awareness
  • Building authority and trust
  • Increased site traffic
  • Improved SEO or “search-ability”
  • Increased customer conversions

It’s difficult to focus on achieving all of these benefits at once, especially for small businesses with few employees. Luckily, with content marketing, many of the benefits spillover into one another. For example, improved SEO results in more site traffic. Score!

If you’re new to content marketing, don’t get bogged down in the intricacies. It’s important to set achievable content marketing goals. Start by setting out to do something.

This could be as basic as starting a newsletter, or something more specific like increasing social media shares. Maybe you want to build an email list. There are many possibilities.

All of these and more can be achieved with content marketing tools in WordPress, so start working toward your website goals!

The Basics of Content Marketing in WordPress

There are many steps to the content marketing process. Here we break down each step and explain how to integrate the basics of content marketing in your WordPress website.

Included in each step are plugins that make content marketing more manageable and less frustrating. All plugins listed are affordable solutions, so you can no longer use that excuse of marketing being too expensive to do.

Remember, content marketing, when done right, is fairly cheap and produces amazing results, so there’s really no excuse to not try at least one of these steps.

This list is organized by different focuses in the content marketing process, so feel free to scroll down to whatever area you need help with. Enjoy!

Step 1: Organize your Content Marketing Strategy

The first step to any content marketing endeavor is planning. Content marketing is not something business professionals should go into blindly. It doesn’t mean you simply write something and release it into internet-land.

Succeeding in content marketing requires strategy and planning. Organization is key to many areas of business and content marketing is no different in this aspect.

The first step to content marketing is to create a simple editorial calendar. With a quality editorial calendar, content marketers can organize a content strategy. It should include scheduled blog posts to be released on certain days.

More advanced editorial calendars can include content authors, categories, social promotion, content type, and more. Just make sure it’s organized and can be adapted over time.

Here are a few popular WordPress plugins to make this easier:

Editorial Calendar

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With the help of the Editorial Calendar plugin, businesses can organize upcoming posts. It creates a big picture view of everything in the works, so it’s easy to plan a content strategy in advance to maximize results. You can see the status of all your posts in one place, making organizing a lot easier.

This plugin includes the ability to drag and drop posts, edit scheduled posts right in the calendar, and manage posts from multiple authors. You can create a special calendar for each custom post type, for example, podcasts.

Price: Free

editorial calendar

Edit Flow

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If you’re looking for something a bit more advanced, check out Edit Flow. Not only does this plugin come with an editorial calendar, it has a lot of other helpful features.

Users can define custom statuses for posts, such as “Needs Edit,” “Ready to Publish,” etc. These are a lot more descriptive than the default “draft” and can help keep multiple team members on track. In addition users can comment on specific posts in private, receive notifications on content their following, and organize users by department or function. There’s even an area to organize a content budget!

Price: Free

screenshot-3

Edit Flow discussion feature

Both tools lessen the time it takes to plan, organize, and publish content. Even fairly simple tools like these can produce dramatic results in terms of helping manage content marketing workload.

Coschedule

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If you’re looking for a more advanced content strategy tool, check out CoSchedule. Add CoSchedule right to your WordPress dashboard with their handy plugin. It also connects to Evernote and Google Docs, a plus if you currently use or plan on using either to organize unpublished content.

This plugin is many things packed into one. It’s an editorial calendar with social media post scheduling, workflow management, and promotion planning. Schedule social media from the WordPress dashboard. You can view top posts, social sharing analytics, and communicate with team members.

Price: $10/month

Step 2: Create Content

To succeed in content marketing, you need–you guessed it–content. Not just any content will do. It needs to be engaging and easy for readers to digest.

Content that immediately bores readers or doesn’t fulfill their needs (for example, answering a specific question) will not prove successful in content marketing.

Think about it this way: it’s a lot more difficult to market a bad product than a product that excites people. Your goal is to create something that engages people.

  • Stick to the subject

A good rule of thumb is to keep one piece of content to one subject. Pick something potential customers might be interested in and stick to it. Jumping between multiple subjects has the potential of losing readers.

  • Provide useful information

Give the reader something useful. Provide actionable content, meaning the reader can take the information and apply it. Titles like “5 Ways to do XYZ” will be worth reading because they offer useful information.

  • Make it engaging

Last but not least, make sure the content is something readers enjoy reading. Blog posts with images are a lot more appealing to readers, so throw in a couple relevant ones. Use short paragraphs instead of long ones to make information easier to read.

WordPress users can also try different ways to present content to users and use analytics to see what works best. Here are several ways to create unique content in WordPress:

CM Curated List Manager

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The CM Curated List Manager helps create curated content with links organized into categories and sub-categories. Lists can be a recommended content list, favorite lists, or a professional knowledge base.

A custom curated list is a useful resource for readers and the features of this plugin (tooltip descriptions, category organization, checkboxes, and more) help create engaging content.

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Buzzfeed and PlayBuzz Quizzes

Another way to create engaging content is to add a fun quiz to your WordPress site. Quizzes are helpful for getting more social shares, as quizzes make up 75% of overall traffic from social shares.

To add a quiz to a WordPress post, simply sign up for Buzzfeed and choose from four quiz types: personality, trivia, checklist, or poll. Add questions with images or GIFs and answers. Get creative and make the questions and answers entertaining!

At the end, you’ll find a code to embed the quiz on your WordPress site. Then, you can post the quiz on social media and see how much traffic rolls in. Sounds easy, right?

Step 3: Build an Email List

You’ve got awesome content. You want people to read it, right? This is where email marketing and social media come in. Through email marketing, business can send content directly to those who have already expressed interest or completed a purchase.

Before you start sending out content via email, you must first build an email list. This requires having a message that inspires people to sign-up, also known as a call-to-action (CTA). A popup or subscription box with a strong CTA can work wonders.

One effective way to gather email addresses is to create irresistible content readers must subscribe to access. For this strategy to succeed, the content must be attractive, actionable, and fulfill a need of the target audience.

There are a variety of tools through WordPress to make email marketing easier and more effective. Here are a few popular options:

OptinMonster

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OptinMonster helps grow an email list and gain subscribers with high-converting popup forms. This plugin comes with an easy form builder to create popups, header and footer bars, sidebar forms, in-post forms, mobile-specific forms, and more.

This service integrates with popular email marketing services like MailChimp, ConstantContact, and more. Success messages, Exit Intent™ technology, and timed popups are all helpful features for converting email subscribers. Note: you must have an account with OptinMonster to use this plugin.

Price: $9-$29/month

SumoMe

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SumoMe addresses a few areas of content marketing: email marketing, social sharing, and tracking analytics data. Here’s how.

SumoMe comes with an email list builder, call-to-actions, and a scroll-triggered email pop-up feature. It provides Google Analytics integration to view data right in your dashboard. It also allows users to simply click on post images or post excerpts to tweet.

Price: Free- varies per app

CM Popup Banners

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CM PopUP Banners plugin isn’t just for building an email list, although it can be used for that.

Popups can be used in many different ways to enhance a content marketing strategy. They can direct site visitors to certain blog posts, product pages, promotional pages, etc. They can also be used to gain email list subscribers, as we’ve already seen in a couple plugins.

(Check out our guide to using popups for more on this topic)

Popups created using the CM Popup Banners plugin are mobile friendly, can be targeted to certain pages or page categories, and scheduled for certain time periods. WordPress users can create eye-catching popups with images and custom branding capabilities.

A plus? The pro version of this plugin also comes with statistics, so content marketers can analyze how well popups are generating leads.

Price: Free to $59

CM Pop-Up Banners Plugin PopUp Banner Example

Step 4: Share Content on Social Media

Social media has become a huge presence in the average customer’s life. It’s not only used to share personal status updates, it can be used to increase brand awareness, an essential piece of growing a website. Building an audience on social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter can help direct traffic to your website and increase website conversions.

You can also display Facebook or Twitter feeds using a free plugin like Easy Twitter Feed Widget to encourage site visitors to follow content updates. Content marketers can reach out to key influencers in their niche to help promote content. If you cited an influencer in your content, send them a message via social media and see if they’ll share the post for their followers to see.

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An effective social media strategy also involves making it easy for readers to share content from your WordPress site to social media. This increases the reach of your content and can help breathe new life into old content.

Here are two plugins that can help with social sharing:

AddToAny Share Buttons

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AddToAny Share Buttons allows readers to share content to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google, WhatsApp, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Reddit, and over 100 more sharing and social media sites & apps. There’s also an email sharing option.

This plugin creates floating share buttons that are mobile-friendly, show share counts, and are customizable. WordPress users can place them before or after content, in a widget, or as a vertical or horizontal bar. They’re integrated with Google Analytics to gather sharing analytics.

Price: Free

Social Warfare

Social Warfare is a more advanced tool to increase social shares and drive website traffic. In its simplest form, Social Warfare adds attractive, mobile-friendly share buttons for 13 different platforms. These buttons are customizable to match website branding and include share counts (including a minimum number).

WordPress users can customize tweets populated when a reader goes to share a post. They can create tweetable quotes that make social sharing easy. The many features of Social Warfare make it easier for businesses to increase presence on social media.

Price: $24-$200 /year

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Step 5: Analyze, Analyze, Analyze

No content marketing strategy is complete without analysis. This is an easy step to skip, but one that is extremely important. How do you know if your content marketing strategy is working if you aren’t looking at the data?

Take those benefits of content marketing we discussed in the beginning and see if they’re coming true. Is your website gathering more traffic? Are conversions increasing?

Don’t expect magical results instantly, but spend some time every few weeks making sure you’re going in the right direction toward achieving your content marketing goals. If the analytics data shows you are not, it’s time to try something different.

Create an Excel sheet to organize the most important metrics such as traffic, page views, and bounce rate (% of visitors who go to your site and immediately navigate away). The metrics you choose to record will depend on your specific content marketing goals.

There are several plugins that automatically gather data and make it easy to understand the success of your content marketing efforts.

Both plugins use Google Analytics, an extremely popular tool that tracks copious amounts of data related to website traffic, online store conversion rate, and social media. Google Analytics metrics create a picture that can be used to gain insight into how content marketing can be improved.

Google Analytics Dashboard for WP

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If you’re looking for a simple Google Analytics reporting plugin, this may be it. It adds real-time analytics to your WordPress dashboard, including number of visitors, acquisition channels, and traffic source details.

Track individual posts or pages and add analytics widgets to posts or pages. There is also the ability to sample page speed to get an idea of how fast pages are loading. Faster=better in a reader’s eyes.

Price: Free

Better Google Analytics

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Better Google Analytics does way more than just show site views. It tracks virtually anything, right from the dashboard. This includes heat maps, user engagement, page scroll percentage, YouTube views, Ad clicks, file downloads, and more.

View content popularity by category, display popular posts based on analytics, and understand posts from which year are the most popular. These metrics and more give detailed information on where your content strategy stands.

Price: Free to $60

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Better Analytics page views by category

Conclusion

Now you have it–a step-by-step guide to the basics of content marketing and WordPress and plugins that will help make your content marketing dreams come true.

What are your favorite content marketing plugins? Did we miss any you think are essential? Follow us on Twitter to start a conversation.

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5 Ways to Sell More Products via Social Media

Want to drive more sales on social media?

Looking for ways to encourage more people to purchase?

A few adjustments can help you optimize your social commerce efforts and stay ahead of the competition.

In this article, you’ll discover five ways to sell more with social media.

5 Ways to Sell More Products via Social Media by Alex York on Social Media Examiner.

#1: Discover Which Platforms Your Customers Use Most

An important initial step for a successful social commerce plan is assessing where your customers are most active. You’ll also want to find out which social network has the highest conversion rate when users visit through a social link.

Conduct an audit to find out where your customers talk most about your brand, industry, product/services, and competitors. Monitoring conversations provides insight into where the discussions are. Use social media monitoring tools to track, listen, and engage with potential and existing customers.

Jimmy John’s regularly monitors social conversations, even when the company isn’t tagged. This creates opportunities to interact with customers and build better relationships. Social media monitoring lets you easily track audience engagement and growth across platforms over time, assess trends, and determine where to invest your time and effort.

Jimmy John's monitors relevant social conversations, whether the company is tagged or not.

Jimmy John’s monitors relevant social conversations, whether the company is tagged or not.

Many businesses diminish the impact of their efforts by spreading their work across too many social platforms. Instead, focus on your priority platforms. Find your top two or three networks based on audience engagement and go from there.

#2: Make the Purchase Process Simple

Don’t overcomplicate your social media marketing. Stay focused on your main objective: selling.

Most consumers are looking for simplicity. They’re more likely to recommend a product or service when the purchasing journey is easier. If your sales funnel requires several clicks and on-page searches before customers can make a purchase, you’re probably doing it wrong.

Make the buying process as easy as possible from your social channels.

Make the buying process as easy as possible from your social channels.

Your buying process needs to be as straightforward as possible. Get right to the point and make it easy for consumers to navigate from social networks to your landing pages.

Ensure your social copy is direct and has a strong call-to-action (CTA) phrase. Your content should not only be action-driven, but also lead people to exactly what they expect. Limit site redirections and other common link errors to get the most out of every click to your site from social.

Include a strong CTA and link to where customers can make a purchase.

Include a strong CTA and link to where customers can make a purchase.

#3: Optimize Your Site for Mobile Social Media Users

Your mobile presence is more important than ever. We’ve passed the tipping point of mobile Internet users compared to those on desktop. This means the mobile shopping experience from your social channels has to be fluid and simplified.

For starters, assess how well your site performs on a mobile device. Page speed is one of the most critical aspects of site performance. You can use a free tool like Google’s PageSpeed Tools to test your site’s speed on desktop and mobile devices and get tips for improving it.

Test your site's speed on mobile with a tool like Google PageSpeed.

Test your site’s speed on mobile with a tool like Google PageSpeed.

You can also run a mobile-friendly test for your website with the same tool.

Also test how mobile-friendly your site is.

Also test how mobile-friendly your site is.

Consider optimizing photos for mobile; minifying HTML, CSS, and JavaScript; and prioritizing visual content. Addressing these common problems will make your site faster.

Many consumers won’t buy from an online site again if their first experience was hindered by poor site performance. For businesses selling on social, it’s all about ease of use: how simple it is for consumers to get from point A to point B (social media post to checkout).

#4: Use CTAs to Guide Buyers

For mobile users, it’s not only about site speed and simplicity. You have to make it clear to consumers what you’re selling and how they can make a purchase. This means your message has to be clear on mobile. You can start by adding a working call to action.

Consumers regularly make purchasing decisions on social networks like Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook. More specifically, your Facebook business page gives you the option to choose from 11 CTAs.

Add a call to action to your Facebook business page.

Add a call to action to your Facebook business page.

For Instagram, you can choose from eight CTAs for photo and video ads, including Apply Now, Book Now, Contact Us, Learn More, Shop Now, and others.

Use calls to action to guide buyers through the purchasing process.

Use CTAs to guide buyers through the purchasing process.

Use your social media buttons to do the heavy lifting for your mobile campaigns. No matter which social media channel you choose, your CTA buttons should clearly guide your customer’s purchasing journey.

#5: Encourage Customer Reviews

Social media is one of the best tools for building brand loyalty and gaining new fans. For social commerce, don’t forget about the importance of customer reviews and conversations about your product or service. According to Pew Research Center, 40% of U.S. adult consumers say they always or almost always read online customer reviews before making purchases.

When a customer has something wonderful to say about your business, how are you capturing that sentiment on a review site? Don’t sit back and expect your customers to flock to review sites to say nice things. Gaining customer reviews requires some push and pull.

To be proactive about customer reviews, track conversations that mention your brand, product, or service on social media. A social media monitoring tool can streamline this process to capture negative and positive experiences customers are sharing about your brand.

Merck Manual Home encourages a customer to leave a review for their app.

Merck Manual Home encourages a customer to leave a review for their app.

Once you have a steady stream of conversations, it’s time to encourage or provide an incentive for people to leave reviews. People who write positive reviews can already be considered passionate or power users. But it’s important to lead the rest of your best customers in the right direction for reviews.

While direct emails asking about customer experience work well, so does reaching out to users on social. Build relationships with people who talk about you online. For negative sentiment, your goal is to rebuild trust. For positive comments, ask users if they’d be willing to share their comments on review sites.

When you request a review, provide a link and enough detail that it’s clear where you want people to comment. Again, show your customers you appreciate their time and effort in speaking about your business. Monitor and respond to reviews over time, especially if customers share a negative experience or constructive feedback.

Offer customers an incentive for posting reviews for your products and services.

Offer customers an incentive for posting reviews for your products and services.

Consider including discounts for giving in-depth feedback. Or if that’s not in your budget, ask to share users’ positive remarks on your social channels. People love being acknowledged by businesses and a simple social share can go a long way.

Measure Your Social Commerce Efforts

The top social networks provide native business tools and analytics for businesses to track and measure success. If you’re not taking advantage of these tools, it will be difficult to monitor your social achievements, trends, and failures. You need to get into the nitty-gritty of social media analytics to know what social content performs best.

Social media audience demographics can tell you more than you think and help you target your core audience more efficiently. Understanding whom your customers are is one of the pillars of social commerce. Delve into demographics such as age, gender, income, and job level to make better decisions on social content.

Gaining insights into where and to whom you can sell your product on social is the key to seeing true success. Do you know who’s watching your how-to YouTube videos? What’s the average age of consumers who click your ads on Facebook? Gathering and analyzing this data can set you apart from your competitors.

Conclusion

Social commerce is the new direction of ecommerce and social selling. YotPo found that online stores with an active social presence have a 32% higher sales rate than those without.

Your social team also needs to be able to process incoming messages across networks as fast as possible. Only 1 in 6 social messages from customers receives a response from the retailer. And the demand for social answers is only increasing.

In addition to being present on social media and responsive, the five tips in this article can help you improve your social selling efforts and stay ahead of your competitors.

What do you think? Do you use some of these tactics in your social commerce? Do you have any other tips to share? Let us know in the comments!

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11 SEO Tips for Writing Meta Descriptions That Get More Clicks

You’ve done a thorough job optimizing your website for search engines. Your site’s crazy-fast, images look great, and content is tagged for easier scanning. Now it’s time to pay attention to those 155 characters (or less) that will hook users.

Below is what your page’s and post’s meta description looks like in search. There’s just a tiny bit of space under the meta title and URL—and a bunch of distracting competitors surrounding it—to sell your site. The search engines aren’t giving you much room to work with, right? You’d be surprised though at how much you can accomplish within just that limited amount of space.

An example of a meta description in Google search results.

The search engines may have enough faith in your site to boost your rankings, but you need to get users on board now, too. If you’ve gone to the trouble of improving your site’s ranking in search, then you need to show the same care for your meta descriptions.

Read on for some tips and tools to help you master the art of crafting a killer meta description for your content.

Crafting a Click-Worthy Meta Description

I like to think of the meta description like I do a really well-crafted tweet. It should be succinct, catchy, and containing keywords my audience is already talking about.

In order to merge this idealized version of the meta description with reality, here are 11 tips to use when you’re ready to set about optimizing your website’s metadata.

Tip #1: Don’t Leave It Up to Chance

Don’t leave it up to the search engines to create a meta description for you. They may just use the first sentence from the page, they may use another snippet of text that they believe is more relevant, or it could be a hodgepodge of header tags and keywords. This is your content; you know what the page is about and what will be the biggest draw for your audience to this page.

Tip #2: Cut it Out with the Copy and Paste

Don’t copy a sentence or two from your web page and call it a day. On-page content is typically written with the purpose of telling a story and guiding visitors through that story, step-by-step. Unless it’s a sales-heavy landing page, that copy isn’t optimized for placement in a meta description. So, take the time to craft a unique description that sums up the entire page or post.

Tip #3: Know Your Limits

Stay within the character limit.

Failure to observe character limits means cut-off descriptions.

Failure to observe character limits means cut-off descriptions.

See that ellipsis there? That’s no good. It implies a lack of care or sloppiness. If people are going to be picky about how your website looks or how well-crafted the content is (in a matter of seconds, mind you), how do you think they’ll feel about a carelessly composed meta description that doesn’t help them see the value in your page?

Tip #4: Mind Your Keywords

While on-site keywording is important to your SEO efforts, so is meta description keywording. For every page and post on your site, you’ll want to have a “focus” keyword around which all your content revolves. This keyword should be present not only within the page content, but also within the meta description.

Using keywords in your meta descriptions is important.

Users searching for those keywords might not notice the bolded keywords, but the search engines will.

Tip #5: Be Upfront

As with anything you publish to your website, be honest with your audience. If you try to optimize your content, keywords, and metadata around a term that’s sure to get you traffic but is completely irrelevant to what you do, it will backfire. Remember that it’s not just about getting higher numbers of visitors. It’s about attracting an audience that’s interested and wants to learn more. High bounce rates are sure to get you noticed by the search engines, and not in a good way.

Tip #6: Capture Your USP

When writing a meta description, be sure to encapsulate your unique selling proposition (USP). Tell readers right away why clicking on your search engine result page (SERP) entry will benefit them over any of the other results that appeared. It’s not a lot of space to work with, but you should be able to quickly explain what their pain is and how this page will relieve it.

Tip #7: Be Direct

Write your description directly to the user. You don’t have much room to describe your business, services, or products within those 155 characters, so don’t waste it. Speak to “you” whenever possible and let them know why exactly this page should matter to them.

Tip #8: Write for the User

Although paid posts do occupy prime real estate on SERPs, they’re typically not written with the user in mind. For instance:

Sales-heavy jargon won't necessarily win.

Sales-heavy jargon won’t necessarily win.

These descriptions don’t say anything really. It’s just a bunch of sales-heavy taglines. If you’re going to pay to play, that might make sense. But in terms of helping people find your relevant services or products, you’ll want to craft something clear, concise, and complete.

Tip #9: Conduct Tests

If you’ve done all this and still find that organic search traffic isn’t finding your page, try testing a new description. Do a search yourself for the keyword you want to rank for. See if you can spot any trends with websites that rank on the first page of results. Then rewrite yours accordingly.

Tip #10: Use a Plugin

For more control over your pages’ meta descriptions, take advantage of one of the high-quality SEO plugins available within WordPress.

With our SmartCrawl plugin, you can customize how page titles and descriptions display in search engine results, so you can control your titles and keywords.

Another plugin worth checking out is All in One SEO plugin, which provides you with all the metadata fields you’ll need to populate on each page, including the meta description. There’s also a character counter, so you’ll know if you’ve exceeded the maximum number of characters allowed in search.

Tip #11: Don’t Forget Social Media

As search engines put more emphasis on social media, it’s important to optimize your meta descriptions for social too. The WPSSO plugin enables you to create completely unique meta descriptions to be used whenever your posts or pages are shared on major social media platforms like Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Wrapping Up

Optimization doesn’t end once you’ve developed a website and put the pages in place. Give your website one more chance to grab the attention of users and optimize each page and post with a click-worthy meta description.

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How to Improve Your Blog Posts With YouTube Videos

Do your blog posts need a little pizzazz?

Have you considered using video to enhance your articles?

Combining YouTube videos with your written content can help you stand out from your competitors.

In this article, you’ll discover how to enhance your blog posts with YouTube videos.

How to Improve Your Blog Posts With YouTube Videos by Ana Gotter on Social Media Examiner.

Embed YouTube Video in Your Blog Posts

Embedding videos in your blog posts (or landing pages or online lead magnets) is the most direct and advantageous way to integrate your content marketing and YouTube videos.

When you place videos in blog posts, your posts become more dynamic and engaging. By writing a blog post and creating a complementary video, you can recycle content ideas in a way that feels new and exciting.

Blog posts with videos also generate more inbound links and increased viewership than those without.

Placing videos in your blog posts, as seen in this Ramit Sethi post, generates more inbound links and viewership.

Placing YouTube videos in your blog posts, as seen in this Ramit Sethi post, will generate more inbound links and viewership.

To get the embed code from a YouTube video, click the Share button under the video.

Click on Share under the YouTube video to get the embed code.

Click on Share under the YouTube video to get the embed code for it.

Then click Embed and copy the code that’s highlighted for you. Paste the embed code in the spot in your blog post where you want your video to be displayed.

Copy the embed code and paste it in the exact spot in a blog post where you want the video to appear. When you preview or view the post in its published form, the video will be there.

Copy the YouTube video’s embed code and paste it in the exact spot in a blog post where you want the video to appear. When you preview or view the blog post in its published form, the video will be there.

Here are a few ways to use YouTube videos in your blog posts.

Include Existing Videos

The videos you embed in your blog posts don’t have to be exact duplicates of the posts themselves; you just need to be sure they are relevant. A blog post discussing the merits of a beach wedding, for example, could have a video about best dress styles to wear to a wedding. There’s overlap and it will add more depth and value to the post.

Guitar World’s “Using String Skipping to See Scales Differently” blog post is a great example of how embedding relevant content can make the post more dynamic and valuable to your audience. The post discusses how string skipping can give you a different perspective on scales. The video embedded in the post demonstrates the effects of string skipping.

Placing relevant videos in blog posts can increase engagement and viewership.

Placing relevant videos in blog posts can increase engagement and viewership.

Create Videos to Support How-to Posts

Regardless of industry, many blog posts offer how-to tips and feature tutorials. This type of content is actionable and provides value to readers. Sometimes, though, written and still image tutorials aren’t as effective as someone literally taking you through the motions (even if the writing and images are fantastic).

You can design video tutorials to tie into relevant blog posts. Once you embed the videos in the blog posts, they can give users a more complete grasp of what you’re teaching them.

This tactic works for any industry or business size. A tailoring company could show brief tutorials about how to know if your clothes fit properly, or why it’s important that each arm sleeve and pant leg are measured individually. A fitness studio could show viewers how to perform an exercise properly, and a small boutique could demonstrate multiple ways to tie scarves.

This Edmunds.com blog post is a step-by-step tutorial for changing the oil in your car. The article walks readers through the process using still photos for reference. Although the article’s text is thorough and easy to follow, it can’t portray the process as accurately and clearly as the embedded video does.

Video tutorials are sometimes more effective than even the cleanest copy in blog posts, and can be easier for users to follow.

Video tutorials are sometimes more effective than even the cleanest copy in blog posts, and can be easier for users to follow.

If you’ve ever tried learning an exercise or to tie scarves from still images, it’s easy to see why videos can offer so much value.

Include Clickable Links to Your Blog Posts in Video

YouTube might be the first place some users ever hear about your business. Place links to your blog in your video to help drive some of these viewers to your site. You can direct people to similar blog posts, relevant product pages, or landing pages that exchange content for lead information.

Always include a link to your site in the description of the video. Some businesses prefer to send users to their site’s homepage, but directing traffic to specific pages or posts featuring content similar to the video can yield the best results.

Since YouTube may be a user's first touchpoint, always place a link to your site in your description.

Since YouTube may be a user’s first touchpoint for your business, always place a link to your site in your video’s description.

You can also use YouTube cards to create clickable calls to action (CTAs) that show up on the video to send users to your site. Because the card pops up on the actual video, it can capture viewers’ attention and greatly increase the amount of traffic you’re sending to your site.

Final Thoughts

Compared to sites like Facebook and Instagram, YouTube doesn’t get all that much attention from businesses. This is a shame because integrating YouTube videos in your content marketing can benefit businesses and non-profits of all shapes and sizes. You can create more dynamic, engaging content for your audience and also enjoy a few distinct SEO perks.

While “social media marketing” and “content marketing” are often considered separate but complementary tools, YouTube is an exception. Although it’s a social media channel, YouTube fits snugly into content marketing campaigns and can make a huge difference in your blog posts.

What do you think? Do you integrate your content marketing and YouTube videos? How do you use YouTube to benefit your business? Share your thoughts, knowledge, and experience in the comments section below!

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How to Add Some Spice to Your Drab Company Blog

It’s no surprise that most businesses are jumping on the blogging bandwagon. If you already have a website up, it makes sense to create a company blog.

According to Hubspot, B2B marketers who use blogs receive 67 percent more leads than those who don’t. That said, it’s safe to say that your company blog will serve an important purpose.

If you want your blog to help you engage with your audience and bring in new leads, you need killer content that is far from boring or else you won’t really receive any action.

If you’re tired of hearing crickets when it comes to your business’ blog and ready to spice it up and boost engagement, try some of these solutions.

How to Make Your Blog More Interesting

Use SEO To Your Advantage

Organic search engine optimization (SEO) is a great way to drive traffic to your site. You can sign up for Google Adwords and use the free Keyword search tool to see how many people are searching for certain topics in your niche.

If you want to gain traffic, it’s always best to consider keywords that are low competition, but if you want to boost engagement and escape boring content, you can also use keyword tools to come up with new content ideas.

If you look up a common keyword phrase, suggestions will also be available and you can see specific words and phrases people are searching for that might spark some new blog post ideas.

Using an SEO keyword search tool to develop your content strategy will help you develop creative new ideas and ensure that you are covering topics people are interested in.

Relax Your Tone

What tone are you using in your blog posts? If you are too formal, it may be lulling people to sleep or driving them away.

Great blog posts are always conversational and casual. You want to make it seem like you are talking to a good friend and being completely transparent with them.

It also doesn’t hurt to give plenty of examples and tell personal stories so readers can relate to you on a deeper level. No one wants to read a how-to manual or any other type of technical writing so be sure to adopt a lighthearted and relaxed tone when writing blog posts.

Start a Series That Tackles a Common Obstacle

Creating a blog series is a fun way to keep your readers entertained and learning new things. Determine the reason why people are coming to your company’s blog to read your content. What are they looking for? What obstacles are they facing? What advice or insight do they need?

If you have a lot to say about a particular topic, consider making it a series instead of a long drawn out post.

Studies show that people are more likely to read shorter content as opposed to long articles. If you have a lot to say, cutting your blog post off at around 1200-1500 words is a great rule of thumb for long-winded topics. You can always create additional parts to your series as new blog posts.

Launching a series leaves readers with something to anticipate which motivates them to keep coming back.

Integrate Video

Since we all know that most people aren’t always willing to read a ton of content, try integrating video content on your blog for diversity.

Some people may be drawn to visuals more and whether you make the videos yourself or have a team member make the appearance, people will naturally gain interest after they put a face to your business name and see your personality shine through.

You don’t have to be outgoing and loud on video if that’s not your personality. You could just prepare short 5-10 minute segments and cover an interesting topic or share something you’ve learned that could help people and simply let your personality shine through.

You may find that your audience likes written and video posts and will stick around on your blog to check out both forms of content.

Summary: Don’t Be Afraid to Loosen Up and Diversify

Blogging has a lot to do with personality and tone. First you have to make sure you are offering readers content that is worth them taking time out of their day to read.

Then, you need to make sure you are maintaining their attention by using a relaxed tone covering a variety of topics in your niche. If one topic doesn’t seem to resonate, you can use an SEO keyword search tool to come up with new topics.

Also, don’t be afraid to try different forms of content. Video is becoming very popular and may just help you add that pop of personality that people will resonate with.

Spices Photo via Shutterstock

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